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Title: What I Saw in Kaffir-Land
Author: Lakeman, Stephen
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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WHAT I SAW IN KAFFIR-LAND



  WHAT I SAW IN KAFFIR-LAND


  BY
  SIR STEPHEN LAKEMAN
  MAZHAR PACHA


  “MILITIA EST POTIOR. QUID ENIM?”


  WILLIAM BLACKWOOD AND SONS
  EDINBURGH AND LONDON
  MDCCCLXXX


  _All Rights reserved_



PREFACE.


This book contains extracts from the daily record of impressions made
on my mind, by men and events, as we performed together our allotted
parts, in one short tragical episode at the Cape. Very little has been
omitted; nothing has been added. It is a simple narrative, taken from
the Book of my Life, of which, if it is not the opening chapter, it is
at least one of the first.

If by my observations I have hurt any one’s feelings, this may have
been caused by these persons having ruffled mine. If I have said but
little good of any one with whom I have been brought into contact, it
is because I failed to perceive any more than I have mentioned. The
reader will be able to some extent to judge whether or not this has
arisen from my want of perspicacity, or from their incapacity.

I can only add, that this narrative is true. I have thought, in having
it published, that it might interest those who seek by reading some
information about the realities of life in this artificial world of
ours, wherein time-serving hypocrites present themselves so often as
shams when Heaven and country call for men.



CONTENTS


  CHAPTER I.
                                                                   PAGE
  Attached to the French military staff in Algeria--The
  Minie rifle--Interviews with the Duke of Wellington
  and others--War at the Cape--I offer my services--Red-tape
  difficulties--Start for the Cape,                                   1


  CHAPTER II.

  Land at St Vincent--Shooting excursion on the island--Strange
  dream--Narrowly escape shipwreck--Arrive at
  Sierra Leone--Interview with the Governor--Official
  ceremonies--Visit the Bishop--Official insignia--St
  Helena--Neglected state of the house where Napoleon
  died,                                                               6


  CHAPTER III.

  Arrive at the Cape--Valuable assistance from local authorities--A
  corps of volunteers formed--General Sir Harry
  Smith’s difficulties--Damaged state of stores and ammunition--Obliged
  to invent a Minie ball--Happy Jack--The
  composition of the corps--Reflections--Colonel
  Neville Chamberlain--His present of a sword and its
  subsequent history in Turkey,                                      14


  CHAPTER IV.

  First attempts at discipline in corps--Prepare to start for
  the front--Difficulty of getting men on board ship--Review
  and sham fight--First feats of arms--Embarkation--Arrive
  at Fort Elizabeth--Onward march towards
  Graham’s Town--First encampment in the Bush--Mutiny
  and punishment--Further advance--Panic and
  flight,                                                            25


  CHAPTER V.

  The Dutch and English settlers--First trial of the Minie at
  the Cape--I part with Happy Jack--March into Graham’s
  Town--The officers of the corps--Colonel Cloëte--Shortcomings
  of the service--The commissariat--Ordered to
  Fort Beaufort--Arrive at headquarters,                             43


  CHAPTER VI.

  My report to General commanding on state of the road--Offend
  the staff, but receive present of charger from
  General--Surprised at close proximity of Kaffirs--Offer
  to take nearer view--Am snubbed in consequence--Assigned
  post of advanced-guard in general attack under
  General Napier--Ascent of the Water-kloof--Ordered to
  dislodge Kaffirs from Horse-shoe line of Bush--In action--
  Hesitation--Success--Second   attack under artillery-fire--The
  Minie rifle again--Kaffir devotion--Their nature, and how to
  fight them--Am thanked in general orders,                          51


  CHAPTER VII.

  Another combined attack--Small results--Capture of Mundell’s
  Peak--Thanked a second time in general orders--Example
  of tenacity of life--Building forts--The descent
  into the Water-kloof--Reproaches--Disregarded advice--An
  attack and the consequences--In danger and unable
  to procure assistance--Relieved from all interference by
  other commanding officers--Receive written thanks of
  General commanding--Receive additional command of
  new company of Fingoes--I assert my right over prisoners--Johnny
  Fingo--A skirmish--Savage indifference to
  physical pain--Night fighting--Treachery,                          63


  CHAPTER VIII.

  Formidable attack on Water-kloof--The “Blacksmith’s
  Shop”--Slightly wounded over the eyebrow--Dictate
  report to Colonel Cloëte in presence of General--I am
  omitted in general orders--Proceed to Graham’s Town to
  request revision of the order--Interview with General
  Cathcart--Receive general order to myself--Offers of
  grants of land for the men who wished to settle--Remove
  to Blakeway’s Farm,                                                79


  CHAPTER IX.

  Kaffir characteristics--The cruelties of war--No real sympathy
  between black and white--Kaffir cruelties--Night
  attack on a Kaffir village--Wounded prisoner--“Doctor”
  Dix--Kaffirs become rare--Capture of Noziah, Sandilli’s
  sister--Suspicious death of her attendant--Sergeant
  Herridge,                                                          91


  CHAPTER X.

  Noziah at Blakeway’s Farm--Becomes a favourite with the
  men--Wishes to reconcile me to her brother Sandilli--Expedition
  sent out to find Sandilli and arrange for an
  interview--Return after twenty-three days’ absence
  go with Noziah to meet her brother--Sandilli’s war-council--Angry
  reception--I obtain a hearing--Sandilli’s
  reply--Offers to meet General Cathcart and make
  an explanation to him--Demoralising effect of exposing
  life in fighting,                                                 107


  CHAPTER XI.

  Return of General Cathcart from Basutoland--End of the
  war--Sporting adventures--Loving tortoises--Evening
  reveries--A sudden attack from an unknown enemy--Plans
  for his capture--Unsuccessful--Another attempt--Night
  vigils--Close quarters--Death of the leopard--Wild-boar
  hunting--Baboons--My pack of hounds--They
  are attacked by baboons--Poor Dash’s fate--Snakes,                118


  CHAPTER XII.

  Kaffir knowledge of surgery--Manners more artificial than
  natural--Peace concluded with Sandilli and Macomo--Indifferent
  character of the treaty of peace--The corps
  disbanded--Thanks of Commander-in-chief--Return
  towards the Cape--Addresses from the inhabitants of
  Fort Beaufort and Graham’s Town--Engineering tastes--Sam
  Rowe--The Mary Jane--I embark for Cape
  Town,                                                             140


  CHAPTER XIII.

  Arrival at the Cape--Opinions on the war there--The conversion
  of the heathen--Baptism of a recent convert--Converted
  Jews in Bucharest--The Metropolitan of the
  Greek Church and an English bishop--The voyage home--The
  Arethusa--Noziah visits Cape Town to bid me
  good-bye--African trophies--Reflections on the actual
  state of the Cape,                                                155


  CHAPTER XIV.

  St Helena--Ascension--Monkeyish pranks in the “horse”
  latitudes--Young Ben’s fate--An Irish wake on the line--Narrow
  escape--The Mauritius steamship--Ocean visitors--A
  westerly gale--Sight the white cliffs of Brighton--Salute
  the native soil--A greedy mouthful--A dark
  impression--Direct attention of Government to neglected
  state of Napoleon’s late residence in St Helena--Obtain
  reply in 1855--Desire to obtain active military employment--Delays
  of the Horse Guards authorities--My reception
  there,                                                            171


  CHAPTER XV.

  Start on a mission to the East--Visit Gallipoli, and report
  upon it to Lord Stratford de Redcliffe--Report on the
  entire seaboard of the Dardanelles--Visit the Turkish
  army on the Danube, and report on its condition--Winter
  travelling in ball-room dress--Return to Constantinople--The
  Embassy there--The War Ministry at home--Their
  incapacity--Am offered a knighthood, but decline
  the honour--The Eastern question--The difficulty
  of regenerating the Turks by foreign interference--Their
  moral degradation--My knighthood is decided
  upon--Journey to Windsor--Lords Palmerston and
  Aberdeen--Monologues with predecessors in armour--The
  ceremony--Conclusion,                                             192



WHAT I SAW IN KAFFIR-LAND.



CHAPTER I.

    ATTACHED TO THE FRENCH MILITARY STAFF IN ALGERIA--THE MINIE
    RIFLE--INTERVIEWS WITH THE DUKE OF WELLINGTON AND OTHERS--WAR
    AT THE CAPE--I OFFER MY SERVICES--RED-TAPE DIFFICULTIES--START
    FOR THE CAPE.


In the year 1847 I was attached to the French staff in Algeria, and
during several expeditions, both against Arabs and Kabyles, I became
deeply impressed with the great superiority of the Minie rifle over the
old smooth-bore. On my return to England I did all I could to enforce
on the military authorities the advantages of this new weapon.

The Duke of Wellington gave me to understand, in several interviews he
honoured me with, that he was perfectly satisfied as to the principle
on which the Minie was constructed, but hesitated in giving effect to
this opinion, on the conviction that the rapid twist of the rifling
would so increase the recoil as to render this new weapon useless to
the British soldier.

His Grace frequently observed, “Englishmen take aim, Frenchmen fire
anyhow;” and no man could stand fairly up to harder kicking than old
Brown Bess already gave.

General Browne, to whom the Duke handed me over for any further
information I might have to impart, thought, after lengthened
investigation, that the weapon was a good one for taking long shots
from ramparts, but scouted the idea that it would ever be useful for
active service in the field.

Colonel Airey, to whom General Browne confided me, asked if the Duke
had really examined the gun; and on my assuring him that he had done so
on several occasions, expressed his surprise at his Grace’s having had
so much patience. This naturally brought my interviews to a close with
the military authorities.

Shortly afterwards the war broke out at the Cape, and the British army
was, as usual, being kneaded into shape. The process, however, was so
disintegrating, that the authorities at home were anxiously looking out
for fresh food for powder. I therefore volunteered my services, under
the condition that the men that served under me should have the Minie
rifle. After much consideration, I was kindly told that I might order
two hundred rifles at my own expense; and the military authorities
would allow me to enlist two hundred volunteers--also at my own
expense--and afterwards give us a free passage to the Cape, to go and
shoot, and be shot at by, the Kaffirs.

I accepted the offer as to the rifles, but declined to enlist the
men in England. I need not say, that having no staff to aid me in
enlisting, and no barracks to put the men in, the task was impossible.
It was finally agreed that I was to engage the men at the Cape, and
clothe them, the Government giving rations and pay as in the army.

I at once ordered fifty double-barrelled rifles of Messrs Barnett &
Sons, Tower Hill, London, and one hundred and fifty single barrels on
the same principle, of Messrs Hall, Birmingham. The rifles were soon
ready; but the military authorities insisted on lengthy trials to burst
them--to prove, I suppose, that they would be more dangerous to those
who used them than to those they were used against. The cartridges also
underwent innumerable trials: it was supposed by long-headed gentlemen
at Woolwich, that the iron caps in the base of the bullets might be
so struck that a spark could be emitted, the cartridge explode, and
the engineer be hoisted by his own petard. Colonel P---- of the 12th
gravely surmised the possibility of one man communicating the danger
to another; upon which Mr Jeffrey, of marine-blue fame, laughingly
remarked that the battalion in that case would begin file-firing by
shooting themselves off instead of their firelocks. These, and other
equally reasonable suppositions, kept me in England, until I began to
fear, from the accounts of slaughter sent home, that there would not be
a Kaffir left to try my guns upon. However, as I knew from experience
that despatches intended for a public a long way off were apt to be put
in a very trumpet-speaking style, and how that through a little bit of
brass a little puff can make a big noise, I started for the Cape in the
good ship Harbinger, still in the hopes of proving the usefulness of
this new weapon.



CHAPTER II.

    LAND AT ST VINCENT--SHOOTING EXCURSION ON THE ISLAND--STRANGE
    DREAM--NARROWLY ESCAPE SHIPWRECK--ARRIVE AT SIERRA
    LEONE--INTERVIEW WITH THE GOVERNOR--OFFICIAL CEREMONIES--VISIT
    THE BISHOP--OFFICIAL INSIGNIA--ST HELENA--NEGLECTED STATE OF
    THE HOUSE WHERE NAPOLEON DIED.


In the same ship were the newly-appointed Governor of the Cape, Mr
Darling, and a Mr Macdonald, also recently appointed to the Gambia. The
voyage was pleasant on all sides--ship, sea, and passengers--until we
put into the Isle of St Vincent for coal. Here an event occurred which
I should not relate had I been merely recording the actions of those
around me; but I write these pages that others may learn the impulses
that guide fellow-beings, who, from one cause or another, have in turn
influenced many. As the ship was being coaled I had landed alone, and
wandered about, gun in hand, to shoot, if I could, some snipe that
were supposed now and again to visit the island. I could see nothing
remarkable in this elevated spot but its geographical situation in
the volcanic chain that runs from New Granada to St Eustache. As for
the snipe, I had not the courage to fire at a poor solitary wanderer
like myself that rose at my feet; so, towards evening, I returned
to the ship, tired with my walk on this torrid, brick-kiln-looking
island, that rose in layers to the clouds like an altar of earth’s
burnt-offering reeking to the skies.

I had lain down in my berth, and had dozed off into dreamland, and
fancied I saw a woman standing, much as the Virgin in Raffaele’s
“Assumption” at Dresden, high up between the ship and the shore,
motioning me not to be afraid. At this moment down rushed the governor
of the Gambia, exclaiming, “For God’s sake get up! the ship is going
ashore!”

I was so much under the influence of the dream, and assured thereby of
Divine protection, that I told him to take my life-preserver, which
was hanging up in the cabin, and to save himself. Up he rushed again,
life-preserver in hand, while I lay quietly in my berth, listening
to all the hubbub and trampling of feet on the deck overhead, until
the roar of the breakers and the cessation of blowing off steam, made
me rather anxious as to whether I was not, after all, going down. My
anxieties soon came to an end. The governor appeared once more, saying
all danger was over, and thanked me most warmly for having lent him
the life-preserver. It appeared from his rather excited account, that
after lifting the anchor to start for Sierra Leone, our next place of
call, the rudder-chains got jammed between decks, and the steamer was
helplessly drifting ashore. The anchor was then dropped again; but,
from some untoward mismanagement, the chain had been detached from the
capstan, and slipped through the hawser-holes into the sea, going after
the anchor to the bottom.

In this awful predicament we approached the rugged shore, when, at the
last moment, the recoil of the heavy seas as they were hurled back into
the deep from the shore, jerked the rudder-chains free. The good ship
Harbinger answered her helm again, and steamed safely away on her
mission. The next morning I was congratulated by all on board for my
generous conduct in giving my life-preserver to Mr Macdonald (who was
rather an elderly personage). So, besides the nuisance of being thanked
(which is always a bore), to increase my confusion still more, I knew
perfectly well it was utterly undeserved, for I had felt so thoroughly
sure of Divine protection when I gave the life-preserver away, that it
was evidently useless to me. I never had the courage while on board to
tell my dream, through fear of the pitying smiles it would raise; so I
passed off, very unwillingly, for a far braver man than I really was.

On arriving at Sierra Leone, some of us landed to visit the garrison
and pay our respects to the governor, Colonel O’C----r. The barracks,
on the top of the hill overlooking the town, were clean and
comfortable; and the officers quite a jolly lot for men stationed in
“the white man’s grave,” as Sierra Leone was then called. The soldiers
were smart, well set up, strongly-framed negroes, equal I should say,
if well led, to a deal of hard fighting. We found the governor at
home, enjoying his pleasant quarters in a private residence, with
great equanimity and smiling composure. He was a soft, oily-looking
gentleman, considerably yellowed by the fierce glare of the town. He
lay on a couch, decked out with white muslin mosquito-curtains; and
gently turning round as we entered, looked like a lump of yellow butter
floating in a basin of iced water; and we youngsters were considerably
cooled down as we rushed rather heedlessly into the great man’s
_sanctum sanctorum_. He, however, gracefully ducked his head under the
curtains, and waved a ripple of welcome to us all from his extended
hands. He was evidently accustomed to unquestioning obedience, so we
sat down without saying a word.

The room was full of niggers. It was something wonderful to see them
clustered round the bell-shaped muslin curtains of his couch, like
busy black flies on a loaf of white crystallised sugar. One had
managed to thrust his naked arm, like an antenna, under the folds of
the transparent dome, and with a long, white, horse-tail fan, was
waving mysterious passes around the yellow, sphinx-shaped head of the
presiding deity. Other attendants, with solemn, ebony-wooded heads,
were squatting around the place, tossing up and down their lank arms
in the most bewildering manner. Now and again they would insert their
hands under the arm-pits, then sharply raise them, and with a whack,
extend their palms upon the wall. I slipped out of the room, and asked
the gallant colonel’s orderly the meaning of this mystic performance.
“You see, sir,” he said, “those niggers squatting round the room are
waiting to relieve the others on duty at the colonel’s cot; we makes
’em sit still, for when they goes about they scents mighty strong, and
if they sits quite still they gets like rancid cocoa-oil; so to make
them as sweet as possible, we orders them to keep alive, pegged down.”
Poor black wretches! they were writing their misery on the wall, in a
manner quite incomprehensible to the gallant colonel.

I next paid a visit to the bishop, who gave me the impression of
suffering from a deadly climate, and great despondency as to the
prospects of converting the heathen--in fact, he seemed on the point of
leaving his flock in this world without the prospect of meeting even
one of his black sheep in the next.

In the afternoon Colonel O’C----r returned our visit, and came on board
the Harbinger. The nimble manner in which he glided up the ladder of
the ship, and presented himself in his white toggery to our gasping
selves, was a riddle, the solving of which would have melted our brains
in that broiling sun. Had it not been for the gleam that shone now and
then from his glazed, brown eye, which was like a parched pea, one
might have taken him for an automatic mummy. The same horse-tail I
mentioned as having been waved over his head while reclining at home,
was now carried by himself; and in answer to a question put to him by
young K---- of the 74th, he explained that it was a Mandingo emblem of
authority, which had the twofold power of keeping off the flies and
keeping the niggers in awe. When, in after-life, I became a Turkish
Pasha with two tails, I often used to look up to the sort of barber’s
pole on which was appended the same horse-tail token of authority, and
think of Colonel O’C----r and the affrighted natives of Sierra Leone.

We now proceeded to St Helena, and visited the residence in which
Napoleon died. I was, as we all were, much hurt on finding the
neglected state of the building, and of the room in which that great
man breathed his last. It was filled with broken agricultural tools and
farmyard rubbish; and in the small chamber in which he had described
to Montholon how kingdoms were lost and won, cackling poultry were
brooding; and that small garden, in which he had spent so many weary
hours, trying to dig away the cankering sorrows of his troubled life,
was overrun with weeds and scarred with poultry scrabbings.

And so these small, unplastered, half-raftered rooms were the meshes of
the net which had held the man-slayer of Europe; and this little plot
of ground, scarce larger than a Cockney’s flower-bed, all that remained
to him who had given realms away! The contrast was too great. There was
something that clashed harshly somewhere, and I could not help thinking
that posterity would lay this woful wreck to England’s charge.



CHAPTER III.

    ARRIVE AT THE CAPE--VALUABLE ASSISTANCE FROM LOCAL
    AUTHORITIES--A CORPS OF VOLUNTEERS FORMED--GENERAL SIR
    HARRY SMITH’S DIFFICULTIES--DAMAGED STATE OF STORES AND
    AMMUNITION--OBLIGED TO INVENT A MINIE BALL--HAPPY JACK--THE
    COMPOSITION OF THE CORPS--REFLECTIONS--COLONEL NEVILLE
    CHAMBERLAIN--HIS PRESENT OF A SWORD AND ITS SUBSEQUENT HISTORY
    IN TURKEY.


We now proceeded in the same pleasant manner on our way to the Cape,
and landed there, after what was then thought a rapid passage of
thirty-five days. We found the news from the seat of war was full of
the excitement of actual strife, which was being carried on as fiercely
as ever. Governor Darling, who appeared to me rather diffident as to
his powers of doing good in the colony, with the instructions he had
from the Home Government, was nevertheless very active in his efforts
to help me. Through his assistance I was enabled, within twenty-four
hours of landing, to open an enlisting office. He also stirred up
the local authorities and the police to second my efforts. These, and
many other kind offices of his, for which I never afterwards had the
opportunity of thanking him, I here beg to acknowledge. He is gone now,
and I may seem very tardy in expressing my gratitude, but perhaps some
of the many who loved him may still listen to my thanks.

Sir Harry Smith, for whom I had letters from the Duke of Wellington, in
which, amongst other things, he had kindly said that he _believed me to
be a real soldier_--not only had all the resources of Cape Castle and
of the commissariat department placed at my disposal, but offered an
extra Government bounty of two pounds, besides the two offered by me,
for every man that enlisted. Poor Sir Harry! Although a fine soldier
of the olden class, equal to almost any act of gallantry that required
no further intuition than that inspired by actual contact with the
foe, he failed during this war for the same reasons that rendered Lord
Chelmsford equally unsuccessful during the last. The dual character of
the local Government, it being at the same time civil and military,
places serious, almost insurmountable, obstacles, in the way of a
commander in the field. On emergencies he is required to consult the
wishes and give way to the exigencies of both powers. It would require
the capacity and the energy of a Clive or a Stratford to combine,
direct, and successfully wield such a power.

In the course of a fortnight upwards of fifty men had joined the corps,
and everything promised well for our success; but now difficulties as
to the clothing and arming occurred. As the bales were landed from
the Harbinger, it was found that the leather jackets for the men had
become so shrunk, from the extreme heat in the hold of the ship, that
there was no possible means of restoring them to their original shape.
The cartridges also had been reduced by water to a mealy pulp, stuck
over here and there by pieces of oily white paper like suet in a black
pudding. It appeared that the idea of the cartridges being of a highly
inflammable nature had pursued the Woolwich authorities so far, that,
out of consideration for the safety of the ship and its precious
freight, some considerate souls at the dockyard had filled the tin
cases, in which the cartridges were packed, _with water_, and then
carefully soldered them down.

An enterprising clothier, named Taylour, undertook to make other
jackets of a similar nature to those spoiled; and a most intelligent
mechanic (a Mr Rawbone, gunsmith of Cape Town) engaged to replace the
Minie bullet by another equally effective.

It was an absolute necessity to make another-shaped bullet, as the
original Minie was useless without the socket of condensed paper,
which I could not procure in the colony. Putting our heads together,
we invented a bullet in two unequal sizes, slightly dovetailed
together in the centre, and which, under the concussion of lighted
gunpowder, were driven into one another, and thus expanding, filled up
the grooves of the rifle, took the twist, and went spinning through
the air on its axis, as true in its flight as the Minie. I was also
greatly aided by a Mr Andersen, a Norwegian gentleman, an enthusiastic
sportsman and traveller, at the Cape. He took an almost passionate
interest in me, my task, and the Minie rifle. From him I gained much
useful information concerning bush-life, and the habits, history,
and traditions of the Kaffir tribes. He had very little faith in the
half-worldly, half-sentimental policy of the British Government towards
the Kaffir and the Dutch settler; and my experience afterwards only
confirmed the truth of his observations.

I now began to practise the men with their firelocks. As this was
almost the only drilling they got, there remained plenty of spare
time for drinking-bouts in public-houses, and for them to spend their
bounty-money and report on the glorious advantages of being _soldiers
in prospective_.

I had, amongst the men, enlisted a noted character at Cape Town called
“Happy Jack.” Evans was his real name, a common sailor now, but who had
been boatswain in the navy.

He was rarely in barracks, but always to be hailed, as he
good-naturedly explained to the guard on duty, in such or such a
public-house. It may be readily supposed that men enlisted under the
auspices of Happy Jack were not the best of characters; in fact, many
of them were what they termed at the Cape, _laggers_--that is to say,
men who, having got away from Norfolk Island, or other penfolds for
black sheep, lag behind, under guardianship of Dutch laws at the Cape,
instead of trusting their precious selves to the supervision of their
own natural police at home.

The local authorities, however, with the praiseworthy object of
dispersing the scabby flock under their charge, provided the ranks of
my corps with some desperate cases, whom they ordered to enlist as the
alternative of going to prison. I had a shrewd guess as to the meaning
of these energetic efforts to strengthen the force under my command;
but I used to shut my eyes as closely as possible in accepting the
proffered services of some of my recruits, and unless something too
glaring forced itself on my attention--such as a man with one arm, a
wooden leg, or stone blind--I used to accept the services of almost
all, and place them at her Majesty’s disposal,--taking often, when
tempted, a cripple, as the necessary evil attendant upon the services
of a good man, these being the conditions on which the contract was
several times concluded between myself and the police. No doubt I was
often undecided as to whether or not I should attempt to knock down
the authors of some of the practical jokes that were played upon me;
but when I came to reflect that my best friends at the Cape advised me
strongly to go home and leave the Kaffirs alone, I could not feel much
surprised that stupid people, to whom I was unknown, should be much
more practical in their method of enforcing the same opinion upon me.

