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Title: The African Colony - Studies in the Reconstruction
Author: Buchan, John, 1875-1940
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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  Transcriber's Note

  Greek text has been transliterated and is indicated ~like
  this~. Footnotes are marked with a number in brackets
  (e.g., [1]) and appear at the end of their respective
  chapter or section. Punctuation has been standardized
  throughout the text and the oe ligatures removed. For
  details on typographical corrections, please refer to the
  note at the end of the text.



       THE AFRICAN COLONY

  STUDIES IN THE RECONSTRUCTION



              BY

          JOHN BUCHAN



   WILLIAM BLACKWOOD AND SONS
      EDINBURGH AND LONDON
            MCMIII



            TO THE

          HONOURABLE

    HUGH ARCHIBALD WYNDHAM,

         IN MEMORY OF

   OUR AFRICAN HOUSEKEEPING.



    "The greatest honour that ever belonged to the greatest
    Monarkes was the inlarging their Dominions, and erecting
    Commonweales."--Captain JOHN SMITH.



CONTENTS


                                                PAGE
         INTRODUCTORY                            ix


                       PART I.

                 THE EARLIER MASTERS.
    CHAP.
      I. PRIMITIVE SOUTH AFRICA                   3

     II. THE GENTLEMEN-ADVENTURERS               18

    III. THE GREAT TREK                          33

     IV. THE BOER IN SPORT                       49

      V. THE BOER IN ALL SERIOUSNESS             58


                       PART II.

                   NOTES OF TRAVEL.

     VI. EVENING ON THE HIGH VELD                79

    VII. IN THE TRACKS OF WAR                    93

   VIII. THE WOOD BUSH                          113

     IX. ON THE EASTERN VELD                    129

      X. THE GREAT NORTH ROAD                   146

     XI. THE FUTURE OF SOUTH AFRICAN SPORT      168


                       PART III.

                THE POLITICAL PROBLEM.

    XII. THE ECONOMIC FACTOR                    189

   XIII. THE SETTLEMENT OF THE LAND             255

    XIV. THE SUBJECT RACES                      284

     XV. JOHANNESBURG                           311

    XVI. CONSTITUTIONAL QUESTIONS               325

   XVII. THE POLICY OF FEDERATION               348

  XVIII. THE ARMY AND SOUTH AFRICA              368

    XIX. THE FUTURE OUTLOOK                     386


         INDEX                                  400



INTRODUCTORY.


On the last day of May 1902 the signature at Pretoria of the
conditions of peace brought to an end a war which had lasted for
nearly three years, and had among other things destroyed a government,
dissolved a society, and laid waste a country. In those last months of
fighting some progress had been made with the reconstruction--at least
with that not unimportant branch of it which is concerned with the
machinery of government. A working administration had been put
together, new ordinances in the form of proclamations had been issued,
departments had been created and the chief appointments made, the gold
industry was beginning to set its house in order, refugees were
returning, and already political theories were being mooted and future
parties foreshadowed. But it is from the conclusion of peace that the
work of resettlement may fairly be taken to commence. Before that date
the restrictions of war limited all civil activity; not till the
shackles were removed and the civil power left in sole possession does
a fair field appear either for approval or criticism.

It is not my purpose to write the history of the reconstruction. The
work is still in process, and a decade later it may be formally
completed. Fifty years hence it may be possible to look back and
discriminate on its success or failure. The history when it is written
will be an interesting book. It will among other matters deal with the
work of repatriation, one of the most curious and quixotic burdens
ever borne by a nation, and one, I believe, to which no real parallel
can be found. It will concern itself with the slow and difficult
transference from military to civil government, the renascence of the
common law, the first revival of trade and industry, the restitution
of prisoners, and the return of refugees--all matters of interest and
novel precedents in our history. It will recognise more clearly than
is at present possible the problems which faced South Africa at the
time, and it will be in the happy position of judging from the high
standpoint of accomplished fact. But in the meantime, when we have
seen barely eighteen months of reconstruction, history is out of the
question. Yet even in the stress of work it is often sound policy for
a man to halt for a moment and collect his thoughts. There must be
some diagnosis of the problem before him, the end to which his work is
directed, the conditions under which he labours. While it is useless
to tell the story of a task before it is done, it is often politic to
re-examine the difficulties and to get the mind clear as to what the
object of all this strife and expense of money and energy may be.
Ideals are all very well in their way, but they are apt to become
very dim lamps unless often replenished from the world of facts and
trimmed and adjusted by wholesome criticism.

Such a modest diagnosis is the aim of the present work. I have tried
in the main to state as clearly as I could the outstanding problems of
South African politics as they appear to one observer. I say "in the
main," because I am aware that I have been frequently led against my
intention to express an opinion on more than one such problem, and in
several cases to suggest a policy. I can only plead that it is almost
impossible to keep a statement of a case uncoloured by one's own view
of the solution, and that it is better to give frankly a judgment,
however worthless, than to allow a bias to influence insensibly the
presentation of facts. For such views, which are my own, I claim no
value; for facts, in so far as they are facts, I hope I may beg some
little attention. They are the fruit of first-hand, and, I trust,
honest observation. Every statement of a case is, indeed, a personal
one, representing the writer's own estimate rather than objective
truth, but in all likelihood it is several degrees nearer the truth
than the same writer's policies or prophecies. South Africa has been
in the world's eye for half a century, and in the last few years her
problems have been so complex that it has been difficult to separate
the permanent from the transitory, or to look beyond the mass of local
difficulties to the abiding needs of the sub-continent as a whole.
Colonial opinion has been neglected at home; English opinion has been
misunderstood in the colonies. It may be of interest to try to
estimate her chief needs and to understand her thoughts, for it is
only thus that we can forecast that future which she and she alone
must make for herself.

Every one who approaches the consideration of the politics of a
country which is not his own, and in which he is at best a stranger,
must feel a certain diffidence. On many matters it is impossible that
he should judge correctly. What seems to him a simple fact is
complicated, it may be, by a thousand unseen local currents which no
one can allow for except the old inhabitant. For this reason an
outside critic will be wrong in innumerable details, and even, it is
probable, in certain broad questions of principle. But aloofness may
have the qualities of its defects. A critic on a neighbouring hill-top
will be a poor guide to the flora and fauna of the parish below; but
he may be a good authority on its contours, on the height of its hills
and the number of its rivers, and he may, perhaps, be a better judge
of the magnitude of a thunderstorm coming out of the west than the
parishioner in his garden. The insistence of certain South African
problems, familiar to us all, has made any synthetic survey difficult
for the South African and impossible for the newspaper reader at home.
We have forgotten that it is a country with a history, that it is a
land where men can live as well as wrangle and fight, that it has
sport, traditions, charm of scenery and weather; and in its politics
we are apt to see the problems under a few popular categories, rather
as a war of catchwords than the birth-pangs of a people. I have
attempted in the following pages to give this synthesis at the
expense, I am afraid, of completeness of detail. It is my hope that
some few readers may find utility even in an imperfect general survey
as a corrective and a supplement to the many able expositions of
single problems.

The title begs a question which it is the aim of the later chapters to
answer. South Africa is in reality one colony, and it can only be a
matter of years till this radical truth is formally recognised in a
federation. But some explanation is necessary for the fact that most
of the book is occupied with a discussion of the new colonies and with
problems which, for the present, may seem to exist only for them. At
this moment the settlement of the Transvaal and the Orange River
Colony is the most vital South African problem. On their success or
failure depends the whole future of the sub-continent. They show, not
in embryo, but in the strongest light and the clearest and most mature
form, every South African question. On them depends the future wealth
of the country and any marked increase in its population. They will be
forced by their position to be in the van of South African progress,
and to give the lead in new methods of expansion and development. We
are therefore fortunate in possessing in the politics of these
colonies an isolated and focussed observation-ground, a page where we
can read in large clear type what is elsewhere blurred and written
over. I do not suppose that this fact would be denied by any of the
neighbouring colonies; indeed the tendency in those states is to
manifest an undue interest in the affairs of the Transvaal, and to see
often, in matters which are purely local, questions of far-reaching
South African interest. On the ultimate dominance of the Transvaal
opinion naturally differs, and indeed it is a point not worth
insisting on, save as a further argument for federation. If South
African interests are so inextricably intertwined, it is clearly
desirable to have a colony, whose future is obscure but whose wealth
and power are at least potentially very great, brought formally into a
union where each colony will be one unit and no more, rather than
allow it to exist in isolation, unamenable to advice from sister
states and wholly self-centred and unsympathetic. It is sufficient
justification for the method I have employed if it is admitted that
the Transvaal question is the South African problem in its most
complete and characteristic form.

A word remains to be said on the arrangement of the chapters. I have
tried to write what is a kind of guide-book, not to details, but to
the constituents of that national life which is now in process of
growth. The reader I have had in mind is the average Englishman who,
in seeking to be informed about a country, asks for something more
than the dry bones of statistics--_l'homme moyen politique_, who wants
a _résumé_ of the political problem, some guide to the historical
influences which have been or are still potent, an idea of landscape
and national character and modes of life. He does not ask for a
history, nor does he want a disquisition on this or that question, or
a brief for this or that policy, but, being perfectly competent to
make up his own mind, he wants the materials for judgment. The first
part consists of brief historical sketches, dealing with the genesis
of the three populations--native, uitlander, and Boer. The history of
South Africa, with all deference to the learned and voluminous works
of Dr Theal, can never be adequately written. Her past appears to us
in a series of vanishing pictures, without continuity or connection. I
have therefore avoided any attempt at a consecutive tale, as I have
avoided such topics as the War and the negotiations preceding it, and
treated a few historical influences in a brief episodic form. In the
second part the configuration of the land has been dealt with in a
similar way. A series of short sketches, of the class which the French
call "_carnets de voyage_," seemed more suitable than any attempt at
the work of a gazetteer. I am so convinced of the beauty and
healthfulness of the land that I may have been betrayed into an
over-minute description: my one excuse is that in this branch of my
task I have had few predecessors.

The third part is highly controversial in character, and is presented
with grave hesitation. Many books and pamphlets have informed us on
those years of South African history between the Raid and the Ultimatum,
and a still greater number have discussed every phase and detail of the
war. Another book on so hackneyed a matter may seem hard to justify. It
may be urged, however, that the question has taken a wholly different
form. Of late years it has been complicated by a division of opinion
based not only on political but on moral grounds, an opposition in
theories of national duty, of international ethics, of civic integrity.
South African policy before the war and during the actual conduct of
hostilities was by a considerable section of the English people not
judged on political grounds, but condemned or applauded in the one case
on moral pretexts and in the other on the common grounds of patriotism.
The danger of making the moral criterion bulk aggressively in politics
is that the criticism so desirable for all policies is neglected or
perfunctorily performed. Matters which, to be judged truly, must be
tried by the canons of the province to which they belong, are hastily
approved or as hastily damned on some wholly alien test. But with the
end of the war and the beginning of civil government it seems to me that
this vice must tend to disappear. Whatever our judgment on the past,
there is a living and insistent problem for the present. Whatever the
verdict on our efforts to meet the problem, it must be based on
political grounds. We are now in a position to criticise, if not
adequately, at least fairly and on a logical basis. But the old data
require revision. The war has been a chemical process which has so
changed the nature of the old constituents that they are unrecognisable
in a new analysis. I am encouraged to hope that a sketch of the
political problem as it has to be faced in South Africa to-day will not
be without a certain value to those who desire to inform themselves on
what is the most interesting of modern imperial experiments. It is too
often assumed in England that the real difficulties preceded war, and
that the course of policy, though not unattended with risks, is now
comparatively clear and easy. It would be truer to say that the real
difficulty has only now begun. I shall be satisfied if I can convince
some of my readers that the work to be done in South Africa is
exceedingly delicate and arduous, requiring a high measure of judgment
and tact and patience; that it is South Africa's own problem which she
must settle for herself; and above all, that while the result of success
will be more far-reaching and vital to the future of the English race
than is commonly realised, the consequences of failure will be wholly
disastrous to any vision of Empire.

To my friends in South Africa I owe an apology for my audacity in
undertaking to pronounce upon a country of which my experience is
limited. Had I not always found them ready to welcome outside
criticism, however imperfect, when honestly made, and to hear with
commendable patience a newcomer's views, however crude, I should have
hesitated long before making the attempt. I have endeavoured to give a
plain statement of local opinion, which is expert opinion, and
therefore worthy of the first consideration, and, though there are
phases of it with which I am not in sympathy, I trust I may claim to
have given on many matters the colonial view, when such a view has
attained consistency and clearness. But my chief excuse is that while
local opinion is still in the making, and politics are still in the
flux which attends a reconstruction, the outside spectator may in all
modesty claim to have a voice. It may be easier for a man coming fresh
to a new world to judge it correctly than for those ex-inhabitants of
that older world on whose wreckage the new is built.



PART I.

THE EARLIER MASTERS



CHAPTER I.

PRIMITIVE SOUTH AFRICA.


There are kinds of history which a modern education ignores, and which
a modern mind is hardly trained to understand. We can interest
ourselves keenly in the first vagaries of embryo humankind; and for
savagery, which is a hunting-ground for the sociologist and the
folk-lorist, we have an academic respect. But for savagery naked and
not ashamed, fighting its own battles and ruling its own peoples, we
reserve an interest only when it reaches literary record in a saga.
Otherwise it is for us neither literature nor history--a kind of
natural event like a thunderstorm, of possible political importance,
but of undoubted practical dulness. Most men have never heard of
Vechtkop or Mosega, and know Tchaka and Dingaan and Moshesh only as
barbarous names. And yet this is a history of curious interest and
far-reaching significance: the chronicle of Tchaka's deeds is an epic,
and we still feel the results of his iron arguments. The current
attitude is part of a general false conception of South African
conditions. To most men she is a country without history, or, if she
has a certain barbarous chronicle, it is without significance. The
truth is nearly at the opposite pole. South Africa is bound to the
chariot-wheels of her past, and that past is intricately varied--a
museum of the wrecks of conquerors and races, joining hands with most
quarters of the Old World. More, it is the place where savagery is
most intimately linked with latter-day civilisation. Phoenician,
Arab, Portuguese, Dutch, and English--that is her Uitlander cycle; and
a cynic might say that she has ended as she began, with the Semitic.
And meantime there were great native conquests surging in the interior
while the adventurer was nibbling at her coasts; and when we were busy
in one quarter abolishing slavery and educating the Kaffir, in another
there were wars more bloody than Timour's, and annihilation of races
more terrible than Attila ever dreamed of. We see, before our faces,
"the rudiments of tiger and baboon, and know that the barriers of
races are not so firm but that spray can sprinkle us from antediluvian
seas."

To realise this intricate history and its modern meaning is the first
South African problem. No man can understand the land unless he takes
it as it is, a place instinct with tradition, where every problem is
based upon the wreckage of old strifes. And to the mere amateur the
question is full of interest. The history of South Africa can never be
written. The materials are lost, and all we possess are fleeting
glimpses, outcrops of fact on the wide plains of tradition, random
guesses, stray relics which suggest without enlightening. We see races
emerge and vanish, with a place-name or a tomb as their only memorial;
but bequeathing something, we know not what, to the land and their
successors. And at the end of the roll come the first white masters of
the land, the Dutch, whom it is impossible to understand except in
relation to the country which they conquered and the people they
superseded. We have unthinkingly set down one of the most curious
side-products of the human family as a common race of emigrants, and
the result has been one long tale of misapprehension. It is this
overlapping of counter-civilisations, this mosaic of the prehistoric
and the recent, which gives South African history its piquancy and its
character. It is no tale of old populous cities and splendid empires,
no story of developing civilisations and conflicting philosophies;
only a wild half-heard legend of men who come out of the darkness for
a moment, of shapes warring in a mist for centuries, till the curtain
lifts and we recognise the faces of to-day.

Two views have been held on the subject of the present native
population. One is that it represents the end of a long line of
development; the other that it is the nadir of a process of
retrogression. The supporters of the second view point to the growing
weakness of all Kaffir languages in inflexions and structural forms,
while in the Hottentot-Bushman survival they see a degeneration from
a more masculine type. It is impossible to dogmatise on such a
matter. Degeneration and advance are not fixed processes, but recur
in cycles in the history of every nation. The Bushman, one of the
lowest of created types, may well be the original creature of the
soil, advancing in halting stages from the palæolithic man; himself
practically a being of the Stone Age, and prohibited from further
progress by an arid and unfriendly land, and the advent of stronger
races. Of the palæolithic man, who 200,000 years ago or thereabout
made his home in the river drifts, we have geological records similar
to those found in the valleys of the Somme and the Thames. On the
banks of the Buffalo at East London, in a gravel deposit 70 feet
above the present river-bed, there have been found rude human
implements of greenstone, the age of which may be measured by the
time the river has taken to wear down 70 feet of hard greenstone
dyke.[1] From the palæolithic it is a step of a few millenniums to
the neolithic man, who has left his relics in the shell-heaps and
kitchen-middens at the mouth of the same stream--who, indeed, till a
few generations ago was an inhabitant of the land. The Bushman was a
dweller in the Stone Age, for, though he knew a little about metals,
stone implements were in daily use, and, with his kinsmen the Pigmies
of Central Africa, he represented a savagery compared with which the
Kaffir races are civilised. It is his skull which is found in the
shell-heaps by the river-sides. He was a miserable fellow, a true
troglodyte, small, emaciated, with protruding chest and spindle legs.
He lived by hunting of the most primitive kind, killing game with his
poisoned arrows. He had no social organisation, no knowledge of
husbandry or stock-keeping, and save for his unrivalled skill in
following spoor and a rude elementary art which is shown in the
Bushman pictures on some of the rocks in the western districts, he
was scarcely to be distinguished from the beasts he hunted. A genuine
neolithic man, and therefore worthy of all attention. In other lands
his wild contemporaries have gone; in South Africa the elephant, the
rhinoceros, and the buffalo survive to give the background to our
picture of his life. He himself has perished, or all but perished.
The Dutch farmers hunted him down and shot him at sight, for indeed
he was untamable. His blood has probably mixed with the Hottentot and
the Koranna; and in some outland parts of the Kalahari and the great
wastes along the lower Orange he may survive in twos and threes.

Originally he covered all the south-west corner of Africa, but in time
he had to retire from the richer coast lands in favour of a people a
little higher in the scale of civilisation. The origin of the
Hottentots is shrouded in utter mystery, but we find them in
possession when the first Portuguese and Dutch explorers reached the
coast. They, too, were an insignificant race, but so far an advance
upon their predecessors that they were shepherds, owning large herds
of sheep and horned cattle, and roaming over wide tracts in search of
pasture. They had a tribal organisation, and a certain domesticity of
nature which, while it made them an easy prey to warrior tribes,
enabled them to live side by side with the Dutch immigrants as
herdsmen and house-servants. The pure breed disappeared, but their
blood remains in the Cape boy, that curious mixed race part white,
part Malay, part Hottentot. Both Bushman and Hottentot, having within
them no real vitality, have perished utterly as peoples: in Emerson's
words, they "had guano in their destiny," and were fated only to
prepare the way for their successors.

For the rest the history of primitive South Africa is a history of the
Bantu tribes but for one curious exception. In the districts now
included in the general name of Rhodesia, stretching from the Zambesi to
the Limpopo, we find authentic record of an old and mysterious
civilisation compared with which all African empires, save Egypt, are
things of yesterday. Over five hundred ruins, showing in the main one
type, though a type which can be differentiated in stages, are hidden
among the hollows and stony hills of that curious country. Livingstone
and Baines first called the world's attention to those monuments, and Mr
Bent, in his 'Ruined Cities of Mashonaland,' provided the first working
theory of their origin. Since that date many savants, from Dr Schlichter
to Professor Keane, have elaborated the hypothesis, for in the present
state of our knowledge a hypothesis it remains. In those ruins, or
Zimbabwes, to use the generic Bantu name, three distinct periods have
been traced, and a fourth period, when it is supposed that local tribes
began to imitate the Zimbabwe style of architecture. The features of
this architecture are simple, and consist chiefly of immense thickness
of wall ornamented with a herring-bone, a chess-board, and in a few
instances a diaper pattern, enclosures entered by narrow winding
passages, and in some cases conical towers similar to the Sardinian
_nauraghes_. The discoveries by excavation have not been many, mainly
fragments of gold and gold-dust, certain bowls of soapstone and wood
ornamented with geometrical patterns and figures which may represent the
signs of the zodiac, some curious figures of birds, stone objects which
may be _phalli_, and rude stones which may be the sacred _betyli_. It is
difficult to judge of the purpose of the buildings. Some suggest forts,
some temples, some factories, some palaces: perhaps they may be all
combined, such as we know the early Ionian and Phoenician adventurers
built in a new land.

From the remains themselves little light comes, but we have a certain
assistance from known history. In early days, before the Phoenicians
came to the Mediterranean seaboard, their precursors, the Sabæo-Arabians
or Himyarites of South Arabia, were the great commercial people of the
East. There was undoubtedly a large trade in gold and ivory with Africa,
and all records point to somewhere on the Mozambique coast as the port
from which the precious metal was shipped. The only place whence gold in
great quantities could have come is the central tableland of Rhodesia,
from which it has been estimated that the ancient output was of the
value of at least 75 millions. The temple of Haram of Bilkis, near
Marib, as described by Müller, has an extraordinary resemblance both in
architecture and the relics found in it to the Great Zimbabwe. According
to Professor Keane, the Sabæans reached Rhodesia by way of Madagascar,
and he finds in the Malagasy language traces of their presence. Ophir he
places in the south of Arabia, the emporium to which the gold was
brought for distribution; Tarshish, the port of embarkation, he
identifies with Sofala; and he finds in Rhodesia the ancient Havilah.
Others place Ophir in Rhodesia itself. According to the Portuguese
writer Conto, Mount Fura in Rhodesia was called by the Arabs Afur, and
some see in the names of Sofala and the Sabi river a reference to Ophir
and Sheba. Etymological proofs are always suspicious, save in cases like
this where they are merely supplementary to a vast quantity of
collateral evidence. When the Phoenicians succeeded to the commercial
empire of the Sabæans, they took over the land of Ophir, and to them the
bulk of the Zimbabwes are to be attributed. Those later Zimbabwes and
the Sardinian _nauraghes_, which are almost certainly Phoenician in
origin, have many points of resemblance. The traces of litholatry and
phallic worship are Phoenician, the soapstone birds may be the vultures
of Astarte, and the rosette decorations on the stone cylinders are found
in the Phoenician temple of Paphos and the great temple of the Sun at
Emesa.

Such are a few of the proofs advanced on behalf of a hypothesis which
is in itself highly probable.[2] It is not a history of generations
but of æons, and we cannot tell what were the fortunes of that
mysterious land from the days when the Phoenician power dwindled
away to the time when the Portuguese discovered the gold mines and
framed wild legends about Monomotapa. The most probable theory is that
the old Semitic settlers mingled their blood with the people of the
land, and as the trade outlets became closed a native tribe took the
place of the proud Phoenician merchants. In the words of Mr Selous,
"the blood of the ancient builders of Zimbabwe still runs, in a very
diluted form, in the veins of the Bantu races, and more especially
among the remnants of the tribes still living in Mashonaland and the
Barotsi of the Upper Zambesi." The Makalanga, or Children of the Sun,
whom Barreto fought, were in the line of succession from the
Phoenicians, as the Mashonas are their representatives to-day. In
Mashona pottery we can still trace the decorations, which are found on
the walls of the Zimbabwes: the people have something Semitic in their
features, as compared with other Bantu tribes; they know something of
gold-working, a little of astronomy, and in their industries and
beliefs have a higher culture than their neighbours. Their chiefs have
dynastic names; each tribe has a form of totemism in which some have
seen Arabian influences; and in certain matters of religion, such as
the sacrifice of black bulls and the observation of days of rest, they
suggest Semitic customs. So, if this hypothesis be true, we are
presented with a survival of the oldest of civilisations in the heart
of modern barbarism. The traveller, who sees in the wilds of
Manicaland a sacrifice of oxen to the Manes of the tribe, sees in a
crude imitation the rites which the hook-nosed, dark-eyed adventurers
brought from the old splendid cities of the Mediterranean, where with
wild music and unspeakable cruelties and lusts the votaries of Baal
and Astarte celebrated the cycle of the seasons and the mysteries of
the natural world--

    "Imperishable fire under the boughs
    Of chrysoberyl and beryl and chrysolite
    And chrysoprase and ruby and sardonyx."

When the Portuguese first landed in East Africa the chief tribe with
which they came in contact was the Makalanga in Mashonaland, ruled by
the Monomotapa. But before their power waned they had seen that nation
vanquished and scattered by the attacks of fiercer tribes from the
north, particularly the Mazimba, in whose name there may lurk a trace
of the Agizymba, a country to which, according to Ptolemy, the Romans
penetrated. For the last four centuries native South Africa has been
the theatre of a continuous _völkerwanderung_, immigrations from the
north, and in consequence a general displacement, so that no tribe can
claim an ancient possession of its territory. We may detect, apart
from the Mashonas, three chief race families among the Bantus--the
Ovampas and people of German South Africa; the Bechuanas and Basutos;
and the great mixed race of which the Zulus and the Kaffirs of Eastern
Cape Colony are the chief representatives. All the groups show a
strong family likeness in customs, worship, and physical character.
As a rule the men are tall and well-formed, and their features are
more shapely than the ordinary negro of West Africa or the far
interior. They have a knowledge of husbandry and some skill in
metal-working; they have often shown remarkable courage in the field
and a kind of rude discipline; and they dwell in a society which is
rigidly, if crudely, organised. The Custom of the Ancients is the main
rule in their lives, and such law as they possess owes its sanction to
this authority. The family is the social unit; and families are
combined into clans, and clans into tribes, with one paramount chief
at the head, whose power in most instances is despotic, as becomes a
military chief. In some of the tribes, notably the Bechuana-Basuto, we
find rudiments of popular government, where the chief has to take the
advice of the assembled people, as in the Basuto _pitso_, or, in a few
cases, of a council of the chief indunas. The chief's authority as
lawgiver is absolute, but his judgments are supposed to be only
declaratory of ancient custom. Socially the tribes are polygamous, and
sexual morality is low, though certain crimes are reprobated and
severely punished. The prevailing religion is ancestor-worship, joined
with a rude form of natural dæmonism. The ordinary Bantu is not an
idolater like the Makalanga, but he walks in terror of unseen spirits
which dwell in the woods and rivers,--the ghost of his father it may
be, or some unattached devils. Ghost feasts are made at stated times
on the graves of the dead; and if the ghost has been whimsical enough
to enter the body of an animal, that animal must be jealously
respected. Each tribe has its totem--the lion, or the antelope, or the
crocodile--from which they derive their descent, one of the commonest
features of all primitive societies. There seem traces of a vague
belief in a superior deity, who makes rain and thunder and controls
the itinerant bands of ghosts--a great ghost, who, if properly
supplicated, may intercede with the smaller and more troublesome herd.
But abstractions are essentially foreign to the Bantu mind, and his
modest Pantheon is filled with the simplest of deities.

No priesthood exists, but it is possible for a clever man to learn
some of the tricks of disembodied spirits and frustrate them by his
own skill. In this way a class of sorcerers arose, who dealt in big
medicine and strong magic. They profess to make rain and receive
communications from the unseen, to cure diseases and give increase to
the flocks, to expound the past and foretell the future. This powerful
class is jealous of amateurs, and does its best to remove inferior
wizards; but they are always liable to be annihilated themselves by a
powerful chief, who is more bloodthirsty than superstitious.
Undoubtedly some of these sorcerers acquire a knowledge of certain
natural secrets; they become skilled meteorologists, and seem to
possess a crude knowledge of hypnotism. They are also physicians of
considerable attainments, and certain native remedies, notably a
distillation of herbs, which is used for dysentery in Swaziland, have
a claim to a place in a civilised pharmacopoeia. This rough science is
the only serious intellectual attainment of the Bantu, outside of
warfare. They have a kind of music which is extremely doleful and
monotonous; they have a rude art, chiefly employed in the decoration
of their weapons; but they have no poetry worthy of the name; and
their only literature is found in certain simple folk-tales, chiefly
of animals, but in a few cases of human escapades and feats of
sorcery. The lion is generally the butt of such stories, and the
quick wit of the hare and the knavery of the jackal are held up to the
admiration of the listeners.[3]

Such are the chief features of Bantu life, and so lived the natives of
South Africa up to the early years of last century. But about that
time a certain Dingiswayo, being in exile at Cape Town, saw a company
of British soldiers at drill, and, being an intelligent man, acquired
a new idea of the art of war. When he returned to his home and the
chieftainship of the little Zulu tribe, the memory of the soldiers in
shakos, who moved as one man, remained with him, and he began to
experiment with his army. He died, and his lieutenant Tchaka succeeded
to the command of a small but well-disciplined force. This Tchaka was
one of those born leaders of men in battle who appear on the stage of
history every century or so. He perfected the discipline of his army,
armed it with short stabbing spears for close-quarter fighting, and
then proceeded to use it as a wedge to split the large loose masses
which surrounded him. It was a war of the eagle and the crows.
Neighbouring tribes awoke one morning to find the enemy at their
gates, and by the evening they had ceased to exist. A wild flight to
the north began, and for years the wastes north and east of the
Drakensberg were littered with flying remnants of broken clans. All
the great deeds of savage warfare--the killing of the Suitors, the
fight in the Great Hall of Worms, Cuchulain's doings in the war of the
Bull of Cuailgne--pale before the barbaric splendours of Tchaka's
slaughterings, the Zulus became the imperial power of South-East
Africa, and their monarch's authority was limited only by the length
of his impis' reach. By-and-by his career of storm ceases. We find him
ruling as a severe and much-venerated king, arbitrary and bloodthirsty
but comparatively honest; a huge man, with many large vices and a few
glimmerings of virtue. He was succeeded by his brother, the monstrous
Dingaan, who was soundly beaten by the Boers in one of the most heroic
battles in history; he in turn gave way to his brother Panda, a figure
of small note; and the dynasty ended with Cetewayo and the blood and
terror of Isandhlwana and Ulundi.

After Tchaka the man who looms largest in the tale of those wars is
Mosilikatse, the founder of the Matabele. The Zulu conquests placed
terrible autocrats on the throne, and the marshal who incurred the
king's displeasure had to flee or perish. To this circumstance we owe
the Angoni in Nyassaland and the empire of Lobengula. About 1817
Mosilikatse with his impi burst into what is now the Orange River
Colony, driving before him the feeble Barolong and Bechuana tribes,
and established his court at a place on the Crocodile River north of
the Magaliesberg, where a pass still bears his name. He began a career
of wholesale rapine and slaughter, till, as Fate would have it, he
came in contact with the pioneers of the Great Trek. Some hideous
massacres were the result, but he had to deal with an enemy against
whom his race could never hope to stand. The Boers, under Uys and
Potgieter, drove him from his kraal, impounded his ill-gotten cattle,
and finally, in a great battle on the Marico River, defeated him so
thoroughly that he fled north of the Limpopo and left the country for
ever. From the little we know of him he was a cruel and treacherous
chief, inferior in strength to Tchaka, as he was utterly inferior to
Moshesh in statesmanship. But the men he led had the true Zulu
fighting spirit, and in the Matabele, under his son Lobengula, we have
learned something of the warriors of Mosilikatse.

A throne which, as with the Zulus and their offshoots, had no strong
religious sanction, must subsist either by continued success in battle
or a studious statesmanship. Tchaka is an instance of the first;
Moshesh, the founder of the Basuto power, is a signal example of the
second. The Basutos were driven down from the north by the Zulu
advance, and found shelter in the wild tangle of mountains which
cradle the infant Orange and Caledon rivers. Moshesh, who had no
hereditary claim to a throne, won his power by his own abilities, and
on the mountain of Thaba Bosigo established his royal kraal. The name
of the "Chief of the Mountain" is written larger even than Tchaka's
over South African history, and to-day his people are the only tribe
who have any substantive independence. Alone among native chiefs he
showed the intellect of a trained statesman, and a tireless patience
which is only too rare in the annals of statesmanship. The presence of
French missionaries at his court gave him the means of instruction in
European ways, and he was far too clever to have any prejudice against
so startling a departure from the habits of his race. He watched the
dissensions of the rival white peoples, and quietly and cautiously
profited by their blunders. He made war against them as a tactical
measure, and after an undoubted victory increased his power by making
a diplomatic peace. He left his tribe riches and security, and the
history of Basutoland since his day is one long commentary on the
surprising talents of its founder. How far the credit is his and how
far it belongs to his advisers we cannot tell; but we can admire a
character so liberal as to accept advice, and a mind so shrewd that it
saw unerringly its own advantage. There is none of the wild glamour of
conquest about him, but there is a more abiding reputation for a far
more intricate work; for, like another statesman, he could make a
small town a great city--and with the minimum of expense.

With the death of Moshesh the history of South Africa becomes almost
exclusively the history of its white masters. It is an old country, as
old as time, the prey of many conquerors, but with it all a patient
and mysterious land. Civilisations come and go, and after a millennium
or two come others who speculate wildly on the relics of the old. In
some future century (who knows?), when the Rand is covered with thick
bush and once more the haunt of game, some enlightened sportsman,
hunting in his shirt after the bush-veld manner, may clear the
undergrowth from the workings of the Main Reef and write a chapter
such as this on the doings of earlier adventurers.


  [1]   An interesting sketch of the palæolithic remains in South
        Africa is contained in two essays appended to Dr Alfred
        Hillier's 'Raid and Reform' (1898).

  [2]   The chief authorities on this curious subject are Mr
        Bent's 'Ruined Cities of Mashonaland,' Dr Schlichter's
        papers in the 'Geographical Journal,' Professor Keane's
        'Gold of Ophir,' and Dr Carl Peters' 'Eldorado of the
        Ancients.' Mr Wilmot's 'Monomotapa' contains an
        interesting collection of historical references from
        Phoenician, Arabian, and Portuguese sources; and in 'The
        Ancient Ruins of Rhodesia,' by Messrs Hall and Neal,
        there is a very complete description of the ruins
        examined up to date (1902), and a valuable digest of the
        various theories on the subject.

  [3]   There is an account of Bantu life in Dr Theal's
        'Portuguese in South Africa.' The same author's 'Kaffir
        Folk-lore' and M. Casalis' 'Les Bassoutos' contain much
        information on their customs and folk-lore; while Bishop
        Callaway's 'Nursery Tales of the Zulus,' M. Jacottet's
        'Contes Populaires des Bassoutos,' and M. Junod's
        'Chants et Contes des Baronga' and 'Nouveaux Contes
        Ronga' are interesting collections of folk-tales.



CHAPTER II.

THE GENTLEMEN-ADVENTURERS.


The world's changes, so philosophers have observed, spring from small
origins, though their reason and their justification may be ample
enough, and exercise the learned for a thousand years. A sailor's
tale, a book in an old library, may set the adventurer off on his
voyages, and presently empires arise, and his fatherland alters its
history. The world moves to no measured tune; everywhere there are
sudden breaks, paradoxes, high enterprises which end in smoke, and
pedestrian beginnings which issue in the imperial purple. All things
have their ground in theory, and by-and-by a dismal post-mortem
science will discover impulses which the adventurer never dreamed of.
Few lands, even the most remote, are without this variegated history,
and the crudest commercial power is built up on the _débris_ of
romance. South Africa, which is to-day, and to most men, a parvenu
country, founded on the Stock Exchange, has odd incidents in her
pedigree. Eliminate all the prehistoric guesses, strike out the Dutch,
and the Old World has still had its share in her fashioning. Europe
may seem only yesterday to have finally sealed her conquest, but she
has been trying her hand at it for five hundred years. And the result
of the oldest struggle has been a curious story of failure--often
heroic, seldom wise, but always fascinating, as such stories must be.
It is associated with one of the smallest, and to-day the least
enterprising, of European peoples; and it has issued in Portugal's
most notable over-sea possession. Every nation has its holy land of
endeavour--England in India, France in Algiers, Russia in Turkestan.
Such was South Africa to Portugal; much what Sicily was to the
Athenians, the place linked with all her hopes and with her direst
misfortunes.

Happily the adventure was not without its chroniclers. The Dominican
friar, dos Santos,[4] has sketched for us the empire at its zenith,
and de Barros, the Portuguese Secretary for the Indies, has piously
narrated its beginnings. But the matter-of-fact histories disguise the
real daring of the exploit. The chivalry of Europe in its most
characteristic form was carried 8000 miles from home to an unknown
land; civilisation of a kind, a Christian church, a code of honour,
the rudiments of law and commerce, and the amenities of life, were
planted on a narrow malarial seaboard by men who had taken years in
the voyage, and had scarcely a hope of return. It is said that a great
part of courage lies in having done the thing before, but there was no
such ingredient in the valour of those adventurers. Risking all on a
dream, they set off on their ten-year excursions, holding an almost
certain death as a fair stake in the game. The tenth who survived set
themselves cheerfully to transform their discoveries into a national
asset. They colonised as whole-heartedly, if not as wisely, as any
nation in the world. And in spite of the narrowest and most pragmatic
of cultures, they proved themselves singularly adaptable. The
Portuguese gentlemen, for whom the Cancioneiros were sung, became
Africans in everything but blood, adopting a new land under their old
flag, and doing their best to Christianise and colonise it. It was not
their fault that the unalterable laws of trade and the destinies of
races shattered in time the fabric at which they had laboured.

In 1445, the year in which Diniz Dias is reported to have rounded Cape
Verd, the Portuguese were the most daring seamen in Europe. Dwelling
on a promontory, they naturally turned their eyes southward and
westward, when peace and a moderate wealth gave them leisure for
fancies. Those were the days of the foreglow of the Renaissance.
Constantinople had not yet fallen, but the spirit of inquiry was
abroad, and a fresh wind had blown among scholastic cobwebs. The
Church had her share in the revival. A belated missionary, or, as it
may be, commercial, zeal stirred the ecclesiastical powers. Fresh
lands might be won for the Cross, and fresh moneys to build new abbeys
and endow new bishoprics. The merchants of Lisbon and Oporto saw gold
in every traveller's tale, and gladly risked a bark on a promising
undertaking. There lived, too, at the time a sagacious prince, Henry
the Navigator, the son of João I. and Philippa of Lancaster, himself
an amateur of colonisation, who set the fashion for courtiers and
citizens. So the young Portuguese squire, trained in the pride of his
caste, his mind nurtured on chivalrous tales, fired readily at the
strange rumours, and found a peaceful life among his vineyards no
satisfying career for a man. To him the white sea-wall of the harbour
was the boundary of the unknown. Out in the west lay the Purple
Islands of King Juba, the forgotten Atlantis, the lost Hesperides,
and dim classical recollections from the monastery school gave
authority to his fancies. There were but two careers for a gentleman,
arms and adventure, and the latter was for the moment the true magnet.
To him it might be given to find the Golden City, the Ophir of King
Solomon, or to penetrate beyond the deserts to where Prester John[5]
ruled his wild empire in the fear of God. And all the while in Europe
men were wrangling over creeds and syllogisms, questioning the powers
of the Church, grumbling over dogmas, dying for a few square miles of
territory. What wonder if to high-bred, high-spirited youth Europe
seemed all too narrow--especially to youth in that south-west corner
cut off by the sierras from the world? What mattered desperate peril
so long as it had daylight and honour in it? So with hope at his prow
and a clear conscience the adventurer set out on his travels.

The first object of Portuguese enterprise was Bilad Ghana, the modern
Senegal, which they knew of from Arab geographers. The land route
across the Sahara was closed to them, so they were compelled to reach
it by sea. It was Henry's dream to make the country a Portuguese
dependency, and Christianise it under the iron rule of the Order of
the Knights of Jesus Christ,--one of those schemes in which the
crusading spirit and a hunger for new territory are subtly blended in
the common fashion of the Age of the Adventurers. It was currently
believed that the Senegal River rose from a lake near the source of
the Nile, and would thus enable the Portuguese to join hands with the
Christian monarch of Abyssinia. A special indulgence was obtained from
the Pope for all who fought under the banner of the Order of Christ.
And so, blessed by the Church, a series of slave-raids began, which
were slowly pushed farther south till Cape Verd was reached, and the
great turn of the coast to the east began to puzzle the sea-captains.
Henry died in 1460, having added, as he believed, a vast territory to
the Portuguese Crown, called by the name of Guinea, which is Bilad
Ghana corrupted. That the future interests of its discoverer might be
properly cared for the new land was divided into parishes, whose
chaplains were bound to say one weekly mass for the Iffante's soul. By
the time of the death of Affonso V. in 1481 the Portuguese had passed
the Niger Delta, discovered the island of Fernando Po, and reached a
point two degrees south of the equator. In 1484 Diego Cam reached the
mouth of the Congo, and next year set up a marble pillar at Cape Cross
to mark his occupation. Another year and Bartolomeo Diaz touched at
Angra Pequena, pushed round the Cape, keeping far out to sea, to Algoa
Bay; and on returning discovered that Cabo Tormentoso which his king
christened Cabo da Boa Esperanza, the first earnest of the hope of the
new road to the Indies. Portugal had taken rank as the first of
seafaring powers, and, in Politian's words, stood forth as "the
trustee of a second world, holding in the hollow of her hand a vast
series of lands, ports, seas, and islands revealed by the industry of
her sons and the enterprise of her kings." Politian asked that the
great story might be written while the materials were yet fresh, but
unfortunately Portugal was richer at that time in sea-captains than in
men of letters.

On July 8, 1497, Vasco da Gama, the greatest of the world's sailors,
left Lisbon on the greatest of all voyages. The circumnavigation of
Africa was imposed upon the Archemenid Sataspes as a "penalty worse than
death," but to those adventurers death itself was an inconsiderable
accident. Five years before Columbus had made his first journey, an
enterprise not to be named in the same breath as da Gama's. On Christmas
day, having safely passed the Cape, he came to a land of green,
tree-clad shores, which he piously christened Natal. He pushed on past
the Limpopo and the Zambesi delta to Mozambique, where he found an Arab
colony, and to Mombasa, where the chief street still bears his name. He
reached Calicut safely on May 20, 1498, ten months and twelve days after
leaving Lisbon; and two years later he returned home with one-third of
the crew he had sailed with. The Grand Road was now defined; thenceforth
it was a trade-route to which commerce naturally turned. No more
romantic voyages were ever undertaken, for in those forlorn latitudes
Christian and Muslim, East and West, met in war and peace, and creeds
and ideas clashed in the strangest disorder. In the expedition of 1500
under Pedro Alvarez Cabral two men were set ashore at Melinda, north of
Mozambique, to look for Prester John, and history is silent on the fate
of the unfortunate gentlemen. In da Gama's second voyage Nilwa was
captured and the Portuguese East African empire began. A fierce
enthusiast was this same da Gama, for, meeting with a great ship of the
Sultan of Egypt, filled with Muslim pilgrims, he looted it from stem to
stern, and sent every pilgrim to Paradise.

After da Gama came Affonso d'Albuquerque, who seized Goa, and
established his country's hold on the Malabar coast, and pushing on
captured Malacca, the richest of the Portuguese trading stations. He
swept all alien navies from the Eastern seas, and established on a
sound basis of naval supremacy a great commercial empire. Nothing less
than the conquest of Turkey would satisfy him. He dreamed of allying
himself with Prester John, and establishing himself on the Upper Nile;
and again of raiding Medina, carrying off Muhammad's coffin, and
exchanging it for the Holy Sepulchre at Jerusalem. He captured Hormuz
on the Persian Gulf, and with it the enormous trade between India and
Asia Minor; and he was on the eve of leading an expedition against
Aden, which he saw to be the key of the Red Sea, when he was struck
down at Goa, and died, like the great seigneur he was, clothed in the
robes of his knightly order. Against his expressed wish he was buried
at Goa, for the Portuguese believed that, as long as the bones of
their intrepid leader lay there, their Empire of the East would stand.
So died the foremost of his countrymen, one who may rank with Olive as
the greatest of Christian viceroys.

Meantime the East African power had been fully established. Sofala and
Mozambique, the chief cities of the coast, had fallen to the
Portuguese, and their eyes turned to what they believed to be the
fabulously rich hinterlands, where Solomon had won his gold and ivory,
and Arab traders had for centuries found their hunting-ground. The
Monomotapa, the chief or emperor of the Makalanga, whose Zimbabwe was
situated somewhere in what we now know as Mashonaland, took the place
of Prester John in their imagination. They pushed up the Zambesi,
founding trading stations on the way, which still survive. They found
Ophir in every Bantu name, and began that long series of meaningless
wars of conquest which in the end shattered their dream of empire.
Gold-seeking has never been an enterprise blessed of Heaven; and the
Portuguese were more unlucky than most adventurers. They found
themselves involved in desperate wars; fever and poison carried off
their leaders; and the grandees, like Barreto and Homem, who in
cuirasses and velvets held indabas with Makalanga chiefs, got little
reward for their diplomacy. Soon the horizon narrowed, boundaries were
defined, and the colonist sat down in the coast towns to make a living
by legitimate trade.

The chief commercial importance of South-East Africa to the Portuguese
was as a port of call on the great trade-route to the Indies. The
skins, ivory, and gold, which the country produced, could never vie
with the organised exports of Goa and Calicut. So Mozambique and
Sofala became rather depots than supply-grounds, at which the great
ships anchored and refitted; points of vantage, too, in the endless
bickerings with Arab traders. There was a modest commerce with the
interior, with Tete as the chief depot, and Masapa, Luanze, and Bukoto
as the up-country stations. Each inland Portuguese trader was also a
diplomat. Through him the presents passed from the Portuguese king to
the savage "emperors," and, situated as he might be at Masapa, on the
very edge of the mountain Fura and the forbidden Makalanga country,
his duties were often most delicate and hazardous. The trade as a
whole was neither productive nor well managed. The whole empire was
undermanned. Portugal was colonising Brazil and West Africa at the
time she was sending out her adventurers to the East, and the little
kingdom in Europe could not long endure the strain. The sons she sent
forth rarely returned; and the estates at home fell out of cultivation
for lack of men. Meantime stronger and more fortunate races were
appearing in the Eastern waters. The Englishmen Newbery, Candish, and
Raymond began the rivalry, and the formidable Dutch followed next,
with their northern vigour and commercial aptitudes. In 1595 the first
of Linschoten's books was published, and opened up a new world for
Dutch enterprise. The Dutch East India Company soon wrested from
Portugal her Indian possessions, and in a little her East African
ports were mere isolated stations, much harassed by the Netherland
fleets, and the Grand Road had become a thing of the past.

But, as commerce declined, a new epoch in the Portuguese history
began. The disappearance of trade was followed by the advent of one of
the most heroic missionary brotherhoods in history. The Jesuit
Gonsalvo de Silveira was the pioneer, and a year after he landed in
Africa he was murdered by the Makalanga chief. Some fifty years later
the Dominicans joined the Jesuits, and till the beginning of the
eighteenth century laboured at their quixotic task. Now and then a
chief's son was baptised and attained to some degree of civilisation,
but the mass of the people, living among fierce tribal wars, cared
little for curious tales of peace. There was no ostentation with those
Bishops of This or That _in partibus infidelium_. No churches remain
to tell of their work. They lived simply in huts, and died a thousand
miles away from their kin, so that their very names are forgotten. In
our own day travellers in the Zambesi valley have come to kraals where
the people called themselves Christians, and showed a few perverted
rites in evidence, the one relic of those forgotten heroes. A few
incidents, however, have remained in men's minds. Luiz do Espirito
Santa, a prior of Mozambique, on being taken into the presence of the
Monomotapa and ordered to make obeisance, stiffened his back, and
replied that he did such homage to God alone; for which noble saying
he was duly murdered. The Shining Cross, which Constantine saw,
appeared also to the friar Manoel Sardinha when he led his forces
against the Makalanga. In 1652 the Monomotapa Manuza was received into
the Church, an event which was the occasion for a great thanksgiving
service at Lisbon, at which the king João IV. attended in state. His
son, Miguel, entered the Dominican order, was given the diploma of
Master of Theology, and died a vicar of the convent of Santa Barbara
in Goa. This barbarian Charles V., the greatest South African chief of
his time, may well be remembered among the few mortals who have
voluntarily renounced a crown.

And so the empire, having shipwrecked on a dream of gold and a land
where men could not live,[6] dwindled down to isolated forts and
stations, and the strenuous creed of the pioneers was softened into
the bastard contentment of the disheartened. Miserably and corruptly
governed, forgotten by Europe, they forgot Europe in turn, and a
strange somnolent life began of half-barbaric, wholly oriental
seigneurs, ruling as petty monarchs over natives from whom they were
not wholly distinct.[7] Instead of holding the outposts of European
culture, they sank themselves into the ways of the soil which their
forefathers had conquered. Round Tete and Inhambane and Sofala there
grew up great country estates, held on a kind of feudal tenure, where
the slack-mouthed grandee idled away his days. Set among acres of
orchards and gardens, those dwellings were often noble and sumptuous.
Thither came belated travellers, gold-seekers, shipwrecked seamen,
wandering friars, men of every nationality and trade, and in the prazo
of a de Mattos or a de Mira found something better than the mealie-pap
they had been living on in native kraals. Sitting on soft couches,
drinking good Madeira, and looking at a copy of a Murillo or a
Velasquez on the walls, they may well have extolled those oases in the
desert. The grandee had his harem, like any Arab sheikh; he dispensed
death cruelly and casually among his subjects; but as a rule he seems
to have had the virtue of hospitality, and welcomed gladly any
traveller with tales of the forgotten world. Fierce Bantu wars have
left few traces of those pleasant demesnes; but to the new-comer the
land where they once existed has still a quaint air of decadent
civilisation. Coming down from the high tableland of the interior,
which is the most strenuous land on earth, through the mountain glens
which, but for vegetation, might be Norway, one enters a country of
bush and full muddy rivers, a country of dull lifeless green and a
pestilent climate. But as one draws nearer the coast, where glimpses
of gardens appear and white-walled estancias, and rivers spread into
lagoons with spits of yellow sand and Arab boatmen, and, last of all,
the pale blue Indian Ocean stretches its sleepy leagues to the
horizon, there comes a new feeling into the scene, as of something
old, not new, decaying rather than undeveloped, which, joined with the
moist heat, makes the place

                             "A land
    In which it seemèd always afternoon,
    All round the coast the languid air did swoon,
    Breathing like one that hath a weary dream."

The tale of this empire, crude and melancholy as it is, provides an
instructive commentary on current theories of colonisation. From Tyre
and Sidon down to the last Teutonic performance, there is surely
sufficient basis to generalise on; but no two theorists are agreed
upon the laws which govern those racial adventures. The only approach
to a dogma is the theory that to colonise is to decentralise--that
before a vigorous life can begin over-sea the runners must be cut
which bind the colony to the homeland. France fails, we say, because a
Frenchman away from home cannot keep his mind off the boulevards; he
is for ever an exile, not a settler. Britain succeeds because her sons
find a land of their adoption. But the converse is equally important,
though too rare in its application to be often remembered. No race can
colonise which cannot decentralise its energy; but equally no race can
colonise which can wholly decentralise its sentiment and memory.
Portugal failed for this reason chiefly, that the Portuguese forgot
Portugal. Few peoples have been so adaptable. The white man's pride
died in their hearts. They were ready to mix with natives on equal
terms.[8] Now concubinage is bad, but legitimate marriage with
half-castes is infinitely worse for the _morale_ of a people. And
since Nature to the end of time has a care of races but not of
hybrids, this tolerant, foolish, unstable folk dropped out of the
battle-line of life, and sank from conquerors to resident aliens,
while their country passed from an empire to a vague seaboard. "A
people scattered by their wars and affairs over the whole earth, and
home-sick to a man," wrote Emerson of the English, and it is the trait
of the true colonist. It is as important to remember "sweet Argos" as
it is to avoid a womanish _heimweh_. For a colony is a sapling, bound
by the law of nature to follow the development of the parent tree. A
parcel of Englishmen on the Australian coast have no significance
without England at their back, to give them a tradition of manners and
government, to be their recruiting-ground, to hold out at once a
memory of home and an ideal of polity. Wars of separation may come,
but a colony is still a colony: it may have a different colour on the
map, but its moral complexion is the same; politically it may be a
rival, spiritually it remains a daughter.

The country, too, was wretchedly governed. The Portuguese viceroy,
often some impoverished noble, was in the same position as the Roman
proconsul, and had to restore his fortunes at the expense of the
provincials. Local administration was farmed out to local magnates,
another part of the crazy decentralisation which led to catastrophe.
There is more in bad government than hardship for the private citizen.
It means the weakening of the intellectual and moral nerve of the race
which tolerates it. Sound government is not, as revolutionary
doctrinaires used to think, the outcome of the grace of God and a
flawless code of abstractions. It means a perpetual effort, a keen
sense of reality, a constant facing and adjusting of problems. And it
is one of the laws of life that this high faculty is inconsistent with
extreme luxury and ease. A great governor may be one-fourth voluptuary,
but he must be three-parts politician. "Je n'aime pas beaucoup les
femmes," was one of Napoleon's self-criticisms, "ni le jeu--enfin rien;
je suis tout à fait un être politique." The thin strain of old-world
tradition was useless in men who were sheikhs, adventurers, grandees,
but never statesmen.

But the ultimate source of weakness was economic. The settlements
were unproductive in any real sense. The empire was a chain of forts
and depots, and on no side was the ruling power organically connected
with the soil. A colony should be built up of farmers and miners and
manufacturers, having for its basis the productive energy of the land.
To exploit is not to colonise, and on this side there is the most
urgent need for decentralisation. The Portuguese lost their European
culture, but they remained adventurers and aliens. Their traders
bargained for produce, but they never went to the root of the matter
and organised production. They had no ranches or plantations, only
their trading-booths. Like the Carthaginians, they carried their
commerce to the ends of the earth, and left the ends of the earth
radically unaffected by their presence. People repeat glibly that trade
follows the flag, and that commerce is the basis of empire. And in a
sense it is true, for an empire without commercial inter-relations and
a solid basis of material prosperity is a house built on the sand. But
if the maxim be taken in the sense that commerce is in itself a
sufficient imperial bond, it is the most fatal of heresies. The Dutch,
in their heyday, had an empire chiefly of forts and factories; and what
part has the Dutch empire played in the destinies of mankind? No race
or kingdom can endure which is not rooted in the soil, drawing
sustenance from natural forces, increasing by tillage and forestry,
pasturage and mining and manufacture, the aggregate of the world's
production. And the need is as much moral as economic. The trader pure
and simple--Tyrian, Greek, Venetian, Dutch, or Portuguese--is too
cosmopolitan and adventitious to be the staple of a strong race. He has
not the common local affections; he is not knit close enough to nature
in his toil. To wrest a living from the avarice of the earth is to form
character with the salt and iron of power in it. India, it is true, is
a partial exception; but India is a unique case of a long-settled
subject people ruled wisely by a race which has sufficient breadth and
vitality in its culture to spare time for the experiment. It is to
colonies, which must always form the major part of an empire, that the
maxim applies; for the former is a native power under tutelage, while
the latter is the expansion of the parent country beyond the seas. And
this expansion must be more than commercial. The colony must be founded
in the soil, its people with each generation becoming more indigenous,
and its wealth based on its own toil and enterprise; otherwise it is
but such a chain of factories as the Portuguese established, which the
proverbial whiff of grape-shot may scatter to-morrow.


  [4]   There is an English abbreviation of dos Santos in
        Pinkerton's 'General Collection of Voyages and
        Travels.' The original work was printed at Evora in
        1609.

  [5]   The Portuguese geographers divided Central Africa into
        Angola in the west, the kingdom of Prester John in the
        north (Abyssinia), and the empire of Monomotapa
        (Mashonaland) in the south. The real Prester John was a
        Nestorian Christian in Central Asia, whose khanate was
        destroyed by Genghis Khan about the end of the twelfth
        century; but the name became a generic one for any
        supposed Christian monarch in unknown countries.

  [6]   Purchas wrote, "Barreto was discomfited not by the Negro
        but by the Ayre, the malignity whereof is the same sauce
        of all their golden countries in Africa."

  [7]   One missionary wrote, "They have already lost the
        knowledge of Christians and thrown away the obligations
        of Faith" (Wilmot, 'Monomotapa,' p. 215).

  [8]   Among the Baronga, the Bantu tribe who live around Delagoa
        Bay, there are some ancient folk-tales, derived from
        Portuguese sources, in which the heroes have Portuguese
        names, such as João, Boniface, Antonio. One tale about
        the king's daughter, who was saved from witchcraft by
        the courage of a young adventurer called João, is a form
        of the story of Jack and the ugly Princess, which
        appears throughout European folk-lore. Cf. M. Junod's
        'Chants et Contes des Baronga,' pp. 274-322.



CHAPTER III.

THE GREAT TREK.


Every race has its Marathon into which the historian does not inquire
too closely who has a reverence for holy places and a fear of
sacrilege. It may be a battle or a crusade, a creed, or perhaps only a
poem, but whatever it is, it is part and parcel of the national life,
and it is impossible to reach the naked truth through the rose-coloured
mists of pious tradition. A Sempach or a Bannockburn cannot be
explained by a bare technical history. The spirit of a nation was in
arms, the national spirit was the conqueror, and the combatants appear
more than mere flesh and blood, walking "larger than human" on the
hills of story. This phenomenon has merits which it is hard to
exaggerate. It is the basis for the rhetorical self-confidence which is
essential to a strong race. It is a fountain from which generous youth
can draw inspiration, an old watchword to call the inert to battle. If
the race has a literature, it helps to determine its character; if the
race has none, it provides a basis for fireside tales. The feeblest
Greek at the court of Artaxerxes must have now and then straightened
himself when he remembered Salamis. Without such a retrospect a people
will live in a crude present, and, having no buttress from the past,
will fare badly from the rough winds of life.

To the Boer the Great Trek is the unrecorded but ever-remembered
Odyssey of his people. He has a long memory, perhaps because of his
very slowness and meagreness of fancy. His life was so monotonous that
the tale of how his fathers first came into the land inspired him by
its unlikeness to his own somnolent traditions. Besides, he had a
Scriptural parallel. The persecuted children of Israel, in spite of
the opposition of Pharaoh, had fled across the desert from Egypt and
found a Promised Land. The Boer sense of analogy is extremely vivid
and extremely inexact. Here he saw a perfect precedent. A God-fearing
people, leaving their homes doubtless at the call of the Most High,
had fled into the wilds of Amalek and Edom, conquered and dispossessed
the Canaanites, and occupied a land which, if not flowing with milk
and honey, was at least well grassed and plentifully watered. How keen
the sense of Scriptural example was, and how constantly present to the
Boer mind was the thought that he was following in the footsteps of
Israel, is shown by one curious story. The voortrekkers, pushing out
from Pretoria, struck a stream which flowed due north, the first large
north-running water they had met. Moreover, it was liable to droughts
and floods recurring at fixed seasons. What could it be but the great
river of Egypt? So with immense pious satisfaction they recognised it
as the Nile, and the Nyl it remains to this day.

The thought of a national exodus comes easily to the Aryan mind,--an
inheritance from primeval Asian wanderings. And in itself it is
something peculiarly bold and romantic, requiring a renunciation of
old ties and sentiments impossible to an over-domesticated race. It
requires courage of a high order and a confident faith in destiny.
Perhaps the courage needed in the case of the Great Trek was less
than in most similar undertakings, because of the cheering Scriptural
precedent and the lack of that imagination which can vividly forecast
the future. The past history of the Boer, too, prepared him for
desperate enterprises. Made up originally of doubtful adventurers from
Holland, hardihood grew up in their blood as they pushed northwards
from the seacoast. The people of the littoral might be, as Lady Anne
Barnard found them, sluggish and spiritless; but the farmers of
Colesberg and Graaff-Reinet were in the nature of things a different
breed. The true Dutch blood does not readily produce an adventurer,
but it was leavened and sublimated by a French Huguenot strain, scions
of good families exiled for the most heroic of causes. The coarse
strong Dutch stock swallowed them up; the language disappeared, the
Colberts became Grobelaars, the Villons Viljoens, the Pinards
Pienaars; but something remained of _élan_ and spiritual exaltation.
Harassed from the north by Griqua and Hottentot bandits, and from the
east by Kaffir incursions, they became a hardy border race, keeping
their own by dint of a strong arm. The quiet of the great sun-washed
spaces entered into their souls. They grew taciturn, ungraceful,
profoundly attached to certain sombre dogmas, impatient of argument or
restraint, bad citizens for any modern State, but not without a
gnarled magnificence of their own. They were out of line with the
whole world, far nearer in kinship to an Old Testament patriarch than
to the townsfolk with whom they shared the country. All angles and
corners, they presented an admirable front to savage nature; but they
were hard to dovetail into a complex modern society. They would have
made good Ironsides, and would have formed a stubborn left wing at
Armageddon, but they did ill with franchises and taxes and paternal
legislation.

I will take two savage tales from their history to show what manner of
men they were in extremity. A certain Frederick Bezuidenhout, a farmer
in the Bruintje Hoogte, and by all accounts a dabbler in less reputable
trades, was summoned on some charge before the landdrost of the
district, and declined to appear. A warrant was issued for his
apprehension, and a party of soldiers sent out to enforce it, whereupon
Bezuidenhout took refuge in a cave, and was shot dead in its defence.
The fiery cross went round among his relatives; overtures, which were
refused, were made to the Kaffir chiefs, and Jan Bezuidenhout, the
brother of the dead man, swore to fealty a band of as pretty outlaws as
ever dwelt on a border. The insurrection failed; thirty-nine of the
insurgents were captured, and five were hanged, and Jan Bezuidenhout
himself was shot in the Kaffir country by an advance party of the
pursuit. Such is the too famous story of Slachter's Nek. The tale of
Conrad de Buys[9] and his doings is wilder but more obscure. A man of
great physical strength and the worst character, he was the leader of
the sterner desperadoes on the Kaffir border. Through living much in
native kraals he had become little better than a savage. He was mixed
up in Van Jaarsveld's insurrection, and by-and-by his private crimes
exceeded his political by so much that he was compelled to flee into
the northern wilds. This first of the voortrekkers is next heard of on
the banks of the Limpopo, living in pure barbarism, with a harem of
Kaffir wives and an immense prestige among his neighbours. The emigrant
party under Potgieter, on their return from Delagoa Bay, found
somewhere in the Lydenburg hills two half-breeds who called this
ruffian father and acted as interpreters. Conrad peopled the Transvaal
with his children, whom he seems to have ruled in a patriarchal
fashion, forming a real Buys clan, who still hang together at Marah, in
Zoutpansberg. In the Pietersburg Burgher camp during the war there was
a Buys location, who strenuously urged their claim to be considered a
white people and burghers of the republic.

Such was one element in the race of border farmers--a substratum of
desperate lawlessness. But there were other elements, many of them
noble and worthy. Their morals were less bad than peculiar; their
lawlessness rather an inability to understand restrictions than an
impulse to disorder. They had their own staunch loyalties, their own
strict code of honour. They had the self-confidence of a people whose
dogmatic foundations are unshaken, and who are in habitual intercourse
with an inferior race. In a rude way they were kindly and hospitable.
They had a courage so unwavering that it may be called an instinct,
and the bodily strength which comes from bare living and constant
exertion. "Simple" and "pastoral" used to be words of praise. During
the late war they became a sneer; but it is well to recognise that
while they may comprise the gravest faults they must denote a few
sterling virtues.

When Pieter Retief left Graaff-Reinet in 1837, he issued an ingenious
proclamation which contains his justification of the Great Trek. He
complains of the unnecessary hardships attending the emancipation of
the slaves, the insecurity of life and property caused by the absence
of proper vagrancy laws, and the disaster certain to attend Lord
Glenelg's reversal of British policy on the Kaffir border. Retief was a
man of high and conscientious character, and his profession of faith is
valuable as showing the view of current politics held by the better
class of the voortrekkers. They did not defend slavery--Retief
expressly repudiates it; but they objected to the method of its
abolition, and the lack of precautions for future public safety which
the event demanded. Lord Glenelg's withdrawal from the eastern border
to the boundary of the Keiskama and Tyumie rivers, as fixed by Lord
Charles Somerset in 1819, appeared to them a flagrant piece of
weakness which sooner or later must make life on that border
impossible. They saw no hope of redress from the imperial Government,
which seemed to be dominated by philanthropic hysteria. It is a grave
indictment, and worth examination. The slavery question stands in the
foreground. The ocean slave-trade was suppressed in 1807, and the
English abolitionists had leisure to turn their minds to South Africa.
The first progressive enactment came in 1816, when the registration of
slaves and slave-births was made compulsory in every district. In 1823
a series of laws were passed restricting slave labour on the Sabbath,
giving slaves the right of owning property, and limiting the
punishments to which they were liable. In 1826 officials were
appointed in country districts to watch over slave interests, and see
that the protective enactments were carried out. The famous Fiftieth
Ordinance of 1828 gave the Hottentots the same legal rights as the
white colonists. Meanwhile for years a great missionary agitation for
total abolition had been going on, which was powerfully supported by
the Whig party in England. The Dutch saw clearly the trend of events,
and, in what is known as the "Graaff-Reinet proposals," attempted to
procure gradually the emancipation which they realised was bound to
come. They proposed, unanimously, that after a date to be fixed by
Government all female children should be free at birth, and, by a
majority, that all male children born after the same date should also
be free. I cannot find in these proposals the insidious attempt to
defeat the movement which some writers have discerned: they seem to
me to be as fair and reasonable an offer as we could expect a
slave-holding class to make. But the British attitude is also
perfectly clear. Slave-holding had been condemned as a crime by the
national conscience, and there could be no temporising with the evil
thing. Here, again, a certain kind of education was necessary to
appreciate the point of view. The farmers of Graaff-Reinet had not
listened to the harangues of Wilberforce and Fowell Buxton; Zion
Chapel and its all-pervading atmosphere of mild brotherly love were
not within the compass of their experience. England was right, as she
generally is in policies which are inspired by a profound popular
conviction; but she could hardly expect men of a very different
training to fall in readily with her views. In any case the working
out of the policy was attended by many blunders. The Emancipation Act
took effect in Cape Colony from the 1st of December 1834. £1,200,000
seems a rather inadequate compensation for 35,000 slaves, and as each
claim had to be presented before commissioners in London, the farmer
had perforce to employ an agent, who bought up his claims at a
discount of anything from 18 to 30 per cent.

The losses from emancipation were chiefly felt in the rich agricultural
districts of the colony, such as Stellenbosch, Ceres, and Worcester; the
border farmers were not a large slave-owning class, and the lack of
cheap labour did not trouble them. But emancipation meant a general
dislocation of credit all over the country. A man who in 1833 was
counted a rich man was comparatively poor in 1835, and this _peripeteia_
had a bad effect on the whole farming class. It was rather the spirit of
the Act which the Boers of Graaff-Reinet complained of,--the theory, to
them ridiculous, that the black man could have legal rights comparable
with the white, and the sense of insecurity which dwellers under such a
_régime_ must feel. The average Boer was an arbitrary but not an unkind
slave-master; he regarded his slaves as part of his _familia_, an
enclosure to which the common law should not penetrate. To be limited by
statute in the use of what he considered his chattels, to find hundreds
of officious gentlemen ready to take the part of the chattels on any
occasion against him, were pills too bitter to swallow. Emancipation
produced vagrants, and he asked for a stringent vagrancy law which his
landrosts could administer. England, refusing naturally to take away
with one hand what she had given with the other, declined to expose the
emancipated slave to the arbitrariness of local tribunals. Well, argued
the farmers, our slaves, being free, have become rogues and vagabonds;
they may plunder us at their pleasure and England will take their part:
it is time for us to seek easier latitudes.

But the chief factor in Dutch dissatisfaction was undoubtedly Lord
Glenelg's limitation of the eastern border line. There is something to
be said for the view of that discredited, and, to tell the truth, not
very wise statesman. The Boer was a bad neighbour for a Kaffir people.
He was always encroaching, spurred on by that nomadic something in
his blood--a true Campbell of Breadalbane, who built his house on the
limits of his estate that he might "brise yont." A buffer state was
apt to become very soon a Boer territory. Better to try and establish
a strong Kaffir people, who might attain to some semblance of national
life, and under the maternal eye of Britain become useful and
progressive citizens. So reasoned Lord Glenelg and his advisers,
missionary and official. Unfortunately facts were against him, the
chimera of a Kaffir nation was soon dispelled, and ten years later Sir
Harry Smith, a governor who did not suffer from illusions, made the
eastern province a Kaffir reserve under a British commissioner. The
frontier Boer, however, was not in a position to share any sentiment
about a Kaffir nation. He saw his cattle looted, his family compelled
to leave their newly acquired farm, and a long prospect of Kaffir
raids where the presumption of guilt would always be held to lie
against his own worthy self. Above all things he saw a barred door. No
more "brising yont" for him on the eastern border. Expansion, space,
were as the breath of his nostrils, and if he could not have them in
the old colony he would seek them in the untravelled northern wilds.

There were thus certain well-defined reasons for the Great Trek in
contemporary politics which, combined with distorted memories like
Slachter's Nek, made up in Boer eyes a very complete indictment
against Pharaoh and his counsellors. But the real reason lay in his
blood. Had the British Government been all that he could desire, he
would still have gone. He was a wanderer from his birth, and trekking,
even for great distances, was an incident of his common life. A
pastoral people have few vested interests in land. There are no
ancient homesteads to leave, or carefully-tended gardens or rich
corn-lands. Their wealth is in their herds, which can be driven at
will to other pastures. The Boer rarely built much of a farm, and he
never fenced. A cottage, a small vegetable-yard, and a stable made up
the homestead on even large farms on the border. There was nothing to
leave when he had gathered his horned cattle into a mob, yoked his
best team to his waggon, and stowed his rude furniture inside. With
his rifle slung on his shoulder, he was as free to take the road as
any gipsy. He was leaving the country of the alien, where mad fancies
held sway and unjust laws and taxes oppressed him. He was bound for
the far lands of travellers' tales, the country of rich grass and
endless game, where he could live as he pleased and preserve the
fashions of his fathers unchanged. He would meet with fierce tribes,
but his elephant-gun, as he knew from experience, was a match for many
assegais. There was much heroism in the Great Trek, but there was also
for the young and hale an exhilarating element of sport. To them it
was a new, strange, and audacious adventure. No predikant accompanied
the emigrants. The Kirk did not see the Scriptural parallel, and to a
man preferred the treasure in Egypt to the doubtful fortunes of
Israel.

