The Project Gutenberg eBook of Incwadi Yami; or, twenty years' personal experience in South Africa

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Title: Incwadi Yami; or, twenty years' personal experience in South Africa

Author: J. W. Matthews

Release date: August 14, 2022 [eBook #68747]

Language: English

Original publication: United Kingdom: S. Low, Marston, Searle & Rivington, 1887

Credits: Richard Tonsing and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at (This file was produced from images generously made available by The Internet Archive)


Transcriber’s Note:

The cover image was created by the transcriber and is placed in the public domain.











Late Vice-President of the Legislative Council of South Africa, and late Senior Member for Kimberley in the Cape House of Assembly


Leave England, 1864—Surgeon Superintendent of the Tugela—Capt. Knowles of the Northfleet—First sight of land—Mouth of the Umzimvubu—Gates of St. John’s River—Land in Natal—Governor Maclean—Appointed District Surgeon of Victoria Co.—Settle at Verulam. Pages 9–14
Prevailing diseases in Natal—Incident at Mr. Tom Milner’s, Redcliffe—Interesting medico-legal case—Coffee Planting—Marriage—Rev. D. Lindley, D. D.—His early work—Diamond fever, outbreak of—Sail for India. 15–32
Zulu Customs—Ukulobola—Umkosi—Inteyezi—Insomyama—Kafir Doctors—Fate of the Witch Doctor, Kongota, and his victims—Bishop Calloway and Zulu “Folk-Lore.” 35–51
Trip to Tugela—Maritzburg—Bishop Colenso—Umgeni Falls—Estcourt—Lidgetton—Curious absence of fish in Mooi River—Capt. Allison’s Border Residency—Usidinane’s Cannibal Caves—Mont aux Sources—Umbundi’s Pass—Return journey. 52–69
Taking a holiday—Life on board the Red Riding Hood—Mauritius—Madras—Calcutta. 70–84
Trip to Benares—Cawnpore—Homeward voyage in S. S. Vixen—Distress—Perilous tramp—Aden at last—Suez Canal—England—Africa once more. 85–93
Leave Natal—First impression of the Diamond Fields—Sickness at the Dry Diggings—Father Hidien—Hospital arrangements—Quacks—Medical registration in South Africa—Curious decision of Capetown Medical Board—A “Mendacious” practitioner—Sanitary condition, 1878—Threatened small-pox, 1882—so-called small-pox, 1883–84—Madmen and their treatment—Climate of Griqualand West. 94–115
Gambling at the Diamond Fields—Mr. Dodd’s advice on gambling—Speculative value of diggings—The Fields in the early days—Gambling hells in 1872—Mr. Jones “at home”—Governor Southey’s proclamation—Exodus to the Free State—Rondo en colo—Collapse. 116–125
O’Reilly’s account of Niekerk—Dr. Atherstone and the first diamond—The river diggings—Influx of population—The dry diggings—Discovery of the Kimberley Mine—Early discomforts of the diggers—Present condition of Kimberley. 126–135
Geology of the mine and surroundings—Section of reef strata—Surface soil—Calcareous tufa—Light colored shales—Black carboniferous shale—Limonite—Landslips—Burning reef—Sulphur vapors—Natives afraid to work—Coal plants—Fire and choke-damp—Igneous rocks—Contraction and expansion of mine—Strata of mine itself—Red sand, tufa, yellow ground—Blue ground—Rich and poor claims—Remarkable boulders—Greasy slips—Maskelyne and Flight’s observations. 136–150
Source of diamondiferous soil—Extracts from Messrs. Bain, Ure, Dana, and Osborne’s geological theses—Various theories advanced—None entirely satisfactory or conclusive—The origin of the precious stone veiled in mystery. 151–171
The process of diamond mining from start to date—The “Long Tom”—The “cradle” and the “baby”—The sorting table and scrapers—Van Doussa’s invention—The scene in the Kimberley mine—The roads, “stages,” “whims,” and “whips”—The rotary washing machine—The cylinders and the elevators—Singular mistakes—Statistics of labor employed—Steam power—Fuel—The Kimberley waterworks. 172–184
Population of the Diamond Fields—Kafir eating-houses as decoy places—Rumors of tribute in diamonds by the natives to their chiefs—Ingenuity of native thieves—Celebrated case Queen vs. Vogel—“Happy child of Ham”—Grades through which a stolen Diamond passes—Spurious notes and glass diamonds—Case before the late Judge Dwyer at Beaufort West—High handed conduct of Detective Department—Two Bishops and a Senator searched—Freetown and Oliphansfontein—A startling exposure—Trial of notorious Highwaymen—Social grades of I. D. B.s or Illicit Diamond Buyers. 185–206
Diamond legislation—Resume of Sir Henry Barkly’s Proclamations—Epitome of the ordinances of the Legislative Council of Griqualand West—Review of the Acts passed by the Cape Assembly—Description of Trapping system—Adoption of “onus probandi” clause by Orange Free State—Searching Department—The Compound system. 207–225
Description of the I. D. B.—Public morals—The Music Halls and their songs—M. L. A.s and M. L. C.s in league with thieves and receivers. 226–230
I. D. B.—Tales from real life—“The mystic three letters”—The Biter bitten—An ungrateful hound—A plucky woman—Nemesis—Too clever by half—The early bird catches the worm—An unexpected recovery—A deathbed scene. 231–242