And truly my position seemed a riddle in more ways than one. I was very
young--scarcely twenty-two, and looked still younger. I was spending
large sums at the Cape to regain a footing in the British army, when
I might have easily purchased, for a tenth of the money, a commission
at home. My ways were foreign. I had been brought up mostly abroad--in
France and Germany. My military notions were based on their schools. My
actual experience of war had been gained in Algeria, Hungary, and in
the streets of Paris and Vienna during the late revolutions, where I
had taken somewhat more than a strict observer’s part on the side of
legal authority.

I could not understand the half-military, half-civilian existence
of a British officer, and, excepting the Artillery and Engineers,
thought them a very unscientific lot. No one could doubt their fighting
capacity; but their capabilities for undertaking a campaign against
European armies was very dubious in my sight.

An enthusiast myself in my belief in Christ, I yet belonged to no
Church in Christendom--in short, I have often wondered since how I
escaped shipwreck amidst the shoals and breakers that surrounded me.

Two bright spots alone shone through this turmoil and anxiety. At the
Cape, Colonel Neville Chamberlain and Major Quinn (two nobler specimens
of the conquerors of India could hardly be found) took me kindly by
the hand; and as they told me, how with quiet demeanour and ironside
determination of will, native levies were led, and victories won in
India, I humbly resolved to follow, if I could, the noble example
they gave me. An anecdote concerning a sword which Colonel Neville
Chamberlain presented me with, may not be out of place in these pages.
It was a weapon that had fallen into his hands after an engagement, and
was considered a splendid specimen of Indian workmanship.

In the year 1853 I was sent on a mission to Constantinople, and took
the sword with me, and used to wear it in my frequent visits to the
Seraskierat. Riza Pasha, who then presided there, asked me one day
to allow him to look at it, and after gravely reading the Arabic
characters embossed upon the blade, passed it on to other members of
the Council Board. One and all seemed much surprised at the writing,
and at my being the possessor of such a weapon. Mr Sarel, the dragoman
of the Embassy, who was with me at the time, explained how it came from
India, and into my possession. Riza asked to be allowed to show it to
the Sultan, to which I consented, but never could get it returned.
As, however, I repeatedly asked for it, and threatened to speak to
the Ambassador on the subject, Riza one day sent me another sword,
with a firman in a white satin bag, containing my nomination to the
colonelcy of the second regiment of the Sultan’s Roumelian Guard. I
was rather induced to look upon the affair as a mystification; but
Sarel explained to me that it was quite serious, and in reality a
compliment paid to Lord Stratford de Redcliffe, and that I had better
accept the sword and the commission, as I should never see Colonel
Chamberlain’s sword again. In this manner I entered the Turkish army;
and although I never assumed the actual command as colonel, it was
(by a strange coincidence) one of those regiments that formed the
brigade of cavalry which I afterwards commanded on the Danube. It was
a curiously-officered regiment. I, the colonel, had been named through
being the possessor of a certain sword; the lieutenant-colonel, Said
Bey, through being the possessor of a wonderful flute (he had been
chief flute-player to the Sultan); one of the majors, Mourad Bey, for
being a renegade Frenchman; and the other major, an Irishman, for being
the supposed son of an English Prime Minister. The men, however, were
splendid fellows, and some became passionately attached to me. As a
proof of this, one day when, as quartermaster-general of the Turkish
forces, I was sending to Eupatoria, in the Crimea, Osman Pasha’s army
from Cisebole, in the Bay of Bourgas, Halil Pasha, brother-in-law of
the Sultan, and commander of the Turkish cavalry, refused to obey my
repeated orders concerning the embarkation of the women of his harem
(a proceeding to which I was opposed), when, at my command, two of my
orderlies--Mourad and Mahamet-Chousch--took him by the “scruff” of the
neck, before the whole of his staff, and pitched him off the pier into
the sea, after his screaming women.

Not a man stirred an inch to save him until I gave orders to do so; and
the half-drowned Pasha contented himself with writing a long letter of
complaint to Lord Stratford de Redcliffe, who, in reply, said he only
got what he deserved.



CHAPTER IV.

    FIRST ATTEMPTS AT DISCIPLINE IN CORPS--PREPARE TO START FOR
    THE FRONT--DIFFICULTY OF GETTING MEN ON BOARD SHIP--REVIEW AND
    SHAM FIGHT--FIRST FEATS OF ARMS--EMBARKATION--ARRIVE AT FORT
    ELIZABETH--ONWARD MARCH TOWARDS GRAHAM’S TOWN--FIRST ENCAMPMENT
    IN THE BUSH--MUTINY AND PUNISHMENT--FURTHER ADVANCE--PANIC AND
    FLIGHT.


To return to my men at the Cape;--Happy Jack and I, after many a
good look at one another, were gradually nearing the point of trying
conclusions as to which of the two really commanded the corps. On his
part it was one perpetual scene of half-drunken, half-intentional
defiance. He rolled about the streets in uniform, followed by besotted
comrades, to gain, as he said, by their jolly appearance, fresh
adherents. No one, he pretended, could look at their happy condition
and refuse to join such companions. The fact is, he did bring in
many recruits, and I hardly knew how to get on with or without him.
Providence, however, decided in my favour. Colonel Ingleby, commandant
of the town and castle, a fine old soldier, and extremely kind to me,
sent a small detachment of artillerymen to keep order in the barracks.
Happy Jack’s fate was sealed. A picket of regulars sent to scour the
public-houses for absentees, brought Jack to barracks in a woful
plight. He had had a frog’s march--that is to say, on hands, belly,
and knees--almost from one end of the town to the other. Refusing to
obey the picket, and march to barracks on his legs, he had been kindly
allowed to come on all-fours, held up by the collar of his coat, for
fear of stumbling, and the seat of his unmentionables. Poor fellow! he
felt sorely his abject degradation in the eyes of his associates, male
and female, and kept ever afterwards well in the background.

The day now approached for our starting to the front. Captain Hall, who
commanded the man-of-war on the station, had prepared to take us all on
board, but the difficulty was how to get the men there. Every one knew
perfectly well, from their many loud boastings on the point, that they
had not the least intention of going; and as no means existed in the
town by which forcible coercion could be attempted on so large a body
of men with a reasonable chance of success, it did look a very dubious
question.

The matter, however, was finally arranged after this fashion, between
Captain Hall, Colonel Ingleby, the police, and myself. We were to have
a grand field-day, to end by a display of military prowess on the part
of the men in a sham engagement, and thereby prove their fighting
capacity against her Majesty’s sable foes. The general plan consisted
in the police, and all the artillerymen Colonel Ingleby could spare,
landing on the beach just outside the castle, under the protection
of the guns of Captain Hall’s ship. They were then to proceed inland
towards Wineberg, and, on arriving about two miles from the shore, were
to be suddenly confronted by my corps, and driven back to the ship.
The first part of the plan was carried out as intended. In the first
place, Colonel Ingleby, in full uniform, attended by a sub-lieutenant,
Dr B----, and two commissariat officers in regimentals, passed a review
of the men, 167 rank and file. They looked very well in line, and knew
enough drill to take open order for inspection; so that the first part
of the programme gave every appearance of having a happy issue, by the
way in which it was being carried out.

Colonel Ingleby, however, had the unfortunate idea to make the men
a speech in praise of their gallant appearance. This was not in the
order-book, so I scarcely knew what to say in reply. Happy Jack,
however, was equal to the occasion. He stepped boldly out of the ranks
and walked up to the Colonel, and said that as he was so pleased with
their trim, he hoped he would, man-o’-war fashion, order a glass of
grog all round. The good-tempered Colonel, rather taken aback, replied,
“You had better ask Captain Lakeman for that.” “No, no,” said Jack;
“I know better than to ask the skipper when the admiral is present,
so please order the grog.” It _was_ ordered. The Colonel drank to our
success, I returned thanks, the men cheered, and then broke out with
“We won’t go home till morning.”

In the course of half an hour passed in this agreeable manner, the men
fell readily enough into the ranks, and proceeded in a rollicking,
spirited manner towards the position assigned us in the forthcoming
engagement. We had hardly taken up our post in the bend of the road
that led to the Observatory, when the continued booming of Captain
Hall’s guns told us the enemy were disembarking. Shortly afterwards
they could be espied feeling their way through the brushwood that led
up the valley. In approaching the cross-road that wound its way towards
Wineberg they divided their forces. One party--the police--took the
road; the other--the regulars--continued their way through the scrubby
brushwood. They advanced but slowly, taking all due precautions,
probing the ground right and left, with an advance and a rear guard.
The police, on the contrary, came up the dusty road in a most
disorderly, unhesitating manner--looking like a swarm of blue-bottles
on a white, smoking, Cambridge sausage. This was setting such a bad
example to my recruits that I determined to give them a profitable
lesson; so, calling in the outposts, I prepared to meet them suddenly
with the whole force at my disposal.

On they heedlessly came to the bend of the road, when they found
themselves confronted by an impassable barrier of prickly cactus, that
I had hastily strewn there. They evidently thought this a warning
of approaching danger, for, hastily unslinging their carbines, they
prepared for action. But I left them no time for this ceremonious
proceeding. The order to fire was given, and these brave but misguided
invaders received such a peppering discharge from both sides of the
road that the error of their ways became pungently manifest; and,
without the slightest demur, they wriggled their bent forms into the
smallest possible shape, and bolted in the opposite direction. But my
men were most anxious to prove their capacity for far harder fighting
than the evanescent police force allowed them to display; so, with
loud shouts and exulting halloos, they jumped up from behind the fence
which had hitherto concealed them, and started off in pursuit of the
scuttling foe.

Many a long itching grudge was feelingly rubbed off that day upon the
heads of the police. Happy Jack was particularly conspicuous, as, with
tucked-up sleeves, he laid the butt of his rifle (much to my dread of
its breaking) upon the heads and shoulders of his natural enemies, in a
manner quite uncalled for by the stricken.

But there is a turn in the tide of events which, taken at the flood,
makes one at times feel somewhat giddy as it whirls us round. This
dizzying ebb of fortune ran counter to Happy Jack, and threw him on his
beam-ends in the most reckless fashion.

It happened that Sergeant Herridge of the police force, and in
command of that party, seeing the discomfiture of his men, had had
the discretion to lead them back to Cape Town, and was showing the
way as fast as his portly person, under the sweltering heat of the
sun and the battle combined, allowed him to do. Happy Jack espied
the retreating chief, and took up the pursuit like Achilles after
affrighted Hector, chevying him round and round his admiring followers.
At length he reached the spent chieftain, and placing the muzzle of his
firelock between the outspread coat-tails of the flying victim, blew a
cartridge off at that part upon which people usually sit. The effect
was startling. Hector cut a double-shuffle high up in the air like an
exploding cracker, and while still wreathed in smoke, swung round his
truncheon with Parthian address on the grinning face of Jack, whose
head came to the ground--cracker number two.

Now was the time for the victorious sergeant to make off: the road was
clear, and he had my good wishes that it should be kept so. But the
foolish fellow, instead of running away, to live and fight another
day, sat deliberately down in the dusty road and began bumping his
hindquarters violently on the ground, to stamp out the fire the
cartridge of Happy Jack had lit in his rear. This ludicrous display of
stern-firing gave time for other men to come up; he was made prisoner,
and Jack, recovering his senses, feelingly kicked the fire out of the
singeing sergeant in double-quick time. Herridge was removed on board
in a critical state, refusing in his disgraced condition to be taken to
Cape Town; ultimately, upon recovery, he enlisted in my corps.

On the discomfiture of the police, the artillerymen in the valley
began to retreat; but in this direction the pursuit was very slack.
My men bent all their energies in scattering every vestige of civil
authority; they evidently began to consider themselves as one with the
soldiers--in fact, it was in recounting the mishaps that had that day
befallen the police that we retired laughingly together, with those
whom we were supposed to be repulsing with great vigour.

Finally, on arriving at the beach from whence the enemy had started,
a still greater surprise awaited us; but this time (as if by just
reprisal) it fell exclusively upon my own men, and that in a most
bewildering manner.

Captain Hall had landed his marines and a detachment of blue-jackets,
who, _sans cérémonie_, disarmed my men, as they arrived in batches
of twos and threes, and placed them in files along the sea-shore.
The climax had arrived; and to the astonishment, no doubt, of many
beholders from the town, who had come to witness what they supposed was
likely to be an exciting performance, I was quite equal to the task of
stage-manager on this occasion. In a few words I explained to my future
heroes that the time was come to go to the front and show to the
Kaffirs what we were capable of doing. The black was pressing hard on
the white man, who looked to us for help; the ship was ready to convey
us; the cheers of the inhabitants of Cape Town were a token of what was
expected; in fact, the time had arrived when the very humblest had a
duty to perform.

Go we must; so I called for three cheers, and “Forward to the
boats!” Some murmured that they had not wished friends “good-bye;”
others talked of kits left behind; but they were too tired to resist
physically, and without consultation they were unequal to combined
action; so, _nolens volens_, we managed, one after another, to get them
all aboard ship, excepting some twenty or so, who had come to grief
in our late engagement with the police, and these I left behind. By
the exertions of Captain Hall, who appeared to me a most painstaking,
energetic officer, we soon got safely stowed away on board, and three
days after landed at Port Elizabeth. Mr Durant Deare, a merchant of
that town, kindly offered me quarters under his hospitable roof. The
men were billeted in the town; and two days afterwards, with seven
waggon-loads of ammunition and five gun-carriages, we started for
Graham’s Town.

Foreseeing the disorderly manner in which my rough lot would probably
leave the grog-shops, I started very early in the morning, before
the inhabitants had got up--for I was loath to show our, as yet,
disorganised state. I waited until fairly on the march before bringing
a tighter hand to bear upon the many ruffians in my corps, who, half
in joke, half inquiringly, looked me in the face, and called me mate,
skipper, or captain, as they interpreted its meaning.

On the evening of the second day we arrived at the Ada bush; this
was some twenty miles in breadth, composed of jungle-wood, free from
Kaffirs, but infested with bands of marauders, consisting of native
levies who had fled, weapons in hand, from the seat of war. As we were
encamped that night, I strolled the greater part of it around the
fires, and gathered from several parties that the next day something
eventful was to take place in which _my_ fate was concerned. I felt
perfectly tranquil, however, trusting that I should be equal to the
task of holding my own against such an abandoned, disunited lot--for I
had also many good, God-fearing men among them.

The next morning, on the order being given for the men to fall
in for roll-call, no one stirred. Sergeant Waine, who had been a
non-commissioned officer in the 44th, but broken and discharged for
bad conduct, to whom I had given the stripes in consideration of his
regimental knowledge, stepped up to me, and said that the men wanted
grog served out to them before they would budge, and if they did not
get it, would return to Port Elizabeth. I did not reply to him, but,
getting on my horse, rode up to the men and asked if they had enlisted
with the intention of obeying orders or not. No one replied; and giving
the word to fall in, they sullenly did so.

The Hottentot drivers inspanned the bullocks, and I repeated “Forward!”
in a tone that seemed strange even to myself, so authoritative and
full of energy did it sound in my own ear. All obeyed, and we started
on the march; scarcely, however, had we entered the bush before a shot
was fired. I saw from the smoke where the discharge came from, so,
riding to the spot, inquired who had fired. Sergeant Waine came to
the front and said he had. I reminded him of the order which had been
given that no firing was to take place under any consideration, unless
I or Lieutenant Pilkington gave the command. He muttered something
unintelligible in reply; and I repeated the order aloud, to be heard
by all around, that if any man discharged a firelock without orders I
would have him punished as severely as the circumstances allowed. I
then rode on again towards the head of the column, when another shot
was fired, and this time the bullet came whistling very close to my
head. On looking round I saw that the shot was fired from the same spot
again, around which the men were now gathered in a cluster. I felt
that the crisis had come, so loosening my pistol in the holster-pipe
(an Adams’ revolver, one of the first made), I rode back and asked
who fired. Waine replied he did. “Who gave the order?” said I. “A
magpie,” he answered. I called out for Sergeant-major Herridge, the
late police officer, who had quite recovered, and had become a most
efficient subordinate. “Take Waine’s firelock from him,” I said. This
was quickly done. “Now tie him up to that gun-carriage and give him
three dozen.” Waine bawled out to the men, and asked whether they would
see him flogged like a nigger. Before they could reply I drove my horse
amidst them, revolver in hand, and cried out that the first man who
opened his mouth, or moved, I would blow his brains out, at the same
time pointing the muzzle to some of their heads, as I saw they were
more or less inclined to disobey my injunctions. Sergeant Herridge was
a powerful man, and Waine was soon tied up; but there being no “cat”
to flog him with, I ordered it to be done with his belt. And well was
it laid on. The fellow bellowed lustily, and I asked the men what they
thought of such a blubbering cur. Happy Jack now began to cry “Shame.”
I rode him down, and as he scrambled from between my horse’s legs
in an awful state of funk, some of the men laughed outright, and he
got no more openly-shown sympathy than his comrade Waine. After the
flogging was over I told Herridge to give back to Waine his leather
jacket. The ruffian said, “You will give me my jacket, but why don’t
you give me my firelock?” “Give him that also,” said I. On getting it
he began loading, and looking at me in a most significant manner. When
he came to put the cap on the nipple, either from the numbing pain of
the flogging, or from the violence with which Herridge had pulled off
his pouch, he could not find a cap. I offered him one--it was only a
pistol cap (but I did not think of that at the time); when he looked at
me, threw down his firelock, and said, “No, I won’t shoot you.” Seeing
this sign in my favour, I began to explain to the men that no one had a
greater horror, of flogging than I had, and that I never would have had
it done had it not been to punish a cowardly villain who had attempted
to shoot me from behind. If any of them had a complaint to make, let
them come to me, face to face, and explain, and they never would find
me unwilling to listen, or to redress any just grievance. Waine was
then placed on a gun-carriage alongside of Happy Jack, and we once more
started on our march. From that day my orders were obeyed, and matters
assumed a more orderly aspect.

On fording Sunday River, which runs through the Ada bush, the whole
column nearly came to grief. All due precautions had, however, been
taken as though passing through an enemy’s country, lining both sides
of the ford--an advanced-guard and a rear-guard. But notwithstanding
orders, some of the men had strolled down the banks of the river in
order to find a favourable spot to bathe. While thus proceeding, some
marauding Fingoes were espied; a cry arose that the Kaffirs were
coming, a stampede ensued, and my men bolted like rabbits into the
bush. The Hottentot drivers cut the traces of their oxen, disappearing
with their cattle, and I was left alone with the waggons in the
middle of the river, with five or six men whom I had managed to keep
together--my anxiety barely sufficing to retain my laughter at the
ridiculous disappearance of the whole party.

The Fingoes, however, were as much frightened as my men had been,
and ran away in the opposite direction; so when my fellows had been
sufficiently scratched and blown by making their way through the
prickly underwood, unmolested by all except their own fears (and
the thorns), they soon retraced their footsteps, and could be seen
in twos and threes peeping from the outskirts of the jungle to know
whether the coast had become clear. On getting them together again, I
made a speech, and so enlarged upon their ridiculously discreditable
behaviour, that they swore, one and all, that they would never so
commit themselves again. To put their courage to the test, I determined
to encamp that night where this occurred--in the middle of the bush.
This was rather hazardous; but I counted upon the danger of Fingo
marauders to keep them together, and in my own bold attitude to keep
the latter off.

My position was a strange one; and as I lay that night upon a
gun-carriage, having for companions Waine moaning over the pains in his
back, and Happy Jack muttering threats of courts-martial, I thought, if
Providence did not intervene, the thread of my existence would possibly
snap somehow.

The night passed off calmly enough, and the next morning saw us safely
on the other side of the bush; and that evening we encamped at a farm
belonging to Mr Bruckyer, a Dutch settler from Haarlem--which town, by
the way, was the home of my forefathers in King William III.’s reign;
therefore, being somewhat akin through ancestral associations, we soon
became good friends. This gentleman not only furnished my corps with
an abundance of farm produce--accepting only our thanks in return--but
also took charge of seven men who were incapable, from illness and sore
feet, of continuing with the column. These men were afterwards sent on
in a waggon to Fort Beaufort, some hundred and twenty miles off, to
rejoin the corps. Mr Bruckyer again refused all remuneration.



CHAPTER V.

    THE DUTCH AND ENGLISH SETTLERS--FIRST TRIAL OF THE MINIE AT THE
    CAPE--I PART WITH HAPPY JACK--MARCH INTO GRAHAM’S TOWN--THE
    OFFICERS OF THE CORPS--COLONEL CLOËTE--SHORTCOMINGS OF THE
    SERVICE--THE COMMISSARIAT ORDERED TO FORT BEAUFORT--ARRIVE AT
    HEADQUARTERS.


As a rule, I found the settlers--English and Dutch--a fine,
generous-hearted set of people; and many of them who read these lines
may, I hope, think with pleasure of the happy times we passed together.

It was a great relief to get rid of my sick men, as I had no medical
man with the corps; and the only medicines or pharmaceutical knowledge
I possessed were gleaned from a small medicine-chest I had purchased
at Port Elizabeth. It was one of the ceaseless threats of Happy Jack
that I had had a man flogged without a medical man being present, and
without having remedies at hand in case of accident.

The next day we proceeded to Mr Judd’s farm, some ten miles farther on
the road. Here I had an opportunity of showing what the Minie rifle
could perform. We were sitting under the veranda of Mr Judd’s house
examining one of the men’s rifles, and I was explaining the advantage
of a rapid twist with an elongated bullet having an expansive base,
&c. Mr Judd asked if it would reach some bullocks which were grazing
five or six hundred yards off, adding that I might try if I liked, for
the cattle were his. To this I consented; and laying the rifle on the
balcony as a rest, I singled out a bullock to his attention--fired. I
had the satisfaction that, either from the whistling of the ball or
from being actually struck, the mark had been attained, for the animal
immediately started off at a trot. All doubts, however, soon came to an
end; for the poor brute lay down, and before we could reach the spot,
had died,--the ball had passed through its body. This, no doubt, was a
great fluke; but it had the good result of proving the value of the
weapon to the men (a great many were looking on while I fired), and
also leading them to suppose I was a first-rate shot.

At this farm I also had the satisfaction of getting rid of Happy
Jack. I afforded him the opportunity of deserting during the night,
which he availed himself of; and I took particular care not to have
him awakened the next morning as we departed, although I knew he was
lying drunk in a cattle-kraal a short way off. Waine became much more
humble after Jack’s desertion, and before we reached Graham’s Town had
been restored to the ranks. So all fear of my being called up before a
court-martial for flogging a man with an illegal instrument--which his
belt undoubtedly was--soon disappeared.

We made a great sensation on our entrance into Graham’s Town: the
gun-carriages, wrapped up in hay to prevent any ill effects from
the heat of the sun, might be readily taken for real artillery. The
men--mostly seafaring people, with big rounded shoulders, bronzed
faces, and long hirsute appendages--might, for size and determination
of look, compare advantageously with any troops in the colony. They
also wore leather helmets somewhat similar to those now adopted in the
service, which added considerably to their martial appearance; and
altogether they presented to the beholder (who knew nothing of their
bolting proclivities, as lately displayed in the Ada bush) a most
formidable accession to her Majesty’s forces at the Cape.

It may not be out of place to give a slight outline of the officers who
commanded my detachment.

My first lieutenant, ----, a near relative of Lord ----’s, was a tall,
handsome fellow, who had been in her Majesty’s service, of rather
loose habits; not wanting in pluck, but fonder of excitement over the
card-table than in the field.

My second lieutenant was named H----d, an enthusiast on the mission of
Christianity. He had been lately suffering from brain fever, and with
his hair cropped short, tall, gaunt figure, and deep-set, glistening
eyes, looked the modern representative of one of Cromwell’s Ironsides.
In spirit, he was a man all over; and had he possessed more _physique_
to ballast his mental faculties, would have left no inconsiderable
mark in this world. As I pen these lines, I feel he was _un grand
homme manqué_, and regret that a word I spoke during the heat of an
engagement, and which he misinterpreted, caused him to resign.

My third lieutenant, named P----n, was a gentleman by birth, and
had been in her Majesty’s service, but had advisedly resigned after
having thrown a glass of wine in his superior officer’s face. He was
of a tall, lusty figure, full of animal courage, and fond of animal
enjoyment.