The first party consisted of about thirty waggons, under the
leadership of Louis Trichard and Jan van Rensburg. They travelled
slowly, the men hunting along the route, and outspanned for days, and
even weeks, at pleasant watering-places. The main object of those
pioneers was to ascertain the road to Delagoa Bay; so they did not
seek land for settlement, but pushed on till they came to Piet
Potgieter's Rust, a hundred miles or so north of Pretoria, which they
thought to be about the proper latitude. Here the party divided. Van
Rensburg and his men went due east into the wild Lydenburg country on
their way to the coast, and were never heard of again. Trichard waited
a little, and then slowly groped his way through the Drakensberg to
Portuguese territory. The band suffered terribly from fever; their
herds were annihilated by the tsetse fly, of which they now heard for
the first time; but in the end about twenty-six survivors struggled
down to the bay and took ship for Natal. So ended the adventure of the
path-finders. The next expedition was led by the famous Andries
Potgieter, and came from the Tarka and Colesberg districts. The little
Paulus Kruger, a boy of ten, travelled with the waggons to the country
which he was to rule for long. Potgieter settled first in the
neighbourhood of Thaba 'Nchu on the Basuto border, and bought a large
tract of land from a Bataung chief. Farms were marked out, and a few
emigrants remained, but the majority pushed on to the north and east.
Some crossed the Vaal, and finding a full clear stream coming down
from the north, christened it the Mooi or Fair River; and here in
after-days, faithful to their first impression, they planted the old
capital of the Transvaal. Potgieter with a small band set off on the
search for Delagoa Bay, but he seems to have lost himself in the
mountains between Lydenburg and Zoutpansberg. On his return he found
that Mosilikatse's warriors had at last given notice of their
presence, and had massacred a number of small outlying settlements. So
began one of the sternest struggles in South African history.

Potgieter gathered all the survivors into a great laager at a place
called Vechtkop, between the Rhenoster and Wilge rivers. The
precaution was taken none too soon, for one morning a few days later
a huge native army appeared, led by the chief induna of Mosilikatse.
The odds, so far as can be gathered, were about a hundred to one, but
the little band was undaunted, and Sarel Celliers, a true Cromwellian
devotee of the Bible and the sword, called his men to prayer. Then
forty farmers rode out from the laager, galloped within range, spread
out and fired a volley, riding back swiftly to reload. They did good
execution, but forty men, however bold, cannot disperse 5000, and in a
little the Matabele were round the laager, and the siege began. The
defence was so vigorous that after heavy losses the enemy withdrew,
driving with them the little stock which formed the sole wealth of the
emigrants.

The glove had been thrown down and there could be no retreat. Midian
must be destroyed root and branch before Israel could possess the
land. After a short rest Potgieter and Gerrit Maritz began the war of
reprisals. With a commando of over 100 men and a few Griqua followers,
they forded the Vaal, crossed the Magaliesberg, and arrived at
Mosilikatse's chief kraal at Mosega. The farmers' victory was
complete. Over 400 of the Matabele were slain, several thousand head
of cattle secured, and the kraal given to the flames. Potgieter
returned to found the little town of Winburg in memory of his victory,
and, with the assistance of Pieter Retief, to frame a constitution for
the nascent state. But Mosilikatse still remained. He had not been
present at the _debâcle_ of Mosega, and while he remained on the
frontier there was no security for life and property. New recruits had
come up from the south, including the redoubtable family of Uys, the
horses were in good condition, all had had a breathing-space; so a new
and more formidable expedition started in search of the enemy. They
found him on the Marico, and for nine days fought with him on the old
plan of a charge, a volley, and a retreat. Then one morning there was
no enemy to fight; a cloud of dust to the north showed the line of his
flight; Mosilikatse had retired across the Limpopo. Whereupon the
emigrants proclaimed the whole of the late Matabele territory--the
Transvaal, the Orange River Colony, and a portion of Bechuanaland--as
theirs by the right of conquest.

So runs the tale of the Great Trek,--rather an Iliad than an Odyssey,
perhaps, and a very bloodthirsty Iliad, too. To most men it must seem
a noble and spirited story. Whatever the justice of the emigrants'
grievances, they conducted themselves well in their self-imposed
exile. Potgieter and his men were indeed rather exceptional specimens
of their race, and they were strung to the highest pitch by Christian
faith and the unchristian passion of revenge. They relapsed, when all
was over, to a somewhat ordinary type of farmer, which seems to bear
out the general conception of the Boer character--that, while it is
capable of high deeds, it is powerful by sudden effort rather than by
sustained and strenuous toil. The experiment which began so well
should have ended in something better than two bourgeois republics.
There are some who see in the tale nothing more than an unwarranted
invasion of native territory, and a cruel massacre of a brave race. No
view could be more unjust. The Matabele had not a scrap of title to
the country, and had not dwelt in it more than a few years. The real
owners, if you can talk of ownership at all, were the unfortunate
Bataungs and Barolongs, whom the emigrants befriended. The Matabele
were indeed as murderous a race of savages as ever lived, and their
defeat was a moral as well as a political necessity. It is well to
protect the aborigine, but when he is armed with a dozen assegais and
earnestly desires your blood, it is safer to shoot him or drive him
farther afield. That the Boers were guilty of atrocities in those
fierce wars is undoubted, and, if some tales be true, unpardonable.
But there are excuses to be made. When a man has seen his child
writhing on a spear and his wife mutilated; when he reflects that he
stands alone against impossible odds, and has a keen sense, too, of
Scriptural parallels,--he may be forgiven if he slays and spares not,
and even gives way to curious cruelties. Revenge and despair may play
odd pranks with the best men: _tout comprendre c'est tout pardonner_.

What, then, is the proper view to take of this footnote to the world's
history, this Marathon of an unimaginative race? It is possible to see
in it only an attempt of a half-savage people to find elbow-room for
their misdeeds. The voortrekkers, it has been said, fled the approach
of a mild and enlightened modern policy, invaded a land which was not
theirs, slaughtered a people who had every right to resist them, and
created for themselves space to practise their tyranny over the
native, and perpetuate their exploded religious and political creed in
a retrograde society. It is easy to say this, as it is easy to explain
the doings of the Pilgrim Fathers as a flight from a too liberal and
tolerant land to wilds where intolerance could rule unchecked. With
the best will in the world to scrutinise Dutch legends, the Great Trek
seems to me just that legend which can well support any scrutiny. For
it was first and foremost a conflict between civilisations. There were
strong and worthy men among the voortrekkers, as there were estimable
people among their opponents. The modern political creed, based on
English constitutionalism, stray doctrines of the French Revolution,
and certain economic maxims from Bentham and Adam Smith, is, in spite
of minor differences, common to the civilised world. This was the
creed which was forced upon the Border Dutch, and, having received no
education in the axioms on which it was based, they unhesitatingly
rejected it, and clung to their old Scriptural feudalism. When two
creeds come into conflict, the older and weaker usually goes under.
But in this case the men on the losing side were of a peculiar temper
and dwelt in a peculiar country. They took the bold path of carrying
themselves and their creed to a new land, and so extended its lease of
life for the better part of a century. Let us take the parallel of the
American Civil War. The North fought for the cause of the larger civic
organism and certain social reforms which were accidentally linked to
it. The South stood for the principle of nationality, and for certain
traditions of their own particular nationality. Roughly speaking, it
was the same conflict; but the Southern creed perished because there
was no practicable hinterland to which it could be transplanted. Had
there been, I do not think its most stubborn opponents would have
denied admiration to so bold an endeavour to preserve a national
faith.

The Great Trek set its seal upon the new countries. The Orange River
Colony and the Transvaal are still in the rural places an emigrant's
land. The farmhouse is the unit; the country dorps are merely jumbles
of little shanties to supply the farmers' wants. The place-names, with
the endless recurrence of simple descriptive epithets like Sterkstroom
or Klipfontein, or expressions of feeling like Nooitgedacht or
Welgevonden, still tell the tale of the first discoverers. There is
no obscurity in the nomenclature, such as is found in an old land
where history has had time to be forgotten. Any farm-boy will tell you
how this river came to be named the Ox-Yoke or that hill the Place of
Weeping. It has made the people a solemn, ungenial folk, calculating
and thrifty in their ways, and given to living in hovels which suggest
that here they have no continuing city. Perhaps, as has been said, no
performance, however stupendous, is worth loss of geniality; and the
finer graces of life have never had a chance on the veld. There is
gipsy blood in their veins, undying vagabondage behind all their
sleepy contentment. The quiet of the old waggon journeys, when men
counted the days on a notched stick that they might not miss the still
deeper quiet of the Sabbaths, has gone into the soul of a race which
still above all things desires space and leisure. It is this gipsy
endowment which made them born warriors after a fashion; it is this
which gives them that apathy in the face of war losses which
discomfits their sentimental partisans. Britain in her day has won
many strange peoples to her Empire; but none, I think, more curious or
more hopeful than the stubborn children of Uys and Potgieter.


  [9]   In Lichtenstein's 'Travels in South Africa' (1803-6)
        there is an interesting and comparatively favourable
        account of Buys in his Cape Colony days.



CHAPTER IV.

THE BOER IN SPORT.


It is a fair working rule of life that the behaviour of a man in his
sports is a good index to his character in graver matters. With
certain reservations the same holds true of a people. For on the
lowest interpretation of the word "sport," the high qualities of
courage, honour, and self-control are part of the essential equipment,
and the mode in which such qualities appear is a reflex of the
idiosyncrasies of national character. But this is true mainly of the
old settled peoples, whose sports have long lost the grim reality in
which they started. To a race which wages daily war with savage nature
the refinements of conduct are unintelligible; sport becomes business;
and unless there is a hereditary tradition in the matter the fine
manners of the true hunter's craft are notable by their absence.

It is worth while considering the Boer in sport, for it is there he is
seen at his worst. Without tradition of fair play, soured and harassed
by want and disaster, his sport became a matter of commerce, and he
held no device unworthy in the game. He hunted for the pot, and the
pot cast its shadow over all his doings. His arms were rarely in the
old days weapons of precision, and we can scarcely expect much
etiquette in the pursuit of elephant or lion in a bush country with a
smooth-bore gun which had a quaint trajectory and a propensity to
burst. The barbarous ways which he learned in those wild games he
naturally carried into easier sports. Let us admit, too, that the Boer
race has produced a few daring and indefatigable hunters, who, though
rarely of the class of a Selous or a Hartley, were yet in every way
worthy of the name of sportsmen. I have talked with old Boers from the
hunting-veld, and in their tales of their lost youth there was a
fervour which the commercial results of their expeditions did not
explain. But the fact remains that to an Englishman the Boers, with a
few exceptions, are not a sporting race--they are not even a race of
very skilful hunters. They came to the land when game was abundant and
they thinned it out; but the manner of this thinning was as prosaic as
the routine of their daily lives.

One advantage the Boer possessed in common with all dwellers in new
lands--he was familiar from childhood with gun and saddle, and had to
face the world on his own legs from his early boyhood. In this way he
acquired what one might call the psychological equipment of the
hunter. Any one who has hunted in wild countries will remember the
first sense of strangeness, the feeling that civilisation had got too
far away for comfort, which is far more eerie than common nervousness.
To this feeling the Boer was an utter stranger. It was as natural for
him to set a trap for a lion before returning at nightfall, or to go
off to the hunting-veld for four winter months, as it was to sow in
spring and reap in autumn. And because it was an incident of his
common life he imported into it a ridiculous degree of domesticity. On
his farm he shot for the pot; on his winter treks with stock to the
bush-veld and the wilder hunting expeditions for skins and horns he
carried his wife and family in his buck-waggon, built himself a hut
in the wilds, and reproduced exactly the life of the farm. It was easy
to reproduce anywhere, for it was simplicity itself. Mealie-meal,
coffee, and some coarse tobacco were his supplies, and fresh meat when
game fell to his gun. So it is not to be wondered at if hunting became
to him something wholly destitute of romance and adventure, an affair
like kirk and market, where business was the beginning and the end.

But besides the Boer who farmed first and hunted afterwards, there was
the Boer who hunted by profession. The class is almost extinct, but in
outlying farms one may still meet the old hunter and listen to his
incredible tales. Some were men of the first calibre, the pioneers of
a dozen districts, men of profound gravity and placid temper, who
rarely told the tale of their deeds. But the common hunter is above
all things a talker. Like the Kaffir, he brags incessantly, and a
little flattery will lead him into wild depths. He lies to the
stranger, because he cannot be contradicted; he lies to his friends,
because they are connoisseurs in the art and can appreciate the work
of a master. Boer hunting tales, therefore, should be received with
extreme caution. They would often puzzle an expert lawyer, for they
are full of minute and fallacious particulars, skilfully put together,
and forming as a rule a narrative of single-hearted heroism. I have
listened to a Boer version of a lion-hunt, and I have heard the facts
from other members of the same party; and the contrast was a lesson in
the finer arts of embroidery. But this society had its compensations.
Those men live on the outer fringe of Boerdom; they have no part in
politics and few ties to the civilised society of Pretoria; and the
result is that race hatred and memory of old strifes have always had
a smaller place in their hearts. Without the virtues of their
countryman, they are often free from his more unsocial failings.

It is as a big-game hunter that he has acquired his reputation, and by
big game he meant the lion and the elephant, animals which he had to
go farther afield and run greater risks to secure. The old race of
elephant-hunters were a strong breed, men in whom courage from long
experience had become a habit; and certainly they had need of it with
their long-stocked cumbrous flint-locks, which might put out a man's
shoulder in the recoil. They knew their business and took no needless
risks, for elephant-hunting is a thing which can be learned. Save in
thick bush, there is little real danger; and if the hunter awaits a
charging elephant, a point-blank shot at a few yards will generally
make the animal swerve. Mr Selous, whose authority is beyond question,
has drawn these men as they appeared to him in Mashonaland--skilful
shikarris, but jealous, uncompanionable, often treacherous as we count
honour in sport; and Oswell's story is the same. The lion, which, in
spite of tales to the contrary, remains one of the two most dangerous
quarries in the world, was a different affair to them. There was
little commercial profit from shooting him, and they had no other
motive to face danger. Nor can we blame them, for a charging lion to a
man with an uncertain gun means almost as sure destruction as a
shipwreck in mid-ocean. The Boer hunter shot him for protection,
rarely for sport. Very few of the lions killed on the high veld fell
to rifles; a trap-gun set near a drinking-place was the ordinary way
of dealing with them. Mr Ericsen, the most famous of Kalahari
pioneers, who brought many herds of Ovampa and Damara cattle across
the desert, used to tell this story of Boer prowess in lion-hunting.
He was travelling with a party of Boer hunters, and one night a lion
killed one of the oxen. The men were in a fury, and urged Mr Ericsen
to follow, bragging that each of them was prepared to tackle the beast
single-handed. Mr Ericsen said that he was no hunter, but promised to
let them have his dogs and natives to follow up the spoor in the
morning. But when the morning came the party had silently dispersed,
mortally afraid lest they should be expected to fulfil their promises.
In the long list of South African big-game hunters the names are
mostly English,--Gordon-Cumming, Byles, Hartley, Oswell, Sharpe,
Selous, Francis, John Macdonald,--and the reason does not wholly lie
in the inability and disinclination of the Boer to bring his deeds
from the rhetoric of talk to the calmer record of print.

At other four-footed game, from the buffalo to the duiker, the Boer
was generally a fair shot, in some cases a good shot, but very rarely
a great shot. Reputation in marksmanship was very much a matter of
accident. A happy fluke with them, as with natives, might make a
reputation for life, though the man in question shot badly ever
afterwards. The number of Boer marksmen of the first rank could be
counted on the ten fingers. On the other hand, the nature of their
life produced a very high average. The Boer boy shot from the day he
could hold a rifle, and there were few utter failures among them. To
be sure, it was not pretty shooting. His first business was to get the
game, and if he could do it by sitting on a tree near the stream and
killing at twenty yards, he did it gladly. When he went hunting he
reflected that his cartridges cost him 3d. apiece, and were all that
stood between him and starvation; so very naturally he became as poky
a shot as the English gamekeeper who is sent out to kill for the
table. If a hunter took out 500 cartridges and brought back 120 head
of game, he was reckoned a good man at his work. To this, of course,
there were exceptions, such as old Jan Ludig, who once in Waterberg
shot five gnu (who travel in Indian file) within seven miles. The name
of Mr Van Rooyen, too, familiar to all Matabele hunters, shows what
the Dutch race can produce in the way of marksmanship and veld-craft.
In one branch of the chase they were consummate masters. The Boer
method of stalking is an art by itself, for it is really a kind of
driving, by showing oneself at strategic points till the game is
forced into suitable ground. In open country they also followed with
great success the method of riding down. Mounted on a good shooting
pony, the hunter galloped alongside a herd till he was within
reasonable distance; then in a trice he was on the ground, had
selected his animal, and fired--all within a few seconds. This was a
risky game for a large party, owing to the very rude etiquette which
prevailed on the subject of shooting in your neighbour's direction;
and I have heard of many seriously wounded and even killed by their
companions' shots. Still another way was to ride alongside an animal
and shoot him from the saddle at a few paces' distance. This was
called "brandt" or "burning," and required a firm seat and a very
steady eye.

Birds were thought little of, except by some of the more advanced
farmers and by sportsmen from the towns. The country is full of many
excellent sporting birds: guineafowl, quail, francolin, duck, geese,
and several kinds of partridge and bustard; but though a few farmers
shot wildfowl on their dams, the average Boer was a poor shot with a
gun, and when he did use one he liked to take his birds sitting. A
hunter might kill a bird neatly with a rifle, which he would miss at
shorter range with a shot-gun. This fashion is quickly passing. Many
farmers possess excellent guns of the latest pattern; and I have known
Boers who could hold their own with credit in Norfolk or Perthshire.
As shooting is becoming more of a sport and less of a business,
etiquette is growing up; and the Boer is learning to spare does and
ewes and take pleasure in hard shots, where his father would have
slaughtered casually and walked long and far to spare his cartridges.
The new order is bringing better manners, but nothing can restore the
noble herds of game which fell unlamented and unnoted under the old
_régime_.

Other sports were scarcely considered. He rarely fished, leaving the
catching of yellow-fish, tiger-fish, and barbel to the Kaffirs; and
when he did, his rod and tackle were neolithic in their simplicity. I
have never seen a Boer rod which had any of the proper attributes of a
rod, and he used to profess scorn for a man with a greenheart or a
split-cane as for one who would stipulate for an elegant spade before
digging potatoes. Sometimes in a village or among neighbouring farmers
flat-races would be got up; but the Boer pony was bred more for
endurance than for speed, and a small selling-plate meeting was about
the limit of his horse-racing. I have never seen or heard of a Boer
steeplechase. On the other hand, he had a wonderful skill, as our army
discovered, in riding at full speed over a breakneck country,--a skill
due, perhaps, more to veld-craft than to horsemanship. Hunting big
game on horseback taught him, as part of the business, to leave much
to his horse; and his horse rarely played him false. Whether he was
clattering down a stony hillside, or dodging through thick scrub, or
racing over veld honeycombed with ant-bear holes, he rode with a loose
rein and full confidence in his animal. It is difficult to frame an
opinion on his horsemanship. His long stirrups, the easy "tripple" of
his horse, and his loose seat make him a type of horseman very
different to our cavalryman or Leicestershire master of hounds. But,
loose as he sits, he can stick on over most kinds of country, and he
is a natural horsemaster of the first order. A Boer knows by instinct
how to manage his horse: he never frets him; he rarely ill-treats him;
and he can judge to a mile the limits of his endurance.

As a sportsman, then, the Boer is scarcely at his best. He has shown
himself dull, sluggish, unimaginative, capable of both skill and
endurance, but a niggard in the exercise of either, unless compelled by
hunger or hope of gain. Unlike most races, it is in his sports that he
shows his most unlovely traits, and that flat incomprehensible side of
his character which has puzzled an ornamental world. The truth is that
he is, speaking broadly, without imagination and that dash of adventure
which belongs to all imaginative men. The noble spurs of the
Drakensberg rose within sight of his home; but he would as soon have
thought of climbing a peak for the sport or the scenery as of dabbling
in water-colours. A dawn was to him only the beginning of the day, a
mellow veld sunset merely a sign to outspan; and I should be afraid to
guess his thoughts on a primrose by the river's brim, or whatever is
the South African equivalent. His religion made him credulous, but his
temperament transformed the most stupendous of the world's histories
into a kind of Farmer's Almanac, and Eastern poetry became for him a
literal record of fact. A friend of mine, travelling with a Boer hunter
in the far north, called his attention to the beauty of the starry
night, and, thinking to interest his companion, told him a few simple
astronomical truths. The Boer angrily asked him why he lied so
foolishly. "Do not I read in the Book," he said, "that the world stands
on four pillars?" And when my friend inquired about the foundation of
the pillars, the Boer sulked for two days. But there is one trait which
he shared with all true sportsmen, a love of wild animals. To be sure,
the finest reserves of buck were made by new-comers, such as Mr van der
Byl's park at Irene and Mr Forbes's at Athole, in Ermelo, both
unhappily ruined by the war. But many veld farmers had their small
reserves of springbok or blesbok, and permitted no hunting within them.
Some did it as a speculation, being always ready to lease a day's
shooting to a gun from Johannesburg, and many for the reason that they
sought big farms and complete solitude--to pander to a sense of
possession. But in all, perhaps, there was a strain of honest pleasure
in wild life, a desire to encircle their homes with the surroundings
of their early hunting days. In which case, it is another of the
anomalies which warn us off hasty generalisations.



CHAPTER V.

THE BOER IN ALL SERIOUSNESS.[10]


The Boer character has suffered by its simplicity. It has, as a rule,
been crudely summed up in half a dozen denunciatory sentences, or, in
the case of more curious students, it has been analysed and defined
with a subtlety for which there is no warrant. A hasty condemnation is
not the method for a product so full of difficulty and interest, and a
chain of laborious paradoxes scarcely enables us to comprehend a thing
which is pre-eminently broad and simple. The Boer has rarely been
understood by people who give their impressions to the world, but he
has been very completely understood by plain men who have dwelt beside
him and experienced his ways in the many relations of life. It is easy
to dismiss him with a hostile epigram; easy, too, to build up an
edifice of neat contradictions, after the fashion of what Senancour
has called "le vulgaire des sages," and label it the Boer character.
The first way commends itself to party feeling; the second appeals to
a nation which has confessedly never understood its opponents, and is
ready now to admit its ignorance and excuse itself by the amazing
complexity of the subject. Sympathy, which is the only path to true
understanding, was made difficult by the mists of war, and, when all
was over, by the exceeding dreariness of the conquered people. There
was little romance in the slouching bearded men with flat faces and
lustreless eyes who handed in their rifles and came under our flag;
National Scouts, haggling over money terms, and the begging tour of
the generals, seemed to have reduced honour to a matter of shillings
and pence, and dispelled the glamour of many hard-fought battlefields.
There is a perennial charm about an _ancien régime_; but this poor
_ancien régime_ had no purple and fine gold for the sentimental--only
a hodden-grey burgess society, an unlovely Kirk, and a prosaic
constitution.

And yet the proper understanding of this character is of the first
political importance, and a task well worth undertaking for its own
sake. Those men are for ever our neighbours and fellow-citizens, and
it is the part of wisdom to understand the present that it may prepare
against the future. To the amateur of racial character there is the
chance of reading in the largest letters the lesson of historical
development, for we know their antecedents, we can see clearly the
simple events of their recent history, and we have before us a
product, as it were, isolated and focussed for observation. Nor can
sympathy be wanting in a fair observer,--sympathy for courage,
tenacity of purpose, a simple fidelity to racial ideals. No man who
has lived much with the people can regard them without a little
aversion, a strong liking, and a large and generous respect.

In any racial inquiry there are certain determinant factors which form
the axioms of the problem. In the case of a long-settled people these
are so intricate and numerous that it is impossible to disentangle
more than a few of the more obvious, and we explain development,
naturally and logically, rather by the conscious principles which the
race assimilated than by the objective forces which acted upon it from
the outer world. But in the case of a savage or a backward nation, the
history is simple, the ingredients in racial character few and
intelligible. The wars of the spirit and the growth of philosophies
are potent influences, but their history is speculative and recondite.
But the struggle for bare life falls always in simple forms, and
physical forces leave their mark rudely upon the object they work on.
In this case we have a national life less than a century long, a mode
of society all but uniform, a creed short and unsophisticated, an
intelligible descent, and a country which stamps itself readily upon
its people. Origin, history, natural environment, accidental modes of
civilisation, these are the main factors in that composite thing we
call character. We can read them in the individual: we can read them
writ large in a race which is little more than the individual writ
large. In complex societies the composition is a chemical process, the
result is a new product, not to be linked with any ingredient; the
soul and mind of the populace is something different in kind from the
average soul and mind of its units. But in this collection of hardy
individualists there was no novel result, and the type is repeated
with such scanty variations that we may borrow the attributes of the
individual for our definition of the race.

Descent, history, natural environment have laid the foundation of the
Boer character. The old sluggish Batavian stock (not of the best
quality, for the first settlers were as a rule of the poorest and
least reputable class) was leavened with a finer French strain, and
tinctured with a little native blood. Living a clannish life in
solitude, the people intermarried closely, and suffered the fate of
inbreeders in a loss of facial variety and a gradual coarsening of
feature. Their history was a record of fierce warfare with savage
nature, and the evolution of a peculiar set of traditions which soon
came into opposition with imported European ideas. They evolved,
partly from the needs of their society and partly from distorted
echoes of revolutionary dogma, an embryo political creed, and in
religion they established a variant of sixteenth-century Protestantism.
Their life, and the vast spaces of earth and sky amid which they lived,
strengthened the patriarchal individualism in their blood. The whole
process of development, so remote from the common racial experience,
produced in the Boer character a tissue of contradictions which resist
all attempts at an easy summary. He was profoundly religious, with the
language of piety always on his lips, and yet deeply sunk in matter.
Without imagination, he had the habits of a recluse and in a coarse way
the instincts of the poet. He was extremely narrow in a bargain, and
extremely hospitable. With a keen sense of justice, he connived at
corruption and applauded oppression. A severe moral critic, he was
often lax, and sometimes unnatural, in his sexual relations. He was
brave in sport and battle, but his heroics had always a mercantile
basis, and he would as soon die for an ideal, as it is commonly
understood, as sell his farm for a sixpence. There were few virtues or
vices which one could deny him utterly or with which one could credit
him honestly. In short, the typical Boer to the typical observer
became a sort of mixture of satyr, Puritan, and successful merchant,
rather interesting, rather distasteful, and wholly incomprehensible.

And yet the phenomenon is perfectly normal. The Boer is a representative
on a grand scale of a type which no nation is without. He is the
ordinary backward countryman, more backward and more of a countryman
than is usual in our modern world. At one time this was the current
view--a "race of farmers," a "pastoral folk"; but the early months of
the war brought about a reversal of judgment, and he was credited with
the most intricate urban vices. Such a false opinion was the result of a
too conventional view of the rural character. There is nothing Arcadian
about the Boer, as there is certainly nothing Arcadian about the average
peasant. A Corot background, a pastoral pipe, and a flavour of
honeysuckle, must be expelled from the picture. To analyse what is
grandiloquently called the "folk-heart," is to see in its rude virtues
and vices an exact replica of the life of the veld. "Simple" and
"pastoral," on a proper understanding of the terms, are the last words
in definition.

Let us take an average household. Jan Celliers (pronounced Seljee)
lives on his farm of 3000 morgen with his second wife and a family of
twelve. His father was a voortrekker, and the great Sarel was a
far-out cousin. Two cousins of his mother and their families squat as
bywoners on his land, and an orphan daughter of his sister lives in
his household. The farmhouse is built of sun-dried bricks, whitewashed
in front, and consists of a small kitchen, a large room which is
parlour and dining-room in one, and three small chambers where the
family sleep. Twelve families of natives live in a little kraal,
cultivate their own mealie-patches, and supply the labour of the farm,
while two half-caste Cape boys, Andries and Abraham, who attend to the
horses, have a rude shanty behind the stable. Jan has a dam from
which he irrigates ten acres of mealies, pumpkins, and potatoes. For
the rest he has 500 Afrikander oxen, which make him a man of substance
among his neighbours, including two spans of matched beasts, fawn and
black, for which he has refused an offer of £30 apiece. He is not an
active farmer, for he does not need to bestir himself. His land yields
him with little labour enough to live on, and a biscuit-tin full of
money, buried in the orchard below the fifth apricot-tree from the
house, secures his mind against an evil day. But he likes to ride
round his herds in the early morning, and to smoke his pipe in his
mealie-patch of a late afternoon. He is not fond of neighbours, but it
is pleasant to him once in a while to go to Pretoria and buy a
cartload of fancy groceries and the very latest plough in the store.
As a boy Jan was a great hunter, and has been with his father to the
Limpopo and the Rooi Rand; but of late game has grown scarce, and Jan
is not the fellow to stir himself to find it. Now and then he shoots a
springbok, and brags wonderfully about his shots, quite regardless of
the presence of his sons who accompany him. These sons are heavy
loutish boys, finer shots by far than Jan, for they have that
infallible eyesight of the Boer youth. They, too, are idle, and are
much abused by their mother, when she is wide awake enough to look
after them. The daughters are plump and shapeless, with pallid
complexions inside their sun-bonnets, and a hoydenish shyness towards
neighbours. Not that they see many neighbours, though rumour has it
that young Coos Pretorius, son of the rich Pretorius, comes now and
then to "opsitten" with the eldest girl. Jan believes in an Old
Testament God, whom he hears of at nachtmaals, for the kirk is too far
off for the ordinary Sabbath-day's journey; but he believes much more
in a spook which lives in the old rhinoceros-hole in the spruit, and
in his own amazing merits. He is sleepily good-natured towards the
world, save to a Jew storekeeper in the town who calls himself on the
sign above his door the "Old Boer's Friend," and on one occasion
cheated him out of £5. But Jan has also had his triumphs, notably when
he induced a coal prospector to prospect in an impossible place and
leave him, free of cost, an excellent well. When war broke out Jan and
three of his sons, sorely against their will, went out on commando.
Two of the boys went to Ceylon, one fell at Spionkop, and Jan himself
remained in the field till the end, and came back as proud as a
peacock to repatriation rations. His womenfolk were in the Middelburg
Burgher camp, where they acquired a taste for society which almost
conquered their love for the farm. At any rate, it was with bitter
complaints that they sat again under a makeshift roof, with no
neighbours except the korhaan and a span of thin repatriation oxen.
Jan did not enjoy war. At first he was desperately afraid, and only
the strangeness of the country and the presence of others kept him
from trekking for home. By-and-by he found amusement in the sport of
the thing, and realised that with caution he might keep pretty well
out of the way of harm. But in the guerilla warfare of the last year
there was no sport, only stark unrelieved misery. Sometimes he thought
of slipping over to the enemy and surrendering; often he wished he had
been captured and sent to Ceylon with his boys; but something which he
did not understand and had never suspected before began to rise in his
soul, a wild obstinacy and a resolve to stand out to the last. Once in
a night attack he was chased by two mounted infantrymen, and turned to
bay in a narrow place, shooting one man and wounding the other badly.
He did his best for the sufferer before making off to the rendezvous,
an incident which has appeared in the picture papers (Jan is depicted
about eight feet high, with a face like Moses, whereas he really is a
broken-nosed little man), and which shows that he had both courage and
kindness somewhere in his slow soul. But he gladly welcomed peace; he
had never cared greatly for politics, and had an ancestral grudge
against the Kruger family; and when he had assured himself that,
instead of losing all, he would get most of his property back, and
perhaps a little for interest, he became quite loyal, and figured
prominently on the local repatriation board. He takes the resident
magistrate out shooting, and has just sold to the Government a
fraction of his farm at an enormous profit.

Such is an ordinary type of our new citizens. If we look at him the
typical countryman stands out clear from the mists of tortuous
psychology. It is an error, doubtless, to assume that the primitive
nature is always simple; it is often bewilderingly complex. An
elaborate civilisation may produce a type which can be analysed under
a dozen categories; while the savage or the backwoodsman may show a
network of curiously interlaced motives. But the man is familiar. We
know others of the family; we have met him in the common relations of
life; he stands before us as a concrete human being.

His most obvious characteristic is his mental sluggishness. Dialectic
rarely penetrates the chain-armour of his prejudices. He has nothing
of the keen receptive mind which, like a sensitive plant, is open to
all the influences of life. His views are the outcome of a long and
sluggish growth, and cling like mandrakes to the roots of his being.
He makes no deductions from ordinary events, and he never follows a
thing to its logical conclusion. His blind faith requires a cataclysm
to shake it, and to revise a belief is impossible for him save under
the stress of pain. Death and burning towns may reveal to him a
principle, but unless it is written large in letters of blood and fire
it escapes his stagnant intelligence. Change is painful to all human
creatures, but such coercion of change is doubly painful, since he has
no scheme of thought into which it can fit, and it means, therefore,
the upturning of the foundations of his world. But the countryman,
while he holds tenaciously his innermost beliefs, has a vast capacity
for doing lip-service to principles which he does not understand. He
sees that certain shibboleths command respect and bring material gain,
so he glibly adopts them without allowing them for a moment to
encroach upon the cherished arcana of his faith. Hence comes the
apparent inconsistency of many simple folk. The Boer had a dozen
principles which he would gladly sell to the highest bidder; but he
had some hundreds of prejudices which he held dearer (almost) than
life. His principles were European importations, democratic political
dogmas, which he used to excellent purpose without caring or
understanding, moral maxims which bore no relation to his own ragged
and twisted ethics. The mild international morality which his leaders
were wont to use as a reproach to Britain seems comically out of place
when we reflect upon the high-handed international code, born of
filibustering and Kaffir wars, which he found in the Scriptures and
had long ago adopted for his own. His political confession of faith,
which the framers of his constitution had borrowed from Europe and
America, with its talk of representation and equal rights and
delegated powers, contrasted oddly with the fierce individualism which
was his innermost conviction, and the cabals and "spoils to the
victor" policy which made up his daily practice. His religion had a
like character. In its essentials it was the same which a generation or
two ago held sway over Galloway peasants and Hebridean fishermen; but
the results were very different. The stern hard-bitten souls who saw
the devil in most of the works of God, and lived ever under a great
Taskmaster's eye, had no kinship with the easy-going sleek-lipped Boer
piety. The Boer religion in practice was a judicious excerpt from the
easier forms of Christianity, while its theory was used to buttress his
self-sufficiency and mastery over weaker neighbours. His political
creed may be stated shortly as a belief in his right to all new
territories in which he set foot, his indefeasible right to control the
native tribes in the way he thought best, a denial of all right of the
State to interfere with him, but an assertion of the duty of the State
to enrich him. To these cardinal articles liberty, equality, and
fraternity were added as an elegant appendage before publication. So,
too, in his religion: God made man of two colours, white and black,
the former to rule the latter till the end of time; God led Israel out
of Egypt and gave to them new lands for their inalienable heritage;
any Egyptian who followed was the apportioned prey of the chosen
people, and it was a duty to spoil him; this beneficent God must
therefore be publicly recognised and frequently referred to in the
speech of daily life, but in the case of the Elect considerable
latitude may be allowed in the practice of the commandments,--such may
fairly be taken as the ordinary unformulated Boer creed. But, as the
statement was too short and bare, all the finer virtues had to be
attached in public profession.

A countryman lives in a narrow world which he knows intimately, but
beyond is an unexplored region which he knows of by hearsay and
fears. He is not naturally suspicious. Among his fellows he is often
confiding to a fault, and a little acquaintance with a dreaded object
will often result in a revulsion to contempt. The Boer has in a
peculiar degree this characteristic of rural peoples. He has an
immense awe of an alien Power while he does not know it, but once let
it commit itself to some weakness, and the absence of all mental
perspective changes the exaggerated awe into an equally exaggerated
condescension. This truth is written clear over the whole history of
England in Africa. A lost battle, a political withdrawal, a wavering
statesman, have had moral effects of incalculable significance. The
burgher who opposed us with terror and despair became at the first
gleam of success a screeching cock-of-the-walk, and this attitude,
jealously fostered, obscured the world to him for the rest of his
days. In our threats he saw bluster, in our kindness he read
weakness, in our diplomacy folly; and he went out at last with the
fullest confidence, which three years of misery have scarcely
uprooted. This is one side of the parochial mind; the other is the
suspicion which became his attitude to everything beyond his beacons.
It is not the proverbial "slimness"; that graceful quality is merely
the rustic cunning which he thought the foundation of business, a
quality as common on Australian stock-runs and Scottish sheep-farms.
His suspicion was his own peculiar possession, born of his history
and his race, and, above all, of his intercourse with native tribes.
He did not give his confidence readily, as who would if he believed
that the world was in league against him? New ideas, new faces, new
inventions were all put on his black list. Like Mr By-ends, he found
his principles easy and profitable, and was resolved to stick to
them. Two forces, however, tended to undermine his distrust. One was
his intense practicality. If his principles ceased to be profitable,
he was prepared, against the grain, to consider emendations. The
second was his crude pleasure in novelties, the curious delight of a
child in a mechanical toy. A musical box, a portrait of Mr Kruger
which, when wound up, emitted the Volkslied, or the latest variety of
mealie-crusher, were attractions which he had no power to resist.

At the root of all his traits lies a meagre imagination. In religion
he turns the stupendous tales of Scripture into a parish chronicle,
with God as a benevolent burgomaster and Moses and the prophets as
glorified landrosts. In politics no Boer since President Burgers saw
things with a large vision, and his rhetorical dreams were folly to
his countrymen. The idea of a great Afrikander state, very vigorously
held elsewhere in South Africa, had small hold on the ordinary
population of the Republics, save upon sons of English fathers or
mothers, half-educated journalists, and European officials. In the
wars which he waged he saw little of the murky splendour which covers
the horrors of death. The pageantry of the veld was nothing to him,
and in the amenities of life he scarcely advanced beyond bare physical
comfort. He had neither art nor literature. If we except Mr Reitz's
delightful verses, which at their happiest are translations of Burns
and Scott, he had not even the songs which are commonly found among
rural peoples. His nursery tales and his few superstitions were
borrowed from the Kaffir. On one side only do we discern any trace of
imaginative power. Somehow at the back of his soul was the love of
the wilds and the open road--a call which, after years of settled
life, had still power to stir the blood of the old hunter. He was not
good at pictorial forecasts, but he had one retrospect stamped on his
brain, and this hunger for old days was a spark of fire which kept
warm a corner of his being.

The typical countryman he remains, typical in his limitations and the
vices which followed them. The chief was his incurable mendacity.
Truth-speaking is always a relative virtue, being to some men an easy
habit, and to others of a livelier fancy a constant and strenuous
effort. The Boer is not brutal, he is eminently law-abiding and sober,
and kindly in most of the relations of life. He has the rustic
looseness in sexual morals, and in the remoter farmhouses this
looseness often took the form of much hideous and unnatural vice. But
the cardinal fault, obvious to the most casual observer, is a contempt
for truth in every guise. Masterful liars, who have held their own in
most parts of the world, are vanquished by the systematic perjury of
the veld. The habit is, no doubt, partly learned from the Kaffir, a
fine natural professor of the art; but to its practice the Boer
brought a stolid patience, an impassive countenance, and a limited
imagination which kept him consistent. He bragged greatly, since to a
solitary man with a high self-esteem this is the natural mode of
emphasising his personality on the rare occasions when he mixes with
his fellows. He lied in business for sound practical reasons. He lied
at home by the tacit consent of his household. The truest way to
outwit him, as many found, was to tell him the naked truth, since his
suspicion saw in every man his own duplicity. But because he is a true
countryman, when once he has proved a man literally truthful he will
trust him with a pathetic simplicity. There were Englishmen in the
land before the war, as there are Englishmen to-day, whose word to the
Boer mind was an inviolable oath.

So far I have described the average Boer failings with all the
unsympathetic plainness which a hostile observer could desire. But
there is a very different side to which it is pleasant to turn. If he
has the countryman's faults strongly developed, he has also in a high
degree the country virtues. Simplicity is not an unmixed blessing; but
it is the mother of certain fine qualities, which are apt to be lost
sight of by a sophisticated world. He could live bare and sleep hard
when the need arose; and if he was sluggish in his daily life it was
the indolence of the sleepy natural world and not the enervation of
decadence. Because his needs were few he was supremely adaptable: a
born pioneer, with his household gods in a waggon and his heart
turning naturally to the wilds. The grandeur of nature was lost on
him; but there is a certain charm in the way in which he brought all
things inside the pale of his domesticity. His homely images have
their own picturesqueness, as when he called the morning star, which
summoned him to inspan, the _voorlooper_, or "little boy who leads out
the oxen." It is the converse of sublimity, and itself not unsublime.
His rude dialect, almost as fine as lowland Scots for telling country
stories, is full of metaphors, so to speak, in solution, often coarse,
but always the fruit of direct and vigorous observation. In short, he
had a personality which stands out simply in all his doings, making
him a living clear-cut figure among the amorphous shades of the indoor
life.

Wild tales and judicious management from Pretoria succeeded in
combining him temporarily into a semblance of a state and a very
formidable reality of an army; but at bottom he is the most dogmatic
individualist in the world. His allegiance was never to a chief or a
state, but to his family. The family was generously interpreted, so
that distant relations came within its fold. This clannishness has not
been sufficiently recognised; but it is a real social force, and of
great importance to a survey of Boer society. In the country farms,
with their system of bywoners, a whole cycle of relations lived, all
depending upon the head of the household for their subsistence. When
sons or daughters married they lived on in the homestead, and as their
children grew up and married in turn they squatted on a corner of the
farm. The system led to abuses, notably in the ridiculous subdivision
of land and the endless servitudes and burdens imposed on real estate;
but it relieved the community of any need for orphanages and
workhouses. The Boer's treatment of orphans does him much credit.
However poor, a family would make room for orphaned children, and
there was no distinction in their usage. It is a primitive virtue, a
heritage from the days when white folk were few in numbers: a little
family in the heart of savagery, bound together by a common origin and
a common fear.

But his chief virtue was his old-fashioned hospitality. A stranger
rarely knocked at his gates in vain. You arrived at a farmhouse and
asked leave to outspan by the spruit. Permission was freely granted,
and in a little girls came out with coffee for the travellers. An
invitation to supper usually followed, and there is no better fare in
the world than a chicken roasted by a Boer housewife and her home-made
sausages. Then followed slow talk over deep-bowled pipes, and then
good-night, with much handshaking and good wishes. And so all over
the veld. The family might be wretchedly poor, but they dutifully and
cheerfully gave what they had. In the early months of peace it was a
common thing to come on a Boer family living in a hut of biscuit tins
or a torn tent, with scanty rations and miserably ragged clothes. But
those people, in most cases, set the little they had gladly before the
stranger. The Boer, who will perjure himself deeply to save a
shilling, will part with a pound's worth of entertainment without a
thought.

And, as a host, he has a natural dignity beyond praise. A placid life,
backed by an overwhelming sense of worth, is a fine basis for good
manners. Boastfulness and prejudice may come later, but the first
impression is of an antique kindliness and ease. The veld has no
nerves, no uneasy consciousness of inferiority, least of all the
cringing friendliness of the low European. The farmer, believing in
nothing beyond his ken, makes the stranger welcome as a harmless
courier from a trivial world. No contrast can be more vivid than
between the nervous, bustling cosmopolitans who throng the Rand and
the silent veld-dwellers. The Boer type of countenance is not often
handsome; frequently it is flat and expressionless, lustreless grey
eyes with small pupils, and hair growing back from chin and lip. But
it is almost always the embodiment of repose, and in the finer stock
it sometimes reaches an archaic and patriarchal dignity. The same
praise cannot be given to the _jeunesse dorée_ of the Afrikander
world, who acquired the smattering of an education and migrated to the
towns. Ignorant, swaggering, mentally and bodily underbred, they form
a distressing class of people who have somehow missed civilisation and
hit upon the vulgarity of its decline. They claim glibly and falsely
the virtues which their fathers possessed without advertisement. Much
of the bad blood and spurious nationalism in the country comes from
this crew, who, in partnership with the worst type of European
adventurer, have done their best to discredit their nation. The true
country Boer regards them much as the silent elder Mirabeau and
Zachary Macaulay must have regarded their voluble sons--with
considerable distrust, a little disfavour, and not a little secret
admiration for a trick which has no place in his world.

       *       *       *       *       *

Understanding is the only basis of a policy towards this remarkable
section of our fellow-citizens--understanding, and a decent abstinence
from subtleties. We used to flatter our souls that we created our
Empire in a fit of absent-mindedness, and in all our troubles convinced
ourselves that we were destined to "muddle through." But there are
limits to this policy of serene trust in Providence, and it is rather
our duty to thank God we have taken so few falls, and brace our minds
to forethought and prudence. The Boer is the easiest creature in the
world to govern. He is naturally law-abiding, and he has an enormous
respect for the accomplished fact. True union may take long, but the
nominal amalgamation which is necessary for smooth government already
exists. We must understand how slow he is to learn, how deep his pride
is, how lively his suspicions. Spiritually he will be a slow pupil, but
with proper care politically he may be a ready learner. He has a
curiously acute sense of justice, which makes him grumble at
compulsion, but obey, and end by applauding. He is also quick to
realise what is competent and successful in administration. He will
give everything a fair trial, waiting, watching, and forming his slow
mind; and if a thing is a practical fiasco, he will laugh at it in the
end. The practical is the last touchstone for him. He is not easily
made drunk with the ideals of ordinary democracy; an efficient
government, however naked of adornments, will always command his
respect, and the fool, though buttressed with every sublime aspiration,
will find him adamant. To a government which can estimate the situation
soberly and face it manfully he is a simple problem. But he will be a
hard critic of weakness, and when once his laggard opinions are formed
it will be a giant's task to shake them. The war has broken his old
arrogance, and he now waits to make up his mind on the new _régime_. We
shall get justice from him from the start--laborious justice and
nothing more. If we fail, all the honesty of purpose on earth will not
save us; for to the Boer good intentions may preserve a man's soul in
another world, but they cannot excuse him in this one. There is much
practical truth in Bunyan's parable when he makes Old Honest come "from
the town of Stupidity," which town "lieth four degrees _beyond_ the
City of Destruction."

If the Boer is once won to our side we shall have secured one of the
greatest colonising forces in the world. We can ask for no better
dwellers upon a frontier. If the plateaux of our Central and East
African possessions are to be permanently held by the white man, I
believe it will be by this people who have never turned their back
upon a country which seemed to promise good pasture-land. Other races
send forth casual pioneers, who return and report and then go
elsewhere; but the Boer takes his wife and family and all his
belongings, and in a decade is part of the soil. In the midst of any
savagery he will plant his rude domesticity, and the land is won. With
all her colonising activity, Britain can ill afford to lose from her
flag a force so masterful, persistent, and sure.


  [10]  The word "Boer" is used in this chapter to denote the
        average country farmer in the new colonies, and not the
        educated Dutch of the towns.



PART II.

NOTES OF TRAVEL



CHAPTER VI.

EVENING ON THE HIGH VELD.


We leave the broken highway, channelled by rains and rutted by
ox-waggons, and plunge into the leafy coolness of a great wood. Great
in circumference only, for the blue gums and pines and mimosa-bushes
are scarcely six years old, though the feathery leafage and the
frequency of planting make a thicket of the young trees. The rides
are broad and grassy as an English holt, dipping into hollows,
climbing steep ridges, and showing at intervals little side-alleys,
ending in green hills, with the accompaniment everywhere of the spicy
smell of gums and the deep rooty fragrance of pines. Sometimes all
alien woodland ceases, and we ride through aisles of fine trees,
which have nothing save height to distinguish them from Rannoch or
Rothiemurchus. A deer looks shyly out, which might be a roebuck; the
cooing of doves, the tap of a woodpecker, even the hawk above in the
blue heavens, have nothing strange. Only an occasional widow-bird
with its ridiculous flight, an ant-heap to stumble over, and a clump
of scarlet veld-flowers are there to mark the distinction. Here we
have the sign visible of man's conquest over the soil, and of the
real adaptability of the land. With care and money great tracts of
the high-veld might change their character. An English country-house,
with deer-park and coverts and fish-ponds, could be created here and
in many kindred places, where the owner might forget his continent.
And in time this will happen. As the rich man pushes farther out from
the city for his home, he will remake the most complaisant of
countries to suit his taste, and, save for climate and a certain
ineradicable flora and fauna, patches of Surrey and Perthshire will
appear on this kindly soil.

With the end of the wood we come out upon the veld. What is this
mysterious thing, this veld, so full of memories for the English race,
so omnipresent, so baffling? Like the words "prairie," "moor," and
"down," it is easy to make a rough mental picture of. It will doubtless
become in time, when South Africa gets herself a literature, a
conventional counter in description. To-day every London shopboy knows
what this wilderness of coarse green or brown grasses is like; he can
picture the dry streams, the jagged kopjes, the glare of summer, and
the bitter winter cold. It has entered into patriotic jingles, and has
given a _mise-en-scène_ to crude melodrama. And yet no natural feature
was ever so hard to fully realise. One cannot think of a monotonous
vastness, like the prairie, for it is everywhere broken up and varied.
It is too great for an easy appreciation, as of an English landscape,
too subtle and diverse for rhetorical generalities--a thing essentially
mysterious and individual. In consequence it has a charm which the
common efforts of mother-earth after grandiloquence can never possess.
There is something homely and kindly and soothing in it, something
essentially humane and fitted to the needs of human life. Climb to the
top of the nearest ridge, and after a broad green valley there will be
another ridge just the same: cross the mountains fifty miles off, and
the country will repeat itself as before. But this sameness in outline
is combined with an infinite variety in detail, so that we readily take
back our first complaint of monotony, and wonder at the intricate
novelty of each vista.

Here the veld is simply the broad green side of a hill, with blue
points of mountain peeping over the crest, and a ragged brown road
scarred across it. The road is as hard as adamant, a stiff red clay
baked by the sun into porphyry, with fissures yawning here and there,
so deep that often it is hard to see the gravel at the bottom. A
cheerful country to drive in on a dark night in a light English cart,
but less deadly to the lumbering waggons of the farmer. We choose the
grass to ride on, which grows in coarse clumps with bare soil between.
Here, too, are traps for the loose rider. A conical ant-heap with odd
perforations, an ant-bear hole three feet down, or, most insidious of
all, a meerkat's hole hidden behind a tuft of herbage. A good pony can
gallop and yet steer, provided the rider trusts it; but the best will
make mistakes, and on occasion roll over like a rabbit. Most men begin
with a dreary apprenticeship to spills; but it is curious how few are
hurt, despite the hardness of the ground. One soon learns the art of
falling clear and falling softly.

The four o'clock December sun blazes down on us, raising hot odours
from the grass. A grey African hare starts from its form, a meerkat
slips away indignantly, a widow-bird, coy and ridiculous like a
flirtatious widow, flops on ahead. The sleepy, long-horned Afrikander
cattle raise listless eyes as we pass, and a few gaudy butterflies
waver athwart us. Otherwise there is no sound or sight of life.
Flowers of rich colours--chrysanthemums, gentians, geraniums--most of
them variants of familiar European species, grow in clumps so lowly
that one can only observe them by looking directly from above. It is
this which makes the veld so colourless to a stranger. There are no
gowans or buttercups or heather, to blazon it like a spring meadow or
an August moorland. Five yards off, and nothing is visible but the
green stalks of grass or a red boulder.

At the summit of the ridge there is a breeze and a far prospect. The
road still runs on up hill and down dale, through the distant
mountains, and on to the great pastoral uplands of Rustenburg and the
far north-west. On either side the same waving grass, now grey and now
green as the wind breathes over it. Below is a glen with a gleam of
water, and some yards of tender lawn on either bank. Farmhouses line
the sides, each with its dam, its few acres of untidy crop land, and
its bower of trees. Beyond rise line upon line of green ridges, with a
glimpse of woods and dwellings set far apart, till in the far distance
the bold spurs of the Magaliesberg stand out against the sky. A thin
trail of smoke from some veld-fire hangs between us and the mountains,
tempering the intense clearness of an African prospect. There is
something extraordinarily delicate and remote about the vista; it
might be a mirage, did not the map bear witness to its reality. It is
not unlike a child's conception of the landscape of Bunyan, a road
running straight through a mystical green country, with the hilltops
of the Delectable Mountains to cheer the pilgrim. And indeed the land
is instinct with romance. The names of the gorges which break the
mountain line--Olifants' Poort, Crocodile Poort, Commando Nek--speak
of war and adventure and the far tropics beyond these pastoral
valleys. The little farms are all "Rests" and "Fountains," the true
nomenclature of a far-wandering, home-loving people. The slender
rivulet below us is one of the topmost branches of the great Limpopo,
rising in a marsh in the wood behind, forcing its way through the
hills and the bush-veld to the north, and travelling thence through
jungles and fever-swamps to the Portuguese sea-coast. The road is one
of the old highways of exploration; it is not fifty years since a
white man first saw the place. And yet it is as pastoral as Yarrow or
Exmoor; it has the green simplicity of sheep-walks and the homeliness
of a long-settled rustic land. In the afternoon peace there is no hint
of the foreign or the garish; it is as remote as Holland itself from
the unwholesome splendours of the East and South.

No landscape is so masterful as the veld. Broken up into valleys,
reclaimed in parts by man, showing fifty varieties of scene, it yet
preserves one essential character. For, homely as it is, it is
likewise untamable. There are no fierce encroachments about it. A
deserted garden does not return to the veld for many years, if ever.
It is not, like the jungle, the natural enemy of man, waiting for a
chance to enter and obliterate his handiwork, and repelled only by
sleepless watching. Rather it is the quiet spectator of human efforts,
ready to meet them half-way, and yet from its vastness always the
dominant feature in any landscape. Its normal air is sad, grey, and
Quakerish, never flamboyant under the brightest sun, and yet both
strenuous and restful. The few red monstrosities man has built on its
edge serve only to set off this essential dignity. For one thing, it
is not created according to the scale of man. It will give him a home,
but he will never alter its aspect. Let him plough and reap it for a
thousand years, and he may beautify and fructify but never change it.
The face of England has altered materially in two centuries, because
England is on a human scale,--a parterre land, without intrinsic
wildness. But cultivation on the veld will always be superimposed: it
will remain, like Egypt, ageless and immutable--one of the primeval
types of the created world.

But, though dominant, it is also adaptable. It can, for the moment,
assume against its unchangeable background a chameleon-like variety.
Sky and weather combine to make it imitative at times. Now, under a
pale Italian sky, it is the Campagna--hot, airless, profoundly
melancholy. Again, when the mist drives over it, and wet scarps of
hill stand out among clouds, it is Dartmoor or Liddesdale; or on a
radiant evening, when the mountains are one bank of hazy purple, it
has borrowed from Skye and the far West Highlands. On a clear steely
morning it has the air of its namesake, the Norwegian fjelds,--in one
way the closest of its parallels. But each phase passes, the
tantalising memory goes, and we are back again upon the aboriginal
veld, so individual that we wonder whence arose the illusion.

A modern is badly trained for appreciating certain kinds of scenery.
Generations of poets and essayists have so stamped the "pathetic
fallacy" upon his soul that wherever he goes, unless in the presence
of a Niagara or a Mount Everest, he runs wild, looking for a human
interest or a historical memory. This is well enough in the old
settled lands, but on the veld it is curiously inept. The man who, in
Emerson's phrase, seeks "to impress his English whim upon the
immutable past," will find little reward for his gymnastics. Not that
there is no history of a kind--of Bantu wars, and great tribal
immigrations, of wandering gold-seekers and Portuguese adventurers,
of the voortrekker and the heroic battles in the wilds. But the veld
is so little subject to human life that had Thermopylæ been fought in
yonder nek, or had Saint Francis wandered on this hillside, it would
have mastered and obliterated the memories. It has its history; but it
is the history of cosmic forces, of the cycle of seasons, of storms
and suns and floods, the joys and sorrows of the natural world.

   "Lo, for there among the flowers and grasses
    Only the mightier movement sounds and passes;
             Only winds and rivers,
             Life and death."

Men dreamed of it and its wealth long ago in Portugal and Holland.
They have quarrelled about it in London and Cape Town, fought for it,
parcelled it out in maps, bought it and sold it. It has been subject
for long to the lusts and hopes of man. It has been larded with
epithets; town-bred folk have made theories about it; armies have
rumbled across it; the flood of high politics has swept it. But the
veld has no memory of it. Men go and come, kingdoms fall and rise, but
it remains austere, secluded, impenetrable, "the still unravished
bride of quietness."

As one lives with it the thought arises, May not some future
civilisation grow up here in keeping with the grave country? The basis
of every civilisation is wealth--wealth to provide the background of
leisure, which in turn is the basis of culture in a commercial world.
Our colonial settlements have hitherto been fortuitous. They have
fought a hard fight for a livelihood, and in the process missed the
finer formative influences of the land. When, then, civilisation came
it was naturally a borrowed one--English with an accent. But here, as
in the old Greek colonies, we begin _de novo_, and at a certain high
plane of life. The Dutch, our forerunners, acquired the stamp of the
soil, but they lived on the barest scale of existence, and were without
the aptitude or the wealth to go farther. Our situation is different.
We start rich, and with a prospect of growing richer. On one side are
the mining centres--cosmopolitan, money-making, living at a strained
pitch; on the other this silent country. The time will come when the
rich man will leave the towns, and, as most of them are educated and
all are able men, he will create for himself a leisured country life.
His sons in turn will grow up with something autochthonous in their
nature. For those who are truly South Africans at heart, and do not
hurry to Europe to spend their wealth, there is a future, we may
believe, of another kind than they contemplate. All great institutions
are rooted and grounded in the soil. There is an art, a literature, a
school of thought implicit here for the understanding heart,--no
tarnished European importation, but the natural, spontaneous fruit of
the land.

As we descend into the glen the going underfoot grows softer, the
flinty red clay changes to sand and soon to an irregular kind of turf.
At last we are on the stream-bank, and the waving grasses have gone.
Instead there is the true meadow growth, reeds and water-plants and a
species of gorgeous scarlet buck-bean; little runnels from the
farm-dams creep among the rushes, and soon our horses' feet are
squelching through a veritable bog. Here are the sights and sounds of
a Hampshire water-meadow. Swallows skim over the pools; dragon-flies
and bees brush past; one almost expects to see a great trout raise a
sleepy head from yonder shining reach. But there are no trout, alas!
none, I fear, nearer than Natal; only a small greenish barbel who is a
giant at four to the pound. The angler will get small satisfaction
here, though on the Mooi River, above Potchefstroom, I have heard
stories of a golden-scaled monster who will rise to a sea-trout fly.
As we jump the little mill-lades, a perfect host of frogs are leaping
in the grass, and small bright-eyed lizards slip off the stones at our
approach. But, though the glen is quick with life, there is no sound:
a deep Sabbatical calm broods over all things. The cry of a Kaffir
driver from the highroad we have left breaks with an almost startling
violence on the quiet. The tall reeds hush the stream's flow, the
birds seem songless, even the hum of insects is curiously dim. There
is nothing for the ear, but much for the eye and more for the nostril.
Our ride has been through a treasure-house of sweet scents. First the
pines and gum-trees; then the drowsy sweetness of the sunburnt veld;
and now the more delicate flavour of rich soil and water and the
sun-distilled essences of a thousand herbs. What the old Greek wrote
of Arabia the Blessed might fitly be written here, "From this country
there is a smell wondrous sweet."

Lower down the glen narrows. The stream would be a torrent if there
were more water; but the cascades are a mere trickle, and only the
deep green rock-pools, the banks of shingle, and the worn foot of the
cliff, show what this thread can grow to in the rains. A light wild
brushwood begins, and creeps down to the very edge of the stream.
Twenty years ago lions roamed in this scrub; now we see nothing but
two poaching pariah dogs. We pass many little one-storeyed farms, each
with a flower-garden run to seed, and some acres of tangled crops.
All are deserted. War has been here with its heavy hand, and a broken
stoep, empty windows, and a tumbled-in roof are the marks of its
passage. The owners may be anywhere--still on commando with Delarey,
in Bermuda or Ceylon, in Europe, in camps of refuge, on parole in the
towns. Great sunflowers, a foot in diameter, sprawl over the railings,
dahlias and marigolds nod in the evening sunshine, and broken
fruit-trees lean over the walks. Suddenly from the yard a huge
aasvogel flaps out--the bird not of war but of unclean pillage. There
is nothing royal in the creature, only obscene ferocity and a furtive
greed. But its presence, as it rises high into the air, joined with
the fallen rooftrees, effectively drives out Arcady from the scene. We
feel we are in a shattered country. This quiet glen, which in peace
might be a watered garden, becomes suddenly a desert. The veld is
silent, but such secret nooks will blab their tale shamelessly to the
passer-by.

The stream bends northward in a more open valley, and as we climb the
ridge we catch sight of the country beyond and the same august lines
of mountain. But now there is a new feature in the landscape. Bushes
are dotted over the far slope, and on the brow cluster together into
something like a coppice. It is a patch of bush-veld, as rare on our
high-veld as are fragments of the old Ettrick forest in Tweeddale. Two
hundred miles north is the real bush-veld, full of game and fevers,
the barrier between the tropical Limpopo and these grassy uplands.
Seen in the splendour of evening there is a curious savagery about
that little patch, which is neither veld nor woodland, but something
dwarfish and uncanny. That is Africa, the Africa of travellers; but
thus far we have ridden through a countryside so homely and familiar
that we are not prepared for a foreign intrusion. Which leads us to
our hope of a new civilisation. If it ever comes, what an outlook it
will have into the wilds! In England we look to the sea, in France
across a frontier, even in Russia there is a mountain barrier between
East and West. But here civilisation will march sharply with
barbarism, like a castle of the Pale, looking over a river to a land
of mists and outlaws. A man would have but to walk northward, out of
the cities and clubs and the whole world of books and talk, to reach
the country of the oldest earth-dwellers, the untamable heart of the
continent. It is much for a civilisation to have its background--the
Egyptian against the Ethiopian, Greek against Thracian, Rome against
Gaul. It is also much for a race to have an outlook, a far horizon to
which its fancy can turn. Even so strong men are knit and art is
preserved from domesticity.

We turn homeward over the long shoulders of hill, keeping to the track
in the failing light. If the place is sober by day, it is transformed
in the evening. For an hour the land sinks out of account, and the sky
is the sole feature. No words can tell the tale of a veld sunset. Not
the sun dipping behind the peaks of Jura, or flaming in the mouth of a
Norwegian fiord, or sinking, a great ball of fire, in mid-Atlantic,
has the amazing pageantry of these upland evenings. A flood of crimson
descends on the world, rolling in tides from the flagrant west, and
kindling bush and scaur and hill-top, till the land glows and pulsates
in a riot of colour. And then slowly the splendour ebbs, lingering
only to the west in a shoreless, magical sea. A delicate pearl-grey
overspreads the sky, and the onlooker thinks that the spectacle is
ended. It has but begun; for there succeed flushes of ineffable
colour,--purple, rose-pink, tints of no mortal name,--each melting
imperceptibly into the other, and revealing again the twilight world
which the earlier pageant had obscured. Every feature in the landscape
stands out with a tender, amethystine clearness. The mountain-ridge is
cut like a jewel against the sky; the track is a ribbon of pure beaten
gold. And then the light fades, the air becomes a soft mulberry haze,
the first star pricks out in the blue, and night is come.

Here is a virgin soil for art, if the art arises. In our modern
history there is no true poetry of vastness and solitude. What there
is is temperamental and introspective, not the simple interpretation
of a natural fact. In the old world, indeed, there is no room for it:
a tortured, crowded land may produce the aptitude, but it cannot give
the experience. And the new lands have had no chance to realise their
freshness: when their need for literature arose, they have taken it
second-hand. The Australian poet sings of the bush in the rococo
accents of Fleet Street, and when he is natural he can tell of simple
human emotions, but not of the wilds. For the chance of the seeing eye
has gone. He is not civilised but de-civilised, having borrowed the
raiment of his elder brother. But, if South African conditions be as
men believe, here we have a different prospect. The man who takes this
country as his own will take it at another level than the pioneer. The
veld will be to him more than a hunting-ground, and the seasons may be
viewed from another than a commercial standpoint. If the art arises,
it will be an austere art--with none of the fatuities of the
picturesque, bare of false romance and preciosities, but essentially
large, simple, and true. It will be the chronicle of the veld, the
song of the cycle of Nature, the epic of life and death, and "the
unimaginable touch of time." Who can say that from this land some dew
of freshness may not descend upon a jaded literature, and the world be
the richer by a new Wordsworth, a more humane Thoreau, or a manlier
Senancour?

Once more we are in the wood, now a ghostly place with dark aisles and
the windless hush of evening in the branches. The flying ants are
coming out of the ground for their short life of a night. The place is
alive with wings, moths and strange insects, that go white and
glimmering in the dusk. The clear darkness that precedes moonrise is
over the earth, so that everything stands out clear in a kind of
dark-green monochrome. Something of an antique dignity, like an
evening of Claude Lorraine, is stealing into the landscape. Once more
the veld is putting on an alien dress, till in this fairyland weather
we forget our continent again. And yet who shall limit Africa to one
aspect? Our whole ride has been a kaleidoscope of its many phases. Hot
and sunburnt, dry grasses and little streams, the red rock and the
fantastic sunset. And on the other side the quiet green valleys, the
soothing vista of blue hills, the cool woods, the water-meadows, and
the twilight. It is a land of contrasts--glimpses of desert and
barbarism, memories of war, relics of old turmoil, and yet essentially
a homeland. As the phrase goes, it is a "white man's country"; by
which I understand a country not only capable of sustaining life, but
fit for the amenities of life and the nursery of a nation. Whether it
will rise to a nation or sink to a territory rests only with its
people. But it is well to recognise its possibilities, to be in love
with the place, for only then may we have the hope which can front and
triumph over the many obstacles.

The first darkness is passing, a faint golden light creeps up the sky,
and suddenly over a crest comes the African moon, bathing the warm
earth in its cold pure radiance. This moon, at any rate, is the
peculiar possession of the land. At home it is a disc, a ball of
light; but here it is a glowing world riding in the heavens, a
veritable kingdom of fire. No virgin huntress could personify it, but
rather some mighty warrior-god, driving his chariot among trampled
stars. It lights us out of the wood, and on to the highroad, and then
among the sunflowers and oleanders of the garden. The night air is
cool and bracing, but soft as summer; and as we dismount our thoughts
turn homeward, and we have a sudden regret. For in this month and at
this hour in that other country we should be faring very differently.
No dallying with zephyrs and sunsets; but the coming in, cold and
weary, from the snowy hill, and telling over the peat-fire the
unforgettable romance of winter sport.

_December 1901._



CHAPTER VII.

IN THE TRACKS OF WAR.


I.

We left Klerksdorp in a dust-storm so thick and incessant that it was
difficult to tell where the houses ended and the open country began.
The little town, which may once have been a clean, smiling place, has
been for months the _corpus vile_ of military operations. A dozen
columns have made it their destination; the transport and supplies of
the whole Western Army have been congested there, with the result that
the town lands have been rubbed bare of grass, the streets furrowed
into dust-heaps, and the lightest breeze turned into a dust-tornado.
Our Cape carts rattled over the bridge of the Schoon Spruit--"Caller
Water," as we might translate it in Scots, but here a low and muddy
current between high banks--and, climbing a steep hill past the old
town of Klerksdorp, came out of the fog into clearer veld, over which
a gale of wind was blowing strongly. The desert was strewn with empty
tins, which caught the sun like quartz; stands of barbed wire were
everywhere on the broad uneven highway; little dust devils spouted at
intervals on to the horizon. The place was like nothing so much as a
large deserted brick-field in some Midland suburb.

There is one feature of the high veld which has not had the attention
it deserves--I mean the wind. Ask a man who has done three years'
trekking what he mostly complains of, and he will be silent about food
and drink, the sun by day and the frost by night, but he is certain to
break into picturesque language about the wind. The wind of winter
blows not so unkindly as persistently. Day and night the cheek is
flaming from its buffets. There is no shelter from scrub or kopje, for
it is a most cunning wind, and will find a cranny to whistle through.
Little wrinkles appear round blinking eyes, the voice gets a high
pitch of protest, and a man begins to walk sideways like a crab to
present the smallest surface to his enemy. And with the wind go all
manner of tin-cans, trundling from one skyline to another with a most
purposeful determination. Somewhere--S.S.W. I should put the
direction--there must be a Land of Tin-cans, where in some sheltered
valley all the _débris_ of the veld has come to anchor.

About ten o'clock the wind abated a little, and the road passed into a
country of low hills with a scrub of mimosa thorn along the flats. The
bustard, which the Boers have so aptly named "korhaan" or scolding
cock, strutted by the roadside, a few hawks circled about us, and an
incurious secretary-bird flapped across our path. The first water
appeared,--a melancholy stream called Rhenoster Spruit,--and the
country grew hillier and greener till we outspanned for lunch at a
farmhouse of some pretensions, with a large dam, a spruit, and a good
patch of irrigated land. The owner had returned, and was dwelling in a
tent against the restoration of his homestead. A considerable herd of
cattle grazed promiscuously on the meadow, and the farmer with
philosophic calm was smoking his pipe in the shade. Apparently he was
a man of substance, and above manual toil; for though he had been back
for some time there was no sign of getting to work on repairs, such as
we saw in smaller holdings. Fairly considered, this repatriation is a
hard nut for the proud, indolent Boer, for it means the reversal of a
life's order. His bywoners are scattered, his native boys refuse to
return to him; there is nothing for the poor man to do but to take
pick and hammer himself. Sooner or later he will do it, for in the
last resort he is practical, but in the meantime he smokes and ponders
on the mysteries of Providence and the odd chances of life.

In the afternoon our road lay through a pleasant undulating land, with
green patches along the streams and tracts of bush relieving the
monotony of the grey winter veld. Every farmhouse we passed was in the
same condition,--roofless, windowless, dams broken, water-furrows
choked, and orchards devastated. Our way of making war may be effective
as war, but it inflicts terrible wounds upon the land. After a campaign
of a dozen bloody fights reconstruction is simple; the groundwork
remains for a new edifice. But, though the mortality be relatively
small, our late methods have come very near to destroying the
foundations of rural life. We have to build again from the beginning;
we have to face questions of simple existence which seem strange to us,
who in our complex society rarely catch sight of the bones of the
social structure. To be sure there is hope. There is a wonderful
recuperative power in the soil; the Boer is simpler in habits than most
countrymen; and it is not a generation since he was starting at the
same rudiments. Further, our own settlers will have the same
beginnings, and there is a chance of rural communities, Boer and
British, being more thoroughly welded together, because they can
advance _pari passu_ from the same starting-point. But to the new-comer
the situation has a baffling oddness. It seems strange to be doling out
the necessaries of life to a whole community, to be dealing with a
society which must have been full of shades and divisions like all
rural societies, as a featureless collection of units. Yet it is
probable that the Boers themselves are the last to realise it. The
people who crowded to the doors of the ruined farms as we passed
were on the whole good-humoured, patient, and uncomplaining. They
had set about repairing the breaches in their fortunes, crudely but
contentedly. At one farm we saw a curious Arcadian sight in this
desert which war had made. Some small Boer children were herding a
flock of sheep along a stream. A little girl in a sunbonnet was
carrying a lamb; two brown, ragged, bare-legged boys were amusing
themselves with a penny whistle. To the children war and reconstruction
alike can only have been a game; and hope and the future are to the
young.