Description of the company and share mania in 1881—Events of the “Bubble Year”—Causes which brought the mania about—Why companies were first formed—The Barnato Co.—The Central Co.—The Frankfort mine—The Cosmopolitan Co.—Wonderful investments—Slow return of confidence. 243–256
The early history of the Diamond Fields—Adam Kok, Cornelius Kok, “Dam Kok,” Andreas and Nicholas Waterboer—The Diamond Fields and their Governments—The hoisting of the British Flag—The Keate award—Rush from the river to the dry diggings—Pniel deserted—The commencement of diamond stealing—Judge Lynch puts in an appearance—Discovery of the new Rush Kopje (Kimberley mine)—British rule proclaimed—Free State courts closed. 257–274
Sir Henry Barkly pays the Fields a second visit—Promises that the Fields shall be a Crown colony with a Legislature of its own—Letters Patent proclaiming Griqualand West a crown colony—Hon. Richard Southey first Lieutenant Governor—An incipient revolution—The Court-House surrounded by an armed band—The Black Flag hoisted—The revolt—Colonel Crossman—Changes in the Legislative Council—Recall of the Lieutenant Governor. 275–289
Mr. Justice Barry Acting Administrator—Arrival of Major Lanyon—Principal events of his administration—Annexation bill passed Cape House of Assembly—Criminal prosecution of Editor of “Independent”—Attorney General Shippard’s argument and oratory—Acquittal of accused—Great rejoicing—Action against “Independent”—Apology. 290–299
The Gaika and Gealeka war—Col. Warren and “our boys”—Warren’s brilliant coup—The rape of the Gaika matrons—Signal victory at Debe Nek—Col. Lanyon and Gasibone—Bloodless victory at Phokwane—Return of Volunteers—The Griqualand West war—Engagements at Wittehuis, Langeberg, and Taikoon—Cruel apprenticeship of women and children—Close of the Griqualand West rebellion—Korannas at the Salt Pan—Hermanus Lynx and his untimely death—Liquor Bill of Mr. G. Bottomley. 300–311
Col. Warren and Mr. Justice de Wet put their hands to the plough—Visit of Messrs. Sprigg and Upington—Pie Crust promises—My protest in the Legislative Council against annexation—Departure of Mr. Rose Innes C. M. G., last acting administrator—Election for Cape House of Assembly. 312–319
Natal again—Coolie immigration—Bishop Colenso—Laing’s Nek—Ingogo Majuba—Interesting interview with Generals Joubert and Smit—Grave-yard at Mount Prospect—Lady Florence Dixie—First session in Cape House of Assembly. 320–342
Trip to Robben Island—Dean Newman’s description thereof in 1855—Old Somerset Hospital—Lunatics and Lepers—Horrible sights—Leprosy among animals—Dr. Wynne’s opinion—Mournful case in the Sandwich Islands—Dr. Keith Guild’s theory of leprosy untenable—Annual cost of lepers—Segregation act passed by the Cape House of Assembly in 1884—Dr. Ross’s last report 1886—Visit to Cetywayo and Langibalele at Oude Molen—My wife’s interview with Cetywayo in London. 343–368
viiVisit to Basutoland—Pitso at Maseru—Pitso at Leribe—Roma—Interview with Masupha—General Gordon’s appointment—The Roman Catholic and Protestant Missions—Mafeting—East London—Sir David Wedderburn—Arrival in Capetown—Cape Assembly—Resignation. 369–392
Description of the religious bodies on the Diamond Fields—Educational efforts—The Church of England—Roman Catholic Church—Dutch Reformed Church—Doppers—Wesleyans—Presbyterians—German Lutherans—Jews—Mahometans—Hindoos—“Bishop” Mellet—Natives—Neglected Opportunities—Advent of Salvation Army—Sundry Visitors—Birds of Passage. 393–413
Law and lawyers on the Fields—Law in the early days—Absence of crime at that epoch—The Mutual Hall—Magisterial jurisdiction—The Attorney-generalship—Attorneys and Law Agents—A sudden death—Curious nomenclature of Kafirs—The fate of “Brandy and Soda.” 414–423
A serious accident—Felstead’s—Dr. L. S. Jameson—Trip to the Transvaal—Mons. Grandier—Umbelini and Cetywayo—Christiana—Potchefstroom—Pretoria—The Erste Fabrieken—Burgers—Shepstone and Lanyon—Mapoch and Mampoer—Battlefield of Bronkhorst Spruit—Start for Natal. 424–454
Leave Pretoria—A trying situation—Heidelberg—Standerton—Michaelson’s—Boer Camp at Laing’s Nek—Majuba once more—Newcastle—Maritzburg—Plough Hotel—D’Urban—Voyage to the Cape—Curious mental phenomenon—Return to Kimberley. 455–462
Visit to the Kaap Gold Field—Caves at Wonderfontein—The Duivel’s Kantoor—“The Valley of the Shadow of Death”—Barberton and its development—Course of gold discoveries. 463–481
Moodie’s syndicate—Their exorbitant demands and the result—Barber Bros. and the Umvoti Reef—Mad speculations—Future of the Gold Fields. 482–493
Leave Barberton—Steynsdorp—Komati River—King Umbandini’s Kraal—Swazi Land—The drink curse and its result—Interview of Dr. Clark, M. P. Transvaal Consul-General in England, with Umbandini—National yearly dance of Swazis—The Tembi—Delagoa Bay. 494–510
Lourenço Marques—The changes it has seen—Harbor—Climate—Railway plant imported by the late President Burgers—Advantage of the Delagoa Bay route to the Gold Fields. 511–514
L’envoi. 515–518
Zulu ultimatum—Table of Diamond exports—Dr. Schenk’s report of geological formation at Barberton—Burgers’ protest against the annexation of the Transvaal—Clause 11 of Gov. Southey’s dispatch, April 11th, 1874, to Sir Henry Barkly—John Dunn’s letter to the Aborigines Protection Society. 519–542