Sergeant-major Herridge I have already described.

Sergeant Beaufort had been in the Rifle Brigade: he was the handsomest
man I perhaps ever beheld; with short, crisp, light chestnut locks,
full, oval countenance, tall stature--six feet two inches--and
well-rounded limbs. He looked the picture of what Richard Cœur de Lion
might have been.

Sergeant Shelley had been in the 60th Rifles: a tall, lank fellow, with
arms and legs on the move, like a windmill in a gale of wind--always
threatening to fly off at a tangent, but nevertheless fixed to his
post. He became very attached to me; and many a time, while thinking
myself alone in the bush, Sergeant Shelley would appear at my side,
with “All right, captain; here I am;” and all right it was, for the man
was a host in himself, through his acuteness, strength, and daring.

Another character was Sergeant Dix. He had been a well-to-do
confectioner in Cape Town, who had left pastry and the sweets
of marriage life to join my corps, owing, it was surmised, to
the depredations of an officer on the presiding goddess of his
wedding-cake. Poor Dix! he used to make the men suffer to ease his own
pains. Up and down the lines he used to _fizz_ with his fat podgy legs,
basting the men with the hot drippings of his marital wrath, until
at last I was obliged to reduce him to the ranks, and install him as
_chef_ in my own cuisine. Such is a faint outline of the corps which I
marched through the town, and encamped some three miles on the other
side, owing to my well-founded dread of the grog-shops.

It was here that I first became acquainted with the shortcomings of the
service.

Colonel Cloëte, the Quartermaster-general, had no more idea as to the
ammunition I had brought from Port Elizabeth than what he had to do
with it. He knew, certainly, what requisitions he had received, but he
knew no more than I did what reserves, not actually wanted, existed
in those places. The waggons that brought the ammunition, and had
given me such anxiety on the road, were left, during my ten days’ stay
in Graham’s Town, in the open streets; not a sentry or guard of any
sort--the Hottentot drivers, with pipes in their mouths, seeming the
presiding guardians over British military stores.

The commissariat was in the hands of the tradesmen of the town: a Mr
J----s (banker and merchant) seemed to have the whole charge of the
provisioning of the army. He was exceedingly kind and courteous, a
perfect gentleman in all his doings, but yet not the right person in
the right place, I thought. Of the military stragglers in the town,
they were the usual rag-tag and bobtail lot always to be found
compassing the rear of an army actively engaged in the field.

After waiting twelve days, I at last received orders to proceed to Fort
Beaufort. The men being in fair condition by this time, I determined
to cover the distance (about forty miles) in two days. This was easily
accomplished; and rather to the surprise of the Commander-in-chief, I
presented myself at headquarters.



CHAPTER VI.

    MY REPORT TO GENERAL COMMANDING ON STATE OF THE
    ROAD--OFFEND THE STAFF, BUT RECEIVE PRESENT OF CHARGER FROM
    GENERAL--SURPRISED AT CLOSE PROXIMITY OF KAFFIRS--OFFER TO
    TAKE NEARER VIEW--AM SNUBBED IN CONSEQUENCE--ASSIGNED POST OF
    ADVANCED-GUARD IN GENERAL ATTACK UNDER GENERAL NAPIER--ASCENT
    OF THE WATER-KLOOF--ORDERED TO DISLODGE KAFFIRS FROM HORSE-SHOE
    LINE OF BUSH--IN ACTION--HESITATION--SUCCESS--SECOND
    ATTACK UNDER ARTILLERY-FIRE--THE MINIE RIFLE AGAIN--KAFFIR
    DEVOTION--THEIR NATURE, AND HOW TO FIGHT THEM--AM THANKED IN
    GENERAL ORDERS.


I gave a report in writing of my doings on the road, and my estimation
of the resources and failings as a military road, that it professed.
Amongst other things, I stated the fact of seeing a strong detachment
of the 12th Regiment uselessly guarding a fort of no possible influence
in the actual state of the war. This brought the staff down upon me;
but I was thanked by the General, who, as a token of welcome, presented
me with a fine chestnut charger.

The next day I was perfectly astounded at the close proximity of the
Kaffirs. There they were in shoals, perfectly unmolested, on the slopes
of the Water-kloof, and within twelve miles of thousands of British
troops. I had seen on many occasions the daring indifference of the
Kabyles of the Atlas Mountains, but that was displayed on chance
occasions; but here a badly-armed, undisciplined throng of naked
savages braved with impunity, day after day, week after week, the
energies of the British empire. I was utterly staggered for a moment
by such a display, but was not long in volunteering to make a closer
acquaintance with these sable heroes and their strongholds. I, however,
received a good snubbing for my pains. At last a grand expedition was
planned, under General Napier, to attack this said Water-kloof, and my
corps was assigned the post of advanced-guard. The first day we reached
Blinkwater Post, where I made the acquaintance of the commander,
W----d; he appeared to me one of the right sort, although rather
uselessly employed. This is one of the great faults of our service,
to place a brilliant, dashing officer to guard an exposed, permanent
position, when a good, stolid, ordinary being would have done quite as
well, if not better. The art of war is like the game of chess, and I
would not give much for the guiding hand that does not know the value
and place of each figure on the board.

The next day, after a somewhat tiring ascent, we crowned the heights
of the Water-kloof, without firing a shot or seeing many Kaffirs. I
was then ordered to attack the Horse-shoe--a half-circular line of
bush that fringed the precipitous heights. This was a difficult task,
from the formation of the ground and the disheartening reminiscences,
it was murmured, which were attached to the spot. Here it was that
Colonel Fordyce had been lately killed, and the 74th fearfully handled.
The Honourable R. C----, the staff officer who ordered the movement,
pointed in a somewhat vague manner to the centre of the half-moon as
the place on which I was to begin the attack. This undefined indication
left me a considerable margin; so I managed, in the mile of ground
I had to cover before coming within range of the Kaffir guns, to
oblique so much to the right, that I came very near that end of the
Horse-shoe. As I got within range, my men being in very loose order
(this being their first engagement, there was naturally some hesitation
and wavering along the line), a shot fired by some good marksman on the
enemy’s side, brought my orderly, David M‘Intyre, to the ground with a
ball through the chest.

The whole line stopped as if struck by an electric shock. Another
shot as effective as the last would, I felt sure, send them to the
right-about; so I ran to the front and shouted out, “We shall all be
shot if we remain here in the open! To the bush, my lads! to the bush!”

The sense of this order was obvious. We shouted “Hurrah!” as much to
drown our own fears as to frighten the enemy; and amidst a rattling
fire, more noisy than dangerous, we, for safety’s sake, gallantly
charged the foe. The Kaffirs and Hottentots were evidently taken by
surprise at this display of gallantry--latterly all the charges had
been on their side. The tables were turned, and instead of red-jackets,
it was for black-skins to fall back.

Once in the bush, what with cheering and firing, we kept up such a
hullabaloo, that the niggers must have thought all the white devils of
Christendom were let loose upon them. I, who knew where the row came
from, was astonished at the effect upon my own nerves, as the adjoining
rocks reverberated the sound of our advance. We literally chased the
foe like rabbits through the bush, and came out at the other end of
the Horse-shoe, rather disappointed than otherwise in not meeting with
more resistance. We then fell back on the main body, having performed
our task with a decided dash and very slight loss--two killed and five
wounded. As we were quite unmolested by the foe, it was admirable to
see the cool, collected manner in which my men retired--in fact, I was
not at all astonished when General Napier sent a staff officer to thank
us for our gallant and orderly bearing. We now proceeded to breakfast,
and had hardly begun, when the same officer came back and told me to
advance with my men and endeavour to dislodge the Kaffirs from some
rough boulders of rock on the edge of the kloof, some two miles on our
left. Now this order was unadvisable for many reasons: from the lie of
the ground it had no strategical importance; it neither threatened the
enemy’s stronghold, nor in any way interfered with movements we might
make to carry it.

My men had had a long march, which, combined with the efforts in
clearing out the Horse-shoe, had left us without any physical energy;
whilst there were whole battalions who had not fired a shot, and were
eager for an opportunity to distinguish themselves.

I, however, kept these reasonings to myself; and giving the men orders
to prepare for action, they sprang to their feet with far more alacrity
than I had a right to expect.

In going to take up the ground assigned to us as the point of attack,
we passed in front of the main body, and the General came up and shook
hands with me. This cheering token sent us on in good spirits to within
about a thousand yards of the rocks above named. I here sent a small
detachment down a slope of ground that led somewhat to our left, to
threaten, if possible, the flank and rear of the position in our front.

With the rest of the men I obliqued slightly to the right, with the
same object of turning the rear in that direction also.

We had advanced about half-way when the guns of Captain Rowley’s
battery opened fire over our heads. This caused considerable
uneasiness; the men were not accustomed to the hurling noise rushing
over their heads from the rear: some ducked, some stopped, others went
on; and the line, which hitherto had been so well kept, assumed a most
zigzag, mob-looking appearance.

I have often observed that even veterans waver and become confused
under this meteor-discharge overhead. The Kaffirs, however, did not
seem to be much frightened by the shot or the shell. They fielded
for the cannon-shot as they rebounded from the rocks as though they
were cricket-balls. These same balls were much prized as pestles for
grinding purposes.

As for the shells, they no sooner burst than, in derision, the Kaffirs
picked pieces up and pretended to throw them back at us. But now a
rocket that was intended to astonish the Kaffirs came so close over
us, that the whole line started and ducked their heads in the most
ridiculous fashion. This profound salaam, as we faced the foe, elicited
from them a tremendous shout of approval in return. I profited by this
humility of ours, and as my fellows had their faces so close to the
ground, I ordered them to lie down altogether. “Raise the sighting on
the rifles for six hundred yards. Take steady aim. Fire!”

At the first discharge the Kaffirs scuttled from the rocks in flying
order, leaving, however, several of their bodies on the ground. So the
Minie rifle did in one minute what six guns and rocket-tubes had been
attempting for the last quarter of an hour.

In the course of five minutes’ firing not a Kaffir was to be seen; even
the wounded who lay on the ground were left quite uncared for; and what
was far dearer still to a Kaffir’s heart, blankets and _karosses_ were
also left behind.

I then cautiously advanced to within a short distance of the rocks. The
men lay down once more, to wait for the flanking party to begin on our
left; but they had gone too far down, and when at length they began
firing, it had no influence on the Kaffirs behind the rocks facing
us. It was difficult now to know what to do. The enemy was far too
strong for us to carry the position by a front attack, and my flanking
party seemed, by the sound of the firing, to be rather going from than
approaching us. At this critical moment the recall sounded far away in
the rear, and never sound struck my ear more cheerfully before. We fell
back in the most orderly manner; and the Kaffirs, coming out in great
numbers from behind the rocks to survey our retreat, received a last
volley in return, which quickly sent them to the right-about.

The Minie rifle taught them this day a lesson which they ever after
identified with my men, and they never forgot its instructive teaching.
We were now sent to take up our quarters near the spot where the
attack had commenced in the morning. We were to remain there until
further orders. A body of the regular forces was also sent to take up
a position about a mile in the rear; while the main body marched back
again to headquarters at Fort Beaufort.

I immediately set to work, throwing up a defence against a night
attack; and before evening set in--there being an abundance of stone
material at hand--I had thrown up a tolerably strong defence. The next
day was the first at which I assisted at public prayers in the colony.
My men and I were perched on the huge boulders of rock that fringe
the Water-kloof height, and from the depths below arose, in childlike
strains, the glorious morning hymn--

    “Awake, my soul, and with the sun
    Thy daily course of duty run.”

These sable children were awakening their souls to their daily duty of
cutting white men’s throats. Something like awe crept over me at this
Heaven-beseeching. It was one of those mysterious results of missionary
instruction of which I do not profess to know the A B C; it was giving
to this would-be slayer the name of fratricide. I got up in a hurry and
left the spot. This awakening of Cain made me feel very much as Abel
must have felt had he been able to run away. But these poor Hottentots,
with a strong predilection for settling disputes with their white
brother, after the antediluvian fashion of knocking you upon the head
with a _knobkerrie_, were still much to be pitied, taken as they were
from their boundless homes and pent up in that wooded vale below,
singing of their freedom in Christ, like caged mocking-birds imitating
the hollow sound of words that convey soul-stirring thoughts to man. I
felt more sympathy for them than for those who had brought them to that
state.

In the course of a few days I had raised a barricade round my camp
strong enough to resist any number of Kaffirs; and having thus secured
a good base of operation, began to look about me as to how I could best
make use of it for offensive movements. Colonel N----, the officer
who commanded the regulars left on the heights, did not at this time
interfere in any manner with my proceedings, so I was left perfectly
free, and decided that, with the small body of men at my disposal,
night attacks were the only reasonable operations to be undertaken with
any hope of permanent success. The Kaffir, lithe, supple, and vicious
as a snake during the heat of the day, loses much of his treacherous
energy at night. Ignorant and superstitious, he would be already half
conquered by further increasing his dread of darkness; while the white
man during the refreshing coolness of night was at his best at the
Cape; and bugle-sounds allowed him to be governed almost as easily as
during the day. I accordingly proceeded cautiously to accustom the men
to the work. We now received in camp a copy of a general order thus
worded:--

  “HEADQUARTERS, FORT BEAUFORT.

    “General Napier speaks in the highest terms of the discernment
    and gallantry displayed by Captain Lakeman, and the bravery and
    good conduct of his men on this their first engagement with the
    enemy.

  (Signed) “A. J. CLOËTE,

  _Quartermaster-General_.”

This was very gratifying, and we determined to obtain still further
recognitions of services rendered. In the course of a month we had so
far created a panic by our night attacks, that the Kaffirs evacuated
the whole of the table-land surrounding the Water-kloof, and retired to
the valley and rocky recesses below.



CHAPTER VII.

    ANOTHER COMBINED ATTACK--SMALL RESULTS--CAPTURE OF MUNDELL’S
    PEAK--THANKED A SECOND TIME IN GENERAL ORDERS--EXAMPLE OF
    TENACITY OF LIFE--BUILDING FORTS--THE DESCENT INTO THE
    WATER-KLOOF--REPROACHES--DISREGARDED ADVICE--AN ATTACK
    AND THE CONSEQUENCES--IN DANGER AND UNABLE TO PROCURE
    ASSISTANCE--RELIEVED FROM ALL INTERFERENCE BY OTHER COMMANDING
    OFFICERS--RECEIVE WRITTEN THANKS OF GENERAL COMMANDING--RECEIVE
    ADDITIONAL COMMAND OF NEW COMPANY OF FINGOES--I ASSERT MY RIGHT
    OVER PRISONERS--JOHNY FINGO--A SKIRMISH--SAVAGE INDIFFERENCE TO
    PHYSICAL PAIN--NIGHT FIGHTING--TREACHERY.


Another attack on a still grander scale than the last was now decided
on at headquarters; and the Commander-in-chief, General Cathcart, with
several thousand troops, guns, &c., were accordingly assembled on
the heights overlooking the kloof. It was, however, a somewhat tame
affair. We merely marched round the heights, and only attacked a small
Kaffir village on the edge of a promontory, called Mundell’s Peak, that
advanced like a wedge into the middle of the above-named kloof and
almost divided it in two.

This operation fell to my share, and was, I think, effectually done
in fair military style. In the general orders issued relating to the
events of the day, it stated:--

    “In the attack and carrying of Mundell’s Peak, the gallantry
    and spirited conduct of Lakeman’s corps and its commander,
    it is gratifying to the Commander of the Forces to take this
    opportunity to notice.

  (Signed) “A. J. CLOËTE,

  _Quartermaster-General_.”

During this day I observed a tenacity of life which seemed incredible.
A soldier of the Rifle Brigade, in looking over the edge of the kloof,
was shot through the head. I was on horseback close to him at the time;
I dismounted, propped him up with his pack, picked up the cap which had
been knocked off by the shot, and placed it with my handkerchief over
his face. The body was shortly afterwards put on a stretcher and taken
to Post Reteif, several miles off, then commanded by Captain Bruce
(King Bruce they called him), a gallant and hospitable soldier. On the
evening of the same day I saw the man there, still breathing, with a
hole in his head through which you might have passed a ramrod, and he
only died towards the next morning.

After this imposing parade of troops, the main force marched back
again to Fort Beaufort; but the Commander-in-chief decided that two
forts were to be constructed on the heights, about a mile to the rear
of where I was stationed. Colonel ----, R. E., was intrusted with the
building of the same; and he placed them in such a curious fashion that
they could not be defended without firing into one another--that is to
say, the enemy, had he wished it, might have quietly encamped between
the two and defied either to fire a shot. I pointed out this fact to
the gallant colonel; but he assured me he had taken into consideration
that the Kaffirs had not sufficient sense to discover this undoubted
weakness in his plan.

The heights having thus become free, I next proceeded to feel the way
down into the Water-kloof itself. There was no greater difficulty in
this than in what I had already done; in short, the Kaffirs had got
such a wholesome dread of my corps, that the trouble was to get near
them. Before a month had elapsed in this sort of work, I had traversed
the kloof from one end to the other; and the few sable gentlemen who
still held to this home of theirs had taken refuge on the rocks on the
opposite ridge, or what we used to call the Dead Man’s Home, owing to
the bones of some of our men remaining unburied there. One morning, in
returning from an expedition in the Water-kloof, where I had captured
the few remaining cattle left to the enemy, Brigadier-General N----t,
who commanded the defenceless forts constructed by Colonel ----, sent
for me; and at his request I gave all the information I possessed
concerning the Water-kloof, stating, among other matters, what I had
done on the previous night. He said he was afraid I was doing more harm
than good by this night work; it was an irregular and unmilitary mode
of proceeding; that he had thought the matter over, and intended to
clear the place out that day in a really effectual manner.

I warned him that the enemy was driven to desperation, and capable
of mad freaks of revenge that would certainly entail serious loss if
attacked during the day; and as a proof of their present state, they
had that morning followed me almost into camp, and once or twice I
felt convinced by their bearing they were half inclined to attack it.
Now, if left to themselves for a few days longer, half starved and
discouraged, they would probably leave of their own accord that part
of the country. The General, however, pooh-poohed my reasoning, and
shortly afterwards marched out with all his forces, composed of the
60th Rifles, the 74th, the 91st, a battery of artillery, rocket-tubes,
&c.--in fact, a most formidable body of men, and equal, if properly
handled, to beat easily the same number of the best troops in Europe.
They proceeded towards Mundell’s Peak, and I went to lie down as was my
wont after passing a night out.

In the afternoon I was awakened by the sound of big guns and heavy
musketry close at hand. On looking out, I saw, about a mile off, in
the open, General N----t engaged with the enemy. I could easily make
out that he was somewhat severely pressed, so calling for men to follow
me, I made as quickly as I could to the front. I met on the way Captain
S----n of the Rifles, with a party of men, axes in hand, falling back
to the rear. Captain S----n cried out that I had better look to myself.
He himself had been told off to cut a road into the kloof, but they
had been driven back, and N----t was beaten. I, however, still went
on; and gathering as I went some of the men who were retreating, came
up to the line of fire, and faced the pursuing Kaffirs. When I had a
sufficient number in hand to give an impetus to the movement, with
a rattling cheer we went at the Kaffirs, who at once fell back, and
eventually we pursued them almost to Mundell’s Peak. Here our real
difficulties began. I had to return to the camp, but there were no
supports to fall back upon; for none of the regulars, except those with
me, had followed my onward movement. To increase the difficulties,
there were several wounded to carry and no stretchers to lay them on.
In this dilemma I sent Lieutenant H----d to ask General N----t for the
required support. He did not return. I then sent Sergeant Herridge,
who, after great delay, owing to the difficulty in finding the General,
whom he at length discovered breakfasting, returned with the message
that he had no time nor men to spare, and I must return the best way
I could. Thank God, we did get back, but had a narrow squeak for it.
On the first movement I made to retire, the Kaffirs hurried to our
left flank, near the edge of the kloof, to cut us off. I followed in
the same direction, and that so closely that I drove the greater part
of them over it; and so that effort of theirs became fruitless. While
doing this others had run forward on my right flank, which was out in
the open; but here also the Minie rifle did its task right well, and
beat them back. Thus alternately struggling on both flanks, I got at
last to some rocks about a mile from the camp. Here I halted until
Lieutenant H----d, whom I now saw approaching with the men (who had,
on my sudden departure, been left behind), came and relieved me of
all further fears. It was now, on questioning Lieutenant H----d as to
his delay--questions which were not very audible, owing to the firing
still going on--that he interpreted some words amiss, and the next day,
much to my regret, resigned. After some still further delay, owing
to the desperate attempts the Kaffirs made to turn our position, we
eventually returned safely to camp, bringing all our wounded with us.
After this affair I did not conceal my opinion of General N----t’s
conduct towards me that day; and D----e, a fine young fellow of the
74th (the “British bull-dog” they called him), thought it incumbent
upon himself to ask for an explanation on the part of the regulars.
This, R----y of the Artillery--a thorough officer and gentleman, be
it said--kindly gave him for me. He appeared satisfied, and thus the
matter ended. In the report I made of this affair, I stated matters
as they virtually occurred; and a few days after, an order arrived in
camp from headquarters, stating that no officer of any rank whatever
was to interfere with my movements, but, on the contrary, to give
me whatever help I asked for; and Colonel S----t, secretary to the
Commander-in-chief, sent me the following, enclosed with a kind
letter:--

  “TO CAPTAIN LAKEMAN.

    “FORT BEAUFORT, _Aug._ 31, 1852.

    “SIR,--Having submitted your report of the 29th inst., I am
    directed to convey to you, by desire of the Commander of
    the Forces, his Excellency’s satisfaction with the constant
    activity and military energy you have displayed since you
    have been engaged in the operations in the vicinity of the
    Water-kloof.

  (Signed) “A. J. CLOËTE,

  _Quartermaster-General_.”

A native levy of Fingoes was now adjoined to my command. This
strengthened my position considerably; but what gave me an absolute
power over the native population of the district was an event which
occurred concerning some Kaffir prisoners in my camp. It happened thus:
While out coursing one day, a short distance from my quarters, I saw
a considerable stir there going on, and ultimately a string of men
went from thence to a by-path on the ridge of the hill, which led down
towards Blinkwater Post. It was evidently an escort of prisoners, and I
was greatly exercised by the thought of where these came from, knowing
that there were none excepting those in my camp, with whom no one had
the right to interfere. I sent a man on horseback to inquire into the
matter. He came back and reported that they were the very prisoners in
question, and that they were being removed by General N----t’s orders
to Fort Beaufort. I galloped immediately back, and told the officer in
command of the escort that he could not proceed: these prisoners were
mine, and had been taken in an engagement in which none but my own men
had been employed. They were also necessary to me for the information
they could give as to the whereabouts of the rest of the tribe. After
a long and painful interview of more than an hour, the prisoners were
taken back to my camp, escorted by my own men. The Fingoes in my new
levy, after this act of mine, used to call me “Government,” from,
I was told, the fact of their always hearing this word spoken of in
relation to her Majesty’s proclamations in the colony, which always
began with, “Whereas her Majesty’s Government.” But let the fact be as
it may, from that day they were implicit followers of mine.

Johnny Fingo, their chief, was a tall, powerful fellow, who spoke
Kaffir perfectly well; and passing himself off as such, used to make
excursions among the tribes in revolt, and bring me back most useful
information. One day, however, as if to punish me for my hardly just
and certainly arrogant act in taking back the prisoners as above
related, he led me into a painfully false position. He reported having
found out, some seven miles on the other side of Post Reteif, the
encampment of the Kaffirs that my night attacks had driven out of the
Water-kloof. I proceeded with him and a small escort to the place
indicated--a deep kloof in the mountains--and certainly saw a large
number of fires therein. On returning we fell in with a small outpost
of the enemy, consisting of five men, who were crowded together in a
rude hut, dividing among themselves some womanly apparel, evidently
the fruits of plunder. Johnny Fingo, in his haste to shoot these poor
devils, whom we had stealthily crept upon (having seen their camp-fire
a long way off), forgot to put a cap on his rifle, and as the gun only
snapped fire as he pulled the trigger, some three or four feet from
the head of one of the disputing marauders, he received in return a
lunge from an assegai through his thigh. The rest jumped suddenly
up, and an indiscriminate _mêlée_ took place. Poor Dix received a
fearful crack on the skull from a _knobkerrie_ (he was never perfectly
right afterwards); Johnny Fingo got another stab in the legs, and,
what affected him still more, his beautiful “Westley-Richards”
double-barrelled rifle, which he had obtained Heaven knows how, was
irretrievably damaged. His younger brother, a smart lad, had his
windpipe nearly torn out by a Kaffir’s teeth. In short, they fought
tooth and nail, like so many wild beasts. It was only after we had been
all more or less scarred, that two of the five were taken prisoners,
the other three not giving in till killed.