From Klerksdorp to Wolmaranstad the distance is some fifty miles, and
it was almost nightfall before we descended with very weary cattle the
long hill to our outspan. The country was one wide bare wold, the sky
a soft glow of amber; and there was nothing between amber earth and
amber sky save one solitary korhaan, scolding in the stillness. I do
not know who the first Wolmarans may have been, but he built a stad
very like a little Border town--all huddled together and rising
suddenly out of the waste. The Makasi Spruit is merely a string of
muddied water-holes, but in the darkness it might have been the "wan
water" of Liddel or Yarrow. We camped in one of the few rooms that
had still a roof, and rid ourselves of the dust of the road in an old
outhouse in the company of a facetious monkey and a saturnine young
eagle. When we had warmed ourselves and dined, I began to like
Wolmaranstad, and, after a moonlight walk, I came to the conclusion
that it was a most picturesque and charming town. But Wolmaranstad,
like Melrose, should be seen by moonlight; for in the morning it
looked little more than a collection of ugly shanties jumbled together
in a dusty patch of veld.


II.

On the 12th of August, in the usual dust-storm, we started for
Lichtenburg. There is no highroad, but a series of wild cross-country
paths merging constantly in farm-roads. No map is quite reliable, and
local information is fallacious. The day being the festival of St
Grouse, we shot conscientiously all morning with very poor success.
The game was chiefly korhaan, and he is a hard bird to get on terms
with. About the size of a blackcock, and as slow on the wing, he looks
an easy mark; but if stalked, he has a habit of rising just out of
range, and repeating the performance till he has lured you a mile from
your waggon, when he squawks in triumph and departs into the void. The
orthodox way is to ride round him in slowly narrowing circles--a ruse
which seems to baffle his otherwise alert intelligence. The country
was rolling veld dotted with wait-a-bit thorn-bushes; the farmhouses
few but large; the roads heavy with sand. In one hill-top farm, well
named Uitkyk, we found an old farmer and his son-in-law, who invited
us to enter. The place was in fair order, being out of the track of
columns, tolerably furnished, and with the usual portrait of the
Reverend Andrew Murray on the wall. The farmer had no complaints to
make, being well-to-do and too old to worry about earthly things; but
the son-in-law, a carpenter by trade, was full of his grievances. The
neighbourhood, being in ruins, was crying for his services, he said,
but there was no material in the country to work with. Building
material was scarce in Johannesburg and Pretoria; how much scarcer it
must be in Wolmaranstad! This just complaint was frequent on our
journey; for the Transvaal, served by its narrow-gauge single-line
railways choked with military traffic, is badly equipped with the
necessaries of reconstruction, and many willing workmen have to kick
their heels in idleness.

We outspanned at midday near some pools of indifferent water, which our
authorities had enthusiastically described as an abundant water-supply.
There was a roofless farm close by, where a kind of hut of biscuit-tins
had been erected, in which a taciturn young woman was nursing a child.
There was also a boy of about sixteen in the place who had coffee with
us, and took us afterwards to stalk korhaan with a rifle. He was newly
home from commando, full of spirit and good-humour, and handled
longingly the rifle which the law forbade him to possess. All afternoon
we passed roofless farmhouses crowded with women and children, and in
most cases the farmer was getting forward in the work of restoration.
Dams and water-furrows were being mended, some kind of roof put on the
house, waggons cobbled together, and in many cases a good deal of
ploughing had been done. The country grew bleaker as we advanced,
trees disappeared, huge wind-swept downs fell away on each side of the
path, and heavy rain-clouds came up from the west. The real rains begin
in October, but chill showers often make their appearance in August,
and I know nothing more desolate than the veld in such a storm.
By-and-by we struck the path of a column, ploughed up by heavy
gun-carriages, and in following the track somehow missed our proper
road. The darkness came while we were yet far from our outspan,
crawling up a great hill, which seemed endless. At the top a fine sight
awaited us, for the whole country in front seemed on fire. A low line
of hills was tipped with flame, and the racing fires were sweeping into
the flats with the solid regularity of battalions. A moment before, and
we had been in Shelley's

    "Wide, grey, lampless, deep, unpeopled world";

now we were in the midst of light and colour and elfish merriment. To
me there is nothing solemn in a veld-fire--nothing but madness and
fantasy. The veld, so full at other times of its own sadness, the

    "Acerbo indegno mistero della cose,"

becomes demented, and cries an impish defiance to the austere kings
who sit in Orion. The sight raised our spirits, and we stumbled down
the long hillside in a better temper. By-and-by a house of a sort
appeared in the valley bottom, and a dog's bark told us that it was
inhabited. To our relief we found that we had actually struck our
outspan, Korannafontein, having approached it from the opposite side.
The Koranna have long since gone from it, and the sole inhabitant was
a Jew storekeeper, a friendly person, who assisted us to doctor our
very weary horses. The ways of the Jew are past all finding out.
Refuse to grant him a permit for himself and goods, and he says
nothing; but he is in occupation months before the Gentile, unless
that Gentile comes from Aberdeen. Our friend had his store stocked,
and where he got the transport no man knows. He spoke well of the
neighbourhood, both of Boer and native. The natives here, he said, are
civilised. I asked him his definition of civilisation. "They speak
Dutch," he said,--an answer worth recording. We camped for the night
behind what had once been the wool-shed. The floor of the tent was
dirty, and, foolishly, I sent a boy to "mak skoon." He made "skoon" by
digging up dust with a shovel and storing it in heaps in different
corners. About midnight the rain fell heavily, and a little later a
great wind rose and put those dust-heaps in circulation. I awoke from
dreams of salmon-fishing with a profound conviction that I had been
buried under a landslip. I crawled hastily through a flap followed by
a stream of dust, and no ventilation could make that tent habitable,
so that in the morning we awoke with faces like colliers, and throats
as dry as the nether millstone.

From Korannafontein to Lichtenburg is something over forty miles, so
we started at daybreak and breakfasted at a place called Rhenosterput,
where some gentleman sent a Mauser bullet over our heads to remind us
of his presence. The country was downland, very full of Namaqua
partridge and the graceful spur-winged plover, a ranching country, for
the streams had little fall and less water. At midday we outspanned at
a pretty native village called Rooijantjesfontein, with a large church
after the English village pattern, and a big dam lined with poplars.
The life of a commercial missionary, who bought a farm when land was
cheap and had it cultivated by his congregation, is a pleasant one:
he makes a large profit, spends easy days, and returns early to his
native Germany. It is a type I have little patience with, for it
discredits one of the most heroic of human callings, and turns loose
on society the slim Christian native, who brings Christianity and
civilisation alike into discredit. We were now out of the region of
tracks and on the main road to Lichtenburg, and all afternoon we
travelled across the broad shallow basin of the Hartz River with our
goal full in view on a distant hill-top. Far off on our right we saw a
curious sight--a funeral waggon with a train of mourners creeping
slowly across the veld. The Boers, as we heard from many sources, are
exhuming the dead from different battle-fields, and bringing them,
often from great distances, to the graveyards on their own homesteads.
An odd sombre task, not without its grandeur; for to the veld farmer,
as to the old Roman, there are Lares and Penates, and he wishes at the
last to gather all his folk around him.


III.

Lichtenburg, as I have said, stands on a hill-top, but when one enters
he finds a perfect model of a Dutch village. The streets are lined with
willows and poplars, and seamed with water-furrows, and all the
principal buildings surround a broad village green on which cattle were
grazing. Seen in the morning it lost nothing of its attractiveness; and
it dwells in my memory as a fresh clean place, looking over a wide
upland country,--a place where men might lead honest lives, and meet
the world fearlessly. It has its own relics of war. The court-house
roof and walls are splashed with bullets, relics of Delarey's fight
with the Northumberland Fusileers. General Delarey is himself the
principal inhabitant. He owns much land in the neighbourhood, and his
house stands a few miles out on the Mafeking road. From this district
was drawn all that was most chivalrous and resolute in the Boer forces;
and the name of their leader is still a synonym with lovers of good
fighting men for the finest quality of his race.

The Zeerust road is as bad going for waggons as I have ever seen. It
runs for miles through a desert where the soil is as black as in
Lancashire, and a kind of coaly dust rises in everlasting clouds. We
started late in the day, so that sunset found us some distance from
water, in a featureless country. We were to outspan at the famous
Malmani Oog--the eye of the Malmani; but a fountainhead is not a good
goal on a dark night to ignorant travellers. Shortly after dusk we
rode on ahead to look for the stream. Low slopes of hills rose on all
sides, but nowhere could we see a gleam or a hollow which might be
water. The distance may have been short, but to a hungry and thirsty
man it seemed endless, as one hill after another was topped without
any result. We found a fork in the road, and took the turn to the left
as being more our idea of the way. As it happened we were trekking
straight for the Kalahari Desert, and but for the lucky sound of a
waggon on the other road might have been floundering there to-day. We
turned aside to ask for information, and found we were all but at the
Oog, which lay in the trees a hundred yards off. The owner of the
waggon was returning to Lichtenburg with a sick wife, whom he had
taken to Zeerust for a change. He had been a road surveyor under the
late Government, had served on Delarey's staff, and had been taken
prisoner. A quiet reserved man with dignified manners, he answered our
questions without complaint or petulance. There is something noble in
travel when pursued in this stately leisure. The great buck-waggon,
the sixteen solemn oxen lumbering on, the master walking behind in the
moonlight, have an air of patriarchal dignity, an elder simplicity. I
suppose fifteen to twenty miles might be a good day's march, but who
shall measure value by miles? It is the life for dreams, for roadside
fires, nights under the stars, new faces studied at leisure, good
country talk, and the long thoughts of an unharassed soul. Let us by
all means be up and doing, setting the world to rights and sounding
our own trumpet; but is the most successful wholly at ease in the
presence of great mountains and forests, or men whose lives share in
the calm cycle of nature?

The night in tents was bitterly cold, and the morning bath, taken
before sunrise in the springs of Malmani, was the most Arctic
experience I have ever met. We left our drivers to inspan and follow,
and set off down the little stream with our guns. There are hours
which live for ever in the memory--hours of intense physical
exhilaration, the pure wine of health and youth, when the mind has no
thoughts save for the loveliness of earth, and the winds of morning
stir the blood to a heavenly fervour. No man who has experienced such
seasons can be other than an optimist. Dull nights in cities,
heartless labours with pen and ink, the squalid worries of business
and ambition, all are forgotten, and in the retrospect it is those
hours which stand up like shining hill-tops--the type of the pure
world before our sad mortality had laid its spell upon it. It is not
pleasure--the word is too debased in human parlance; nor happiness,
for that is for calm delights. Call it joy, that "enthusiasm" which is
now the perquisite of creeds and factions, but which of old belonged
to the fauns and nymphs who followed Pan's piping in the woody hollows
of Thessaly. I have known and loved many streams, but the little
Malmani has a high place in my affections. The crystal water flowed
out of great reed-beds into a shallow vale, where it wound in pools
and cataracts to a broad ford below a ruined mill. Thence it passed
again into reed-beds fringed with willows and departed from our ken.
There was a bamboo covert opposite full of small singing birds; the
cries of snipe and plover rose from the reed-beds, and the fall of
water, rarest of South African sounds, tinkled like steel in the cold
morning air. We shot nothing, for we saw nothing; the glory of the
scene was all that mortal eye could hold at once. And then our waggons
splashed through the ford, and we had perforce to leave it.

We took a hill road, avoiding the detour by Malmani Drift, and after
some hours in a country of wooded glens, came into the broad valley of
the Klein Marico. The high veld and its scenery had been left far
behind. Something half tropical, even in this mid-winter, was in the
air of those rich lowlands. After the bleak uplands of Lichtenburg it
was pleasant to see good timber, the green of winter crops, and
abundant runnels of water. The farm-houses were larger and in fair
repair,--embowered, too, in orange-groves, with the golden fruit
bright among the glossy leaves. Blossom was appearing in every
orchard; new and strange birds took the place of our enemy the
korhaan; and for the first time on our journey we saw buck on the
slopes. The vale was ringed with stony tree-clad hills like the
Riviera, and in the hot windless noon the dust hung in clouds about
us, so that, in spite of water and greenery, my impression of that
valley is one of thirst and discomfort. Zeerust[11] is a pretty
village close under the hills, with tree-lined streets,--a prosperous
sleepy place, with no marks of the ravages of war. The farmers, too,
are a different stock from the high-veld Boers; they get their living
more easily, and in their swarthy faces and slouching walk one cannot
read the hard-bitten spirit which inspired the men of Botha and
Delarey. They seemed on good terms with their new masters. We attended
a gymkhana given by the South African Constabulary, and the Dutch
element easily predominated in the crowd which watched the races. A
good-humoured element, too, for the men smoked and criticised the
performances in all friendliness, while their womenkind in their
Sunday clothes thronged to the marquees for tea.


  [11]  Zeerust is a type of the curious truncated Boer
        nomenclature, being a corruption of Coetzee's Rust.


IV.

The Rustenburg road runs due east through a fine defile called Klein
Marico Poort, and thence in a country of thick bush for twenty miles
to the ford of the Groot Marico. We started before dawn, and did not
halt for breakfast till the said ford, by which time the sun was high
in the heavens and we were very hot, dusty, and hungry. Lofty wooded
hills rose to the north, and not forty miles off lay the true
hunting-veld, with koodoo, water-buck, and hippopotamus. Bird life was
rich along the road--blue jays, rollers, and the handsome malicious
game-bird which acts as scout to the guinea-fowl, and with his harsh
call informs them of human presence. The farms were small and richly
watered, with laden orange-groves and wide ruined verandahs. The
people of Zeerust had spoken with tears in their eyes of the beautiful
condition of this road, but we found it by far the worst in our
travels. It lay deep in sand, was strewn with ugly boulders, and at
one ford was so impossible that we had to make a long detour over
virgin veld. The Great Marico, which, like all streams in the northern
watershed, joins the Limpopo, and indeed forms its chief feeder, is a
muddy tropical water, very unlike the clear Malmani. Beyond it the
country becomes bare and pastoral again, full of little farms, to
which the bulk of the inhabitants had returned. It was the most
smiling country we had seen, for bush-veld has an ineradicable air of
barbarism, but a green open land with white homesteads among trees is
the true type of a settled country. Apricot blossom lay like a soft
haze on the landscape. The young grass was already springing in the
sheltered places, the cold dusty winds had gone, and a forehint of
spring was in the calm evening.

We spent the night above the Elands River, a very beautiful full
water, almost on the site of the battle. The Elands River fight seems
to have slipped from the memory of a people who made much of lesser
performances; but to soldiers it is easily the Thermopylæ of the war.
Five hundred or so of Australians of different regiments, with a few
Rhodesians, were marching to join another force, when they were cut
off at Elands River by 3000 Boers. They were invited to surrender, and
declined. A small number took up a position beside the stream; the
remainder held a little ridge in the centre of the amphitheatre of
hills. For several days they toiled at dug-outs--terrible days, for
they were shelled continually from the whole rim of the amphitheatre.
One relieving force from the west retired in despair; a relieving
force from the east was deceived by false heliograms, and went away,
believing the work accomplished. Then came the report that they had
surrendered; and then, after some fifteen days, they were found by
Lord Kitchener, still holding the forlorn post. It was a mere
sideshow, but to have been there was worth half the clasps in the
campaign. More shells were fired into that little place than into
Mafeking, and the courage of the few by the river who passed up water
in the night to their comrades is beyond praise. The Colonials will
long remember Elands River. It was their own show: without generalship
or orders, against all the easy traditions of civilised warfare, the
small band followed the Berserker maxim, and vindicated the ancient
dignity of arms. In the morning we went over the place. The dug-outs
were still mostly intact, and in a little graveyard beneath rude
crosses slept the heroic dead.

A few miles farther on and the summit of a ridge was reached, from
which the eye looked over a level valley to the superb western line of
the Magaliesberg. Straight in front was the cleft of Magata's Nek,
beyond which Rustenburg lay. The western Magaliesberg disappoints on
closer acquaintance. The cliffs prove to be mere loose kranzes, the
glens are waterless, the woods are nothing but barren thorn. But seen
from afar in the clear air of dawn, when the darkness is still lurking
in the hollows and the blue peaks are flushed with sunrise, it is a
fairyland picture, a true mountain barrier to an enchanted land. Our
road swung down a long slope to the Coster River, where we outspanned,
and then through a sandy wilderness to the drift of the Selons. From
this it climbed wearily up to the throat of the nek, a dull tract of
country with few farms and no beauties. The nek, too, on closer view
has little to commend it, save the prospect that opens on the other
side. The level green plateau of Rustenburg lay before us, bounded on
the north by a chain of kopjes, and on the south by the long dark
flanks of the Magaliesberg as it sweeps round to the east. A few miles
and the village itself came in sight, with a great church, as at
Wakkerstroom, standing up like some simple rural cathedral over the
little houses. Rustenburg was always the stronghold of the straitest
sect of the Boers; and in the midst of the half-tropical country
around, this sweep of pasture, crowned with a white kirk, had
something austere and Puritan in its air,--the abode of a people with
their own firm traditions, hostile and masterful towards the world.
The voortrekker having fought his way through the Magaliesberg passes,
outspanned his tired oxen on this pleasant upland, and called it his
"city of rest." And it still looks its name, for no orchards and
gardens can make it otherwise than a novelty in the landscape--sober,
homely, and comforting, like some Old Testament Elam where there were
twelve wells of water and three-score and ten palm-trees, or the
"plain called Ease" wherein Christian "walked with much content."


V.

We took up our quarters at a farm a little way south of the town in
the very shadow of the mountains. It was a long, low, rambling house
called Boschdaal, with thick walls and cool passages. All around were
noble gum-trees; a clear stream ran through the garden, which even at
this season was gay with tropical flowers; and the orchard was heavy
with oranges, lemons, and bananas. A little conical hill behind had a
path made to its summit, whence one had a wide prospect of the
Magaliesberg and the whole plateau. There were sheer cliffs in the
background, with a waterfall among them; and between them and the
house were some miles of park-like country where buck came in the
morning. The rooms were simply but pleasantly furnished; the walls a
forest of horns; and the bookcases full of European classics, with a
great abundance of German story-books for children, telling how wicked
Gretchen amended her ways, or little Hans saved his pennies.
Altogether a charming dwelling-place, where a man might well spend his
days in worthy leisure, shooting, farming, gardening, and smoking his
pipe in the evening, with the sunset flaming over the hills.

We spent two nights in Rustenburg, visiting in the daytime a horse
depot to which a number of brood mares had been brought for winter
grazing, and paying our respects to a neighbouring chief, Magata, who
lives in a _stad_ from which many town councils might learn a lesson
of cleanliness and order. The natives are as rich as Jews from the
war, owning fine spans of oxen and Army Service Corps waggons, and
altogether disinclined to stir themselves for wages. This prosperity
of the lower race must be a bitter pill for the Boer to swallow, as he
drives in for his rations with a team of wretched donkeys, and sees
his former servants with buck-waggons and cattle. We watched strings
of Burghers arriving at the depot, and at night several fires in the
neighbouring fields told of their outspans. Most of them were polite
and communicative: a very few did their business in sulky silence.
There was one man who took my fancy. Originally he must have been
nearly seven feet high, but a wound in the back had bent him double.
He had long black hair, and sombre black eyes which looked straight
before him into vacancy. He had a ramshackle home-made cart and eight
donkeys, and a gigantic whip, of which he was a consummate master. A
small boy did his business for him, while he sat hunched up on his
cart speaking hoarsely to his animals, and cracking his whip in the
air,--a man for whom the foundations of the world had been upset, and
henceforth, like Cain, a dweller apart.

On the third morning we started regretfully, for Pretoria was only two
days distant. This was the pleasantest stage in our journey: the air was
cool and fine, the roads good, water abundant, and a noble range of
mountains kept us company. This is the tobacco-land of the Transvaal,
whence comes the Magaliesberg brand, which has a high reputation in
South Africa. There are no big farms but a great number of small
holdings, richly irrigated and populous--the stronghold of Mr Kruger in
former times, for he could always whistle his Rustenburgers to his will.
Now and then a pass cleft the mountain line on our right, and in the
afternoon we came in sight of the great gap through which the Crocodile
River forces its passage. Farther east, and at a higher altitude, lay
Silikat's Nek, which is called after Mosilikatse. It was approaching
sunset as we crossed Commando Nek, which is divided from Crocodile Poort
by a spur of mountain, and looked over the Witwatersberg rolling south
to the Rand and the feverish life of cities. High up on a peak stood a
castellated blockhouse, looking like a peel tower in some old twilight
of Northumbrian hills, and to the left and right the precipitous cliffs
of the Magaliesberg ran out to the horizon. At the foot of the pass we
forded the Magalies River, a stream of clear water running over a bed of
grey-blue stones, and in another half-hour we had crossed the bridge of
the Crocodile and outspanned on the farther bank.

The rivers unite a mile away, and the cleft of the Poort to which the
twin streams hurried stood out as black as ink in the moonlight. Far
up on the hillside the bush was burning, and the glare made the gorge
like the gate of a mysterious world, guarded by flames and shadows.
This Poort is fine by daylight, but still not more than an ordinary
pass; but in the witching half-light it dominated the mind like a wild
dream. After dinner we set out over the rough ground to where a cliff
sank sheer from the moonlight into utter blackness. We heard the
different notes of the two rivers--the rapid Magalies and the sedater
Crocodile; and then we came to the bank of the united stream, and
scrambling along it found ourselves in the throat of the pass. High
walls of naked rock rose on either hand, and at last, after some hard
walking, we saw a space of clear star-sown sky and the land beyond the
mountains. I had expected a brawling torrent; instead, I found a long
dark lagoon sleeping between the sheer sides. In the profound silence
the place had the air of some underground world. The black waters
seemed to have drowsed there since the Creation, unfathomably deep--a
witch's caldron, where the savage spirits of the hills might show
their faces. Even as we gazed the moon came over the crest: the cliff
in front sprang into a dazzling whiteness which shimmered back from
the lagoon below. Far up on the summit was a great boulder which had a
far-away likeness to an august human head. As the light fell on it
the resemblance became a certainty: there were the long locks, the
heavy brows, the profound eyes of a colossal Jove. Not Jove indeed,
for he was the god of a race, but that elder deity of the natural man,
grey-haired Saturn, keeping his ageless vigil, quiet as a stone, over
the generations of his children. Forgotten earth-dwellers, Mosilikatse
and his chiefs, Boer commandos, British yeomanry,--all had passed
before those passionless eyes, as their successors will pass and be
forgotten. And in the sense of man's littleness there is comfort, for
it is part of the title of our inheritance. The veld and the mountains
continue for ever, austerely impartial to their human occupants: it is
for the new-comer to prove his right to endure by the qualities which
nature has marked for endurance.

_August 1902._



CHAPTER VIII.

THE WOOD BUSH.


Some thirty miles east of Pietersburg, the most northerly railway
station in the Transvaal, the Leydsdorp coach, which once a-week
imperils the traveller's life, climbs laboriously into a nest of
mountains, and on the summit enters an upland plateau, with shallow
valleys and green forest-clad slopes. Twenty miles on and the same
coach, if it has thus far escaped destruction, precipitously descends
a mountain-side into the fever flats which line the Groot Letaba and
the Letsitela. The Leydsdorp road thus cuts off a segment of a great
irregular oblong, which is bounded on the south by the spurs of the
Drakensberg, which the Boers call the Wolkberg or Mountain of Cloud,
and on the north divided by the valley of the Klein Letaba from the
Spelonken. It is a type of country found in patches in the de Kaap
mountains, and in parts of Lydenburg; but here it exists in a
completely defined territory of perhaps 700 square miles, divided
sharply from high veld and bush veld. The average elevation may be
5000 feet, and, though cut up into valleys and ridges, it preserves
the attributes of a tableland, so that on all sides one can journey
to an edge and look down upon a wholly different land. But the
geographical is the least of its distinctions. The climate has none
of the high-veld dryness or the low-veld closeness, but is humid and
sharp and wholesome all the year round. Mists and cool rains abound,
every hollow has its stream, and yet frost is rarely known. Its
vegetation, the configuration of its landscape, the soil itself, are
all things by themselves in South Africa. Fever, horse-sickness, and
most cattle diseases are unknown. It is little explored, for till
quite lately the native tribes were troublesome, and only the poorer
class of Boer squatted on its occupation farms, and, though a
proclaimed gold-field for some years, the uitlander who strayed there
had rarely an eye for its beauty. The unfortunate man who took his
life in his hands and journeyed by coach to Leydsdorp forgot the
landscape in the perils of the journey, and in all likelihood forgot
most things in fever at the end of it. It remained, therefore, a
paradise with a few devotees, a place secret and strange, with a beauty
so peculiar that the people who tried to describe it were rarely
believed. A delight in the Wood Bush is apt to spoil a man for other
scenery. The high veld seems tame and monotonous, the bush veld an
intolerable desert, and even the mountain glories of the Drakensberg
something crude and barbarous after this soft, rich, and fascinating
garden-land.

The mountains come into view a little way from Pietersburg, but there
are many miles of featureless high veld to be covered before the
foothills are reached. It was midsummer when I first travelled there,
and the dusty waterless plains were glazed by the hot sun. The Sand
River, filled with acres of fine sand, but not a drop of moisture, was
not a cooling object in the scene, and the dusty thorn scrub offered
no shade. But insensibly the country changed. Bold kopjes of rose-red
granite appeared on the plain, and at a place called Kleinfontein the
road turned sharply south, and we were confronted with a noble line
of crags running out like a buttress from the mountains. At Smith's
Drift the road swerved east again, and a long valley appeared before
us running up into the heart of the hills. A clear stream came down
it, and the sides were dotted in bush-veld manner with redwood and
sikkelboom and syringa, and a variety of thorns, of which the Kaffir
waak-en-beetje and the knopjes-doorn were the prettiest. Occasionally
the dull green of the olivienhout appeared, and when the bush ceased
aloes raised their heads among the rocks. Everywhere the mimosa was in
bloom, and the afternoon air was laden with a scent like limes.
Towards the top the valley flattened out into upland meadows, little
farms appeared dotted on the hillsides, and the yellow mimosa blossom
on the slopes was so indistinguishable from gorse that in the
half-light I could have sworn I was among Cumberland fells, and not on
the edge of the tropics and 300 miles from the sea. We assisted a Boer
farmer to slay a pig, had coffee afterwards with his family, and slept
the sleep of the just on a singularly hard piece of ground under a
magnificent sky of stars, being roused once to give a drink to a
belated member of the S.A.C.

Shortly after dawn next day we toiled to the top of a long hill, and
entered the Wood Bush. A high blue ridge--the Iron Crown mountain
behind Haenertsburg--rose before us, which changed with the full
light to a dazzling green, studded in the kloofs with patches of dark
forest. Glimpses of other forest-crowned hills appeared in the
turnings of the path; and when we had exhausted the horizon we had
time to look at the roadside. It was a perfectly new country. The
soil was as red as Devonshire, the steep sides oozed with little
runnels of water. Thickly grassed meadows of the same dazzling yet
delicate green fell away to the little hollows, where copses took
their place, and now and then a small red farm showed in a group of
alien gum-trees. It was so novel as to be almost unbelievable. And
then in the meadows little shrubs like dwarf hazels appeared, which
on closer view showed themselves as tree-ferns,--old gnarled veterans
and young graceful saplings. The herbage, too, was gay with flowers,
as gay as an English meadow save that for daisies there were patches
of tall arums and lilies, and for buttercups a superb golden-belled
campanula. I am no botanist and am not ashamed of it, but on that
morning I regretted a wasted youth and many unprofitable hours given
to the classics. By-and-by we descended on the little township of
Haenertsburg, a cluster of rondhavels and the tents of an S.A.C.
post. On leaving we crossed a torrent, the Bruderstroom, which later
becomes the Groot Letaba and flows through miles of feverish deserts
to join the Olifants and thence to the Limpopo. It was a true
highland stream, with deep dark-blue pools, and great swirls of icy
grey water sweeping round crags or stretching out into glistening
shallows. On the high veld it would be dignified by the name of
river, and be shorn and parcelled into a thousand water-furrows. But
here it was but one of many, for every hollow had its limpid stream
slipping out of sight among the tall grasses.

Beyond Haenertsburg the Iron Crown mountain comes into full view, with
its green sides scarred and blackened in places with the works of
gold-seekers. To the left rose the crags of the Wolkberg, and far
behind the blue lines of the Drakensberg itself. To the north the true
Wood Bush country appeared, an endless park laid out as if by a
landscape gardener, with broad dales set with coppices, and little
wood-covered hills. "A park-like country," is the common travellers'
phrase for the bush veld; but there the grass is rank and ugly, the
trees isolated thorns, and the whole land flat and waterless. Here was
a true park, like Chatsworth or Windsor, so perfectly laid out that one
could scarcely believe that it was not a work of man. For surely a park
is properly man's work, a flower of civilisation, which nature aids but
rarely contrives. Yet when she does contrive, how far is the result
beyond our human skill! For an exception the mountain-tops were free
from mist; the land lay bathed in a cool morning light, and the scent
of a thousand aromatic herbs--wormwood, southernwood, a glorified
bog-myrtle, musk, and peppermint--rose from the wayside. Bracken was as
plentiful as on a Scots moor, and the old familiar fragrance was like a
breath of the sea. We breakfasted in a water-meadow, where a spring of
cold water stole away through a forest of tree-ferns, arums, giant
orchises, and the tall blue agapanthus. As we smoked our morning pipes
and watched a white eagle and a brace of berghaans circling in the
blue, I vowed that here at last had been found the true Hesperides.

A few miles on and we were on the farther edge. At a place called
Skellum Kloof the road dips sharply over the crest, and down three
break-neck miles to the Groot Letaba. Behind lay the green garden-land;
in front, a hundred miles of broken country, fading in the far distance
into misty flats. The little range of the Murchison hills ran out at
right angles; away to the north the peaks of Majajie's mountains, with
the Spelonken beyond, blocked the horizon. As far as the eye could see,
the faint blue line of the Rooi Rand, the Portuguese border, was just
distinguishable from the sky, with the fingers of the little Lebombo
breaking the thin line to the south. One forgot the weary miles of
swamp and fever that lay between, and saw only a glorious sunlit plain,
which might have been full of clear rivers and vineyards and white
cities, instead of thorn and Kaffir huts and a few ugly mining
shanties. The Wood Bush on its eastern side is a series of soft green
folds, with the superb evergreen forest in every kloof. At first sight
the woods look like hazel copses, and you plunge gaily in to your
disaster. Below Skellum Kloof is a little wooded glen, into which I
descended for water, and at one time there were doubts of my ever
emerging again. The place was matted with monkey-creepers, mosses, huge
ferns, and a thick undergrowth around the trunks of great trees.
Yellowwoods, 200 feet high, essenwood, sneezewood, stinkwood, most of
them valuable timber-trees, and all with a glossy dark foliage, rose
out of the jungle to the confusion of the poor inhabitant below. I
noticed some giant royals, some curious orchids, and quantities of
maidenhair fern and the graceful asparagus creeper. But soon I noticed
little beyond the exceeding toilsomeness of the passage. Every step
had to be fought for, the place was hot to suffocation, and I was in
mortal fear of snakes. Also, I had no desire to meet a bushbuck ram,
than whom no fiercer fellow for his size exists, at close quarters in
his native haunts. I kept down-hill, listening for water, and
by-and-by rolled over a red scaur into an ice-cold pool, which was the
only pleasing thing in the forest. Happily in returning I struck a
native path, and reached open country in greater comfort. Two boys who
had been sent to find me--Basutos, and, like all Basutos, fools in a
thick wood--succeeded in getting lost themselves, and had to be
searched for.

Hereabouts, when my ship comes home, I shall have my country house.
There is a piece of flat land, perhaps six acres square, from which a
long glen runs down to the Letaba. There I shall have my dwelling. In
front there will be a park to put England to shame, miles of rolling
green dotted with shapely woods, and in the centre a broad glade in
which a salmon-river flows in shallows and falls among tree-ferns,
arums, and bracken. There may be a lake, but I am undecided. In front
I shall have a flower-garden, where every temperate and tropical
blossom will appear, and in a sheltered hollow an orchard of
deciduous trees, and an orange plantation. Highland cattle, imported
at incredible expense, will roam on the hillsides. My back windows
will look down 4000 feet on the tropics, my front on the long meadow
vista with the Iron Crown mountain for the sun to set behind. My
house will be long and low, with broad wings, built of good stone and
whitewashed, with a thatched roof and green shutters, so that it will
resemble a _prazo_ such as some Portuguese seigneur might have dwelt
in in old times. Within it will be cool and fresh, with stone floors
and big fireplaces, for the mists are chill and the winds can blow
sharply on the mountains. There will be good pictures and books, and
quantities of horns and skins. I shall grow my own supplies, and make
my own wine and tobacco. Rides will be cut in the woods, and when my
friends come to stay we shall drive bushbuck and pig, and stalk
tiger-cats in the forest. There will be wildfowl on my lake, and
Lochleven trout in my waters. And whoever cares to sail 5000 miles,
and travel 1500 by train, and drive 50 over a rough road, will find
at the end of his journey such a palace as Kubla Khan never dreamed
of. The accomplishment is difficult, but not, I trust, impossible.
Once upon a time, as the story goes, a Dutchman talked with a
predikant about the welfare of his soul. "You will assuredly be
damned," said the predikant, "and burn in hell." "Not so," said the
Dutchman. "If I am so unfortunate as to get in there, I shall
certainly get out again." "But that is folly and an impossibility,"
said the predikant. "Ah," said the other with confidence, "wait and
see: I shall make a plan." _Ek sal 'n plan maak_--this must be my
motto, and I shall gratefully accept all honourable suggestions.

The country is full of wealth--mines, agriculture, forestry, and
pasturage. The presence of payable gold, both in quartz and banket, is
undoubted, and some improvement in the roads, possibly a light
railway, and the completion of the Selati line may provide for the
rise of Haenertsburg from a very little dorp into a flourishing
township. There is magnificent pasturage for stock, for cattle
diseases are few and horse-sickness is unknown. It has been said that
one acre in the Wood Bush will carry an ox, and though this is an
exaggeration, it is certain that the rich herbage will maintain three
or four times the head of stock which can be run on the high veld. The
grass in spring is very early, and in the worst part of winter the
forests can be resorted to, so that hand-feeding is almost unknown.
The grass is sour veld, but any extensive pasturing would soon bring
it into the sweet veld class. Once it were properly grazed down, it
would be also a natural sheep country of high value. The soil is a
clayey red loam, and the moist climate provides perfect conditions for
most seed crops. Tobacco would thrive well--as well perhaps as on the
lower slopes along the Groot Letaba, where Mr Altenroxel produces
excellent pipe tobacco and a respectable cigar. It is a paradise for
vegetables, and all hardy fruits and a few sub-tropical ones could be
made to flourish in the rich straths. It is a land for small holdings,
save for a few larger farms on the hill-tops, and here might arise a
community of British settlers, making a new England out of a country
which already possesses the climate of the West Highlands and the
configuration of a Sussex park.

At Skellum Kloof we descended from the uplands to an elevation of
about 2000 feet, a type of scenery half-way between the wholesome high
veld and the pernicious flats of the Lower Letaba. I take that descent
to be all but the worst in the Transvaal, second only to the appalling
cliff over which the road from Lydenburg drops to the Olifants. The
grades are so steep that with a waggon it is necessary to outspan all
animals but the two wheelers, and lock the wheels tightly. With a
two-wheeled Cape cart to attempt it is to court destruction. Just at
the foot is an awesome corner, and then a straight slope to the
Letaba, a stream about the size of the Spean and not unlike it. There
is a fine salmon pool below the ford, in which I swam circumspectly,
being in dread of stray crocodiles. The valley has nothing of that raw
unfinished look so common in South African landscapes. The peaks rise
in noble contours from long stretches of forest and Kaffir tillage. As
we crossed, the mist drooped over the hills and we ascended the far
side to our camp in a heavy persistent rain. The whole country was
full of crying waters, and but for the clumps of wild bananas and the
indescribable African smell, we might have been climbing to a
Norwegian saeter after a long day's fishing.

All night it rained in torrents, and next morning--New Year's
Day--dawned in the same driving misty weather. We could not see twenty
yards, and the long sloppy grass and thick red mud of the roads made
bad going even for Afrikander ponies. We sent our heavy transport
back, and, carrying little more than a dry shirt and a toothbrush,
struck down a track which follows the eastern ridge of the valley. The
vegetation was as dense as any jungle, and swishing through the reeds
and ducking the low branches of trees soaked us to the skin in a few
minutes. But in spite of discomfort it was a fascinating ride. The
heavy tropical scents which the rain brought out of the ground, the
intense silence of the drooping mists and water-laden forests, the
clusters of beehive Kaffir huts in the hollows, all made up a world
strange and new to the sight and yet familiar to the imagination. This
was the old Africa of a boy's dream, and there is no keener delight
than to realise an impression of childhood. Yet, though the air blew
sharp, there was something unwholesome in it. Fever lurked in the
comely glens, and the clear reaches of the Letaba were not the honest,
if scanty, waters of the high veld. The pungent penetrating smell of
the herbs we trod underfoot had an uncanniness in it as if all were
simples and antidotes--a faint medicinal flavour like the ante-chamber
of a physician.

Krabbefontein, which we reached at mid-day, is a very beautiful
clearing in the woods on the left bank of the river and at the foot
of the Machubi glen. Mr Altenroxel, the owner, farms on a large
scale, and has long been famous for his tropical produce. The
luxuriance of the growth is so great as almost to pass belief.
Gum-trees grow from 10 to 15 feet in a year; and we saw a bamboo
fully 50 feet high whose age was under two years. Huge drying-sheds
for tobacco, numerous well-built outhouses and cottages, wholly the
work of natives, and a few rondhavels made up the farm-steading. The
time was past for apricots, but the orchard was full of grenadillas,
finest of South African fruit, and kei apples; grapes were plentiful;
and in a field of pines we destroyed the remnants of our digestion.
The owner remained on his farm throughout the war, growing his own
supplies, which included tea, sugar, and coffee. His tobacco is the
finest brand of Transvaal pipe-tobacco I have smoked, and he exports
to the towns boxes of light-flavoured but pleasant cigars, making
everything on the farm except the labels. I have rarely seen native
workers so intelligent and industrious, and the whole place leaves an
impression of strenuous and enlightened toil. In the bungalow we ate
our New Year's dinner, washed down by excellent German beer, carried
many miles across the hills. If the conversation at table approached
the domain of fact at all, the neighbourhood is full of uncanny
things. A disgusting variety of tarantula, whose bite means death in
half an hour, has his home around the tobacco-sheds; puff-adders
abound; and the week before our visit a black mamba had attacked and
killed a young Dutch girl. We heard, too, many tales of the eastern
hunting-veld, and in the huge dark spaces beyond the rafters we saw
the shadowy trophies of former hunting trips.

At daybreak next morning, in a thick drizzle, we started to reascend
the mountains. A Kaffir set us on our way, and soon the hills closed
in and we were in the long glen of Machubi. Machubi was a Kaffir chief
with whom the Boers waged one of their many and most inglorious little
wars. When his people were scattered he took refuge in the thick
forest at the head of the river which bears his name. After my
experience of that kind of forest I do not wonder that the Boers
preferred not to fight a hand-to-hand battle in its tangled depths.
So, after their fashion, they hired an impi of Swazis, who sat around
the wood for three weeks, and ultimately slew the chief--not, however,
before he had accounted in single-handed combat for three of his
enemies. Mr Altenroxel possesses the old warrior's skull, which,
except for the great thickness at the crown of the head, is finely
shaped, and all but Caucasian in its lines. For this glen of Machubi I
have nothing but praise: high bush-clad mountains, grey corries,
streaked with white waterfalls, a limpid hill-stream, and in the flats
green patches of Kaffir tillage. But the road--which once was a
coach-road!--is pure farce. If there is a peculiarly tangled piece of
scrub it dives into it, a really awkward rock and it ascends it, an
unfordable reach of an easy stream and it makes straight for it, a
swamp and it leads you into the deepest and direst part. We had
constantly to dismount and coax our ponies down and up impossible
steeps. My little African stallion as a rock-climber was not at his
best, and I had some awkward positions to get him out of. One in
particular remains in my memory. A very deep river could only be
crossed by standing on a stone, leaping to an old log, and thence with
a final sprawl to the farther bank. I turned my reins into a halter,
went in front, and tried to coax my pony. When at last he did it he
all but landed on my chest, and I made the acquaintance of the
hardness of every one of his bones before I got him out of the valley.

The road climbs a spur in the fork of two streams, and as one ascends
and looks up the narrow twin glens, the old exquisite green of the
true Wood Bush takes the place of the sadder colours of the lowlands.
The heads of the glens have the form of what are called in the north
of England and Scotland "hopes," rounded green cup-shaped hollows;
only here all things are on a larger scale, and the evergreen forest
takes the place of birch and juniper in the corries. The road wound
through wood and bracken, now coming out clear on a knoll, and now
sinking to the level of some little stream. The mist which had covered
the mountains was clearing, and one after another the green summits
came forth like jewels against the pale morning sky. The tropical
scents ceased, the sun shone out, and suddenly we were on the neck of
the pass with a meadow-land country falling away from our feet. It was
still hazy, but as we breakfasted the foreground slowly cleared.
Little white roads sped away over the shoulders of hill; a rushing
stream appeared in a hollow with one noble waterfall. Still the
landscape opened; wood after wood came into being, glistening like
emeralds in the dawn; long sweeps of pasture, each with its glimpse of
water, carried the eye to where the great Drakensberg, blue and
distant, was emerging from the fleecy mists of morning. Once more we
were in the enchanted garden-land.

It is easy to describe the awesome and the immense, but it is hard
indeed to convey an adequate impression of exceeding charm and
richness. Hard, at least, in dull prose. A line of gleaming poetry,
such as Herrick's--

    "Here in green meadows sits Eternal May,"

or Theocritus's--

    ~pant' ôsden thereos mala pionos ôsde d' opôras~,

will convey more of the true and intimate charm than folios of
elaborated description. The main feature of the place is its sharp
distinction from the common South African landscape. The high veld
with its vast spaces, the noble mountain ravines, the flats of the
bush veld, have all their own charm; but the traveller is plagued with
the something unfriendly and austere in their air, as if all thought
of human life had been wanting in their creation. They are built on a
scale other than ours; man's labour has in the last resort no power to
change them. They remain rough, unfinished, eternally strange, a
country to admire, but scarcely to adopt and understand. But this
garden-ground is wholly human. Natura Benigna was the goddess who
presided at its creation, and no roughness enters into the "warm,
green-muffled" slopes, the moist temperate weather, and the limpid
waters. It is England, richer, softer, kindlier, a vast demesne laid
out as no landscape gardener could ever contrive, waiting for a human
life worthy of such an environment. But it is more--it is that most
fascinating of all types of scenery, a garden on the edge of a
wilderness. And such a wilderness! Over the brink of the meadow, four
thousand feet down, stretch the steaming fever flats. From a cool
fresh lawn you look clear over a hundred miles of nameless savagery.
The first contrast which fascinates the traveller is between the
common veld and this garden; but the deeper contrast, which is a
perpetual delight to the dweller, is between his temperate home and
the rude wilds beyond his park wall.

What is to be the fate of it? There is no reason why it should not
become at once a closely settled farming country. If the Pietersburg
line is looped round between Magatoland and the Spelonken and brought
south to meet a line from Leydsdorp, this intervening plateau will
have a ready access to markets. The place, too, may become a famous
sanatorium, to which the worried town-dwellers may retire to recover
health from the quiet greenery. Country houses may spring up, and what
is now the preserve of a few enthusiasts may become in time the Simla
or Saratoga of the Transvaal. How much, I wonder, will the new-comers
see of its manifold graces? Any one can appreciate the mellow air, the
restful water-meadows, the profound stillness of the deep-bosomed
hills. These are physical matters, making a direct appeal to the
simpler senses. But for the rest? It is the place for youth, youth
with high spirit and wide horizon, sensitive to scenery and weather,
loving wild nature and adventure for their own noble sakes. How much,
I wonder, will they see of it all--the people who have the purse to
compass health resorts and the constitutions to need them? For here,
as in all places of subtle and profound beauty, there is need of the
seeing eye and the understanding heart.

            "We receive but what we give,
    And in our life alone does Nature live;
    Ours is her wedding garment, ours her shroud!
    And would we aught behold of higher worth
    Than that inanimate cold world allowed
    To the poor loveless, ever-anxious crowd,
    Ah! from the soul itself must issue forth
    A light, a glory, a fair luminous cloud
    Enveloping the earth."

I do not think that the place will ever become staled. The special
correspondent will not rhapsodise over it--he will find many places
better worthy of his genius; the voice of the halfpenny paper will
not, I think, be heard in that land. Its appeal is at once too obvious
and too subtle: too obvious in its main features to please the common
connoisseur, too subtle and remote for the wayfaring man to penetrate.
It will remain, I trust, the paradise of a few--a paradise none the
less their own because towns and hotels and country houses may have
sprung up throughout it. To such it will always appear (as it appeared
to us when we took farewell of it from the summit above Haenertsburg
and saw the hills and glades sleeping in the mellow afternoon) an
old-world Arcadia, a lost classic land which Nature with her artist's
humour has created in this raw unstoried Africa.

_December 1902-January 1903._



CHAPTER IX.

ON THE EASTERN VELD.


Machadodorp, that straggling village called after a Portuguese
commander, is the most easterly outpost of the high veld. A few
miles farther and there is a sheer fall into narrow mountain glens,
down which the Elands River and the Delagoa Bay Railway make the
best of their way to the lowlands. North lies the hill country of
Lydenburg, to which the traveller may come in a coach after a day of
heart-breaking hills and neck-breaking descents. But south for a
good hundred miles sweeps the high veld in a broad promontory from
Machadodorp to the Pongola, and on the east to the Swaziland border.
It is the highest part of the great central tableland, and a very
bleak dwelling-place in winter; but in summer and autumn it has a
full share of the curious veld beauty. In particular, being in the
line of the Drakensberg, you can come to its edge and look over into
the wild tangle of glens which lie between you and the Lebombo
hills. Also it is the lake district of South Africa, being full of
tarns of all sizes from Lake Chrissie, which is a respectable sheet
of water, to the tiniest reed-filled pan. It is the coldest,
freshest, and windiest part of the land, a tonic country where the
inhabitants are rarely ill, and few doctors can make a living.

The journey to the first outspan from Machadodorp on the Ermelo road
is a little monotonous, for you are not yet on the ridge of the high
veld, the grass is rank, and the landscape featureless. You are
pursued, too, by an unfinished railway, the Machadodorp-Carolina line,
and if there is an uglier thing than the raw scar made by earthworks
and excavations and uncompleted culverts, I do not know it. The line
is being taken over by Government, and the sooner it is laid the
better, for at present the richest farming population in the Transvaal
are some sixty miles from a rail-head. At the fine stone bridge of the
Komati you enter a more pleasing country, with a glimpse to the east
of a gap in the hills through which the river enters the broken
country. The Komati here is a slow high-veld stream creeping through
long muddy pools with the slenderest of currents, but some eight
miles down it is a hill torrent. This is one of the paradoxes of the
high-veld rivers. Elsewhere it is in their cradle that streams have
their "bright speed"; here the infant river must be content to creep
like a canal, and lo! when it is almost full grown, it finds itself
hurled in cataracts down a mountain valley. Who, seeing the Olifants
near Middelburg, can ever believe that it is the same stream which
swirls round a corner of the berg north of Ohrigstad; or, watching
the sluggish Umpilusi crawling through the high veld, find any
kinship between it and the Swaziland salmon-river? It is a romantic
career--first a chain of half-stagnant pools, then a cataract, and
then a full-grown river, rolling its yellow waters through leagues of
bush and jungle to the tropical ocean.

From Everard's store, which is a pleasant outspan among trees, the
road climbs steeply to the ridge of the country. A tremendous sweep
of veld comes into view, stretching to the west in hazy leagues till
the eyes dazzle with the soft contours and infinite lines, and in the
east barred at a great distance by a faint blue range, the Ingwenya
Mountains. The first pan appeared, no larger than an English mill-dam,
and overgrown with reeds which made a patch of darker green against
the veld. One had the sensation of being somewhere on the roof of the
world, for on every horizon but one the land sloped to a lower
altitude, and even on the east the mountains seemed foreshortened,
like the masts of a vessel just coming into sight at sea. Presently a
little white dorp, Carolina, appeared some miles away on the left,
with that curious look of a Pilgrim's Progress village which so many
veld townships possess. Then miles on miles of the same green
downland, the road now sinking into little valleys with a glimpse of
farm-steadings, and now holding the ridge in the centre of the
amphitheatre. As the autumn evening fell, and the soft lights bathed
the landscape, it became a spectral world, a Tir-an-Oig, in which it
was difficult to believe that this rose-coloured slope was not a dream
or that purple clump of trees a mirage. Little lochs appeared, some
olive-green with rushes, some cold and black with inky waves lapping
on dazzling white shores. Water, in Novalis' quaint fancy, is as the
eye to a landscape, the one thing generally lacking in the blind
infinity of the veld. Strings of wild-geese passed over our heads, and
from the meadow bottoms there came the call of ducks and now and then
the bark of a korhaan. Curious echoes arose as we passed, for there is
something in the geological structure of the country which makes it
full of eerie noises. And then, as darkness closed down, a long piece
of water appeared, beyond which rose a little hill with two woods of
blue gum and a light between them. A nearer view showed a trim
cottage, with Kaffir huts around it, the beginnings of a garden, and,
even in the dusk, a glimpse of long lines of crops stretching down to
the lake. It was the homestead of Florence, which stands on the apex
of a large block of Crown land, and is used as the headquarters of the
land commissioner of the eastern district.

From Florence to the Swaziland border is some fifty miles as the crow
flies, so at dawn our horses were saddled, and, with a mule-cart for
provisions, we set out towards the remote hills. The morning had begun
in a Scots mist, but by ten o'clock the sky was cloudless, and the
intense blue of the lakes, the white shores, and the many patches of
marl on the slopes caught the sun with a bewildering glare. The water
in the pans is generally brackish, but some few are fresh, and one in
particular, about four miles long, has wooded islets and a bold white
bluff like a chalk cliff. The names are mostly Scots--Blairmore,
Ardentinny, Hamilton,--for the land was first bought and settled by a
Glasgow company. They are almost all stock farms, with little
irrigation except along the Umpilusi; and many are fenced, efficiently
enough, with slabs of stone for uprights. On one farm, Lake Banagher,
we rode past a herd of some 300 or 400 blesbok and springbok, which
are preserved by Mr Schalk Meyer, the owner. About noon we came into
the shallow vale of the Umpilusi, and left it again for a high ridge,
whence all afternoon we had a view of rolling country to the south,
with the Slaangaapies mountains on the horizon. The great hills in the
north of Swaziland were faint but clear, though we were still too high
ourselves to see them to advantage. The country began to change, the
valleys became almost glens, a great deal of tumbled rock appeared
overgrown with bush and bracken, and everything spoke of the
beginnings of a mountain country, which, strangely enough, we were
approaching from above. In the late afternoon we came to large belts
of trees around a ruined farmhouse, and as the sky was beginning to
threaten we outspanned for the night. We were not more than half a
dozen miles from the Swazi border and in full sight of it--a chain of
little kopjes with a hint of faint mountains behind.

The farmhouse was an odd place seen in that stormy dusk. Thick woods
of blue-gum and pine surrounded it, and below, also hemmed in by
trees, was a lush water-meadow. The house had been a substantial stone
building, but it was stripped to the walls, every scrap of woodwork
having been used by the troops for fuel. The broken stoep was
overgrown with moon-flowers, whose huge white blossoms gleamed
uncannily in the shadows. We pushed through the wood and the overgrown
paddock to a neglected orchard, where the fruit-trees had lost all
semblance of their former selves, and struggled vainly among creepers
and high grasses, and thence to the meadow where a little reddish
stream trickled through the undergrowth. Owls flitted about like the
ghosts of the place, and this relic of war with its moated-grange
melancholy had a depressing effect on our spirits. We gladly sought
our camp in an old barn on higher ground, where a blazing fire
restored us to cheerfulness. The rain never fell, and the morning
dawned grey and misty, so that when we set out for the border we had
little hope of a view. We passed some Swazi kraals, and got directions
from their picturesque occupants. The men are active and tall, and
their wives with their curious head-dresses are better to look at
than the sluttish native women of the central districts. They are
beautiful dancers, and the performance of a body of Swazis in war
costume is a thing to remember. The country began to be extremely
rocky, and tree-ferns and other specimens of sub-tropical vegetation
appeared in the hollows. One glossy-leaved bush bore a berry about the
size and shape of a rasp, called by the natives "infanfaan," which had
an agreeable sub-acid flavour. A little hill, looking as if it were
made of one single gigantic boulder, appeared on the right, and with
some scrambling we got our horses to the foot of it. This was Bell's
Kop, a famous landmark, and beyond and below was Swaziland.

The morning had cleared, and though the horizons were misty, we saw
enough to reward us. The ground fell sharply away from our feet to a
green glen studded with trees, down which a white road wound. A hill
shut the glen, but over the hill and at a much lower altitude we saw
the strath of the Umpilusi, with the river running in wide sweeps with
shores of gravel, not unlike the Upper Spey as seen from the
Grampians. Beyond were tiers of broken blue hills, rising very high
towards the north, where they culminate in Piggs' Peak, but fading
southward into a misty land where lay the Lebombo flats. The grey soft
air had an intense stillness, a kind of mountain melancholy, but far
to the south there was a patch of sunlight on the green hills above
Amsterdam. It is a type of view which can be had in all parts of the
Drakensberg, from Mont aux Sources frowning over Natal to the
Spelonken looking down on the plains of the Letaba--a view to me of
infinite charm, for you stand upon the dividing line between two forms
of country and two climates, looking back upon the endless prairies
and their fresh winds and forward upon warm glens and the remote
malarial tropics.

From Bell's Kop we fetched a wide circuit, going to Amsterdam, which
was not more than fifteen miles from where we stood, by Florence and
Ermelo, a journey of over 100 miles. The afternoon ride was something
to remember, for the day had cleared into a bright afternoon with cool
winds blowing, and the green ridges had a delicate pastoral beauty, as
of sunlit sheep-walks. When we forded the Umpilusi its sluggish pools
were glowing with the fires of sunset. Cantering in the hazy twilight
of the long slopes was pure romance, and the sounds from a Kaffir
kraal, the slow mild-eyed oxen on the road, and the wheeling of wild
birds had all the strangeness of things seen and heard in a dream. I
know no such tonic for the spirits, for in such a scene and at such a
time the blood seems to run more freely in the veins, the mind to be
purged from anxious indolence, and the whole nature to become joyous
and receptive. Much comes from the air. There is something in those
spaces of clear absolute ether, eternally wide, fresh as spring water,
pure as winds among snow, which not only sustains but vitalises and
rejuvenates the body. There is something, too, in the life. Fine
scenery is too often witnessed by men when living the common life of
civilisation and enjoying the blessings of a good cook and a not
indifferent cellar. But on the veld there is bare living and hard
riding, so that a man becomes thin and hard and very much alive, the
dross of ease is purged away, and body and mind regain the keen temper
which is their birthright.

We outspanned at a Boer farm and dined with the family off home-made
bread, _confyt_, and tea. They were very hospitable and friendly, and
discussed the war and current politics with all freedom. The walls
were adorned with numerous portraits of _British_ generals; and the
farmer, who had been in Bermuda, displayed with much pride the
carvings with which he had beguiled his captivity. One of the sons
read assiduously a Dutch translation of one of Mayne Reid's novels,
and when he could tear himself from the narrative contributed to the
talk some details of his commando-life under Ben Viljoen, for whom, in
common with most of the younger Dutch, he had a profound admiration.
These people are a strange mixture--so hospitable, that the traveller
is ashamed to go near a Boer farm, seeing the straitness of their lives
and the generosity with which they give what they have; and yet so
squalid that they make little effort to better their condition. This
particular farmer owned four large farms, worth in the present market
not less than £20,000; the sale of one or a part of one would have
given him ample means to buy stock and start again. But he was content
to go on as he was, running up a long bill with the Repatriation depot,
and grumbling at the high prices for stock compared with what he had
been used to pay. The result was that, though he had been back for nine
months, I saw no living thing on that farm but a few chickens, six
goats, and a spavined horse.

We made the last stage to Florence shortly after sunrise, and arrived
at the homestead in time for breakfast. The twenty odd miles to Ermelo
were the easy journey of an afternoon. We passed the ruined township
of Chrissie, with a roofless kirk and some flourishing plantations of
firs. The lake itself lay over some meadows, a pear-shaped piece of
water, very shallow, and at its greatest perhaps some six or eight
miles round. Yet in spite of its shallowness there is ample depth for
a small centre-board; and when the railway is completed and Chrissie
becomes a summer sanatorium, there is no reason why a modest kind of
yachting should not be enjoyed. For the rest it is a bare road, with
outcrops of coal appearing here and there, and the infant Vaal to be
crossed, a very mean and muddy little stream. You come on Ermelo with
surprise, dipping over the brow of a barren ridge and seeing a
cheerful little town beneath you. It suffered heavily in the war,
being literally levelled with the ground, but when we passed most of
the houses had been cobbled together and new buildings were arising.
It lies in a rich mineral tract, and is also the centre of a wide
pastoral district, so with improved communications it may very well
become a thriving country town. Whoever laid it out showed good
judgment in the planting of trees; and in that bare land it is
pleasant to come on such a village in a wood. My chief recollection of
Ermelo is of a talk with a deputation of neighbouring farmers on the
subject of cattle diseases. One admirable old man explained his
perplexity. "Formerly," he said, "we used to be told that all diseases
came from on High. Now we are told that some are from on High and some
are our own fault. But which is which? Personally," he concluded, "I
believe that Providence is a good deal to blame for them all."

About noon the following day we set out for Amsterdam. The first part
of the road is monotonous, for it follows a straight line of
blockhouses in a bleak featureless country. We crossed the inevitable
Vaal again, a little larger and perhaps a little dirtier, but not
appreciably more attractive. Sometimes we came to a flat moor like
Rannoch with faint blue mountains beyond it, but the common type was a
succession of ridges without a shade of difference between them. The
weather had broken, and dust-coloured showers pursued us over the face
of the heavens, till, as we came in sight of the considerable hill of
Bankkop, the whole sky behind us had darkened for a wet evening. As we
came down from the height, where the colour of the roads told of coal,
and entered a green marshy valley, the storm burst on us,--a true
African rain which drenches a man in two minutes. We sought shelter in
a farmhouse, or rather in a blockhouse in the stackyard, for there was
little left of the house except a shanty which the owner had restored
for his present accommodation. All evening it rained in solid sheets,
and to dinner, a meal cooked under difficulties, the Boer farmer came
and talked to us, sitting on a barrel and telling stories of the war.
He had the ordinary tale--against the war at the start, compelled to
fight, had remonstrated with Louis Botha on his conduct of the Natal
campaign, and, grumbling greatly, had followed his leader till he was
caught and sent to Ceylon. The Boer discipline must have been a
curious growth, and, when we realise the intense individualism of the
fighting men, we begin to see the greatness of the achievement of
Botha and Delarey in keeping them together at all. Our friend was
living in squalid penury, but he was drawing enough in mineral options
on his farm to have restocked it and lived in comfort, if he had
pleased. There is no doubt in my mind, after such experiences, as to
what would have been the wisest and kindest form of repatriation for
landowners, had we had the courage to adopt it,--compulsory sale of a
portion of the farm, and out of the capital thus supplied the farmer
could have bought what he wanted at reasonable prices from Government
depots. Such a method would have given the Government more good land,
which it urgently wants; it would have saved the endless credit
accounts which in the long-run will give trouble both to Boer and
Government; and it would have saved the pauperisation into which the
Boer is only too ready to sink. There would, of course, have been many
exceptions in the case of the very poor and landless classes, but for
the landholder it would have been not only the most politic but in his
eyes the most intelligible plan.

I shall never forget the night spent in that blockhouse. Every known
form of vermin--fleas, bugs, mosquitoes, spiders, rats, and, for all I
know, snakes--came out of the holes where they had fasted for months
and attacked us. I lay for hours swathed in a kaross, my face
tingling, watching through the open square of door a melancholy moon
trying to show herself among the rain-clouds, and wishing I had had
the wisdom to sleep on the wet veld rather than in that chamber of
horrors. Sheer bodily weariness induced a few uneasy hours of sleep,
but the first ray of dawn found me thankfully arising. We breakfasted
in haste, inspanned hurriedly, and were on the road an hour after
sunrise. A long ascent brought us to the ridge of those hills of which
Bankkop and Spitzkop are part, an extension of the Drakensberg from
Wakkerstroom across the veld to the Swazi border. Then we passed over
some very flat meadows to another ridge, from which we had a clear
view of the Slaangaapies mountains to the south, and before us to the
north-east the long green range of hills above Amsterdam. It was a
curious picture for the Transvaal, a line of hills with regular glens
and soft contours unbroken by rock or tree, and at the foot in a wood
a few white cottages--a reminiscence of Galloway or Tweeddale; and
one can well understand how the Scots settlers, who founded the place
and gave it its first name of Robburnia after their national poet, saw
in the landscape a picture of their home. We skirted the village on
the left, and found the farm where we were to outspan. Here heroic
measures were taken to get rid of the results of the blockhouse. A
large tub was filled with hot water, and a bottle of sheep-dip was
emptied into it. In this mixture we wallowed, and emerged from it
scarified but clean.

The farm was the property of a Scots gentleman, who in six months had
made new water-furrows, built himself a comfortable house, put over
200 acres under crops, and was running a fair head of stock on the
hills. In the afternoon we rode with him to Mr Forbes' farm of Athole,
some three miles off, which is perhaps the largest private landed
estate in one piece in the country. It runs to some 60,000 acres, a
huge square tract between two streams, from which is obtained a fine
prospect of the Swaziland hills. Mr Forbes, who owns much land across
the border, is one of the two or three living Englishmen who know the
Swazis best, having for fifty years or more traded, farmed, and mined
in their country. Before the war Athole was a great game-preserve,
with 3000 blesbok, 2000 springbok, as well as reed-buck, impala, the
two rheboks, and a few klipspringer. Now some odd springbok along the
stream are almost all that remain. But when Mr Forbes first came to
the place eland, koodoo, and hartebeest were the common game, and one
could kill a lion on most farms. Of the original Scots settlers, who
gave the name of New Scotland to the district, a few still remain, and
their farms can be told far off by the neat strips of plantation which
make the place like a hillside in Ayrshire. The land was acquired
very cheaply from the Government,--one farm, if tales be true, going
for a pair of boots, and another for a keg of whisky. The Boers
themselves bought the whole tract from the Swazi border to Ermelo, and
from the Komati in the north to the Pongola in the south--perhaps 3000
square miles--from the Swazi king for 150 oxen and 50 blankets. As at
that time an ox was worth about 30s., it was not a high price, and the
Boers still further improved the bargain by declining to pay the
blankets. When Mr Forbes came to the place he was visited by a
deputation of Swazi chiefs to discuss the subject, and to save trouble
gave them the blankets from his own stores.

In Amsterdam next morning I was taken for a prospector, and played the
part for a considerable time, to the confusion of an ex-official of
the place, who wished to profit by my knowledge, but could make
neither head nor tail of my answers. It is a sleepy little town, with
not more than half a dozen houses lying pleasantly in gardens, with
mountain streams on all sides and pastoral green hills to the east and
north. South, where lay our road, are swelling moorlands, flanked by
the Slaangaapies and the Swazi hills, and crossed at frequent
intervals by clear grey streams. The first of these is the Compies, a
few miles from the village, and a more naturally perfect trout-stream
I have rarely seen. There were deep blue pools, and long shallow
stretches, and little rapids in whose tail one should have been able
to get a salmon. When trout become thoroughly acclimatised in the
Transvaal, and the proper waters are stocked, he will be a happy man
who owns a mile or two of the Compies. As if to intensify the
atmosphere of fishing, it began to rain heavily and a cold mist blew
up from the south. The long grass became hoar with rain-drops, and the
innumerable veld watercourses found their voices after months of dry
silence. Still more lipping grey streams, and then the rain ceased as
suddenly as it had come, and in a deceptive gleam of sunlight we came
into Piet Retief. It is a long, straggling, dingy village lying on two
ridges. The mountains on all sides are too far off to be a feature in
one's view of it, and save that it is one of the backdoors to
Swaziland, there is little of interest for the traveller. At the
entrance you pass a monument to Piet Retief, of which only the
pedestal is completed--a poor tribute to a great man.

After lunch the rain began again in real earnest, and there was
nothing for it but to loiter through the afternoon in waterproofs and
hope for a dry morrow. It is not the most cheerful of places, but seen
through the pauses of the driving wrack it had a wild charm of its
own. In particular the Slaangaapies mountains, a dozen miles off, when
by any chance they were visible for a moment, stood out black and
threatening, with white cataracts seaming their sides and murky
shadows in their glens. The Dutch name means "Snake-monkeys," but the
natives call them beautifully "The Mother of Rains." The inhabitants
of the district are almost the lowest type in the Transvaal,--poor,
disreputable, half-bred, despised by their neighbours and neglected by
the late Government. The progressive element in the district is
represented by a German colony, who were originally placed there by
the wily Boer as a buffer against the natives, but who throve and
multiplied and now own the best farms in the district. The most
interesting thing I saw in the place was a large Boer hound, with the
hair on the ridge of his back growing in an opposite direction to the
rest of his coat. Now this type is rare, and, when found, makes the
finest hunting dog in the world, for he will tackle a charging lion,
and, indeed, fears nothing created. I had often been advised if I came
across such a dog to buy him at any price, but in this case his Dutch
owner utterly refused to sell, and I had to depart in envious gloom.

Before daybreak next morning, in a mist which clothed the world like a
garment, so that we walked in fleecy vapour, we set off on the sixty
miles' journey to Wakkerstroom. The first half is through an
exceedingly dreary land. We crossed the Assegai, a finely named but
inglorious stream, chiefly remarkable for its rapid flooding, and then
for a score of miles we ascended and descended little sandy hills, and
saw on each side of the road as far as the edge of the mist the same
endless coarse herbage. In fine weather there is the wall of
Slaangaapies to give dignity to the landscape; but for us there was
only a bank of cloud. Before our mid-day outspan the sky cleared a
little, and huge stony blue hills appeared on our left, with bush
straggling up their sides and stray sun-gleams on their bald summits.
We outspanned for lunch at Vanderpoel's store, which is a couple of
huts in a perfectly flat dusty plain with a fine ring of hazy
mountains around it. The day became exceedingly hot, still cloudy, but
with a dazzle behind the mists which it hurt the eye to look at,--the
kind of weather which makes the cheeks flame and tires the traveller
far more readily than a clear sun and a blue sky. Again the same hills
and dales, but now with a gradually increasing elevation, till when we
came to a fine stream falling over a precipice into a meadow and
looked back, we saw the Slaangaapies as if from a neighbour hill-top.
A curious little peak appeared on the right, with what the Dutch call
a _castrol_ or saucepan on its head, a perfectly round ring of
kranzes which presented the appearance of an extinguisher dropped
down suddenly on the summit. It is a common sight in this part of the
Berg, where the great original chain of cliffs has been broken and
hills lie tumbled about like the _débris_ of greater mountains.

At Joubert's Hoogte the road emerges from the glens, and the south
opens up into a mazy tangle of hills. It is one of the noblest views
in the country; but for us the mist curtailed the perspective, while
it greatly increased the mystery. Shapes of mountains floating through
a haze have far more fascination for the lover of highlands than a
long prospect to a clearly defined horizon. Below lay the broad woody
valley of the Upper Pongola, shut off in the east by the spurs of the
Slaangaapies. The far mist was flecked with little sun-gleams, which
showed now an emerald slope, now the grey and black of a cliff, and
now a white flash of water. The air had the intense stillness of grey
weather and great height; only the neighing of our horses broke in
upon what might have been the first chaos out of which the world
emerged. Thence for a few miles we kept on the ridge till we dipped
into the hollow of a stream and slowly climbed a long pass where the
road clung to the edges of precipitous slopes and wriggled among great
rocks. The mist closed down, and but for the feeling in the air which
spoke of wider spaces, we could not have told that we had reached the
top of Castrol's Nek, the gate of the South-Eastern Transvaal. A
Constabulary notice plastered on a weather-worn board was another sign
that the place was a known landmark. As soon as we passed the summit
the country grew softer. The shoulders of hills seemed greener, and
along the little watercourses bracken and a richer vegetation
appeared. The evening was falling, and as we slipped down the winding
road the white mist faded into deeper and deeper grey, till at last we
emerged from it and saw a clear sky above us and hills standing out
black and rain-washed against the yellows of sunset. By-and-by in the
centre of the amphitheatre of mountains a dozen lights twinkled out,
and in a little we were off-saddling very weary horses in the pleasant
town of Wakkerstroom.

_March-April 1903._



CHAPTER X.

THE GREAT NORTH ROAD.


The romance which is inseparable from all roads belongs especially to
those great arteries of the world which traverse countries and
continents, and unite different zones and climates, and pass through
extreme variations of humankind. For in them the adventurous sense of
the unknown, which is found in a country lane among hedgerows, becomes
an ever-present reality to the most casual traveller. And it is a
peculiarity of the world's roads that this breath of romance blows
most strongly on the paths which point to the Pole-star. The Æmilian
Way, up which the Roman legions clanked to the battlefields of Gaul
and Britain, or that great track which leads through India to the
mountains of the north and thence to the steppes of Turkestan,
captures the fancy more completely than any lateral traverse of the
globe. A way which passes direct through the widest extremes of
weather, and is in turn frozen and scorched or blown in sand, has an
air of purpose which is foreign to long tracks in the same latitude,
and carries a more direct impress of the shaping and audacious spirit
of man. Of all north roads I suppose the greatest to be that which
runs from the Cape to Egypt, greatest both for its political meaning,
the strangeness of the countries to which it penetrates, the
difficulties and terrors of the journey, and, above all, for the fact
that it is a traverse of the extreme length of a vast and mysterious
continent. It has been associated in the south with the schemes of a
great dreamer, and in the north with the practical work of a great
soldier and a great administrator. Between these two beginnings we all
but lose trace of it in wilds of sand and swamp, the dense forests,
the lakes and the wild mountains of Equatorial Africa, penetrated at
rare intervals by native paths and old hunters' tracks. But to the eye
of faith the road is there, marching on with single purpose from one
railway head on the veld to another in the Soudanese desert. The men
who travel it are hunters and prospectors, a few soldiers, a chance
official, and once and again an explorer: but they travel only short
stages, and there are few indeed who, like my friend Mr E. S. Grogan,
carry their staff and scrip from end to end of it. To the amateur,
like the present writer, who goes a little way on it, the thought of
this majestic Way gives dignity to the ill-defined sandy track in
which he may be floundering, and makes each northern horizon seem like
the hill-tops of the Apennines, somewhere behind which, as the pilgrim
is confident, lie the towers and pinnacles of Rome. I would recommend
as a panacea for cold and comfortless nights on the road that the mind
of the traveller should occupy itself with a projected itinerary. He
will see the Road running as a hunter's path from the Limpopo to the
Zambesi--through thorn scrub and park-land and stony mountain. Then he
will travel up the Shiré by Nyassaland and on by Tanganyika to
Ruwenzori and the lakes; and if he is not asleep by the time he has
seen the sun rise on Albert Nyanza and fought his way through the
Dinkas and the mosquitoes of the Nile swamps, then he must be an
unquiet man with an evil conscience.