Legislative Council Griqualand West, 1885 Frontispiece
The Mouth of the Umzimvubu 8
Port Natal and Town of D’Urban 9
In a “Parlous” State 19
Falls of the Umzinyati 24
Inanda 25
Scene in Natal, Family Group of Zulus 34
Diagram of Kraal 38
A Kafir Dance 47
Umjaba’s Kraal 53
Zulu “Mashers” 41
Falls of the Umgeni 61
Falls of the Tugela 67
Umbundi’s Pass 73
Pieter Botte Mountain 79
First Home on the Diamond Fields 95
Kimberley Mine—First Stage 98
Kimberley Mine—Middle Stage 115
Kimberley Mine—Present Stage 127
Drying Floor for Blue Ground 133
Kimberley Mine—Transverse Section 143
Kimberley Mine—Plate I 153
Kimberley Mine—Plate II 159
Kimberley Mine—Plate III 163
Kimberley Mine—Plate IV 169
Diamond Washing Machine 173
Spurious Bank Note 196
Free Town 212
The Waterboer Medal 259
The Vaal River Drift 282
Annexation—Melancholy End of Griqualand West 292
Cartoon, “He’d Be Floored” 298
Taikoon Pass 307
Grave-yard at Mount Prospect 328
Leper Department, Robben Island 349
Cetywayo, with Autograph 360
Cetywayo’s Wagon 366
Maseru, Basutoland 371
Molappo’s House, Basutoland 376
Roma Mission (R. C.), Basutoland 384
A “Dopper” Boer 402
Bronkhorst Spruit 429
Court-House at Potchefstroom after the siege (1880) 433
Execution of Mampoer, Nov. ’83 443
Monument (Boer’s) 457
Monument (British) 459
Cave at Wonderfontein 465
Barberton, Transvaal 470
Barberton, First Gaol and Hospital 477
Sheba Reef, Barberton 487
Kafir Hut 497
Falls between Barberton and the King’s Kraal, Swaziland 499