I here had an opportunity of observing the utter indifference to
physical pain which the black man exhibits. Johnny, although badly
wounded and unable to stand, was bemoaning his broken rifle as
it lay across his knees; and while I was bandaging his brother’s
horribly-lacerated throat, he repeatedly asked me as to the possibility
of getting the indented barrels of his rifle rebent to their original
shape.

On our return to the camp I immediately set about the preparations for
what I considered would be a rather hazardous undertaking--namely, to
drive out the Kaffirs from the kloof in which I had lately seen them.

Anxious also to renew my relations with the regulars, after my late
_mal entendu_ concerning the disposal of prisoners, I proposed a joint
expedition, which was eagerly accepted by Colonel H----d of the Rifle
Brigade. Four days afterwards we proceeded to the spot in question, and
not a Kaffir was to be seen, and even their traces had been carefully
obliterated. I never was more mortified in my life; it looked to me
as though I had been attempting something even worse than a stupid
practical joke. Colonel H----d was, however, excessively considerate
in the matter, and affected to be perfectly satisfied--although but
the very faintest marks of the enemy’s passage could be discovered.

The country being now perfectly free for many miles around, I made
long patrols to distant parts, coming at times in contact with small
parties of the enemy, but too disheartened to make a stand. One night,
in returning after a rather longer absence than usual, I found a
somewhat large number of Kaffirs assembled in the abandoned village
on Mundell’s Peak. I may here mention that, as I always marched the
men by night and reposed them by day, many rencontres of this sort
occurred--that is to say, that after pursuing the foe for several
days, we were often confronted in a manner as surprising to the one
as to the other. I placed the men in a straight line from one edge of
the peak to the other, ordering them to lie down, and await daylight
before opening fire. Stretching myself on the ground, just in front of
Sergeant Shelley, I gave, at the break of day, the order to fire; when,
directly afterwards, poor Shelley struggled to his feet, and fell back
again, groaning fearfully. He was shot through the heels. The ball
that effected this came down the line, and evidently from one of our
own men--for on either flank there were sudden dips of several hundred
feet, which rendered it impossible for a shot from the foe to come from
thence.

This cowardly shot, which had been aimed at my own head, the men
declared came from Waine. He, however, denied it so stoutly, and no
one having seen him actually fire in our direction, I took no overt
steps in the matter as to bringing him up for it; but I determined
never to take him out again for night service. And on after-thoughts
I recollected several unaccountable shots that had passed by me
during our nocturnal expeditions; and although I sincerely pitied
poor Shelley, I could not help feeling thankful that through the
misfortune to him I had got rid of Waine. Shelley eventually recovered
sufficiently to go with me to the Crimea, where he died.

The end of Waine was like a judgment upon him, as I shall now attempt
to describe. Always left in camp, it was his task to clean the
firelocks when the men returned after night expeditions. This he had
to do whether any firing took place or not, as the heavy dews rendered
the cartridges unreliable for further use if left in the guns. On one
occasion a man gave him his firelock to clean, telling him it merely
wanted wiping out, as it was unloaded. Waine did this, but could not
clear the nipple, and after several attempts he took the weapon back to
his owner, telling him of the fact. A cap was then put on, and Waine,
holding out his hand, told him to fire, and see for himself. The man
pulled the trigger, the gun exploded and blew Waine’s hand to pieces.
It appeared that, unwittingly, it had been left loaded. Waine was
removed, and shortly afterwards died of lock-jaw.



CHAPTER VIII.

    FORMIDABLE ATTACK ON WATER-KLOOF--THE “BLACKSMITH’S
    SHOP”--SLIGHTLY WOUNDED OVER THE EYEBROW--DICTATE REPORT TO
    COLONEL CLOËTE IN PRESENCE OF GENERAL--I AM OMITTED IN GENERAL
    ORDERS--PROCEED TO GRAHAM’S TOWN TO REQUEST REVISION OF THE
    ORDER--INTERVIEW WITH GENERAL CATHCART--RECEIVE GENERAL ORDER
    TO MYSELF--OFFERS OF GRANTS OF LAND FOR THE MEN WHO WISHED TO
    SETTLE--REMOVE TO BLAKEWAY’S FARM.


News now arrived in camp that the Commander-in-chief, with all the
forces at his disposal, consisting of several thousand British
soldiers, with native levies and batteries of artillery, was expected
in the neighbourhood of the Water-kloof, and to clear out that Kaffir
stronghold which had caused the shedding of so much blood, and to
some extent had tarnished, if not the fame, at least the prestige,
of British arms. On the 11th July I received orders to make the
necessary preparations, and on the following night to proceed to the
Water-kloof, where I should be joined by Colonel Eyre with the 73d.
The 73d were called the Cape Greyhounds. By their training they had
become the most effective fighting regiment at the Cape, and had never
left a wounded or dead man behind in the hands of the foe. As might be
expected, Colonel Eyre himself was a most daring, energetic officer;
and Colonel H----d and he showed great promise of becoming remarkable
commanders. According to the instructions I received, I started that
evening to the Water-kloof; and knowing all the winding ins and outs
of the place, found myself before daybreak in the centre of the kloof,
having been opposed on my way by a few Hottentot deserters. These were
readily known by the use they made of the bugle. They took refuge on
the top of a solitary mound, which stood somewhat lower down in the
valley, towards Mundell’s Peak, and which was called the “Blacksmith’s
Shop,” from the fact of its being the place where these same deserters
(some of whom had been armourers in the Cape corps) used to repair
the enemy’s firelocks. I waited where I was until ten o’clock, and
seeing no appearance of Colonel Eyre, I determined to clear out the
above-named shop, and there await further orders. Firstly, I was
induced to do this by the Hottentots, who, seeing my inaction, had
crept somewhat disagreeably close, and opened a galling fire; and
secondly, by the supposition that if, by some mischance, Colonel Eyre
should not appear, I was by my inaction increasing the boldness of
the foe, and thereby adding to the difficulties of my retreat should
I be compelled to make one. This affair took more time than I had
anticipated: the day was hot, the men had eaten no food, the hill a
steep one, and the Totties tenacious of their last grasp on what had
been for so many months a safe home for them in the midst of a British
army.

In charging up the hill, a shot came so close to my head that I confess
I ducked most humbly, but was so much ashamed of this act of mine
that I pretended very awkwardly to have stumbled. Scrambling hastily
up, I received another shot just over the eyebrow, which whirled my
helmet off, and left me bare-pated before the cheering Totties. But I,
considering that more danger lay in the deadly rays of the sun than
in their uncertain aim, took off my coat, and placed it round my head;
and in this Red Riding-hood fashion, amidst the laughter of the men, we
charged up the remainder of the hill, and drove the Totties out of the
place.

Here we found some provisions, and were sitting down to the meal, when
artillery opening down in the valley told us that her Majesty’s army
was fighting its way up to where we were quietly breakfasting.

Colonel Eyre now appeared on the heights to our left; Brigadier
B----r surveyed us at the same time on our right; Brigadier N----t
looked on in our rear; while General Cathcart and his brilliant staff
were espying us with their Dollonds in front, perhaps. I should have
laughed outright had I not seen such things before during my Algerian
campaigns, and at Astley’s.

Hastily finishing our repast, gathering the prisoners together, with
a few heads of cattle--not forgetting the anvil, hammer, bellows,
tongs, &c., we had found in the above-mentioned shop--I proceeded to
the headquarters of the Commander-in-chief and reported progress. I
found him toasting a chop on a ramrod. Poor General Cathcart! He was a
valiant soldier, but had no more intuitive knowledge of Kaffir warfare
than he displayed intuition against the Russians at Inkerman. His was
a bold soul in a skeleton’s frame; there was no material vitality in
what he did; his efforts were spasmodic and unnatural. I laid down the
trophies of my victory, taken from the shop, at the General’s feet,
and Colonel Cloëte gravely wrote down from my dictation the details
of our proceedings. Prisoners and cattle were handed over to the
proper authorities, and my men and I went to our quarters amidst the
congratulations of all around--they, no doubt, as puzzled as myself to
discover what there was worthy of thanks in our conduct that day.

As proudly, however, as so many Redan heroes, we marched off with
our laurels, whatever their real value might be. But if _we_ were so
modest, General Cathcart was more outspoken; he was determined to
unveil to the gaze of the world our blushing honours: a grand general
order came out--Falstaff’s men in buckram went down like stupid
wooden-headed skittles compared to the ebony-headed niggers I had
bowled over that day.

I was perfectly astounded. The General, however, had made one slight
mistake in the hurry of the moment; my name had been _left out_,
and in its place general officers had been mentioned, getting warm
thanks for the able measures they had taken for carrying out the
Commander-in-chief’s plan to clear the Water-kloof. Those who had not
that day seen a shot fired, or a prisoner taken, nor even had a distant
view of the Blacksmith’s Shop, were dragged before the British public
as worthy recipients of well-earned thanks. This, I thought, was rather
too serious a mistake, so I determined to lay the matter once more
before the Commander-in-chief and ask for a revision of his general
order.

In furtherance of this, I proceeded to headquarters, at Graham’s Town.
On arrival I explained the object of my journey to Colonel S----, who
told me it was perfectly right that something should be done, but he
hardly knew how to set about it, and referred me to Colonel Cloëte
as the proper person to apply to. I was, however, of Happy Jack’s
opinion, not to appeal to a subordinate when I could get a hearing from
the Commander; so, without more ado, I presented myself _in propriâ
personâ_ to the General, who was sitting in the adjoining room at the
time.

After his inquiries as to the object of my journey, I asked him as
quietly as the emotions then striving within me would allow, that
my efforts in the late clearing out of the Water-kloof should be
mentioned in the same kind manner in which he had stated my previous
services--and if he thought it requisite for the public good to
publish the names of officers who had not seen a shot fired that
day, I hoped he would consider that my name had still juster claims
for his acknowledgment. The General rose in a towering passion,
exclaiming that if I did not resign immediately he would have me tried
by court-martial. I replied that, if he would consent to my stating
the real causes for sending in my resignation, I was ready to pen it
there and then before him. After a pause he asked me to be seated, and
placing himself on a camp-stool, the old soldier began conning the
matter over to himself, looking towards me at times more inquiringly
than decided as to which of the two had the best of the case. His
womanly weakness to please the great men at home had evidently led him
to pander a little too much to their acquaintances out here, whilst I,
whom he personally liked, had been unduly neglected. The thought was
galling; but at last he rose, and said he had not forgotten me, but
thought it better to mention my name in a different manner; and was
then occupied in sending his despatches home to the Horse Guards, in
which he had asked for a military appointment for me in India. “Leave
me now,” he added, “and tomorrow you shall have a general order also.”

In fulfilment of this promise, Colonel S---- called upon me the next
day, with “Here, Lakeman, is what you asked for--a general order all
to yourself--while the rest of us only get mentioned in a lump. I am,
however, pleased at the result of your interview with the General. I
could not help hearing in the next room that it was rather hot at one
time; but all’s well that ends well--give us your hand.” No mention
by me could have done kind-hearted, brave Colonel S---- any good,
dead or alive; but now that he has laid down his life for his country,
he belongs somewhat to all that remain; and I wish to say how much I
respected and liked him. Had he not been so much above me in station
and favour, I should add still more to my panegyric.

  “HEADQUARTERS, GRAHAM’S TOWN,
  _October_ 7, 1852.

    “Lakeman’s Volunteer Corps, from their good conduct and the
    gallantry of their commander, not only in the recent clearing
    out of the Water-kloof, but also on many previous occasions,
    will be called for the future the Water-kloof Rangers.

  (Signed) A. J. CLOËTE,
  _Quartermaster-General_.”

Thus ended my only disagreement on military matters of this kind at
the Cape. I rather cemented than otherwise my relations with the
Commander-in-chief, but became the acknowledged enemy of Colonel
Cloëte, the Quartermaster-general, who, I had good reason for
believing, had been the originator of the dispute in question.

The ill-will, however, was all on his side; he had taken a great
dislike, it seemed, to my method of discussing military and political
matters in general; we were especially divided as to the meaning of
_colonial allegiance_; and the fact of us being both of Dutch origin
did not mend matters in a colony in which the inhabitants had such
different objects in view as the Dutch and English settlers had.

I returned next day to the front with an offer I had in my possession
from the Commander-in-chief to any of the men who wished to establish
themselves on the frontier as military settlers, of a small but
comfortable homestead, sufficient cattle and means to begin farming
with, and future help should necessity require it, on the condition of
their presenting themselves for military service whenever called upon
by her Majesty’s Government. I kept this offer by me, never seeing my
way perfectly clear to make use of it. The men were not of the right
sort to cement goodwill between natives and settlers, but the matter
got winded about among them, and much increased the difficulties of my
command. On the slightest reproof they would flaunt before me their
titles as farmers in prospective; and this they carried on to such a
ridiculous excess, that I have known them, when under the influence
of drink, attempt to turn men out of public-houses under the pretext
that they were not fit associates for gentlemen farmers. I had also
an order that freed me from any authority, military or civil, in
the discharge of the duty of keeping clear of Kaffirs the district
around Fort Beaufort; also another giving me the liberty of fixing my
headquarters anywhere within ten miles of that place. I accordingly
selected Blakeway’s Farm as the most suitable spot for carrying out my
instructions, and immediately removed there.

The Commander-in-chief was now ready for his grand expedition into
Basutoland. This carrying of the war into distant parts was, as far
as I could judge, a most unwise undertaking. The colony, and more
particularly its frontier, was in a far too unsettled state to receive
an accession of territory with benefit to itself or profit to the land
annexed; while the costly expedient of retaining several thousand
British troops at the Cape for the sake of punishing Basutos, was like
keeping up a large hawking establishment of peregrine falcons to chase
some troublesome crows. A few police jackets stuffed with Government
proclamations would have done the work equally well.

This untimely craving for excitement beyond the pale of legitimate
hereditary succession has always been the bane of young colonies--and
also, alas! of rapidly wearing out motherlands. A violent extension of
boundaries cannot easily be justified. Violence begets violence; and
nothing will rankle so much in the minds of men, from generation to
generation, as the idea that they have been unjustly deprived of their
forefathers’ land.



CHAPTER IX.

    KAFFIR CHARACTERISTICS--THE CRUELTIES OF WAR--NO REAL SYMPATHY
    BETWEEN BLACK AND WHITE--KAFFIR CRUELTIES--NIGHT ATTACK ON A
    KAFFIR VILLAGE--WOUNDED PRISONER--“DOCTOR” DIX--KAFFIRS BECOME
    RARE--CAPTURE OF NOZIAH, SANDILLI’S SISTER--SUSPICIOUS DEATH OF
    HER ATTENDANT--SERGEANT HERRIDGE.


It was during this period, while all elements of warfare at the
Cape were dying of exhaustion, that I had time to observe many
characteristics of the Kaffir race.

One remarkable trait in their character is their sterling singleness
of purpose in whatever they undertake. Whatever task a Kaffir has in
hand, he does it thoroughly--no hesitation, no swerving from the object
proposed; there is a childlike belief in the possible attainment of
whatever they seek, which seems incredible to those who know the folly
of the searcher.

Two small pieces of stick joined together by a strip of leather, and
blessed by a witch-doctor, would enable him to face death, in any
shape, undismayed, secure in the thought that he possesses a talisman
which renders him invulnerable.

A Kaffir will chase a whim, a freak, or a fancy as persistently and
as eagerly as a schoolboy will chase a butterfly until he sinks from
exhaustion.

I have seen a native woman seated on the ground, mirroring herself in
a bit of broken glass, and vainly trying to reduce her crisp woolly
locks into some faint semblance of an Englishwoman’s flowing hair.
Thus she would comb and comb, in the useless effort to make herself as
artificial as the life she saw reflected there.

Reaction with them is naturally as intense as the previous excitement.
A Kaffir who has been risking his life so recklessly to defend his
home, will, when defeated, become wholly heedless of what remains--wife
and children, goods and chattels, may perish before he will awake from
his prostration and stretch out a finger to save them.

I have seen a native deserter condemned to be hanged, point to the men
who were tying the noose on the branch of a tree, and explain by signs
that the knot was too long for him to freely swing between the branch
and the ground.

I have seen another, wounded in the leg, and unable to walk to the
place of execution, when placed on my pony to carry him there, urge on
the animal to the spot, and when the knot had been placed round his
neck, give the “click” that sent the pony on and left him swinging
there.

A Kaffir woman, driven from her hut, refuses to be burdened with her
child on the march, and if placed by force in her arms, will drop the
little thing on the first favourable occasion on the roadside to die.

Men and women, huddled together as prisoners after an engagement,
appear utterly indifferent to one another’s sufferings; the husband
will not share his rations with his wife (unless ordered to do so), nor
will she share hers with him.

A Kaffir child will ask you for the beads you have promised him for
bringing you to the hut in which you are going to shoot his own father.

I have heard and seen many horrible things, but this I must say, that
the most atrocious villains, and the most lovable beings on the face of
God’s earth, are to be found among the white men. A more kind-hearted
soul than Sergeant Shelley could never be conceived; and another man
in my corps used to carry about, concealed under his jacket, a broken
reaping-hook, to cut the throats of the women and children we had taken
prisoners on our night expeditions.

As another proof of what men may become in time of warfare, Dix one
morning came to inform me that I could not have my usual bath in the
small copper vat in which I had been accustomed to take my matutinal
tubbing. Upon further inquiries I found that it had been used for a
purpose which I will attempt to describe.

Doctor A---- of the 60th had asked my men to procure him a few native
skulls of both sexes. This was a task easily accomplished. One morning
they brought back to camp about two dozen heads of various ages. As
these were not supposed to be in a presentable state for the doctor’s
acceptance, the next night they turned my vat into a caldron for
the removal of superfluous flesh. And there these men sat, gravely
smoking their pipes during the live-long night, and stirring round and
round the heads in that seething boiler, as though they were cooking
black-apple dumplings.

One morning two Kaffir boys, that had been found by the men marauding
on the outskirts of our camp, were brought to me, and by the offer I
made of blankets and beads, were led to promise they would guide us
to where the rest of the tribe lay concealed in a deep glen between
the stony ridges that ribbed off from the Water-kloof heights. In
furtherance of this object I started with a small detachment of forty
men under Lieutenant Charlton. The summit of the kloof was wrapped in
heavy clouds, and in passing through the hoary woods which fringed
the foot of the hill, grave doubts came over me as to whether I was
justified (now that the war was ebbing to a close, and had taken a
decided turn in our favour) in thus tempting children to betray their
parents; and as these boys were cautiously feeling their way to the
front, like mute slot-hounds picking up an uncertain trail, it appeared
to me that we were more like revengeful pursuers hunting down poor
fugitive slaves, than man going to meet man and fight out our disputed
rights in fair play. God’s will be done! but the task assigned to the
white man is often a difficult one.

At one time he appears as a sort of legal hangman in the name of
Nature’s undefined laws; at another, simply a murderer; at a third
time, as I hardly know which of the two. Nevertheless, one conviction
always comes back with a desolating pertinacity amidst all my doubts,
and that is--we never can be equals, in peace or in war; _one_ of the
two must give way; and as neither will do so while life lasts, Death
can be the only arbitrator to settle the dispute.

Many and many a time have I held out the hand of good-fellowship to
the negro, but have never felt him clasp mine with the same heartfelt
return. It has either been with a diffident pressure, as though
something still concealed remained between us, or with a subtle
slippery clasp, which gave one the idea of a snake wriggling in the
hand, seeking when and where to bite.

Thus communing with myself, I followed hesitatingly the heels of the
Kaffir children; when they suddenly stopped, and pointing to some
faint glimmering lights that appeared, in the murky atmosphere of the
valley, to be far off, but in reality were close at hand, asked for
the blankets I had promised, for there stood the huts in which their
parents slept whom they had brought me to shoot! I halted the men,
and ordered them to lie down: and there we lay, stretched out on the
ground, within sixty yards of the village, watching the Kaffirs come
out to tend their fires, and endeavour to conceal the glare, as though
afraid of attracting attention, then cautiously looking round, retire
to rest again inside their little branch-covered huts.

While thus lying and watching to our front, some cautious footsteps
from the rear were heard approaching, and several Kaffirs, finding
out their mistake too late to fall back, threaded their way through
our ranks as though the men were but so many logs of wood instead of
the deadly foes they knew us to be. The last of these stragglers was
leading a horse which obliged him to stop, as the brute stood snorting
over one of the men--it refused to pass by. At length it made a plunge
forward, and its heels coming disagreeably close to the man’s head as
it landed on the other side, he rose, with a good hearty oath. The
Kaffir, however, proceeded stolidly on his way.

These Kaffirs stopped at the huts and spoke to the people around
them, but evidently did not communicate the knowledge of our presence
to their friends, for they retired again quietly to rest. My horse,
Charlie--a good, sensible animal as ever a man bestrode (it was the
charger that General Cathcart had given me)--having winded the horse
the Kaffir had lately led through our ranks, threw off the hood his
head was usually covered with to prevent his attention being drawn to
other cattle while we were lying in wait around villages, and began to
neigh. Out swarmed the Kaffirs like bees aroused harshly from their
hives. They evidently knew the loud neighing of my entire horse did
not proceed from one of their small Kaffir ponies, who, in their turn,
were now replying to Charlie. Before a minute had passed, our men had
opened fire, and the Kaffirs in return were hurling back to us their
assegais. This did not last long. With a loud cheer the huts were
charged. Soon all was over; and after pulling out the dead and the
wounded, we set fire to the village.

During the fight, a little Kaffir boy, who had been curled up in a
_kaross_, had received a bullet in the sole of his foot, which, passing
up the leg, had smashed several inches of the bone. As he was being
rolled over and over whilst the men were dragging the _kaross_ from
under him, he explained to me, by signs, his impossibility to rise. He
stretched out his little bronzed fingers towards me; and his childish,
olive face, lit up by the glare of the fire from the burning hut,
looked to me like the illuminated countenance of the infant St John
which one often sees in medieval pictures, and I could not help taking
up the little fellow in my arms and giving him a hearty kiss. I could
not leave him in his helpless condition; yet how were we to get him
back to the camp? His leg was quite smashed. The man whom I tipped
with a sovereign to carry him, found it dangling about in the most
sickening manner, and at last gave up the job. The only chance left was
to have an amputation performed. To this the child submitted without
a murmur; and Dix, my cook, took the limb off at the knee in a manner
that would have astonished a London surgeon. This was not the first
“case” on which Dix had tried his “’prentice hand;” for some time past
his vocation had been that of head surgeon and barber in general to the
corps.

The little patient arrived eventually at the camp all right; and it
may perhaps interest my readers to hear that a wooden leg was made for
him, on which he used to stump off extraordinary Kaffir reels that
might have given a new idea to some of those bonnie Scotchmen who
indulge in the Highland fling. But the most profitable feat for the
little performer was the following:--In a small stream that flowed
some two hundred yards in front of Blakeway’s Farm, the men had made
a large pond for bathing, by sinking the bed of the river. Over it a
small platform was erected from which one might take a plunge. To this
spot the little Kaffir was led whenever visitors arrived at the camp
(and this often occurred, now that the war was drawing to a close).
There, one end of a string being tied to his wooden leg, and the other
fastened to a fishing-rod, he popped into the water like a large frog,
and went down to the bottom, while up rose his leg like a float. Then
began the exciting struggle of landing this queer fish; and when this
was achieved, amid roars of laughter, a shower of coppers was sure to
make up for his ducking.

The country around Fort Beaufort had now become so free from Kaffirs,
that the men would often, after roll-call, of an evening go in twos
and threes, without their firelocks, into the town, and return again
before next morning’s _réveillé_, laden with calibashes filled with
Cape-smoke. I may mention that this is the name of an intoxicating
liquor made from the prickly pear or Cape cactus.

To prevent these irregular proceedings, Sergeant Herridge used to
patrol the road with a party of men; and one evening he brought back an
old woman, two middle-aged ones, and a young girl, whom he had found
in a kloof adjoining the before-mentioned road. The girl was called
“Noziah.” We soon found out that she was no less important a personage
than the sister of the Kaffir chief Sandilli, who, with “Macomo,” was
the greatest opponent to British power at the Cape. The old lady was
the principal attendant, the two others the “lady-helps,” of the party.
The former was a most communicative personage. After relating the
splendour of the young damsel’s origin, and the responsibilities under
which she herself laboured, as being the duenna to whose care Sandilli
had confided so incomparable a treasure, she asked to be allowed to
go on her way, and report progress to her mighty chief. The ancient
dame was quite a character, and I felt interested on her behalf; and
explained, through Johnny Fingo, that she was at perfect liberty to go
where she liked--adding that, during her absence, I would look after
the welfare of her charge, and that Sandilli might expect to see his
sister return as she had been confided to my care.