Only a little section of the road runs through the Transvaal. The
practical road has indeed been diverted at De Aar in Cape Colony,
and in the shape of a railway runs to Rhodesia and the neighbourhood
of the Victoria Falls. But to the pilgrim this is a palpable
subterfuge, for the straight highway goes through the Transvaal,
taking the form of a railway as far as Pietersburg, and then
becoming the Bulawayo coach-road for some eighty miles, till it
plunges sheer into the bush as a hunter's road and makes for Main
Drift on the Limpopo. It is a type of the vicissitudes which the
Great Road is made to suffer,--railway, admitted highroad, hunter's
path, native track, no road, and then a chain of waterways till it
becomes a river, and meets the railway again after 3000 miles of
obscurity. With a profound respect for the road, I am constrained to
admit that it makes bad going, that it is insufficiently provided
with water, that there are no signposts or inns or, for the matter
of that, white habitations, that lions do the survey work and wild
pigs the engineering, and that it is apt to cease suddenly and leave
the traveller to his own devices. But for the eye of Faith, that
wonderful possession of raw youth and wise old age, it is as broad
and solid as the Appian Way; the wheels of empire and commerce pass
over it, and cities, fairer than a mirage, seem to rise along its
shadowy course.

Our starting-point was the Repatriation depot at Pietersburg, a large
white-walled enclosure, with row upon row of stables and sheds and
in the centre a cluster of thatched white dwelling-houses. It has the
air of an Eastern caravanserai, for convoys come in and go out all
day long, and the news of the Road is brought there by every manner
of traveller. Apart from Government work with its endless trains of
ox and mule waggons, it is the starting-place for all sorts of
prospecting and hunting parties, and farmers from seventy miles round
ride in for stock or supplies. If a lion is killed or gold found or a
man lost anywhere in the north, word will be brought in to the depot
by some Dutch conductor, so that the place is far better supplied
with news of true interest than your town with its dozen newspapers.
For the essence of news is that it should be vital to one's daily
interests, and tidings of a massacre in China is less stimulating to
the mind than word of a neighbour's windfall or disaster. I can
conceive no more fascinating life than to dwell comfortably on the
edge of a savage country from which in the way of one's business all
news comes first to one's ears. To control transport is to be the
tutelary genius of travel, and in a sense the life of the wilds takes
its origin from the little caravanserai which sends forth and
welcomes the traveller.

The high veld continues for some thirty miles north of the town
before it sinks into bush and a humbler elevation. It is ordinary
high veld--bleak, dusty, and in August a sombre grey; but on the
east the blue lines, which are the Wood Bush and the Spelonken
mountains, and in the far west the thin hills about the Magalakween
valley, remind the traveller how near he is to the edge of the
central plateau. Ten miles out a crest was reached, and we looked
down on a long slope, with high mountains making gates in the
distance, and a sharp little hill called Spitzkop set in the
foreground. It was a cool hazy day, and in the west the kopjes
seemed to swim in an illimitable sea of blue. The land is all part
of Malietsie's location, and patches of tillage and an occasional
cluster of huts gave it a habitable air. The native girls wear thick
rings of brass round their necks, which gives them a straight figure
and a high carriage of the head, pleasant to see in a place where
people slouch habitually. Malietsie's is one of those Basuto tribes
which are scattered over the North Transvaal--not the best type of
native, for they are credulous and idle in their raw state, and when
Christianised and dwelling near mission-stations, incorrigibly lazy
and deceitful. They are also inordinately superstitious. I found
that no one of my boys, who were mostly from Malietsie's, would stir
ten yards beyond the camp after dark. At first I thought the reason
was dread of wild beasts, but I discovered afterwards that it was
fear of spooks, particularly of one spook who rolled along the road
in the shape of a ball of fire. It is a tribute to the greatness of
the North Road that it should have a respectable ghost of its own. In
a little we passed the last store, kept by an old Scotsman, who gave
us much information about the district. He talked of the Road, the
River, and the Mountain, without further designation, which is a
pleasing habit of country folk, who give the generic name to the
instances which dominate their daily life. The Limpopo was the River,
the Zoutpansberg the Mountain, because no other river or mountain had
a local importance comparable with these, just as to a Highland
gillie his own particular ben is "the hill," just as to Egypt the
Nile is not the Nile but "the River." He measured distance, too, by
the Road: this place was so many miles down the road, that water-hole
so many days' journey up.

We inspanned again in the evening, and in a little turned the flanks
of Spitzkop, and coming over a little rise saw a wide plain before us
densely covered with dwarf trees. The long line of the Zoutpansberg
comes to an abrupt end in a cliff above the Zoutpan. On the west the
huge mass of the Blaauwberg also breaks off sharply in tiers of fine
precipices. Between the two is a level, from fifteen to twenty miles
wide, which is the pass from the high veld to the north. It is a broad
gate, but the only one, for to the east the Zoutpansberg is impassable
for a hundred miles, and on the west beyond the Blaauwberg the
Magalakween valley is a long circuit and a difficult country. The
great mountain walls were dim with twilight, but there was day enough
left to see the immediate environs of the road. They had a comical
suggestion of a dilapidated English park. The road was fine gravel,
the trees in the half light looked often like gnarled oaks and
beeches, and the coarse bush grass seemed like neglected turf. It is a
resemblance which dogs one through the bush veld. You are always
coming to the House and never arriving. At every turn you expect a
lawn, a gleam of water, a grey wall; soon, surely, the edges will be
clipped, the sand will cease, the dull green will give place to the
tender green of watered grass. But the House remains to be found,
though I have a fancy that it may exist on a spur of Ruwenzori. As it
was, we had to put up with a tent and a dinner of curried korhaan, and
during the better part of a very cold night some jackals performed a
strenuous serenade.

The next morning dawned clear and very chilly, the mountains smoking
with mist, and the dust behind our waggons rising to heaven in
sharply outlined columns. However cold and comfortless the night,
however badly the limbs ache from sleeping on hard ground, there is
something in the tonic mornings which in an hour or so dispels every
feeling but exhilaration. Water-holes have been made for the
post-cart at lengthy intervals, but between there is nothing but rank
bush, with flat trees like the vegetation in a child's drawing
produced by rubbing the pencil across the paper. Animal life was rich
along the road--numerous small buck, a belated jackal or two, the
graceful black-and-white birds which country people call "Kaffir
queens," korhaan, guinea-fowl, partridge, quantities of bush crows,
and an endless variety of hawk and falcon. We left the Road and made
a long detour over sandy tracks to visit the Zoutpan, from which the
hills get their name, the most famous of Transvaal salt-pans. It is
about three miles in circumference, and consisted at this season of
caked grey mud, with little water-trenches and heaps of white salt on
their banks. A wise law of the late Government forbade the alienation
of salt-pans, but for some unknown reason a concession was given over
this one, and instead of being the perquisite in winter of the _arme
Boeren_ it is managed by a Pietersburg syndicate, and as far as I
could judge managed very well. The work is done by natives from the
mountains who live round a little stream which flows from the berg to
the pan, and forms the only fresh water for miles. The day became
very hot, and the glare from the pan was blinding to unaccustomed
eyes. As we returned to the main road, the noble mass of the
Blaauwberg was before us, one of the finest and least known of South
African mountains. That curious fiasco, the Malapoch war, was fought
there, and Malapoch's people still live in its corries. To a
rock-climber it is a fascinating picture, with sheer rock walls
streaked with fissures which a glass shows to be chimneys, and I
longed to be able to spend a week exploring its precipices. To a
mountaineer South Africa offers many attractions, for apart from what
may be found in isolated ranges, there are some hundreds of miles of
the Drakensberg with thousands of good climbs, and above all the
great north-eastern buttress of Mont aux Sources, which to the best
of my knowledge has never been conquered.

In the afternoon the country changed, the bush opened out, timber
trees took the place of thorn, and long glades appeared of good winter
pasture. There was a great abundance of game, and for the first time
the paauw appeared, stalking about or slowly flapping across the
grass. He is a fine bird to shoot with the rifle, but a hard fellow
for a gun, for it is difficult to get within close range; and as a
rule at anything over thirty yards he will carry all the shot you care
to give him. This park-land lasts for about ten miles, and then at
Brak River it ends and a dense thorn scrub begins, which extends
almost without interruption to the Limpopo. There we found our relays
of mules, and on a dusty patch near the mule-scherm we outspanned for
the night. We were nearing the country of big game. A lion had been
seen on the Bulawayo road the day before, a little north of the
station; and it was a common enough thing to have them reconnoitring
the scherm. As soon as darkness fell the cry of wolves began, that
curious unearthly wail which is one of the eeriest of veld sounds.
Most forcible reminder of all, a hunting party ahead of us had lost a
man, who, after wandering for six days in the bush, while his
companions gave him up for dead, had come out on the Road and been
found by the man in charge of our relays. It was a miracle that he
had not lost his reason or perished of thirst and fatigue, for he had
neither food nor water with him, and only a little cloth cap to keep
off the tropical sun. An old Boer from Louis Trichard, trekking with
oxen, camped beside us; and after dining delicately off guinea-fowl I
went over to his fire to talk to him. He was a typical back-veld
Boer--a great hunter, friendly, without any sort of dignity, a true
frontier man, to whom politics mean nothing and his next meal
everything. He told me amazing lion stories, in which he always gave
the _coup de grâce_, and displayed incredible courage and skill. He
showed me with pride a ·400 express bullet which he kept wrapt up in
paper--whether as a charm or a souvenir I do not know, for his own
weapon was an ancient Martini. His one political prejudice concerned
the Jews, whose character he outlined to me with great spirit. They
were the opposite of everything implied in the term "oprecht"; but I
am inclined to believe that, like many of us, he secretly believed
that all foreigners were Jews, and in hugging the prejudice showed
himself a nationalist at heart.

The coach-road runs due north to Tuli and Bulawayo, but the Road itself
takes a slight bend to the east and follows the course of the mythical
Brak River. For miles this stream does not exist--there is not even the
slightest suggestion of a bed; and then appears a dirty hole full of
greenish, brackish water, and we hail the resurrected river. It is
necessary for the traveller to know where such holes lie, for they are
the only water in the neighbourhood; and though the Road keeps close to
them, there is nothing in the dense thorn bush which lines its sides to
reveal the presence of water. I have never seen bleaker bush-land. All
day long, through hanging clouds of dust, we crept through the
featureless country, the Zoutpansberg and Blaauwberg behind us growing
hourly fainter. For the information of travellers, I would say that the
first water is at a place called Krokodilgat, the second at a place
called Rietgaten, and that after that the Road bends northward away
from the river, and there is no water till Taqui is reached. The dust
of the track was thick with the spoor of wild cats, wolves, the blue
wildebeest, and at rare intervals of wild ostrich. As night fell the
bush became very dead and silent, save for the far-away howl of a
jackal,--a dull olive-green ocean under a wonderful turquoise sky. We
encamped after dark in a little wayside hollow, where we built a large
fire and a massive scherm or enclosure of thorns for the animals. There
was every chance of a lion, so I retired to rest with pleasant
anticipations and a quantity of loaded firearms near my head. But no
lion came, though about two o'clock in the morning the mules grew very
restless, and a majestic figure (which was indeed no other than the
present writer's), armed with a ·400 express, might have been seen
clambering about the top of the waggon and straining sleepy eyes into
the bush.

We started at dawn next morning, as we had a long journey before
water. The thorn bush disappeared and gave place to a more open
country, full of a kind of wormwood which gave an aromatic flavour to
the fresh morning air. Then came a new kind of bush, the mopani, a
wholesome green little shrub, with butterfly-shaped foliage. The
leaves of this tree would appear to be for the healing of the nations,
for a decoction of them is regarded both as a preventive against and a
cure for malaria; and a mopani poultice is a sovereign cure for
bruises. Among the spoor on the track was that of a large lion going
towards Taqui. There were also to our surprise the spoor and
droppings of oxen. When about eleven o'clock we reached the large pits
of whitey-blue brackish water which bear that name, we found the
reason of both. A shooting party encamped there had had their cattle
stampeded in the night, and early in the morning a Dutch hunter who
accompanied them had gone out to look for them, and found an ox
freshly killed by a lion not a quarter of a mile from the camp. He
followed the lion, and wounded him with a long-range shot. When we
arrived the search for the lion had begun, and he was found stone-dead
a little way on, with his belly distended with ox-flesh and the bullet
in his lungs. He was a very large lion, measuring about ten and a-half
feet from tip to tip, rather old, and with broken porcupine-quills
embedded in his skin. A trap-gun was set, and two nights later a very
fine young black-maned lion, about the same size, was found dead a
hundred yards from the trap, with a broken shoulder and a bullet in
his spine. The remainder of the story shows the Providence which
watches over foolish oxen. All were recovered save one, which died of
red-water. They went straight back the road they had come; and though
the country-side was infested with lions, wolves, and tiger-cats, they
reached the mule-scherm at Brak River in safety.

From Taqui the road climbs a chain of kopjes where it is almost
overarched with trees, so that a covered waggon has difficulty in
getting through. From the summit there is a long prospect of flat bush
country running to the Limpopo, with a bold ridge of hills on the
Rhodesian side, and far to the east the faint line of mountains which
is the continuation of the Zoutpansberg to the Portuguese border. The
bush was dotted with huge baobabs, the cream-of-tartar trees which so
impressed the voortrekkers in Lydenburg. At this season the branches
were leafless, but a good deal of fruit remained, which our native
boys eagerly gathered and munched for the rest of the journey. The
fruit has a hard shell, and is filled with little white kernels like
the sweetmeat called Turkish Delight. They have a faint sub-acid
flavour, but otherwise are rather insipid. Their properties are highly
salutary, and they are used to purify bad water and to keep the
hunters' blood clean in the absence of vegetable food. Their enormous
trunks, often forty feet in circumference, are not wood but a sort of
fibrous substance, so that a solid rifle bullet fired from short range
will go through them. The baobab is indeed less a tree than a gigantic
and salutary fungus; but in a distant prospect of landscape it has the
scenic effect of large timber. An old Boer in the hunting party we had
passed had given us an estimate of the distance to the next water;
but, as it turned out, he was hopelessly wrong. It is nearly
impossible to get a proper calculation of distance from country-people
in South Africa. They are accustomed to calculate in hours, which of
course vary in every district according to the nature of the road and
the quality of the transport. Six miles an hour is the usual
allowance; but when a Dutchman tries to calculate in miles he gets
wildly out of his bearings. The hours method still sticks in their
mind; and one man solemnly informed us that a certain place was six
miles off for horses and ten for mules.

We outspanned for the night without water, and with the accompaniment
of scherm and camp fires. Next morning we came suddenly out of the
bush to a perfect English dell, where a little clear stream, the
first running water we had seen, flowed out of a reed-bed into a rock
pool. There were a few large trees and quantities of a kind of small
palm. Under the doubtful shade of a baobab we breakfasted, and then
went up the stream with our rifles to look for game. There was the
usual superfluity of birds, but we saw no big game except a few
bush-hogs. The stream ceased as suddenly as it began, and we followed
up a dry sandy bed all but overgrown with a thorn thicket. A mile or
so up we came on another pool, which was evidently the drinking-place
of the bush, for the edges were trodden with the spoor of pig and
monkey and a few large buck. Pig drink during the day, but the large
game come to the water early in the morning or very late in the
evening, and in the heat of mid-day go many miles into the bush. It
was a hot business ploughing along in the deep sand, and I was very
glad to return to the rock-pool and a bath on a cool slab of stone.
It is a good bush-veld rule to follow the advice of Mr Jorrocks and
sleep where you eat, and in the shade of the waggon we dozed till the
cooler afternoon. The evening trek was in the old thorn-country,
perfectly featureless, silent, and uninhabited. Since Malietsie's
location we had seen no Kaffirs except our own and the post-runners,
and we were told that this whole tract of land is almost without
natives. Even the water-holes, some of which are large and permanent,
have failed to attract inhabitants. I am reminded of a story which
has no application, but is worth recording. It was told to a burgher
camp official by an old and deeply religious Boer, who was greatly
pained at the experience. He fell asleep, he said, one night and
dreamed; and, lo and behold, he was dead and at the gates of
Paradise. An affable angel met him and conducted him to a place
where people were playing games and laughing loudly, and were
generally consumed with energy and high spirits. "This," said his
guide, "is the Rooinek heaven." "No place for me," said the dreamer;
"these folk do not keep the Sabbath, and their noise wearies me."
Then he came to another place where there was much beer and tobacco,
and roysterers were swilling from long mugs and smoking deep-bowled
pipes to the strains of a brass band. "Again this intolerable row,"
said my friend, "though the tobacco looks good--clearly the German
paradise." The next place they came to was a town where thin-faced
men were running about buying and selling and screeching market
quotations. My friend would not at first believe that this was
Paradise at all, but his informant said it was the corner reserved
for virtuous Americans. "Take me as soon as possible to the paradise
of my own folk," said the dreamer; "I am tired of these uitlander
heavens." And then it seemed to him he was taken to a very beautiful
country place, with rich green veld, seamed with water-furrows, and
huge orchards of peaches and nartjes, and pleasant little houses with
broad stoeps. The soul of my friend was ravished at the sight.
Clearly, he thought, the Boers are God's chosen folk, and he was
about to select his farm when a thought struck him. "But where are
all our people?" he asked. "Alas!" said the affable angel, dropping a
tear, "it pains me to tell you that they are all in the Other Place."

Our evening outspan was below the kopjes where the copper mines lie,
and a few tracks in the veld and an empty tin or two gave warning of
human habitation. These copper mines, which are about to be thoroughly
exploited by Johannesburg companies, are old Kaffir workings, and,
possibly, from some of the remains, Phoenician. The scenery suddenly
became very peculiar,--English park-land, but with a tint of green
which I have never seen before, a kind of dull metallic shade like some
mineral dye. There were avenues of tolerably high trees, and a sort of
natural hedgerow. The grass was short and rich, and but for the odd hue
not unlike a home meadow. There were also a number of wood-pigeons of
the same metallic green, so that the whole place was a symphony in a
not very pleasing colour. Early next morning, leaving our transport
behind, we set off for the Limpopo, which is about eight miles off. The
thorn thickets appeared again, and the heat as we descended into the
valley became oppressive. The altitude of the river is about 1500 feet,
which is a descent of nearly 3000 feet from the high veld, and even in
winter time the heat is considerable, for the soil is a fine sand, and
no breeze penetrates to the wooded valley. I had seen the Limpopo a
wild torrent in the passes of the Magaliesberg, and I had seen it a
broad navigable river at its mouth; so I was scarcely prepared for the
bed of dazzling white sand which here represented the stream. Main
Drift is about a quarter of a mile wide, with a bed of bulrushes in the
centre, and except for a thin trickle close to the Rhodesian shore it
is as dry as the Egyptian desert. But twelve miles higher up it is a
full stream with rapids and falls, crocodile and hippo, and some miles
down it is a stagnant tropical lagoon. The water is there, but buried
below Heaven knows how many feet of rock and sand. Those mysterious
African rivers which disappear and return after many miles have a
fascination for the mind which cares for the inexplicable. The valley
is there, the bulrushes, the shingle, the water-birds, but no
river--only a ribbon of white sand, or a few dusty holes in the rock.
And then without warning, as the traveller stumbles down the valley,
water rises before him like a mirage, and instead of a desert he has a
river-side. There is little kinship between the torrent which rushes
through Crocodile Poort and this arid hollow, but the great river never
loses itself, and though it is foiled and swamped and strained through
sand it succeeds in the end, like Oxus in the poem, in collecting all
its waters, and pours a stately flood through the low coast-lands to
the ocean. Ploughing about in the dry bed under the tropical noontide
sun was dreary work, and put us very much in the position of Mr Pliable
in the Slough of Despond, when he cried, "May I get out again with my
life, you shall possess the brave country alone for me." We saw a
number of spur-winged geese, which for some reason the Boers call wild
Muscovy, and a heron or two sailing down the blue. A little up stream
there was a lagoon in the sand flanked on one side by rocks--a clear
deep pool, where a man might bathe without fear of strange beasts.
Wallowing in the lukewarm water, the glare exceeded anything I have
known--blue water, white rock, and acres and acres of white sand
between hot copper-coloured hills.

As we left the river we said farewell to the Road. It showed itself on
the Rhodesian side climbing a knoll past a cluster of huts which had
once been a police station, but had been relinquished because of the
great mortality from fever. Thereafter it was lost among bush and a
chain of broken hills. It cared nothing for appearances, being sandy
and overgrown and in places scarcely a track at all, for it had a
weary way to go before it could be called a civilised road again.
There was something purposeful and gallant in the little trail
plunging into the wilds, and with regret we took our last look of it
and turned our faces southwards.

Our way back lay mostly through dense bush-land, and in the days of
hunting and the evenings round the fire I saw much of the life and
realised something of the fascination of this strange form of country.
It has no obvious picturesqueness, this interminable desert of thorn
and sand and rank grass, varied at rare intervals by a raw kopje or a
clump of timber. The sun beats on it at mid-day with pitiless force,
and if it was hot in the month of August, what must it be at midsummer?
The rivers are sand-filled ditches, and the infrequent water is found
commonly in brack lagoons; but, dry as it is, it has none of the
wholesomeness of most arid countries, generally forming a hotbed of
fever. An aneroid which I carried to give a flavour of science to our
expedition, put its average elevation at between 1500 and 2000 feet.
Agriculture is everywhere impossible, though some of the better
timbered parts might make good winter ranching country. But, apart from
possible mineral exploitation, the land must remain hunting veld, and
indeed is favourably placed for a large-game preserve. The very
scarcity of water makes it a suitable dwelling-place for the larger
buck, who drink but once a-day; and the difficulty of penetrating such
a desert will be an effective agent in preservation. A man walking
through it sees nothing for days beyond the dead green of thorn bush,
till he comes to some slight ridge and overlooks a round horizon, a
plain flat as mid-ocean, crisped with the same monotonous dwarf trees.
Hidden away round water-holes there are glades and drives with a faint
hint of that softness which to us is inseparable from woodland scenery,
but they are so few that they only increase by contrast the sense of
hard desolation. The bush is very silent. Its dwellers make no noise as
they move about, till evening brings the cries of beasts of prey. The
nights in winter are intensely cold, with a sharpness which I found
more difficult to endure than the honest frost of the high veld. The
noons are dusty and torrid, and the thirst of the bush is a thing not
easily coped with. But in three phases this desert took on a curious
charm. That South African landscape must be bleak indeed which is not
transformed by the mornings and evenings. For two hours after sunrise a
chill hangs in the air, light fresh winds blow from nowhere, and the
scrub which is so dead and ugly at mid-day assumes clear colours and
stands out olive-green and rich umber against the pale sky. At twilight
the wonderful amethyst haze turns everything to fairyland, the track
shimmers among purple shadows, and every little gap in the bush is
magnified to a glade in a forest. I have also a very vivid memory of a
view from one of the small ridges in full moonlight. It was like
looking from a hill-top on a vast virgin forest, a dark symmetrical
ocean of tree-tops with a glimpse of ivory from an open space where the
road emerged for a moment from the covert.

There is little danger in hunting here unless you are happy enough to
meet a lion and so unfortunate as not to kill with the first shot. But
it is very arduous and hot, the clothes become pincushions of thorns,
face and hands are scratched violently with swinging boughs, and a
man's temper is apt to get brittle at times. In thick bush one can
only hunt by spoor, and it is a slow business with a grilling sun on
one's back and a few obtuse native boys. The native is usually a good
tracker, but he is an unsatisfactory colleague because of the
difficulty of communicating with him. For one thing, even in a
language which he understands, he does not seem to know the meaning of
the note of interrogation. If he is asked if a certain mark is a black
wildebeest's spoor, he imagines that his master asserts that such is
the case, and politely hastens to agree with him, whereas he knows
perfectly well that it is not, and if he understood that he was being
asked for information, would give it willingly. The difficulty, too,
of hunting by a kind of rude instinct is that when this instinct is at
fault he is left utterly helpless, and has no notion of any sort of
deductive reasoning. If a native is once lost he is thoroughly lost,
though his knowledge of the country may enable him to keep alive when
a white man would die. I found also that my boys had so many errands
of their own to do in the bush that it was difficult to keep them to
their work. They scrambled for baobab fruit; they hunted for wolves'
and lions' dung, from which they make an ointment, smeared with which
they imagine they can safely walk through the bush at all seasons. The
supreme danger of this kind of life is undoubtedly to be lost away
from water and tracks. It is a misfortune which any man may suffer,
but for any one with some experience of savage country, who takes his
bearings carefully at the start and never gets out of touch with them,
the danger is very small. In this country there is always some
landmark--a kopje, a big tree, and in some parts the distant ranges of
mountains--by which, with the sun and some knowledge of the lie of the
land, one can safely travel many miles from the camp. For a man on a
good horse there is no excuse, here at any rate, for losing himself;
for a man on foot heat and fatigue and the closeness of the bush may
well drive all calculations out of his head. Apart from other
terrors, a night in those wilds is likely to be disturbed from the
attentions of beasts of prey, and a man who has not the means of
making a scherm or a fire will have to spend a restless night in a
tree. To be finally and hopelessly lost is the most awful fate which I
can imagine. It is easy to conjure up the details, and many uneasy
nights I have spent in such dismal forecasts. First, the annoyance,
the hasty pushing through the scrub, believing the camp to be just in
front, and lamenting that you are late for dinner. Then the slow
fatigue, the slow consciousness that the camp is not there, that you
do not know where you are, and that you must make the best of the
night in the open. Morning comes, and confidently you try to take your
bearings; by this time others are seeking you, you reflect, and with a
little care you can find your whereabouts and go to meet them. Then a
long hot day, without water or food, pushing eternally through the
dull green scrub, every moment leaving confidence a little weaker,
till the second night comes, and you doze uneasily in a horror of
nightmare and physical illness. Then the spectral awaking, the
watching of a giddy sunrise, the slow forcing of the body to the same
hopeless quest, till the thorns begin to dance before you and the
black froth comes to the lips, and in a little reason takes wing, and
you die crazily by inches in the parched silence.

I have said that the bush is without human inhabitants, but every now
and then we found traces of other travellers. A dusty pack-donkey
would suddenly emerge from the thicket, followed by two dusty and
sunburnt men, each with some prehistoric kind of gun. Sometimes we
breakfasted with this kind of party, and heard from them the curious
tale of their wanderings. They would ask us the news, having seen no
white man for half a-year, and it was odd to see the voracity with
which they devoured the very belated papers we could offer them. They
had been east to the Portuguese border and west to Bechuanaland and
north to the Zambesi, pursuing one of the hardest and most thankless
tasks on earth. The prospector skirmishes ahead of civilisation. On
his labours great industries are based, but he himself gets, as a
rule, little reward. Fever and starvation are incidents of his daily
life, and yet there is a certain relish in it for the old stager, and
I doubt if he would be content to try an easier job which curtailed
his freedom. For, if you think of it, there is an undercurrent of
perpetual excitement in the life, which is treasure-hunting made a
business: any morning may reveal the great reef or the rich pipe, and
change this dusty fellow with his tired mules into a nabob. Among the
taciturn men who crept out of the bush every type was represented,
from Australian cow-punchers to well-born gentlemen from home, whose
names were still on the lists of good clubs. One party I especially
remember, three huge Canadians, who came in the darkness and encamped
by our fire. They had a ramshackle cart and two mules, and the whole
outfit was valeted by the very smallest nigger-boy you can imagine. It
did one good to see the way in which that child sprang to attention at
sunrise, and, clad simply in a gigantic pair of khaki trousers and one
side of an old waistcoat, lit the fire, made coffee for his three
masters, cooked breakfast, caught and harnessed the mules, and was
squatting in the cart, all within the shortest possible time. The
Canadians had been all over the world and in every profession, but of
all trades they liked the late war best, and made anxious inquiries
about Somaliland. They were the true adventurer type,--long, thin,
hollow-eyed, tough as whipcord, men who, like the Black Douglas, would
rather hear the lark sing than the mouse cheep. After making fierce
inroads on my tobacco, and giving me their views on the native
question and many incidental matters, they departed into the Western
bush, one man cracking the whip and whistling "Annie Laurie," and the
other two, with guns, creeping along on the flanks. I took off my hat
in spirit to the advance-guard of our people, the men who know much
and fear little, who are always a little ahead of everybody else in
the waste places of the earth. You can readily whistle them back to
the defence of some portion of the Empire or gather them for the
maintenance of some single frontier; but when the work is done they
retire again to their own places, with their eyes steadfastly to the
wilds but their ears always open for the whistle to call them back
once more.

_August 1903._



CHAPTER XI.

THE FUTURE OF SOUTH AFRICAN SPORT.


The great days of South African sport are over, and there is no
disguising the fact. Open any early record, such as Oswell or
Gordon-Cumming, and the size and variety of the bag dazzles the mind
of the amateur of to-day. Then it was possible to shoot lion in Cape
Colony and elephant in the Transvaal, and to find at one's door game
whose only habitat is now some narrow region near the Mountains of the
Moon. Turn even to the later pages of Mr Selous, and anywhere north of
a line drawn east and west through Pretoria, there was such sport to
be had as can now be found with difficulty on the Zambesi. The absence
of game laws and the presence of many bold hunters have cleared the
veld of the vast herds of antelope which provided the voortrekker with
fresh meat, and the advance of industry and settlement have driven
predatory animals still farther afield. From the Zambesi southward ten
or twelve species of antelope may still be found in fair numbers, but
the nobler and larger kinds of game, the giraffe, the koodoo, the
black wildebeest, the two hartebeests, and the eland, are scarce save
in a few remote valleys. The white rhinoceros is almost extinct and
the ordinary kind uncommon. The hippopotamus, which is not a sporting
animal, is still found in most tropical rivers; wild pigs--both
bush-hog and wart-hog--are plentiful in the northern bush; but the
graceful zebra is rapidly disappearing. Lion are still fairly easy to
come on unawares anywhere north of the Limpopo, and in the mountains
and flats of the north-eastern Transvaal. A few troops of elephant may
exist unpreserved in the region between the Pungwe and the Zambesi, a
few in Northern Mashonaland, with perhaps one or two in the Northern
Kalahari. The war, on the whole, has been on the side of the wild
animals, for though large herds of springbok and blesbok were
slaughtered by the troops on the high veld, the native, that
inveterate poacher, has been restrained from his evil ways by
lucrative military employment, so that the northern districts are
better stocked to-day than they were five years ago. But the fact
remains that South Africa is no longer virgin hunting-veld. The game
is disappearing, and, unless every care is taken, will in a few years
go the way of the American buffalo. If we are to preserve for South
Africa its oldest inhabitants, and keep it as a hunting-ground for the
true sportsman, we must bestir ourselves and act promptly. In this, as
in graver questions, an intelligent forethought must take the place of
the old slackness.

Such a policy must take two forms,--the establishment of good laws for
the preservation of game and the regulation of sport, and the formation
of game-reserves. The best course would have been to declare a rigid
close time for five years, during which no game other than birds and
destructive animals should be killed, save in the case of damage to
crops. The administrative difficulties, however, in the way of such a
heroic remedy were very great, and the code of game laws, now in force
in the Transvaal, seems to mark the limit of possible restriction.
Under these power is given to declare a close season--a valuable
discretionary power, since the season varies widely for different kinds
of game--during which no game may be killed, and also to preserve
absolutely any specified bird or animal in any specified district up to
a period of three years. This would permit the absolute preservation of
such animals as the springbok and the blesbok in certain parts of the
country where they are scarce, without interfering with sport in other
localities where they are plentiful. The ordinary shooting licence for
birds and antelope is fixed at £3 for the season; but certain rarer
animals have been made special game, and to hunt these permission must
be obtained in writing from the Colonial Secretary and a fee paid of
£25. The chief of these are the elephant, hippo, rhinoceros, buffalo;
the quagga and the zebra; the two hartebeests, the two wildebeests, the
roan and the sable antelope, the koodoo, eland, giraffe, and tsessabe.
The wild ostrich and that beautiful bird the mahem or crested crane
(_Chrysopelargus balearica_) are also included. Provision is made
against the sale or destruction of the eggs of game-birds and the sale
of dead game in the close season. Under this law the ordinary man, on
the payment of a small sum, has during the season the right to shoot
over thirty varieties of game-birds and over a dozen kinds of buck, as
well as wild pig and lion and tiger-cats, if he is fortunate enough to
find them, on most Crown lands and on private lands when he can get the
owner's permission,--a tolerably wide field for the sportsman. But
restrictive laws are not enough in themselves; it is necessary to
provide an equivalent to the sanctuary in a deer-forest, reserves
where wild animals are immune at all seasons. The late Government
established several nominal reserves, notably on the Lesser Sabi
River and in the extreme eastern corner of Piet Retief which adjoins
Tongaland; but no proper steps were taken to enforce the reservations.
The new Government has strictly delimited the Sabi preserve and
appointed a ranger; and certain adjoining land companies between the
Sabi and the Olifants have made similar provisions for their own land.
But one reserve in one locality is not enough. The true principle is
to establish a small reserve and a sanctuary in each district. Part of
the Crown lands in Northern Rustenburg, in Waterberg, in Northern and
Eastern Zoutpansberg, and especially in the Springbok Flats district,
might well be formed into reserves without any real injury to such
agricultural and pastoral development as they are capable of. If the
greater land companies could be induced to follow suit--and there is
no reason why they should not--an effective and far-reaching system
of game preservation could be put in force.[12] Finally, something
must be done at once to stop native poaching, more especially the
depredations of the wretched Kaffir dogs. Officers of constabulary,
land inspectors, as well as all owners and lessees of farms, should
have the power to shoot at sight any dog trespassing on a game-preserve
or detected in the pursuit of game. An increased dog-tax, too, might
stop the present system of large mongrel packs which are to be seen in
any Kaffir kraal. A stringent Vermin Act, which is highly necessary for
the protection of small stock like sheep and goats, would also help to
prevent the slaughter of buck by wild dogs and jackals.

But for the big-game hunter, in the old African sense, there is little
or nothing left. The day of small things has arisen, and we must be
content to record tamely our sport in braces of birds and heads of
small buck, where our grandfathers recorded theirs in lion-skins and
tusks and broken limbs. Big game there still is, but they are far
afield, and have to be pursued at some risk to horse and man from fly
and malaria. The lion, as I have said, is still fairly common in the
district between Magatoland and the Limpopo, in the continuation of
the Zoutpansberg east to the Rooi Rand, down the slopes of the
Lebombo, and in the flats along the Lower Letaba, Olifants, and
Limpopo. He is frequently met with in most parts of Rhodesia, though
his habits are highly capricious, and while a tourist one day's
journey from Salisbury may see several, a man who spends six months
hunting may never get a shot. Portuguese territory is still a haunt of
big game, though the natives are doing their best to exterminate it,
for the thick bush and the pestilent climate between the Lebombo and
the sea will always make hunting difficult; and the Pungwe and its
tributaries still form, at the proper season, perhaps the best
shooting-ground south of the Zambesi. The elephant cannot be counted a
quarry; and any man who attempts to kill an elephant in South Africa
to-day deserves severe treatment, save in such preserves as the Addo
Bush and the Knysna forest in Cape Colony, where they are rapidly
becoming a nuisance. A few head of buffalo still survive, in spite of
rinderpest, in the extreme Eastern Transvaal, as well as in Portuguese
territory; and the eland, that noblest and largest of buck, is found
along the Portuguese border. Report has it that in some of the
Drakensberg kloofs between Basutoland and Natal a few stray eland may
also be found. The beautiful antelopes, sable and roan, the exquisite
koodoo, the blue wildebeest and the two hartebeests, roam in small
herds on the malarial eastern flats, and a few giraffe are reported
from the same neighbourhood. The gemsbok, with his lengthy taper
horns, has long been confined to the remote parts of the Kalahari.

A big-game expedition will, therefore, in a few years' time still be a
possibility in Central South Africa, and with judicious management it
may long remain so, for those who can afford the time and the not
inconsiderable expense. The best place must remain the country between
the Lebombo and the Drakensberg, and north from the Olifants to the
Limpopo. Eastern Mashonaland, the Kalahari, and the Pungwe district
will be available for those who care to go farther afield. The venue
must be chosen according as a man proposes to hunt on horse or on foot.
Both forms of sport have their attractions. On the great open flats of
the Kalahari and Rhodesia no sport in the world can equal the pursuit
of big game with a trained horse--the wild gallop, stalking, so to
speak, at racing speed, the quick dismounting and firing, the pursuit
of a maimed animal, the imminent danger, perhaps, from a charging
buffalo or a wounded lion. This horseback hunting is, as a rule,
pursued in a healthy country, every moment is full of breathless
excitement, and success requires a steady nerve and a sure seat. But
stalking on foot in thick bush makes greater demands on bodily strength
and self-possession. The country is rarely wholesome, and in those
blazing flats a long daylight stalk will tire the strongest. There is
more need, too, for veld-craft, and an intimate knowledge of the habits
of game; and when game is found, there is more need for a clear eye and
a steady pulse, for a man hunting in veldschoen and a shirt is pretty
well at the mercy of a mad animal. But in both forms of sport there is
the same lonely freedom, the same wonderful earth, and the same homely
and intimate comforts. No man can ever forget the return, utterly
tired, in the cool dusk, which is alive with the glimmer of wings, and
the sight of the waggon-lantern and the great fire at which the boys
are cooking dinner. A wash and a drink--indispensable after a hot day
lest a man should overstay his appetite; and then a hunter's meal,
which tastes as the cookery of civilisation seldom tastes. There is no
reason why a hunter should not live well, far better than in any South
African town, for he can count on fresh meat always, and, if he is
fortunate, on eggs and fish and fruit. And then the evening pipe in a
deck-chair, with the big lantern swinging from a tree, the great fire
making weird shadows in the forest, and natives chattering drowsily
around the ashes. Lastly, to an early bed in his blankets, and up again
at dawn, with another day before him of this sane and wholesome life.

The chief dangers in African hunting, greater far than any from wild
animals, are the chances of malaria and the possibility of getting
lost. In many trips the first may be absent, but for a keen man it is
often necessary to time his expeditions when the grass is short or
when he has a chance of having the field to himself, periods which do
not always coincide with the healthy season. It is not for anyone to
venture lightly on a long hunting trek. But, granted a sound
constitution, decent carefulness in matters such as the abstinence
from all liquids save at meals, and from alcohol save before dinner,
and the rigorous use of a mosquito-curtain, can generally bring a man
safely through. The system can be fortified by small and regular doses
of quinine, and the camp should be pitched, whenever possible, in some
dry and open spot. These may seem foolish precautions to an old hunter
whose body has been seasoned with innumerable attacks, but it is wise
for one who has not suffered that misfortune to take every means to
avoid it. To be lost in the bush is an accident which every man is
horribly afraid of, and which may happen any day even to the most
cautious, unless he has gone far in the curious lore of the wilds.
There are men, of course, who are beyond the fear of it, chosen
spirits to whom a featureless plain is full of intricate landmarks,
and the sky is a clearer chart than any map. But the common traveller
may walk a score of yards or so from the path, look round, see all
about him high waving grasses somewhere in which the road is hidden,
go off hastily in what seems the right direction, walk for a couple of
hours and change his mind, and then, lo! and behold, his nerve goes
and he is lost, perhaps for days, perhaps for ever. The ordinary
procedure of a hunting trip, tossing for beats in the morning and then
scattering each in a different direction, gives scope for such
misfortunes. The safest plan is, of course, never to go out without a
competent native guide; and, where this precaution is out of the
question, the next best is to rely absolutely on some experienced
member of the party who can follow spoor, sit down once you have lost
your bearings, and wait till he finds you. A time is fixed after
which, if a man does not return, it is presumed that he is in
difficulties, and a search party is sent out; and naturally it saves a
great deal of trouble if a man does not confuse the searchers by
constantly going back on his tracks. If the hunter is on horseback he
can try trusting his horse, which is said--I have happily never had
occasion to prove the truth of the saying--to be able on the second
day to go back to its last water. The whole hunting veld is full of
gruesome tales of men utterly lost or found too late; and most hunting
parties in flat or thickly wooded country come back with a wholesome
dread of the mischances of the bush.

For the man who has little time to spare there remain the smaller
buck. And such game is not to be lightly despised. The commonest and
smallest are the little duiker and steinbok, shy, fleet little
creatures which give many a sporting shot and make excellent eating. I
suppose there are few farms in any part of South Africa without a few
of them, and in some districts they are nearly as common as hares on
an English estate. The springbok, a true gazelle, is more local in his
occurrence, though large herds still exist in Cape Colony and parts of
the Orange River Colony. Fair-sized herds are to be found, too, in the
western district of the Transvaal and in certain parts of Waterberg
and Ermelo. The blesbok is rather less frequent, though he used to be
common enough, but there are numerous small herds in various parts of
the country. These four varieties are the stand-by of South African
shooting: other buck are to be sought more as trophies than in the
ordinary way of sport. The water-buck, with his handsome head, and
extremely poor venison, is common along all the sub-tropical and
tropical rivers, but to shoot him requires a certain amount of
trekking. So with the reed-buck, who haunts the same localities,
though he is still found in places so close to the high veld as the
southern parts of Marico and the Amsterdam district in the east. The
beautiful impala, with his reddish coat and delicately notched
antlers, is the commonest buck in the Sabi game-preserves, and extends
over most of the bush veld, as well as parts of Waterberg and a few
farms in the south-east. The klipspringer is found on all the slopes
of the great eastern range of mountains, and is very common on the
Natal side of the Drakensberg. He is a beautiful and difficult quarry,
having a chamois-like love of inaccessible places, and being able to
cover the most appalling ground at racing speed. The vaal rhebok and
the rooi rhebok are found in small numbers in the same localities, and
the latter is also fairly common in the wooded hills around Zeerust.
Both the bush-pig and the wart-hog are plentiful in the bush veld, and
on the slopes of the eastern mountains. Finally, the bush-buck, one of
the most beautiful, and, for his size, the fiercest of all buck, is
widely distributed among the woods of Cape Colony and Natal, and in
the belts of virgin forest which extend with breaks from Swaziland to
Zoutpansberg. Living in the dense undergrowth, he has been pretty well
out of the way of the hunter who killed for the pot. He is an awkward
fellow to meet at close quarters in a bad country, for, when wounded,
he will charge, and his powerful horns are not pleasant to encounter.
There have been several cases of natives, and even of white men, who
have died of wounds from his assaults. His elder brother, the inyala,
does not, so far as I know, appear south of the Limpopo.

The favourite South African method of shooting such game as the
springbok is by driving him with an army of native beaters down wind
against the guns. In an open country buck can be stalked on horseback
or ridden down in the Dutch fashion of "brandt." Elsewhere stalking on
foot is the only way, a difficult matter unless the hunter knows the
habits and haunts of the game. South African shooting seems hard at
first to the new-comer, partly from the difficulty of judging
distances in the novel clearness of the air, partly from the shyness
of game, which often makes it necessary to take shots at a range which
seems ridiculous to one familiar only with Scots deer-stalking, and
partly from the extraordinary tenacity of life which those wild
animals show,[13] limiting the choice of marks to a very few parts of
the body. But experience can do much, and in time any man with a clear
eye and good nerve may look for reasonable success. As has been noted
in a former chapter, the best shots in the country, with a few
exceptions, are to be found among English immigrants and Colonists of
English blood. It is a kind of shooting which seems incredible at
first sight to the ordinary man from home. I have known such a hunter
to put a bullet at over 100 yards through the head of a korhaan, a
bird scarcely larger than a blackcock: a feat which might be set down
to accident were it not that the same man was accustomed to shoot
small buck running at 200 yards with remarkable success. I should be
very sorry to wage war against a corps of sharpshooters drawn from old
African hunters.

There remain the numerous game-birds of the country. The finest is, of
course, the greater paauw, but he is not very common in the Transvaal
itself, though frequent enough in Bechuanaland, Rhodesia, and some
parts of the northern bush veld. But of the bustard family, to which
the comprehensive name of korhaan is applied, there are at least four
varieties, two of which are very common. The bustard is an easy bird,
save that he carries a good deal of shot, and has a knack of keeping
out of range unless properly stalked or driven. The Dutch word
"patrys," again, covers at least eight varieties of the true
partridge, and if we include the sand-grouse (called the Namaqua
partridge), of two or three more. None of the South African partridge
tribe are equal to their English brothers; but there is no reason why
the English bird should not be introduced, and thrive well, and indeed
experiments in this direction are being made. There are three birds
which the Dutch call "pheasant," two of them francolins and one the
curious dikkop--birds which have few of the qualities of the English
pheasant, but which are strong on the wing, offer fair shots, and make
excellent eating. Quail are found at certain seasons of the year in
vast quantities, and give good sport with dogs; but to my mind the
finest South African bird, excepting of course the greater paauw, is
the guinea-fowl, which the Dutch call by the quaint and beautiful name
of _tarentaal_. There are two varieties, fairly well distributed--the
ordinary crested (_Numida coronata_) and the blue-headed (_Numida
Edouardi_). In parts of the bush veld they may be seen roosting at
night on trees so thickly that the branches are bent with their
weight. When pursued in broken country, what with dodging among stones
and trees and his short unexpected flight, the guinea-fowl offers some
excellent shooting, and as a table-bird he is not easy to beat.
Wildfowl are an uncertain quantity on the uplands, though very common
nearer the coast. They do not come to the rivers, but, on the other
hand, they frequent in great numbers farm dams and the pans and lakes
of Standerton and Ermelo. What the Dutch call specifically the "wilde
gans" is the Egyptian goose; but several other varieties, including
the spur-winged, are to be found. There are some ten kinds of duck,
but it would be difficult to say which is the commonest, as they vary
in different districts. The Dutch call a bird "teel" which is not the
true teal, but the variety known as the Cape teal (_Nettion capense_),
though there is more than one kind of proper teal to be met with.
There is a black duck, a variety of pochard, a variety of shoveller,
and a kind of shell-duck which is known as the mountain duck
(_bergeend_). Wild pigeons exist in endless quantities; and I must not
omit the pretty spur-winged plover, which cries all day long on the
western veld, or that most cosmopolitan of birds, the snipe. Along the
reed-beds of the Limpopo, in the bulrushes which fringe the pans in
Ermelo, by every spruit and dam, you may put up precisely the same
fellow that you shoot in Hebridean peat-mosses or on Swedish lakes, or
along the canals of Lower Egypt. The little brown long-billed bird has
annihilated time and space and taken the whole world for his home.

There is need of some little care lest we drive the wild birds
altogether away from the neighbourhood of the towns. They are still
plentiful, but, if over-shot, they change their quarters; and people
complain that whereas five years ago they could get excellent shooting
within three miles of their door, they have now to content themselves
with a few stragglers. It is for the owners of land to see that its
denizens are properly protected, for the disappearance of big game is
an awful warning not to presume on present abundance. Some day we
may hope to see the country farmer as eager to preserve his game as
he is now to destroy it. There needs but the pinch of scarcity and
the growth of a market value for shooting to turn the present
free-and-easy ways into a perhaps too rigorous protective system.

There remain two sports which are still in their infancy in the
country and deserve serious development--the keeping of harriers and
angling. I say harriers advisedly, for though it would be better to
stick to drafts from foxhound packs because of the greater strength
and hardiness of the hounds, yet the sport can never fairly be
dignified by the name of fox-hunting. The quarries will be the hare,
the small buck, and in certain districts the jackal. The veld in parts
is a fine natural hunting-ground, and the hazards, which will be
wanting in the shape of hedges and banks, will exist very really in
ant-bear holes and dongas. As the fencing laws take effect there will
be wire to go over for those who have Australian nerves. The
Afrikander pony is an animal born for the work, and once harrier packs
were established there is every reason to believe that the Dutch
farmers would join in the sport. The only two reasons I have ever
heard urged against the proposal are--first, that hounds when brought
out to South Africa lose their noses; and, second, that it would be
hard to get a good scent in the dry air of the veld. The first is true
in a sense, but only because a draft brought out from home is usually
set to work at once and not acclimatised gradually to the change of
air. There is no inherent impossibility in keeping a dog's nose good,
as is shown by the many excellent setters and pointers that have been
imported. In any case, if the master of harriers breeds carefully he
ought in a few years to get together a thoroughly acclimatised pack.
As for the matter of scent, there is no denying that it would not lie
on the ordinary hot dry day, but this only means that it will not be
possible to hunt all the year round. I can imagine no better weather
than the cool moist days which are common on the high veld in autumn
and early spring, and even in summer the mornings up to ten o'clock
are cool enough for the purpose. South African hunts must follow the
Indian fashion, and when they cannot get whole days for their sport
make the best of the early hours.

Fishing, I am afraid, has been in the past a neglected sport. The Boer
left it to the Kaffir, and the uitlander had better things to think
about. Had the land possessed any native fish of the type of the
American brook-trout or the land-locked salmon, perhaps it would have
been different; but in the high-veld streams the only notable fish are
two species of carp, known as yellow-fish and white-fish, which run
from 2 lb. to 6 lb., and the barbel, which may weigh anything up to 30
lb.[14] There are also eels, which may be disregarded. I do not think
these South African fish are to be despised, for though they may be
dead-hearted compared with a trout or a salmon, they give better sport
than English coarse fish, and the barbel is quite as good as a pike.
The ordinary bait is mealie-meal paste, a locust or any kind of small
animal, a phantom minnow, and even a piece of bright rag. I have known
both kinds of carp take a brightly coloured sea-trout fly, and give
the angler a very good run for his pains. But the great South African
fish is the tiger-fish, confined, unhappily, to sub-tropical rivers
and malarial country. He is not unlike a trout in appearance, save for
his fierce head, which suggests the _Salmo ferox_. In any of the
eastern rivers--Limpopo, Letaba, Olifants, Sabi, Crocodile, Komati,
Usutu, Umpilusi--he is the chief--indeed, so far as I could judge, the
only--fish, and he is one of the most spirited of his tribe. He will
readily take an artificial minnow, and also, I am told, a large salmon
fly, but the tackle must be at least as strong as for pike, for his
formidable teeth will shear through any ordinary casting line. His
average weight is perhaps about 10 lb., though he has been caught up
to 30 lb., but it is not his size so much as his extraordinary
fierceness and dash which makes him attractive. When hooked he leaps
from the water like a clean salmon, and for an hour or more he may
lead the perspiring fisherman as pretty a dance as he could desire. If
any one is inclined to think angling a tame sport, I can recommend
this experiment. Let him go out on some river like the Komati on a
stifling December day, when the sky is brass above and not a breath of
air breaks the stillness, in one of the leaky and crazy cobles of
those parts. Let him hook and land a tiger-fish of 20 lb., at the
imminent risk of capsizing and joining the company of the engaging
crocodiles, or, when he has grassed the fish, of having a finger
bitten off by his iron teeth, and then, I think, he will admit, so far
as his scanty breath will allow him, that an hour's fishing may
afford all the excitement which an average man can support.

So much for the fish of the country. But Central South Africa affords
a magnificent field for the introduction and acclimatisation of the
greatest of sporting fish. Ceylon and New Zealand have already shown
what can be done with the trout in new waters, and in Cape Colony and
Natal the same experiment has been made with much success. The high
veld is only less good than New Zealand as a home for trout. To be
sure, there is no snow-water, but there is the next best thing in
water whose temperature varies very little all the year round. The
ordinary sluggish spruits are of course unsuitable, but the mountain
burns in the east and north are perfect natural trout-streams, with
clear cold water, abundant fall, gravel bottoms, and all the feeding
which the most gluttonous of fish could desire. The Transvaal Trout
Acclimatisation Society, founded in Johannesburg in 1902, has
established a hatchery on the Mooi River above Potchefstroom, and is
making the most praiseworthy efforts, by the creation of local
committees, to excite a general interest in the work throughout the
country. It will still be some years before any trout-stream can be
stocked and thrown open to anglers; but there is no reason why in time
there should not be one in most districts. The Mooi and the Klip
rivers near Johannesburg, the Magalies and the Hex rivers in
Rustenburg, the Upper Malmani in Lichtenburg, every stream in
Magatoland and the Wood Bush, the torrents which fall from Lydenburg
into the flats, and all the many mountain streams which run into
Swaziland from the high veld, may yet be as good trout-waters as any
in Lochaber. The rainbow and the Lochleven trout will be the staple
importation; but in some of the larger streams experiments might be
made with the American ouananiche and the Danubian huchen. It is
difficult to exaggerate the service which might thus be rendered to
the country. If in the dams and streams within easy distance of the
towns a sound form of sport can be provided at reasonable cost, the
first and greatest of the amenities of life will have been introduced.
At present on the Rand there are no proper modes of relaxation: most
men work till they drop, and then take their jaded holiday in Europe.
Yet how many, if they had the chance, would go off from Saturday to
Monday with their rods, and find by the stream-side the old healing
quiet of nature?

There is a future for South African sport if South Africa is alive to
her opportunity. It is a country of sportsmen, and sport with the
better sort of man is a sound basis of friendship. Game Preservation
Societies are being started in many districts, and when we find the two
races united in a common purpose, which touches not politics or dogma
but the primitive instincts of humankind, something will have been done
towards unity. The matter is equally important from the standpoint of
game protection. The private landowner can do more than the land
company, and the land company can do more than the Government, towards
ensuring the future of sport. Many Dutch farmers have preserved in the
past, and a general extension of this spirit would work wonders in a
few years. Vanishing species would be saved, banished game would
return, and our conscience would be clear of one of the most heinous
sins of civilisation. As an instance of what can be done by private
effort, there is a farm not sixty miles from a capital city where at
this moment there are impala, rooi hartebeest, koodoo, and wild
ostrich.

There are few countries in the world where sport can be enjoyed in
more delectable surroundings. The cold fresh mornings, when the mist
is creeping from the grey hills and the vigour of dawn is in the
blood; the warm sun-steeped spaces at noonday; the purple dusk, when
the veld becomes a kind of Land East of the Sun and West of the Moon,
full of fairy lights and mysterious shadows; the bitter night, when
the southern constellations blaze in the profound sky,--he who has
once seen them must carry the memory for ever. It is such things, and
not hunger and thirst and weariness, which remain in a man's mind. For
the lover of nature and wild things (which is to say the true
sportsman) it is little wonder if, after these, home and ambition and
a comfortable life seem degrees of the infinitely small. And the
others, who are only brief visitors, will carry away unforgettable
pictures to tantalise them at work and put them out of all patience
with an indoor world--the bivouac under the stars on the high veld, or
some secret glen of the Wood Bush, or the long lines of hill which
huddle behind Lydenburg into the sunset.


  [12]  In other parts of British Africa the policy of reserves
        has received full recognition. In East Africa there are
        two large reserves, one along the Uganda Railway and
        the other near Lake Rudolf. In the Soudan there is a
        vast reserve between the Blue and the White Niles, and
        most of the best shooting-ground throughout the country
        is strictly protected.

  [13]  The eland is the one conspicuous exception.

  [14]  A Transvaal friend informs me that my classification,
        though the one commonly in use, is quite inaccurate. The
        yellow-fish and the white-fish are not carp but species
        of barbel, and what I have called barbel is another
        variant of the same family, called by the Dutch
        "kalverskop," or "calf's-head," from its shape. There is
        no true carp, though the Dutch give the name of "kurper"
        to a very curious little fish about four inches long
        which is common in streams flowing into the Vaal. The
        other chief varieties are the coarse mud-fish and the
        cat-fish, which latter is often mixed up with the
        barbel. It is to be hoped that some local ichthyologist
        will give his attention to the native fishes--a very
        interesting subject, and one at present in the most
        unscientific confusion.



PART III.

THE POLITICAL PROBLEM



CHAPTER XII.

THE ECONOMIC FACTOR.


After a three years' war, and at the cost of over 200 millions,
Britain has secured for her own children the indisputable possession
of the new colonies. In earlier chapters an attempt has been made to
sketch roughly the historical influences which may help to shape the
future and to describe the actual features of the land which charm and
perplex the beholder. We have now to face the direct problems into
which the situation can be resolved, and in particular that question
of material wellbeing which is the most insistent, because the most
easily realised, for both statesman and people. The economic factor in
the politics of a country is always a difficult matter to discuss, for
it is made up of infinite details, some of them purely speculative,
all of them hard to disentangle. If a business man were to do what he
never does, and sit down to analyse calmly his position, he would have
to go far beyond balance-sheets and statements of profit and loss. He
would be compelled to look into the social and economic conditions
under which he lived; he would have to estimate rival activities and
forecast their development; the money market, rates of exchange, the
nature of the labour supply, the effect of political and social
movements, even such matters as his own bodily and mental health, and
his standing among his fellows, would properly make part of the
inquiry. With the private individual the analysis would be ridiculous,
because the component parts are too minute to realise; but with a
nation, where the lines are broader, some stock-taking of this kind is
periodically desirable. But in spite of, or because of, the complexity
of the inquiry, the human mind is apt to complicate it needlessly by
running after side-issues and losing sight of the main features of the
problem. The economic position of a country embraces in a sense almost
every detail of human life; but there is no reason why the mass of
detail should be allowed to get out of focus and obscure the synthesis
of the survey. Provided we remember that the economic factor is not
correctly estimated by looking only at revenue and expenditure,
imports and exports, and fiscal provisions, we may safely devote our
energies to steering clear of the labyrinth of secondary detail in
which the ordinary statistician would seek to involve us.

In the following pages it is proposed to confine the survey to what
appear to be the main features of a complex question. It would be vain
to embark on speculations as to the payable ore in the ground, market
forecasts, suggestions for new industries, and the many hints towards
a reformed fiscal system with which local and European papers have
been crowded. It is sufficient to note the existence of such
questions; the materials for a true understanding of the South African
economy are not to be found in them. In particular it is proposed to
avoid needless statistics, which, apart from the fact that they are
often inaccurate and partisan, are the buttress of that particularist
logic which is the foe of true reason. Two questions may be taken as
the general heads of our inquiry: first, Wherein consists the wealth
of the land, actual and potential? and, secondly, How best may that
wealth be maintained and developed for the national good?


I.

The cardinal economic fact is the existence of gold--gold as it is
found in no other country, not in casual pockets and reefs, but in
quantities which can for the most part be accurately mapped out and
valued months and years before it is worked; gold which is mined not
as an adventure, but as an organised and stable industry. The Main
Reef formation extends for sixty-two miles, from Randfontein to
Holfontein,[15] but three-fourths of the gold mined has been produced
in the central section, which is only some twelve miles long. In 1886
the district was proclaimed a public gold-field, and since that day
ore worth nearly 100 millions sterling has been extracted. The
development took place in spite of difficulties which vastly increased
the working costs. The dynamite and railway monopolies, the heavy
expense of the transit of machinery from the coast, the absence of
subsidiary local industries to feed the gold industry, forced the work
into the hands of a small circle of rich firms who could provide the
large capital and face the heavy risks of a new enterprise. It is
clear, therefore, that mining on the Rand, while a notable enterprise,
has necessarily been a slow one, since the two natural factors, the
amount of gold in the soil and the labour of working it, have been
complicated by many artificial hindrances. The past is not the true
basis for estimating the future of the industry; the proper premises
for a forecast are the two natural factors--the quantity of gold in
the earth and the normal cost of winning it. It is the first that
concerns us at present.

All estimates must be merely conjectural, and can be used only with
the greatest caution. But in the multitude of conjectures there may be
such a consensus of opinion as to ensure us a fair certainty that this
or that is the view of those who are best fitted to judge. Mr Bleloch,
in a calculation based on the report of the most eminent engineers,
values the amount of gold still in the Rand at 2871 millions sterling,
showing a profit to the companies concerned of over 975 millions. If
we put the life of the Rand at one hundred years, which is a mean
between conflicting estimates, we shall have an average, allowing for
reserve funds, of 8 millions to be paid yearly in dividends to
shareholders. In 1898 twenty-six companies paid dividends amounting to
over 4 millions: therefore, on Mr Bleloch's figures, we can promise at
least one hundred years to the Rand of twice the prosperity of 1898.
These figures include the deep levels, but do not take into account
any of the Rand extensions, in which the Main Reef has been traced for
over 300 miles. It is certain that in the direction of Heidelberg and
Greylingstad gold in payable quantities exists for not less than
seventy miles, and it is at least probable that a similar extension
exists in the Potchefstroom and Klerksdorp districts in the west. So
much for the peculiar "banket" formation of the Rand, which must
remain the type of stable gold-mining,--stable, because the element of
uncertainty over any group of properties is reduced to a minimum, and
the high organisation necessary and the large initial outlay produce a
community less of rivals than of fellow-workers. Quartz reefs and
alluvial deposits are found in many parts of the country. In Lydenburg
and Barberton, where the earliest gold mines were sunk, several
producing companies are at work; and this type of mining will develop
equally with the Rand under a system which abolishes monopolies and
assists instead of discouraging enterprise. In the northern districts,
around the Wood Bush and the Zoutpansberg ranges, there are quartz and
alluvial mining, and indications of "banket" formation, and in the all
but unknown region adjoining Portuguese territory, if tales be true,
there may be gold in quantities still undreamed of.

No figures are reliable, all estimates are disputed, but from the very
contradictions one fact emerges--that there is gold enough to give
employment to a greatly increased mining population for at least fifty
years, and to decentralise the industry and create large industrial
belts instead of one industrial city. Nor is gold the only mineral.
From Pretoria to Piet Retief run coal-beds, many of them of great
richness and good quality, covering an area of more than 10,000 square
miles. It has been calculated that 60,000 million tons are available.
The quality of the coal in the undeveloped beds lying to the south of
Middelburg is, in the opinion of experts, equal to the best British
product. Iron-ore is abundant in many parts, particularly in the
coal-bearing regions of the east. Lead has been worked near Zeerust,
and there are good grounds for believing that copper in large
quantities exists in Waterberg and in the tract between Pietersburg
and the Limpopo. Diamond pipes are found in several places in the
region due east of Pretoria, where the new Premier Mine seems to
promise a richness not equalled by Kimberley; and it is probable that
places like the Springbok Flats and the western parts of Christiana
are highly diamondiferous. Sapphires have been found in the west, and
diamonds and spinels are reported from the northern mountains. Few
countries have a soil more amply mineralised; but the sparse
population, mainly absorbed in the quest of one mineral, has done
little to exploit its wealth. Mining, save for gold and coal, is still
in the Transvaal a thing of the future. The agricultural and pastoral
wealth is dealt with in another chapter. But we may note an asset,
which is wholly undeveloped, in the cultivation and protection of the
natural wood of the north and east, and the planting of imported
trees. Timber in an inland mining country is a valuable product, and
on the soil of the high veld new plantations spring up like mushrooms.
Ten feet a-year is the common rate of growth for gums, and in the
warmer tracts it is nearer twenty. Many indigenous South African
trees, which a few years ago, under an unwise system of timber
concessions, were disappearing from most places save a few sequestered
glens in the north, might under proper care become a lucrative branch
of forestry. Current estimates, rough and inaccurate as they must be,
are the fruit of a very general conviction, which on the broadest
basis is amply supported by facts. There is sufficient natural
wealth--mineral, pastoral, and agricultural--to provide a sound
industrial foundation for the new States. It is only on the details of
its exploitation that experts differ.

       *       *       *       *       *

In any calculation of natural wealth there is another factor to be
noted which controls production and dictates its method. Whatever the
natural riches of a country may be, climate and situation must be
weighed in their practical estimate. A diamond pipe at the South Pole
and acres of rich soil in Tibet are practically as valueless as a fine
anchorage on the Sahara coast or a bracing climate in Tierra del
Fuego. In the new colonies we have throughout three-fourths of their
area a climate where white men can labour out of doors all the year
round. The remaining fourth is less pestilential than many places in
Ceylon, Burma, and the Malay Peninsula, where Europeans live and work.
There are certain very real climatic disadvantages--frequent
thunderstorms, hailstorms in summer when fruits and crops are
ripening, rains concentrated over a few months, a long, dusty,
waterless winter. But these are difficulties which can be surmounted
for the most part by human ingenuity, and at the worst they place no
absolute bar on enterprise. From the standpoint of health the climate
is nearly perfect, inducing a vigour and alertness of body and mind
which in the more feverish life of cities may ruin the nerves and
prematurely age a man, but in all wholesome forms of labour enable
work to be done at a maximum pressure and with the minimum discomfort.
In valuing, therefore, the natural assets of the new colonies, we need
write off nothing for climatic hindrances. The situation is a more
doubtful matter. They pay for their freedom from the low heats of the
coast by the absence of private outlets for trade and the consequent
difficulties which all people must meet who have to hire others to do
their shipping and carrying. It is not the difficulty of Missouri or
Ohio or other inland states in one territory, but of separate peoples,
with interests often conflicting, who have to submit to weary customs
and railway arrangements before their outlet can exist. This is one,
perhaps the only, genuine natural limitation which all schemes of
economic development must take account of.

The country is not new, and therefore in sketching its natural wealth
we do not exhaust the preliminaries of the question. There are
ready-made industrial conditions to be considered which may modify our
estimate of the initial equipment. Such are the commercial structures
already built up in the great commercial centre, which for this
purpose represents the new colonies; the nature and future of the
labour supply; the existing markets; the already prepared means of
transit. The gold industry, as was to be expected from its nature,
has fallen into the hands of a few houses. Eight great financial
groups control the wealth of the Rand: the Eckstein group alone has
interests which might be capitalised at 70 millions; the Consolidated
Gold-fields at about 30 millions. The reason for this state of
affairs is obvious. Gold-mining in the Rand fashion is a costly
business, and altogether beyond the reach of the small man: claims
were bought up by the financiers who were first in possession, and,
since they were able to hold and develop, the entry of other
financial houses has been blocked. But the great mining firms do not
confine their activity to gold. They own millions of acres of land
throughout the country, and many valuable building sites in the
towns. Originally, doubtless, land was bought purely as a mining
speculation, but they are not slow, in the absence of minerals, to
make out of it what they can. These Rand houses are the bugbear of a
certain class of politician. The Rand is closed to the small man, so
runs the cry; a system of trusts is being created; in a little while
the country will be under the iron heel of a financial ring. It is
assumed that the mining firms will turn their attention to ordinary
commerce, and oust the independent trader and cultivator and the
small manufacturer. Certain trading experiments by some of the chief
houses, and an attempt to grow food-supplies for their own employees,
give a certain support to the forecast.

If the Trust system in its American form were ever to become a reality
in South Africa, the obvious and infallible checks against too wide an
expansion would arise there as elsewhere. A trust can only exist in
full strength under its originators. There can be no apostolic
succession in trust management; the second or the third generation
must be on a lower scale, and the great fabric will crumble. A huge
combination can only be maintained by perpetual energy and ceaseless
labour, and, like the empire of Charlemagne, it will dwindle under a
successor. A trust can be created but not perpetuated. No group of
directors, no paid manager, can maintain the nicety of judgment and
the sleepless care which alone can preserve from decay an artificial
structure imposed upon an unwilling society. But in the case of the
new colonies there are special reasons which make this development
highly improbable. A trust flourishes only on highly protected soil,
and Free Trade must long be predominant in the Transvaal. Again, while
there can never be a trust in gold, the market being unlimited and
beyond any possibility of control, gold-mining must remain the chief
interest for any group of firms who desired to establish a trust in
other commodities. Now gold-mining is one-third an industry and
two-thirds a scientific inquiry. An ordinary trust is concerned less
with production than with the control of the markets and the methods
of distribution. But all progress in Rand mining depends on nice and
speculative scientific calculation. To reduce the working costs by
improved appliances, so that ore of a low grade may become payable, is
so vital a matter with every great firm which is concerned in
gold-mining, that the commercial or trust side, which must be
concerned not with gold but with other forms of production, is not
likely to be given undue prominence. Human capacity is limited, and no
man or body of men can meet these two very different classes of
problems at the same time. The experiments of mining firms in other
trades have been due far more to the immense cost of imports and the
absence of subsidiary industries than to a Napoleonic desire for
consolidation. There is room, abundant room, in the Transvaal for
ironworks and factories, for the private trader and the independent
farmer; and the bogey of the great houses resolves itself in practice
into little more than a stimulating example in progressive business
methods.

The foregoing remarks do not, however, touch the question whether or
not the gold industry is to remain a preserve of a few groups. If it
is, there can be little real objection. The market for gold can never
be controlled like the diamond-market, and there is small fear of a
gold-mining De Beers dictating to the world. Moreover, the great
groups are not static but mobile, constantly dividing and subdividing,
throwing off subsidiary companies and adding new ones, no more
monopolists than the cotton-spinners of Manchester or the shipbuilders
of Glasgow. The fact remains that they own most of the mining rights
in the country, and all development must lie very much in their hands.
The owner of the minerals on a farm in Potchefstroom is at liberty to
form a company and work them himself. But the case will be uncommon,
since the bulk of the mineral rights are already absorbed, and, on
the Rand system of mining, an unknown adventurer would have difficulty
in raising the large initial capital. It is only in this sense that
there is any meaning in the charge of monopoly. A more real grievance
is that a great house will often buy up claims throughout the country
and leave them unworked till it suits its pleasure, thereby hindering
industrial development. This, in a sense, is true, but the reason is to
be found mainly in the difficulty of development under recent
conditions,--conditions which, for the matter of that, would have
pressed far more hardly on the small man than on the rich firms. So far
as the gold industry is concerned, the plaint of the humble citizen on
this score is a little ridiculous. He asks an impossibility, and in his
heart admits the folly of the request.

It is time that the anti-capitalist parrot-cry were recognised in its
true meaning. On the Rand it is not the wail of a downtrodden
proletariat or of the industrious small merchant whose occupation is
gone. It is the dishonest agitation of a speculating class who find
their activity limited by the strenuous and rational policy of the
great houses. I would suggest as a fair parallel the outcry of small
and disreputable publicans in a rising town where it has been found
profitable to open good restaurants and decent hotels. Without capital
the Transvaal is a piece of bare veld; with capital wrongly applied it
is a hunting-ground for the adventurer and the bogus-promoter. The
gold industry depends on capital, because only capital combined with
intelligence and patience could have raised it from a speculation to
an industry. But facts are the most eloquent form of apologetics. At
the moment over 30 millions have been spent on development by
producing companies, leaving out of account the large administrative
and office expenses. How much has been spent in the same way on mines
which have not reached the producing stage it is impossible to say,
but the figure must be very large. To start an ordinary deep-level
mine costs nearly a million before any profits are made. Surely it is
right to see in an organisation which is prepared to face such an
outlay some qualities of courage and patience. It is possible that the
great houses may find themselves in conflict with the best public
opinion on certain matters before the day is done; but it is well to
recognise that the very existence of an industrial population is due
to capital wisely and patiently used by the strong men who were the
makers of the country.