After finishing my studies in Scotland I visited London at the end of the autumn of 1864 for the purpose of appearing before the examining board of the Apothecaries’ Hall, when I found myself the guest of a brother-in-law, a popular non-conformist preacher in one of the populous suburbs of that city. During my stay with him I happened to hear one evening that an emigrant ship appointed to sail 10next day to Port Natal would most probably be detained by the sudden illness of the surgeon superintendent who had governmental charge. The vacancy was offered to me on condition that I should at once pass the official examination required of every medical man before he can be legally entrusted with the care of government emigrants. Early next morning, therefore, I appeared before Mr. Le Gros Clark, the appointed examiner, and successfully passing this extra examination joined on the same afternoon the good ship Tugela, Captain Stewart, bound with emigrants to Port Natal, South Africa. Sailing at once, I had for the first time an opportunity to look round at my fellow voyagers, who were chiefly composed of honest English yeomen with their families seeking to better their fortunes. The officers as time went on I found to be good men and true, the chief especially, whose sterling qualities, of which but a few years after he gave signal proof, I soon learned to appreciate. His memory is now all that remains; yet many of my readers and especially of my fellow passengers will have recognized in the noble hero of the Northfleet, the same Knowles of the Tugela, who on the fatal night of January 22d, 1873, when his ship lay at anchor between Folkestone and Dungeness, with 400 men, women and children on board, bound for Tasmania, was run into and sunk by a foreign steamer. I remember reading how chivalrously he endeavored to rescue the women and children, and how with his revolver he shot down those who in a cowardly manner tried to seize the boats. As said at the time, “he died at his post, sinking with his ship, having acted with a calmness, promptitude and decision that will cover his memory with honor.”

The position of medical superintendent on board an emigrant ship I soon found was in one sense no sinecure, but I quickly learned the art of adjusting opposing social elements, and lulling the brewing storms, which, as there was neither sickness nor accident during our voyage, were the only cases (?) about which I was consulted.