The old lady, after expressing, by profound salutations, her gratitude
to me, was on the point of departing, when Sergeant Herridge remarked
that she wore a wonderful necklace of lions’ and leopards’ teeth strung
together, and that he would like to have it. On this being explained
to the old woman, she stoutly refused to part with it, saying it was
a charmed token, an heirloom in her family, and had belonged formerly
to a great witch-doctor, of whom she was the lineal descendant. There,
for the moment, ended the matter, and shortly afterwards she started on
her journey alone. Sergeant Herridge was observed to follow her; and
just after she had disappeared behind the brow of the hill that rose
over Blakeway’s Farm towards the Water-kloof, a shot was heard, and the
sergeant came back with his leather jacket spattered with blood.

The next day the old woman’s body was found; and as the men believed
that she had been murdered by Herridge, he was in consequence shunned;
for however brutally cruel many of them were, killing without mercy all
that came in their way when engaged in fight, young as well as old,
even braining little children--yet this was done against the supposed
deadly enemies of their race, and not in cold blood for the sake of
plunder.

It must not even be supposed that men could be brought into this
savage state of mind without many harrowing causes of anger. I have
not related the many proofs we had had of the fiendish ferocity of our
foes. We had all seen the victims, or the remains, of their abominable
tortures: women disembowelled, and their unborn progeny laid before
them; men mutilated, and their amputated members placed in derision
to adorn their yet living bodies, their wounds exposed to flies and
maggots, and fated to feel death thus crawling loathsomely over them.
All this had exasperated the men into frenzy. We all knew what awaited
us if we fell into their power. It is true that people at home, who
descant quietly on the rights of man, may have some difficulty in
realising the feelings of the men.

As this supposed case of murder was not reported to me for several
days, and when at last I inspected the place where the deed was said
to have been committed, the old woman’s body had been so much eaten
up by jackals, &c., as to be no longer recognisable as to which sex it
belonged, I left the matter alone. Herridge in the meantime stoutly
denied to all that he had committed the crime. About a month afterwards
he expressed a wish to leave the corps and rejoin the police. Knowing
his, to say the least of it, uncomfortable position, I allowed him to
do so, giving him letters stating the services he had rendered during
the war, to facilitate his readmission into the police force, from
whence he had in reality deserted.

This is one instance of the many _laches_ which occurred in my corps,
and which, as the authorities took no positive notice of it, I was only
too glad to pretend to ignore.

On my return to England in the following spring, I was asked, on
passing through Graham’s Town, to go and visit a man then lying in
the hospital there, and who had formerly belonged to my corps. I
accordingly went, and found the man to be Sergeant Herridge. I was
shocked to see the emaciated state to which his powerful frame had been
reduced, and the haggard, shifting look of his once fearless eye. His
right hand and arm had withered to the bone; and as he held it propped
up with the other before me, he said, “That did it, sir; the Almighty
has blasted it; the old woman is revenged. I knew by the look she gave
me when dying that all was not settled between us; but she has never
left gnawing at that arm since, and now she is sucking away at my
brains. Tell me, sir, will she leave me alone when I am dead?”

Poor Herridge! His deed was a cruel one, and he suffered cruelly
for it. Doctor B---- of the 12th, who attended him, remarked that
he had never seen a case in which the power of the mind so visibly
affected the body. When first brought under his charge, the man merely
complained of rheumatism in the arm, and insisted on the fact that it
was drying it up; and in the course of two months, during which he was
continually staring at it, it had in effect withered to the bone.



CHAPTER X.

    NOZIAH AT BLAKEWAY’S FARM--BECOMES A FAVOURITE WITH THE
    MEN--WISHES TO RECONCILE ME TO HER BROTHER SANDILLI--EXPEDITION
    SENT OUT TO FIND SANDILLI AND ARRANGE FOR AN INTERVIEW--RETURNS
    AFTER TWENTY-THREE DAYS’ ABSENCE--I GO WITH NOZIAH TO MEET HER
    BROTHER--SANDILLI’S WAR-COUNCIL--ANGRY RECEPTION--I OBTAIN A
    HEARING--SANDILLI’S REPLY--OFFERS TO MEET GENERAL CATHCART AND
    MAKE AN EXPLANATION TO HIM--DEMORALISING EFFECT OF EXPOSING
    LIFE IN FIGHTING.


Meanwhile Noziah had made herself very comfortable at Blakeway’s
Farm, and had picked up enough Dutch and English words to make her
wishes known to me on most subjects. There was a certain charm about
the dusky maiden, who possessed all the subtle graces of her tribe.
She soon became the presiding deity of our camp. To her all appealed
in time of sickness or want; none could refuse a request that came
from her lips, and none was more willing than myself to submit to her
winning guidance. I thought thereby I was acknowledging the influence
of a power best calculated to bring all races under British sway. As
our intimacy increased, she became possessed of the fixed desire to
make me the friend of her brother Sandilli. She was so persistent and
persuading in this matter that I finally arranged that a party under
the guidance of Johnny Fingo should proceed to that chief’s quarter,
and that Noziah should be my delegate on this embassy, to arrange an
interview between her brother and me.

This was not exactly in keeping with the etiquette that prevails
between belligerents, and I have no doubt that legal authority
could easily prove I was in the wrong. But General Cathcart was in
Basutoland, and his last words before leaving had been an injunction
to keep matters quiet round the Water-kloof in any way I thought most
advisable.

This left me a wide margin, which I used in sending the above-named
party out in an unknown direction and with a somewhat visionary object
in view; for, after all, no one knew where Sandilli was, or the mood in
which he might be, if found at all. So, half hesitatingly, I sent them
on their way. Dix, who was a passionate admirer of the gentle sex, of
all shades and shapes (always excepting his frail better-half at Cape
Town), had become a devoted follower of one of Noziah’s attendants, and
was to have been leader of the band; his heart, however, failed him at
the last moment, and he contented himself with a passionate embrace
of this his latest flame, vowing, in high Kaffir-Dutch, that time or
distance could never extinguish the fire that burnt in his breast.

Johnny Fingo was thus left in full command. He had heard that Sandilli
lay somewhere concealed in the Ama Ponda Mountains, behind Fort Alice.
In that direction they accordingly wended their way; and after an
absence of three-and-twenty days, Noziah returned with the news that
Sandilli was in the Water-kloof, not six miles off, and there awaited
my coming.

Her eagerness for our interview seemed so catching, and she had such
fears that her brother might decamp once more--she knew not where--that
I determined to carry out her wishes immediately. I had unbounded
confidence in her loyalty to me; but I had not, by any means, the same
reliance on the good faith of her brother, who bore a character for
fierceness and treachery by no means reassuring. However, accompanied
by her, an attendant, and Dix, I started for the interview, which it
was intended should take place in the rocks so often mentioned before
as the Blacksmith’s Shop, and which had formed so prominent a feature
in General Cathcart’s description of clearing out the Water-kloof.

I left Johnny Fingo in the camp. Something in his demeanour since his
return, and in his manner of relating what had happened during the
expedition, appeared to me suspicious. He was like a big black snake
whose poisoned fangs I knew that I had extracted at one time, but I
was not sure as to whether or not they had grown to be dangerous again
during his late absence; at all events, I thought him safer at home
than with me.

It was late at night when we arrived on the heights above the kloof, so
I determined, after stumbling about over rocks and monkey-rope creepers
for some time, to encamp where we were for the night. A most merciful
dispensation of Providence it was that we did so; for not ten yards
farther on we should have fallen over a perpendicular cliff several
hundred feet to the bottom. In fact, we slept on the brink of a rapid
slope, not ten yards in length, that led to this fearful death.

The next morning early we arrived near the rocks we were in search of;
and halting in a tolerably open space, I sent on Noziah to warn her
brother of our arrival. It was rather an anxious moment. I could see
by the smoke still wreathing about several still-smouldering fires,
that more than one party lay concealed somewhere near those huge black
rocks. But whether a volley of musketry or friendly Kaffirs were to
issue from them, I felt by the thumping of my heart that the question
was being sharply debated within. However, my anxious doubting was soon
over; for Noziah came back, accompanied by a tall, limping figure, who
gravely held out his hand to me.

I was anxious to be on friendly terms with this man. Noziah’s brother
was an interesting being to me. Her courage, handsome person,
and devotedness were making rapid strides into my affections; and
notwithstanding that Sandilli was far from a desirable-looking
acquaintance, I strove by the hearty grasp I gave him to prove how
anxious I was to become better acquainted.

We now proceeded to the rocks, Dix bringing up the rear, with orders
from me to shoot the first person who committed an act of open
treachery. There were here about twenty Kaffirs. We were soon seated
on the ground--Sandilli, Noziah, and myself, the centre of a circle
which these men formed about us. Dix was stationed outside the circle,
gun in hand. The difficulties of entering into good-fellowship with
Sandilli now became apparent; for notwithstanding the beseeching looks
of Noziah, he remained dumbly staring at me in the rudest manner, and I
could see nothing but suppressed rage written on his ugly countenance.
The other members of his council--mostly old men, who remained squatted
on their hands like savage grizzly bears--looked askance at me with
their bloodshot eyes, as though they would like nothing better than
pulling me to pieces. Feeling thus too disagreeably scrutinised, I told
Dix to point his gun, as if by accident, somewhere near Sandilli’s
head. This movement considerably smoothed down the very distorted
features of that dark gentleman. He said something in Kaffir to Noziah,
pointing to Dix, and I told the latter to move his firelock a little on
one side.

After this mute episode snuff was passed round, and the conversation
opened. I explained in Dutch that I had been led to this interview
with the hope of stopping further shedding of blood; that the late
engagements between my men and the Kaffirs had been more like the
slaughtering of cattle than an honest struggle between man and man;
they (the Kaffirs) had no ammunition, and very few guns left; it was
worse than madness to suppose that a piece of stick, blessed by a
witch-doctor, could drive, as they pretended, the English into the
sea,--in fact, I argued that it was a duty for Sandilli, and well
worthy his great influence, to order his blind followers not to
sacrifice themselves any longer to such a senseless enterprise.

Sandilli replied in a curious mingling of Dutch, English, and Kaffir,
of which Noziah acted as interpreter, that it was not he who had begun
the war: years and years ago his father had to defend his kraal against
General Maitland on the Sunday River, many long marches from where
we then sat; that from that day to this several wars had occurred
between his tribe and the English; but they were always brought on in
the defence of their homes. In this manner they had been successively
driven from one place to another, until there was nothing left for them
but the hills. They were not hillmen, but wanted the pasture-lands
in the plains from whence they had been driven, and which were now
given to English farmers and cowardly Fingoes. He, for his part, was
willing to make peace, because they could not fight against my men, who
attacked them by night when they slept. During the day they were not
afraid, as they had proved to Sir Harry Smith. He had been told that
the Basutos had been beaten by General Cathcart: it was a good thing,
because they were fools not to have come to his (Sandilli’s) help when
he had nearly driven the English into the sea, where they came from.
He added that, if Macomo was willing, they would go together and meet
General Cathcart, and explain these matters to him, trusting that
something like an equable arrangement might be made for those of his
tribe who remained.

I promised to send on this proposal of his to General Cathcart; and it
was, moreover, arranged that Noziah should remain in my camp to convey
the General’s reply to Sandilli when received. Noziah also made her
brother swear, over some piece of stick she held before him, that she
should not be sacrificed for remaining with the English (she had often
told me that that disagreeable fate awaited her). To this, after many
a mysterious sign and token, he agreed, to my immense relief, and the
party broke up. I had felt, to say the least of it, exceedingly uneasy
during the somewhat lengthy interview. Noziah afterwards told me that
one of the party had actually proposed that I should be bound and
tortured to death, as a propitiation to their witch-doctors, for the
spirits of those who had perished by my night attacks. It was, perhaps,
the firelock of Dix, pointed towards Sandilli’s head, that prevented
the carrying out of this Kaffir-like attention.

On returning to camp I found a small party of men who had been all
night seeking us. They had caught a Kaffir, belonging probably to
Sandilli’s party, seated near the spot where we had slept that night,
and around which lay strewn remnants of a newspaper in which Dix had
wrapped our late meal. They concluded from these shreds that we had
been pitched over the cliff, and that these tokens of civilisation were
all that remained of their captain, and, in revenge, they had hanged
the poor devil on an adjoining tree.

It was really high time that the war should come to a speedy end. The
knowledge that this end was close at hand had sadly relaxed discipline.
The stirring events of war had left a craving for excitement not easily
satisfied. Life had been so freely exposed, that it was looked upon
as of very hazardous value. Men were ready to give or take it on the
most trivial pretexts. I have seen a party of my own men firing at
one another, at long distances, from behind rocks, merely to find out
the range of their Minie rifles. At other times I have known them
throw assegais at one another for the same purpose, and more than once
inflict dangerous wounds.

I naturally had more difficulty in keeping my men in order than
other officers experienced in that part of the colony. My men were a
rougher lot, and had only enlisted for a war that they now considered
finished: Lieut. H---- had resigned; Lieut. ---- had been sent about
his business; Lieut. P---- was often as riotous as the men; Lieut.
C---- was too young and reckless to possess the tact and persistent
energy necessary for the management of so unruly a set with security to
himself or satisfaction to them.



CHAPTER XI.

    RETURN OF GENERAL CATHCART FROM BASUTOLAND--END OF THE
    WAR--SPORTING ADVENTURES--LOVING TORTOISES--EVENING
    REVERIES--A SUDDEN ATTACK FROM AN UNKNOWN ENEMY--PLANS FOR HIS
    CAPTURE--UNSUCCESSFUL--ANOTHER ATTEMPT--NIGHT VIGILS--CLOSE
    QUARTERS--DEATH OF THE LEOPARD--WILD-BOAR HUNTING--BABOONS--MY
    PACK OF HOUNDS--THEY ARE ATTACKED BY BABOONS--POOR DASH’S
    FATE--SNAKES.


General Cathcart now returned from his Basutoland expedition, where
British soldiers proved once more their many sterling qualities. I
shall not, however, attempt to describe the work done, for I had no
actual share in it. The war now, so far as active operations were
concerned, had virtually come to an end; my own occupation was gone.
“Grim-visaged war had smoothed his wrinkled front,” as humpbacked
Richard said, and I began to seek for excitement in a quarter which had
always possessed attractions for me.

Hitherto my experiences of sport at the Cape had been of a somewhat
tame description, consisting of coursing and partridge-shooting, such
as I had often enjoyed, though on a larger scale, in Old England. But
at that time my thoughts were on larger subjects bent, and I gave
myself up thoroughly to these. My battery consisted of a Lancaster
double-barrelled, oval-bored rifle, of great precision and length of
range, but small in calibre; a Rigby twelve-bored fowling-piece; and
a double-barrelled Barnett Minie, also twelve-bored. With these I
bowled over lots of fur and feather, mostly pea-fowl, stein and bush
buck. Sometimes I went in for bigger game; but as there were no lion,
elephant, or buffalo within several days’ journey, I was obliged to
content myself with trying my ’prentice hand on some stray leopards,
whose tracks I had noticed about, as well as those of wild-boar, or
rather, as I believe, of farmers’ pigs run wild during the war, and
which in very fair numbers ploughed up the wet kloofs and the abandoned
gardens around the farms.

There were plenty of hyenas and jackals about, but I was tired of
trying to get up any excitement about them. They were a set of
sneaking marauders, who used to prowl about the camp by night for the
sake of the offal and scraps to be found, and who would scamper off on
the slightest appearance of danger. My English spaniel, “Dash,” would
often bow-wow them almost any distance away.

Amongst other traces of game, I had observed the spoor of a leopard,
or some other soft-footed member of the feline tribe, around a pool of
water at the head of the kloof on which Blakeway’s Farm was situated.
It was about two miles off, in a very dank, secluded spot, almost as
dark under the big cliffs and heavy foliage as an underground cavern.
It was a favourite resort for blue-buck and baboons, whose footprints
had stamped and puddled the ground all around. I selected a spot under
a boulder of rock that advanced almost to the margin of the pool, where
I placed, day after day, as I had seen it done in Algeria, branch after
branch of prickly cactus, until I had made quite a porcupine shield,
big enough to shelter a man. In the centre of this I dug a small
circular hole, for a seat, and ensconced thereon, I one night took my
place, awaiting the arrival of my supposed game.

The grandeur of the scenery, huge grey rocks, gigantic trees, and an
awe-inspiring stillness which weighed upon one’s spirits, made me feel
extremely small in my solitary hole. The only life moving amid these
gloomy surroundings was a merry singing cloud of mosquitoes, circling
round and round above my head. Had I not remembered the enormous bumps
their whispering kisses used to raise on my poor face, I should have
felt tempted to let some of them in under the muslin I had spread
across the bushes overhead, in order to have something to occupy my
attention and break the monotony, were it only these denizens of the
insect world.

About three hundred yards lower down in the valley I had left the
attendant who usually accompanied me on my shooting expeditions.
His name was Napoleon--a name given to him by the men on account of
his being a native of St Helena, and from the fact of his bearing a
supposed likeness to his illustrious namesake. He held in leash two
half-bred Scotch deer-hounds, that were to be slipped on the report of
my gun. They were fine, strong-limbed animals, capable of pulling down
almost any big game. Napoleon himself was a bold, willing fellow, on
whom I knew I could place entire reliance. He was as widely awake to a
stray Kaffir as to game. I have seen him more than once, when bush-buck
had been brought to bay, go in in the pluckiest manner, and, to save
the dogs, often risk his own life. Bush-buck, I may mention, have
fearfully pointed, spiral-shaped horns, and have been known to make
fatal use of them when driven to desperation.

Thus, far from all the world, I mutely sat, communing with the great
voice of Nature around, and to the faint promptings of my small nature
within. I felt and remained like a log, or rather, like the sober
Irishman who entreated somebody to tread on the tail of his coat, if
only for the sake of getting up a mild excitement.

I was roused from this stupor by some visitors to the pool, in the
shape of two little land-tortoises, that came wabbling down, one after
the other, as fast as their small groggy legs would carry them. On
arriving at the water’s edge, they launched forth, like boats from a
slip, and floated about, side by side, as lovingly as the twin ship the
Calais-Douvres on the Channel. They were, no doubt, a newly-married
couple. It might even have been their marriage trip, as they seemed as
much over head and ears in love as in water. There they were, turtling
about at leap-frog, heads up and tails down, in rocking-horse fashion;
and now and then, as though ashamed of such mad pranks, they would
dive underneath the surface, and shyly begin playing bo-peep with one
another among the sedges of the pond. But alas! all things must come to
an end, and I have heard it said that even husbands and wives get tired
of one another, though Hymen forbid that I should give credence to such
a report! And now, at this moment, a huge bat came lazily flapping its
wings, like a sea-gull, over the water, and warned, I presume, the
innocent creatures that night was approaching, and that it was time for
respectable couples to seek the security of their own homes. So they
left their luxurious water-couch, and wabbled off, as demurely as Darby
and Joan going to evening chapel.

Meanwhile evening was putting up its revolving shutters, leaving
me more and more benighted, and my thoughts were turned into
another direction by catching at intervals the distant barking of
the bush-buck, as they replied to one another, and who, like most
swaggering challengers, kept each other at a respectful distance.
A distant hum arose from the direction of the camp, as confused as
the medley of races it contained--Russian, Swede, French, German,
English, and Dutch--men from all climes, held strangely together by
the mere force of my frail will. This thought, and other equally dim
ones, occupied my mind, when the loud lapping of water close at hand
caught my attentive ear, and brought me, with a startling throb, to
the realities of my then actual undertaking. Straining my eyes in the
direction from whence the sound came, I fancied, in the dusk, I could
trace the outline of a beast of some sort on the brink of the pond.
Slowly raising my gun in that direction, I was on the point of pulling
the trigger, when the sound of lapping ceased.

Grave doubts now arose in my mind as to whether that at which I was
levelling my gun was a living object or not, for in the gathering
darkness, rocks, reeds, and bushes had assumed the most fantastic
shapes. I became confused as to which of them I should direct my aim.
At length I resolved to creep from my hiding-place, and for this
purpose placed the small leather cushion on which I was seated on
my head, and endeavoured to lift the prickly bush above. I was thus
engaged when I received a fearful whop upon my head, which knocked me
over, bushes and all, while some heavy brute passed over my prostrate
form, landing me a prickly cropper upon my own porcupine shield. Off
went the gun haphazard, and I scrambled to my feet as best I could.
I was just recovering my senses, when up came the dogs, sniffing and
scenting the air. They, however, appeared as bewildered as myself, and
at last slunk away between my legs. Napoleon followed, blundering as
fast as the darkness would permit him through the deep ravine; and on
his inquiry as to what I had fired at, I told him to go to the devil
and see! He lit a match and looked into the prickly bush from which
I had been so ruthlessly turned out. We found, near the edge of the
pool, the deeply indented footing where some heavy beast had landed on
springing from the rocks overhead. There could be no doubt in our minds
that they were made by the leopard I had been waiting for. On Napoleon
expressing some doubts as to whether or not the same beast might not be
now waiting for us, we left in a most hasty and undignified manner the
scene of my late skirmish. The result of my first interview was not of
an engaging nature; and I made up my mind that the next time I arranged
for a meeting, it should be on terms which, at least, offered more
elbow-room.

The great sportsman at the camp was a man called Watson. He had been a
keeper in England. He was master of all sorts of dodges for trapping,
shooting, and stuffing of game. He had observed, near an abandoned
cattle-kraal at a neighbouring farm, a large pool of stagnant water,
around which he had made out, amid the many marks of wild animals, the
spoor of a leopard, which he pretended was the same brute that had
given me such a boxing-lesson in the kloof. Dix, Watson, and Nap now
set to work to sink a hole not far from the pond, around which they
placed a circle of bushes. They made, however, such a dense turret,
that it was impossible to obtain an entrance into it. I explained to
them that the only way for me to gain admittance would be for one of
them to be tied with a rope, and then, bodkin-fashion, to be pushed
through the prickly bush to make an entrance. This plan, however, did
not quite satisfy them.

The only other method of proceeding was to throw their leather jackets
on the top of the turret, and to place myself thereon. This pin-cushion
was not, however, stout enough, and let the thorns through; so, after
several attempts, in which I got severely pricked somewhere for my
pains, I gave the setting dodge up. It was finally decided that the
turret was to be removed; that we were to station ourselves at various
parts of the building, a couple of goats being attached in a prominent
place to attract the leopard to the spot, and a volley from us all was
to settle the question. In accordance with this suggestion, the next
day the goats were brought, and pegged down, as we had previously
determined. Dix had also brought some fowls, which he pretended, by
their crowing, would greatly enhance the chance of attracting the
leopard’s attention. We persisted in this plan for several days, but
with so little promise of success, that I thought the odds were more
in favour of attracting stray Kaffirs towards us, and being made game
of ourselves. This not answering my sporting programme, I returned to
the original plan of placing myself in the hole, which was sufficiently
deep to conceal me; and there, without covering of any sort, to await
the advent of any four-footed beast that would kindly come to the
rendezvous.

On the night of the fourth day of kneeling attention I really saw a
leopard slowly approaching the pond. I had an undeniable proof of his
nature by the scampering away of several heads of antelope that had
been near the pond, and by the loud quacking of a flock of wild-duck
then swimming thereon. The brute walked leisurely round the pond until
he came to within about twenty yards of the spot where I was lying
concealed, when he suddenly disappeared as if by magic. In vain I
strove to discover any signs of his whereabouts. I then partly got out
of my hole, and there, kneeling on the edge, I could dimly see his
flattened form. Now, what was to be done? He offered no fair mark for
my rifle. I was afraid, in that uncertain light, to go nearer him; and
he, on his side, decided on not coming nearer me. I passed what seemed
to me a very long and _très mauvais quart d’heure_ in this anxious
state; the night was closing in fast, the moon would not be up until
very late, and I really knew not what to do. In this uncertainty I
crept backwards towards the bushes, thrown on one side, that had been
lately employed in the construction of the before-mentioned turret.