       *       *       *       *       *

Last in our calculation of assets comes the existing or accessible
machinery of exploitation and production--the labour supply, the means
of transit, the available markets. The first is a complicated matter
on which it is hard to dogmatise. For some months it has been the most
strenuously canvassed of South African problems. On its solution
depends without doubt not only the future prosperity but the immediate
insolvency of the country. And at the same time, being bound up more
than other economic questions with far-reaching political interests,
its solution has become less a commercial adjustment than a piece of
national policy. As was to be expected in this kind of discussion, the
true issues have been habitually obscured. The antithesis is not
between labour and no labour, but in one aspect between the cheap,
unskilled native and the dear, more highly skilled white; and in
another between a limited supply, which means the curtailment of
enterprise, and an unlimited supply, even of a lower quality, which
would allow full development. Again, the antithesis is not absolute,
as has been often assumed: the true solution may lie in a compromise,
a delicate cutting of the coat to suit the particular cloths employed
in its making.

It is almost entirely a mining question. In most other industries the
work can be done by white men with the assistance of a few natives. In
agriculture, as things stand at present, sufficient native labour can
be procured, and under an improved system of taxation the supply might
be largely increased, within limits. The demand in agriculture should
diminish rather than increase, save in the tropical and sub-tropical
regions, where native labour is always plentiful. On the high veld a
single farmer, if he ploughs with oxen, wants a boy as a voorlooper
and another to use the whip; but this and similar work may well be
performed in time by his own sons or by white servants. Railway
construction will draw heavily on the supply, but its requirements
are, after all, limited and small in comparison with the immense needs
of the mines. For in the latter a very large number of employees is
necessary, the bulk of the work is unskilled, and the conditions under
which it must be performed are frequently such as to deter the
ordinary European. The case is not quite that of labour in the West
Indian plantations with which it has been compared, but there are
many points of resemblance. The labour, on the current view, must be
cheap; it must exist in large quantities; and the work is bound in
certain respects to be hard and unpleasant--not perhaps harder than
coal-mining in England, but, taking into account the superior average
of comfort in the new colonies, indubitably more unattractive to the
local workman.

Before the war some 90,000 natives were employed in the Witwatersrand
mines. The average cost was from 1s. 6d. to 2s. a-day, food and
lodging being provided; but the expense of acquiring the labour
considerably raised the actual price per man. The old method was by a
system of touts, who were paid as much as £5 a-head for their
importation. The system led to great abuses, chicanery, needless
competition false promises, which often cut off the supply in a whole
territory. To meet the difficulty the Witwatersrand Native Labour
Association was formed, whose duties were to recruit native labour and
distribute it equitably to the mines within the association. Its
agents were paid by salaries instead of by results, and the various
native locations in the Transvaal, Swaziland, and Portuguese territory
were exploited by them. But with all its efforts the mines were
inadequately supplied. The 90,000 natives barely sufficed to maintain
the _status quo_, and there was no margin for new development. The war
scattered the accumulated supply. The local natives grew rich in
military service, and declined to leave their kraals. Those imported
from a distance returned to their homes, and the whole work of
collection had to begin again. In October 1902, which may be taken as
a fair date to estimate the condition of things after the war, only
31,000 natives were at work, one-third of the former staff. By May
1903, after herculean efforts, the supply had increased to a little
over 41,000.

The problem is, therefore, a very serious one. To return to the old
state of things the present supply must be doubled; to provide for any
adequate progress it must at the lowest estimate be multiplied by ten.
Any wholesale increase to the mining wealth of the country must come
from the exploital of the deep level and the low-grade properties. The
working costs per ton of ore run from 17s. 6d. to 30s.; on the Rand
the average is about 27s.[16] But the ordinary low-grade mines produce
ore worth little more than 18s. to 20s. a-ton. To make their
development possible the working cost must be reduced to 15s.-17s.
Improved machinery may do something, but the first necessity is cheap
labour. But where are the natives to come from? The efforts of the
Native Labour Associations have not succeeded in showing that the need
can be met from any of the old supply grounds. New taxation and the
spending of their war savings may drive some of the Transvaal natives
to the mines; but as the total native population of the colony is only
about three quarters of a million, the whole working male force, which
may be taken at one in ten, would not meet the demand. In addition to
this we have the fact that no taxation would reach more than one-half
of the population, and that of this half three-quarters is probably
unfit for mining work. The total native population south of the
Zambesi is at the present moment a little over 6 millions. Supposing
this field were worked to the uttermost, we should still scarcely meet
the demands likely to arise within the next five years for the gold
industry alone; and such exhaustive exploitation is beyond the wildest
dream of any Chamber of Mines.

The case may be stated thus. With all assistance from local taxation
and from the amended organisation of the Native Labour Association,
Africa, south of the Zambesi, will be unable to afford the unlimited
supply of native labour which is the _sine quâ non_ of mining progress.
It would therefore appear that a new ground of supply must be sought.
By those who admit this (and as will appear later, there are some who
do not) three solutions have been advocated, none of which is
unattended with difficulties. The first is to find a recruiting-ground
in the vast district between the Zambesi and the White Nile, a region
more densely populated by the aborigines than any other part of Africa.
This scheme has been urged by Sir Harry Johnston with all the weight of
his unrivalled experience. The advantages of the solution are numerous.
Those natives live directly or indirectly under British sway. They are
unsophisticated, and the old rate of wages would mean undreamed-of
wealth to them. Moreover, the experiment would be of a certain
assistance to Central Africa, for on their return home with their wages
money would be put into circulation, the standard of living would rise,
taxes would be easier to collect, and Government and governed would
mutually profit. On the other hand, there are very many reasons against
the proposal. Uganda and Nyassaland, to take the two chief instances,
are in need of labour for their own development, and will strenuously
resist its exportation. Their nascent civilisation will be dislocated
if they are made the hunting-ground of labour agents. Nor is it clear
that the Central African native is suited for mining purposes, since
both in constitution and the food he lives on he differs from his
southern kinsman, and, in the opinion of many good authorities, his
transplantation to the high veld would mean a swollen death-rate.
Overtures have also been made to Northern and Southern Nigeria, but the
answer from those territories is still more hopeless. It is too early
to pronounce on the future of the Central African scheme. A fair _prima
facie_ case can be made out for its success, and the result of the
first experiments has not been wholly discouraging. But in any case it
is certain that from this source no unlimited or permanent supply can
come. A modicum, perhaps gradually increasing, may be secured, and in
this day of small things we can be thankful for any increase in native
African labour. But great care is necessary in its working. There must
be no hint of coercion; the native must be vigilantly looked after from
the day he leaves his kraal to the day he returns at the end of his
twelvemonth's service,--for the districts must be nursed, and it is on
the report of the first batches that the success of the enterprise
depends. The transport will cost money, but it is doubtful if it will
work out at more per head than the old premium for importation.

The second solution has roused a storm of opposition, and its adoption
would mean the overthrow of the old economics of the mining industry.
It is proposed to use Kaffirs only in the deepest levels and in work
unsuited for white men (for which the present supply will suffice),
and in all other tasks to employ white labour. The white workman on
the Rand under present conditions will be more than four times as dear
as the native, costing 8s. 6d. as against the Kaffir's 2s. a-day. Many
arguments to justify the expense have been brought forward, of which
the weakest is that the white man can do four times the Kaffir's work.
In many branches of unskilled labour he can barely compete with him.
The real argument is concerned with the more general aspects of the
problem. In a highly organised industry there is bound to be a higher
maximum efficiency and regularity from a staff of white employees, who
are working intelligently to better themselves and have certain
political and social interests at stake in their labour. On political
grounds, again, it is most desirable, for apart from relieving the
strain on congested home districts, it would provide a feeding-ground
for South African development, a material wherewith to colonise the
wilds of the north. The sons of the white men would go out to farm and
mine for themselves; and in two generations, when the Rand has become
a normal industrial centre, we should have that interchange of
population between town and country which is one of the buttresses of
civilisation.

The white labour movement has roused bitter opposition, partly from
the mining houses, and to some extent from white workmen on the Rand,
who wish to make a monopoly of their position. Many of the arguments
against the scheme need not detain us. There is no objection to white
and black labour working side by side, any more than there is an
objection on a tropical fruit-farm to a white man digging an orchard
and a Kaffir carting manure for it, or on board ship to a white mate
and a black cook being part of the same crew. The white man will have
the presence of his fellows, the chance of advancement, and a higher
wage to support his self-respect, which must be a brittle article
indeed if it requires further strengthening. Nor is there much
justification for the fears of those who see in white labour the
beginning of endless labour troubles, culminating in the tyranny of
the working man. The situation would be the same as in any other
industrial city--as in Manchester, Sheffield, or Glasgow, where the
bulk of the population are industrial employees. Strikes and lock-outs
will come, but it is better to have in an English city a free and
vigorous English population, than to bolster up the chief industry by
an exotic labour system. Besides, there is always the Kaffir as a
counterfoil, a very strong argument to inspire moderation in the
labourer's demands. White labour remains the ideal, the proper aim of
all right-thinking men; but for the present it is more or less an
impossibility. It simply does not meet the economic difficulty. Unless
the Mines are content to make the _gran rifiuto_, curtail production,
and play a waiting game,--a decision, as we shall see, quite as
ruinous to the country as to the shareholder,--cheap labour under
present conditions is a sheer necessity. One argument on economic
grounds has been brought forward for white labour, which runs somewhat
as follows: Expansion and development depend upon an unlimited
labour-supply; white labour gives such an unlimited supply,--therefore
it would pay to give four times the present wage and secure expansion
rather than keep to the old scale and stagnate. Supposing a mining
group to have a capital of ten millions, of which four are sunk in
working mines, three held in reserve, and three invested in good but
undeveloped claims. The present state of things allows of a dividend
of 40 per cent on the first four millions; white labour would reduce
the dividend to 20 per cent. But if white labour allowed the exploital
of the unworked claims, so that a dividend of 20 to 25 per cent could
be paid on the other six millions, it would be good business for the
firm. It would, but it is not the problem before us. The argument
assumes that the new properties are of the same class as those at
present paying dividends, whereas they are in the main of so low a
grade or demand such an immense initial outlay that, so far from
showing a profit with dear labour, they would be the ruin of their
promoters.

The third proposal is to introduce Chinese[17] labour under short-time
contracts and a rigorous supervision. Its supporters argue with much
reason that the Chinaman has been found useful as a deep-level miner;
that he is thrifty, intelligent, law-abiding, and tolerably clean;
that, supposing 200,000 Chinamen were employed in the mines, it would
still mean not less than 40,000 white workers, so that white labour
would increase in a liberal ratio; that a proper compound system and a
strict limit to the term of engagement would secure the country
against the economic dangers which threaten Australia and the United
States. It is not yet certain that this ample supply of Chinese labour
can be obtained, the matter being in process of investigation; but
there is this to be said for the proposal, that it is the only one
which touches directly the needs of the situation. The others are
counsels of perfection, ends of policy on which all are agreed; this
alone offers an immediate satisfaction to a very pressing want. The
only argument which can be brought against it is not economic[18] but
political,--that its use would endanger the success of those very
aims on which all are agreed. The Chinese are the born interlopers of
the world. Whatever care we take there will be a leakage: a Chinese
population, more feared, apparently, for its virtues than its vices,
will grow up in the cities, the small trades will be shut to
Europeans, the whole standard of life for the masses will be lowered,
and the moral and social currency of the nation debased. The real
case, therefore, of the opponent of Chinese labour, is that it is not
possible to carry out the proposed plan; that we cannot import men on
a fixed contract and deport them at the end of it; that we cannot
build our compound walls so high as to prevent a leakage into the
outer world; that, in short, the law is too weak to do its duty. There
is no difference between any of the disputants on the danger of
letting the labour loose in the country; but the one side maintains
that with proper precaution this peril can be averted, the other that
it is like the sea when it has found an entrance into a sea-wall, a
little trickle which inevitably becomes a deluge. It is not a very
convincing contention, though we can respect the honest political
instincts which support it; indeed, there is a touch of that familiar
fallacy, the "thin-end-of-the-wedge" argument, which opposes an
undoubtedly beneficent reform because of its possible maleficent
extension. The conflict is between an instant economic need and a
potential political danger, and, with all desire to move cautiously,
the wisest course would seem to be to meet the one, and trust to the
good sense and courage of the people to avert the other. The problem
of alien labour is indeed becoming a familiar one to many Crown
Colonies. The Colonial Office has been asked to sanction the
importation of Chinamen to Ashanti, and the Rhodesian Immigration
Ordinance of 1901 made the enterprise legal for Southern Rhodesia.[19]
In the Transvaal there is a unique field for an experiment on sane and
politic lines, and for the creation of a sound administrative
precedent for other colonies to follow. There is a result, too, which
may reasonably be hoped for from the provision of cheap labour which
would be of direct political value. It would enable some of the
smaller properties throughout the country to be worked at a profit,
and so might in time redeem the gold industry from the capitalist
monopoly, which it must remain under present conditions, and create a
class of small mine-owners, on the analogy of the small coal-owners in
England.

There is one final argument against imported labour which demands a
short notice, for it has been used by many serious men who are not
given to captious objections. If we take the original capital of most
mines we shall find that it has been extensively watered, and that
even on the nominal capital there is a huge appreciation. A mine, to
take an extreme instance, begins with a capital of £50,000 in £1
shares; subsequently the shareholders receive eleven £5 shares for
every £1 share, making the present nominal capital £2,750,000. The
quotation of those £5 shares is, say, £10-7/8, making the total
capital value £5,981,250. A gold output which, under present
conditions, is not sufficient to pay a fair dividend upon this
capitalisation, would be amply sufficient to pay a dividend on the
nominal capital, and more than sufficient to pay 500 per cent on the
original capital. The question, therefore, of dividend-paying is out
of all relation to the actual margin of profit on the working of a
mine. The deduction is that the companies have themselves to blame,
and must face a depreciation in their shares; and the unfortunate
investor who has bought £5 shares at £10, believing a return of 4 per
cent on his capital certain, must console himself with the reflection
that every man must pay for his folly. This argument is final against
any _ad misericordiam_ plea of the companies, but it does not touch
the heart of the question. The working of the large over-capitalised
properties is one thing, and the development of low-grade properties,
on which large sums have been spent and for which no profits have yet
been earned, is quite another. The old well-established mines can
afford to fight their own battles, and for the matter of that, in
spite of their heavy expenditure out of capital during the war, are
mostly paying dividends even under present conditions: the new
properties, on which the future of the country depends, are not, as a
rule, over-capitalised, and, as we have seen, the margin of profit is
so small on each ton of ore, that the question is reduced to its bare
essentials--Is it possible to mine ore worth twenty shillings at a
cost under a pound? But even as concerns the richer companies the
argument is scarcely valid, for it leaves out of account that not
inconsiderable factor, the credit of the country. It is so essential
that new capital should be attracted for the twenty different needs of
development, to which any Government loan can only be a trifling
contribution, that anything which tends to shake the confidence of the
world in the commercial structure of South Africa is the gravest
danger. Is it certain, too, that that much-abused epithet of "_bonâ
fide_ investor" is not applicable to the men who bought high-priced
securities, not as a speculation, but as a modest investment?

It is often said by opponents of imported labour that its introduction
will scarcely have taken place before an agitation will be begun for
its withdrawal. So far from being an argument against the experiment,
this is precisely the strongest which could be urged in its favour. If
the desire of the country is for white labour, then the Chinaman can
be tried with little danger. The mine-owners will find in time that
work on a time contract by alien labourers is far from satisfactory,
and when other circumstances permit they will no doubt readily adopt
that system of free competitive labour which only a white industrial
class can create. Had there been any chance of the experiment being
tried with complete popular approval, then the danger would have been
considerable, for the Chinaman might easily have spread from mining to
all industries and trades; but since it will be made in spite of an
influential opposition, and will be jealously watched by unfriendly
eyes, it seems inevitable that when it has played its part it will be
willingly dispensed with. By refusing to accept the experiment we are
doing our best to frustrate all hopes of a white population by
cramping the development of the country at its most critical time and
making a livelihood impossible for many of the existing white working
men. When mines are shut down because of a lack of underground
labourers, what becomes of the Englishmen who work above ground? It is
a significant fact that many white miners, who were formerly the most
bitter opponents of imported labour, are now its strenuous advocates,
since they and their class are beginning to feel the pinch.

But if the importation of Asiatics is undertaken, it should be on a
very clear understanding and with a very distinct object in view.
The thing is far too dangerous at the best to be made the domain of
unconsidered experiments. The ideal of white labour in the long-run
must be preserved; and we must take jealous care that by the
creation of a foreign labouring class the way is not barred to that
industrialisation of the native races on which the future of South
Africa so largely depends. A maximum might be fixed by law--say
300,000 unskilled labourers, which could be increased if necessary
by later enactments; and in so far as the maximum could not be
attained by white and black labour, Chinese might be imported as a
complement. The complement would, let us hope, rapidly decrease as
new machinery lessened the amount of labour required, and the native
districts of Africa were more fully exploited. All imported labour
would be subject to rigorous conditions as to compounds, length of
contract, and ultimate repatriation--conditions which any ordinary
police could enforce without difficulty. At the same time, the Native
Labour Association should be made a Government department. As a
private organisation it is not more efficient, and it is certainly
less respected, than a Government department would be. What is wanted
in all proper recruiting is the prestige of the Crown. Natives, who
have been often deceived by touts, and regard the offers of the Labour
Association agents as so many idle words, would be ready enough to
listen to proposals made under the guarantee of the paramount chief.
It is a risky game for a Government to embark in private business; but
the Native Labour Association is not a business, but a department,
conducted on the lines of a Government department, but without its
prestige. Under the Crown its organisation would remain intact, but
its status would be raised and its efficiency centupled.

       *       *       *       *       *

The railway system, immature as it is, has worked wonders for the
country. With few lines, and those single and narrow gauge, with
exorbitant rates of transit and a frequently ineffective organisation,
it has still above all other factors made development possible. In
former days, when heavy mining machinery had to be brought by waggons
from Kimberley or Natal or Delagoa Bay, a mine required to be rich
indeed before it could be worked at a profit, enterprise was costly
and perilous, and the result was the stagnation of all activities save
that one where enterprise was a primal necessity. Under the late
Governments one line ran through the two States, from Norval's Pont to
Pietersburg, with small branch lines in the Orange Free State to
Winburg and Heilbron, and in the Transvaal to Springs and Klerksdorp.
The Natal line was continued from Charlestown to join the trunk line
at Elandsfontein, and the Delagoa Bay line from Komati Poort to
Pretoria, with a little branch to Barberton and the beginnings of a
branch to the Selati gold-fields. The Transvaal had thus three direct
outlets to the coast; the Orange Free State two, for a branch ran from
the Natal line at Ladysmith to the little eastern town of Harrismith.
Two broad necessities of railway policy therefore awaited the new
Government. The existing system must be perfected and interconnected,
new routes to the coast created to relieve the present strain, the
railways of adjoining colonies brought into touch with each other, so
as to make one general and consistent South African system. But more
important than the perfecting of existing arrangements must be the
tapping of the rich and remote districts. Occasionally both needs may
be exemplified in one line, but, roughly speaking, they are separate
branches of railway policy, undertaken on different grounds and in
many cases organised and financed on different methods. The experience
of the United States, where railways were regarded as the cause and
not the consequence of development, and pushed boldly into desert
places which in a few years, through their agency, became centres of
industry and population, is a safe guide, within limits, for South
Africa, provided that the wealth to be exploited is really there, and
railway extension does not cripple other works of equal necessity.

Of the first class we have three chief examples. One--from Machadodorp
to Ermelo--is already partially constructed. The second will run
from Springs east to some point on this line, and so provide a
direct route for the Johannesburg traffic from Delagoa Bay and avoid
the awkward circuit by Pretoria. A further extension is projected by
which the Springs-Ermelo line will be continued through Swaziland to
Delagoa Bay and a complete alternative through route created. The
third is the extension of the present Klerksdorp branch to Fourteen
Streams, which would provide a shorter route from the Transvaal to
the Cape, an infinitely shorter route from the Transvaal to Rhodesia,
and would at the same time bring the coal districts of the country
within reach of the diamond industry of Kimberley. In the second
class there is no limit to the number of possible and desirable
railways. The most important is, perhaps, the grain line, from
Bloemfontein to Johannesburg by Ficksburg, Bethlehem, and Wilge
River, which would bring the great wheat-producing tracts of the
Conquered Territory within easy reach of the chief market. Next comes
the now completed Rand coal line from Vereeniging to Johannesburg.
Another coal line is projected from Witbank on the Delagoa Bay line
to Springs, which would bring the produce of the chief Transvaal
collieries directly to the Rand and relieve the congested line
between Elandsfontein and Pretoria. Of equal importance in the
long-run is a line from Krugersdorp by Rustenburg to some point, such
as Lobatsi, on the Rhodesian railway, which would open up a district
famous for its fruits and tobacco, and give the pastoralists of
Bechuanaland, as well as of the more distant Rhodesia, a straight
line to Johannesburg. Other lines of the same class are those from
Belfast or Machadodorp to Lydenburg, from Nelspruit to Pilgrims'
Rest, and from Basutoland to Bloemfontein. Lastly, and lastly only
because of its greater difficulty, the line should be continued north
from Pietersburg along the Sand River, brought east between the
Spelonken and the Magatoland mountains, past the little township of
Louis Trichard, and then turned south across the basin of the Klein
and the Groot Letaba to Leydsdorp, where it could join the completed
Selati railway from Komati Poort.

The Railway Extension Conference held at Johannesburg in March 1903
sanctioned the immediate construction of most of the lines mentioned
above, and recommended the others as objects to aim at when sufficient
funds were at the disposal of the Government. As the share of the
Guaranteed Loan allocated for railway extension is only some five
millions, and as the proportion of any railway surplus which can be
devoted to the purpose is, as we shall see later, strictly limited, it
is highly desirable to make use of private enterprise so far as
possible in new constructions, providing always for an efficient State
oversight and an ultimate expropriation. The Klerksdorp-Fourteen
Streams and the Krugersdorp-Lobatsi railways have already been
arranged for on this principle, and it is probable that the experiment
will be adopted in many of the smaller development lines. It is
reasonable that a rich company, owning lands or mines, or requiring
for its own purposes some special railway connection, should, if it
desires a new line, undertake the financing of it. But at the same
time the principle of the ultimate State ownership of all railways
should be strictly adhered to, for the very good reason that in the
railways we have the chief security for development loans, and the
most productive of all the State assets. In few countries in the world
is the expenditure on construction and maintenance so small, so that
under present conditions they yield a handsome return on capital
outlay. The Netherlands and the Pretoria-Pietersburg railways have
been acquired from their former owners, and the incomplete Selati and
Machadodorp-Ermelo lines will shortly follow. If we take the price
paid, with the addition in the latter case of the outlay necessary for
completion, as the capital value, we shall find that the net receipts,
even after the large reductions in rates which have been made and must
be maintained, show a generous percentage of profit.[20] It will be
explained later what part this important asset is called upon to play
in the finance of the new colonies. So much for the main lines; but a
system of light railways, constructed at small expense, is vital to
the mineral and agricultural exploitation of such districts as Bethel,
Lichtenburg, Wolmaranstad, and Waterberg, in the Transvaal and the
southern part of the Orange River Colony. In a flat upland country,
where animal transport for some years to come will be precarious and
expensive, where the roads are still unsuitable for steam haulage, and
where coal is cheap, perfect conditions exist for an extensive
light-railway development.

Railway extension, then, is one of the first demands of the country:
it is comparatively easy to achieve, and most of the necessary capital
has already been found for it. But the omnipresent labour difficulty
appears here as elsewhere, not indeed with the magnitude of the mining
problem, but with an equal insistence. To carry out the programme
sketched above in any reasonable time, say three years, some 40,000
natives will be required. At the present moment the number employed is
scarcely 5000, and 10,000 is the limit which the railways may recruit
in South Africa by an agreement with the Chamber of Mines. Many
natives, such as the Basutos, will work on railways when they will not
go underground; and the agreed limit is fair enough to both parties.
But the balance cannot be secured without seriously trespassing upon
the supply grounds of the mines. The Uganda railway was built with
imported labour, and it seems inevitable that the Central South
African railways must follow suit. The limited funds at their
disposal, and the difficulties in the way of the country's absorbing
at the moment large numbers of unskilled workmen, make the employment
of white navvies alone impossible. The railways, indeed, furnish a
fine experimenting-ground for the importation of indentured foreign
labour under a short-time contract and a condition of repatriation.
The number they require is small: 10,000 will tide them over all
immediate needs; the nature of the work enables a complete supervision
to be exercised; and while it is still doubtful whether alien labour
can be secured for the mines, experience has shown that for surface
railway work the supply is certain. In the congested districts of
India and China the small cultivator, to whom land is the object of
his life, will gladly leave his home for one or two years if he can
return with the money to buy a plot of ground; and when the return
home is the cause of the setting out there will be no trouble in
repatriation.

       *       *       *       *       *

The premier market, now and for many years, must be the Rand. Its
great industrial population and the higher scale of living make it the
natural market for all native agricultural and pastoral products. So
much so that the farmers in the eastern province of Cape Colony, in
spite of heavy railway rates, found it profitable to send the bulk of
their produce thither. This is at once the advantage and misfortune of
the country: advantage, in having an accessible market which it will
take years to glut; misfortune, in that the merits of the market to
the country producer mean costly living to the industrial inhabitants.
The difficulty will no doubt adjust itself; for if, as all believe,
the new colonies take many steps towards feeding themselves, and in
consequence the prices of necessaries fall, new and nearer markets
will arise in different parts of the country, and a genuinely
self-supporting provincial society will be organised. New mining
centres in the north and east, possibly, too, in the west, may bring
new townships into being; old and semi-decayed dorps will revive; and
that novelty in the new colonies, towns like Brighton or Cheltenham,
which exist purely for residence, may yet be found at Warm Baths for
winter, or on the shores of Lake Chrissie for the summer heats. The
Rand, again, will be the chief market for the subsidiary industries
which must arise,--for coal and iron, for manufactured articles and
dressed produce. It is too early in the day to talk in any serious
sense of exports. The Transvaal, at any rate, will be for long a
consumer rather than a producer among the nations of the world.

The tremendous cost of living is the subject of the chief complaints
among new-comers to South Africa. Before the discovery of gold the
Transvaal was a cheap country to dwell in. A bullock which now costs
£20 could be bought for £5; and a native, who now draws £3 or £4 per
month in wages, was then very well content with 5s. Now there is
hardly anything which is not scarcer and dearer in South Africa than
in almost any other part of the globe. The causes of this high cost
are partly natural and partly artificial; but all, I think, are
terminable. The demands of the gold industry, the long distance from
ports, the sparse rural population, are obvious natural causes, all of
which tend to modification and mutual adjustment. The artificial
causes are three: the cost of ocean freightage, the high railway
rates, and the monopoly in the hands of a small mercantile class. The
first can never be reduced below a fairly high figure, and in the loud
complaint of "shipping rings," which is in the mouth of most traders,
there is a little unfairness. It is too often the cloak which they
use to cover their own extortions. But reductions will certainly be
made, and in any case the chief force of the grievance, so far as
necessaries are concerned, will decline with the growth of local
production. Railway rates have already suffered a substantial
decrease, and will be further reduced down to a certain point, which
for the present is determined by the fiscal needs of the country. For
railway rates are a form of taxation: the railways are the chief
revenue producer, and to lower the rates too far would be merely
robbing Peter to pay Paul--a form of relief which would need to be
balanced by some new form of taxation. The chief efficient cause of
the expense of living is undoubtedly the exorbitant monopoly of local
merchants. It is no exaggeration to say that anything sold at 100 per
cent profit is to the ordinary trader a form of charity: legitimate
business begins for him at 120, or thereabouts. No class is so
clamorous about its interests, so ready to identify its profits with
national wellbeing, and claim a monopoly of the purer civic emotions.
But no part of the economic situation is so radically unsound. The
Polish Jew and the coolie make a profitable living throughout the
country, not because the white population have no prejudice against
them, but because they are driven to their stores by the comparative
reasonableness of their prices. This cause, as I have said, is
artificial and terminable. The influx of a large population will
increase the area of competition, and reduce profits to a normal
basis. And this, again, depends on the prosperity of the mines; so
that we are brought round to the starting-point of all South African
economics. Once this result were achieved its benefits would react
on the mines, for with the decrease of the cost of living wages would
go down, and what is at present an ideal--an increase in the area
over which white labour can be employed--would come within the sphere
of practical politics.

The economic situation of the two colonies is therefore composed of a
number of perplexing oppositions. The one certain fact is the great
hidden wealth. But to make those riches actual there must be labour,
and, over and above any question of imported and indentured workmen,
to secure labour there must be reasonable cheapness in the necessaries
of life and work. Customs tariffs, railway rates, general taxation,
must all be calculated on a modest scale. But, on the other hand, if
the country is to advance to that civilisation which is its due, money
must be spent freely by the State on productive and unproductive
enterprises; and in addition to such services, which are the basis of
the Guaranteed Loan, there is the War Debt, 30 millions of dead-weight
round the neck of a struggling people. To pay the interest on debts
and to provide money for day-to-day needs there must be revenue, and
so there comes a point where direct and indirect charges, whatever the
demands of the situation, simply cannot be reduced further if the
mechanism of Government is to continue in action. Heroic persons
advocate heroic remedies, such as the cessation of all enterprise in
favour of mining progress, or the renunciation of certain charges in
favour of cheap living. In one sense all politics are a gamble; but
there are limits beyond which statesmanship cannot go in the way of
staking everything on a chance, and yet hope to justify itself in the
eyes of the world in the event of failure. The real problem for the
statesman is not how to plunge wildly--it requires little skill to do
that--but how to adjust with nice discrimination. To preserve an
adequate revenue, while at the same time giving ample play to the
forces of production, is, in a word, the only policy which contains
the rudiments of ultimate success.


  [15]  The latest information available on the subject of the
        Transvaal gold mines will be found in the exhaustive
        report prepared for Mr Chamberlain by the mining
        engineers, and published at Johannesburg in 1903.

  [16]  The following are some of the working costs of the mines.
        Low costs: Geldenhuis Deep, 22s.; Geldenhuis Select,
        17s. 6d.; Geldenhuis Main Reef, 17s. 4d.; Meyer and
        Charlton, 18s. 2d.; Simmer and Jack, 20s. 7d. High
        costs: City and Suburban, 29s. 1d.; Bonanza, 27s. 6d.;
        Robinson Deep, 30s. 2d. The Robinson-Randfontein group
        have ore of a gold value of 34s. 9d. per ton, and a
        profit of 2s. over the working cost. The Bonanza has ore
        worth £5 a-ton.

  [17]  Imported labour reduces itself in practice to Chinese or
        Japanese. Even supposing that the Indian Government
        consented to the strict form of indenture necessary for
        mining purposes, the political danger of introducing
        coolie labour into a country which already contains a
        considerable coolie population would be very great.

  [18]  An argument often used in this connection is that the
        employment of Asiatic labourers, repatriated at the end
        of their contract, would mean that a very large sum of
        money annually left the country. But the same thing will
        happen if native African labour is brought from Central
        or Western Africa or Somaliland. It is happening at
        present with the natives from Portuguese territory, who
        form 90 per cent of the existing labour-supply.

  [19]  I have said elsewhere that there are few South African
        problems which are not long-descended. The first
        proposal to introduce Chinese labour was made by Jan van
        Riebeck, the first Governor of Cape Colony, about the
        year 1653. He urged the scheme with great persistence,
        but home opinion proved too strong for him.

  [20]  The cost of the acquisition of the present railway
        systems was roughly 14 millions. This does not, of
        course, represent an accurate statement of capital
        outlay, as in the Orange Free State considerable sums
        were spent out of State revenue. But even if we put the
        figure at the outside limit of 20 millions, the net
        profits are still more than 10 per cent of the capital
        value.


II.

The foregoing is a rough survey of the assets with which the new
colonies start on their career. As in all beginnings, a multitude of
questions protrude themselves. Every politician has his own nostrum,
every interest its own pressing demands. But the main questions are
simple, at least in their outlines, and it is permissible to
disentangle from the web the chief threads of economic policy. Three
postulates there must be before a solvent and progressive nation can
be founded. In the first place, life must be made possible,--life on
the various scales which a civilised society demands. In the second
place, industries--the gold industry and the host of subsidiaries
which must follow--should be given free scope for development by
enlightened legislation, and the removal of burdens from the raw
material of progress. Finally, a sufficient revenue must be secured
to meet the vast reproductive expenditure which the country demands.
To reconcile these three needs, which in practice often appear
contradictory, is the task of the new Government.

Taking the three axioms as our guide, we have to consider the two
questions in all administration--the raising of revenue and the
apportionment of expenditure. Our inquiry into revenue must be chiefly
concerned with the Transvaal. The Orange River Colony is for the
present prosperous, and its future solvency seems assured. With a
certain income of half a million, and an expenditure of a little
less, its fiscal problem is simplicity itself. But the Transvaal
presents the case of a country with great potential wealth, which must
borrow heavily to elicit its prosperity. Certain revenue-producing
charges must be cut down to make life on a proper scale possible, but
revenue must also be raised to make this life possible. It is the old
story of Egypt--taking out of one pocket to put into the other, with
somewhere behind the transaction an economic Providence to enhance
values in the exchange. Such a policy is based upon a faith in the
land, which by its productive power provides a natural sinking fund to
wipe off encumbrances. Loans can be raised at 4 per cent, because the
country repays a hundredfold.

The main items, exclusive of railways, which in the financial year
1902-3 made up the revenue of the Transvaal, were customs revenue at
upwards of two millions, mining revenue at half a million, stamp and
transfer duties at £720,000, taxes on trades and professions and post
and telegraphs at a quarter of a million each, and native revenue at a
little over £300,000. The total revenue was about £4,700,000. The
estimated revenue for 1903-4 has been put at £4,500,000, made up of
customs at £1,800,000, mining revenue at £750,000, post and telegraphs
at £360,000, taxes on trades and professions at £200,000, native
revenue at £500,000, stamp and transfer duties at £700,000, and
£200,000 for miscellaneous items. Since the object of the present
inquiry is to estimate the financial position of the country, it is
necessary in the first place to take the various sources of revenue
one by one, and estimate their value and their defects. Several may at
once be omitted. Post and telegraphs barely pay for their working
expenses, and cannot be counted upon as a source of revenue. Stamp
and transfer duties, stand licences and rent, and the bulk of the
miscellaneous items, are for the present static figures, or vary
within narrow limits, and it is improbable that they will be altered
so as to greatly increase their present revenue during the next few
years. Revenue questions for the Transvaal are concerned with two
items which far excel all others in importance--mining revenue and
customs. There is a third, and the largest of the three, railway
profits; but, as will be explained later, this item has been excluded
from the separate budgets of the two colonies.

The old mining revenue was mainly indirect. A tax on profits was
indeed imposed by the late Government in February 1899, but war broke
out before there was time to organise its collection. The real burden
lay in the dynamite monopoly, which at its worst increased the price
of explosives by £2 the case, and at its best by about 30s. The mines
required an annual supply of 300,000 cases, which meant an annual
charge, beyond the cost of material, of £450,000. The average net
profits on the annual production of gold may be put at £6,000,000,
which, with a 5 per cent profit tax, would return £300,000 a-year.
Had the Boer _régime_ continued, the mining industry would have
contributed in the form of imposts something between £600,000 and
£750,000 per annum (for a reduction of 10s. in the dynamite charge
had been promised on the eve of the war). From the standpoint of the
mines the whole sum was an impost, but only the yield from the profit
tax would have found its way into the Exchequer.

The present charges on the mining industry consist of the prospectors'
and diggers' licences, the 10 per cent tax on profits, imposed by
Proclamation No. 34 of 1902, and the cost of native passes, which was
formerly paid by the native himself, but is now borne by the employer.
The mining industry will therefore on its present basis pay from half
a million upwards in profit tax, about £120,000 for native passes, and
about £50,000 in licences. It is difficult to see how this taxation
could be fairly increased. To add, for example, a charge of 20s. per
case to explosives would be to tax the means of production,--a fatal
heresy,--to keep some of the smaller mines out of the profit-making
class, and in the long-run to harm the Exchequer itself. The true
policy is not to hamper the earning of profits by excessive charges,
but to enlarge by judicious encouragement the area over which profits
are made. It is of the first importance that European capital should
be attracted to, and not scared away from, the country. Under the
present system the Government receipts will advance _pari passu_ with
any increase in the prosperity of the mines, and to secure the
ultimate gain one may well be satisfied to forego a larger immediate
return.

There is a fourth source of revenue from mining enterprise which may
be roughly described as windfalls. The Government has a moral right,
which no one denies, to profit by new discoveries, and in any case, as
a large landowner, it will be interested as an immediate participant.
The provisions of the old Gold Law have been so often discussed in
print that it is sufficient here to give the briefest sketch of them.
Legislation by the late Government on precious minerals began as
early as 1858, and continued in a long series of resolutions and
counter-resolutions till the somewhat confused position of affairs
was simplified and regulated by the famous law, No. 15 of 1898. The
basis of this law is to be found in the principle that to the owner
belonged the ownership of minerals found under his land, but to the
State the right of regulating their disposal. It attempted to give to
both owner and State a fair share of the proceeds, while at the same
time the prospector and discoverer received a moderate reward for
their enterprise. There can be no question about the validity of the
three rights; the only dispute is concerned with their relative
proportions. Besides the matter of share, there is one other question
of great importance--how far it is permissible for an owner to refuse
to allow the exploital of minerals under his land.

I take the last question first. Under the old law the owner of private
property could prospect without a licence on his own land, and could
give authority to any licensed person. If minerals were found, the
State President, subject to certain compensation, could throw open the
land as a public diggings. State land could be prospected and
proclaimed in exactly the same way. But if the owner of private land
refused to prospect himself or allow others to prospect, the State
could not interfere to compel the exploital of his minerals. Much has
been said of the right of the public in the shape of the prospector to
go anywhere in his search; but no such _right_ has ever existed or can
exist. The whole question is one of policy. It is clearly not the
interest of the State to leave the chief source of its wealth
unworked; nor in any real sense is it the interest of the private
owner. But it would be an intolerable burden to a farmer to be
subjected to constant trespass by any prospector who cared to take out
a licence. We must, however, clearly distinguish between Crown and
private land, so far as the steps towards the discovery of the
minerals are concerned. Crown land, under strict conditions, should be
free to any licensed prospector; but, as the settlement of Crown land
by agricultural tenants is a vital part of Government policy,
provision must be made for ample compensation to such a tenant for
disturbance caused by prospecting. Such provision should refer not
only to unproclaimed or hereafter to be proclaimed Crown land, but
should be brought to cover areas such as Barberton, Lydenberg, and the
Wood Bush, which have been long working gold-fields. If compensation
and security is not provided, some of the most valuable agricultural
and pastoral lands in the country will be incapable of white
settlement, and their only occupants will be the Kaffir, the coolie,
and the bywoner, who have no interest in creating permanent homes. It
is undesirable to tie up minerals, but it is equally undesirable to
tie up agricultural wealth. People have talked of proclamation as if
it were an inviolable contract between the Crown and the public, to
which no new conditions could be added. There is neither legal nor
historical justification for this view. It is right for the Crown,
having given permission to the public to go upon its lands for a
particular purpose, to impose from time to time conditions under which
the permission may be exercised. On private lands the case is
different. No owner of a private farm who is in beneficial occupation
of it (when he is not, the land should be treated for this purpose as
Crown land) should be compelled to allow prospecting unless he has
already himself prospected or given authority to others. To enact
otherwise would be to make a freehold title little more than a farce.
But in order to prevent a reactionary or indolent owner from tying up
valuable minerals for an indefinite time, when there are reasonable
grounds for believing that such minerals exist, the Commissioner of
Mines should have the power to give notice to the owner that he must
prospect or allow others to do so, and, if he still refuses, to issue
to the public a small number of prospecting licences on the property.
When prospecting has taken place, and, after an investigation by the
Government, minerals are found to exist in payable quantities, the
area, subject to all rights of compensation, should be proclaimed a
public digging.

Under the old law the discoverer, if his discovery were made at least
six miles distant from a locality already worked, was entitled to mark
off six claims which he could work without payment of licence-moneys.
He had also the ordinary public right of pegging off not more than
fifty claims in the proclaimed area, and fifty additional claims on
payment of reduced licences. The only real reward to the prospector
for his trouble and expense was the six free claims--hardly a
sufficient inducement to undertake laborious, and often costly,
enterprises. The Gold Law Commission recommended that the discoverer
should receive one-thirtieth of the proclaimed area, provided that in
no case such one-thirtieth exceeded thirty claims. This seems a
reasonable but not extravagant honorarium to the pioneer. He would be
entitled to the first selection, and would hold his claims free of
licence-moneys till they reached the producing stage.

The owner, under the old law, was entitled to reserve a _mynpacht_,
equal to one-tenth of the proclaimed area, for which he paid either
10s. per morgen per annum or 2-1/2 per cent of his gross profits. He
was also entitled to mark off a _werf_ or homestead area, on which
prospecting was forbidden; and on this, too, he could claim a
_mynpacht_ from the State. He was entitled to a certain number of
owner's claims, which could not exceed ten. He was entitled, before
proclamation, to grant to other persons a certain number of claims
called _vergunnings_. Finally, he was entitled to share equally with
the Government in all licence-moneys on claims, and to receive a share,
varying from one-half to three-fourths, of all licence-moneys on
stands. This system gave the owner about one-sixth of the whole
proclaimed area,--an extravagant share, and one complicated by the
curious rights into which it was divided. Such unmeaning complexity
must be abolished, and one form of title--claim licences--substituted.
_Werf_ and _vergunning_ claims should be done away with, and the owner,
as the Commission recommended, be allowed to peg out one-seventh of the
proclaimed area, which should take the place of _werf_, _mynpacht_,
_vergunnings_, and owner's claims. The Commission has also recommended
that, while the owner should retain half of the proceeds of licences,
the Crown should have the right, without consulting him, to remit or
reduce the licence-moneys in what appear to be deserving cases.

The State, under the old law, received all licence-moneys on claims
and stands situated on State lands, and half the licence-moneys from
claims and stands on private lands. It received also certain payments
from the owners of _mynpachts_. This in itself should provide for a
considerable revenue. But in addition the Crown should have the right
of sale of claims in proved districts, where the ground has a certain
value. The former method, in places where pegging was out of the
question, such as along the Main Reef, was to hold a claims' lottery,
a method which was neither rational nor lucrative. The sale by
auction of claims in proved districts would bring in a large
additional revenue and do no injustice to the prospector. But in all
places yet unproved the public should be free to peg out claims and
try their fortune. It is important, also, to revise the present system
of licence-moneys, so as to make the licences small during the
prospecting and non-producing period, and raise them when mining
actually begins. Under the old law all licences were £1 per claim per
month, a payment which bore heavily upon the poor prospector who was
still labouring to prove his claim. Prospectors' licences were issued
at 5s. per month on private land and 2s. 6d. on Government land. The
Commission recommended the abolition of prospectors' licences, and the
substitution of one general licence to search for minerals, on which a
stamp duty of 2s. 6d. per month should be charged. When minerals are
found and a public digging has been proclaimed, licence-moneys of 2s.
6d. per claim per month should be paid on Government land, and 5s. on
private land till the producing stage is reached. After that date the
old licence of £1 would come into force.

The Transvaal Legislature will shortly be called upon to consider a
new Gold Law based on the report of the Commission, of which I have
sketched the chief features. Of almost equal importance, in the light
of recent discoveries, is the new Diamond Law, where substantially the
same questions of principle are involved. Owner, discoverer, and State
should have a fair share of profit--but especially the State. We are
none too well off in the ordinary course of things to be able to
afford to neglect our windfalls. A serious and permanent increase of
revenue can come only from a gradual increase of producing activity;
but, apart from permanent needs, many occasions will arise for capital
expenditure in reproductive works which are vital to progress. A
windfall is a development loan without guarantee or interest or
sinking fund to burden the mind of the Exchequer.

       *       *       *       *       *

The other direct taxes are so few and unimportant that they may safely
be neglected. But it is necessary to face the question of adjustment
and new taxation, for the time may come when it may be expedient to
lower many of the existing duties and to revise thoroughly railway
rates, and it is desirable to have alternative proposals to meet the
decline of revenue which will follow. It may be desirable, for
instance, to abolish wholly the present charge on dynamite, as it most
certainly will be necessary to lower still further the cost of transit
on the railways. But new taxation must be imposed with the greatest
caution. The present population of the Transvaal pays in indirect
taxes £10 a-head as against £2 at home; the field for direct taxation
is therefore strictly circumscribed. To certain taxes the road is
barred. A land tax, however light, would bear heavily upon the
impoverished rural districts, and in any case is impossible under the
Terms of Surrender. An income tax would make life unbearable if the
limit of exemption were low, and if the limit were high the yield
would be inconsiderable. A general profit tax on the earnings of both
companies and individuals may become feasible in time, but we must
first await the return of normal conditions of life. One way may be
found in increased native taxation, a matter which, as it is bound up
with other questions of native policy, is discussed in another
chapter. But the object of all new taxation must be to strike at the
untaxed and unproductive elements in society, for reasons quite as
much political as economic. On this ground two taxes seem just and
desirable, though there are certain obvious difficulties to be
surmounted before they can be levied. The first is a tax upon
unoccupied lands, a quite possible and equitable tax which would meet
with little real opposition. Land companies in the Transvaal alone
possess some 12 million acres, the bulk of which has been bought for
supposed mineral values. Not 10 per cent of the land is occupied, and
nearly 50 per cent is capable of occupation of some kind. Quite apart
from revenue considerations, a tax which would compel settlement, or,
failing that, would drive some of the more obstinate companies to put
good land in the market, would be sound policy. What applies to the
companies would apply to the private landowner who has his half-dozen
farms, and lives in a corner of one of them. _Latifundia_ bid fair to
be among the curses of the land, unless proper measures are taken to
check them in time; and if this is done, the land troubles of the
Australian colonies and their confiscatory legislation will be saved
to South Africa. The machinery would be simple. A permanent commission
would have to be established (the judicial committee of the Central
Land Board, provided for in the Settler's Ordinance, could do the
work). Each owner of unoccupied land would be summoned before it to
state his case. He might show that three-fourths of his land was at
the moment incapable of occupation, in which case he would only be
assessed on the remainder. The tax might be an _ad valorem_ tax of 2
or 3 per cent. A day might be fixed, say eighteen months from
assessment, when the tax would come into operation. In case owners
proved refractory and preferred to pay the tax, it might be increased
on a sliding scale till settlement became compulsory. There would be
no hardship to company or individual, since only land for which a
white occupier could be found would be assessable for the purpose. The
second tax is of equal importance but far greater complexity. The most
difficult person to reach in taxation is the holder for the rise, the
speculator who is nothing else, the great class which toils and spins
not and grows fat on the energy of others. The basis of his activity
is the quotation of shares, and a tax to affect him must be in
relation to such market values. You cannot introduce a too cumbrous
machinery without acting in restraint of legitimate trade, quite apart
from the fact that most of the business is done with bearer shares
which pass through fifty hands before registration. But it might be
possible--it is a problem for a revenue expert to decide--to affect
this class indirectly and curtail its activity by a tax on the profits
of companies based on the average quotation for the preceding year. At
the best it would be only a half measure, for it would be limited to
dividend-paying companies, and the energies of the middleman are
chiefly exercised on companies whose profits are still wholly
speculative. But with all deductions there seems to be a chance of
revenue in such a tax, and a certain general economic value. The tax,
again, would be limited to new issues, for in the case of old issues,
even when the shares stand at 1000 per cent premium, a high dividend
may represent a very moderate dividend on the capital of the investor
who bought in when shares were high. If the dividend of a new issue
justified a high quotation, the quotation would be high in spite of
the tax, but the existence of the tax would tend to keep down the
speculative quotation to some reasonable relation to former dividends.
If dividends declined, and the quotation fell, the tax would go
automatically out of existence. Such a tax, if possible, would not
yield in normal years a great revenue, but it would have certain
salutary and permanent effects. It would touch companies only in a
high state of prosperity. It would indirectly touch the man who buys
not for dividends but to realise by taking away in some part the basis
of his speculations. It would exercise a steadying influence upon the
market, and prevent, at least in one class of security, fictitious
rises. But as a means of revenue its position would be really that of
a windfall, for it would enable the Crown to profit largely out of any
period of great financial excitement. A boom, so eagerly desired by
all but in many of its results so maleficent, might be delayed by its
agency; and if it came, as no doubt it would in spite of any ingenious
taxation, and share values became blindly inflated irrespective of
past or present dividends, the Government would perform that rarest of
feats, and derive an honest profit from the vices of the multitude.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Transvaal, till the other day, was the only important South
African state not included in the Customs Union. Its customs law was
No. 4 of 1894, amended by Ordinance 22 of 1902. The basis was an _ad
valorem_ tax of 7-1/2 per cent on all goods brought across the border,
with an addition of 20 per cent to the valuation price for the purpose
of the tax in the case of goods directly imported from over-sea. The
purpose of this provision is obvious, since to goods bought at the
coast the cost of over-sea freightage and handling is added in
reaching the price on which the tax is assessed. But to this general
duty there were two important exceptions. There was a lengthy free
list, which included, in addition to goods imported for Government
use, all live stock, books, tree, flower, and vegetable seeds and
plants, tools and effects of immigrant mechanics, fencing material,
mining and agricultural machinery, cement, and unmanufactured woods.
There was also a list on which, in addition to the general 7-1/2 per
cent, special duties were charged. Beer paid 3s. per gallon, dynamite
9d. per pound, gunpowder 6d. per pound, spirits from 14s. to £1 per
imperial gallon, manufactured tobacco 3s. per pound, leaf-tobacco 2s.
per pound (when brought from over-sea), wine from 4s. to 12s. 6d. per
gallon. The tariff was therefore moderately protectionist. Most
articles necessary for the great industries were free; articles of
common use were subject only to the _ad valorem_ duty; while articles
of luxury, and especially all fermented liquors, were subject to a
fair but not excessive special tax.

The difficulty was that the tariff was not a fair guide to the real
taxation of imports. The Transvaal has no seacoast; all her imports
have to be landed at the ports of other colonies or states, and
carried to her borders by alien railways. Moreover, all the seaboard
colonies, as well as the Orange River Colony, were banded together in
a Customs Union, from which she was excluded. A tariff hostility was
therefore smouldering on, which gave acute annoyance to the Transvaal
importer. I will take two instances of purely predatory imposts. The
coast colonies levied a so-called transit due of 3 per cent on
dutiable articles for the Transvaal, a due which was the same in
principle as the levies which the barons of the Rhine used to make
from the harmless merchants passing through their borders. Again, in
the case of the Orange River Colony, the only inland colony in the old
Customs Union, the duties were collected at the coast ports, and a
collecting charge was made, which was simply another form of the
transit due. At one time the charge was as high as 25 per cent of the
duties collected; but on the petition of the Orange River Colony it
was afterwards reduced to 15 per cent. How far such a rate was from
representing the real cost of collection is shown by the fact that the
Transvaal duties were collected by the coast colonies from the
occupation of Pretoria to the end of 1901 at a charge of only 2-1/2
per cent.

The Transvaal had thus a tariff in itself reasonable, but she was
embarrassed by her isolation. It was obviously desirable that she
should enter into the Customs Union, which would then comprise the
whole of South Africa, for if federation is ever to become a serious
policy it is well to begin by throwing down economic barriers. But
economics have an awkward way of overriding all other considerations,
and the entrance of the Transvaal into the Union could only be a
matter of hard business--give and take on both sides. The interest of
the two parties was on this matter far apart. The coast colonies are
agricultural and pastoral, and their ports are forwarding depots. They
are frankly protectionist, and their customs have always been their
chief source of revenue. The Transvaal is industrial, and for the
present a free-trader; she must have cheap food, cheap raw material,
cheap necessaries. While at the moment customs form the largest item
in her revenue, it does not overshadow all others, and in time it is
probable that it will sink to a second place. The question was,
therefore, What of her present tariff would the Transvaal relinquish
to meet the wishes of the Union, and what compensating advantages
could she expect from her membership?

The Bloemfontein Conference of March 1903 prepared a Customs
Convention, which has since been ratified by the several states, and
the old Customs Union has been amended and extended to include the
whole of British South Africa. How far has this act improved the
economic position of the Transvaal? In the first place, there is one
solid gain, the abolition of the transit dues, estimated at between
£250,000 and £300,000 per annum. There is, too, a gain in the mere fact
of union, and the freedom which it gives from the incessant bickerings
of conflicting tariffs. Since her duties are collected by the coast
colonies at the moderate charge of 5 per cent, a saving may also be
effected by the reduction of the customs establishment on her borders.
The benefit which she has conferred in return is the opening of her
markets without restraint to the products of British South Africa, an
opening which should amply repay the coast colonies for the reduction
in the protective tariff from over-sea. The actual tariff charges are
in the nature of an elaborate compromise. To take first the case of the
simple food-stuffs. In 1898, under the old Transvaal tariff, imported
flour paid in duty £26,955, and imported mealies £16,290. Under the old
Union tariff they would have paid respectively £114,068 and £69,332--a
difference of over 400 per cent. The old Union rate was 2s. per 100 lb.
for grain and 4s. 6d. per 100 lb. for flour, while the old Transvaal
rate was an _ad valorem_ duty of about 9 per cent. It was impossible
that either party could accept the other's rate, so the present
solution of 1s. for grain and 2s. for flour may be taken as a
satisfactory compromise, which an industrial country could support. It
must be further remembered that all food-stuffs produced elsewhere in
South Africa enter free, and that the cost of bread under the new
system will be if anything reduced. Article XV. of the Convention gives
the Transvaal a further power in times of scarcity to suspend the duty
on food-stuffs altogether, and give a bonus to imports of the same
class produced in the neighbouring colonies. The ordinary manufactured
article, which in a non-manufacturing country plays as large a part in
the cost of living as bread, is also reduced for the purchaser. It pays
an _ad valorem_ duty of 10 per cent, which at first sight seems higher
than the old rate of 7-1/2, which with other charges worked out in
practice at about 9. But 2-1/2 per cent must be deducted on account of
the 25 per cent preferential rate for British goods, and with the
abolition of the transit dues the actual duty will work out at between
7 and 8 per cent. Raw material and the necessaries of industry remain
much where they were under the old tariff, which was highly favourable
to them; but the charge on dynamite has been reduced from 9d. a-pound
to 1-1/2d., which is a reduction of over 30s. on the 50-lb. case.

A mere comparison of tariffs does not show the real cheapening of the
necessaries of life; for to get at the practical effect, the abolition
of the transit dues, the reduction of railway rates, amounting to at
least £300,000 per annum, and the preference rate on British goods,
must all be considered. Under the old tariff and railway rates every
100 lb. of flour from Port Elizabeth to the Transvaal paid 9d. to the
Transvaal in duty. The freight was 6s. 2d., so that it paid altogether
in charges 6s. 11d. Under the Convention the same quantity of flour
will pay 2s. in duty and 3s. 9d. in railway rates, so that, in spite
of the higher duty, the charge is only 5s. 9d.,--a saving to the
Transvaal consumer of 1s. 2d., and a gain to the Transvaal treasury of
1s. 3d. There are many instances of a similar kind. Ordinary groceries
will be reduced by about 3 per cent, paraffin by 1s. 6d. a case,
grease by 2s. 6d. per 100 lb., cement by 2s. 9d. a cask. Tea and
coffee, on the other hand, show a slight increase. In one branch there
is a very marked increase, and an exception to the inter-colonial free
trade, which is the basis of the Convention. Each party to the Union
is entitled to levy on the importation of spirits distilled in and
from the produce of places within the Union a duty equal to any excise
duty which it may levy on spirits made within its own borders. In the
Transvaal there is no excise, for the manufacture of spirits is wholly
forbidden. It is of the most urgent importance to keep fermented
liquors out of reach of the native population, and to suppress all
illicit traffic. The importation of Portuguese spirits has been
stopped by treaty, and it was clearly impossible for the Transvaal to
consent to the importation of spirits on easier terms from the other
British colonies. The concluding paragraph of Article XVII.,
therefore, provides that "where a prohibition exists in any colony or
territory of the Union against the manufacture of spirits for sale, it
shall be lawful for such colony or territory to levy on spirits
produced within the Union a custom duty not exceeding that levied on
similar spirits produced outside the Union." The duty in force is
therefore from 15s. to £1 per imperial gallon in addition to the 10
per cent _ad valorem_ rate; which, it has been calculated, is an
increase on the former cost of from 4s. to 6s. per case.

The new Union is therefore almost wholly in the favour of the new
colonies. The cost to the consumer is lessened, but the revenue does
not lose appreciably, since charges, formerly diverted by the coast
colonies, now go to its coffers. The coast colonies, in an admirable
spirit of statesmanship, have consented to surrender a part of their
revenue in order that the chief industrial market of South Africa
might be open to their people--an example of that policy of foregoing
certain revenues on a narrow basis for the sake of a possible revenue
in a wider field which is of the essence of good government. The
preference given to British goods, while still further reducing rates
in favour of a large class of imports, is also a step towards
federation, which does not, as such experiments are apt to do,
militate in any serious way against local commerce. The one person who
might complain is the farmer of the Transvaal, who sees his markets
thrown open to the old grain-lands of Cape Colony; but if the long
railway journey which his rivals have to face is not a sufficient
handicap to enable him to hold his own, then we need not lament his
fall. Vital as agricultural progress is, it cannot hope for protection
at the expense of industrial prosperity.

       *       *       *       *       *

The normal expenditure of the Transvaal may be taken roughly at
£3,600,000. This figure is exclusive of debt charges, or any capital
outlay on development which may be met out of revenue. It represents
merely the day-to-day cost of the administrative machine. As revenue
is enlarged the expenditure will follow suit; but it is unlikely that
the proportion of costs to receipts, which is roughly three to four,
will ever increase. On the contrary, it might be considerably reduced
by a more complete administrative decentralisation. At present there
are a number of isolated departments--Native Affairs, Lands,
Mines--with local representatives wholly independent of each other,
and responsible only to the heads of their departments. The resident
magistrate, who is really an administrative official, since the legal
work is done by the assistant magistrate, and who as a rule is not a
lawyer, has a very narrow control over a few subjects like local
government and public health. The system is wasteful both of money and
energy, for the isolated departments often overlap unconsciously; and
since there is no local check, the tendency is for the head of a
department to increase his local staff and to vie with other heads in
securing large estimates. It also means that a constant inspection has
to be kept up from headquarters, and each department supports a force
of travelling officials. The Indian precedent might be followed with
advantage, and real heads of districts established, who would have a
control, direct or indirect, over all administrative work. They should
be responsible for the efficient and economic working of their
district, prepare their local estimates and reports, and answer for
their work only to the Governor and Council. The great departments
would exist as before, but their local staffs would be much reduced
in number, so far as such staffs were administrative and not
intrusted with expert work. Experts, such as inspectors of machinery,
customs officers, and veterinary surgeons, would remain directly
responsible to their own departments, though over these also the
district administrator would exercise a general supervision. In this
way a very considerable saving would be effected in salaries, the
unnecessarily large force of travelling inspectors could be reduced,
and the friction which inevitably attends the working of isolated
and independent officials in any district would be saved by the
establishment of responsible heads,--deputy administrators, whose
business it would be to supervise all district Government work, and
control all local expenditure.


III.

The natural assets of the country and the existing fiscal system have
been roughly sketched in the foregoing pages. It remains to consider
what burden these two factors in collaboration are called upon to bear.
In view of the peculiar situation of the new colonies, the necessity of
a loan for development is sufficiently obvious. The country was
desolated by war. Large sums were necessary for compensation to
loyalists and for the repatriation of the Dutch inhabitants. The
backward system of our predecessors had left public works ill provided
for in most places, particularly in the country districts. If the
wealth of the provinces, mineral and agricultural, was to be exploited,
and the existing industries granted reasonable facilities for progress,
a heavy expenditure was imperative for railway extension. If the rural
parts were to be developed and their population leavened with our own
countrymen, considerable sums must be expended on settlement, and on
such reproductive schemes as forestry and irrigation. Finally, certain
heavy liabilities awaited the incoming Government. To buy out the
existing railways and repay certain military debts and advances from
the Imperial Treasury, fully 14 millions were required. The old debt of
the Transvaal, amounting to 2-1/2 millions, which carried 4 per cent
interest, must be paid off, and the capital required for the repayment
made part of a new loan at an easier rate. The liabilities and needs
of the country stood therefore as follows: An advance by the Imperial
Government to cover the estimated Transvaal deficit of 1901-2,
£1,500,000; the old debt of the Transvaal, £2,500,000; compensation to
loyalists in Cape Colony and Natal, £2,000,000; the acquisition of the
railways and the repayment of the existing railway debt, £14,000,000;
repatriation[21] and compensation in the new colonies, £5,000,000;
railway extension, £5,000,000; land settlement, £3,000,000; various
public works, £2,000,000,--a total of £35,000,000. This is the sum
comprised in the famous Guaranteed Loan.

But this figure, large as it is, does not exhaust our burden. During
the year 1901 and 1902 the question of the contribution of the new
colonies to the imperial war debt was keenly discussed both in South
Africa and in England. Some fixed the payment likely to be required at
as much as £100,000,000; others argued that the new colonies were
likely to have so many burdens of their own that they could not be
called upon to contribute at all. Moderate men on both sides saw that
some contribution was equitable, but asked that it should not be fixed
so high as to cripple development. There were various proposals, such
as the ear-marking of certain sources of revenue and all windfalls, or
the allocating of a certain proportion of any annual surplus; but such
schemes were liable to the objection from the side of the Imperial
Government that there was no certainty in the contribution, and from
the side of the new colonies that there was no finality in the
liability. The settlement which Mr Chamberlain announced in his speech
at Johannesburg in January 1903 was, perhaps, the best possible in
the circumstances. The contribution was fixed at £30,000,000, to be
raised in three years by contributions of £10,000,000 per annum. The
first 10 millions at 4 per cent were underwritten without commission
by the great financial houses of the Rand, and there is no reason to
doubt that if they are called to make good their guarantee, it will
prove a profitable investment. It is difficult to overestimate the
merit of an arrangement which tends to bind the great houses to a
closer interest in the general development of the country. The War
Loan was secured wholly upon the Transvaal, but there is a contingent
liability on the Orange River Colony to pay a further sum of
£5,000,000 out of the Government share of any discoveries of precious
stones and metals.

We have, therefore, to face a total debt of £65,000,000, of which 35
millions at 3 per cent are a charge upon both colonies, and 30
millions at 4 per cent upon the Transvaal alone. It is a heavy
responsibility for a white population of a few hundreds of thousands,
face to face with a labour problem. That the world at large believes
in the future of the country is shown by the way in which the
Guaranteed Loan was taken up, the first 30 millions having been
subscribed more than thirty times over. On this loan the interest
charge, with 1 per cent sinking fund, will amount to an annual
payment of £1,400,000: in three years time the War Loan, unless (which
is probable) it can be issued at a lower rate than 4 per cent, will
mean an annual charge of £1,200,000, with no sinking fund allowed. We
have therefore in front of us a possible annual payment of £2,600,000,
with a slight increase in the future when a sinking fund is provided.
The payment, large in itself, was made more difficult by the
circumstances of the two colonies. The larger loan is secured on both,
but while the Orange River Colony had a fair claim to a considerable
part of the proceeds, it was clearly impossible that she should pay a
share of the charge proportionate to her receipts. If she shared in
the loan only to the extent of the annual contribution which on her
small revenue she could afford, many important public works both of
land settlement and railway extension would have to be abandoned.
Joined with this general administrative difficulty, there was a
departmental one connected with the railways. The main line through
the Orange River Colony had acquired, as one of the main feeders of
the Transvaal, a purely fictitious value, and the Orange River Colony
profited greatly by the receipts. But to have within one system two
types of line, one a through line simply, the other connected directly
with the great centres of production and consumption, and to have
those two types of lines used as revenue-producing agents for two
different administrations, was to make a consistent railway policy
impossible. The country of the through line, whose fictitious value
produced a very real revenue, would reclaim against reduction in rates
for the benefit of the other.

Both difficulties have been met by a very ingenious scheme. The
Inter-Colonial Council of the two colonies, created by Order in
Council of 20th May 1903, is significant in many ways, notably as the
first overt step towards federation; but for the present we may look
upon it purely as a financial expedient. Two important departments,
common to both colonies, were placed wholly under the administration
of the Council--the Central South African Railways and the South
African Constabulary; and a number of minor common services, such as
surveys and education, were added, and power was given to the two
legislatures to increase the number when they saw fit. A Railway
Committee of Council forms the permanent controlling authority in all
railway matters. All net profits of the railways in each year are
assigned to Council to form its revenues. Out of these it has to meet
the expenditure of the Constabulary and the minor common charges, as
well as the annual charge and management costs of the Guaranteed
Loan.[22]

The financial duties of the Council are therefore twofold. It has the
entire administration of the Loan in its hands, it provides for its
apportionment among the different services, and it undertakes the
payment of its charges. It has also to meet the administrative
expenditure of the common departments intrusted to it, and for this
purpose it receives the net profits of the chief revenue-producing
asset of the two Governments. The first duty is comparatively simple.
A body composed of official and unofficial representatives of the two
parties to the Loan can allocate speedily and equitably without the
constant strife and jealousy which would attend the interference of
two different publics. But the second duty, which is concerned with
the annual inter-colonial budget, constitutes the index or barometer
of the new colony finances. The Budget for 1903-4 shows the following
figures: on the revenue side, £2,350,000 from the net railway
receipts; on the expenditure side, £1,441,000 for the service of the
Guaranteed Loan,[23] £1,520,000 for the Constabulary, and about
£70,000 for minor common services. This leaves a deficit of about
£680,000, which, according to the term of the Order in Council, will
be met by contributions from the Transvaal and the Orange River Colony
in proportion to their customs receipts--roughly, £600,000 from the
first, and £80,000 from the second.

Let us take the revenue side of the Budget first. The position of the
railways is anomalous. They are virtually a taxing-machine, and in
this respect the most effective of Government properties. The normal
position of a Government railway should be that of an institution
worked for the public benefit, the receipts being little in excess of
the working costs plus a moderate interest on the capital involved. In
this railway system the net profits, as we have seen, are estimated
for next year, allowing for the half-million decrease from the
reduction of rates, at £2,300,000. No doubt it is economically unsound
to levy a tax of such magnitude on what is virtually a necessity of
life and a constituent of production. But bad economics may be sound
statesmanship, if they are recognised as unsound--a temporary
expedient to obviate a more serious difficulty. Railway profits are
the buttress of inter-colonial finance: without them there is no
satisfactory provision for the debt charges, and some form of direct
taxation, which would interfere far more effectively with nascent
industries, would be the only resort. The rates have been already
reduced so as to provide, along with the new customs tariff, for a
very real decrease in the cost of living. They will be still further
reduced, always keeping a limit in view which is calculated on fiscal
needs. To so adjust the rates that industrial and rural development
will not be hindered, and at the same time to provide an adequate
revenue, presents a very pretty problem in railway finance. It is the
problem in the customs; it is the problem in direct taxation; it is
the essence of the economic problem of the country. But with all
reductions there is a good chance of railway revenue increasing. The 5
millions of the Loan which go to development will in a year or two
bear fruit. It is difficult to see how the net profits can ever fall
below £2,100,000, while it is not unreasonable to hope that in a few
years they may rise to £2,500,000 or £3,000,000.

But while the revenue side is likely to increase, the expenditure side
of the Budget will inevitably decline. When the full loan is raised
the annual charge will be £1,408,000, a stationary figure till the
loan is redeemed. The Council is a genuine _Caisse de la Dette_; its
revenues are charged in the first instance with the loan charges, and
the liability of the separate colonies to make up any deficiency
distributes the weight of the debt equitably among the parties to it.
The danger of a _Caisse_, that it tends to check general prosperity by
a too arbitrary appropriation of revenue, is avoided by the very
strict conditions of the Council's power and the nature of its
constitution. The minor common services will not increase, and they
may very probably decrease, as such branches as surveys and permits
shrink to normal limits. The large item of 1-1/2 million for the
Constabulary will be lowered in future to about £1,200,000, which, on
the present establishment, must be regarded as a final figure. We may,
therefore, take £2,500,000 as the average expenditure in two years'
time, which, if railway receipts increase to a like figure in the same
time, would make the Inter-Colonial Budget balance.

In the meantime the Transvaal is able to pay any contribution which
may be required from her. But in two years all or the greater part of
the War Loan will have been raised, and she may have to face a maximum
annual charge of £1,200,000, which contains no provision for any
sinking fund. In these circumstances, on her present revenue she could
pay nothing towards any inter-colonial deficit: she might even have to
ask for a contribution. There is every probability that such help
could be given, and an automatic system of adjustment might be framed
by which any inter-colonial surplus could go to pay the charges or
assist in the creation of a sinking fund for the War Loan. This is of
course on the most unfavourable assumption,--that the War Loan has to
be raised at 4 per cent, that the present industrial depression
continues, and that the Transvaal gets no increase of revenue from
that prosperity which she has a right to expect. It is far more
probable that the Council will be free to devote any surplus it may
show to the development of the common services, for which the Loan
provision cannot in the long-run be found adequate.


  [21]  This figure does not cover the expense of repatriation.
        There was a free gift for the purpose of £5,000,000 by
        the Imperial Government.

  [22]  The Council is composed of the High Commissioner and
        Governor (President), the two Lieutenant-Governors, the
        Commissioner of Railways, the Inspector-General of the
        South African Constabulary, two official members for
        each colony, nominated by the Lieutenant-Governors, two
        unofficial members for each colony, elected by the
        unofficial members of the two legislatures, and two
        members nominated by the Secretary of State.

  [23]  These figures require a word of explanation. Only 30
        millions of the loan have been issued, so the charge for
        interest and management should only be £1,208,000; but
        as the loan year began in May and the financial year for
        the budget began in July, interest and management
        charges for fourteen months were included.


IV.

It is idle to deny that the present is a period of financial strain.
The new colonies are solvent, but the margin is narrow. Like
everything else in South Africa, their finances are on a needle-point,
and require strenuous intelligence and constant economy. I have taken
the railway profits and customs receipts as incapable of falling below
their present level; but it is to be remembered that the past year is
not a fair basis for prophecy, since the country has been in process of
reconstruction, and the heavy importations for the purpose have swollen
receipts in both departments. If industrial progress is still
retarded, both figures will sink enormously, and the whole system of
finance sketched in the preceding pages will require revision. If, on
the other hand, progress is assured, both figures will increase
largely, since, while this basis is high as compared with the present
situation, it is low compared with any real prosperity. In this case
the strain will be of short duration. _Ce n'est que le premier pas qui
coûte._ Industrial development lies at the root of all things. The
Transvaal can only hope for a large permanent increase of revenue from
the licences and profit tax paid by the mining industry and from
Customs receipts drawn from a wider basis of population. Unless this
increase comes she may be unable to meet her own war debt, or to
contribute anything to an inter-colonial deficit. Inter-colonial
revenues, too, can only expand from the same cause, for mining
prosperity is at the bottom of railway profits. The State finances
depend upon mining development, and mining development depends on
labour: this is the true statement of the problem, and all others are
involved in a vicious circle. And this is as it should be. On the
great industry of the country the chief burden must lie.

There is, of course, the possibility of windfalls. From the Crown
share of gold and diamond properties very large sums of money may
from time to time flow to the Exchequer. But it is the part of a
prudent finance minister to base his forecasts on the normal only,
and to accept windfalls as gifts of Providence, to be used for
special purposes. It may be necessary to draw upon this source of
income to meet the debt charges; but, should this misfortune be spared
us, then we have in such windfalls the nucleus of a reserve fund for
development. There is need, as we have seen, of a capital outlay on
development far beyond that provided for in the Guaranteed Loan.
Railway extension alone, before we have done with it, will need not 5
millions, but 10, and, in cases where new lines are built by private
companies, we shall have to face sooner or later a considerable
expenditure on expropriation. Public works, when all the loan moneys
have been spent, will still be badly provided for. It may be necessary,
too, to spend money in expropriating land for public parks, for game
preserves, for public buildings, for new townships,--expenditure which
in the first instance will fall upon the Government. So, too, with
other schemes,--irrigation, the search for artesian water, the
establishment of colleges and technical schools, and all the thousand
activities of government in a new country, which will grow quickly and
develop early a multitude of needs. Lastly, land settlement in the two
colonies, if it is to serve the social and political purpose which is
its chief justification, demands more than the 3 millions allotted to
it. Such expenditure is in the fullest sense an investment, since the
bulk of it will be returned in time to the Exchequer with a reasonable
interest. It is proposed that, in so far as repayments of capital from
settlers are concerned, such repayments should form a special fund,
which can go out again in fresh advances and further purchases of
land. In this way a permanent fund for settlement will be created, and
the project will not be dependent upon a share of any annual surplus.

The economic problem of the new colonies finds a parallel in Egyptian
reconstruction in more ways than the analogy of the _Caisse de la
Dette_. There is the same undeveloped wealth in the country, the same
heavy bondage of debt, the same demand for reproductive expenditure.
To cut down the cost of living and the restraints on production, and
at the same time to provide money for development and for the charges
of an unproductive debt, is the threefold South African problem, as it
was the Egyptian. Solvency here, as there, is to be found in an
equipoise, and requires a nice and discriminating statesmanship rather
than any heroic cutting of knots. In most respects the Egyptian
difficulty was far the greater, for there the cast-iron debt
regulations and the endless European surveillance frustrated at every
turn the efforts of her statesmen. But one danger was absent. In Egypt
patience and diplomacy, faith in the country and in the work of time,
were so obviously the only cards to play, that, while there were many
temptations to lose heart and abandon the struggle, there was no
inducement to try short cuts and forsake the true path of policy for
those showy and unconsidered measures which in the rare event of their
success are called heroic. In South Africa the amateur financier is so
abroad in the land that we may look to find many odd nostrums
advocated to ensure prosperity. The kind of discussion which arose
over the labour difficulty is a guide to what we may expect in the
realm of high finance. But in both the one and the other the real
problem is plain once the obscuration caused by conflicting interests
is cleared away by a little common-sense.

The great questions of economics in relation to state growth are
always simple. If high finance means anything it is the power of
adding two and two together. Complicated financial adjustments belong
to a lower plane: the great financier may have no aptitude in reducing
results to a decimal. But there is this distinction, that whereas in
the intricate calculations of secondary finance the figures are mere
counters, the elaboration of accepted data, in the higher and simpler
finance they are symbols. To the statesman they are the gauge of
prosperity or decline, and behind them stand the millions of workers,
the miles of crops, the floods and droughts and pestilences, the rise
and fall of industries, the ore in the mine, the web in the factory,
the cattle in the stockyard. The yield of a land tax is to him not a
figure but a symbol, and in using it he has regard not only to its
formal place in estimates and returns, but to its political meaning.
It is, if you like, the quality which in other spheres constitutes
the distinction between statesmen and high permanent officials,
between economists and statisticians, between all leaders and all
subordinates. In the finance of a country which is still in process
of reconstruction, this power, so uncommon and so inestimable, of
getting behind figures to facts, and keeping the hand on the pulse of
national progress, is the only guarantee of ultimate success. In this
light the prospects of the new colonies give good reason for hope.
The budget of to-day, formally regarded, shows a delicate equipoise,
in which a pessimist might find material for dark forebodings; but it
is only the symbol of that stress of re-creation which must precede
an ample prosperity.



CHAPTER XIII.

THE SETTLEMENT OF THE LAND.


I.

To the Boer the land was the beginning and end of all things: a town
was only a necessary excrescence, an industry an uitlander whim. A land
policy is therefore one of the first burdens which attend our heritage.
Happily we are not seriously impeded by the wreckage of systems which
have failed. The Boer Government had no land legislation, and the few
laws, such as the Occupation Law of 1886, which touched on the
question, were less statutory enactments than administrative
resolutions. The Boer farmer, or his father, secured his land when the
country was unoccupied, and he had merely to arrange the boundary
question with friendly neighbours. He held it on freehold title, with
no reservation of quit-rent to the Government. When the existing
population had thus been settled, the balance of unoccupied country
fell to the State; and this was further parcelled out by grants to
poor burghers, doles for war service, establishment of native
reserves, and in the wilder districts by the system of occupation
tenure. But in spite of all grants a considerable portion remained
State territory--over 44,000 square miles in the Transvaal, of which
at least 19,000,000 acres are unsurveyed. In the Orange River Colony
the State lands are smaller, not exceeding, with all recent purchases,
1,400,000 acres. The land question in the two colonies is therefore of
the simplest: the best farms, including most of the rich pockets of
alluvial land, are the freehold possession of a small number of Dutch
farmers; the balance is the more or less encumbered perquisite of the
State.

The condition of agriculture in the two colonies was primitive in the
extreme, a truth quite independent of the question whether such
elementary methods were not the only possible. The first comers were
pastoralists and nothing more, coming as they did from the great
pastoral regions in the north of Cape Colony. The average farm was
laid out for stock, and was rarely less than 6000 acres. On the old
estimate eight acres was required for each head of horned cattle and
two for each sheep. The Boer was not an advanced stock-farmer in any
sense of the word. He found certain diseases indigenous to the country
which he did not seriously attempt to cope with. He rarely fenced his
stock-routes and outspans or endeavoured to improve the carrying
capacity of the land by paddocking. The high veld in winter is burned
brown by sun and wind and nipped by frosts, so that it gives little
sustenance to stock; but the rich vegetation in summer should have
provided, by means of ensilage, ample feeding for the winter months.
This simple device was never used, and when the grass failed the Boer
trekked with his herds to his low-veld farm, whence he frequently
brought back the seeds of disease in his animals. In the quality of
his stock he was equally backward. In the Afrikander ox he had the
makings of one of the hardiest and strongest draught animals in the
world. In the Afrikander pony he had the basis of a wonderful breed of
riding-horses, to whose merits the late war has sufficiently
testified. He never seriously tried to improve one or the other.
Stallions of wretched quality were allowed to run wild among his
mares, and he had no system of culling to raise the quality of his
herds. The market for his beef and mutton was small and uncritical, so
that the amassing of animals became with him rather the sign visible
of prosperity than a serious professional enterprise.

At first the Boer did little more than till a garden. On each farm
there was a certain water-supply, and around the spruit or fountain a
pocket of alluvial land. The ordinary soil, both in the Transvaal and
the Orange River Colony, is, with some remarkable exceptions, poor and
easily worked out; but those alluvial patches are so rich as to be
practically inexhaustible. The Boer and the Kaffir shared one gift in
common, an infallible eye for good country, though there was this
difference between them that the Boer chose the heavy river-side lands,
while the Kaffir, who was a shallow cultivator, preferred as a rule the
lighter slopes where he could pick with ease. In 1885 the Boer farmer
did little more than irrigate his garden; but the increase in the
population of the towns, and the growth of a market for cereals,
fruits, and vegetables, made him extend his irrigation farther, so that
in a few years the whole of his alluvial pocket was under water.
Formerly he had been a pure pastoralist; now he became also an
agriculturist, and after his fashion a narrow-minded one, for
irrigation, which was his first successful experiment, was at once
exalted by him into an axiomatic law. The Kaffir, who in his way is a
skilful farmer and an experimentalist on a far wider scale, believed
in dry lands; but the Boer confined himself to his irrigation and his
summer and winter crops. Two views have been promulgated on the Boer
method. One is, that it is the true and only type possible in the
country, discovered after long years of intelligent experience. The
Boer, it is said, is unprogressive, because he knows the limitations
under which he works, and all new-comers who have begun by trying new
methods have sooner or later fallen into line with the old inhabitants.
The supporters of this view point to the scarcity of English farmers in
the land who have made a success of their farms on any other than the
Boer methods. There seems to be no real justification for this opinion.
The Boer has no settled principles of farming; he is an experimentalist
in practice, whatever he may be in theory. We have seen that he began
as a pastoralist, advanced to be also a gardener, and is now a
cultivator of lands under irrigation. In some twenty years, had he
been allowed to develop unchecked, he would doubtless have come round
to the Kaffir view of the dry lands. Fifteen years ago the country
store-keeper stocked only the old single-furrow wooden plough: to-day
on Boer farms you may see double-furrow steel ploughs, disc ploughs,
disc cultivators, not to speak of such elaborate farm machinery as
aermotors, reapers and binders, steam chaff-cutters, and in some few
cases steam-ploughs. The more progressive Boers have changed utterly
their methods of orchard-management, and at the present moment they
are reconsidering their methods of tobacco-growing. The point is
important, because if the Boer has really found out long ago the
limitations of the soil and the only principles of farming, then so
far from deserving the name of unprogressive he has shown himself
eminently wise. But the theory of Boer stability is a chimera. He
changes every year in his attitude towards the soil,--changes
unwillingly, it may be, but certainly; and though a few dogmas take a
long time to alter, they alter in the end. It is equally incorrect to
argue from the absence of successful immigrant farmers on progressive
lines. They were few in number, because in a country where the rural
population was mainly hostile, the new-comers who began by farming
ended as a rule by drifting to the towns. But, to cite one case,
mealies have been grown on dry lands on the American plan with great
profit to the farmer; and the German tobacco-planters in the north
have shown how profitable fruit and tobacco growing can become, if
conducted on principles rather than on tradition.

But it is as great a mistake to regard the Boer farmer as utterly
without capacity. He had no need to bestir himself. He lived simply
and supplied his own modest needs. He saw his farm going up in price
through the general appreciation of land values, and he sold a bit now
and again and increased his herds; or he might receive a large sum for
the option on the minerals under the soil. He was cheated by the
country store-keeper, and he rarely attempted to reach distant
markets. The old vicious system of allowing natives to farm on his
land in return for a certain amount of compulsory labour--a system
unchanged by that abortive piece of law-making, the Plakkerswet--made
him unthrifty and improvident. He had no labour bill to cast up, no
financial position which wanted investigation at each year's end.
Hence the difficulty of framing any accurate forecast of the prospects
of farming in the new colonies: there are no statistics to follow, no
scale of values for land or produce. But the Boer had an empirical
science of his own. He knew exactly the capacity of his irrigated
land, though he never thought of formulating his knowledge. He had
many rough and effective precautions against blight and disease, and
he had a kind of gipsy veterinary skill. He was not industrious, but I
think he must be allowed the credit of having done his best for the
land on his own principles. He was a great buyer of new farm
machinery, partly perhaps out of curiosity, and on this point at least
his conservatism was not consistent. Some of his methods were based on
common rural superstitions--for example, he always sowed, if possible,
at the full moon. His habit, too, of seeking a theological explanation
of all misfortunes was destructive of energy. When the locusts or the
_galziekte_ came he lit his pipe and said it was the will of God, a
visitation which it would be impious to resist. Hardly, perhaps, the
proper attitude for success in this modern world, but under his
peculiar conditions he never felt its folly. It is impossible to
believe that the Boer has done justice to the country, but we may
readily grant him skill and good sense in the narrow world in which he
dwelt.

The land problem in the new colonies is partly political and partly
economic, and on the solution of the latter branch of the question
the former largely depends. There are urgent reasons why an English
population should grow up on the land; but unless this population
can make a profitable living it would be folly to encourage its
immigration. On this economic question it is impossible to dogmatise.
Data, as I have said, are lacking and have never existed. At the best
we can frame some sort of tentative answer--a hope rather than a
promise; and we are justified in this course because those who attack
the policy have no better argument to offer.

Before the war the ordinary farmer sold his stock and his produce at
fair prices in his country town. The bulk of it, together with the
produce which the more enterprising farmers sent direct, went to
Johannesburg, where on the whole high prices were maintained. So good
were the prices that the farmers of the eastern and western provinces
of Cape Colony found it profitable, notwithstanding customs and heavy
railway freights, to make Johannesburg their chief market. But in
spite of all local production, Johannesburg was not fully supplied.
Food-stuffs in large quantities had to be imported from abroad. In
1898 agricultural produce, raw and manufactured, to the value of
nearly £2,500,000 was imported into the Transvaal. Arguing on these
facts, many have predicted a rosy future for all branches of South
African farming. What has been imported, they say, can be grown; the
mining industry will advance, and agriculture will follow with equal
steps. But such rudimentary hopes can scarcely be held to exhaust a
very complicated and delicate problem, to which some answer must be
suggested before any needs of policy can be thought of. There are two
questions to be met: How far is the land capable of intensive and
sustained production? and, granting the capacity, what guarantee is
there of profitable markets?

The soil of the new colonies, as I have said, is sharply divided into
alluvial pockets and dry lands,--the former highly cultivated, the
latter, except for Kaffir locations, mainly neglected. But since for
one alluvial acre there are a hundred dry morgen, the progress of the
country may be said to depend upon the dry lands. It follows that
pasturage must remain the staple form of farming. The bulk of the dry
lands are light and thin in soil, and the natural humours of the ground
have been much exhausted by the unthrifty habit of veld-burning. But in
spite of all drawbacks it is a country of abundant summer grass, both
sweet veld and sour veld, which is capable of great improvement by any
proper system of paddocking and depasturing. Large quantities of veld
grass might be cut for winter fodder, and roots and forage crops could
be grown in summer for the same purpose. Farms, which at present carry
an ox to every eight acres and a sheep to every two, might be made
capable of supporting a vastly greater stock. But there are certain
drawbacks to stock-farming peculiar to the country, the chief being the
number of diseases indigenous and imported. At the present moment to
bring in valuable stock to most districts of the new colonies is a
dangerous experiment. Horses die of horse-sickness, sheep of scab and
anthrax, cattle of rinderpest, red-water, and the immense variety of
_ziektes_ from _galziekte_ to _gielziekte_. Before the new colonies can
advance to the rank of great pastoral lands which is their right,
vigorous methods must be taken to stamp out diseases wherever they
appear, and to take precautions against their recurrence. The country
must be fenced, stock-routes and outspans must be established and
guarded, and a stringent Brands Act must be passed to give security to
the stock-owner in a country where stock is notoriously prone to
vanish.[24]

Given good laws, adequately administered, the Transvaal and the Orange
River Colony may well become countries of large and prosperous
stock-farms. Here, it has been argued, the matter ends. Agriculture
must confine itself in most cases to the growth of domestic supplies
and winter forage. I cannot, after a careful examination of most parts
of the country, bring myself to accept this view. Much may be done by
irrigation to increase the area of land under water. Sir W. Willcocks'
Report[25] proposes to give to South Africa 3,000,000 acres of
perennially irrigated land at a cost of about £30,000,000; but as he
argues for the undertaking on the basis of certain doubtful land
valuations, this large estimate may have to be considerably modified.
Unirrigated land, he says, varies from 2s. 6d. to £3 per acre:
irrigation costs from £7, 10s. to £15 per acre; and the price of good
irrigated land runs from £20 to £100. On this reasoning there is room
for a handsome profit, but the argument is based rather on fictitious
market values than on the intrinsic normal producing power of the
soil. At the time when Sir W. Willcocks' Report was written--the last
year of the war--land values were inflated, and the prices of produce
grown under water were extremely high. In the average year for which
we must provide little irrigated land will be worth to the farmer more
than from £5 to £10 per acre, and certain irrigation schemes which, on
Sir W. Willcocks' showing would return a profit, would in reality
spell ruin to their promoters. Irrigation is necessary on a certain
scale for a reason which we shall discuss later; and in many cases it
could be effected at a moderate cost. But expensive irrigation works
for agriculture alone are, I believe, of doubtful wisdom in almost
every part of the country. What is of infinitely greater importance
is the procuring of water in the dry tracts by tanks, wells, and, if
possible, by artesian bores. Vast stock districts in Waterberg and
Lichtenburg would have their value quadrupled if a permanent supply of
water, even for stock purposes only, could be procured. The Australian
method of tank-sinking has already been followed with success in the
Springbok Flats, and it is at least possible that artesian water may
be found. Everywhere the soil contains water at a low depth, which
percolates through the porous rock, and is brought to a stand by
dykes of harder stone. Hence has arisen the old African fiction of
underground rivers, which is true to the extent that no man has far
to dig before he finds water. It is rather with such tank- and
well-sinking that a water expert should deal, and with the regulation
of the present ridiculous apportionment of water rights. No serious
work can be done in this department till the State assumes the right
of distributing water, and has it in its power to prevent the
riparian owner from following an obstructive course to the detriment
of his neighbours. Irrigation in a few cases should be followed, and
a greater portion of land brought under water in the interests of
mixed farming; but it is in another direction that we must look for
the sheet-anchor of South African agriculture.

The rainfall of the new colonies is generally well distributed.
Copious rains fall from September to April, and then come the four dry
and windy months of winter. On irrigated lands summer and winter crops
are grown; on dry lands a summer crop only. But the Boer believed that
the crops which he could grow on dry lands were very limited, and he
habitually grew mealies, potatoes, lucerne, and tobacco under water.
It is, of course, a great advantage to reap two crops a-year; but if a
man can get two crops from 5 acres only and one crop from 500, this
one crop, on ordinary principles of common-sense, should command his
chief attention. Deducting the greater expense for labour, the one
crop is still thirty or forty times as important as the other two.
This is roughly the agricultural problem of the dry lands. They have
never been really exploited. The Kaffir has picked at the edges; a few
progressive farmers have made good profits by growing mealies and
tobacco dry on the American plan. But it was much easier to potter
about with a water-furrow than to attempt to plough the dry and
unbroken flats. Dry-land farming is therefore pioneer farming, and
pioneering with a good hope of success. Granted the markets, there is
no reason why great tracts should not be ploughed from end to end, and
a huge crop of cereals and roots raised yearly. Steam-ploughing and
every labour-saving device will be necessary, for this is farming on
the grand scale. The outlook is made brighter when we realise that
those despised dry lands are some of the richest in the country. The
famous Standerton black soil, the environs of Middelburg, part of the
Bloemhof and Klerksdorp districts, and, above all, the Springbok
Flats,[26] where there may be half a million acres of the richest
black soil 12 feet deep, and another half million acres of excellent
red soil--such are a few instances of lands which await an early
development.

There is still another aspect of this problem which concerns a small
group of semi-tropical products--fruits, tobacco, rubber, coffee,
and, possibly, cocoa. There are tracts which have proved themselves to
be as highly fitted for such crops as any in the world. They are
crops, too, for which the acreage required is small, and whose value
is so high in proportion to bulk that the freightage does not
seriously detract from profits. Given, again, the market, and there is
no reason why the present yield should not be centupled.

The market--that is the rock on which arguments divide. The rosy hopes
of the market to be furnished by the Transvaal which some minds
entertained during the war have given place with many to an equally
fantastic pessimism. I do not propose to provide a tabulated statement
of costs and prices. I have seen such statements arrive by the
clearest reasoning at opposite conclusions. But it is worth while to
consider soberly what are the market prospects in the future for the
farmer of the new colonies. A comparison of imports gives little
assistance. In the year 1902 the raw agricultural produce imported
into the Transvaal, all of which might be locally produced, was worth
over 2 millions sterling; and the imports of manufactured and
partially manufactured produce, the bulk of which might be produced
and manufactured locally, came close on another million. These figures
may be taken as below normal, since supplies for the army of
occupation are not included, and at the same time the number of
inhabitants in the towns and natives in the mines were largely below
the ordinary figures. On the other hand, little agriculture existed,
and practically all supplies for the existing population, such as it
was, had to be brought from the adjoining colonies or from over-seas.
On this basis, therefore, there is a considerable and highly
profitable market for the limited agriculture and pastoral enterprise
of the country. But in framing any forecast two new factors must be
taken into consideration. If the towns are to develop, the cost of
living must be greatly reduced; which means in the first instance that
all ordinary food-stuffs must be imported free of duty and at cheap
railway rates. Again, when all the Boer farmers have been resettled on
their lands and a multitude of new-comers occupy Crown farms, the
local agricultural output will be very largely increased. The farmer,
who at the moment can sell his garden stuff, his crops of potatoes,
mealies, and forage, and his stock at a good profit, will find himself
faced by over-sea produce, grown wholesale under the most favourable
conditions, and sold at a price with which he cannot compete and live.
This is, I think, a true forecast--for the small improvident farmer.
The man who grows mealies on a large scale with labour-saving
appliances, or who has a well-managed stock-ranch, will make a profit
on wholesale dealings. In agriculture and pasturage, as in other
activities, Providence is on the side of the bigger battalions, and
the small man who grows on an expensive scale will be pushed out by
the large man who grows economically. Prophecy is an intricate task,
especially on land questions, but it seems clear that the only class
who will not have to dread to some extent a change in present
conditions, a cheapening of the means of life, and the influx of a
large agricultural population, will be the wholesale farmers and
pastoralists, who follow the methods of over-sea producers and enjoy
the advantage of living at their customers' doors.

But this does not exhaust the question. Is, then, the small holder of
100 or 200 acres, or the owner of a mixed farm of 1000 acres, to
become extinct in the land? It depends entirely on themselves. In
districts such as Waterberg, Zoutpansberg, and Barberton, the holder
of 50 acres under water will be able to put vegetables and fruit on
the Rand market a fortnight before any other grower in the world. His
price is assured beyond doubt; and if he may find little profit for
six months in the year, he is in no worse case than many prosperous
market-gardeners in Kent and Surrey. It is here that the value of
irrigation appears. Such a small holder, again, may be able to make a
profit from dairying all the year round, provided local creameries are
established, and he goes the proper way about it. So, too, with mixed
farming, of which the essence is that one product can be set off
against another. If a farmer finds cereals unproductive, he can put
part of his land into pasture; it is unlikely that the price of meat
will fall below a paying point, granted the expected industrial
development. In addition there are certain crops, such as tobacco,
where the profits, even allowing for a large decline in present
prices, are great, the freightage small, and the market worldwide. The
aim of mixed farming is to provide an elaborate system of alternate
schemes, which between them will preserve a fairly permanent average
of profit.

The basis of all farming prosperity is the growth of the mining
industry and the creation of new industries. Any attempt to protect
farming by tolls or imposts is foredoomed to a miserable failure.
Sink, if necessary, farming considerations altogether for the moment;
look only to mining development, if need be; abolish the old market
prices and ruin the old local producer: it is all good policy, and in
the long-run the true agricultural interest. When the present
fictitious basis is got rid of, the true and lasting agricultural
prosperity may begin. There seems no reason to doubt that in the
future there will be a sound local market for the large producer, for
the favourably situated small holder, and for the judicious farmer of
mixed land. Nor is there any reason why in time a considerable export
trade should not be established. As the great produce-exporting
countries of the world grow more populous, South Africa may yet play
its part in feeding Europe. With improved internal communications,
and thousands of miles of fine pasture land, there is no reason why,
a fortnight nearer Europe than Australia, she should not take her share
of the frozen-meat traffic of the world. In tobacco, again, to take
only one instance, a very considerable export trade may arise. The soil
is well suited; the rough leaf, grown on the most unscientific method,
is as good as anything produced by Virginia and Borneo. The large
tobacco-growers, or the small holders attached to a tobacco-factory,
may very well find a profitable outlet for their wares abroad, and the
English manufacturers discover a new producing ground in a British
colony with which to resist the attacks of transatlantic combines.

The farming prospects in the new colonies, even if stripped of all
fanciful stuff, are sound and hopeful. There may come bad times for
all. The ordinary market-gardener will for a certainty find himself
poorly off five years hence; and all classes may have their periods of
stress and despair. Such visitations are part of the primeval curse
upon tillers of the soil. The New Zealand and Australian pastoralists
had sunk very low before the discovery of cold storage saved the
situation. The Ceylon planters, after the coffee blight, seemed on the
brink of ruin, when the introduction of tea-growing more than restored
their former prosperity. An immunity from farming risks can no more
be guaranteed in the new colonies than in other countries. The real
question is, Can they offer the settler no greater risks than he has
to face elsewhere, and at least a fair chance of greater prosperity?
On a reasonable survey of the case, I think it will be found that they
can.

With this clearing of the ground we can turn with an open mind to the
political question. The secular antithesis of town and country is as
marked here as elsewhere, and the political problem varies accordingly.
In the country we have to create in a large measure from the
foundation; we have to meet and nullify the prevailing apathy, and
undertake as a Government many tasks which would elsewhere be left to
private enterprise. There the wounds of war gape more widely, and have
to be healed by more cunning simples. People have spoken as if the
towns were the sole factor in the case. Make the towns prosperous and
wholly British, it has been said, and the land is ours. The towns are
the loyal units; as they advance in prosperity the rural districts will
sink out of account; and rightly, for their wealth is small, their
population hostile, and their future barren. "Twenty years hence,"
wrote in 1896 an observer as clear-sighted as he was hopeful, "the
white population is likely to be composed in about equal proportions
of urban and rural elements. The urban element will be mainly mining,
gathered at one great centre on the Witwatersrand, and possibly at
some smaller centres in other districts. The rural element, consisting
of people who live in villages or solitary farmhouses, will remain
comparatively backward, because little affected by the social forces
which work swiftly and potently upon close-packed industrial
communities, and it may find itself very different in tone, temper,
and tendencies from its urban fellow-citizens."[27] So we find one
class of mine-owners arguing that any attempt to settle the country
districts is a work of supererogation, and urging the Government to
concentrate all its efforts on the promotion of their own industry,
declaring that from their prosperity every blessing will flow forth to
the rural parts. It is impossible to contemplate with equanimity the
result of merely letting things alone. No industrial development would
ever compensate for it, for the unleavened Dutch rural districts would
become centres to collect and focus and stereotype the old unfaltering
dislike. A hard-and-fast division between town and country is always
to be feared; but when the barrier is between white men, and is built
up of race, wealth, and civilisation, it can only be a dire calamity.
We cannot rear up for our children a race of helots, and by our very
exclusiveness solidify for all time an irreconcilable race division.
If we preserve such an enemy within our bounds, and just beyond our
gates, the time may come when a few isolated townships will represent
Britain in South Africa. To prevent this cleavage, urban and rural
development should advance with equal steps. The two races will be
joined not by any trivial sentimental devices, but by the partnership
of Dutch and British farmers in the enlightened development of the
land.

There is another and a profounder reason for this introduction of
British blood. The day may come when the South African, splendid as
has been his loyalty and many his sacrifices, may go the way of most
colonists, and lose something of that close touch with the
mother-country which is necessary in the interests of a federated
empire. It is always the temptation of town-dwellers, with their busy
life and their own engrossing interests, and the tremendous mixture of
alien blood in the country may serve to hasten this result beyond the
ordinary rate of colonial progress. But the country settler is a
different person. He retains a longer and simpler affection for the
country of his birth. An influx of such a class would consolidate
South African sentiment, and, when self-government comes, protect
imperial interests better than any constitutional guarantee. This is
the class which has the true stake in the country, deriving its life
from the nurture of the earth, striving with winds and weather, and
slowly absorbing into the fibre of its being those influences which
make for race and patriotism.

South African agriculture, as the shrewdest observers have long
foreseen, could never be improved until there arose a political reason
for its improvement. The reason for the experiment has arrived, and
its basis is in existence. In the inheritance of Crown lands which
remains from the mismanaged estate of the late Government, and in the
long lists of ex-irregulars and others who sought land, there was the
raw material of settlement. It is no case for flamboyant prophecies.
The certain difficulties are as great as the probable advantages. But
to shrink from those difficulties is to have towns where British ideas
of government, can be realised and outside vast rural districts,
suspicious, unfriendly, potentially dangerous; to neglect a golden
opportunity of increasing the British element in South Africa; and to
turn the back upon farming, which must always be the most permanent
asset of any nation. The determinant fact in the case is that the
alternative is so black that all risks must be faced rather than
accept it. With such considerations in mind, the Government put forth
a scheme of settlement, with the examination of which the remainder of
this chapter is concerned. It is not my business to write the history
of the Crown Colony administration, and therefore no time need be
given to the many difficulties which faced the scheme, the mistakes
made, and the hopeful results attained in certain cases. It is the
problem itself which demands attention, and the adequacy or inadequacy
of the policy which has been framed to meet it. Land settlement is
from its very nature a slow business, with tardy fruits: twenty years
hence we may be in a position to judge by results. But in the meantime
it is possible, when the data are known, to ascertain whether a policy
is on _a priori_ grounds adapted to meet them.


  [24]  A Fencing Act, a Stock-Route Act, and a Brands Act on
        the most progressive lines have been prepared for the
        Transvaal. An excellent Fencing Act, badly
        administered, has always existed in the Orange River
        Colony, and a Brands Act, inferior to the Transvaal
        measure, has been passed in that colony. But it is the
        effective administration of the Acts which is of
        importance.

  [25]  Parliamentary Paper C.D. 1163.

  [26]  My friend, Colonel Owen Thomas, had some samples of
        Transvaal soil analysed, and the report was very
        discouraging. To set against this, a sample of Springbok
        Flats soil was pronounced by a distinguished English
        expert, to whom it was sent, to be one of the richest
        specimens of virgin soil he had seen.

  [27]  Bryce, Impressions of South Africa, 3rd edition, p. 451.


II.

The Crown lands of the Transvaal, as I have said, amount to upwards of
29 million acres, the Crown lands of the Orange River Colony to under
1-1/2 million. So far as the latter colony is concerned, land
settlement is rather in the nature of estate management. The lands are
too small for any serious political purpose, nor would the most
extended settlement make much impression upon the solid Dutch rural
community. But in the Transvaal the Crown in several districts is by
far the largest landowner, and in others it holds the key of the
position. Take a Transvaal map coloured according to ownership, and
red is easily the master colour. A solid block of it occupies the
north-east corner; large islands of it appear in the western and
eastern borders; and the centre is plentifully dotted. Save in the
little known north-east those lands are generally pasture, and in too
many cases dry and arid bush-veld. In the Standerton district, and in
parts of Rustenburg, Potchefstroom, and Bloemhof, there are tracts of
good irrigated or irrigable lands; while in Barberton, Lydenburg,
Zoutpansberg, and Marico there are considerable districts well watered
and well suited for tropical and sub-tropical products. Taken as a
whole, however, only a small portion of the Crown holding is suitable
for early settlement--say 2-1/2 million acres within the next three
years. But there is a wide hinterland for development, and in
settlement, as in empire, a hinterland is a moral necessity. There must
be an open country to which the sons of farmers, in whom the love of
the life is born, can trek as pioneers, otherwise there is a futile
division into smaller holdings, or a more futile exodus to the towns.
Besides, there should be room for the townsman--the miner, the artisan,
the trader--to feel that there is somewhere an open country where he
can invest his savings if he has a mind for a simpler life. As railways
spread out into new districts, land will become agricultural which is
now pasture; and, as the pastoral industry develops and herds are
formed and diseases are mastered, the ranchman will occupy large tracts
of what is now the unused hunting-veld.

The Government scheme aims at making a beginning with this
settlement--a beginning only, for no government has ever been able to
reconstruct alone, and the bulk of the work must be done by private
enterprise. If 2000 farmers from England and the colonies can be
settled in the rural parts before the day of stress arrives, then the
work has been fairly started. A nucleus will have been formed to which
the years will add, an element which will both leaven the slow and
suspicious rustic society and provide a make-weight against the
parochialism of the great towns. A country party is wanted which can
look beyond the dorp and the mine-head, and view South African
interests broadly and soberly. Such a party must be common to both
town and country, but it cannot be built up wholly from either. It
must, in the first instance, be a British party; but if this British
party is to become a South African party, it must stand for interests
common to both races and to all classes. The formation of this
leavening element cannot be left to time and chance, but must be aided
by conscious effort. The land is largely unproved, and full of dangers
to crops and stock. The new-comer must therefore be treated gently,
and helped over the many stiles which confront him. He will usually be
a man of small means, and his limited capital must be put to the best
use, and eked out with judicious Government advances. He should have
few payments to make during his early years, when payments will
necessarily come out of capital. Above all, the acquirement of the
full freehold in his land on reasonable terms, and within a reasonable
time, should be kept constantly before him as an encouragement to
thrift and industry, for the sense of freehold, as the voortrekkers
used to say, "turns sand into gold." Much of the Crown lands will never
be suitable for any but the largest stockholders. These it is easy to
deal with as a mere matter of estate-management; but the political
purport of the scheme is concerned with intensive settlement, with the
small holder and the mixed farmer of moderate means, who can provide a
solid colony of mutually supporting and progressive Englishmen.

The Transvaal "Settlers' Ordinance" of 1902 is based upon the mass of
legislation which embodies the settlement schemes of the Australasian
colonies. The usual method in such experiments has been to begin in
desperate fear of the settler, tying him up with cast-iron rules, and
ruining him in a very few years. Then the pendulum swings back, and
settlement is made easy and profitable, the old safeguards are
abolished, and the land becomes full of rich squatters and companies,
who fatten on State munificence through the numerous dummy settlers in
their pay. Finally, after long years a compromise is effected, and
that shy creature, the _bonâ-fide_ settler, is sought for far and
near. By this time it is probable that the thing has got a bad name,
and men whose fathers and grandfathers lost money under former
schemes, are chary of trusting themselves again to the tender mercies
of a land-owning State. This, or something like it, has been the
experience of the Australasian colonies. Either land was given out
indiscriminately and a valuable State asset cheaply parted with, or
the conditions of tenure were such as to ruin the small holder and put
everything in the hands of a few rich syndicates. The land laws of
Australia and New Zealand form, therefore, a most valuable precedent.
We have their experiments before our eyes, and can learn from their
often disastrous experience.

Settlement in New South Wales, to take one instance, was begun partly
as a Treasury expedient and partly as an election cry. Under the Act
of 1867 a settler was allowed to peg off, as on a mining area, a
claim not exceeding 320 acres, without any attempt at a previous
valuation and survey. The result was a wild rush, where nobody
benefited except the blackmailer, who seized the strategic points of
the country, such as water-holes, and had to be bought out at a fancy
price. It does not surprise one to learn that of settlers under this
scheme not one in twenty remains to-day. By subsequent Acts the
maximum acreage was increased; but in any case it was an arbitrary
figure, and it was not till 1895 that it was left within the widest
limits to the discretion of the Minister of Lands. Areas proved too
small, since no provision could be made for the increase of stock and
the necessary fall in prices which attended settlement. In valuation
the extraordinary plan was adopted of giving a uniform capital value
of £1 per acre to all land. The country being unproved, values were
absolutely unknown, nor was any provision made for revaluation. The
result was that the settler struggled along till he was ruined and
his holding forfeited, when the holding lapsed to the State, which,
being unable to find a new tenant, was compelled to let it remain
vacant, having accomplished nothing but the needless ruin of the
first man. The "Settlers' Ordinance" has endeavoured to avoid laying
down any rules which experience has not tried and tested. The
determination of the size of any holding is left to the land
officials, without defining any area limits. A holding which proves
too small may be increased on appeal, and the boundaries are at all
times made capable of adjustment. Holdings are first surveyed and
valued, then gazetted for application, and finally publicly allotted,
after full inquiry into the case of each applicant, by a Central
Board. The division and valuation of farms, in the absence of
reliable data, is a work of great nicety and difficulty. The country
contains within its limits many districts which differ widely in
soil, vegetation, and climate. It is therefore impossible, in
deciding on the size of holdings, to follow any arbitrary rule; and
to restrict survey to a maximum and minimum acreage would be fatal.
The only method is to ascertain from local evidence the carrying and
producing capacity of similar land, and so frame the boundaries of a
farm as to provide on such figures a reasonably good living for the
class of settler for whom it is intended. The danger of putting too
high a price on land is not less great. If the current market price
is taken it will in most instances be overvalued, and in any case it
is a method without any justification in reason. The best solution is
probably the plan at present in use. Schedules have been prepared for
the different types of holding, in which the profits are calculated,
using as a guide the present price of stock and imported produce at
the coast to ensure against the inevitable fall in prices. Taking
such estimated profits as a basis, the valuation is so fixed as to
give the settler, after all living expenses, annual payments to
Government, probable loss of stock, and depreciation of plant have
been written off, a clear profit of 12 per cent on his original
capital. From this figure some further deductions may fall to be made
for such disadvantages as unhealthiness of climate and excessive
distance from the conveniences of civilised life. In the absence of
more scientific data this seems to form as fair a basis in valuation
as any man can expect.

But if early Australasian legislation erred in rigour, it also erred
in laxity. The settler was often the nominee of a syndicate or a large
run-holder, and before the 1895 Act a class of professional selectors
existed. This system of _latifundia_ brought its own punishment. The
run-holder ruined the small selector. To pay the instalments on his
many selections he had recourse to the banks, which speedily ruined
him and took over his holdings. The banks in their turn ruined
themselves, chiefly through being obliged to pay instalments on land
valued at £1 per acre, of which the actual value for stock was less
than 5s. Again, the settler was compelled to improve the land at the
rate of so many shillings per acre within a given time. This led to
cheap fictitious improvements by which the letter of the law was
satisfied and the spirit evaded. The "Settlers' Ordinance" has certain
stringent provisions to prevent such frustration of the true aims of
settlement. Subletting or transfer of any sort, except with Government
consent, is strictly forbidden till the tenant has acquired the
freehold. Residence for at least eight months in the year, unless a
special dispensation is granted, is required during the same period.
The settler is compelled to build a satisfactory house and to fence
his holding within a given time. He is compelled to occupy it solely
for his own benefit, to cultivate according to the rules of good
husbandry (whatever that may mean), and the decision of the local Land
Commissioner is the test by which he is judged. He is encouraged to
improve by the potent fact that the Government will advance pound for
pound against his improvements. But there are certain elastic
provisions to temper the rigour of such restrictions. The Commissioner
of Lands is given a very wide dispensing power with regard to most
conditions. Partnerships are allowed; settlers may reside together in
a village community; and the residence conditions may be temporarily
fulfilled by a wife or child, to allow a settler in hard times to make
money by his labour elsewhere. Special relief is provided during
periods of disease or drought by the cessation or diminution of the
annual payments, and by advances in excess of the ordinary limits.

The Ordinance has been framed on experimental lines, leaving much to
the discretion of local officials (subject to an appeal to the Central
Board and thence to the High Court), and hesitating to dogmatise on
details which are still unproved. But in spite of much which is
empirical, one or two root principles are maintained. One is that a
fair chance must be given to all to acquire the freehold, without
which magic possibility the best men will not come forward. Another,
and perhaps the most important of all, is that the payments to
Government shall be so arranged as to be scarcely felt during the
early years when they are paid out of capital, and to rise to any
considerable sum only when the holding is producing a revenue. The two
chief forms of tenure are leasehold and purchase by instalments over a
period of thirty years. The common form of lease is for five years,
with a possible extension for another two, and the rental may be at any
rate (not exceeding 5 per cent) which the Commissioner of Lands thinks
suitable. This method will enable back-country to be taken up, to
start with, at a nominal rent; and it will also allow a settler on an
unimproved stock-farm to devote the bulk of his capital to the
necessary stocking and improvements. At the end of the lease, or
without any preliminary lease, the settler can begin to purchase his
holding on the instalments system. By a payment of £5, 15s. per cent
per annum on the gazetted valuation, principal and interest (which is
calculated at 4 per cent) will be wiped off in thirty years. But a
settler is permitted any time after ten years from the date of his
first occupation to pay up the balance and acquire the full freehold.
In the case of preliminary leaseholders who take up a purchase
licence, the licence, so far as the ten years' period is concerned, is
made retrospective so as to date from the first day of the lease.

Such is a rough outline of the Government proposals. They aim only at
making a beginning, and it is to the large private owner and the land
company that we must look for the completion of the work. South
African agriculture can never be a Golconda like the Canadian
wheat-lands of the West. But it is of inestimable value to the
country in providing a background to the immense temporary mining
development--a permanent asset, which will remain to South Africa's
credit when the gold-mines of the Rand are curiosities of history. In
itself it is a sound investment, offering no glittering fortunes but
a steady and reasonable livelihood. No people can afford to develop
solely on industrial lines and remain a nation in the full sense of
the word, for in every commonwealth there is need of the rural forces
of persistence to counteract the urban forces of change. All
settlement is necessarily a leap in the dark, but, so far as a
proposal can be judged before it is put into practice, the present
scheme offers good chances of success. There seems little doubt that
it will receive full justice. The war spread the knowledge of the
country to every cranny of the Empire. English and Scottish farmers'
sons, Australian bushmen, Indian planters, farmers from New Zealand
and Ontario, having fought for three years on the veld, have fallen
in love with it and are willing to make it their home. No more
splendid chances for settlement have ever offered; for when the
wastrels have been eliminated there remain many thousands of good
men, from whom a sturdy country stock could be created. There can be
no indiscriminate gifts of land as in some colonies. The land is too
valuable, the political purpose too delicate and urgent, the need of
nice discrimination in selection and careful fostering thereafter too
imperative, to allow farms to be shaken up in a lucky-bag and
distributed to the first comers. The best men must be attracted, and
assisted with advice and loans to the measure of success which is
possible. It is the soundest form of political speculation, if done
with sober and clear-sighted purpose. The young men from home and the
colonies, to whom South Africa is a memory that can never die, turn
naturally towards it in search of a freer life and a larger prospect.
On the model farms which are being established in each district the
proverbial "younger sons of younger sons" will be given a chance of
learning the requirements of the land, and so starting work on their
own account with intelligence and economy. Some day--and may we all
live to see it!--there will be little white homesteads among trees,
and country villages and moorland farms; cattle and sheep on a
thousand hills where now only the wild birds cry; wayside inns where
the thirsty traveller can find refreshment; and country shows where
John Smith and Johannes Smuts will compete amicably for the King's
premiums. And if any one thinks this an unfounded hope, let him turn
to some such book as Ogilby's 'Itinerarium Angliæ,' where he will
find that in the closing years of the seventeenth century the arable
and pastoral land in England scarcely amounted to half the area of
the kingdom, and the most fruitful orchards of Gloucestershire and
Warwick were mere heath and swamp, and, as it seemed to an acute
observer, doomed to remain so.

Settlement, indeed, is but one, though the most important, of the land
problems. An enlightened agricultural department, working in
conjunction with local societies, can do much to unite the two races
by conferring benefits which are common to both. The introduction of
pedigree stock to grade up the existing herds is a necessity which any
Boer farmer will admit. So, too, are stringent regulations for the
prevention of disease, experiments in new crops, field trials of new
machinery, and a provision for some form of agricultural training.
Central creameries and tobacco-factories would work wonders in
increasing the prosperity of certain districts. Something of that
tireless vigilance and alert intelligence which has made the
Agricultural Bureau of the United States famous, a spirit which brings
into agriculture the procedure and the exact calculation of a great
business house, is necessary to meet the not insuperable difficulties
which now deter the timid, and to give farming a chance of development
commensurate with its political importance. It is only another case in
which a South African question stands on a razor-edge, a narrow line
separating ample success from a melancholy failure.



CHAPTER XIV.

THE SUBJECT RACES.


No question is more fraught with difficulties for the home philosopher
than this, but there is none on which practical men have made up their
mind with such bitter completeness. The root of the trouble is that
England and South Africa talk, and will continue to talk, in different
languages on the matter. The Englishman, using the speech of
conventional politics, seems to the colonist to talk academic
nonsense; while the South African, speaking the rough and ready words
of the practical man, appears as the champion of brutality and
coercion. The difficulties are so real that one cannot but regret that
they are complicated by verbal misunderstandings. There is no real
divergence of views on the native question: the distinction is rather
between a seriously held opinion and a slipshod prejudice. "Exeter
Hall" is less the name of a party than of an attitude, as common among
the robust colonists as ever it was among the mild pietists of
Clapham. It consists in a disinclination to look simply on facts, to
reason soberly, and to speak accurately,--a tendency to lap a question
in turgid emotion. The man who consigns all native races to perdition
in round terms, and declares that the only solution of the difficulty
is to clear out the Kaffir, is as truly a votary of Exeter Hall as the
gentle old lady to whom the aborigine is a model of primeval
innocence, whose only joy is the singing of missionary hymns.

Out of the confusion of interests and issues two main problems emerge
which may form useful guides in our inquiry. One is economic. What
part are the native races to play in the labour-supply and the
production of South Africa? what is to be their tenure of land? what
is to be their economic destiny in face of the competition of modern
life and the industrial development of the country? The second is the
moral question, of which the political is one aspect. A coloured race
living side by side with a white people furnishes one of the gravest
of moral cruces. The existence of a subject race on whatever terms is
apt to lead to the deterioration in moral and mental vigour of its
masters. Perpetual tutelage tends to this result; full social and
civic rights, on the other hand, lead to political anomalies and, too
often, to the lowest forms of political chicanery. A doctrinaire
idealism is fraught with dire social evils; but an obstinate
maintenance of the "practical man's" _status quo_ is apt to bring about
that very degeneration which justifies the doctrinaire. How to
reconcile freedom of development for the native by means of spontaneous
labour, education, and social rights with the degree of compulsion
necessary to bring them into line with social and industrial needs, or,
to put it shortly, how to keep the white man from deterioration without
spoiling the Kaffir,--this is the kernel of the most insistent of South
African problems.

The native races south of the Zambesi present a curious problem to the
student of primitive societies. All, or nearly all, of kindred race,
they are not autochthonous, and the date of their arrival in the
country can in most cases be fixed within the last five centuries.
Five centuries do not give a long title to a country, as savage titles
go, but even this period must be cut down in most cases, since the
wars of the great Zulu kings scattered the other races about as from a
pepper-box, with the result that few tribes save the Zulus, some of
the Cape Colony Kaffirs, the Swazis, and small peoples like the
Barolongs, can claim an occupation title of more than a hundred years.
This state of affairs, so rare in our dealings with savage peoples,
has, politically, both merits and defects. The absence of the
autochthonous hold of the soil and of long-settled immovable
traditions of tribal life makes the native more malleable under the
forces of civilisation. It is easier to break up the tribes and to
acclimatise the Kaffir to new localities and new conditions. But this
lack of a strong, settled, racial life makes it fatally easy for him
to fall a victim to the vices of civilisation, and to come upon our
hands as a derelict creature without faith or stamina, having lost his
old taboos, and being as yet unable to understand the laws of the
white man. This process of disintegration has been going on for a
century, and the result is a clearly marked division. We have the
tribal natives, who are still more or less strictly under the rule of
a chief, and subject to tribal laws sanctioned and enforced by the
Governments. The native population of the Transkeian territories in
Cape Colony, such as the Pondos, the Amaxosas, and the Tembus;
Bechuanaland, with the people of Khama, Bathoen, Sebele, and Linchwe;
Basutoland; Zululand; the northern and eastern parts of the Transvaal
under such chiefs as Magata, 'Mpefu, and Siwasa; Swaziland; and the
Matabele and Mashona tribes of the vast districts of Northern and
Southern Rhodesia are the main instances of this first class. The aim
of the different Governments has always been to keep the tribal
organisation intact, and, after eliminating certain tribal laws and
customs which are inconsistent with the ideas of white men, to give
their sanction to the remainder. Basutoland is a Crown colony; the
Transkeian territories are a native reserve; Bechuanaland is a native
protectorate; in Rhodesia a number of native chiefs control large
tracts of land under the Chartered Company's administration. Elsewhere
the tribes live in Government reserves, or in certain cases in
locations situated on private land. Between Pretoria and the Limpopo
there are dozens of small chieftains and chieftainesses, with tribes
varying in numbers from a hundred to several thousands. The second
class, the detribalised natives, are to be found scattered over the
whole country, notably in the western province of Cape Colony, and in
the vicinity of all South African towns. They live as a rule in
locations under municipal or Government supervision. In many cases
such locations are far larger than those of a small chief; but their
distinguishing feature is that they are governed solely by the law of
the country or by municipal regulations framed for the purpose, and
owe no allegiance to any chief or tribal system.

It is obvious that for purposes of policy this distinction cannot
maintain its importance. The rule of the chief is being rapidly
undermined by natural causes, and no taking thought can bolster it up
for ever. Education, too, and the closer settlement of the country by
white men, are rapidly breaking down tribal customs and beliefs,
which, as a rule, have more vitality than the isolated sentiment of
allegiance. For us the real distinction is between the natives who
can be kept in large reserves or locations, whether tribal or
otherwise, and the floating native population, which is every day
growing in numbers. Sooner or later we must face the problem of the
overcrowding of all reserves, and the consequent efflux of homeless
and masterless men. The needs of progress, too, are daily tending to
change the tribal native into the isolated native attached to some
industry or other. Politically the question is, How far and on what
lines the large reserves and locations can be best maintained, and
what provision can be made for incorporating the overflow, which
exists now and will soon exist in far greater numbers, on sane and
rational lines in the body politic?

       *       *       *       *       *

Such being the main requirements of the problem, it remains to
consider the forms in which they present themselves to the ordinary
man. For the working aspect of a question is generally very different
from the form it takes in an academic analysis. The translation into
the terms of everyday life is conditioned by many accidental causes,
so that to one section of the community the labour problem is the sole
one, to another the educational, to a third the social. It is
important to realise that all are part of one question, and that no
single one can be truly solved unless the whole is dealt with. This
incompleteness of view, more than any other cause, has complicated the
native question, and produced spurious antagonisms, and policies which
are apparently rival, but in reality are complementary.

The first is the grave difficulty which must always attend the
existence of a subject race. Slavery is the extreme form of the
situation, and in it we see the evils and dangers on a colossal scale.
A subject population, to whom legal rights are denied, tends in the
long-run to degrade the value of human life, and to depreciate the
moral currency,--a result so deadly for true progress that the
consensus of civilised races has utterly condemned it. The denial of
social and political rights is almost equally dangerous, since, apart
from the risks of perpetual tutelage in a progressive community, there
follows necessarily a depreciation of those political truths upon
which all free societies are based. Many honest men have clearly
perceived this; but after the fashion of headstrong honesty, they have
confused the issues by an inaccurate use of words. Legal rights must
be granted, and since the law is the child of the fundamental
principles of human justice, legal equality should follow. Social and
political rights also must be given; but why social and political
equality? The most embittered employer of native labour does not deny
that the black man should share certain social privileges, and be made
to feel his place in the political organism, but he rightly denies
that rights mean equality of rights; while his doctrinaire opponent,
arguing from exactly the same premises, claims a foolish equality on a
misunderstanding of words. The essence of social and political
equality must be a standard of education and moral and intellectual
equipment, which can be roughly attributed to all members of the
community concerned. But in this case there can be no such common
standard. Between the most ignorant white man and the black man there
is fixed for the present an impassable gulf, not of colour but of
mind. The native is often quick of understanding, industrious,
curiously logical, but he lives and moves in a mental world incredibly
distant from ours. The medium of his thought, so to speak, is so
unique that the results are out of all relation to ourselves.
Mentally he is as crude and naïve as a child, with a child's curiosity
and ingenuity, and a child's practical inconsequence. Morally he has
none of the traditions of self-discipline and order, which are
implicit, though often in a degraded form, in white people. In a word,
he cannot be depended upon as an individual save under fairly vigilant
restraint; and in the mass he forms an unknown quantity, compared with
which a Paris mob is a Quaker meeting. With all his merits, this
instability of character and intellectual childishness make him
politically far more impossible than even the lowest class of
Europeans. High property or educational qualifications for the
franchise, or any other of the expedients of Europe, are logically out
of place, though they were raised to the possession of a fortune and a
university degree; for the mind is still there, unaltered, though it
may be superficially ornamented. Give the native the full franchise,
argues one class of observer, and he will in time show himself worthy
of it, for in itself it is an education. On a strictly logical view it
would be as reasonable to put a child on a steam-engine as driver,
trusting that the responsibility of his position would be in itself an
education and would teach him the necessary art.

Social and political equality will seem to most men familiar with the
subject a chimera, but social and political rights the native must
have, and in most cases has already obtained. But unless such rights
are carefully adjusted the absolute cleavage remains. We have two
races, physically different, socially incapable of amalgamation: if we
make the gulf final, there is no possibility of a united state; if we
bridge it carelessly, the possibility is still more distant. We may
scruple to grant rights, such as the political franchise, which are
based in the last resort on a common moral and intellectual standard;
but we can grant rights which are substantive and educative and
capable of judicious extension. The Glen Grey Act, as we shall see,
made a valuable experiment in securing to the native the social status
which attends individual tenure of land. Some form of representation
might be devised, by which a chief might have a voice on a district
council, or a representative elected by an industrial location assist
in local government. Such measures, joined with a rational system of
education, will leave the door open for the extension of rights till
such time as the native has finally shown whether he is worthy of
equality or condemned by nature to rank for ever as a subject race.
There are men, able men with the courage of their opinions, who see no
hope in the matter, and who would segregate the natives in a separate
territory under British protection. The chief objection to this policy
is that it is impossible. The native is in our midst, and we must
face the facts. We have a chance to solve a burning question which no
other nation has had, since, as in the United States, the matter has
either been complicated by initial slavery, or, as also in the
States, a thoughtless plunge has been made into European doctrines of
liberty, equality, and fraternity. If we patiently and skilfully
bring to bear upon the black man the solvent and formative influences
of civilisation, one of two things must happen. Either the native
will prove himself worthy of an equal share in the body politic; or,
the experiment having been honestly tried, he will sink back to his
old place and gradually go the way of the Red Indian and the
Hottentot. For it is inevitable that civilisation, if wisely applied,
must either raise him or choke him,--raise him to the rank of equal
citizenship, or, by its hostility to his ineradicable qualities,
prove a burden too heavy to support.

The second is the ever-recurring problem of labour. In an earlier
chapter the economic aspect of the question has been discussed; for the
present we have to face that aspect which is connected with a native
policy. The Kaffir is fundamentally an agriculturist, and when his
lands are well situated he reaps enough for his simple existence with a
minimum of labour. If he is rich enough to have several wives, they do
the necessary picking and hoeing, and their lord and master sits in the
shade of his hut and eats the bread of idleness. This was well enough
in the old hunting and fighting days, when the male folk lived a
strenuous life in the pursuit of game and the slaughter of their
neighbours. But with civilisation close to their gates, the old system
means a degraded somnolent life for the man, and the continuance of a
real, though not necessarily unpleasant, form of slavery for the woman.
And this in a country which is crying aloud for labour and development!
To be sure, the foregoing is not a complete picture of all Kaffir life,
but it is true of the larger reserves and the wealthier kraals. To most
men it is an offence that the native, who is saved by British power
from insecurity of life and limb, should be allowed to remain, by the
happy accident of nature, an idler dependent only on the kindness of
mother earth, multiplying his kind at an alarming rate, and untouched
by the industrial struggle where his sinews are so sorely needed. The
Kaffir owes his existence to the white man; in return he should be
compelled to labour for hire and take his proper place in a world which
has no room for his vegetating habits. He holds his land by our favour,
he is protected from extinction by our arms, he enjoys the benefits of
our laws; and he must pay for it all, not only in taxes but by a
particular tax, a certain quantity of labour. This mode of argument
sounds so serenely reasonable that one is apt to miss the very
dangerous political doctrine which underlies it. Stated shortly, it
runs thus. Compulsory labour without payment is to be reprobated like
all forms of _corvée_, but if we pay what we regard as a fair price and
make the compulsion indirect, then we get rid of such an objection.
This doctrine involves two principles which seem to me to be subversive
of all social order, and in particular of that civilisation which they
profess to support. The Kaffir would be placed outside the play of
economic forces. His wages would be arbitrarily established on an
artificial basis, unalterable save at the will of his white masters. In
the second place, compulsion by high taxation is not indirect
compulsion, but one of the most direct forms of coercion known to
history. To constrain a man indirectly is to use unseen forces and
half-understood conditions which, being unrealised, do not impair his
consciousness of liberty; but this is not the method which is proposed.
A white man, it is argued, suffers want if he does not work. Well and
good,--so does the Kaffir; but the work which he does, unless he is
rich enough to have it vicariously performed, is different in kind from
the work which others want him to do, and hence the trouble arises. To
force a man, black or white, to enter on labour for which he is
disinclined, is to rank him with beasts of burden, and prevent him, as
an industrial creature, from ever attaining the conscious freedom which
labour bestows. The old truth, so often misapplied, that a man who does
not work shall not eat, is a statement of economic conditions to which
those who quote it in this connection would seek to do violence.

But such truisms do not exhaust the question. It is not the Kaffir who
chiefly matters, for in his present stage of development he might be
as well off one way as another; it is the white man's interests which
must decide. If the whole of Kaffirdom were sunk in a state of
feminine slavery and male indolence, violence might be done to
political axioms with some show of reason; but the Kaffir is emerging
from his savagery and has shown in more ways than one a capacity for
industrial development. But, taking the Kaffir on the lowest plane,
what is to be the effect on the white population of South Africa if
forced labour is to stereotype for ever a lower race, to which the
free selection of labour, the first requisite of progress, is denied?
"The safety of the commonwealth," wrote John Mackenzie, "absolutely
demands that no hatches be battened down over the heads of any part of
the community." At the back of all the many excellent cases which have
been made out for compulsory labour by high taxation, there lie the
immediate needs of the great gold industry--needs which it is now clear
can never be met in South Africa alone by any native legislation. An
instant industrial demand is apt to blind many good men for the moment
to those wider truths, which on other occasions they are ready enough
to assent to. The case has been further prejudiced for most people by
the bad arguments used on the native side, and the intolerable cant
with which obvious truths have been sicklied over. We need not concern
ourselves with the so-called degradation of Kaffir manhood implied in
compulsory labour, for such self-conscious manhood does not exist; but
we are very deeply concerned with the degradation of white manhood,
which will inevitably follow any of the facile solutions which are
cried in the market-place. If by violent methods economic laws are
checked in their play, a subject race in a low state of civilisation is
checked on the only side on which development can be reasonably looked
for. The harder and lower forms of toil will fall into Kaffir hands for
good; the white population will become an aristocracy based on a kind
of slave labour; and with the abolition of an honest hierarchy of work,
degeneration will set in with terrible swiftness. It is a pleasing
dream this, of a community of cultivated white men above the needs of
squalid or menial toil, but on such a dream no free nation was ever
built. The old tribal system is crumbling, and in a hundred years or
less we shall see the Kaffirs abroad in the land, closely knit to all
industries and touching social and political life at countless points.
If they are a portion, however small, of the civic organism, there is
hope for the future; but if they are a thing apart, denied the
commonest of all rights, and remaining in their present crude and
stagnant condition, they will be a menace, political and moral, which
no one can contemplate with equanimity. There are, indeed, only two
entirely logical policies towards the native. Either remove him, bag
and baggage, to some Central African reserve and leave him to fight his
wars and live as he lived before the days of Tchaka, or bring him into
close and organic relation with those forces of a high civilisation
which must inevitably mend or end him.

There is a third chief aspect in which the native problem presents
itself to the ordinary man. The Kaffir, south of the Zambesi, already
outnumbers the white man by fully five to one, and he increases with
at least twice the rapidity. Most native reserves and locations are
overcrowded, the Kaffir is being driven on to private land as an
unauthorised squatter, and the floating population in and around the
towns is daily increasing. What is to be the end of this fecundity?
Living on little, subject apparently to none of the natural or
prudential checks on over-population, there seems a real danger of
black ultimately swamping white by mere gross quantity. In any case
there will soon be a grave economic crisis, for, unless prompt
measures are adopted, a large loose vagabondage will grow up all over
the land. It is to be noted that this danger is the converse of the
two problems we have already discussed. They referred to the
stereotyping of the Kaffir races as a settled agricultural people out
of line with industrial progress; this concerns the inevitable
break-up of the old agricultural condition by mere excess of
population and the difficulty of dealing with the overflow. This
complementary character which the problems assume is one of the most
hopeful features of the case. Natural forces are bringing the Kaffir
to our hands. The _débâcle_ of his old life is turning him upon the
world to be formed and constrained at our pleasure. The field is clear
for experiment, and it behoves us to make up our minds clearly on the
forms which the experiment must take.

       *       *       *       *       *

To recapitulate the results of the preceding pages. The central
problem is how to bring the native races under the play of civilising
forces, so that they may either approve themselves as capable of
incorporation in the body politic, or show themselves eternally
incapable, in which case history would lead us to believe that they
will gradually disappear. To effect this vital experiment, no rigid
economic or social barrier should be placed between them and the white
inhabitants. Since the old tribal organisation is breaking up, the
ground is being rapidly prepared for the trial. It is our business,
therefore, to consider how best the system of tribes and reserves can
be maintained, so long as there is in it the stuff of life, and what
new elements can be introduced which will make its fall more safe and
gradual; and, in the second place, to devise ways and means for
dealing with the rapidly increasing loose native population, for
replacing the former tribal traditions with some rudiments of
civilised law, and for leaving an open door for such development as
may be within their capacity. It will be convenient to look at ways
and means under three heads. There is, first, the general question of
taxation, which is common to all. There is, secondly, the problem of
the larger reserves, and the maintenance, so far as is desirable, of
the old rural life, with the kindred questions of land tenure, of
local government, of surplus population, and of labour. And, finally,
there is the problem of the class which in the last resort is
destined to be most numerous, the wholly non-tribal and unattached
natives, whose mode of life must be created afresh and controlled by
Government. This is the most difficult problem, since such natives
are peculiarly exposed to the solvents of white civilisation, and
everything depends upon the method in which the solvents are used.

The native is, for the most part, under special taxes. In certain
parts of Cape Colony and Natal the fiscal system is in practice the
same for black and white, but for the purposes of this inquiry the
native who has adopted the white man's life may be disregarded. In
Cape Colony the hut tax is 10s. per annum, whether the hut is situated
on private or Crown lands, and on locations within municipalities a
similar municipal tax is paid. In Natal the hut tax is 14s., in
Basutoland £1, in Rhodesia 10s., and in the Transvaal and Orange River
Colony 10s. under the old _régime_. In Natal, the Orange River Colony,
the Transvaal, and Rhodesia, there was also a native pass law, under
which certain sums were charged on travelling passes, varying from 6d.
in the Orange River Colony to 2s. per month in the mining areas of the
Transvaal. It is unnecessary to go into the numerous details of native
taxation, which within narrow limits are constantly varied, but it is
worth while to look at two instances which may be taken as the extreme
types of such taxation, the Transvaal under the former Government and
the districts of Cape Colony subject to the Glen Grey Act. In the
Transvaal the natives for the most part are tribal, and the system of
taxation was based on tribal considerations; but the bulk of the
revenue under the Pass Law came from the large fluctuating population
of natives at work on the mines. Under the old Government the ordinary
native paid 10s. as hut tax, £2 as capitation fee, with sundry other
charges for passes, &c., which brought the whole amount which might be
levied up to fully £4. The tax was loosely collected, but on the whole
the taxation per head was reasonably high. One of the first acts of
the new administration was to consolidate all native taxes in one
general poll tax of £2, with a further charge of £2 per wife for
natives who had more than one. The pass fee was also charged upon the
employer in districts where it fell to be levied. The net result,
therefore, is that for a native, who is the husband of not more than
one wife, the sum payable yearly is about £3, made up of the poll tax
and the registration fee. A native may have to pay more than the old
Government exacted, but if he pleases he can pay less. In the
districts under the Glen Grey Act individual ownership of land is
encouraged, and the native who has attained to such tenure is
practically in the position of a white citizen--that is, he pays no
hut tax or poll tax, and his contributions to revenue consist in the
payment of such rates as his district council or the Transkeian
General Council may levy. For the native who holds no land either on
quit-rent or freehold title, there is a labour tax of 10s. per annum,
which he can avoid by showing that he has been at work outside the
district for a period of three months during the previous year, and
from which he can gain complete exemption by showing that at some time
he has worked for a total period of three years. Such a tax is not a
compulsory labour tax, but should rather be regarded as a modification
of the hut tax, which can be remitted as a bonus on outside labour.

The contrast between the two forms of taxation is obvious, the one
being a special and peculiar type, the other a modification of the
general fiscal system of the colony. It is to the latter type that all
systems of native taxation must tend to approximate. There are certain
obvious objections to the hut tax, of which the chief is that it leads
to overcrowding and bad sanitation, and prevents young men from
building huts of their own; and perhaps it would be well if,
following the new Transvaal precedent, all native taxes were
consolidated into one comprehensive poll tax. But, speaking generally,
natives are not heavily taxed[28] having regard to their wage-earning
capacity, though hitherto the Customs have been unduly hard upon their
simple commodities. In the Transvaal, for example, there is little
doubt that the native population could bear for revenue purposes in
most years a poll tax of £3 per head. This might be reduced in case of
natives in industrial employment, in consideration of the fact that
such natives contribute otherwise to revenue through the Pass Law. It
is one of the ironies of this South African problem that increased and
reasonable taxation for revenue purposes will continue to be
identified in many minds with compulsory labour through high taxation.
The two things are as wide apart as the poles. The native, in return
for protection and good government, is required to pay a certain sum
per annum calculated solely on fiscal needs and his earning capacity.
That is the only basis of native taxation; but when the sum has been
fixed, it may be expedient as a matter of policy to reduce the tax in
the case of natives working under an employer, partly because such
natives contribute to the Exchequer in another way, and partly as a
bonus to encourage outside labour. But the general form of taxation
might well be altered, slowly and cautiously, as the time ripened. The
hut tax might be gradually transmuted into a form of rent which, as in
the Glen Grey districts, could be lowered as a bonus on outside
labour, and the extension of local government might provide for the
rating of locations and reserves on some system common to all
districts. Taxation may have an educative force, and to ask from the
native a contribution for something of which the purpose is apparent
and the justification obvious, is to bestow on him a kind of freedom.
It is the first step to taxation with representation to provide that
taxation should be accompanied by understanding.

       *       *       *       *       *

The second question is that of existing reserves and the possibility
and method of their maintenance. In the case of many the problem is
still simple. Basutoland, the chief tribes of the Bechuanaland
Protectorate and Southern Rhodesia, Swaziland, Zululand, the races of
the north and north-eastern Transvaal, and a considerable part of the
Transkeian territories, will find for many years protected tribal
government suitable to their needs. Tribal customs and laws, in so far
as they are not _contra bonos mores_, are recognised by the protecting
Governments, and given effect to by any white courts which may have
jurisdiction in the district. The old modes of land tenure, the
succession to the chieftainship, the tribal religion, if any exists,
should be given the sanction of the sovereign Power till such time as
they crumble from their own baselessness. The disintegrating forces
are many and potent. Taxation will compel the acquisition of wealth
other than in kind, and will therefore strengthen existing trade, and,
if gradually modified in character till it approach a rating system,
will replace the tribe by the district as a local unit. The growth of
population will compel a certain overflow, which must either be
accommodated on new land under special conditions, or must go to
swell the general industrial community. Education, the greatest of
all disintegrators, is loosening slowly the old ties, and is
increasing the wants of the native by enlarging his mental horizon.
Outside labour, whether undertaken from love of novelty or from sheer
economic pressure, leaves its indelible mark on the labourer. The
Kaffir who has worked for two years in Kimberley or Johannesburg may
seem to have returned completely to his old stagnant life, but there
is a new element at work in him and his kindred, a new curiosity, a
weakening of his regard for his traditional system. Agriculture
itself, which has hitherto been the mainstay of his conservatism, is
rapidly becoming a force of revolution. Formerly no self-respecting
native would engage in cultivation, leaving such tasks to his women;
but a native who would not touch pick or hoe is ready enough to work a
plough, if he is so fortunate as to possess one. The growth of wealth
and a spirit of enterprise among the tribes leads to improved tillage,
and once the native is content to labour himself in the fields, his
old scheme of society is already crumbling.

But, in addition to natural solvents, there is one which we might well
apply in our own interest against the time when the tribal system
shall have finally disappeared. Any form of political franchise,
however safeguarded, is in my opinion illogical and dangerous. It is
inequitable to create barriers which are themselves artificial, but it
is both inequitable and impolitic to disregard natural barriers when
the basis of our politics is a presumed natural equality. But it may
be possible to admit the Kaffir to a share in self-government without
giving any adherence to the doctrine involved in a grant of a national
franchise. Local government is still in its infancy all over South
Africa, but the common type is some form of urban or district council.
The questions which such councils discuss do not involve high
considerations of statescraft, but simple practical matters, such as
roads and bridges, sanitary restrictions, precautions against stock
diseases, and market rules. Supposing that in any district there
exists a tribe or a location sufficiently progressive and orderly, I
see no real difficulty in bringing the chief or induna sooner or later
directly or indirectly into the local council. It is a matter on
which it is idle to dogmatise, being one of the many questions on
which South Africa must say the last word, and being further
dependent on the status of the natives in each district; but on a
nominated or elective council a native, or a white member with
natives in his constituency, might do valuable work in assisting with
matters in which natives were largely concerned. A native who cannot
reasonably be asked to decide on questions such as fiscal reform or
military organisation, may be very well fitted to advise, as a large
stock-holder, on precautionary measures against rinderpest. If such a
step is ever taken--and the present exclusive attitude of South
Africa is rather a sign of the growing solidarity of the community
than an index of a permanent conviction--an advance of enormous
import will have been made in that branch of native education in
which we are almost powerless to move directly, namely, his training
as a responsible citizen.