Once arrived there, the same habit of protecting myself, which no doubt
I had acquired by imitation from French sportsmen in Algeria, led me
to try and cover my rear as safely as possible. With this view I went
to work most energetically, but found the task, from the nature of the
obstacles I had to overcome, very disagreeable; for, as hard as I had
pushed my way in, the prickly thorns seemed to combine as strongly
to spur me out. This kicking against pricks once decided in my
favour, by finding that I had succeeded, after all, in making room for
concealment, my courage rose in the same proportion towards the foe to
my front. I not only got so excited as to make all sorts of unearthly
yells to challenge the brute to stand up, to come on, &c., but actually
finished by throwing bits of stick and brushwood at him, in the hopes
of bringing the sulky brute to the scratch. But he was not going to be
made game of, so, in despair, I left off hallooing, and called out to
Dix (who, I afterwards found out, was at that moment soundly snoozing
with Napoleon at the farm) to come to the rescue. These heavy-headed
sleepers were not even dreaming of my state of _funk_, and, of course,
did not stir.

At length, thoroughly exhausted, I laid myself flat on the ground to
get a lower-level view of the horizon, and there, with my gun pointed
to the front, and a stout assegai at my side, I awaited what might
happen.

How long I remained I never knew, but it must have been a long time,
for I was getting intensely cold lying on the ground covered with
a heavy dew,--when, more by sound than by sight, I felt the gradual
creeping of something towards me. However unmoved I might have remained
until now, the loud thumping of my heart against the ground at this
juncture became intolerable; so, with a loud shout, I jumped up, and,
with an ominous growl, the animal bounded into the bush a few yards
on my right. I at once sent a shot in that direction, which caused a
fearful uproar and scattering of bushes. Without stopping to consider,
I at once sent another shot towards the same spot, and suddenly all was
silent. This not being reassuring, and as I had now no positive sign to
show where the brute was, I fell back, loading, towards the farm. Here
I met the men coming towards me; and after hastily explaining to them
the position of affairs, we proceeded, torches in hand, towards the
spot, to make a fuller investigation of what had taken place.

Here we found a fine male leopard lying dead. The first bullet I fired
had broken the spine, near his hind quarters; and the second shot,
composed of slugs, had taken effect in the head, and proved a speedy
quietus. I believe this to have been the only leopard in the district,
as neither the men nor I ever saw the spoor of one afterwards.

My experience of wild-boar shooting was more profitable in the shape
of hams and chine than as to actual enjoyment of what is called real
sport. I could never get them to charge home; and although I have shot
little porkers that have raised an awful amount of squealing, yet
even the sow-mother, and the rest of the herd, would start off in the
opposite direction. Once or twice it happened that they came towards me
within about twenty yards, but then they would invariably be off to the
right or the left. If, however, they showed so little pluck when facing
the gun, they had plenty of it when opposed to dogs alone.

I have often seen them chasing mine (and they were a stout pack) for
a long distance. Upon one occasion a “souzer” of pigs chased my dogs
almost into the camp, and the men had to turn out to drive them off.

I never took any pleasure in shooting baboons or monkeys; and,
except to defend myself on two different occasions, never fired a
shot at them. On the first occasion, I had been gathering bulbs of
those red-pennoned, lance-shaped flowers, which are much admired in
some parts of South Africa. I had been so intent on my task that I
had forgotten my dogs, that always accompanied me, now the war was
virtually over, in my strolls through the country.

The dogs were a very scratched pack. They were in all about twenty,
mostly of Kaffir origin, of various sizes, from a huge Danish mastiff,
called Woden, to my little Sussex spaniel Dash. The ruling spirits
were four Scotch deer-hounds, three of which I had purchased from Mr
Andersen, my Norwegian friend at Cape Town. The other had been given
to me by P----r of the Commissariat. Dhula, the biggest and bravest
of Andersen’s Scotch leash, would not only pull down the largest
bush-buck, but would also keep guard afterwards, and prevent my Kaffir
dogs eating it. Many an antelope had he thus saved to grace our frugal
board, and to afford a display of Dix’s culinary art. Poor Dhula! his
life was embittered by his jealousy of Woden. The latter, although
a heavy dog, ran well; and often, while chasing, when the chance
offered, he would run at Dhula, and, striking him under the shoulder
as he would a deer, bowl the astonished Scotch giant over and over,
much to the latter’s disgust.

Woden evidently could never quite understand the humour of his Scotch
congener. He generally gave in to Dhula, but often after several
sharp bouts, in which he always carried off the worst of the biting
in the heavy folds of his shaggy throat. My Kaffir greyhounds would
run anything and eat anything they caught, from a startled quail to a
porcupine. They were as crafty as they were cruel and fleet, and in
the woods ran as much by scent as by sight. They were not, however,
equal in speed to my English dogs. My plucky little friend Dash was
(considering his small offensive powers) the bravest of the brave; for
his winning way of bringing stones or anything else he could pick up to
you, whenever he wanted a caress, or some little tit-bit to eat, had
completely ground down his teeth to an unbrushable size. If it came to
a regular go-in with some struggling beast brought to bay, Dash would
lie down, and, twisting his knowing head about as the various ups
and downs of the fight took place, looked like an old amateur boxer
observing professional gluttons at work. Dash was buried on Blakeway’s
kloof, which had so often echoed to his lively tongue. A blue-faced
baboon, as I am now going to relate, was the malevolent spirit which
loosened all his worldly ties between his much-attached master and his
love for all sports--for Dash was as much alive to the pleasure of
hunting rats at a farm-rick in Old England as in chasing jackals and
hyenas round our camp at the Cape.

To resume my narrative, however. As above stated, in the ardour of
digging bulbs, I had forgotten my dogs, when Napoleon called my
attention to their baying far down in the recesses of the kloof.
Hastily picking up my gun, lying close at hand, and he hurriedly
cramming without mercy into a sack my green-grocery-looking bunches of
roots, we started off in hot haste to the spot to which the dogs were
calling our attention. On our way we met them coming back; they were,
however, eagerly enough disposed to return, so that we knew by that
sign the object of their late _rencontre_ was not supposed by them to
be very far off.

And so it was, for we soon found ourselves amidst a grinning lot
of large, brown, Cape baboons. They were clinging up aloft to the
graceful creepers that festoon so beautifully the trees in South
African woods, and looking like so many hideous, hairy-bellied spiders
on a beautiful lace-work of Nature’s weaving. I felt inclined to give
some of them, who looked particularly out of place in that sylvan
retreat, a peppering of shot; but their wonderful performances on the
tight-ropes around them soon smoothed the wrinkles of my indignation.
These acrobats performed extraordinary feats. They shot from branch
to branch, from wave to wave, like flying-fish, or as pantless Zazel
shoots from the cannon’s mouth to her swinging rope.

This performance created intense excitement, and the barking of
the dogs seemed to applaud this aerial description of St Vitus’s
Dance. It was really affecting to see the solicitude of the parents
as their little progeny hopped from tree to tree after them, now
holding out their arms to receive them as they landed, now thrusting
back a creeper to bring it nearer within their reach. It was a real
exhibition of baboon agility, of which we see but a faint parody in
the Westminster Aquarium, by the Darwinian selections among the human
bipeds.

An accident befalling a clumsy little fellow as he stumbled on the
branch of an iron-wood tree, he came to the ground with a thud. In one
minute the poor chap was torn to pieces by the dogs. This was more than
his parents could stand; down they came to the ground, followed closely
by the rest of the tribe, and a real battle ensued between them and the
dogs.

The baboons got the best of the fight,--poor Woden was ridden off the
field by two jabbering jockeys on his back, who laboured his sides
most unmercifully with tooth and nail. Dhula was too nimble and clever
with his teeth to be caught, nevertheless he had to submit from his
many persecutors with the loss of several inches of his tail. Fly, a
remarkably fine red Kaffir bitch, which I afterwards took home and gave
to the Zoological Gardens, was ripped up and her sides laid bare. But
the worst of all occurred to poor Dash: he was carried of by a huge
baboon almost as big as a totty, and I arrived to his rescue too late.
I saw that he was dead, and forthwith shot his destroyer upon him.
Napoleon made good use of his assegai and my spade; and after a fight
far more exciting than glorious, we remained masters of the field.

I am thoroughly convinced, had the baboons shown any unity of action, I
should not have been relating this incident to-day.

These are about the only events in my sporting life at the Cape worthy
of narration; many milder incidents occurred which I pass over, judging
them insufficient to be of interest to the reader.

I know but little about snakes--they were of almost everyday
acquaintance; but as neither my men nor I were ever bitten by one,
I have nothing sensational to write about them. One short episode I
may perhaps relate. In creeping over some rocks to have a shot at a
stein-buck, I cautiously looked over a ledge of stone, and fancying
there was a curious garlic smell about the place, I looked down, and
there, lazily stretched out at full length, almost touching my throat,
was a huge cobra di capello. I drew back much less hesitatingly than
I had peeped, and, retiring a few feet, shot it as it was rearing its
head in the act of preparing to strike. This little event gave the
hitherto slight attention I had paid them a more repulsive form, and
ever afterwards I destroyed all that came in my way. Up to that day I
had handled them as I had seen others do--henceforth their touch became
too loathsome. Kaffirs believe that after a puff-adder, whip-snake, or
cobra has bitten, it must within a short space of time wash out its
mouth with water (which these snakes invariably do, if it is at hand),
else it would die from the poison that oozes afterwards from its fangs.
They also think that white men, if bitten by snakes, invariably cause
the death of the snake itself--for they say the white man’s blood is
poisonous to all serpents.



CHAPTER XII.

    KAFFIR KNOWLEDGE OF SURGERY--MANNERS MORE ARTIFICIAL THAN
    NATURAL--PEACE CONCLUDED WITH SANDILLI AND MACOMO--INDIFFERENT
    CHARACTER OF THE TREATY OF PEACE--THE CORPS DISBANDED--THANKS
    OF COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF--RETURN TOWARDS THE CAPE--ADDRESSES FROM
    THE INHABITANTS OF FORT BEAUFORT AND GRAHAM’S TOWN--ENGINEERING
    TASTES--SAM ROWE--THE MARY JANE--I EMBARK FOR CAPE TOWN.


Kaffir witchcraft assumes so many fantastic forms, that it is difficult
to give a notion as to any guiding principle in it. Hatred of the
European seems to play a large part in all their superstitions.

A piece of stick is supposed, after blessing and incantations, to
become a talisman, having the power to save the wearer from all danger
the white man can attempt to inflict against him; but it is thought
to be powerless in warding off a danger coming from a neighbouring
tribe. They believe that we are born of the foam of the sea, and we
should all perish if driven back to our ships, which they suppose to
be the cradles in which we are brought up. Like almost all magicians,
they believe they can raise plagues of all sorts, and inflict sores and
different forms of leprosy by merely casting an evil eye upon any one.

Their knowledge of medicine and surgery is greater than may be
supposed. I have known them cure headaches and neuralgia, hitherto
incurable, by putting a leather band round the head, and adding
underneath small smooth pebbles at certain distances, then placing a
weight upon the head, which is usually a bowl of supposed mesmerised
water, weighing down the whole until the head becomes completely
numbed, and all pain ceases.

Two or three applications of this nature I know to be, from actual
observation, a positive cure. They also know the use of several
medicines, such as emetics, &c.; and in surgery will stop the bleeding
of an artery as well as any surgeon--applying wet bandages wrapped
round smooth stones, which act as efficiently as a tourniquet. They
will also amputate the small joints with great skill.

The Kaffir customs are far more artificial than one would suppose from
his ease of manner; every position of the body has been taught him
from his childhood. Whenever Kaffir men or women present themselves
before you, it is in the attitude they have been instructed as the
most becoming for the furtherance of their wishes. A man who comes
to ask for a favour which concerns the welfare of any member of his
family, takes quite a different attitude than when offering to exchange
something in barter. The young man who seeks to purchase the hand of
his wife, has certain modes of well-defined expression in the attitude
he assumes, whether hesitating or assured of success. The triumphal
swagger of a suitor who has been successful in such a mission is
something marvellous to behold--it really seems as if he thought the
earth would soil his feet as he treads upon it. On the other hand, if
he has been refused, and has no hopes of making a second more enticing
offer, he will retire in such hang-dog fashion as to make his worst
enemy inclined to pity him. The man who stands before you leaning
gracefully upon his assegai, in a posture that even a sculptor might
dream of as the embodiment of manhood and grace, is not what you might
suppose in a position taught by nature’s school, but the summing up of
what generations have thought to be the beau-ideal of a man.

Johnny Fingo once presented himself before me in so calm and dignified
a manner that he quite surprised me; and upon my asking him the nature
of the business he came upon, he replied that he was the bearer of a
communication from Sandilli. No Roman presenting himself on the part of
the senate, bringing an offer of peace or war to a foreign potentate,
could have done so with more calm assurance of the mighty import of his
mission.

The women are small in shape and frame compared with the men, and
extremely beautiful, as far as the moulding of the limbs is concerned;
but their features will not bear the same close inspection. Winsome,
coy, and to a certain degree striking when young, they become snappish,
coarse, and ungainly as they advance in years. Noziah, of whom mention
has already been made, was far handsomer than the ordinary women of
her tribe (Timbuctoo), and betrayed her birth by her stately carriage
and the extreme delicacy of her hands and feet. Her mental capacity
was equal to that of any untutored woman I ever came in contact with;
she understood thoroughly the intricate policy then being carried out
at the Cape, the position of the Dutch and English settlers, and the
use the Kaffirs might make of these two antagonistic interests for
their own profit. She also was well aware of the task the missionary
was performing, the progress of English civilisation, and the good and
evil that it was then bringing into the land. In short, she was a woman
capable of undertaking any noble task which Providence in its wisdom
might have thought necessary.

General Cathcart now returned from his Basutoland expedition. Macomo
and Sandilli had made peace with the British authorities upon terms
that neither they nor the colonists could then or afterwards exactly
make out. All that seemed perfectly clear was, that when the English
Government had made up its mind as to the delimitations of territory,
&c., that decision would be duly signified to all interested; and let
the terms be as onerous or as arbitrary, as stupid or as wise, as the
authorities at home could devise, they had to be accepted.

My corps having no further _raison d’être_ was disbanded, and a most
flattering general order issued, in which the Commander-in-chief stated
the following:--

  “HEADQUARTERS, GRAHAM’S TOWN,
  _22d March 1853_.

    “The Commander-in-chief, in disbanding this corps,--the
    Water-kloof Rangers,--wishes to convey to its gallant
    commander, officers, and men, the high estimation in which he
    holds their services, &c.

  (Signed)      “A. J. CLOËTE,
  _Quartermaster-General_.”

On my return towards England I was most kindly greeted at Fort Beaufort
with an address, presented to me by the principal inhabitants of the
town.

At Graham’s Town a similar address was presented to me by Messrs
Godlington and Cocks, members of the Legislative Council, and signed
by the principal inhabitants of the town and the district around.
I afterwards went with these gentlemen to the sea-coast to find out
whether or not a safe roadstead for shipping could be established
somewhat nearer the town than Port Elizabeth. Being somewhat of a
military engineer, this proved an agreeable task; and I was already
actively engaged in drawing out plans when the news arrived of the
death of a very near relative. This closed all prospect of banquets and
receptions, or proposals for new harbours; and I must confess that it
was some slight consolation to think that I should not have to present
myself at the head of a dinner-table as the honoured guest, to reply to
vapid compliments.

At Port Elizabeth another equally gratifying address was presented
to me, and what rendered it more pleasing was the fact of its being
offered by Mr Deare, Mr Wylde, and other gentlemen, who had so kindly
foretold my success as I passed through their town on my way to the
front. I stayed a few days at Port Elizabeth, and one morning I walked
with some merchants and others on its surf-beaten shore to see how a
jetty could be made to facilitate landing (they had heard of my plans
concerning another place), for I always had a mania for building that
follows like my shadow wherever I go.

I seldom see a spot but I always, in imagination at least, commence
building upon it,--not that I care a whit whether it is for myself or
another; yet more than one giant is living in the House that Jack built.

Wherever I have passed, a road, a bridge, a chapel,--a something,
has marked my passage. I once built a jetty in the Bay of Bourgas,
betwixt Varna and Constantinople, 147 yards long, 8 yards wide, having
22 feet of water; and on it embarked 45,000 troops, 9400 horses, 140
field-guns, with ample stores, for the Crimea; and the jetty (which is
still standing), and the embarkation above mentioned, all was completed
in twelve weeks. It is true I was helped by a British officer,
Commodore Eardley Wilmot, of her Majesty’s steamer Sphinx, but neither
of us got (nor in fact wanted) anything for our pains. The pleasure of
the work was sufficient payment. I merely mention these things that the
reader may know that I am not a mere amateur soldier, but one who has
had a practical knowledge of his work.

As I said above, I was walking on the sea-shore when I was accosted by
a good-looking sailor with “Sir, I am a fellow-countryman of yours, and
a west-countryman to boot. I should like to shake hands; my name is Sam
Rowe, and I hail from Penzance.”

I expressed the pleasure, which I really felt, on making his
acquaintance. After this he joined us as we proceeded in our
examination of the beach. When this was over, while we were returning
to the town, Mr Sam Rowe said he wanted a minute’s private talk with
me. Stepping aside for that purpose, he informed me that he would be
happy to take me to Cape Town if I would go in that nice little craft,
pointing to a cutter in the bay. He had heard from the town-folks
that I was going there, and he thought I should like to sail with
him. The vessel was his, and his time too. It was impossible to reply
to Mr Rowe’s eager offer by refusal, so with a shake of the hand it
was arranged there and then. The conditions were that the vessel was
to be mine during the trip; he and his crew, consisting of three
men and a boy (his son) were to be at my orders. Of stores there
were plenty--fish, poultry, and salted pork, captains’ biscuits from
Plymouth, bloaters direct from Yarmouth, and real rum from Jamaica. As
for the craft herself--named Mary Jane, after his little daughter at
home--why, nothing afloat, from a St Michael oranger to a fifty-gun
frigate, could stand with her in a gale or a breeze. All these things
Captain Sam Rowe offered me, and in exchange only required the company
of my humble self, and yarns from the seat of war.

Two days afterwards I embarked in the Mary Jane, and found her to be a
smack of forty tons. A long time ago she had been a trawler, but was
now employed in the more important service of a Government transport.

Captain Rowe I have already partly described. I will only add that he
was dark-haired, fair-skinned, grey-eyed, about 5 feet 8 inches in
height, broad-shouldered, with well-rounded limbs, daring to folly (but
his folly had a method in it); and his sheet-anchor a Bible, and a
stout-hearted Devonshire matron at home.

He had been in his youth first mate of an Indiaman, afterwards captain
of a fruiterer, and now he was the commander of what had once been his
father’s craft, then called the Sea-gull, but now rebaptised the Mary
Jane. At home he had not found trawling a very profitable business, so
with three other west-countrymen he had started with his little craft
to barter with the natives on the West African coast.

How he got there was rather surprising. His only chronometer was his
father’s old watch. He took no observations, but merely guessed at
his position from the distance run and the log. Occasionally he took
soundings--_i. e._, when he could find them; chart he had none. Small
success had, however, attended his bold efforts, although he had
several very grand “specs” on hand. In the hold were a lot of real
Birmingham guns, bought at 7s. 6d. apiece, which had but one fault,
that of sometimes sending off their contents at the wrong end, hitting
the shooter instead of the object shot at. There were also scores of
magnificent crowns for African kings, made up of tinsel paper, brass
spikes, wax pearls, and glass diamonds. He had even once, he said,
furnished a mighty Ashantee potentate with a throne. This, however,
he seemed to regret, it having been an old family piece of furniture.
Strange as this may seem, I believed it to be quite true, as the throne
in question was merely an old arm-chair, the legs, arms, and back of
which had been severely shaken and cracked by many a toss and tumble in
the cabin of the Mary Jane.

On my expressing surprise at his placing so shaky a seat for the
support of a king, he with a sharp twinkle of the eye replied, “That
is the look-out of the occupant; and,” added he, “these old-fashioned
articles, if spliced at the proper time and place, still last for some
good length of time.” Sam, like myself, was a stanch Conservative,
and preferred to patch his coat all over to turning it. Not that he
preferred an old coat to a new one, but he liked the old constitutional
cut.

Notwithstanding all his grand undertakings, Captain Sam had not
succeeded as he wished, and he thought that he had been humbugging and
humbugged enough. After struggling for two long years through fevers
on land and heavy surf-breakers on the shore, he had finally reached
Cape Town, from whence he was now engaged in carrying Government stores
along the coast as far as Natal.

These and many similar yarns were spun in the cabin of Sam’s little
craft, in which I was now cooped up, in an atmosphere which I found
fearfully clammy and stuffy after inhaling _le grand air_ for two
years on African uplands. Sam, however, did all he could to cheer the
comfortless surroundings of his small cribbed cabin by the ever-varying
novelty of his yarns. He related many a hard-fought fight with the
storms of old ocean, to which, in spite of all, he still clung, and
with which he still hoped to have many a tussle ere he was piped to
settle his own long account.

When wearying sometimes with his tales, and the sound of the surges
striking the thin wooden sides of the trembling Mary Jane, I would go
upon deck, and there watch the long rolling waves that sweep round the
Cape, or listen to the cheery voice of his sailor-boy, as he sang many
a ditty of Cornish and Devon heroes, and the glorious deeds of Drake on
the Spanish main.

In this way we furrowed our way along, making very wet weather round
the coast, until we came to the spot where the Birkenhead had gone down
so recently with all hands. Here we luffed up for a time, and, baring
our brows to the breeze, offered a parting salute to the gallant crew
and stout-hearted red-jackets who had here gone to their last account
at duty’s call; then, sheering off once more, filled our sails to a
half gale of wind, and bounded off like a startled sea-gull towards
Table Bay.

After this fashion we sped on through the sea, throwing up ridges high
above our decks, and on the 12th July rounded the Lion’s Mountain.
Here becalmed for a time we stayed our course, when a heavy puff from
the crest of that huge emblem of African life sent such a staggering
pressure on our outspread canvas as nearly brought us to grief. With
a sudden whirl we were on our beam-ends! My berth on board had never
been very dry, but now I rolled into one still more watery in the
lee-scuppers. By good luck the tackling gave way, the topsails went
overboard, and the stout craft righted again, as Captain Sam expressed
it, none the worse for a little deck-swabbing. I managed also to
regain my place on board, none the worse for my startling bath.

The next morning I declined to land in Captain Sam’s little punt, much
to his annoyance, as he volunteered himself to pull me ashore. I,
however, gave him to understand that it was beneath the dignity of two
such west-country commanders as we were to land in such a tub-looking
receptacle. The fact is, after Sam had placed his own burly person in
the centre of his boat, I saw no place except his own brawny shoulders
on which I could perch.



CHAPTER XIII.

    ARRIVAL AT THE CAPE--OPINIONS ON THE WAR THERE--THE CONVERSION
    OF THE HEATHEN--BAPTISM OF A RECENT CONVERT--CONVERTED JEWS IN
    BUCHAREST--THE METROPOLITAN OF THE GREEK CHURCH AND AN ENGLISH
    BISHOP--THE VOYAGE HOME--THE ARETHUSA--NOZIAH VISITS CAPE TOWN
    TO BID ME GOOD-BYE--AFRICAN TROPHIES--REFLECTIONS ON THE ACTUAL
    STATE OF THE CAPE.


On landing at Cape Town, I soon found that quite a different feeling
existed regarding my dealings with the Kaffirs from the views taken of
them in the eastern portion of the colony.

Here there were no burnt homesteads, despoiled farms, or murdered
occupants to bring the horrors of war in a vivid manner before people.
Merchants, who were enriching themselves by the money poured into the
colony from Old England, considered, no doubt, the stagnation likely to
ensue from the cessation of this golden stream.

Then, again, a pious class of Christians who had been devoutly praying
for the Lord’s mercy upon all men, both for those who were cutting, and
those who were having their throats cut, could hardly conceive how I
had had the courage to hang, as report said, Hottentot deserters.

Had they been Englishmen, taken red-handed in the deed, as the
Hottentots were, it might have been right; but that I should have hung
these missionary converts, whose only conception of brotherhood was to
perform the part of Cain, seemed beyond their understanding of what was
due to benighted niggers.