As the tribal system breaks down from whatever cause, the tribesmen must
do one of three things--either settle on the land on new conditions, or
live permanently in the service of employers, or swell the loose
population of town and country. The second course does not concern us,
being a matter for the private law of master and servant. But in each of
the other courses the State is profoundly interested. For the sake of
the future it is necessary to have the existing reserves thoroughly
examined, for, since the fluctuations of native populations are very
great, many are too small for their present occupants and a few are too
spacious. Majajie's location in Zoutpansberg, and one or two of the
reserves on the western border of the Transvaal, may be quoted as
instances of tribes which have shrunk from the original number on
which the grant of land was based. In such cases the land might
reasonably be curtailed, since it is still Crown land held in trust
for the natives' use, and not private land purchased by the chiefs
themselves. But it is more usual to find locations far too narrow, and
the result in many parts is that a certain number of natives who have
been compelled to leave their old reserves are farming private lands
on precarious and burdensome terms, or are squatting on Crown lands
with no legal tenure at all. A law of the late Transvaal Government
(No. 21 of 1895) made it illegal to have more than five native
households on one private farm; but this law, like many others which
conflicted with the interests of the governing class, was quietly
allowed to become a dead letter. There are men to-day who have a
hundred and more native families on a farm, paying often exorbitant
rents either in money or in forced labour, and liable to be turned
adrift at a moment's notice. The old Boer system was to allow natives
to squat on land in return for six months' labour; but this mode of
payment is never satisfactory with a Kaffir, who soon forgets the
tenure on which he holds his land, regards it as his own, and makes
every attempt to evade his tenant's service. The whole position is
unsatisfactory, the master being cumbered with unwilling and often
worthless labour, the tenant subject to a capricious rent and a
permanent possibility of eviction. In the interests of both white and
black it is desirable to end this anomaly. Some form of the Squatters'
Law might be re-enacted and enforced, a farmer being allowed a
reasonable number of native families, who give work for wages and pay
a fair rent for their land. The balance might well be accommodated as
tenants on such portions of Crown land as are suitable for Kaffirs and
incapable of successful white settlement. Such lands exist in the
parts where the native population is densest, as in the northern and
eastern districts of the Transvaal. The situation affords an
opportunity for the Government policy towards outside labour. If the
rent per holding were fixed at some figure like £10 (which is less
than many natives pay to private owners) it might be reduced to £5, if
a certain proportion of the males of a household went out to labour
for a part of the year in the towns or in some rural employment other
than farming. Such a policy would give immediate relief to the really
serious congestion in many districts, would establish a better system
of native tenure, and would pave the way for a closer connection
between the industrial native and the country kraal.

       *       *       *       *       *

The wholly detribalised native is a more important problem, because he
represents the type of what the Kaffir will in some remote future
become--a man who has forgotten his race traditions, and has become an
unpopular attaché of the white community. Towards other natives our
policy must be only to maintain an amended _status quo_, but for him
we must make an effort at construction. It is no business of mine to
frame policies, but only to sketch, roughly and imperfectly, the
conditions of the problem which the constructive statesman (and South
Africa will long have need of constructive statesmen) must face.
Individual tenure of land--and by this is not necessarily meant
freehold, even under the Glen Grey restrictions as to alienation, for
a long lease may be more politic and equally attractive[29]--and the
spread of education and commerce will work to the same effect in the
rural districts as industrial employment in the towns. But for the
present the towns furnish the gravest problem--how to make adequate
provision for the increasing native population, which is neither
living permanently in the households of white masters nor working in
the mines under a time contract. It is desirable to have locations for
natives, as it is fitting to provide bazaars for Asiatics, since the
native should be concentrated both for administrative and educational
purposes. Those municipal locations, which already exist in many
towns, will have to be taken vigorously in hand. Something must
replace the biscuit-tin shanties where the native, ignorant of
sanitation, lives, under more wretched conditions, what is practically
the life of a country kraal, and with the reform of their habitations
a new attraction to industry will exist for the better class of
Kaffir. It is a common mistake to class all natives together, a
mistake which a little knowledge of South African ethnology and
history would prevent. Many have highly developed instincts of
cleanliness, and much race pride, and will not endure to be huddled in
squalid locations with the refuse of inferior tribes. Given decent
dwelling-places, education on rational lines, and after a time,
perhaps, a share in municipal government, might lay the foundation of
a civic life and an industrial usefulness far more lasting than can be
expected from casual labourers brought from distant homes for a few
months' work, and carried back again.

South Africa has in her day possessed one man who desired to look at
things as they are, a murky and distorted genius at times, but at his
best inspired with something of a prophet's insight. The fruit of Mr
Rhodes' native administration was the Glen Grey Act, which still
remains the only attempt at a constructive native policy. It is hard
enough to govern, but sometimes, looking to the iron necessities in
the womb of time, it is wise to essay a harder task, and build. We
must keep open our communications with the future, and begin by
recognising the fundamental truths, which are apt to get a little
dimmed by the dust of the political arena. The first is that the
native is psychologically a child, and must be treated as such; that
is, he is in need of a stricter discipline and a more paternal
government than the white man. South Africa has already recognised
this by the remarkable consensus of opinion which she has shown in the
prohibition of the sale of intoxicants to coloured people. He is as
incapable of complete liberty as he is undeserving of an unintelligent
censure. The second is that he is with us, a permanent factor which
must be reckoned with, in spite of the advocates of a crude Bismarckian
policy; and because his fortunes are irrevocably linked to ours, it is
only provident to take care that the partnership does not tend to our
moral and political disadvantage. For there is always in the distance a
grim alternative of over-population resulting in pauperism and anarchy,
or a hard despotism producing the moral effects which the conscience of
the world has long ago in slave systems diagnosed and condemned. There
are three forces already at work which, if judiciously fostered, will
achieve the experiment which South Africa is bound to make, and either
raise the Kaffir to some form of decent citizenship, or prove to all
time that he is incapable of true progress. Since we are destroying the
old life, with its moral and social codes and its checks upon economic
disaster, we are bound to provide an honest substitute. The forces
referred to are those of a modified self-government, of labour, and of
an enlightened education. The first is an experiment which must be
undertaken very carefully, unless our case is to be prejudiced from the
outset. I have given reasons for the view that a political franchise
for the native is logically unjustifiable; but on district councils and
within municipal areas the native, wherever he is living under
conditions of tolerable decency and comfort, might well play a part in
his own control. It may be doomed to failure or it may be the beginning
of political education, but it is an experiment we can scarcely fail to
make. In labour, short of a crude compulsion, every means must be used
to bring the Kaffir within the industrial circle. We shall be assisted
in our task by many secret forces, but it should be our business so to
frame our future native legislation as to place a bonus on labour
outside the kraal. The matter is so intimately bound up with the
wellbeing of the whole population that there is less fear of neglect
than of undue and capricious haste.

A word remains to be said on native education. In this province there
is much need of effective Government control, since in the past the
energies of educationalists have tended to flow in mistaken channels
or be dissipated over too wide an area. The native is apt to learn in
a kind of parrot fashion, and this aptitude has misled many who have
devoted their lives to his interests. But in the present state of his
culture what we are used to call the "humanities" have little
educational importance. At the best the result is to turn out native
pastors and schoolmasters in undue numbers, unfortunate men who have
no proper professional field and no footing in the society to which
their education might entitle them. It is a truth which the wiser sort
of missionaries all over the world are now recognising in connection
with the propagation of Christianity--that the ground must be slowly
prepared before the materialist savage mind can be familiarised with
the truths of a spiritual religion. Otherwise the result is a glib
confession of faith which ends in scandal. The case is the same with
what we call "secondary education." The teaching of natives, if it is
to produce any practical good, should, to begin with, be confined to
the elements and to technical instruction. The native mind is very
ready to learn anything which can be taught by concrete instances, and
most forms of manual dexterity, even some of the more highly skilled,
come as easily to him as to the white man. When the boys are taught
everywhere carpentry and ironwork and the rudiments of trade, and the
girls sewing and basket-making and domestic employments, a far more
potent influence will have been introduced than the Latin grammar or
the primer of history. The wisest missionary I have ever met had a
station which was a kind of ideal city for order and industry, with
carpenters' and blacksmiths' shops, a model farm, basket-making,
orchards, and dairies. "By these means," he said, "I am teaching my
children the elements of religion, which are honesty, cleanliness, and
discipline." "And dogma?" I asked. "Ah," he said, "as to dogma, I
think we must be content for the present with a few stories and
hymns."


  [28]  It is proposed to assimilate native taxation in Southern
        Rhodesia to the system now in vogue in the Transvaal,
        and impose a poll tax of £2, with a tax of 10s. for
        each extra wife. In the Orange River Colony it is
        proposed to raise the hut tax to £1.

  [29]  The question of native ownership of land in the new
        colonies is not very clear. In the Transvaal land was
        generally held in trust for natives by the Native
        Commissioners; but apparently half-castes could own
        land, and Asiatics under certain restrictions. In the
        Orange River Colony ownership by Asiatics is forbidden;
        but certain native tribes, such as the Barolongs in
        Maroka, and the Oppermans at Jacobsdaal, as well as
        half-castes and the people known as the Bastards, were
        allowed freehold titles, subject to certain restrictions
        on alienation.



CHAPTER XV.

JOHANNESBURG.


It is a delicate matter to indulge in platitudes about a city. For a
city is an organism more self-conscious than a state, and a personality
less robust than an individual. Comments which, if made on a nation,
would be ignored, and on an individual would be tolerated, awaken angry
reprisals when directed to a municipal area. The business is still more
delicate when the city concerned is not yet quite sure of herself.
Johannesburg is a city, though she has no cathedral to support the
conventional definition, or royal warrant to give her dignitaries
precedence; but she is a city still on trial, sensitive, ambitious,
profoundly ignorant of her own mind. Her past has been short and
checkered. She has done many things badly and many things well; she has
been the target for universal abuse, and still with one political party
fills the honourable post of whipping-boy in chief to the Empire. Small
wonder if her people are a little dazed--proud of themselves, hopeful
of her future, but far from clear what this future is to be.

At first sight she has nothing to commend her. The traveller who drags
his stiff limbs from the Cape mail sees before him a dusty road, some
tin-roofed shanties, with a few large new jerry buildings humped
above them: a number of straggling dusty pines and gums, a bit of bare
hillside in the distance, and a few attenuated mine chimneys.
Everything is new, raw, and fortuitous, as uncivilised and certainly
as ugly as the desert ridge on which an old Bezuidenhout planted his
homestead. The chief streets do not efface the first impression. Some
buildings are good, but the general effect is mean. The place looks as
if it had sprung up, like some Western township, in a night, and as if
the original builders had been in such a desperate hurry to get done
with it that they could not stop to see that one house kept line with
its neighbours. It is a common South African defect, but there is here
no _mise-en-scène_ to relieve the ugliness. Looking at Pretoria from
the hills one sees a forest of trees, with white towers and walls
rising above the green. The walls may be lath and plaster, but the
general effect is as pretty as the eye could wish. For Johannesburg
there is no such salvation. Looked at from one of her many hills, the
meanness and irregularity are painfully clear. She has far more trees
than Pretoria, but she is so long and sprawling that the bare ribs
have pushed aside their covering. An extended brickfield is the first
impression: a prosperous powder-factory is the last.

Yet in her way she has many singular beauties. Doubtless in time to
come she will be so great that she will contain more cities than one
in her precincts, and there may well be a residential quarter as fine
as any in Europe. The Rand is a long shallow basin with hilly rims,
within which lie the mines and the working city. The southern rim
shelves away into featureless veld, but the northern sinks sharply on
a plain, across forty miles of which rise the gaunt lines of the
Magaliesberg. What fashionable suburb has a vista of forty miles of
wild country, with a mountain wall on the horizon? Below on the flats
there are many miles of pine woods, valleys and streams and homesteads,
and the Pretoria road making a bold trail over a hill. In winter the
horizon is lit with veld-fires; in summer and spring there are the wild
sunsets of the veld and soft mulberry gloamings. The slope behind shuts
out the town and the mine chimneys, and yet the whole place is not
three miles from Market Square. Whatever happens, nothing can harm the
lucky dwellers on the ridge. Though the city creep ten miles into the
plain beneath, there is still ample prospect; and not all the fumes
from all the industries on earth can spoil the sharp vigour of the
winds blowing clean from the wilds.

But the place has not yet found itself. The city proper is still for
the future; for the present we have a people. What the real conception,
current in England, of this people may be it is not easy to tell, the
whole matter having been transferred to party politics, and presented,
plain or coloured, to partisan spectators. So we are given every
possible picture, from that of Semitic adventurers nourishing the fires
of life on champagne, to that of a respectable and thoroughly
domesticated people, morbidly awake to every sentiment of Empire.
"Judasburg," "the New Jerusalem," "the Golden City," and a variety of
other pet names, show that to the ordinary man, both in and out of
parties, there is something bizarre and exotic about the place. And yet
no conception could be more radically false. Johannesburg is first and
foremost a colonial city, an ordinary colonial city save for certain
qualities to be specified later. You will see more Jews in it than in
Montreal or Aberdeen, but not more than in Paris; and any smart London
restaurant will show as large a Semitic proportion as a Johannesburg
club. For a "Golden City" it is not even conspicuously vulgar. For one
fellow in large checks, diamonds, and a pink satin tie, you will meet
fifty quietly dressed, well-mannered gentlemen. A man may still be a
beggar to-day and rich to-morrow, but less commonly and in a different
sense. The old mining-camp, California-cum-Ballarat character of the
gold industry on the Rand has utterly passed away. Gold-mining has
ceased to be a speculation, and has become a vast and complicated
industry, employing at high salaries the first engineering talent of
the world. The prominent mine-owner is frequently a man of education,
almost invariably a man of high ability. In few places can you find men
of such mental vigour, so eagerly receptive of new ideas, so keenly
awake to every change of the financial and political worlds of Europe.
The blackguard alien exists, to be sure, but he is rarely felt, and the
hand of the law is heavy upon him. That Johannesburg is made up wholly
of adventurers and Whitechapel Jews is the first piece of cant to clear
the mind of.

The second is the old slander that the people think of nothing but the
market, are cowardly and selfish, indifferent to patriotism and
honour. It says little for Englishmen that they could believe this
falsehood of a place where the greater part of the inhabitants are
English. The war meant dismal sufferings for the artisan class, who
had to live in expensive coast lodgings or comfortless camps; and it
is to the credit of Johannesburg that she stood nobly by her refugees.
The old Reform movement was not a fortunate enterprise, but there was
no lack of courage in it; and even those who may grudge the attribute
can scarcely deny it to the same men at Elandslaagte and Ladysmith.
There have been various sorts of irregular regiments--many good, some
bad, one or two the very scum of the earth; but no irregular soldiers
showed, from first to last, a more cool and persistent courage than
the men who for years had sought to achieve by persuasion an end which
required a more summary argument. The truth is that the Johannesburger
has suffered by being contrasted, as the typical townsman, with the
Boer, as the typical countryman. Dislike the particular countryman as
we may, we have at the back of our minds a feeling that somehow, in
George Eliot's phrase, an unintelligible dialect is a guarantee for
ingenuousness, and that slouching shoulders indicate an upright
disposition. It is Johannesburg's misfortune that this anomalous
contrast should be forced on us. It is as if a sixteenth-century
peasant, without enterprise, without culture, wholly un-modern and
un-political, believing stoutly in a sombre God, were living side by
side with a race of _intellectuels_, scientists, and successful
merchants. Whatever reason or, as in this case, patriotism may say,
most men have a sneaking fondness for the peasant.

In every community which is worth consideration we find two forces
present in some degree--the force of social persistence and the force
of social movement. Critics of Johannesburg would have us believe that
the second only is to be found, and in its crudest form: the truth is
that, considering the history of the place and its novelty, the first
is remarkably strong. The point is worth labouring at the risk of
tediousness. It must be some little while before a mining city shakes
off the character of a mining camp. Men will long choose to live
uncomfortably in hotels and boarding-houses, looking for their reward
on their home-coming, discomfort none the less unpleasant because it
is tempered with unmeaning luxury. To its inhabitants the place is no
continuing city,--only a camp for the adventurer, who, when he has
made the most of it, returns to enjoy the fruits of his labour in his
own place. And then, after many years, there suddenly comes a day when
a man here and a man there realise that they have lost the desire to
return: they like the place, settle down, and found a home. Whenever
there is any fair proportion of this class in a mining city, then we
have a force of social persistence. The tendency is found in every
class of society. At one time the miner from Wales or Cornwall saved
his earnings and returned home; now he has his wife out and settles
for good. There is also a large commercial class, traders and small
manufacturers, who belong as thoroughly to the place as the South
African born. And with the more educated classes the same thing is
true. The price of building sites in the suburbs and the many pretty
houses which have arisen show that even for this class, which was most
nomadic in its habits, domesticity has become a fact.

This, then, is the cardinal achievement of Johannesburg, an unparalleled
achievement in so short a career. She has in a few years changed
herself from a camp to a city, acquired a middle class and a decent
artisan class,--both slow and difficult growths,--and shown a knack of
absorbing any species of alien immigrant and putting them on the way
to respectable citizenship. She has but to point to this solid
achievement as a final answer to the foolish calumnies of her enemies.
The mines are her staple industry, but the mines, so far as she is
concerned, are an industry and not a speculation; and she is creating
a dozen other industries of quite a different character, and may well
create a hundred more. She has become a municipality, with all the
traits, good and bad, of a nourishing municipality at home. She has
become colonial, too,--as colonial, though in a different way, as
Melbourne or Wellington. Formerly she was a mixture of every European
capital plus a little of the Dutch dorp: now she is English in
essence, the most English of all South African towns.

The future of the chief municipality of South Africa cannot be without
interest, for most problems will concern her first, and receive from
her their colour and character, and, possibly, their answer. She must
continue to represent one of the two foremost interests, and though it
is idle to distinguish political interests by their importance when
both are vital, yet we can admit that Johannesburg has for the moment
more obvious difficulties in her problems, and that her answer will be
more stormily contested. So far her development has been continuous.
The difficulties which she met with from the Kruger _régime_ were a
blessing in disguise, being of the kind to put her on her mettle. But
the present stage in her history is more critical. Formerly the
question was whether she was to remain a foreign cesspool or rise to
the status of an English city. Now it is whether she will go the way
of many colonial cities, and become vigorous, dogmatic, proud,
remotely English in sentiment, consistently material in her outlook,
and narrow with the intense narrowness of those to whom politics mean
local interests spiced with rhetoric; or, as she is already richer,
more enlightened, and more famous than her older sisters, will advance
on a higher plane, and become in the true sense an imperial city, with
a closer kinship and a more liberal culture. The question is a subtle
and delicate one, as all questions of spiritual development must be. A
year ago much depended on the attitude of England. Johannesburg had
suffered heavily in the war. Time and patience were needed to repair
the breaches in her fortunes, and to permit her to advance, as she
must advance, if the Transvaal is to become a nation. She was rightly
jealous of her reputation and future prosperity. If taxation was to be
crudely imposed, if her just complaints were to be met with the old
nonsense about a capitalists' war, if she was to be penalised for her
most creditable industry, then there was a good prospect of a serious
estrangement. There was no issue on the facts. She never denied her
liability, and she was willing to pay cheerfully if a little common
tact were shown in the handling. A man who may have his hand in his
pocket to repay a debt will withdraw it if his creditor tries to
collect the money with a bludgeon. Happily the crisis has passed. A
scheme of war contribution was arranged which, while still bearing
heavily, almost too heavily, on the country in its present transition
stage, is yet a small sum if contrasted with the lowest estimate of
her assets. But much still depends on the attitude of England. A
little sympathy, a little friendliness, a modest diminution of
newspaper taunts, some indication that the home country sees and
appreciates the difficulties of its daughter, and is content to trust
her judgment: it is not much to ask, but its refusal will never be
forgotten or forgiven. For Johannesburg in this connection represents
the country on its most sensitive side, and acts as a barometer of
national feeling.

In this imperfect world there can be no development without attendant
disorders. A dead body is never troublesome, but a growing child is
prone to exasperate. A young city which is perfectly reasonable and
docile deserves to be regarded with deep mistrust, for it is likely to
continue in a kind of youthful sensibility till it disappears.
Ferment is a sign of life, and the very crudeness of the ideals which
cause the ferment is a hopeful proof of vigour. Municipalities since
the beginning of time have been the home of aspirations after
self-government, however ill-suited they may have been to rule
themselves. At this moment the Transvaal is a Crown colony, which is
to say that a mode of government devised for subject races is being
applied for a time to a free and restless British population. The
justification is complete, but we need not be shocked when we find
Johannesburg chafing at her fetters. The less so when we reflect that
in one aspect she is a colonial city, full of the exaggerated
independence of the self-made. The fastidiousness which comes from
culture and tradition, the humour which springs from unshaken
confidence, must necessarily be absent in a municipality which is
still diffident, still largely uneducated. Politics must begin with
the _schwärmerisch_ and the vapid,--"that vague barren pathos, that
useless effervescence of enthusiasm, which plunges with the spirit of
a martyr into an ocean of generalities." Embryo cities are drunk with
words, with half-formed aspirations and vague ideals; wherefore the
result must be sound and fury and little meaning till by painful stages
they find themselves and see things as they are. So far this unrest has
taken two forms--a continuous and somewhat unintelligent criticism of
the Administration, and an attempt by means of numerous associations to
give voice to popular demands in the absence of representative
institutions; and the beginnings of a labour party. The first is as
natural as day and night. Many grave matters, chiefly financial, are
being decided above Johannesburg's head, and it is reasonable that she
should wish to state her own case. This is her strong point: the
weakness of her position is that it is also a criticism of a
reconstruction which is still in process, still in that stage when the
facts are far more clearly perceived by the man on the watch-tower than
by the crowd in the streets below. A pawn in a game is not the best
authority on the moves which lead to success. Patience may be a
distasteful counsel, but why should she disquiet herself when all
things in the end must be in her hands? "The people," to paraphrase a
saying of Heine, "have time enough, they are immortal; administrators
only must pass away." But we cannot complain of this critical activity,
however misplaced. It is a sign of life, and is itself the beginnings
of political education. The second form of agitation is less reasonable
and more dangerous, though perhaps less dangerous here than anywhere
else in the world. There must exist on the Rand, in mines, railways,
and subsidiary industries, a large white industrial population; and the
imported agitator will endeavour to organise it in accordance with his
interests. There is little theoretical justification for the movement.
There are no castes and tyrannies to fight against in a country which
is so new and self-created. The great financial houses will not develop
into Trusts on the American model; and even if they did, the result
would have small effect on the working man, either as labourer or
consumer. There are dozens of false pretexts. The working man of the
Rand may try, as he has tried in Australia, to stereotype his monopoly
and prevent the influx of new labour; or he may use the necessary
discomforts of a transition stage as a lever to raise his wages; or the
idle and incompetent may grumble vaguely against a capitalism which has
been built up by their abler brothers. The pretexts are light as air.
He lives in a free society, and within limits can secure his comfort
and independence beyond a chance of encroachment. But unhappily it does
not require a justification in reason to bring the labour agitator into
being. That type, so well known in Australia, has already appeared, the
unreasoning obstructionist, who, armed with a few platitudes and an
entire absence of foresight, preaches his crude gospel to a class which
is already vaguely unsettled by the intricacies of the economic
problem. There is almost certain to be an attempt to organise labour on
Australian lines, and to create a party like the Sand Lot agitators in
San Francisco, in order to do violence to the true economic interests
of the land on behalf of a prejudice or a theory. Yet I cannot think
that there is more in the prospect than a temporary inconvenience. No
labour party can be really formidable unless it is based on profound
discontents and radical grievances; and the annoyances of the
Johannesburg proletariat are, as compared with those of Europe, like
crumpled rose-leaves to thorns. There is too strong a force of social
persistence in the city to suffer it ever to become the prey of a
well-organised gang of revolutionaries; and if such a force exists, the
experience of Victoria in its great railway strike of 1903 would seem
to show that in the long-run no labour war can succeed which tends to a
wholesale disorganisation of social and industrial life.

But if Johannesburg shows a certain unrest, she also reveals a
curious solidarity--the strength of narrowness and exclusion, which is
partly natural and due to the struggle for self-conscious existence,
and partly accidental and based on a profound disappointment. Her
citizens believed that the end of the war would begin a golden age of
unprecedented prosperity. Money was to flow into her coffers, her
population to grow by many thousands each year, and she herself was to
stand out before an envious world as a type of virtue rewarded. She
miscalculated the future, and the facts left her aghast. Conservative
estimates, a few years back, put the value of the gold output in 1902
at between 20 and 30 millions: the actual figures during the first
year of peace show little over 10 millions--a reduction on the output
of 1898. Hence the almost hysterical concentration of interest on the
one great industry. Men who in other matters are remarkable for their
breadth of view, are to be found declaring that everything must be
made subordinate to mining development,--not in the sense in which the
saying is true, that the prosperity of the country depends in the
first instance on the mines, but in the quite indefensible sense that
any consideration of other things, even when there is no conflict
between them and the mining interest, is a misapplication of energy
which should go to the greater problem. It is fair to argue against a
programme of public works which might draw native labour from the
mines, because, unless we cherish the goose, there will be no golden
eggs to pay for our programmes. But to condemn schemes of settlement
which are no more a hindrance to the gold industry than to the
planetary system, is to show a nervous blindness to graver questions,
which is the ugliest product of the present strain and confusion. This
trait, however, cannot be permanent; and we may look to see the gold
industry in time, when its own crisis is past, become that enlightened
force in politics which the ability of its leaders and the weight of
its organisation entitle it to be. For the other form of narrowness,
which consists in the limitation of citizenship, there is ample
justification in present circumstances. A new city must begin by
drawing in her skirts and showing herself, perhaps unwarrantably,
jealous and sensitive. More especially a city which has hitherto been
rather a fortuitous gathering of races than a compact community, is
right in straining after such compactness, even at the cost of a
little injustice. The only danger lies in the perpetuation of this
attitude when its justification has gone.

The fault of Johannesburg, to sum up, lies for the moment in a
certain narrow hardness of view: her hope is in the possession of
rich elements unknown in most new cities; while her greatest danger
lies in the fact that she cannot yet honestly claim those elements as
her own. She is apt to judge a question from a lower point of view
than the question demands--to take up a parochial standpoint in
municipal affairs, a municipal standpoint in national affairs, a
national standpoint in imperial questions. In spite of her many
splendid loyalties, she will find it hard to avoid the assertive
_contra mundum_ attitude which seems inseparable from flourishing
colonial cities--a dogmatism natural, but unfortunate. On the other
hand, her history and her present status give her a chance beyond
other new cities. She starts on her civic career already rich,
enterprising, the magnet for the first scientific talent of the world.
A fortunate development might give her a cultivated class, true
political instincts, and the self-restraint which springs from a high
civilisation, without at the same time impairing that energy which she
owes to her colonial parentage. The danger is that her ablest element
may continue alien, treating the city as a caravanserai, and returning
to Europe as soon as its ambition is satisfied. So far the intellect
has not been with the men who have made the place their home, but,
subject to a few remarkable exceptions, with the men who have never
concealed their impatience to get away. If she fails to make this
class her citizens, then, whatever her prosperity, as a city she will
remain mediocre. Nothing can deprive her of her position as the
foremost market; but if she is to be also the real capital of South
Africa, she must absorb the men who are now her resident aliens. There
are signs, indeed, that the process has begun in all seriousness. As
she becomes a more pleasant dwelling-place, many who find in the
future of the country the main interest of their lives will find in
Johannesburg the best field of labour for the end they desire. And the
growth of such a leisured class, who take part in public life for its
own sake and for no commercial interests, will not only import into
municipal politics a broader view and a healthier spirit, but will do
much to secure that community of interest between town and country by
which alone a united South Africa can be created.



CHAPTER XVI.

CONSTITUTIONAL QUESTIONS.


The constitutional requirements of a country are never determined
solely by its political needs. Some account must be taken of its prior
history, for theories of government are apt to sink deep into the mind
of a people and to become unconsciously a part of its political
outlook. No form of education is less conscious or more abiding in its
effects. It may even happen that the fabric which such theories
created has been deliberately overthrown with the popular consent, but
none the less the theories are still there in some form or other to
obtrude themselves in future experiments. It is always worth while,
therefore, in any reconstruction to look at the ideas of government
which held sway before, whether in the shape of a professed creed or
in the practical form of institutions. The constitutional history of
South Africa is not long, and it is not complex. In Natal and Cape
Colony we possess two specimens of ordinary self-governing colonies.
Natal, which began life as a Crown colony, subject to the Governor of
the Cape, was granted substantive independence by charter in 1856, and
in 1893 was given representative government. It possesses a nominated
legislative council of nine members, and an elective legislative
assembly of thirty-nine members, elected on an easy franchise. Cape
Colony also began as a Crown colony, and followed nearly the same
path. Her legislative council was created in 1850, and by an
ordinance of this legislature in 1872, ratified by an Act of the
Imperial Parliament, she obtained full representative institutions.
Her council and her house of assembly are each elected and on the same
franchise. In these two colonies we have, therefore, types of
colonial autonomy--that is to say, an unfettered executive and
freedom to legislate subject to the consent of the Governor and the
Crown in Council, a limitation which is daily becoming more of a
pious fiction. In Southern Rhodesia we have a specimen of that very
modern experiment, government by a commercial company. It is a
provisional form, and has been made to approximate as far as is
reasonably possible to a Crown colony. The executive power is in the
hands of the company's officials, subject to an indirect control by
the Imperial Resident Commissioner, the High Commissioner, and
ultimately by the Crown. There is a legislative council, partly
nominated by the company and partly elected, and all legislation is
contingent upon the sanction of the imperial authorities. Lastly,
there are the native states, the Crown colony of Basutoland, and the
protectorates of Bechuanaland, North-West Rhodesia, and Swaziland,
all of which are directly or indirectly under the authority of the
High Commissioner. So far there is no constitutional novelty--Crown
colonies advancing to an ordinary type of self-government, or
remaining, provisionally or permanently, under full imperial control.

There remain the late Governments of the Republics, which to the student
of constitutional forms show certain interesting peculiarities.[30]
These constitutions were framed by men who had no tradition[31] to
fall back upon, if we exclude the Mosaic law, and no theories to give
effect to--men who would have preferred to do without government, had
it been possible, but who, once the need became apparent, brought to
the work much shrewdness and good sense. The Natal emigrants in 1838
had established a Volksraad, but the chief feature in their scheme was
the submission of all important matters to a primary public assembly, a
Homeric gathering of warriors. By the time the Sand River and
Bloemfontein Conventions were signed and the two republics became
independent, the people were scattered over a wide expanse of country,
and some form of representation was inevitable. At the same time, it
had become necessary to provide for a military organisation coextensive
with the civil. In the Transvaal transient republics had arisen and
departed, like the changes in a kaleidoscope. Around both states there
was a native population, actively hostile and potentially dangerous.
Some central military and civil authority was needed to keep the
country from anarchy. But if the farmers were without political
theories, they had a very vigorous sense of personal independence; so
the doctrinal basis of the new constitution lay in the axiom that one
burgher in the State is as good as another, and that the people are the
final repository of power. In this at least they were democratic,
though from other traits of democracy they have ever held aloof.

The _Constitutie_ of the Orange Free State was rigid--that is, it
could be altered only by methods different from those of ordinary
legislation: in the Transvaal _Grondwet_, on the other hand, there
was no provision for change at all, and reforms, when necessary, were
made in the ordinary legislative manner. The _Constitutie_ created one
supreme legislature, the Volksraad, elected by the qualified white
population. The President was elected by the whole people, though the
Volksraad, like the Roman consuls, reserved the power to make
nominations, which were generally accepted. The Volksraad had not only
supreme legislative power, but, while formally independent of the
President and the executive, it could reverse any executive Act,
except the exercise of the President's right of pardon and the
declaration of martial law. It was limited only by its own charter,
which forbade it to restrict the right of public meeting and petition
(one of the few Bill of Rights elements in this constitution), and
bound it to promote and support the Dutch Reformed Church. The
Transvaal _Grondwet_ began by making the Dutch Reformed Church an
established national Church (a provision repealed later), and
declaring that "the people will not tolerate any equality between
coloured and white inhabitants in Church or State." No man was
eligible for a seat in the Volksraad unless he was a member of a
Protestant Church.[32] In the Transvaal, as in the Orange Free State,
the Volksraad was the supreme legislative authority, but when any law
was proposed the people were given the opportunity of expressing their
opinion in a mild form of the referendum. The President was elected by
the whole people and acted as chief of the executive, though
responsible to the Volksraad, which could dismiss him or cancel his
appointments. He could sit and speak in the Volksraad, but had no
vote. The chief military authority was the Commandant General, who was
elected by all the burghers, and under him there was a long hierarchy
of district commandants and field-cornets. The local administrative
officer for civil matters was the landdrost or district magistrate. It
is unnecessary to consider the Second Volksraad, which was an
ineffective advisory body elected on a wider franchise, a mere sop to
the Cerberus whose hundred tongues were clamouring for representation.
But there was one curious development of considerable historic
interest. In cases of urgency the Volksraad could pass laws without
reference to the people at large, but such an enactment was called a
resolution (_besluit_) as contrasted with a law (_wet_), and was
supposed to have only a provisional force. But the habit grew of
calling most matters "specially urgent," and allowing the old popular
referendum to fall into desuetude.

The common feature of both constitutions was the immense nominal powers
of the legislatures. Nominally they had the right to make all
appointments, to veto the President's action, and to say the last word
in all questions of revenue and expenditure. But certain facts wrought
against this legislative supremacy. The members came from districts
widely apart, and there was no serious attempt to form groups or
parties; the President could sit and speak in the Volksraad, and he
might be elected as often as he could persuade the people to elect him.
The way was paved for the tyranny of a strong man. In the Orange Free
State, that country of mild prosperity and simple problems, the system
worked admirably; but in the Transvaal, when burning questions arose,
the republican methods for all serious purposes broke down, and were
replaced by a dictatorship. There remain, however, certain doctrines
from the old _régime_ which will have to be reckoned with under the
new. The supremacy of the legislature is not one, for no Boer cared
much for the dogma, and Mr Kruger ruled on the simple maxim, "L'état
c'est moi." But the democratic principle of equality among citizens is
one cherished belief, and another is the absolute disqualification of
all coloured races.[33] The Boer is not a parliamentarian in the
ordinary sense, and he did not grieve when his Volksraad was slighted
and made impotent; but he likes his representative to go to Pretoria,
as a sort of tribute to his importance, and, if he is to vote, he
demands to vote on an equal basis with all. He was attached to his
local administration with its landdrost system, and any change which
bore no relation to the old plan might begin by confusing and end by
souring him.

We have therefore to face two existing constitutional traditions--among
the British from the Cape or Natal or over-seas, the old love of
colonial self-government; among the Boers, at least in the Transvaal, a
kind of ingenuous republican independence, quite consistent with a
patient tolerance of absolutism, but not so easy to adapt to the
gradations of our representative system. Hence in many ways the Boer is
far more likely to remain patient for years under a Crown colony
Government than the English or colonial new-comer. He does not
particularly want to vote or interfere in administration, so long as
he has no personal grievance; but it might annoy him to see the
franchise denied to him and given to his cousin who was a little richer
or better educated, when he remembered the old _Grondwet_ doctrines of
equality, and it would certainly exasperate him to learn that any
native had been granted a civic status beyond him.

       *       *       *       *       *

Such being the constitutional history, we may turn to the present. The
term Crown colony is used so loosely that very few of its many critics
could define the peculiar features of this form of government. "One of
the greatest of all evils," wrote Lord Durham in the famous Report
which has become the charter of colonial policy, "arising from this
system of irresponsible government, was the mystery in which the
motives and actual purposes of their rulers were hid from the
colonists themselves. The most important business of government was
carried on, not in open discussions or public acts, but in a secret
correspondence between the Governor and the Secretary of State." This
feature, more than any other, tends to dissatisfaction. The Crown
colony system is necessarily a secret one. The newspapers, till
blue-books are issued, are informed only as much or as little as the
authorities may think good for them; and the natural critics of all
administration have the somewhat barren pleasure of finding fault with
a policy after it has become a fact. There is no safety-valve for the
escape of grievances, no official channel even for sound local advice.
It is not to be wondered at, therefore, if it seems an intolerable
burden to men full of anxiety about the methods by which they are
governed.

The Crown colony system is not new to Africa. It existed for years in
the Cape and Natal; it still exists in its most rigid form over
native states, and at its worst it does not spurn public opinion in
the fashion of the Kruger _régime_--it simply neglects it. The name is
really a misnomer, for it is no part of the English colonial system.
The American Revolution is sometimes described as the revolt of an
English people from Crown colony government, but in those days the
thing was not in existence. It is fundamentally the method invented to
govern a race which is incapable of free representative institutions,
or to tide over a temporary difficulty. The Governor is absolute,
subject to the conditions of his appointment and the instructions
accompanying his letters-patent. He may be assisted by a council, but
it is his privilege, on reasons shown, to override his council. He is
the sole local fountain of executive and legislative power. But if he
is absolute in one sense, he is strictly tied in another. The methods
of his administration are subject to certain regulations issued by the
Colonial Office. The Secretary of State must approve his appointments,
and all important administrative acts, as well as all legislation.
Further, in serious questions the Home Government exercises a general
oversight of policy before the event, and the Governor in such
matters is merely the mouthpiece of the Cabinet. It is in itself a
rational system, and works well under certain conditions. In a
serious crisis, when large imperial issues are involved, and when
local policy is but a branch of a wider policy, it is highly
important that this day-to-day supervision should exist; and in a
case where speed is essential, Crown colony methods, though slow
enough in all conscience, are rapidity itself compared with the
cumbrous machinery of representative government.

The necessity of treating the Transvaal and the Orange River Colony
temporarily as Crown colonies was beyond argument. Reconstruction began
in the midst of war, when the material of self-government was wanting.
It goes on amidst unsettled and dimly understood conditions, where
certain facts of policy stand out in a strong light and all else is
shadow. It involves many financial transactions in which the Home
Government is deeply interested; and it is natural that a close
administrative connection should be thought desirable. It comes at the
end of a costly war, and it is right that England should have a direct
say in securing herself against its repetition. The racial problem is
still too delicate to submit to the arbitrament of popular bodies; and
if it were settled out of hand there might remain an abiding cause of
discontent. The time is not ripe for self-government, the country has
not yet found herself, having but barely awakened from the torpor of
war and begun to set her house in order. Again, there are factors to be
borne in mind in re-creating the new colonies which extend far beyond
their borders. It is impossible to imagine that due consideration could
be given to them by the ablest elective body in the world, called
together in the present ferment. Above all, what is to be done must be
done quickly. The wants of the hour are too urgent for delays. There
must be some authority, trusted by the British Cabinet, capable of
determining the needs of the situation, and giving summary effect to
his decision.

On this all thinking men in the new colonies are agreed. I do not
suppose that any of the more serious critics of the expedient would
be prepared to propose and defend an alternative. But irritation
remains when reason has done its best, and it is not hard to see the
causes. One is the natural disinclination of Englishmen to be ruled
from above, a repulsion which they feel even when arguing in its
favour. Another is the secrecy of Crown colony government, to which I
have already referred. It is painful to find matters of vital
importance to yourself decided without your knowledge, even when you
have the fullest confidence in the deciding power. There is also,
perhaps, a little distrust still left in South Africa of the British
Government,--not of particular Ministers, but of the vague entity
behind them--a distrust which has had in the past such ample
justification that it is hard to blame it. The colonial mind, too, is
averse to English officialdom, even when represented by the several
highly competent men who have shared in the present administration.
Red-tape, which in its place is most necessary and desirable, seems to
lurk in the offices of men who are in reality trying hard to deal with
facts in the simplest way. A certain amount of formal officialdom is
necessary in all government. There must be people to keep an office in
order, to make a fetich of etiquette, to insist on a stereotyped
procedure, and to see the world dimly through a mist of "previous
papers." It is a useful, but not very valuable, type of man, and we
cannot wonder that a South African, who imagines that such a one has,
what he rarely has, an influence in grave decisions, should view with
distrust the form of government which permits him. It is a mistake,
but one based on an honest instinct.

Self-government is the goal to which all things hasten, and critics of
the present administration check their complaints at the thought of
that beneficent day. Meanwhile it is our business to set things in
order so that the chosen of the people, when they enter into their
inheritance, may find it swept and garnished. Representative
institutions should not spring full grown from an Order in Council,
like Athene from the brain of Zeus: if they do, there is apt to be a
painful crudeness about their early history. The way should be
prepared by gentle means, for, after all, it is a country in which the
bulk of the residents have had no experience of governing themselves.
The experiment has so far been tried in two ways. The municipalities
represent the highest level of intelligence and political training; in
municipal affairs, therefore, it is safe to begin at once with
representation. The first town councils were for all practical
purposes Government departments, nominated by Government and assisted
on their difficult career by Government supervision. But a nominated
town council is an anomaly even within a Crown colony, since a town
council is not concerned with high politics but only with the
administration of the area in which its citizens choose to dwell, and
any owner of property has a right to a voice in determining the ways
in which his property shall be safeguarded. The basis of any municipal
franchise is the payment of rates, which imply the ownership of
property; and questions of race, loyalty, even of education, have no
logical place in what is simply a practical union for the protection
of proprietary interests and the care of the amenities of civilised
life. The question of elective municipalities is therefore a simple
one, and as soon as a municipal law could be put together, the system
was inaugurated. This is not the place to examine the type of
municipal franchise adopted in the Transvaal, which is a skilful
compendium of various colonial precedents. But on one matter, the
coloured and alien vote, there was manifested a vigorous tendency to
conservatism and exclusion. As I have said, this is a province where
racial distinctions have no logical place. If a black man is a
ratepayer he has the citizen's right to vote. Nor can we on purely
rational grounds confine this franchise to British subjects. But the
country thought differently. As the municipal was her only form of
representation, political considerations crept in unawares, and the
result, while logically indefensible, has a certain practical
justification. For in a time of reconstruction a community is apt
rather to narrow than enlarge its boundaries, feeling above all things
the need of a compact front against the unknown. In time, no doubt,
the true theory of municipal franchise will reassert itself, and if,
when the time comes, a constructive policy towards the subject races
has also come into being, the delay will have been not in vain.

A more important step towards self-government was the creation of
nominated legislative councils for both colonies, which held their
first meetings in the early part of 1903. In the Transvaal there were
sixteen official members representing the different Government
departments, and fourteen non-official members selected from
representative Englishmen and Boers in the country. In the Orange
River Colony there were six official members and four non-official.
Some of the new measures which concerned more deeply the people of the
colonies were kept back on purpose for the opinion of the new
councils. Such were the new gold and diamond laws, the municipal
franchise law, and the ordinances governing the disposal of town
lands. So far the expedient has promised well; an outlet has been
created for public opinion, though for the present such opinion cannot
carry with it practical force; and the procedure of Government has
ceased to be a state secret, and is patent to any one who has the
curiosity or the patience to attend the council's debates. It is
interesting to observe how the unofficial members already appear in a
quasi-representative capacity, and are beginning to attach themselves
to particular districts, for which, so far as airing grievances and
obtaining information go, they perform most of the duties of an
elected member. There is no reason why such members should not be
elected instead of nominated, and in this way provide a trial for the
form of franchise on which autonomy is to be based. There are many
obvious difficulties in any franchise for the new colonies, and it
would be well for such difficulties to be realised and faced while the
whole matter is still mainly academic, and errors are not yet attended
with practical disaster.

       *       *       *       *       *

The franchise for the new colonies is the constitutional problem which
is of the most immediate importance. It will not be wise to delay the
era of self-government long, for between the most elastic Crown colony
and the narrowest free colony there is an inseparable gulf, and though
it may be said justly that with an elective legislature the colonies
have something very like freedom, the one thing needful will still be
lacking. It is not enough to put the oars into their hands; we must
cut the painter before they are truly free. There is one postulate in
all franchise discussions which is likely to be vigorously attacked.
The franchise must be based in the first instance upon the principle
of giving adequate representation to all districts and every interest;
but, once this has been recognised, the second principle appears--of
providing for the supremacy of the British population. That saying of
Dogberry's, "An two men ride of a horse, one must ride behind," is a
primary law not only of equitation but of politics in the treatment of
a conquered country. For conquered it is, and there is little use
disguising it: we have not been fighting for the love of it or for
fine sentiment, but to conquer the land and give our people the
mastery. The last word in all matters must rest with us--that is, with
the people of British blood and British sympathies. Both men must be
on the horse, or, apart from parable, each race must have fair and
ample representation. To deny this would be to sin against sound
policy. But not to take measures to see that our own race has the
casting vote is to be guilty of the commonest folly. "An two men ride
of a horse, one must ride behind."

Whoever denies this principle may spare himself the trouble of reading
further, for it is proposed to treat it as axiomatic. The first type
of franchise need not be permanent: a day may come when it will be
needless to consider the distinction of Dutch and British. But as it
was right and politic on the conclusion of war to disarm our
opponents, so it is right and politic in the first franchise to put no
weapon of offence into their hands. The primary adjustment of the
franchise and the primary distribution of seats must be made with this
clear end in view--to secure a working majority for the British people.
It is obvious that the words "British population" are vague, and
include many odd forms of nationality, but the thing itself is simple,
the class whose interests and sentiment are on the British side, who
seek progress on British lines. It does not follow that the majority
of the Dutch will go into opposition, but it is ordinary prudence to
keep on the safe side. Such a policy involves no distrust of the Dutch
population, but is the common duty of those who for a certain period
must, as conquerors, take the initiative in administration, and, as
bearing the responsibility, preserve an adequate means of control.

The terms of the franchise are a more difficult matter. In Cape Colony
citizenship and a low property qualification are the chief conditions.
In Southern Rhodesia, whose franchise law is an especially clear and
sensible code, an oath of loyalty is accepted in lieu of technical
citizenship, and an easy educational test is demanded--the ability of
a voter to sign his name and write his address and occupation. In
Natal there is a sharp distinction drawn between Europeans and all
others. To them the only tests are citizenship, and the ownership or
occupation of property of a certain value, or the receipt of a certain
amount of income. The native is practically disqualified by a law
denying the franchise to any person subject to special courts or
special laws, and though a means of escape is provided, the conditions
are too complex even for more intelligent minds than the native. It is
an ingenious but not wholly satisfactory device. Asiatics are excluded
by the law which denies votes to natives, or descendants in the male
line of natives, of any country which does not enjoy the blessings of
representative government; and though in their case also there is a
way of escape, it is almost equally difficult. The root distinction
between types of franchise lies in the method employed to exclude an
undesirable class, whether a direct one, by disqualifying in so many
words, or an indirect, by setting one standard of qualification for
all, to which, as a matter of fact, the undesirable class cannot
attain. The balance of argument is, on the whole, on the side of the
second method, which has been adopted in Cape Colony and Rhodesia,
though, perhaps, with too low a standard. But the first method, if
followed more frankly than in Natal, has something to be said for it.
There is no reason why the better class of Indians should not vote, if
their race is considered fit to mix on equal terms with English
society elsewhere; but to my mind there is a very good reason why the
native should not vote--at least, not for the present. The easy way of
securing this result is the old method of the Transvaal _Grondwet_,
which said shortly, "There shall be no equality between black and
white." It is the way, too, which, under the Conditions of Surrender,
would have to be adopted in any trial franchise put into force before
self-government. I am not sure whether it is not the most philosophic
as well as the simplest way, for it denies the native the franchise
not for a lack of property or educational qualification, but for
radical mental dissimilarity. In any case it is a matter which must be
left for the people of the colony to settle for themselves. But for
all others, while the property basis of the franchise should be low,
there are grounds for thinking that a reasonably high educational test
should be added. The lower type of European and the back-veld Dutchman
have in their present state no equitable right to the decision, which
the franchise gives, on matters which they are unable to come within a
measurable distance of understanding. The fact that the fool may have
a vote at home is no reason for exalting him to the same level in a
country which is not handicapped by a constitutional history. Some
form of British citizenship, obtainable by a short and simple method,
must also be demanded if the land is to remain a British colony.

Once the franchise has been determined there remains the division of
constituencies. The axiom has already been explained which appears to
govern this question. But in the absence of anything approaching
correct census returns it is difficult to suggest, even tentatively, a
distribution of seats. The fairest way to secure the representation of
all interests seems to be to divide constituencies into three types.
First, there are the large towns, which for the present, to take the
Transvaal, may be limited to Johannesburg and Pretoria. These would be
given members according to their population. Second, come groups of
country burghs, such groups as the Northern Burghs, with Nylstroom,
Warm Baths, Piet Potgieter's Rust, and Pietersburg; and the Eastern
Burghs, with Middelburg and Belfast, Lydenburg and Barberton. Here,
too, members would be allotted according to population, though the
number of voters required to form a constituency should be fewer.
Lastly, there would be the country districts, substantially the present
fourteen magisterial divisions, and there the numbers of a constituency
would be still smaller. That it is fair to differentiate in favour of
the counties against the burghs, and in favour of the burghs against
the large towns, will appear on a brief consideration. The interests of
the different constituencies in a city, at least in a new city, are
practically identical. In the country burghs the interests vary, but
still within narrow limits. In the counties, on the other hand, there
is often a very wide variation. The dwellers in Barberton have wholly
different problems and grievances from the dwellers in Bloemhof or
Standerton. But while this principle is right, the former axiom must be
kept in mind, that, provided fair representation is granted to all, the
constituencies must be so arranged as to ensure British predominance.
Certain counties will, I believe, be on the whole British in
time--Bloemhof, Marico, Zoutpansberg, possibly Waterberg, possibly
Lydenburg, undoubtedly Barberton. The burghs, too, will yield on the
whole a British voting population. In all likelihood, therefore, our
purpose will be secured by the division of constituencies which I have
suggested, even allowing for a differentiation in favour of the rural
districts. Figures are still impossible in the absence of a census, but
on the roughest estimate there may be in the Transvaal at the present
moment a Boer population of 100,000, with a voting proportion of
30,000, and a British population of perhaps 150,000, with a voting
proportion of 50,000 or upwards. In the Orange River Colony before the
war the voters' roll showed just over 17,000, and if we put the vote on
an enlarged franchise at 20,000, we may be near the mark. The position
of the latter colony will not change greatly in the next decade, but
the Transvaal may easily in a few years show a million inhabitants and
more. With a population thus constantly increasing and liable to great
local fluctuations, redistribution may soon become a vexed question and
a source of political chicanery. It would be well if the endless
friction which attends redistribution courts and commissions could be
saved by some automatic system under which sudden local inequalities
could be speedily and finally adjusted.

       *       *       *       *       *

The greatest constitutional calamity which could befall South Africa
would be for the Dutch in the new colonies to go as a race into
opposition. I have said that they are not born parliamentarians, and
that, to begin with at least, they will be a little strange to the
forms and methods of English representative government. But they are
a strong and serious people, and if they desire, as a race, to form
an opposition, they will learn the tactics of a parliament as readily
as their kinsmen have done in the Cape. It will be difficult to form
out of so practical and stable a folk such an opposition as the
Nationalist party in Ireland; but if they have real grievances to
fight for, it is conceivable that the Dutch people might be organised
into as solid a voting machine as the Irish peasantry under the
control of the Land League and the Church. Attempts will doubtless be
made to bring this about. Certain institutions will spare no pains to
secure so promising a recruit in their policy of emphasising every
feature in the South African situation which tends to disunion. On
the other hand, certain of the natural leaders of the Dutch people,
who have acquired the spurious race-hatred which intriguers and
adventurers have built up during the past twenty years, in a
desperately discreet and orthodox manner may work to the same end.
But fortunately there are signs that the party division, when it
comes, will be lateral and not vertical. It is a phenomenon often
observed in a long war, that a day of apathy sets in, differences
arise in a party, and one section begins to dislike the other far
more than it hates the common enemy. This phenomenon, which in war
spells disaster, is salutary enough in civil politics. In both races
there are signs of divisions, and on each side there is a party
unconsciously drawing nearer to their old opponents. The majority of
the Dutch have little rancour, except against each other; to many
the Bond is as much an object of suspicion as, let us say, Mr
Chamberlain. The old nebulous Pan-Afrikander dreams were in no way
popular with the Transvaal Boer, who would have been nearly as much
annoyed at being harassed with an Afrikander federation as at being
annexed to Natal. Besides, he is not a good party man, being too
sincere an individualist. Intrigue of the carpet-bag and secret-league
variety he will never shine in, and he does not desire to, though apt
enough at a kind of rustic diplomacy. There is, further, a party ready
made for him. He is frankly anti-Johannesburg, a pure agrarian.
Already the anomalous labour party of the Rand are making overtures to
him, and with loud declamations on his merits strive to attract his
sympathies. On certain matters he may join them, but it will be an odd
union, and not a long one. Town and country will never long remain in
conjunction, and there are few items, indeed, of a labour programme to
which he would subscribe.

It is difficult to draw with any confidence the political horoscope of
the new colonies. Certain eternal antitheses will exist,--Capital and
Labour, Rand and Veld, Progress and the staunchest of staunch
Conservatisms,--but none of them seem likely to coalesce so as to form
any permanent division of parties. It is as easy to imagine Rand
capitalists and country Dutch united on certain questions as Boer and
Labour. Possibly the old distinction of Liberal and Tory in some form
or other will appear in the end. It is said that the colonies are
aggressively Liberal; but these are different from other colonies, and
the groundwork of Conservatism already exists. We have a plutocracy
and a landed aristocracy. We have also in the legal element a class,
in its South African form, peculiarly tenacious of the letter of the
law. We have an established kirk in all but name, and a racial
tradition of resistance to novelty. With the growth of a rich and
leisured population, and of social grades and conventions, there will
come a time when politics may well be divided between those who are
satisfied with things as they are, and those who hunger for things as
they cannot be--with, of course, a sprinkling of plain men who do
their work without theories. We shall have the doctrinaire idealist,
doubtless, to experiment on the labour and native questions; and in
place of having politics based on interests, we may have them based in
name and reality on creeds and dogmas, which is what English
constitutionalism desires. All such developments are just and normal,
and in any one the land may find political stability.

There is one contingency alone which must be regarded with the
greatest dread--the growth of a South African party, which is South
African because anti-British. The war raised colonial loyalty to a
height; but such loyalty is like a rocket, which may speedily expire
in the void in a blaze of brightness, or may kindle a steady flame if
the material be there. We must remember that we have in the Dutch a
large population to which the British tie means nothing; a large and
important class, in the cosmopolitan financiers, who may be covertly
hostile to British interests; and even in some of the most sterling
and public-spirited citizens men who, if the Dutch Government had
allowed them, would have surrendered their nationality and become
citizens of the republics. South African loyalty, splendid as it is,
is rather fidelity to British traditions than to that overt link which
constitutes empire. You will, indeed, hear the true theory of colonial
policy well stated and strongly defended; but it must not be
forgotten that in South Africa it is still somewhat of an exotic
plant, and wants careful tending before it can come to maturity.
Unadvised action on our part may nip the growth, and give a chance for
a party which might declare, to adopt the words of the old loyalists
of Lower Canada, that it was determined to be South African even at
the cost of ceasing to be British. A too long or too straitly ordered
tutelage might do it, or a harsh dictation on some local question of
vital interest, or the continuance of the old calumnies about the
Rand, the old vulgar sneer at the colonial-born. It is well to
remember that while the land is a Crown colony it is one only in name,
and that all the tact and discretion which we use in dealing with
self-governing colonies should be used in this case also.

Such a party may arise, but there is no reason in the nature of things
for its existence. South African and British are not opposites. As I
understand the theory of colonial government, England stands towards
her colonies as a parent who starts his sons in the world, wishing
them all prosperity; and though in after-years he may exercise the
parental right of giving advice, he will not attempt to coerce the
action of those who have come to years of maturity. The tie is
strongest when it is not of the letter but of the spirit. At the same
time it is well to preserve certain outward and visible signs of
descent,--well for the fatherland, better for the colonies, who draw
from that fatherland their social and political traditions and their
spiritual sustenance. At the moment South Africa is in a transition
stage. Her public opinion is scarcely formed on any subject; she is
full of vague aspirations, uneasy yearnings, and half-fledged hopes.
She will develop either into the staunchest of allies in any imperial
federation, or the most recalcitrant and isolated of colonies. She has
enough and to spare of good men who desire nothing more than that the
African nation, when it comes, should be a British people, and if she
is trusted whole-heartedly, she will not betray the trust. She will
even accept advice and reproof in proper cases, for, unless we drive
her to ingratitude, she is not ungrateful for the blood and treasure
which Britain has spent on her making. But she is like a young
well-bred colt, whose mouth may be easily spoiled by over-bitting, and
whose temper will be ruined by the bad hands or too hasty temper of
its trainer.

Two important constitutional questions remain. One is the great policy
of Federation, which looms as a background behind all sporadic
constitutional forms. The second concerns that part of the imperial
forces which is to be stationed in South Africa--a matter which is not
only an army question but one deeply affecting colonial interests. To
these the two succeeding chapters are devoted.


  [30]  Mr Bryce, in his 'Studies in History and Jurisprudence,'
        vol. i. pp. 430-467, has a valuable examination of the
        old Transvaal and Orange River Colony constitutions.

  [31]  Stray dogmas from the French Revolution had undoubtedly
        some share in the ferment preceding the Great Trek, but
        I cannot think that the voortrekkers carried any such
        baggage with them to the wilderness.

  [32]  The original _Grondwet_ declared that no Roman Catholic
        Church, nor any Protestant Church which did not teach
        the Heidelberg Catechism, should be admitted within the
        Republic.

  [33]  There was no reason _in law_ under the old Orange Free
        State Government why a native should not have the
        municipal franchise through ownership, and an Asiatic
        through occupation of town property. But in practice--a
        practice deduced from the spirit of the
        _Constitutie_--no such voters were registered.



CHAPTER XVII.

THE POLICY OF FEDERATION.


No South African problem is more long-descended than the question of
Federation. It was a dream of Sir George Grey's in the mid-century,
and it was a central feature in the policy of Sir Bartle Frere--that
policy which, after twenty years of obscuration, is at last seen in
its true and beneficent light. Nor was it held only by English
governors. Local statesmen in Cape Colony saw in it a panacea for the
endless frontier difficulties which tried their patience and their
talents. The ultra-independent colonist, in whose ears "Africa for the
Afrikanders" was beginning to ring, seized upon it as a lever towards
a more complete autonomy. Men like Mr Rhodes, to whom Africa was an
empire and its people one potential nation, looked on it as the first
step towards this larger destiny. Every student of political history
for the last fifty years, considering the physical situation of the
different states and the absence of any final dividing line between
them, confidently anticipated for South Africa, and under more
favourable conditions, the development which Australia has already
reached. But the movement shipwrecked on the northern republics. Old
grievances and jealousies set the Transvaal and the Orange Free State
in arms against the prospect, and, since the essence of federation
is full mutual consent, the project failed at the first hint of
serious opposition. Now all things are changed. The social and
constitutional difficulties which would obviously arise from the
inclusion of independent or all but independent states in a federation
of colonies have disappeared with the independent states themselves.
Now at last all South Africa save the Portuguese and German seaboards
is under one flag.

The chief barriers have gone, but the need for federation is as
insistent as ever. A common flag is a strong tie, but it does not in
practice prevent many local jealousies and petty oppositions. Disunion
is only justifiable among colonies of equal standing when there is
some insuperable physical barrier between them or some radical
disparity of interests. Providence is so clearly on the side of the
larger social battalions, that an isolated state, though within a
colonial system, is at a disadvantage even in matters concerning its
own interests. The nationalism which rejoices in local distinctions,
however recent in origin, is admirable enough in its way, and ought to
be preserved; therefore the complete merging of several units in one
is always to be regretted, even when justified by grave needs. The new
state will never or not for a long time acquire the consistency and
proud self-consciousness of the destroyed units. But federation shows
another and a better way. The parts are maintained in full national
existence, but in so far as their interests transcend their own
boundaries they are united in one larger state. There is another
advantage, often pointed out by American writers on the subject,
which concerns a country like South Africa, whose boundaries cannot
yet be said to be finally delimited. North of the Zambesi there is a
vast vague region, partly under the High Commissioner, partly
included in British Central Africa, which in time will become
separate colonies, with interests wholly different from the states of
the south. To add a new tract and a novel population to a state is
always a difficult matter, for the existing _régime_ may be most
unsuited for such extension. But it is easy to include a new colony
in a federation. In Mr Bryce's words, federation "permits an
expansion, whose extension and whose rate and manner of progress
cannot be foreseen, to proceed with more variety of methods, more
adaptation of laws and administration to the circumstances of each
part of the territory, and altogether in a more truly natural and
spontaneous way than can be expected under a centralised government.
Thus the special needs of a new _régime_ are met by the inhabitants
in the way they find best; its special evils are met by special
remedies, perhaps more drastic than an old country demands, perhaps
more lax than an old country would tolerate; while at the same time
the spirit of self-reliance among those who build up these new
communities is stimulated and respected."[34]

The need for federation in the case of South Africa is made greater by
the fact that there are one or two burning questions common to all her
states which cannot be satisfactorily settled save by joint action.
Foremost stands the native problem. If there is not some sort of
geographical continuity of policy in the treatment of natives, all our
efforts will be unavailing. The natives of South Africa may be
regarded, among other things, as a great industrial reserve; and if
the policy outlined in another chapter is to be followed, different
labour laws and different methods of taxation may work incalculable
harm. If extravagant inducements to work are held out in the
Transvaal, it will not be long before the labour market is ruined
elsewhere. If an improvident system of taxation exists in Natal, it
may unsettle and discontent other native populations, since it is
highly probable that in the future natives will be less tied to
localities, and will move through the whole country in search of work.
The mining authorities have long recognised the necessity of a single
policy, as is shown by such institutions as the Chamber of Mines and
the Native Labour Association; and it would be odd if in political
questions, where the need is equally urgent, the same truth should be
neglected. In connection with natives the control of the sale of
intoxicants is another matter of South African importance. It is a
matter on which South Africa is now practically at one; but there are
limits to the prescience of local legislation and local officials,
and it may easily happen that an inadequate law inadequately
administered in one colony may undo most of the good that an
energetic administration is attempting in another. If identity of
policy, again, is indispensable in relation to the subject races, the
same identity is most desirable in those inter-racial questions
between white men which will long have their place in South African
politics. An unwise treatment of the Dutch population in the Cape
will infallibly react on the new colonies. Any one who knows the way
in which Cape precedents in this connection are quoted in the
Transvaal, just as Transvaal precedents were quoted before the war in
the Cape, will recognise the difficulty which the present disunion
creates. In educational matters, such as the proportion of time
devoted to the teaching of the Dutch language, while every colony
must necessarily decide for itself, there is great need of one
controlling authority to supervise and direct. There is, again, the
question of permit law and the exclusion of undesirables, and the
kindred matter of the position of the imperial forces. A lax permit
law in one colony nullifies all the strictness of its neighbours.
Army questions--whatever the future position of the South African
force--will always have an intercolonial significance, for the
different troops are under one commander-in-chief, they will meet for
training and manoeuvres, and they are part of one general scheme of
imperial defence. In some questions an attempt at co-operation has
already been made,--in railway conferences and customs unions,--but
it is obviously a clumsy method which proceeds from conference
agreements to ratification by the several legislatures; and many
important and difficult questions will go on arising from day to day
which will be decided in quite different ways by local authorities,
to the confusion of all and the increase of unnecessary distinctions.
Lastly, there are a number of lesser matters, of which veterinary and
game regulations may be taken as the type, whose treatment, to be
satisfactory, must be governed by a common principle and in the hands
of a common executive.

Such are a few of the practical reasons for federation. There is a
deeper reason based on the future of our colonial system. South Africa
at the present moment is deeply cleft by gulfs of race, fiscal policy,
imperial attachment. There will always be within her bounds a party,
not perhaps a very important or very intelligent party, made up of
those to whom the British tie is galling and the tradition of kinship
mere foolishness. If the present particularism is allowed to remain
unreformed, it may easily happen that in this colony or that some turn
of the political wheel may give such a party an authoritative voice,
and the result may be the beginning of endless misunderstandings, and
in the end the creation of an impassable gulf. It is because South
Africa as a whole is so unswerving in her loyalty that it is wise to
create some united authority representing the whole land, and looking
at this great question from a high standpoint, which can provide
against the parochialism of a party and the accidental caprice of a
state. This feeling is strong among the English inhabitants of the new
colonies, and is, I believe, destined to grow in width and strength
throughout the country, when the fever of reconstruction is at an end
and South Africa has leisure to meditate on her political future.

If we examine present conditions we can discern, to borrow the common
metaphor of writers on federation, both centripetal and centrifugal
tendencies. To begin with, the constitutional framework exists. The
head of a federation is already at hand in the High Commissioner, in
whom is vested the government of all South Africa apart from the
self-governing colonies. It was the custom formerly to combine this
office with the governorship of the Cape: for the moment it is joined
with the governorship of the Transvaal and the Orange River Colony.
With the present narrow definition of the High Commissioner's duties,
it is right that this should be so; but there is no constitutional
reason why he should not be a separate official. It has never been a
popular office with self-governing colonies, who dislike the idea that
the governorship should have in one of its aspects powers over which
the colony has no control; but this objection could not arise to the
head of a federal government. By the letters patent of 1900 the High
Commissioner is invested with the control of the South African
Constabulary in the new colonies and the administration of the Central
South African railways, and he is empowered to call together
conferences of the self-governing colonies for the discussion of
common problems. Here is already existing the administrative machinery
of a federation. The rock on which many federal enterprises have split
is the election of the supreme head, and in most systems it is the
weakest point. But South Africa is saved this part of the problem. She
has a supreme federal office, which has existed for more than twenty
years, and with the slightest alteration of functions the High
Commissionership could be transformed into a Federal Viceroyalty.

South Africa, again, is for all practical purposes a geographical
whole. The vast tableland which makes up nine-tenths of it has
almost everywhere uniform climatic conditions, and the strips of
coast land have among themselves a comparatively uniform character,
so that two types may be said to exhaust its geographical and
climatic features. There is no distinction so radical as between the
Atlantic states and Texas or between Nebraska and the Pacific
seaboard. This physical harmony prevents any natural cleavages, such
as impassable mountain-ranges or large navigable rivers; and it
imposes upon the inhabitants uniformity in modes of travel, and in
the simpler conditions of life. If we look at the people of the
several states we find a common nationality--or rather a common
admixture of nationalities. The English proportion may be much higher
in Natal and the eastern province of Cape Colony, the Dutch in the
western province and the Orange River Colony; but everywhere there is
the same divided race, and in consequence kindred political problems.
There is, further, one supreme Imperial Government for all, one
constitutional tradition to provide, as it were, a background to local
politics and a basis for federation. There are common dangers from
invasion, against which all the colonies are protected by one navy.
Subject to minor local differences, there is a common structure
observable in the constitutions of the several self-governing colonies
to which the Transvaal and Orange River Colony will no doubt in time
approximate. Many of the most vital problems are the same for the
whole of South Africa,--the control and the civilisation of the
natives, the amalgamation of the two white races, the conservation of
water, the protection against pests and stock diseases. Two of the
most important administrative departments have already a common basis,
if they are still far from complete union. All South African railway
systems, now that the old Beira line has been relaid, have the same
gauge, their rolling stock is interchangeable, officials pass readily
from one system to another, and by means of railway conferences
attempts have been made to arrive at a common understanding on railway
policy. Finally, all South Africa is now united in one Customs Union.

But if the centripetal elements,[35] which make for federation, are
numerous and potent, disjunctive and centrifugal forces also exist,
though they create no difficulties which a patient statesmanship could
not surmount. The obvious historical and racial differences between
the colonies may be neglected, for, though on one side a force of
separation, they are in another and more important aspect an agency
for union, since they create a problem which in some form or other
every colony has to meet. The primary disruptive force is economic.
The interests, the material interests, of the population of each
colony are widely different. In Cape Colony, on the whole, the farming
interest predominates, though there, again, there is an internal
distinction between the aims of the vine-growing and agricultural
south-west and the pastoral north and east. Natal, so far as it is not
a huge forwarding agency, is also based on agriculture. The Orange
River Colony, though it has a respectable mining interest, is, and
will doubtless remain, pre-eminently a pastoral state. The development
of Rhodesia is not yet quite apparent, but it is probable that it will
end by having a mining and a farming interest of about equal strength.
But the Transvaal is overwhelmingly industrial both in population and
prospects. In time, no doubt, Transvaal agriculture will play an
important part, but the main asset of the colony must long be found
in her mines, and the subsidiary industries created by them, which
will be left as a legacy when the reefs are worked out to the last
pennyweight. That is to say, in South Africa there are three colonies
where the predominant interest is agricultural,--one in which the
mining and farming interests are likely to be evenly matched, and one,
the richest and therefore not the least important, in which the mining
interest casts all others into the shade. It is obvious that economic
policy will vary greatly in each, even in those general matters which
would naturally fall under the survey of a federal government. The
bias of the agricultural colonies is towards protection; the absolute
necessity of Rhodesia and the Transvaal is free trade or a near
approach to it. The industrial population of the Rand must have food
at a reasonable price, else the labour bill will wipe off the profits
of the mines, and to secure this cheap food, taking into consideration
the long railway freights, entry at the coast free of duty is desired.
So too with the raw material of mining: any taxation of such imports
is directly inimical to the prosperity of South Africa's foremost
industry. On the other hand, the coast farmers have good grounds to
complain. They look to the Rand for their market, and unless they are
to be secured from the competition of lands like the Argentine, where
food-stuffs can be grown almost as a waste product, they will grumble
against any rebate of coast duties.

The deadlock might be final were it not for the geographical position
of the Transvaal. Had she a port of her own she might well decline any
federation, and continue to import on her own terms, leaving the other
colonies to make the best of it. But, as things stand, she has to
bring in most of her imports through ports in the coast colonies, and
for a large part of the distance over their lines of railway. Were
this, again, a full statement of the case, the Transvaal might be at
the mercy of the other colonies, and be compelled to accept their
terms or starve. But fortunately the Transvaal, while not in a
position to dictate absolutely, has a card of her own by which she can
command reasonable treatment. She can import by the much shorter line
from Delagoa Bay, and she is contemplating the construction of an
alternative line to the same port. These two lines, when completed,
will make her virtually independent of the coast colonies, provided--a
provision which there seems no reason to doubt--a good understanding
is maintained with Portugal. Clearly some _modus vivendi_ must be
arrived at if there is not to be an endless friction, which can only
result in inconvenience to the interior colony and great financial
loss to the coast.[36]

This chief centrifugal force, divergence of economic interests,
becomes, therefore, in practice a powerful centripetal force, the
chief lever of federation. Some kind of harmony must be attained; the
only question is whether this agreement is to be partial and temporary
or thorough and final. Federation, while on its practical side a
familiar policy to all classes in South Africa, is still in its
political aspect a little strange to men's minds, smacking somewhat of
constitutional doctrinairedom. When we are dealing with self-governing
colonies, there can be no question of imposing it as a mandate from
above: to be effective and permanent it must come from within, a
proposal based on a national conviction. There was, indeed, a time in
the last year of the war when Cape Colony lay in the throes of
disruption, and her wisest citizens were weary of the vagaries of her
politics; when Natal was acquiescent, and when the new colonies were
still a battlefield. It seemed to many that then a federation might
have been imposed with the consent of most thinking men. But the
moment passed; local politics were restored to their old activity, and
the opportunity for imperial interference was gone. A federal movement
must therefore advance slowly and circumspectly, and be content with
small beginnings, lest any hint of coercion should drive the units
still farther apart.