It is strange to remark the emulation that exists among Christian sects
in their attempts to convert heathens to Christianity. The object is
pursued with much zeal, but with no adequate knowledge of the work, or
how it ought to be carried on. I feel convinced that it is promoted,
like a good deal of home charity, not from any purer motives than
may be found in self or sect ostentation. Some people who would sell
their own souls over the counter if any one would buy them, will often
give their gold freely for buying over to Christianity that of a
nigger. The clergy and other high dignitaries of the Church, instead
of attending to their starving flocks at home, look “to fresh fields
and pastures new,” to try and tempt straggling black sheep to the fold.
So lately as a month ago--I write in November 1879--a learned chief of
the Protestant faith was engaged on a long voyage of several hundred
miles to confirm a sinner. As I was a party to the pious ceremony in
question, perhaps I may be allowed to relate how it took place. This
stray sheep, brought back to the fold on the back of a shepherd that
had once belonged to the unbelieving community, had but the merest
notion of the language of the religion to which he had been so happily
converted. As this innocent lamb knelt before the attentive observers,
he looked like an old bearded goat of quite a different flock. The
proceedings were carried on in a most mysterious manner: the bishop
put the questions through the convert’s spiritual prompter, the Rev.
Mr H----, who in his turn gave the cue to the principal actor. But
this complicated by-play brought on a crisis; the prompter himself
got confused, and hallooed out loud enough for the spectators to
hear, “But who _was_ your godfather?” to which query the repentant
sinner murmured “De Devil!” This was almost too much for the bishop
himself, and several times he was evidently in doubts as to whether
or not he ought to give his spiritual blessing to such a child of the
flesh. However, the ceremony was finally gone through, to everybody’s
satisfaction and relief.

In former years, conversions were carried on far more rapidly, and on
a much larger scale. The British consulates in the East used to give a
certificate of baptism and a certificate of British nationality at the
same time, for a moderate sum. I remember when, in the year 1854, I was
commandant of the town of Bucharest, a deputation of Jewish converts
to Christianity waited upon me for help. They complained that their
pastor, the Rev. Mr M----s, had abandoned his sheep at home, and gone
to sell sheepskin jackets to the British army in the Crimea. These poor
forlorn wanderers added, that if I could not help them with pecuniary
assistance, they would strike and knock off work as Christians,
returning to their old faith. On considering the price asked, and the
value of what was proffered, I advised them strongly to do as they
said, not feeling justified in spending a shilling upon them.

The East is a difficult labyrinth for a man to find his way through,
there are so many finger-posts having political meanings, so many
cross-paths of various denominations leading to heaven knows
where!--lovely by-lanes, with all the delights of the world on their
flowery banks, that men, bewildered and in despair, put up too often
at the half-way houses on the road, making themselves as happy as they
can with all the worldly joys around them; it is often the devil to
pay--but, alas! many thousand freethinkers do not hesitate to do it.
The only result of such a competition for converts is to separate men
more widely than ever. This is not my opinion alone. I had, in the
presence of the English bishop above mentioned, a conversation with
the Metropolitan of the Greek Church of the East. I was alluding, in
the name of the Protestant divine, to the regret experienced as to the
divisions existing in the Church of our Lord. The exact words of the
Metropolitan, and which I am authorised to state, were as follows:--

“Tell his eminence of the Anglican Church that it is not the flock of
Christ which is so wayward; it is we shepherds who drive them about
in different directions for our own profit. What would become of me,
Metropolitan of a Greek Church, if his eminence could convert them to
Protestantism? What would become of him if I could convert his sheep
to orthodoxy? And it is so with all Churches: they, the congregations,
could be brought easily to assemble and be thankful to God in one
mode of faith, but it cannot take place because we shepherds have an
interest in dividing them.”

This fearless expounder of the truth afterwards added, in reply to
the bishop’s desire that a prayer should be offered up by the clergy
for the union of the Christian Churches in one: “God would not listen
to our prayers: our kingdom, the kingdom of the priests, has been in
all times a worldly kingdom; that to come will, I believe, belong to
the poor. If these latter were to ask, God would listen to them, but
not to us who cannot sincerely pray for such an end that would be
the destruction of priestly power. “I will,” he added, “give you an
instance of the intricacies of the question. I who hold in my own hand
some of the threads, cannot surmise a real clue to the solution, but
would, as a curiosity, like to explain what I know of them.”

“On a late visit to Paris I went in full canonical dress, and assisted
at High Mass in Notre Dame. The ceremony was a grand one; the Cardinal
Archbishop of Paris himself officiated. I knew but little of the rites
and ceremonies he went through, but when he bowed or knelt I did the
same. When he prayed, I joined in the prayer; when he blessed, I bowed
my head and asked inwardly his blessing. I felt the devotion of all
around, and I joined my gratitude to the Giver of all mercies.

“The ceremony over, I went to the usual room behind the altar for
disrobing, and was disrobed by canonical officials, as though I had
been one of the chiefs in the Church. I believe, from what I have heard
since, that no one was offended by the manner in which I assumed a
somewhat prominent part.

“The next day I went in my official robes as a Metropolitan of the
Eastern Church, and attended by the acolytes usual on official
occasions, to pay a visit to the Cardinal Archbishop himself. _He
would not receive me._ No doubt orders had been sent from elsewhere
forbidding an official recognition of my position in a Church at all
events equal in antiquity to his own.

“You see what divisions sever the leaders; how then can we expect the
flock to follow them into one fold? No, no; we priests divide in order
to reign. Unity of the Church can only be obtained by people going to
Christ without waiting for us. None of us can define, with convincing
simplicity to the masses, what authority we really possess as delegates
of our Saviour. I for my part am willing to hold out the hand of
fellowship to all men, even to those erring brethren the Jews. In a
few days I shall pronounce in the Senate a speech in favour of their
admission into this country as citizens. I must confess that in this
I have listened more to the voice of Christianity in the West than in
this part of the world. It is difficult for us Roumanians to look upon
the Jew as a brother who looks upon our Saviour as an impostor. Yet
still I have persuaded myself to perform this ill-defined task. I only
trust in God that the passing of the measure will not tend to increase
free-thinking doubt. I would even open my seminaries to the Jews, so
much do I long to see all men brethren, but they would not come to
them; neither do I regret it, for the orthodox Church ought, I think,
to remain in the present what she has been in the past--a prudent,
wise, and charitable mother, seeking to govern her own children wisely,
leaving other Churches to do the same with theirs.

“I shall go to England next year if my health allow; and although I
shall try and convert no one, I hope there will be no necessity for
conversion to convince English prelates that they have in me a true
Christian brother.”

The English prelate was a kind-hearted, learned man, full to
overflowing with a wish to do good, but evidently puzzled how to
set about it. There is a patriarchal vigour about some of the older
forms of belief, which, in its racy _bonhomie_, dwarfs Anglicanism
considerably, and makes it look somewhat of a sect--true, a good
one, as, from the power and influence at its disposal, it would be
strange if it were not; yet in a contrast like the above, it must be
confessed that it has, outwardly at least, a rather “Brummagem” look.
The Protestantism of Germany, in spite of its dreary aspirations,
has a much broader basis. It encourages an untrammelled intercourse
between thinkers of all denominations. There is an ebb and flow of
ideas going on between it and the older forms of religion in the East
which merit the attention of all who follow the outward growth and
forms of Christianity. I have attended a Protestant service in the East
where more than half of a large congregation were members of the Greek
Church; and of the many members of that community with whom I have come
into contact, and with whom I have spoken on the subject of religion,
none seemed to dislike, and many seemed to like, the Saxon form of
Protestantism as it exists in Transylvania; and I must testify that a
better class of men than there produced under this form of religion it
would be difficult to find anywhere.

To return from this long digression to my position at Cape Town. My
execution of some Hottentot deserters had made me some pious enemies
there. Of this I was quite indifferent. The Commander-in-chief, who
saw one of them strung up to a tree, displayed his approval of the
proceeding. I intimated, however, to those who were kindly bestirring
themselves to get up an address to me from the inhabitants of Cape
Town to leave the matter alone. I had been perfectly satisfied with
the recognition of those living near the seat of war, who had had
opportunities of seeing the work I had to do, and the way in which I
did it.

I now prepared for my return to England. I had several proposals,
amongst others, from my friend Captain Sam Rowe, who placed himself and
his stout little smack at my disposal. I hardly liked the idea of being
cooped up again in so small a space for so long a voyage, although I
was strongly tempted by the thought of visiting the whole western coast
of Africa, as Captain Rowe proposed we should do. I even entertained,
for a time, the idea of traversing the whole continent--at all events,
of proceeding up the Zambesi, and from thence on to Zanzibar. But the
supposed hostility of the Portuguese authorities to the last-named
trip, which was somewhat confirmed by the conversations I had with
the Portuguese Consul at Cape Town, prevented me. The trip across the
continent was also put off by the refusal of the Hon. R. C----, who did
not wish to go to such length on a shooting expedition (the only object
_he_ had in view); while I, more ambitiously inclined, had not the
means to make alone so lengthened a journey as a trip across the dark
continent would have been.

After many hesitations, the fortunate arrival of some brother officers
from the seat of war decided the question. We engaged for ourselves a
schooner-yacht called the Arethusa, belonging to a Mr Eade, a London
merchant: the only part of the vessel not at our disposal was the
necessary space for a sufficient cargo as ballast. Everything being
ready for our departure, we were seated in the boat that was to convey
us to the tight little ship that had already let go her hold of African
ground, and was tacking about in the bay, bending her white wings to
the breeze, seemingly as eager as ourselves to wend her way to our
island-home. There were many kind adieus waved to us from the shore,
which the Arethusa acknowledged by a parting salute from her small
miniature guns. Loud cheers, hurrahs, sham demonstrations--the more
boisterous the better, to conceal real parting regret--when, above all
the din, one clear shrill voice pierced my ear as an arrow. “Come back!
come back!” it cried. I looked behind, and there, on the pier, stood
Noziah beckoning me to return to the shore. How could I? What could I
say to her? Never by word or deed had I wronged her. Often when she
looked in a mirror had she told me that she wished herself dead because
her skin was not white like mine. Her simple faith, however, shamed
mine. When I told her that “God made us all equal,” her colour ever
rose like a sable shroud between her life and mine. If ever the dream
of making all races one is to be realised, God must do it; man never
can. So the boat went on its way, and I left that dusky form standing
on the narrow pier like a statue of clay.

When the war had come to an end, I had obtained, through the kindness
of General Cathcart, an order for a commissariat transport to take
Noziah to her brother Sandilli. This conveyance was afterwards sold off
and purchased by her. In this she had come to Cape Town. My agent, Mr
H----, upon whom she called the next day as she was leaving the town,
wrote and informed me that she had gone back to her home. This was the
last I heard of that pure-hearted, innocent African maid.

Once on board I had plenty of interesting matters to think about. I
had brought down from the front several wild animals and birds, which
I intended for the Zoological Gardens at home. Amongst others, a
springbok, which Mr Mitchell, then director of the Gardens in Regents
Park, informed me was the first of that species of antelope that had
been seen alive in England.

I also had several birds equally rare, and monkeys, besides sacks of
roots, bulbs, and herbs, the spoils of African glades, with which I
intended to adorn my own little garden at home.

When all things had been safely stowed away, and night was drawing
on, I went to the taffrail, and looking over, thought of the land
now sinking in the distance. It is a glorious spot that Cape, which
Vasco de Gama called of Good Hope, while he thought of the wonders it
contained, as yet unseen by the white man. And so it is still to all
those who seek a future for our race: that mighty continent which Grant
has lately strode over, and Livingstone claimed for us by there laying
down his life. The entire continent must, in my opinion, be yet spread
open to us through the Cape of Good Hope.

When I proposed to the Hon. R. C---- the noble task of pioneering
the way, I felt that we then stood at the real starting-point. It is
useless to seek a passage by wading through the oceans of sandy deserts
in effete Northern Africa, when the explorer may recruit his strength,
and start almost every day with renewed life, from the fertile
unexhausted Cape.

Of settled life there is already a strong and valuable nucleus.
Both Dutch and English present as fine specimens of our common
Protestantism, and are as enthusiastic lovers of constitutional
rights, as are to be found anywhere. The fault hitherto impeding their
useful amalgamation has been the forcing process employed by the Home
Government.

The annexation of the Transvaal has been a most immature and
ill-devised proceeding. However good the wished-for object may be in
itself, the end can never justify violence; and the ten thousand Dutch
Boers, born and bred with the same prevalent ideas as existed during
the Puritan times at home, cannot, by a stroke of the pen, be brought
into allegiance to the British Crown. The native population are slowly
disappearing, like dark clouds at sunrise. The advent of the white man
dispels all visions of the land ever returning to the blindness and
horrors of a barbarian sway. Let those who dream of admixture of races
look to the difficulties at home, and hold their peace.



CHAPTER XIV.

    ST HELENA--ASCENSION--MONKEYISH PRANKS IN THE “HORSE”
    LATITUDES--YOUNG BEN’S FATE--AN IRISH WAKE ON THE LINE--NARROW
    ESCAPE--THE MAURITIUS STEAMSHIP--OCEAN VISITORS--A WESTERLY
    GALE--SIGHT THE WHITE CLIFFS OF BRIGHTON--SALUTE THE NATIVE
    SOIL--A GREEDY MOUTHFUL--A DARK IMPRESSION--DIRECT ATTENTION
    OF GOVERNMENT TO NEGLECTED STATE OF NAPOLEON’S LATE RESIDENCE
    IN ST HELENA--OBTAIN REPLY IN 1855--DESIRE TO OBTAIN ACTIVE
    MILITARY EMPLOYMENT--DELAYS OF THE HORSE GUARDS AUTHORITIES--MY
    RECEPTION THERE.


We had a fine passage as far as St Helena. The Arethusa was a fast
sailer and a good sea boat, although rather crank at times under the
press of canvas we sometimes induced our good-natured Captain B---- to
clap on her lofty spars; in fact she was overmasted, and required all
that nice attention as to trimming that a top-heavy belle of the seas
must have not to show too much of her keel.

From St Helena we sailed towards Ascension, noted for its turtle.
The island itself is a dull, brown spot lying in the sea, its cracked
surface looking like a burnt egg-shell. This place was discovered by
Jan de Noves, a Portuguese navigator, on Ascension Day, 1501--hence its
name--at least so I was told by a whitey-brown native who boarded us.

We had now arrived somewhat near the “horse” latitudes, and in calm
weather, and with no work to kill the time, we began some horseplay
with the monkeys on board. The name given to these latitudes arose
from the number of horses the Spaniards used to throw overboard when
becalmed--sometimes for weeks--in these regions, passing to and fro
between their South American possessions and Europe. The chief object
of our fun on board was a large, greenish, long-tailed monkey, who,
with Darwinian forethought, had pitched upon young C---- as the fittest
selection Providence had placed within his reach on the high seas. The
competition as to natural fitness was so close between the two, that it
was often a cause of serious dispute as to which should have his way.

One day, after a sharp bout of this kind, a real quarrel ensued, as
will occur sometimes in the best-regulated families; and young C----,
who prided himself much on ancestral descent, as, no doubt, did also
his still more anciently descended rival, came to a regular stand-up
fight with the monkey. Strength was on the side of C----, whilst
cunning and skill were on the side of the old un; but at last the
upstart gave his ancient _confrère_ such a tremendous upper cut, as he
was holding on to the ratlines, near the bulwark, that he was knocked
out of time into the bosom of the impenetrable deep, and poor young Ben
(that was the name of our monkey) had to swim for it.

As this typical representative of lost nationality and universal
brotherhood breasted the waves like a corker, we tried to lower a
boat; but although the apparatus always acts at home, it never does
at sea, so the boat stuck up in the air on its davits. We then threw
a life-belt towards the now nearly exhausted Ben; but although he had
enough instinct to grasp it, he had not enough sense to pass it over
his head and under his arms. So we saw his efforts getting slowly
weaker and weaker as he clasped and clutched at the slippery buoy,
and at length he sank beneath the waves, down, down among the dead
men, to be found again, no doubt, one day by some yet undreamt-of
ethno-geologist, who will perhaps deduce from his bones that the
aborigines of the Atlantic were very little men, with long caudal
appendages, and descant learnedly upon every link in that long tail,
until he comes to the end of his own, and finds out his mistake.

In commemoration of this sad event we proposed a sort of Irish wake, to
be held as we passed the line.

From Ascension we reached away so far to the west that nothing but the
most abstract calculation could give our captain any idea as to the
latitude and longitude in which we really were, and our little bark
seemed to be dancing about on the line like an amateur rope-dancer.
This is a rather metaphysical metaphor; but I am talking learnedly now,
influenced, no doubt, by our skipper’s tuition. Time hanging heavily
on my hands in this dead calm, when even the green waves assumed the
lifeless heaviness of molten lead, I had taught myself navigation,
and held such lengthy discussions with our captain as to the position
and value of stars, planets, and constellations, as to appear to the
somewhat astonished listeners around as though I were a Newton and a
Pascal rolled into one.

The captain and I, over our glasses (telescopes I mean, of course), had
become so awfully knowing, that my only doubts were as to which knew
the least of the two; and it was only for the sake of the respect due
to seniority in this happy ignorance that I allowed him to navigate the
ship. One day, however, nettled by some critical observations of mine,
in a sudden fit of displeasure he threw up his commission as skipper,
and I took his place; but as it happened to be a dead calm at the time,
I had no means of showing my superior seamanship. Thus time passed on,
while I still retained a certain happy-go-lucky faith in my own _star_
quite as strong as the captain’s in his. In this I was fully justified,
as the sequel will show.

On passing over the supposed line, which our captain, after dinner,
had kindly chalked out before us in a very zigzag manner on the
mahogany, in the prelude to the _in memoriam_ wake for poor Ben, whom,
as I previously stated, we had left deep down in the phosphorescent
waters of the southern hemisphere. While others were singing song after
song in happy oblivion of past warfare at the Cape, _I_ was thinking
that we had entered into British waters. This was somewhat a stretch
of imagination, but nothing is too big for me when I dream of Old
England--like Ben, I dive into futurity. Thus human nature seeks for
pleasure and enjoyment in many and varied channels, according to its
own appreciation of wherein these consist.

The bottle was circling freely, and the hot, stifling atmosphere of the
mess-cabin below made us feel delightfully dry every time it neared us,
as one after another we passed the Rubicon between self-possession and
being possessed. Notwithstanding all this joviality, an uncomfortable
feeling was slowly creeping over me, and at last became so unbearable
that I ran upon deck to breathe the fresh air. How grand all appeared
under that mighty dome, compared to the rafters of the cabin below!
The night was glorious in its starry splendour; the sea slept gently
heaving, as though with loving dreams surging, while soft breezes
rippled its face with smiles.

The boisterous mirth arising from the cabin below seemed strangely out
of place. I turned to the man at the helm; the idiot seemed as screwed
as the wheel that rolled in his slackened grasp. “Holloa, mate!” I
said, “what is that light on the water you are steering for?” pointing
to a flame I saw gleaming there. “A tar-barrel,” he said, “some chaps
passing the line have chucked overboard.” “But it is nearing us too
fast for that--look out, man! Good God! its a ship!--luff, luff!” and
suiting the action to the word, I jumped to the wheel and jammed the
helm down; then swiftly glided by a huge black hull, its deck crowded
with dusky figures, shouting and gesticulating to us like demons, its
stern grazing our quarter, as the good ship Arethusa, like a form
endowed with life, sprang up into the wind, and saved herself from
destruction. One second more and we had been down, down amongst the
dead men, not far from poor Ben.

Up rushed the startled convivialists from below, some with their
glasses still in hand, and I crept ’neath the bulwarks, and kneeling,
felt a mother’s prayer had been heard that night on my behalf. This
vessel proved to be the Mauritius, a large iron screw, then bound on
her first voyage to India round the Cape. She was afterwards one of the
fleet of transports placed under my orders for the conveyance of troops
to the Crimea, an account of which will shortly appear in my military
correspondence concerning that war. This narrow squeak sobered us for
a few days, but our spirits revived as the western winds now began to
blow.

The frigate-hawk--a truly wonderful bird for its powers of flight--came
often to pay us a visit, and changed the monotony of continually
looking into the sea for beings endowed with life. I might have shot
one or two, and had the head of my rifle more than once on their
bodies, as they floated overhead without a quiver in their outspread
wings; but such aerial life I did not like to see streaked with blood,
so I left them alone in their boundless home, instead of sending them
to a glass cage in the British Museum.

Of shark, bonito, and other scaly-looking denizens of the sea, there
had been often exciting scenes of what some called sport, but I must
say I never could see much fun in it. I certainly should have liked to
have had a go-in with a vicious-looking shark on fair terms, but then
I was most undeniably afraid of him in the water, and on the deck of
our ship he was no match for me; so, before I had seen two such hooked
monsters hauled on board and butchered with spears and knives, I used
to feel rather disgusted than otherwise with such displays.

As for the huge, gaunt-looking albatross as they flapped their
leather-looking wings like vampires around us, no one seemed
particularly anxious to settle accounts with them: a superstitious awe
influenced even the most reckless amongst us as they circled above our
heads. Curiously enough, the only one who had the courage to pull a
trigger at them was young K---- of the 74th, and he died soon after he
landed.

We were now in latitudes where westerly gales are of frequent
occurrence, and a rattling one caught us one night as we were running
with studding-sails set. So sudden was its approach that there could be
no question of our taking in sail; so, in a storm of wind and rain, we
flew along as though Neptune on his foaming sea-horses was trying to
catch us. The poor little Arethusa fairly staggered under the force of
the gale, like a startled hare now swerving to the right, now to the
left, twisting, cracking, and burying herself in the sea as deep as she
could without absolutely giving up the struggle and going once for all
to the bottom, until old blustering Boreas at last, in kind compassion,
relieved us of some spars. Then, with the rags of our late flaunting
sails, and with just as much more as was necessary to steady us on our
course, we proceeded more safely if more humbly than before. The little
ship rose buoyant to the seas as though no longer afraid of them,
starting afresh from the top and sliding down the ribbed backs of the
long-rolling billows, defying them as they crested their foaming heads
in anger behind us.

It was very exciting. I thought of Sam Rowe and his little smack
battling with such weather, and though I had more confidence in his
skill than in that of our skipper, yet, like Tom Bowling, I preferred
the Arethusa in the Bay of Biscay to the Mary Jane.

Good old Sam! I hope he won’t think me foolish as he reads these
lines--for the old boy is hale and hearty yet, and, with spectacles on
nose, and ‘Western Times’ in hand, can still discuss matters shrewdly.

On the 30th July the white cliffs of Brighton gladdened our eyes, and
running up the coast, we hove to off Eastbourne and took a pilot on
board. Some of us were so anxious to get ashore that we took passage in
the boat that had brought out the pilot, and with a cheer from some of
the more patient who had remained on deck, pulled away to the beach;
but on our arrival there, we found that the boat was too deep in the
water to get close in to the shore. This did not stop us. Young L----
and I jumped into the surf up to our waists and waded ashore. This
ducking had in no wise cooled my excitement, for, in placing my foot
once more on English soil, I threw myself on the ground and gave it a
hearty kiss.

After this exhibition I felt rather taken aback by the astonished looks
of some sight-seers who had come down to view our disembarkation. On
rising to explain matters to the astonished natives I could not get a
word out. They no doubt thought me to be choking with emotion, but it
was otherwise. In the fervour of my embrace the sand had got into my
mouth, and, as I had no tooth-brush at hand, I was obliged to make use
of my finger to remove a lump of my fatherland from my mouth, as though
it had been a quid.

Young L----, who jumped with me from the boat, had also gone through
the same kissing ceremony; he, however, had not taken such a greedy
mouthful, and after carefully wiping the salt water from his boots and
trousers with his handkerchief, kindly offered to perform the same
operation for me. To this I consented; but I thought he was paying
rather too much solicitude to my appearance as he scrubbed away at my
face; however, the task once over, we started for the Parade, to the
laughing astonishment of all the bystanders. After proceeding a little
distance L---- left me on some frivolous pretext, and I went on alone.

On reaching the Parade, among the first persons I met were Lady
P---- and her daughters--intimate friends of my family. Without much
hesitation I gave the old lady a kiss, and would have continued
the salute all round if allowed, had not the expression, or rather
impression, on her ladyship’s face made me hesitate. She had a marbled
forehead, a black-spotted nose, and a comically shaped O round her
lips. I saw that I must have blackened her face; and as I knew that
it could not have been done by any African black imported from the
Kaffirs, I recollected that it must have been by some of Day & Martin’s
received from L----’s pocket-handkerchief as we made our hurried
toilet on the beach. Lady P---- kindly accepted my excuses for this
uncalled-for display of polished attention, and after a few words of
explanation, left me spotless of any design to darken either her face
or her fame.

On arriving in London I continued busy for some days in forwarding my
importations, bulbs, and plants to my home, at that time at Grangewood,
Leicester; and the springbok, monkeys, &c., to the “Zoo” in Regent’s
Park.