There is no argument so convincing as success, and a satisfactory
federation in miniature would go far to prepare the way for the larger
scheme. Fortunately we have one sphere where experiments towards
federation can be given a fair trial. The Transvaal and the Orange
River Colony are under one governor and the same system of government.
Though they have many points of difference, they have also many common
problems which are even now dealt with by one central authority. The
South African Constabulary in the two colonies is one force under one
Inspector-General. The Central South African railways, which control
the whole railway system, are under one Railway Commissioner and one
General Manager. Education is under one Director of Education. In
addition to this departmental union, the two colonies are subject to
one common debt, the Guaranteed Loan. The War Debt lies for the
present wholly on the Transvaal;[37] but the loan for reconstruction
is devoted to purposes common to both, and they are jointly and
severally liable for its interest and redemption. If the Orange River
Colony were to pay its fair share of the interest--having regard to
the capital expenditure apportioned to it--it would be bankrupt
to-morrow. It must either pay a great deal less than its due, or some
arrangement must be arrived at by which there is no fixed apportionment
of either interest or capital, but the whole debt is administered
jointly, and charged upon certain common properties.

The method adopted has been fully explained in another chapter. Here
it will be sufficient to point out the federal consequences of the
arrangement. If the railways, the South African Constabulary, and all
common services are to be charged to one common budget, and subjected
to a common administration, then some kind of common council must be
established with a share of both legislative and executive powers. It
would be necessary to give this council, or some committee of it, the
final decision in railway administration, to grant it power to operate
upon railway profits, and to make grants for the services of the loan,
and for other services placed under its authority, without reference
to the councils of the separate colonies. Such powers have not been
unknown in constitutional history, and Austro-Hungary furnishes an
instructive precedent. There we find a common executive, not
responsible to either of the two Parliaments, for such common
interests as foreign affairs, the army, and imperial finance. On most
matters connected with these common interests the separate Parliaments
legislate; but the voting of money for common purposes and the control
of the common executive is placed in the hands of the famous
Delegations, which are appointed by the two Parliaments. The position
is, therefore, that there is a common Ministry for Finance, War, and
Foreign Affairs, controlled by the Delegations, and working on funds
voted and appropriated by the Delegations. This power of appropriation
without ratification by the separate colonies is the essence of the
new council, which is thus, to continue the parallel, a compound of
the Delegations and the Common Ministry of Austro-Hungary. Certain
funds are ear-marked for its use, and its deficits, if any, will be
met by contributions, in certain fixed proportions, from the
treasuries of the two colonies; while its surplus, if it is ever
fortunate enough to have one, will be divided, in whole or in part,
between the two colonies, going as a matter of fact to assist in
meeting the charges of the War Debt. It has an administrative control
over all existing common services, and any other which may be
subsequently put under its charge by the local legislatures.

Such a council obviously falls far short of a true federation. It is
primarily a financial expedient to provide a simple and effective
machinery for administering somewhat complicated finances. But it is a
step, and a considerable step, in the right direction. Its executive
functions are concerned with truly federal matters; and its powers of
acting alone in questions of administration, and of voting and
appropriating funds without reference to the separate legislatures, is
a recognition of the central doctrine of federation. Indeed at the
present moment the two new colonies have a _de facto_ federal
government. The grant to the new council of legislative powers on
matters of common interest, and the corresponding limitation of the
powers of the separate legislatures, would establish a complete _de
jure_ federation. There is no reason why this goal should not soon be
reached. The two colonies are bound together by many ties,--above
all, by that most stringent bond, a common debt. For three years they
have been administered by one governor. Though there may be symptoms
of local jealousy in both, there can be no real popular objection, as
there is no logical reason, against their federation.

But while the new colonies present a simple problem, the extension of
the policy to the self-governing colonies requires delicate and
cautious handling. If the limited federation be a success, it will
have the power of a good example, especially since there are many
throughout South Africa to seize and emphasise the lesson. Meantime
other agencies are at work for union. The Bloemfontein Conference of
March 1903, which, in addition to settling a customs' tariff and
recommending a preferential policy for British goods, passed
resolutions on certain questions, such as native affairs, of wide
South African interest, is the type of that informal advisory union
which may well come into being at once. The appointment, further, of a
South African committee to investigate some of the more vexed and
obscure details of native policy, is another step in the same
direction. The new colonies, which contain the chief motive force for
South Africa's future, must give the lead. They hold in their hands
the guide-ropes, for federation may be said to depend upon the
development of two problems--the racial and the economic; and both
reach their typical form in the new colonies. In these questions are
involved the chief grounds of separation and the chief impulses towards
union, and according as the new colonies settle them within their own
bounds will arise the need and desire for a more comprehensive
settlement.

The type of federation which South Africa may adopt will, no doubt,
vary considerably from most historical precedents. It should in
certain respects be more rigid, since, apart from a few outstanding
troubles, there are no permanent differences between the parts. In
certain respects, too, it should be more elastic, for a federated
South Africa would be not only a substantive state, but a member of a
greater system, and some of the old free colonial traditions which
pertain to that system should be left to the federated units. It is a
vain task at this stage to attempt the outlines of a scheme, since the
foundations are not yet fully apparent. Needs which are now in embryo
will be factors to be reckoned with when the time is ripe, and perhaps
some of the forces which seem to us to-day to dominate all else will
have disappeared or decreased in strength. There is a wealth of
historical precedent for South African statesmen to follow; for, apart
from the United States and sundry European parallels, there are two
types of federation within the colonial system--the Dominion of Canada
and the recently created Australian Commonwealth. Between them these
two cases provide a most complete parallel for South Africa. In Canada
there was a distinction of races not less marked than Dutch and
English. There was, further, an imperfectly explored hinterland which
the colonists looked to bring by degrees under the same constitution.
In Australia there were grave intercolonial disputes on railways and
customs and a wide divergence of economic interests. A keen jealousy
was felt by the smaller for the larger states, and the scheme of
federation had to be delicately framed to adjust state pride with
federal requirements. On the whole, the difficulties which the
framers of the federal constitution had to face in Canada and
Australia were greater than we find in South Africa: in the United
States, immeasurably greater. But often the probability of federation
stands in inverse ratio to the ease with which it can be effected,
and the very simplicity of this South African problem may delay its
settlement. There are, however, forces which must between them hasten
the end. One is the economic disparity, at least as great as in
Australia and greater than in Canada, which makes itself felt so
constantly in the daily life of the inland colonies, that they may
find themselves compelled to push the matter in spite of the apathy
of the coast. The other is the very real national sentiment which is
growing to maturity in the country. The war has welded the English
inhabitants into something approaching a nation. Having suffered so
deeply, they are the less prone to local jealousies and the more
attached to the ideal of imperial unity.

A scheme of South African federation, as has been said, will have to
differ materially from any of the existing types. Though details are
premature, certain principles may be accepted as essential. The first
concerns the subjects relegated to the Federal Government. In the
United States these are, roughly, foreign affairs, the army and navy,
federal courts of justice, commerce, currency, the post office, certain
general branches of commercial law, such as copyrights and patents, an
oversight of the separate states to protect the inhabitants against any
infringement of the fundamental rights granted by the constitution, and
taxation for federal purposes. Several of these functions are needless
in a federation of English colonies. Foreign affairs and army and navy
questions assume a different form from what they present in a wholly
separate community; and since there is no _Grondwet_ known to English
constitutional law, there is no need for an oversight of the separate
states in case of its infringement. That is already provided for by the
ultimate right of the British Crown to annul legislation which may
conflict with the chartered rights or limitations of a colony. But
there are certain powers, not referred to in the American scheme,
which are essential to a modern system. Railways, telephones, and
telegraphs should come under the purview of the national Government,
as also all customs tariffs and all bounties which may be granted on
production. Powers must be given to the national Government to take
over the existing debts of the separate states, and in times of
financial distress to come to their assistance. On judicial and legal
questions--the nature of the federal courts, the mechanism of appeal,
the branches of law which are suitable for federal jurisdiction--it is
impossible to speak; as it is premature to attempt an outline of the
constitution of the federal Government, the form of its legislation,
the functions of its executive. Such questions require long and
careful consideration on the part of the South African colonies, and
may happily take their colour, when the time arrives, from some
accepted scheme of imperial federation. Two points only may be noted
as even now obvious desiderata of policy. In Canada the state
governors are appointed by the federal Ministry; in Australia they are
nominated by the Crown in the same way as the Governor-General.
Experience has shown that the Australian method is the superior one,
since it allows a state governor and his ministers to communicate
directly with the imperial Government, and so preserve a formal
independence which is at once harmless and grateful to state pride. It
is impossible to doubt that the Australian precedent should be
followed in South Africa. The second point concerns the method of
effecting federation. The Canadian scheme was based on resolutions
drafted by a conference of delegates at Quebec. They were approved by
the legislatures of the provinces, embodied in a bill drafted by a
committee of Canadian statesmen, and passed by the imperial Government.
Federation was thus, as in the United States, the work of conferences
and legislatures alone. Australia, recognising that this was a question
which deeply concerned the population of the colonies, followed a
better plan. The federal constitution, after passing through a long
period of conferences and examinations by state legislatures, was
submitted to a direct popular vote, and a certain majority was
prescribed for it in each state. Such a federation, secured by the
consent of a whole people, has a stability against future attacks and
captious emendation which belongs to no scheme sanctioned only by a
legislative body. For though popular representation is in theory a
representation for all things, yet a matter so vital in its application
and so far-reaching in its issues deserves to be made the subject of a
special mandate.

I have said that foreign affairs and army and navy questions do not,
under the ordinary practice of the colonial system, have much
connection with colonial governments, and therefore may be left out of
most federal proposals. But though the technical last word may never
lie with the Federal Government, yet a South African federation would
have genuine foreign interests, and would keep a watchful eye on the
movements of the colonising Powers of Europe. Had there been a
federation, there would have been no German acquisition of Damaraland,
nor would we have found imperial authorities refusing the offer of
Lourenço Marques for a trifling sum. No colonist can ever quite
forgive those memorable blunders, which prevented British South Africa
from having that geographical unity from the Zambesi to the Cape which
its interests demand. Thirty years ago it would have been easy for
Britain to proclaim a Monroe doctrine for South Africa--for that
matter of it, for East Africa also. The opportunity has passed, but a
strong national Government could still exercise great influence on
foreign affairs, and prevent encroachment upon Portuguese territories
by that Power which twenty years ago saw in Africa material for a new
German Empire and has never forgotten its grandiose dreams, as well as
keep an eye upon that dangerous mushroom growth, the Congo Free State,
and check its glaring offences against civilisation. Army and navy
questions belong, in their broadest sense, to schemes of imperial
federation, a discussion of which here would be out of place; but
since there is already in South Africa a large military force under
one commander-in-chief, certain army questions arise which may find
their proper answer only in federation, but which even now require a
provisional settlement. According as we treat the matter, it may
become a unifying or a violently disjunctive force, a step towards
federation or a movement towards a wider disintegration. The bearing
of the army question on South African policy is the subject of another
chapter.


  [34]  American Commonwealth, vol. i. p. 465.

  [35]  The grounds of Australian federation are a useful
        parallel for South Africa. I give Mr Bryce's list
        ('Studies in History and Jurisprudence,' vol. i. p.
        478): "The gain to trade and the general convenience to
        be expected from abolishing the tariffs established on
        the frontiers of each colony; the need for a common
        system of military defence; the advantages of a common
        legislature for the regulation of railways and the
        fixing of railway rates; the advantages of a common
        control of the larger rivers for the purposes both of
        navigation and irrigation; the need for uniform
        legislation on a number of commercial topics; the
        importance of finding an authority competent to provide
        for old-age pensions and for the settlement of labour
        disputes all over the country; the need for uniform
        provision against the entry of coloured races
        (especially Chinese, Malays, and Indian coolies); the
        gain to suitors from the establishment of a High Court
        to entertain appeals and avoid the expense and delay
        involved in carrying cases to the Privy Council in
        England; the probability that money could be borrowed
        more easily on the credit of the Australian Federation
        than by each colony for itself; the stimulus to be given
        to industry and trade by substituting one great
        community for six smaller ones; the possibility of
        making better arrangements for the disposal of the
        unappropriated lands belonging to some of the colonies
        than could be made by those colonies for themselves."

  [36]  A provisional _modus vivendi_ has been found in the new
        Customs Union. See p. 238.

  [37]  There is a contingent liability on the Orange River
        Colony to pay a sum of £5,000,000, as its special
        contribution, from any profit which may fall to its
        Government from the discovery of precious minerals. See
        p. 245.



CHAPTER XVIII.

THE ARMY AND SOUTH AFRICA.


The foremost political lesson of the late war was the solidarity of
military spirit throughout the Empire. But this cohesion is only in
spirit, and the actual position of colonial forces is that of isolated
units, connected in no system, and subject to no central direction.
For a student of military law, or that branch of it which concerns the
relation of military forces to the civil power, a survey of the
British colonies has much curious interest. Speaking generally, since
1868 there have been no imperial forces in any self-governing colony,
since we have acted on the principle that when a colony became
autonomous the defence of its borders, except by sea, must be left to
its own government. Colonial troops are, therefore, militia and
volunteer, who take different forms according to the needs of the
colony. In some the militia, or a part of it, is to all intents a
regular force, performing garrison duty and acting as a school of
instruction for the other auxiliary forces. In Canada, for example,
there were in 1902 a troop of cavalry, a troop of mounted rifles, two
batteries of field artillery, two companies of garrison artillery, and
a battalion of infantry, in which the men were enlisted for three
years' continuous service. In New South Wales, to take one state of
the Australian Commonwealth, provision was made for a permanent
force, which included a half-squadron of cavalry, three companies of
garrison artillery and one field battery, a company of infantry and
various supplementary services, with men enlisted for five years. In
New Zealand the enlistment for the permanent force, which consists of
artillery and submarine miners, is for eight years, three of which
may be passed in the reserve. Next comes the militia proper on the
home model, where the men are partially paid and are subject to a
certain amount of annual training. Lastly there is a wide volunteer
organisation, stretching from fully organised companies of infantry
and mounted rifles down to small local rifle clubs. In certain
colonies where there is an aboriginal or unsettled population, such
as Canada, Cape Colony, and Natal, there is also a permanently
embodied police force, which may rank with the permanent militia as a
sort of colonial regulars. All such forces are under the full control
of the Colonial Governments, whether, as in the Australian Commonwealth
and Canada, under the Federal Ministry of Defence, or, as in Cape
Colony, under the department of the Prime Minister. An imperial officer
may be lent, as in Canada and Australia to-day, for the command of the
colonial force, but as soon as he enters upon his command he becomes a
servant of the Colonial Government. To that Government alone belongs
the power of raising new forces, of changing the status of existing
troops, of ordering their distribution, of regulating their rates of
pay, and of lending them for service beyond the colony. A strong
general officer commanding may have great influence in all such
decisions, but technically he is merely an adviser who receives his
orders from the local authorities.

This is one chief type of the organisation of our over-sea imperial
force. The other is furnished by India. There we have a native Indian
army, and a large number of imperial troops, all of whom are under the
authority of the commander-in-chief in India, who in turn is under the
control of the Indian Government. When imperial troops are stationed
in any other part of the Empire they are commanded by an officer who
is directly subject to the War Office; but in India, as soon as a
battalion lands it takes the status of the local forces and passes
under the authority of the local government. The War Office retains
certain powers, but for all practical purposes the Indian command is
wholly decentralised.

South Africa affords the spectacle of a confusion of the two types. It
is made up partly of Crown colonies and dependencies and partly of
self-governing states. At this moment it is occupied by imperial troops
whose numbers, for the purpose of this argument, may be put at 30,000.
Such troops are stationed in Cape Colony and Natal as well as in the
new colonies, and the command has been unified and vested in one
commander-in-chief, who is subject only to the War Office and has no
responsibility to the local governments. We have, therefore, the
anomalous case of an autonomous colony occupied by imperial troops, a
policy which is out of line with English practice. When self-government
is given to the Transvaal and the Orange River Colony, the South
African general will command what will be neither more nor less than an
alien army of occupation. At the same time, wholly apart from the
regular forces, there are police troops in Natal, Cape Colony, the new
colonies, and Rhodesia; and a large number of volunteer regiments, who
are directly under the control of the local governments. The South
African military organisation is thus split in two by a deep gulf, and
unless some method of union is found, we shall be confronted with a
system alien to the tradition of our colonial policy and in itself
clumsy and unworkable. But this question is intimately bound up with
others--the desirability of the retention of imperial troops, the
organisation of such troops in relation to the imperial army, indeed
the whole question of that branch of imperial federation which is
concerned with the defence of the Empire. It involves certain problems
of military reform which are violently contested by good authorities.
In this chapter it is proposed, as far as possible, to consider the
matter of the South African army solely from the standpoint of South
African politics, referring to the military aspect only in so far as
may be necessary at points where South African politics are merged in
wider schemes of imperial unity.

The first question concerns the policy of keeping imperial troops in
South Africa at all. The size of the force depends, of course, on the
duties which it is intended to perform, but for the retention of some
troops there seems to be every justification. Few people believe that
there is much likelihood of another outbreak, but after a war of the
magnitude of that which we have recently gone through it would seem
scarcely provident to leave the peace of the country solely to the
care of the police. In a country, again, where British prestige is a
plant of recent growth, it is well to provide the moral support of
regular battalions. If useful for no other purpose, they serve as a
memento of war, a constant reminder of the existence of an imperial
power behind all local administration. We have also to face the fact
that we have committed ourselves to some kind of occupation force by
undertaking a large preliminary expenditure on cantonments, which will
be money wasted if the scheme is dropped. For this purpose we have
spent between two and three millions, and unless we are to be held
guilty of causeless extravagance, we must abide by the plan to which
this outlay has committed us.

The original scheme was for a garrison force. For this purpose 30,000
men are too many if our forecast be correct, and far too few if it be
wrong. Half the number would be ample for any peace establishment, and
we may be perfectly certain that as soon as self-government is
declared in the new colonies there would be many attempts to cut down
the number or do away with the force altogether. Alien garrison troops
will be always unpopular, and, as has been said, they are foreign to
British policy with regard to autonomous colonies. A force on the
garrison basis would find itself with little to do, the general
commanding would be exposed to the jealousy of the colonial troops,
and involved in constant difficulties with the colonial governments,
and, save in the unlikely event of a rebellion, would have no very
obvious justification for the existence of his command.

If South Africa is to remain a station for any considerable number of
imperial troops, some mode of co-operation must be discovered with the
local governments. This co-operation would be possible between the
colonial administration and a garrison force; but it would be
infinitely more satisfactory if the whole status of the imperial
troops were changed. For a garrison establishment makes it difficult,
if not impossible, not only to bring the general commanding into
touch with the governments, but to bring the local troops into line
with the regular, and both unions must be accomplished before any
satisfactory settlement can be given to the problem. The simplest
solution was to treat the South African force, not as a garrison, but
as part of the regular army on the home establishment, sent there for
the purpose of training, and liable to be utilised at any moment for
active service in any part of the Empire. There are certain objections
to the scheme, plausible enough though not insuperable, from the
military standpoint; but for the present we may limit our argument to
those points which concern South Africa, and those difficulties which
spring from the nature of the country--difficulties which are far more
real to the soldiers who are directly concerned than the wider
question of the present scheme of military organisation.

The advantages are sufficiently obvious. There are few finer
manoeuvring grounds in the world than the great Central South
African tableland. There is sufficient cover to make scouting possible
and not enough to make it easy, and the intense clearness of the air
and its singular acoustic properties will train a man's senses to a
perfection unknown in other armies and impossible to acquire in the
restricted areas of a populous country. The soldier will have to face
the rudiments of war in a far more difficult country than he is likely
to be used in. He will learn to shoot, or rather to judge ranges
correctly under unwonted conditions, which is rarer and more vital
than mere accurate marksmanship. He will learn the real roughness of
campaigning in long manoeuvres; and from the same cause regiments
will acquire that elasticity and cohesion which come from constant
working together. If we except enteric, caused by bad sanitation,
which has been the curse of the war, but is not a speciality of the
country, the veld is almost exempt from diseases. Life there will not
only train the senses and the intelligence, but will give health and
physical stamina. A year of such training will make a man of the young
recruit from the slums of an English city. Physique is the final
determinant in war, and with our present system of recruiting and
training there is no guarantee for its existence. Lastly, our soldiers
trained on the veld will become natural horse masters, which few even
of the cavalry are at present. They will learn that care of their
horses which every Boer has as a birthright, that simple veterinary
skill and common-sense whose lack has cost us so many millions. South
Africa is a natural horse-breeding country, and in co-operation with
Government stud-farms a breed of remounts could be got which would
unite the merits of the Afrikander pony with the weight and bone
required for army work. Instead of having to ransack foreign countries
for our horses, we should breed all we wanted for ourselves under the
eye of our imperial officers, and breed them too in a place which is
the best centre in the Empire for distribution to any possible seat of
war.

The objections to the scheme are partly of sentiment and partly of
technical difficulties. South African service, it is said, is at
present unpopular. Our army has recently concluded a long and arduous
war, fought under conditions of extreme discomfort. Small wonder if
troops who have been kicking their heels for eighteen months in remote
blockhouses should have little good to say of the pleasures of the
life. For the officers there have been dismal quarters, a cheerless
dusty country, heavy expenses, little sport, and no society; and the
lot of the men, though relatively less hard, has been equally
comfortless. The proper answer to such a contention is to ignore it.
It is the objection of the non-professional officer, and cannot be
entertained. The forces in South Africa are sent there for training,
not for garrison life, and if the place is a good training-ground, the
question of congenial society and interesting recreation has nothing
to do with the matter.[38] But there is no reason why South African
life for the future should be unattractive. An English society is
rapidly arising, English sports are becoming popular, the cantonments
can easily be made comfortable homes, and there are a thousand ways,
such as the allotting to each soldier who desires it a small patch of
land to cultivate, in which the men can be made to feel an interest in
the country. For the officers there is a sporting hinterland as fine
and as accessible as the Pamirs to the Indian sportsman. Living is
undoubtedly more costly, and there will have to be special allowances
for South African service; but with a proper canteen system, such as
existed during the war, the cost of luxuries might be kept low enough
for all. There is a future, too, for the reservist which he cannot
look for at home. Even as an unskilled workman he can command wages
which are unknown in England; and the men who, at the end of their
three years' service, would join the South African reserve, would be
young enough to begin civil life in whatever walk they might choose.

The chief technical difficulties, exclusive of sea-transport, which is
outside our review, are the extra cost, the difficulty of recruiting,
and the delays in bringing reservists from home in case of active
service. The last will be met in a little while by the creation of a
South African reserve; but in the meantime there are many ways in
which it might be surmounted. Battalions might be brought up to
fighting strength by the inclusion of men from local forces. It would
be an easy matter to introduce into the terms of enlistment of the
South African Constabulary a condition of foreign service, and to keep
from 1000 to 2000 men in readiness. It would be possible also to
enlist 1000 men of the Transvaal volunteer force for special foreign
service, paying to each man a bonus of £12 per annum. The real
solution of this difficulty is bound up, as we shall see later, with
the whole theory of a colonial army; but even on the present system it
is easy to provide a working expedient. The question of extra
cost--for each man would require an extra 6d. per day, or £9, 2s. 6d.
per annum--is answered by pointing out that such a force being on the
home establishment would do away with the necessity of linked
battalions, and would effect a saving of twenty-four battalions and
six regiments of cavalry, so that even if the extra cost were 50 per
cent, the total saving would far outbalance it.[39] The recruiting
difficulty is unlikely to be a serious one. We may lose to the army a
little of the loose fringe of half-grown boys from the towns,--stuff
which, as history has shown, can be transformed into excellent
fighting men, but which at the same time does not represent the last
word either in moral or physical qualities. But many of the best of
our young men, whose thoughts turn naturally to the colonies, would
gladly seize the chance of three years' service there, in which they
would gain experience of the new lands, and be able to judge, when
their turn came for entering reserves, which line of life promised
most. No Emigration Bureau or Settlement Board would be so effective
an agency in bringing the right class to the country. But, further,
such a system would throw open to us the vast recruiting-grounds of
our colonies. It is difficult for one who has not been brought face to
face with it to realise the military enthusiasm which the war has
kindled not only among the more inflammable, but among the coolest and
shrewdest of our younger colonists. They know--none better--the joints
in our armour; but they have paid generous tribute to the solidarity
of spirit, the gallantry of our leaders, the unbreakable constancy of
our men. A few fanciful war correspondents have done a gross injustice
to our colonial soldiers by painting them as a race of capable
braggarts, who laughed at our incompetence in a game which they
understood so vastly better. It is safe to say that in the better
class there was no hint of such a spirit; and the way in which
irregular horse, with fine records of service, have traced the source
of victory in the last resort to the stamina of the British infantry,
does credit both to their judgment and their chivalry. They have
become keen critics of any organisation, looking at war not only with
the eyes of fighting men but of professional soldiers. All the details
of the profession are of interest to them, and an imperial force in
South Africa could draw largely both for officers and men upon the
local population. The benefit of such a result, both to the colonies
and to ourselves, is difficult to over-estimate. A common profession
would do much to smooth away the petty differences which are always
apt to widen out gulfs. The army would become a vast nursery of the
true imperial spirit, and a school to perpetuate the best of our
English traditions; and would itself gain incalculably by the infusion
of new and virile blood, and the weakening of prejudices, both of
class and education, which at present are a grave menace to its
efficiency.

       *       *       *       *       *

If the imperial Government accept the retention of a South African
Army Corps as part of the home establishment, it is worth while
considering how best this new departure in army policy can be used to
further the interests of South Africa herself, and those wider
imperial interests which are daily taking concrete shape and casting
their shadow over local politics. Leaving for a moment the question of
imperial forces, we find in South Africa a local military activity
which, though less completely organised than in some of the older
colonies, is yet well worth our reckoning with. The war brought into
being a large number of irregular corps, most of which have now
disappeared. In Cape Colony the permanent force is the Cape Mounted
Rifles, which has an average strength of 1000 men, enlisted for five
years, and sworn to "act as a police force throughout the colony, and
also as a military force for the defence of the colony." Since the war
the town guards and district mounted troops, the former limited to
10,000 and the latter to 5000 men, have been placed on a permanent
footing. They are loosely organised volunteer forces, enlisted for no
fixed period, and bound to serve in the one case in the neighbourhood
of the towns, and in the other within their own districts. There are
also a number of ordinary volunteer corps, composed chiefly of mounted
infantry, and field and garrison artillery, and a number of mounted
rifle clubs for local defence. All types of corps included, there are
probably not less than 20,000 men undergoing some kind of military
training and pledged to some form of service in Cape Colony alone.
Natal presents a very similar picture. Her regulars are the Natal
Police Force, with a strength, including the Zululand Police, of
between 500 and 600 men, enlisted for three years, and including both
mounted and foot divisions. There is a considerable volunteer force,
with artillery, infantry, and mounted rifles, two companies of naval
volunteers, and a number of rifle clubs with a strength of over 2000.
We may put the defensive strength of Natal, which, considering her
size, is remarkable, at a little under 5000 men. The British South
African Police, which is stationed in Southern Rhodesia, has a
strength of a little over 500, and the Southern Rhodesia Constabulary
and volunteers increase the forces of that district to nearly 2000
men. In the new colonies the chief force is the South African
Constabulary, with a nominal strength of 6000 men, of which two-thirds
are stationed in the Transvaal. It is an expensive force, each man
costing on an average £250 per annum; but there is reason to believe
that the figure may soon be reduced to £200, or even less. In the
Transvaal a volunteer force has been organised of nine regiments. No
ultimate strength has been fixed, but 10,000 may be taken as a fair
estimate. In April 1903 the force numbered fully 3000, and as the
country becomes more populous there is little reason to doubt that the
maximum will be reached.[40]

There is thus a force of over 40,000 men engaged in local defence
throughout South Africa, and of this the 8000 police are for all
practical purposes regular troops. At the present moment the command
of this force is split up among the different colonial governments and
is wholly dissociated from any connection with the command of the
imperial regulars. We have seen that the situation is full of grave
difficulties for the regulars themselves, since there is no place in
colonial policy for an alien garrison force. But the strongest
argument in the present system lies not in the difficulties which it
involves but in the advantages which it forgoes. We have in South
Africa a population which, to use Napier's famous distinction, is not
only bellicose but martial, with a natural aptitude for soldiering and
a keen interest in all details of military organisation. Until the
regular command is brought into line with the local forces this genius
will expend itself on casual volunteering, and when we next call for
colonial aid we shall have the same haphazard units, instead of
colonial regiments drilled and manoeuvred on one system and forming
a part of some regular division. The arguments for a federation of
the whole South African command are difficult to meet, and there is
little danger of opposition from the local governments. The danger
lies in the fact that it would necessarily involve some reconstruction
of our whole military system, and military conservatism is slow to
depart from the traditions of the elders.

If imperial defence means anything it must include the provision
in every great colonial unit, in Canada, Australia, South
Africa,--particularly in South Africa,--of a force on the lines of
the Indian army, with an elastic organisation, embracing both imperial
regulars and local troops. Granted the sanction of the imperial
Government, there is no special difficulty in the machinery required
to create it. If South Africa were federated it would be simplicity
itself. All that would be wanted would be to bring the general officer
commanding the imperial troops, since his command has been unified,
into relation with the Federal Ministry of Defence, and unite in his
person the functions which Sir Neville Lyttelton now exercises in
South Africa and those which at present belong to Lord Dundonald in
Canada. But, pending federation, we must have recourse to one of those
intercolonial representative bodies which form the thin end of the
federal wedge. The general commanding would be given the command of
local forces by an act of the local legislature, subject in all
questions of policy, finance, and organisation to the authority of an
intercolonial committee of defence.[41] Each colony would elect two or
more representatives, on the lines of the present Intercolonial
Council of the Transvaal and Orange River Colony; the council thus
formed would be empowered by the legislatures which elect it to decide
what share of the cost was to be borne by the separate colonies, to
arrange for combined manoeuvres, to supervise appointments, and, in
case of local wars, to decide what force should be sent to the front,
and in the event of an imperial war, to say what local forces should
be lent for service. The general commanding would be responsible to
the War Office for moving imperial troops, subject to its direction,
and for the internal discipline and organisation of the imperial
divisions. There would, thus, be clearly defined limits of authority
for both the imperial and local Governments, and at the same time
every inducement to co-operation. In so far as he was in command of
the whole of the South African forces, the general commanding would be
subject in South African matters to the defence committee; while, in
so far as he was in command of imperial troops, he would take his
orders on imperial questions, such as a foreign war, from the Home
Government. The present officers in command of colonial police and
volunteers would, of course, come under his authority precisely on
the same basis as officers of regulars.

The advantages of such a scheme are many, both from the standpoint of
policy and of military efficiency. It would please the colonies, who
would have an army of their own, drilled on regular lines and
affiliated to the imperial army, and at the same time would feel that
they had a share in the control of the forces and the military policy
of the Empire. It would ensure the efficiency of local troops, and
would prepare them for co-operation with the regulars,--not the clumsy
partnership of troops tagged on to a division which cannot use them,
but the true co-operation which follows on absorption in a larger unit
with which they have been trained. It would provide an easy means for
the transfer of colonial officers to imperial regiments, and would act
as a magnet for colonial recruiting. In the case of local wars, as I
have said, the whole force would be ready to take the field under the
orders of the general commanding. In the case of a foreign war the
imperial Government would direct the distribution of the regulars, and
it would be for the committee of defence to say what local troops
should be lent for foreign service.[42] Beyond this, the only duties
of the War Office would lie in the selection of staff officers and the
general commanding--a matter in which the concurrence of the colonial
governments might be obtained as a matter of courtesy. On the
financial side it is probable that the scheme would considerably
lessen the burden of defence. The only way in which the colonies can
ever be expected to contribute to the cost of imperial defence is by
providing armies and navies of their own. To pay for that which does
not directly concern you is a form of tax, and so hostile to the
letter and spirit of our colonial traditions. But if local governments
are given a direct interest in an imperial army in which their own
troops are subsumed, and whose policy they largely control, I do not
think they will be ungenerous. There is no reason why they should not
meet the cost of the general and his staff, and contribute part, if not
the whole, of the extra pay which the regular troops in the South
African command must receive, and the bonus to the volunteer corps
which are held ready for foreign service. Such payments, once the
federation were effected, would no doubt come as a spontaneous offer.
Decentralisation and centralisation are, by way of becoming catchwords,
repeated without understanding to justify the most diverse schemes. But
every true policy must include both, since in certain matters it is
well to decentralise, and in others unification is imperative. Such a
scheme as has been sketched combines the sporadic colonial forces in
one effective unit of organisation, and at the same time relieves the
tension at imperial headquarters by relegating detailed administration
to the local authorities, who are best fitted to supervise.

The military is, as a rule, the most difficult aspect of a federation,
but in our circumstances it is likely to be the simplest. We have a
federal nucleus in the imperial command, and a strong impulse in the
fact that the local volunteer and police forces have already served
side by side with regulars in the field, and are inspired with a
military spirit which may soon disappear unless fostered and utilised.
A federation of local forces exists in Canada and in the Australian
Commonwealth; a union of the imperial forces exists in South Africa.
The problem is to federate the local forces in advance of a political
federation, and to unite them with the imperial command in a system
which, though a new departure in military policy, contains no detail
which has not been somewhere or other already conceded. If the scheme
in itself is worth anything, the practical difficulties are small. It
is unlikely that the colonial governments will offer any opposition;
and so far as South African interests are concerned, the foundations
would be laid of a true federation. From the point of view of imperial
politics the step would have an even greater significance, for a type
would be created of a new army organisation which would provide for a
federated imperial defence; and the precedent having once been
created, the other colonies would readily follow suit.


  [38]  The final answer to this objection would be the
        reorganisation of the militia--the only force for home
        defence--and the release of the present regular army
        for service over-sea.

  [39]  I have thought it unnecessary to recapitulate in detail
        the financial argument used by advocates of this policy.
        Roughly it is as follows: The present Army Corps system
        provides for 78 battalions at home, 66 in India, and 12
        in South Africa--a total of 156. The proposed system
        provides for 42 at home, 24 in South Africa, and 66 in
        India--a total of 132. There is thus a saving of 24
        battalions, besides 6 regiments of cavalry.

        In figures, 24 battalions at £64,000  =  £1,536,000
        And 6 cavalry regiments at   £45,000  =    £270,000
                                                 ----------
                                  A total of     £1,806,000

        Including supplementary expenses, the total reductions
        would be over £2,000,000.

  [40]  The details of the force may be of interest. In April
        1903 it consisted of two regiments of the Imperial Light
        Horse, one regiment of the South African Light Horse,
        one regiment of the Johannesburg Mounted Rifles, one
        regiment of the Scottish Horse, one regiment of the
        Central South African Railway Volunteers, one regiment
        of the Transvaal Light Infantry, one regiment of
        Transvaal Scottish, one regiment of Railway Pioneers, a
        medical staff corps, and a headquarters' staff. The
        names of some of the most famous irregular corps are
        thus perpetuated. A new regiment--the Northern
        Rifles--has recently been formed at Pretoria.

  [41]  A committee of defence has been formed in Natal,
        consisting of the officers commanding the imperial and
        the local forces and representatives of the local
        government.

  [42]  This scheme would involve a departure from the present
        military organisation on the basis of army corps. We
        cannot expect to get an army corps for each colonial
        district, and the advantages disappear if such
        reinforcements are to be distributed to make up the
        strength of the army corps drawn from the whole Empire.
        The unit must be smaller--something in the nature of a
        division of, say, three brigades with one brigade of
        mounted troops. In South Africa we could have several
        divisions of regulars and several of local troops. The
        system would have the merit of harmonising with the
        organisation of the army in India, where reinforcements
        are most likely to be required.



CHAPTER XIX.

THE FUTURE OUTLOOK.


The problems discussed in the foregoing chapters have been concerned
chiefly with the new colonies, for it is to them that we must look
for the motive force to expedite union. They must long continue to
be the most important factor in British South Africa, partly from
their accidental position as the late theatre of war, and more
especially from their wealth, the intricacy of their politics, the
high level of ability among their inhabitants, the splendid chances
of their future, and the delicacy of their present status. Union, if
it comes, will come chiefly because of them; and in any union they
will play a great, if not a dominant, part. Whither they pipe, South
Africa must ultimately follow. But this is not because there can be
any differentiation in value between the states, since all are
self-subsistent and independent, but because in the new colonies the
problems which chiefly concern South Africa's future are already
naked to the eye and focussed for observation. The Transvaal will be
important because within it the fight which concerns the whole
future of the African colony will be fought to a finish. It will add
to the problem some features which concern only itself, but the
general lines it shares with its neighbours. The economic strife,
the amalgamation of races, the native question, the movement towards
federation, with all its many aspects, and, last but not least, the
intellectual and political development of its citizens,--this is the
problem of the Transvaal, and in the gravest sense it is the problem
of South Africa's future.

In the preceding pages the separate questions have been briefly
considered. But here we may note one truth which attaches to them
all--the settlement of no single one is easy. Each will defy a supine
statesmanship, and in each failure will be attended with serious
disaster. Patience and a lithe intelligence can alone ensure success,
and it is doubtful if that happy Providence which has now and then taken
charge of our drifting and muddling will interfere in this province to
save us from the consequences of folly. Every question stands on a
needle-point. Mining development--if the wealth of the country is to be
properly exploited--must continue as it has begun, utilising the highest
engineering talent, and straining every nerve to extend the area over
which profits can be made. The labour question requires tact and
patience, prescience of future interests, a recognition of the needs of
the complex organism of which it is but one aspect. The native question
shows the same narrow margin between success and failure, and demands a
degree of forethought and statesmanship which would be an exorbitant
requirement were it not so vital a part of the social and economic
future. Agriculture and settlement can only be made valuable by a close
study of facts, and an intelligence which can correctly estimate data
and bring to bear on them the latest results of experimental science.
Finally, in its financial aspects the problem has a near resemblance to
the most complicated of recent economic tasks, the re-settlement of
Egypt. Burdened with a heavy debt, the country is speculating on its
future and living on its capital. For the next few years it will in all
likelihood achieve solvency; but the margin may be small, and the result
may be secured only by the retention of certain revenue-producing
charges at an unnatural figure. A considerable part of the debt will be
applied to services which will make a good return in time, but for a
little while revenue may barely cover disbursements. In finance, above
all other provinces, there is need of a severe economy, coupled with a
clear recognition of the country's needs and a judicious courage. It is
a gamble, if you like, but with sleepless and ubiquitous watchfulness
the odds are greatly in our favour. The very forces which fight against
us, the complexity of economic and social interests, will become our
servants, if properly understood, and will solidify and preserve our
work, as the house fashioned of granite will stand when the building of
sandstone will crumble. The shaping force of intelligence remains the
one thing needful. Of high and just intentions there can be little
doubt, but in the new South Africa we are more likely to be perplexed by
the fool than the knave. Will the result, as Cromwell asked long ago, be
"answerable to the simplicity and honesty of the design"? Neither to the
one nor the other, but to that rarer endowment, political wisdom.

So much for administrative problems. A country whose future is staked
upon the intelligence of its Government and its people is an
exhilarating spectacle to the better type of man. England has
succeeded before on the same postulates and in harder circumstances.
But there are certain subtler aspects of development, where the same
high qualities are necessary, but where the end to be striven for is
less clear. There is the fusion of the two races, an ideal if not a
practical necessity. As has been said, a political union already
exists after a fashion. There seems little reason to fear any future
disruption, for on the material side Dutch interests are ours, and all
are vitally concerned in the common prosperity. Administrative
efficiency will make the Boer acquiesce in any form of government. But
that which Lord Durham thought far more formidable, "a struggle not of
principles but of races," may continue for long in other departments
than politics, unless we use extraordinary caution in our methods. The
very advance of civilisation may militate against us by vivifying
historical memories and rekindling a clearer flame of racial
resentment. The Dutch have their own ideals, different from ours, but
not incompatible with complete political union. Any attempt to do
violence to their ideals, or any hasty and unconsidered imposition of
unsuitable English forms, will throw back that work of spiritual
incorporation which is the highest destiny of the country. They have a
strong Church and a strong creed, certain educational ideas and social
institutions which must long remain powers in the land. And let us
remember that any South African civilisation must grow up on the soil,
and must borrow much from the Dutch race, else it is no true growth
but a frail exotic. It will borrow English principles but not English
institutions, since, while principles are grafts from human needs,
institutions are the incrusted mosses of time which do not bear
transplanting. It is idle to talk of universities such as Oxford, or
public schools like Winchester, and any attempt to tend such alien
plants will be a waste of money and time. South Africa will create her
own nurseries, and on very different lines. If we are burdened in our
work with false parallels we shall fail, for nothing in the new
country can survive which is not based on a clear-sighted survey of
things as they are, and a renunciation of old formulas. Let us
recognise that we cannot fuse the races by destroying the sacred
places of one of them, but only by giving to the future generations
some common heritage. "If you unscotch us," wrote Sir Walter Scott to
Croker, "you will find us damned mischievous Englishmen," and it will
be a very mischievous Dutchman who is coerced into unsuitable English
ways and taught sentiments of which he has no understanding. When a
people arise who have a common culture bequeathed from their fathers,
and who look back upon Ladysmith and Colenso, the Great Trek and the
Peninsular War, as incidents in a common pedigree, then we shall have
fusion indeed, a union in spirit and in truth. Nothing which has in it
the stuff of life can ever die, and there is something of this
vitality in the Dutch tradition. Our own is stronger, wider, resting
on greater historical foundations, and therefore it will more readily
attract and absorb the lesser. But the lesser will live, transformed,
indeed, but none the less a real part of the spiritual heritage of a
nation where there will be no racial cleavage. The consummation is not
yet, and, maybe, will be long delayed. It will not be in our time;
perhaps our sons may see it; certainly, I think, our grandchildren
will be very near it. Such a development cannot be artificially
hastened, and all that we can do is to see that no barriers of our own
making are allowed to intervene. Meantime we have a _de facto_
political union to make the most of.

What manner of men are the citizens of this new nation to be? They
will have the vigour which belongs to colonial parentage, the
freshness of outlook and freedom from old shibboleths. But they
should have more. They start as no colony has ever started, with the
echoes of a great war still in their ears, with a highly developed
industry and the chances of great wealth, and with a population
showing as high a level of intelligence as any in the world. The
nature of their problem will compel them to remain intellectually
active, and as the eyes of the world are on them they will have few
temptations to lethargy. They may take foolish steps and be beguiled
into rash experiments, but I do not think they will stagnate. And for
this people so much alive there is the chance of an indigenous
culture, born of the old, when they have leisure to make it theirs,
and the freshening influences of their new land and their strenuous
life. South Africa cannot help herself. She must play a large part in
imperial politics; her views on economic questions will be listened to
by all the world; a political future, good or bad, she must accept and
make the most of. But behind it all there is the prospect of that
intimate self-development, that progress in thought, in the arts, in
the amenities of life, which, like righteousness, exalteth a nation.
The finest of all experiments is to unite an older civilisation with
the natural freshness of a virgin soil, and she, alone among the
colonies which have ever been founded, has the power to make it. Not
only is it a new land, but it is Africa, a corner of that mysterious
continent to which the eyes of dreamers and adventurers have always
turned. The boundaries of the unknown are shrinking daily, and where
our forefathers marked only lions and behemoths on the map, we set
down a hundred names and a dozen trading stations. The winds which
blow from the hills of the north tell no longer of mystic interior
kingdoms and uncounted treasures. We know most things nowadays, and
have given our knowledge the prosaic form of joint-stock companies.
But the proverb still justifies itself.[43] Africa is still a home of
the incalculable, not wholly explored or explorable, still a
hinterland to which the youth of the south can push forward in search
of fortune, and from which that breath of romance, which is the life
of the English race, can inspire thinkers and song-makers. Girdled on
three sides by the ocean, and on the fourth looking north to the
inland seas and the eternal snows of Ruwenzori--I can imagine no
nobler cradle for a race. I have said that a structure built with
difficulty is the most lasting. Her complex problems will knit
together the sinews of intelligence and national character, and the
great commonplaces of policy, so eternally true, so inexorable in
their application, will become part of her creed, not from lip-service
but from the sweat and toil of practical work. If to these she can add
other commonplaces, still older and more abiding, of civic duty, of
the intellectual life, of moral purpose, she will present to history
that most rare and formidable of combinations, intellect and vitality,
will and reason, culture guiding and inspiring an unhesitating gift
for action.

There is already a school of political thought in South Africa, a
small school, and thus far so ill-defined that it has no common
programme to put before a world which barely recognises its existence.
It owes its inspiration to Mr Rhodes, but its founder left it no
legacy of doctrine beyond a certain instinct for great things, a fire
of imagination, and a brooding energy. Its members are very practical
men, landowners, mine-owners, rich, capable, with nothing of the
ideologue in their air, the last people one would naturally go to for
ambitions which could not be easily reduced to pounds sterling. But
they are of the school: at heart they are pioneers, the cyclopean
architects of new lands. It is one of South Africa's paradoxes that
there should exist among successful and matter-of-fact men of business
a hungry fidelity to ideals for which we look in vain among the
doctrinaires who do them facile homage. And they are also very
practical in their aims. Mr Rhodes never desired a paper empire or
that vague thing called territorial prestige. What filled his
imagination was the thought of new nations of our blood living a free
and wholesome life and turning the wilderness into a habitable place.
He strove not for profit but for citizens, for a breathing-space, a
playground, for the future. The faults of his methods and the
imperfections of his aims, which are so curiously our own English
faults and imperfections, may have hindered the realisation of his
dreams, but they did not impair that legacy of daimonic force which he
left to his countrymen. You may find it in South Africa to-day, and if
you rightly understand it and feel its hidden movements you will be
aghast at your own parochialism. It is slow and patient, knowing that
"the counsels to which Time hath not been called Time will not
ratify." But with Time on its side it is confident, and it will not
easily be thwarted.

Excursions in colonial psychology are rarely illuminating, lacking as
a rule both sympathy and knowledge; but on one trait there is a
singular unanimity. The two chief obstacles to imperial unity, so runs
a saying, are the bumptious colonial and the supercilious Englishman.
I readily grant the latter, but is the first fairly described? A
colonist is naturally prone to self-assertion in certain walks of
life. If he creates an industry alone and from the start in the teeth
of hardships, having had to begin from the very beginning, he is apt
to lose perspective and unduly magnify his work. If he owns a bakery,
it is the finest in the world, at any rate in the British Empire. He
compares his doings with his neighbours' within his limited horizon,
and he is scarcely to be blamed if he brags a little. His bravado is
only ridiculous when taken out of its surroundings, and at the worst
is more a mannerism than an affection of mind. But on the intellectual
side he is, in my judgment, conspicuously humble, a groper after the
viewless things whose omnipotence he feels dimly. To the home-bred man
history is a commonplace to be taken for granted; to the colonist who
has shaped a workaday life from the wilds, it is a vast mother of
mystery. Traditions, customs, standards staled to us by the vain
emphasis of generations, rise before him as revelations and shrines of
immortal wisdom. What to us is rhetoric is to him the finest poetry;
and for this reason in politics he is prone to follow imaginative
schemes, without testing them by his native caution. Our somewhat
weary intellectual world is a temple which he is ready to approach
with uncovered head. It is not mere innocence, but rather, I think,
that freshness of outlook and optimism which he gathers from his new
land and his contact with the beginnings of things. Truth and beauty
remain the same: it is only the symbols and the mirrors which grow
dim with time; and to the man who is sufficiently near to understand
the symbols, and sufficiently aloof to see no flaw or tawdriness,
there is a double share of happiness. The superficial assurance, the
"bumptiousness" of the saying, is surely a small matter if behind it
there is this true modesty of spirit.

A national life presumes union, but South African federation is simply
a step to a larger goal. It may be objected that in the foregoing
chapters the cardinal problem is treated as less the fusion of the two
races than the development of South Africa on certain lines within our
colonial system. Such has been the intention of the book. The Dutch
have accepted the new _régime_; they will fight, if they fight, on
constitutional lines under our ægis and within our Empire, and in a
sense it may be said that racial union on the political side already
exists. But the further political development of the country, as
self-consciousness is slowly gained--that, indeed, is a matter on
which hang great issues, good or bad, for the English people. Because
the furnace has been so hot, the metal will emerge pure or it will not
emerge at all. A new colony, or rather a new nation, will have been
created, or another will have been added to the catalogue of our
infrequent failures, and the loose territorial mass known as South
Africa will become the prey of any wandering demagogue or aspiring
foreign Power. Our late opponents will take their revenge, if they
seek it, not by reviving the impossible creed of Dutch supremacy, but
by retarding South Africa from what is her highest destiny and her
worthiest line of development. Her future, if she will accept it, is
to be a pioneer in imperial federation: a pioneer, because she has
felt more than any other colony the evils of disintegration, the vices
of the old colonial system, the insecurity of government from above,
and at the same time is in a position to realise the weakness of that
independence which is also isolation. This is not the place to enter
upon so vast a question. To many it is the greatest of modern
political dreams. Without it imperialism becomes empty rhetoric and
braggadocio, a tissue of dessicated phrases, worthy of the worst
accusations with which its enemies have assailed it. Without it our
Empire is neither secure from aggression nor politically sound nor
commercially solvent. Within it alone can any true scheme of common
defence be realised. Moreover, it is the glamour needed to give to
colonial politics that wider imaginative outlook which England enjoys
in virtue of a long descent. Colonial politics tend to become at times
narrow and provincial; in a federation they would gain that larger
view and ampler pride which a man feels who, believing himself to be
humbly born, learns for the first time that he is the scion of a
famous house. Their kinship, instead of the long-remembered sentiment
of a descendant, would become the intimate loyalty of a colleague. And
home politics also would lose the provincialism, equally vicious, if
historically more interesting, which lies somewhere near the root of
our gravest errors, and in relinquishing a facile imperialism find an
empire which needs no rhetoric to enhance its splendour.

But before South Africa can become an ally in federation she must
make her peace with herself. If it is difficult to exaggerate the
need for untiring intelligence in the making of this peace, it is
even harder to over-estimate the profound significance which her
success or failure in the task of self-realisation has for the
prestige of our race. Our colonial methods are on trial in a sphere
where all the world can watch. And while our aim is a colony, the
means must be different from those which we have hitherto used in our
expansion. A nascent colony was neglected till it asserted itself and
appeared already mature on the political horizon. But in the growth
of this colony England must play a direct part, since for good or for
ill her destinies are linked with it, and supineness and a foolish
interference will equally bring disaster. There is one parallel, not
indeed in political conditions, but in the qualities required for the
shaping of the country. If we can show in South Africa that spirit of
sleepless intelligence which has created British India, then there is
nothing to fear. For, as I understand history, India was made by
Englishmen who brought to the task three qualities above others. The
first was a wide toleration for local customs and religions--a desire
to leave the national life intact, and to mould it slowly by those
forces of enlightenment in which sincerely, if undogmatically, they
believed. The second was the extension of rigorous justice and full
civil rights to every subject, a policy which in the long-run is the
only means of bringing a subject race into the life of the State.
Last, and most vital of all, they showed in their work a complete
efficiency, proving themselves better statesmen, financiers, jurists,
soldiers, than any class they had superseded. This efficiency is the
key-note of the South African problem, so far as concerns British
interests. If the imperial Power shows itself inspired with energy,
acumen, a clear-eyed perception of truth as well as with its
traditional honesty of purpose, South Africa will gladly follow where
it may lead. But she will be quick to criticise formalism and
intolerant of a fumbling incapacity.

_Sed nondum est finis._ We stand at the beginning of a new path, and
it is impossible to tell whither it may lead, what dark fords and
stony places it may pass through, and in what sandy desert or green
champaign it may end. Political prophecy is an idle occupation.
American observers on the eve of the French Revolution saw England on
the verge of anarchy and France a contented country under a beloved
king. Even so acute a writer as de Tocqueville assumed that America
would continue an agricultural country without manufactures, and that
the fortunes of her citizens would be small. If philosophers may err,
it is well for a humble writer to be modest in his conclusions. In
the past pages an effort has been made neither to minimise the
difficulties nor to over-estimate the chances of South African
prosperity. "Whosoever," said Ralegh, "in writing a modern history
shall follow truth too near the heels, it may haply strike out his
teeth." I can ask for no better fate than to see all my forecasts
falsified, the dangers proved to have no existence, the chances shown
a thousandfold more roseate. But whatever may be the destiny of this
or that observation, there can be no dispute, I think, upon the
gravity of the problem and the profound importance of its wise
settlement. And when all is said that can be said it is permissible
to import into our view a little of that ancestral optimism which has
hitherto kept our hearts high in our checkered history, for optimism,
when buttressed by intelligence, is but another name for courage.
There is an optimism more merciless than any pessimism, which, seeing
clearly all the perils and discouragements, the hollowness of smooth
conventional counsels and the dreary list of past errors, can yet
pluck up heart to believe that there is no work too hard for the
English race when its purpose is firm and its intelligence awakened.
With this belief we may well look forward to a day when the old
unhappy things will have become far off and forgotten, and South
Africa, at peace with herself, will be the leader in a new and
pregnant imperial policy; and the words of the poet of another empire
will be true in a nobler and ampler sense of ours, "They who drink
of the Rhone and the Orontes are all one nation."


  [43]  "Out of Africa comes ever some new thing" is generally
        quoted in the Latin of Pliny, but it is probably as old
        as the first Ionian adventurers who sailed to Egypt or
        heard wild Phoenician tales. It is found in Aristotle:
        ~Legetai tis paroimia hoti aei pherei Libyê ti kainon~
        (Hist. Anim., viii. 28).



INDEX.


    Agricultural Bureau of the United States, the, 283.

    Agricultural prospects in South Africa, 267-270.

    Altenroxel, Mr H. S., 121-124.

    Amsterdam, 134, 139-141, 177.

    Angling in South Africa, 55, 182-184.

    Angoni, the, 15.

    Arabs, the, 4, 8, 23, 29.

    Army in South Africa, the, 368-385;
      value of training ground, 373;
      necessity of reorganisation on new model, 375, 376, 381-385.

    Assegai River, the, 143.

    Athole, 57, 140, 141.

    Australia, land legislation in, 276-279;
      labour party in, 321;
      federation of, 363-365;
      local forces in, 368, 369.

    Austro-Hungary, parallel with, 360, 361.


    Baines, Mr, 8.

    Bantu races, the. See Kaffir.

    Barberton, 214, 228, 274, 341, 342.

    Barnard, Lady Anne, 35.

    Barolongs, the, 15, 45, 286, 306.

    Baronga, the, 30 n.

    Barreto, 25, 27 n.

    Basutoland, 11, 12, 16, 17, 216, 286, 326.

    Bataungs, the, 43, 45.

    Bechuanaland, 11, 12, 15, 286, 326.

    Belfast, 341.

    Bell's Kop, 134.

    Bent's 'Ruined Cities of Mashonaland' quoted, 8, 10.

    Bethel, 218.

    Bezuidenhout, Frederick, 36.

    Bilad Ghana, discovery of, 21.

    Birds of South Africa, 54, 178-181.

    Blaauwberg, 152, 153.

    Bleloch, Mr W., quoted, 192.

    Bloemfontein, 216.

    Bloemfontein Conference of March 1903, the, 362.

    Bloemhof, 265, 341, 342.

    Boers, the, origin of, 35;
      as hunters, 49-54;
      horsemanship of, 55;
      character of, 58-76;
      farming methods of, 256-260;
      political attitude of, 343-345, 389, 390.

    Boschdaal, 108.

    Botha, General, 105, 138.

    Brak River, the (Zoutpansberg), 153, 154.

    Bruderstroom, the, 116.

    Bruintje Hoogte, 36.

    Bryce, Mr James, quoted, 271 n., 326 n., 350, 355 n.

    Buffalo River, the, 5.

    Bushmen, the, 5, 6.

    Byles, Mr, 53.


    Cabral, Pedro Alvarez, 23.

    Calicut, 23, 25.

    Callaway, Bishop, his works, 14 n.

    Cam, Diego, his discovery of the Congo, 22.

    Canada, nature of federation of, 363, 365;
      local forces in, 368.
      See Durham, Lord.

    Cape Colony, native taxation in, 298;
      constitution of, 325;
      franchise in, 339;
      local forces in, 369, 378, 379.

    Cape of Good Hope, discovery of, 22.

    Carolina, 131.

    Casalis, M., 14 n.

    Castrol's Nek, 144.

    Celliers, Sarel, 44, 62.

    Cetewayo, 15.

    Climate, 195.

    Coal, 193.

    Commando Nek, 82, 110.

    Compensation, to slave-owners in Cape Colony, 39, 40;
      to loyalists in Cape Colony and Natal, 244.

    Compies River, 141.

    Congo Free State, 367.

    Conquered territory, the, 216.

    Constabulary, the South African, 105, 115, 246, 249, 376.

    _Constitutie_ of Orange Free State, the, 327-329.

    Conto, Portuguese writer, quoted, 9.

    Copper-mining, 159, 193.

    Coster River, the, 107.

    Cost of gold-mining, 203 n.

    Cost of living in new colonies, 220, 221.

    Crocodile Poort, 82, 110-112, 161.

    Crocodile River, 15. See Limpopo.

    Crown Colony administration, nature of, 331-334.

    Customs Union, the South African, 235-241, 355.


    da Gama, Vasco, 23, 24.

    d'Albuquerque, Affonso, 24.

    Damaraland, German acquisition of, 366.

    de Barros, 19.

    de Buys, Conrad, story of, 36, 37.

    Decentralisation, colonial, 29;
      administration in Transvaal, 242, 243.

    Delarey, General, 88, 102, 138.

    de Silveira, Gonsalvo, 26.

    Diamonds, 193, 194.

    Dias, Diniz, 20.

    Diaz, Bartolomeo, 22.

    Dingaan, 3, 15.

    Dingiswayo, 14.

    do Espirito Santa, Luiz, 27.

    Dominicans in East Africa, the, 26, 27.

    dos Santos, 19.

    Drakensberg Mountains, the, 43, 113, 144, 173, 177.

    Durham, Lord, his Report on Canada, 331, 389.

    Dutch East India Company founded, the, 26.

    Dutch, the. See Boers.


    Education, 309, 389.

    Egypt, 7, 84;
      comparison of South Africa with, 224, 253, 388.

    Elands River (Lydenburg), 129.

    Elands River (Rustenburg), 106.

    Ericsen, Mr, 52, 53.

    Ermelo, 57, 137.

    Expenditure of Transvaal, the normal, 241.


    Federation, Imperial, 395, 396.

    Federation of South Africa, the, 347, 348-367;
      advantages of, 350-353;
      tendencies towards, 353-355;
      tendencies against, 355-358;
      the first steps towards, 359-363;
      nature of, 364-367.

    Forestry in the Transvaal, 194.

    Fourteen Streams, 215.

    Franchise in the new colonies, axioms which govern, 338;
      types of, 339, 340;
      division of constituencies, 341, 342.

    Francis, Mr, 53.

    Frere, Sir Bartle, 348.

    Fura, Mount, 9, 25.


    Game laws in Transvaal, 169-171.

    Game reserves, 170, 171, 185.

    Glenelg, Lord, his Kaffir policy, 38, 40.

    Glen Grey Act, the, 298, 299, 307.

    Goa, 24, 25.

    Gold, how found in Transvaal, 191-194;
      quartz and alluvial, mining for, 193;
      nature of industry, 196-200.

    Gold Law Commission, Report of, 227-231.

    Gordon-Cumming, Mr, 53, 168.

    Graaff-Reinet, 3, 7, 40.

    Greylingstad, 192.

    Grey, Sir George, 348.

    _Grondwet_, the Transvaal, 328, 340.

    Guaranteed Loan, the, 216, 222, 244-250, 360.


    Haenertsburg, 115, 116, 120.

    Hall and Neal, Messrs, their 'Ancient Ruins of
      Rhodesia,' 10 n.

    Harrier packs, 181.

    Harrismith, 214.

    Hartley, Mr, 50, 53.

    Havilah, 9.

    Heidelberg, 192.

    Henry the Navigator, Prince, 20-22.

    High Commissionership, functions of, 353.

    Hillier, Dr A., quoted, 6 n.

    Himyarites. See Sabæans.

    History of South Africa, difficulties in way of, 4.

    Hottentots, the, 6, 7.

    Huguenot strain in the Boers, the, 35, 60.


    India, 208 n., 370.

    Ingwenya Mountains, the, 131.

    Inhambane, 28.

    Inter-Colonial Council, the, 246-248, 359-362.

    Irene, Mr van der Byl's park at, 57.

    Iron ore, 193.

    Irrigation, 263, 268.


    Jacottet, M., his works on folk-lore, 14 n.

    Jesuits in East Africa, the, 26, 27.

    Jew, the, 100, 154, 313.

    Johannesburg, 311-324;
      description of, 311, 312;
      false ideas of, 314, 315;
      force of social persistence in, 315-317;
      critical position of, 317;
      present stage of development, 319;
      labour party in, 320;
      solidarity of spirit in, 322.

    Johnston, Sir Harry, 204.

    Joubert's Hoogte, 144.

    Junod, M., his works on folk-lore, 14 n., 30 n.


    Kaffir races, the, 5, 11;
      religion and law of, 12;
      folk-lore of, 13, 30 n.;
      superstitions of, 150, 164;
      as hunters, 164;
      as farmers, 265, 292;
      their political future, 284-310;
      taxation of, 298-301;
      education of, 309.

    Kalahari, the, 102, 169, 173.

    Keane, Professor, 8, 9, 10 n.

    Kirk, the Dutch, 42, 328, 389.

    Klerksdorp, 93, 192, 215.

    Komati Poort, 214, 216.

    Komati River, the, 130, 141.

    Korannafontein, 99.

    Koranna tribe, the, 6, 99.

    Krabbefontein, 122, 123.

    Kruger, Paul, 43, 69, 110, 317, 330.


    Labour party in the Transvaal, the, 319-321.

    Labour question in the Transvaal, the, 200-214;
      nature of labour on mines, 201;
      Kaffir labour, 202;
      Central African labour, 204, 205;
      white labour, 205-208;
      Asiatic labour, 208-212;
      labour for the railways, 218, 219;
      compulsory labour, 292-295.

    Lake Banagher, 132.

    Lake Chrissie, 136, 137, 220.

    Land settlement in South Africa, 244;
      sums alloted for, 252, 255-283;
      extent of Crown land, 256, 273, 274;
      political importance of settlement, 270-273;
      Government scheme of, 274-280;
      comparison with Australasian precedents, 276-279.

    Lebombo flats, the, 134.

    Lebombo hills, the, 118, 172.

    Legislative Councils of Transvaal and Orange
      River Colony, the, 336, 337.

    Letaba River, the, 113, 117-124.

    Letsitela River, the, 113.

    Leydsdorp, 113, 114, 216.

    Lichtenburg, 97, 100, 101, 218, 264.

    Lichtenstein, his 'Travels in South Africa,' 36 n.

    Limpopo River, the, 7, 36, 45, 63, 106, 147, 150,
      156, 160, 161, 172, 287.

    Linschoten, publication of his works, 26.

    Livingstone, 8.

    Lobengula, 15, 16.

    Louis Trichard, 154.

    Lydenburg, 37, 43, 121, 129, 186, 216, 274, 341, 342.


    Macdonald, John, 53.

    Machadodorp, 129.

    Machadodorp-Carolina railway, the, 130, 215, 217.

    Machubi, 124.

    Mackenzie, John, quoted, 294.

    Magalakween River, the, 149.

    Magaliesberg, the, 15, 44, 82, 107-112, 160, 312.

    Magata, 9, 286.

    Magata's Nek, 107.

    Magatoland, 172, 184.

    Main Reef formation, extent of, 192.

    Majajie's location, 117, 304.

    Makalanga, the, 10, 11, 12, 24-27.

    Makasi Spruit, the, 96.

    Malapoch, 152.

    Malietsie's location, 150.

    Malmani Oog, 102-104.

    Manicaland, 11.

    Manuza, 27.

    Marah, 37.

    Marico, river and district, 15, 45, 106, 177, 274, 342.

    Maritz, Gerrit, 44.

    Market, nature of, 219, 261, 266, 267.

    Mashonaland, 10, 11, 169, 286.

    Mazimba, the, 11.

    Middelburg, 193, 341.

    Missionaries, 101, 309.

    Monomotapa, 10, 11, 24-27.

    Mont aux Sources, 134, 153.

    Mooi River, the, 43, 87, 184.

    Mosega, 3, 44.

    Moshesh, 3, 16, 17.

    Mosilikatse, 15, 16, 43-45, 112.

    Mountaineering in South Africa, 153.

    Mozambique, 23, 25.

    Municipal government in Transvaal, 335.

    Murchison Hills, the, 117.

    _Mynpacht_, 229, 230.


    Natal, discovery of, 23;
      native taxation in, 298;
      constitution of, 325;
      franchise in, 339;
      local forces in, 369, 379.

    Native Labour Association, the, 202, 213, 351.

    Natives. See Kaffirs.

    Nauraghes, the Sardinian, 8, 9.

    Neolithic age, traces of, 6.

    Netherlands railway, the, 217.

    New Scotland, 140, 141.

    Nomenclature, Dutch, 47, 48, 82.

    Nyl, the river, 34.

    Nylstroom, 341.


    Occupation farms in Transvaal, 255.

    Ogilby's 'Itinerarium Angliæ' quoted, 282.

    Olifant's Poort, 82.

    Olifant's River, 121, 172, 173.

    Ophir, 9, 21.

    Orange River Colony, the, 176;
      railway system of, 217 n., 246;
      financial position of, 223, 224, 248;
      taxation of natives in, 298;
      census of, 342.

    Oswell, Mr, 53, 168.

    Ovampas, the, 11.


    Palæolithic age, traces of, 5.

    Panda, 16.

    Parties in the Transvaal, probable division of, 344, 345.

    Phoenicians, the, 4, 8, 160.

    Pietersburg, 113, 114, 148, 214, 216, 341.

    Piet Potgieter's Rust, 42, 341.

    Piet Retief, 142, 143.

    Pongola River, the, 129, 141, 144.

    Portuguese in East Africa, the, 4, 7, 11;
      their age of discovery, 19-24;
      their African empire, 24-32.

    Potchefstroom, 87, 192, 274.

    Potgieter, Andries, 43, 44.

    Prazos, the Portuguese, 28, 119.

    Prester John, 21, 24.

    Pretoria, 42, 312, 341.

    Pretoria-Pietersburg railway, the, 217.

    Pungwe River, the, 169.


    Railway Extension Conference, the, 216.

    Railway system in South Africa, the, 214-219, 246;
      revenue of, 249.

    Reitz, Mr F. W., his songs, 69.

    Repatriation, 94, 95, 109, 136, 138, 139, 149, 244.

    Retief, Pieter, 37, 38, 142.

    Revenue of Transvaal, the, 224-241;
      mining revenue, 225.

    Rhodes, Mr C. J., his native policy, 307;
      his policy of federation, 348;
      his influence on South African politics, 392, 393.

    Rhodesia, 7, 8-10, 161, 173, 210, 215, 326, 379.

    Rooijantjesfontein, 100.

    Rooi Rand, the, 118.

    Rustenburg, 82, 107-110, 171, 216, 274.

    Ruwenzori, 147, 392.


    Sabæans, the, 8, 9.

    Sabi game preserve, 171.

    Sabi River, the, 9.

    Sand River, the (Zoutpansberg), 114, 216.

    Sardinha, Manoel, 27.

    Schlichter, Dr, 8, 10 n.

    Schoon Spruit, the, 93.

    Scriptural parallels, the Boer sense of, 34.

    Selati railway, the, 120.

    Selons River, the, 107.

    Selous, Mr, quoted, 10, 50, 52, 53, 168.

    Sharpe, Sir A., 53.

    Slaangaapies mountains, the, 132, 141-143.

    Slachter's Nek, story of, 36, 41.

    Slave question in Cape Colony, the, 38-40.

    Smith, Sir Harry, 41.

    Sofala, 24-28.

    Somerset, Lord Charles, 38.

    Spelonken, the, 113, 149.

    Springbok Flats, 171, 264, 265 n.

    Springs-Ermelo railway, the, 215.

    Squatters' law, the, 304, 305.

    Standerton, 265, 341.

    Stock diseases, 262;
      prevention of, 262 n.

    Swaziland, 129, 132-135, 177, 215, 286, 326.


    Taqui, 155, 156.

    Tarshish, 9.

    Taxation in Transvaal, 225, 226;
      of unoccupied lands, 232, 233;
      of share quotations, 234.

    Tchaka, 3, 14-16.

    Tete, 28.

    Thaba Bosigo, 16.

    Thaba 'Nchu, 43.

    Theal, Dr, his work, 14 n.

    Tobacco-growing, 110, 269.

    Transvaal, estimated population of, 342.

    Trek, the Great, 15, 33-48.

    Trichard, Louis, 42, 43.

    Trout Acclimatisation Society of the Transvaal, 184.

    Trusts, possibility of, in South Africa, 197-199.


    Umpilusi River, the, 132, 134.

    Usutu River, the, 183.

    Uys, the family of, 44, 48.


    Van Rensburg, Jan, 42, 43.

    Van Riebeck, Jan, 210 n.

    Van Rooyen, Mr, 54.

    Vechtkop, 3, 43.

    Veld, nature of, 80;
      bush veld, 87;
      veld fires, 99;
      quality of soil of, 257, 265.

    _Vergunnings_, 230.

    Volksraad, the, of the Orange Free State, 328;
      of the Transvaal, 328;
      second, 329.

    Volunteer forces in South Africa, the, 379, 380 n.

    Voortrekkers, the. See Trek, the Great.


    Wakkerstroom, 108, 145.

    War debt, the, 222, 244-250, 318.

    Warm Baths, 220, 341.

    Waterberg, 171, 218, 264, 342.

    _Werfs_, 229, 230.

    Willcocks, Sir W., his Report on Irrigation, 263.

    Wilmot, Mr A., his 'Monomotapa,' 10 n., 28 n.

    Winburg, 44.

    Wolkberg, the, 113, 116.

    Wolmaranstad, 96, 97, 218.

    Wood Bush, the, 113-128, 149, 186, 228.


    Zambesi River, the, 7, 10, 147, 168, 172, 177, 296, 350, 367.

    Zeerust, 102-105, 177.

    Zimbabwes, the, 7-11.

    Zoutpansberg, 37, 43, 150-154, 156, 171, 274, 342.

    Zulus, the, 11, 14, 15.


THE END.


PRINTED BY WILLIAM BLACKWOOD AND SONS.

       *       *       *       *       *


Transcriber's Note

The following changes were made to the original text:

    Page 23,  "Muslin" changed to "Muslim" (with Muslim pilgrims)
    Page 280, "other" changed to "another" (for another two)
    Page 376, £ restored to Footnote 39 (£270,000)

All other inconsistencies in spellings and hyphenations were retained
as printed in the original text.





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