My first serious business after my arrival was to bring the disgraceful
condition of the great Napoleon’s last residence to the attention
of her Majesty’s Government. Every time my thoughts travelled back
to my late undertakings in South Africa they passed over St Helena,
and recoiled with shame at the desolate state into which England had
allowed this place to fall. I, however, had not a voice loud enough
to be heard at the time, and notwithstanding my repeated efforts in
that direction, I could not get a member of the Government during the
Gladstonian era to take the matter up. It was only in 1855 that I at
last obtained a hearing. Lord Clarendon, to whom I sent a copy of my
suggestions as to what England ought to do, wrote me to say that I
should no doubt be glad to hear that her Majesty’s Government had taken
the necessary measures to place the tomb, residence, &c., under the
safeguard of the French Government. He did not, however, mention a word
of recognition as to its having been done at my suggestion; in fact,
on re-reading his letter to-day, it seems to imply that _he_ was the
author of the whole affair, and _I_ merely a busy-body in the matter.

My correspondence during the conferences held for the signing of the
Treaty of Paris will explain many curious, and I may say interesting,
details as to this Treaty still undreamt of by the public.

I now turned my attention to the attainment of my long-hoped-for
position in the British army; and in this the Duke of Newcastle, then
Colonial Minister--who had always taken a warm interest in my welfare,
as he did in that of many others--promised to support me to the utmost
of his power, in accordance with the deserts of my actual services, and
the loud recognition the colonists themselves in their addresses to me
had vouchsafed to give. Days and weeks went by without any progress
being made in the matter, and I passed my time in travelling between
London and Tamworth. Now and then, indeed, I attended a public dinner,
at which I made short, confused speeches--for I really never could
understand what I had done worth being thanked for; and I only hoped to
be enabled, from my past efforts and position acquired, to do something
more.

This opportunity, however, the Horse Guards authorities seemed
determined not to give me. One day I received a letter from the
Colonial Secretary, saying I had better come up to town and place the
matter myself before the proper authorities. This was an intense bore
to me. If I had rendered any real service it was patent enough to
explain itself, but I had an excessive dislike to perform the part of
oculist to those who were wilfully blind. However, I submitted so far
as to write the usual letter asking for an audience of the Military
Secretary. The reply came in due time, and I presented myself at the
Horse Guards on the day stated for reception.

My number was twelve; and when it was called out I went to the door
leading to the audience-room, and was in the act of entering, when a
tall, lanky fellow, coming up quickly from behind, pushed me aside, and
thrust himself before me into the room. I was in no good humour at the
time, and I have no doubt looked bent on resenting this impertinent
act; but before I could reach out my hand to turn this young fellow
round and ask for an explanation, Colonel Airey stepped up between us,
and said, “Captain Lakeman, let me beg of you to wait for a few minutes
outside, for I have some words of importance to communicate to this
gentleman.”

I felt but little inclined to accede to this wish, and explained that I
had as yet no apology for what had taken place. He said he would give
me that himself, and again begged me kindly to wait outside.

To this, after some demur, I consented, for I could not readily
conceive what prevented the young man in question from giving an excuse
for his rudeness, assuming that he had one to offer; so I said, as
he was looking from the Colonel to me, open-mouthed, without saying
a word, “If this gentleman is a foreigner, and cannot speak English,
let the matter rest for the moment,” and thereupon I left the room. I
stayed, kicking my heels for some time outside, strongly tempted to
leave, for I felt instinctively nothing good was likely to result from
the proposed interview; but I thought of the kind-hearted Duke, and to
oblige him I remained.

At length my number was called again, and upon entering, the Colonel
was most off-handed in his communications. “You see, Captain Lakeman,”
he said, “the times are looking dark in the East, as you no doubt are
aware, and coming events cast their shadows before: much anxiety is
felt at the Horse Guards. I have some doubts myself as to whether I
shall not throw down the pen and take up the sword. You see blood will
tell, and that young gentleman, who I must say behaved rather abruptly
towards you, came also to offer his services at this critical time.” I
said, “May I ask you, Colonel, the name of that young man?” “Oh dear
me, yes!” he said; “it was Viscount Forth. You see, Captain Lakeman,”
he added, “that in times such as these we want the back-bone of the
nation, the English aristocracy, to come to the front.” (By a curious
coincidence this _back-bone_ of the nation did come to the front in
the Crimea, in the very first engagement he was in, for he showed it
instead of his chest to the Russians as he bolted to Balaklava.) “And
I have just presented to him a commission. Now please let me know,
Captain Lakeman, what I can do for you.”

I was turning over in my mind what answer to give to this polite
inquiry, when this usually taciturn military secretary, in seemingly
overflowing spirits, burst out again, with a wave of the hand--

“Oh, it is needless to ask; his Grace has kindly spoken in your behalf,
but really I am sorry to say that we have bestowed so many commissions
of late, that I think, after all, as you are rich, you had better
purchase, and I will do all I can to remove any impediments in the way
as to age, &c.”

I was then twenty-four. This very kind proposal had such a supremely
ridiculous effect on me, that notwithstanding all my efforts to contain
myself before so dignified a person as the Military Secretary, I could
not help laughing audibly. It did not even occur to me that I ought to
make any attempt to conceal my amusement at this ridiculous proposal,
so, bowing lowly, I rose and left the room, leaving the somewhat
astonished Colonel alone in his doubts as to whether, after all,
Viscount Forth or myself had the best claims to a commission in her
Majesty’s service.

This was the discouraging result of a military education, finished at
the best Continental schools, with the further advantage of having
accompanied European armies in the field for the sake of instruction;
of having placed the modern rifle, at my own expense, in the hands
of the British soldier; of showing the use of better accoutrements
(my men wore the helmet in 1851); of having been mentioned many times
in general orders for gallant conduct in the field, &c., &c. Well, I
thought, the sooner this state of affairs is changed the sooner Old
England will find better servants.

In this mood I went to report progress in Downing Street. His Grace
of Newcastle was kind and considerate as usual, and abused the Horse
Guards as heartily as the British Radical, and finally left me to
consult with Mr R----, his private secretary, as to what now remained
to be done to meet the views of the colonists concerning a recognition
of my services to them.

In the present state of affairs nothing suitable seemed to present
itself; a civil employment abroad--the only gift at the disposal of the
Colonial Office--did not meet my views; so, after a lengthened confab,
I returned to my _lares_ and _penates_, and awaited events.



CHAPTER XV.

    START ON A MISSION TO THE EAST--VISIT GALLIPOLI, AND
    REPORT UPON IT TO LORD STRATFORD DE REDCLIFFE--REPORT ON
    THE ENTIRE SEABOARD OF THE DARDANELLES--VISIT THE TURKISH
    ARMY ON THE DANUBE, AND REPORT ON ITS CONDITION--WINTER
    TRAVELLING IN BALL-ROOM DRESS--RETURN TO CONSTANTINOPLE--THE
    EMBASSY THERE--THE WAR MINISTRY AT HOME--ITS INCAPACITY--AM
    OFFERED A KNIGHTHOOD, BUT DECLINE THE HONOUR--THE EASTERN
    QUESTION--THE DIFFICULTY OF REGENERATING THE TURKS BY
    FOREIGN INTERFERENCE--THEIR MORAL DEGRADATION--MY KNIGHTHOOD
    IS DECIDED UPON--JOURNEY TO WINDSOR--LORDS PALMERSTON AND
    ABERDEEN--MONOLOGUES WITH PREDECESSORS IN ARMOUR--THE
    CEREMONY--CONCLUSION.


Events came rapidly enough. Those shadows in the East at which Colonel
Airey had been throwing his pen, and was now preparing his sword to
demolish, were thickening fast. A mission was offered to me to go
to Constantinople, which I eagerly accepted, and in September 1853
I left England for the East. On my arrival there I was sent by Lord
Stratford de Redcliffe to Gallipoli. I made a lengthy report to show
the uselessness of that spit of land as a place of rendezvous for the
English and French to fight the Russians, then hundreds of miles away
across the Balkans and the Danube.

Gallipoli is a point that may be used to threaten Asia, but not Europe.
As such it was used by the Galli or Gauls--hence its name. I exposed
the fact that an army disembarking for the purpose of repelling
an invader, which the Russian army was, lost all the prestige of
success by preparing defences in case of retreat, and the fortifying
of Gallipoli meant nothing else. It seemed almost cowardly thus to
begin when the Turks alone were meeting the Russians in the open
field. After Lord Stratford had received this report, he sent me
further directions to visit the whole length of the Dardanelles and
investigate the military and political influence they would possess in
the East, supposing a war took place between England and Russia. These
instructions I followed out, and afterwards returned to Constantinople
along the shores of the Sea of Marmora, giving further details
concerning the entire coast. His lordship was so satisfied with the
manner in which I had performed my task that he gave me immediately
another to perform. I was sent on board H.M.S. the Valorous, Captain
Loring, with a dragoman of the Embassy (Mr Sarel), to Varna, from
whence I was to visit all the fortresses on the Danube, to report on
their actual state and future importance, and to furnish a description
of the Turkish army then in Bulgaria.

On landing at Varna, I found that a report on that place would be
useless, as Colonel Neale, then her Majesty’s Consul there, was putting
the last touch to a most able account of its importance and real value.
The Colonel had seen fighting whilst employed in the Spanish Legion
under brave General Evans, and was as competent in wielding the pen as
the sword.

From Varna we proceeded to Schumla, and a bitterly cold trip it was. I
must here explain that I had left Constantinople in an evening costume
in the following manner: At a soiree held at the Embassy at which I had
the honour to assist, Lord Stratford, to whom that same day I had given
in my report concerning the Dardanelles, came from his study into the
room and said he wanted me to make a similar report on the Danube, and
that I must start directly. He had just spoken to Captain Loring of
the Valorous on the subject, who had already left the Embassy for his
vessel. Steam was already up, and the sooner I left the better.

As for clothes, I might have anything in his own wardrobe. Without
more ado I took a greatcoat belonging to his lordship, which I still
possess as a reminiscence of one of the greatest men England ever sent
to represent her.

Thus accoutred I went on board, Mr Sarel following much in the same
style of attire. When on board, Captain Loring kindly offered any part
of his outfit for my use, but no number of reefs would bring them to
a suitable shape on my then slender form; and Colonel Neale’s short
hose were so stumpy and baggy as to make me look like a Blue-coat boy
under the trailing garment of Lord Stratford: so I declined all these
proffered masqueradings, and got on my Tartar post-boy charger on my
way to Schumla, bundled up in such rolls of hay round my legs and arms
as to make my little nag more inclined to eat than to carry me. Poor
Sarel was in a still worse plight than myself. I at all events had
been well hardened in the saddle, while he had only been accustomed
to the soft chairs at the Embassy, and soon sat on the leather of his
seat as though it had been the pigskin of the tenderest sucking-pig in
Bulgaria.

Thus we proceeded in a rather undignified fashion up the Deona Valley,
through Peveda and Batschesci to Schumla. There I saw Omar Pasha, and
after two or three interviews, cemented an intimacy with him that the
efforts of none could afterwards break until he left this world.

Omar had all the talents in him of which great men are made, but he
had also the dominant failing of the weakest--namely, that of an
unbeliever. It was at Schumla that I had the first opportunity of
seeing the sterling worth and the vices of the Turkish army, of which
Omar was so fitting a commander and representative chief. Here I saw
men who lately, panic-stricken, had run away from a few harmless
Russian scouts _on the other side of the Danube_, now patiently
dragging, with frost-bitten feet and hands, big siege-guns on sledges
through snow as a mere matter of ordinary duty. Tall, sturdy, smiling
countenances, with death’s cold hand already upon them. But I shall not
enlarge on these scenes for the present.

I visited Schumla in question, and returned in the good ship Valorous
to Constantinople. This city, which an Englishman gave his name to (for
Constantine the Great was not only British-born, but his mother, the
great St Helena, was the daughter of a remarkable king of Essex), was
to me a place of wonder: my eyes were more occupied in feasting on its
marvels, than my thoughts in working out its future.

The men of the Embassy were as remarkable as their chief--the Smythes,
the Allisons, the Brodies, and the Pisanis, were a bright nucleus of
men any nation might be proud of. Neither were the representatives of
the real antagonists, Russia and France, much below them--the Aussicks,
the Menschikoffs, were no ordinary men.

My mission being ended I returned to England, and on arrival found that
my report had created more anxiety than satisfaction.

Whatever the world may say or think about those then actually in power,
I found them to be possessed of only erroneous preconceptions and to
be influenced by indecision. As I unfolded to Lord Raglan the real
state of affairs, he kept nervously twitching the stump of his arm, and
looked more like a victim going to be sacrificed on the altar of duty,
than a general prepared to take the command of an army.

I was thanked for what I had done, but that was all I got for my pains.
True, Colonel Airey called me always Captain; but as this was a mere
act of courtesy, just as two years afterwards he called me General
when in the Crimea, I naturally placed no more value on it than it
deserved. I hope, however, that he will read my future description of
that campaign, and explain by what misconception he needlessly caused
so many thousands of British soldiers to go through such an amount of
bitter suffering.

At this time I was offered a knighthood, but refused it as being of
no military value to me. Another mission was then proposed, which I
accepted. Russia and France seemed determined to seize each other by
the throat, in their dispute as to which of them had the right to
paint the Holy Sepulchre, and to hold the keys of that tomb which the
apostles found empty.

Lord Stratford was looking on as arbitrator. His better judgment was
with Russia, but his bias against her; his grand intellect swayed
to and fro in his efforts to reconcile both. Some of his despatches
at this momentous time are the grandest specimens of diplomatic
correspondence to be found in the English language. To those who were
cognisant of the tortuous intricacies of the Eastern question, the
truth, the energy, the flashes of genius amidst obscure renderings that
are therein found, are something truly wonderful. Had he willed it,
at this time, the war would not have taken place; but his great mind
at last wearied, and reeled under the burden of holding the balance
aloof in such weighty matters; and from being judge he became advocate,
thinking, perhaps, that the shells might remain to Russia and France,
whilst England should have the oyster. This could not be right, for the
British Government had no perception of the duty that was incumbent
on possession. Its actions reminded me of what I had then recently
witnessed in the Turkish provinces. There beys or governors were good
enough in themselves, and to those of the same creed, but they lived
and haughtily prospered on the vices and failings of those whom they
governed.

Parents often kept their children, or children their parents, in
prison, to satisfy any pique of the moment, or persistent desire to
wrong one another. At Silivri, ancient Silymbria, a town of Roumelia,
on the Sea of Marmora, containing about 8000 inhabitants, I turned out
of prison upwards of sixty persons, who had been kept in durance vile
by the governor on the daily payment of so much per head, according
to the rank of the incarcerated, for no crime whatever, but simply to
satisfy the grudge of persons with whom they were at enmity. A Nicolai
Bogdan, a wealthy tradesman of the town, had imprisoned his own mother
to gratify the spite of his wife for some supposed family wrongs; and
as the poor old woman left the prison, where she had been confined
for the last four years, squalid in her filth and rags, Ahmed Bey,
the governor, asked me if such a dog of a Christian, as Bogdan was,
deserved the attention of Lord Stratford. In this observation lay the
gist of all the evil of the time.

The Whig Government, more or less subservient to the Manchester school
of politics, wanted, like the governor of Silivri, to prosper in a
worldly point of view, but did not wish to assume any moral obligation.
So long as goods were sold they did not care anything about the buyer
personally, or as to where his money came from, provided he did not
become bankrupt. They were equally indifferent as to whom fell the task
of paying twelve per cent interest on the loans they so freely offered
to the Turk, forcing him to greater and more relentless exactions on
the poor Christian taxpayer for the repayment.

Such policy is as selfish as that of a French Communard, whose motto
is, “After us the Deluge;” and the deluge _did_ come, sweeping away the
prosperity and comfort of thousands and thousands of English families
who had trusted to the positive indebtedness of the British Government
to supervise and direct those to whom they otherwise would not have
trusted their hard-earned savings.

It is useless to speak of _hatti-humayoums, rades_, or any other
devices of ambassadors, signed by a time-serving Sultan for the
regeneration of his subjects. Local laws such as these, if applied to
the people themselves, may fulfil all their requirements; but foreign
suggestions and foreign pressure require foreign subjects, which native
subjects who are worthy the name will never become. Neither can you
regenerate a nation by the mere force of will, nor by force of arms.
The people must have an innate feeling of willing participation to
render reforms desirable.

I have had, whilst governor of the district of Bourgas, a sack brought
to me by a Bulgarian peasant, which contained the head of his own
child, murdered by brigands before his eyes; yet that peasant, who was
mayor of his own village, and had ample means of at least making an
effort to save it, had never lifted a finger in its behalf, but now
came to me for assistance towards payment of the ransom he had promised
to save another child he had at home. I ask, what laws could regenerate
the conduct of that man? Parental love could not even arouse him to
his duty towards his own flesh and blood! What chance would foreign
devices have to move him? I do not cite this as a solitary case, but as
one of many similar examples of degradation which weigh upon a large
portion of the population in Turkey. I have more than once seen a Turk
maltreating a Christian. I have had the instrument taken out of the
hand of the offender and placed in the hands of the stricken, then,
standing over both, have insisted upon retaliation. But this was too
abstruse a method for the perception of a Bulgarian. If, thought he,
no doubt, I could really help him, why not let him _murder_ the Turk?
As for beating, that would still leave his foe alive, and after my
departure the Turk would thrash him worse than ever. What the Bulgarian
told me in 1854 is applicable now--“Leave the Christian alone in the
hands of the Turk, and he will be more despised and ill-governed than
ever.”

The clergy in the East, as might be readily supposed, offer no fixed
standard of morality to guide the masses, as the following, among many
other cases brought to my knowledge, will readily prove. When the
Emperor Nicholas of Russia died, I was then in command of Western
Roumelia; and the clergy of the district, headed by the Metropolitan
of Adrianople, came officially to ask of me, as a Christian Pasha, to
be allowed to celebrate a Mass for the repose of the Emperors soul.
The ostensible reason given for this act of public gratitude was the
many acts of solicitude the dead Emperor had shown for their Church:
scarcely an ornament on their altars, even to the very canonical
costumes which they then had on their backs, but they were indebted to
him for.

This outward demonstration imposed so much upon me that I told the
Metropolitan, and the other bishops with him, that if they were so much
indebted, why did they not, by some overt act beyond spiritual regard,
show their acknowledgments? The successor of him whom they so deeply
deplored had ascended the throne. France, England, and Turkey were in
the field against him, and he had not a friend in the world--not even
Austria, who owed her very existence to his father--that would say a
word or lift a finger in his behalf. Now, at this solemn moment for
the orthodox Church, a universal display in favour of Alexander might
so impress the Allies as to eventually bring about a close of the war
without too much sorrow and suffering on the part of Russia.

The Metropolitan replied, “We have nothing to offer Russia alive; when
she is dead, all we can do is to offer up prayers for her.”

So much for Christian gratitude in the East--and be it remarked
that these Vladicas and Popas were not all Greeks, but many of them
Bulgarians.

I was now on the point of leaving England once more without the
slightest notice having been taken of the recommendations of General
Sir Harry Smith, General Cathcart, or of the colonists regarding my
services, when it was suggested by Lord Clarendon, whom I was going
specially to serve, that some sort of handle to my name would increase
the chances of my being useful to him. The letter of the noble
statesman on this subject, which is still in my possession, would merit
a place, and that not a low one, amidst a collection of jokes of the
period. Its only fault is that it makes one laugh on the wrong side of
the face. This parental solicitude of the Foreign Office towards one
of its adopted little children aroused me to the necessity of belonging
to some established English institution. The Horse Guards, where I
begged my new guardian still to leave me, had refused to receive me
without payment. As a _pis aller_, it was decided that I should be sent
to Windsor Castle; and I must say that, after all my late tossings
about, I had reason to be gratified at last, for I breathed much more
freely there than in Downing Street--and I was, besides, much more
kindly treated.

The journey to Windsor Castle was a pleasant one. I was seated between
Lord Palmerston and Lord Aberdeen; and although the Duke of Newcastle
had assured me that Lord Palmerston was always so much behind time as
never to see fish on his own table, yet he managed to come in very
strong with the _roast_ for Lord Aberdeen before we got to Windsor. The
quiet old Scotchman seemed more than once on the point of “spitting”
out a not over-polite expletive in reply, but, on reflection, he
always managed to bolt it. The two presented such a contrast, that it
appeared to me, a youngster, incredible that they could occupy the
same political level. The former amused himself by pumping me out;
the latter required almost a force-pump to get anything into him. The
result might be the same, but the operation was quite different. I
took, however, special pains during the journey to instil into the mind
of this kilted-petticoat authority that, although I looked so young, I
was really no novice in the art of war. He was to be my respondent, or
warrantor, for my qualifications as a knight-bachelor, whatever that
may mean.

At length we arrived at the Castle. The Ministers went to attend a
Cabinet Council. It looked more as if they had been engaged on some
parish business than on the affairs of the world. I was left alone to
promenade up and down a long corridor, lined with my predecessors in
glory--knights-dummies in armour. I was getting tired of my monologues
with these iron-jawed gentry, and beginning to feel some uncomfortable
twinges from an inward monitor not always easily appeased after a
country ride, when the young Duke of Brabant, the present King of the
Belgians, came up to me and asked if I was Captain Lakeman from the
Cape. He said that the Duke of Newcastle had told him of my presence;
and he added, I would no doubt easily excuse his anxiety to know all
about the Dutch colonists, in whom his father also took the warmest
interest. I was relating to him, in as few words as possible, all I
knew about the sturdy Dutchmen, with whom I also claimed a common
descent, when a most solemn-looking personage came up and told me to
follow him. After a warm shake-hands, which the young duke honoured
me with, I followed the gentleman in black as gravely as though this
had been my last farewell on earth. He led the way to a small side
door, and opening it as a church-beadle opens a pew, beckoned me to
enter. I bowed, and walked in. It was a small, oak-panelled room, in
the middle of which stood a Lady surrounded by sedate-looking men. I
felt as if a mistake had been made,--that I had got into the manorial
enclosure instead of the strangers’ pew,--and was on the point of
bowing myself out again, in the humblest way possible, as a proof of
my unintentional intrusion, when the Lady mentioned smiled so kindly
that I left off bowing and walked further on. There was no necessity
to tell me now that I was in the presence of the Queen. _I felt that
I was._ Whatever may be often thought nowadays of “such divinity as
doth hedge monarchs,” I for my part was ready at once to acknowledge
that fealty to England’s ruler which, hitherto, I had only offered
to the dear country itself. After a few words had passed, a cushion
was brought and laid before me, and then another, on which there was
a heavy-looking sword. Some one behind me whispered that I was to
kneel--an operation by no means agreeable to a man before company.
This I somewhat awkwardly did, and so remained, with my face bent
towards her Majesty’s feet, expecting every moment to feel the weight
of the sword on my shoulder to indicate that the ceremony had begun,
but nothing came. There was a dead silence. So I looked up and saw the
Queen holding up the sword and directing an inquiring glance towards
some one behind my back. Whoever that person was, he seemed to be a
long time in answering. It was the Earl of Aberdeen. It was evident to
me that her Majesty could not hold the sword over my head much longer.
I asked what was wanted. “Your Christian name,” her Majesty said.
“Stephen,” I replied; and down came the sword, missing the shoulder
and striking the cushion. The ceremony, however, was complete without
that, for her Majesty immediately said, “Arise, Sir Stephen,” and held
out her hand to kiss. I did kiss it, and felt in doing so that she had
not many in her wide realm who would serve her more devotedly than I if
necessity required it.

The cushions were removed; the Queen graciously smiled to all around
and left the room, and we retired together through the long corridor
before mentioned. I was standing near the entrance to the Castle door
whilst the Earl of Clarendon was lighting a cigar, when the Duke of
Newcastle rejoined us, and said, “Allow me to congratulate you as Sir
Stephen Lakeman, and as to having your head still on. I thought at one
time her Majesty was going to cut it off.” “Ah,” said Lord Clarendon,
puffing away at his cigarette, which I thought extremely unbecoming in
the Castle, “if the Queen had given it a whack it would have done it
good.”

“Just as it might do your lordship to whack out your cigarette,” I
replied. I had, within the last few days, taken a sudden dislike to
his lordship, which, however unaccountable at the time, was a true
presentiment of our future relations. His Grace of Newcastle took me
by the arm and led me away. He at the same time informed me that I was
to remain at the Castle: a certain person, whom he pointed out, would
attend to my wants, and I might freely answer any questions that would
be put to me during the afternoon.

When I returned to town that night, I was grateful for the honours that
had been bestowed upon me at the request of the Cape colonists.


THE END.

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[Transcriber's Note:

Inconsistent spelling and hyphenation are as in the original.]





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