Time dragged slowly on. Since bidding “good-bye” to old England on December 3d, 1864, the eighty-four days we spent together on board the Tugela passed monotonously yet pleasantly enough, our enforced idleness being broken only by alternate storms and calms, the distant view of passing 11ships, and the comparatively uninteresting episodes of emigrant life, until on Sunday morning, February 5th, 1865, the “golden shores” of the Promised Land to which we were bound, burst upon our view. Running before a fair wind in sight of land, we feasted our eyes for a few hours, as we sailed along at a distance of one or two miles, on the lofty cliffs with their grass-clad, table-topped summits, which command the mouth of the Umzimvubu, the “Gates” of St. John’s River, and excited were the discussions we indulged in about the reported resources and fertility of the land to which we were destined. We were a long time, however, in coasting to Natal, and it can well be imagined how our desire and curiosity increased. At last the early morn of February 25th found us laying at anchor outside the bar of the harbor of Natal. Words cannot depict the intentness with which we surveyed the bluff, standing like a sentinel on guard at the south entrance of the bay, and admired the tropical vegetation with which it was clothed from base to summit; neither can I put into words the interest we felt as we gazed at the rolling breakers, and the eager anxiety with which we watched the sluggish approach of the lighter destined to land us on the shores of a new country. As all the emigrants under my charge landed in good health after the long voyage, the gratification that I felt was very great. I will not attempt to describe the hearty greetings of friends long separated, the tender embraces of husband and wife, of parent and child, again united, nor the shy, coy, loving looks of some, which threw out a suggestion of an anticipated happy future.

Passing my luggage through the custom-house, I rode up to D’Urban from the point along a deep, sandy bush path, skirted on both sides by a tangled mass of tropical vegetation, forming a dense undergrowth to fine forest trees, and went to the “Royal,” kept at that time by a good fellow named Jessup, who years afterward “played the part of a Boniface,” as the saying is, at the diamond fields.

Having a few days to wait here until the next mail steamer sailed to England, I happened in conversation casually to hear of a vacancy in the Natal government medical service, caused by the sudden death of a district surgeon in Victoria County, the most enterprising and rising portion of the whole colony. The following morning, while taking breakfast, two gentlemen, 12whom I afterward knew as large sugar planters on the coast, joined the table and began talking over the events of the week. “So he’s dead at last,” said one. “Yes, and who’ll take his place, I wonder?” said the other. After some further conversation, I gathered that the report I had heard of the sudden death of a doctor was correct, and that it was about him they were conversing. The chief speaker continued: “He made £700 a year, but could have made double if he’d liked.” Hearing all this, I introduced myself and told them who I was, when, with colonial frankness, they both strongly urged me to apply at once to the government for the appointment.

I did not require to think twice over the matter, visions of £1,000 a year at two-and-twenty floated temptingly before me, so deciding at once, I determined to go to the capital, Pietermaritzburg, and see Colonel Maclean, who was acting governor at the time. This I did next day, and the colonel gave me the acting appointment.

Being anxious as quickly as possible to see the district and people among whom, for at least a time, I had thrown my lot, immediately on my return to D’Urban I lost no time in visiting Verulam, the chief town of Victoria County, which was founded, I was told, in 1850 by a party of Wesleyan pioneers. Riding four miles through terrible sand, I crossed the Umgeni by a beautiful iron-girder bridge, afterward washed away by a sudden rising of the river in August, 1868, passed Jackson’s coffee estate and some extensive bush clearings, and then a few miles more brought me to Lovatt’s well-known roadside inn. All the way to Verulam, the place of my future residence, the landscape was studded near and far with thick forests, interspersed with sugar and coffee plantations, forming lovely little views; here and there, too, I could see smoke curling up from the fires where the planters were burning the timber in the forest, and many a time I halted my horse to watch around the blazing logs the groups of lithe, active, happy natives, laughing, singing and working by turn—a novel sight, indeed, to one accustomed to English coldness and stolidity.

Leaving behind Lister’s pretty coffee trees and banana groves, Smerdon’s mill and extensive sugar fields, I crossed the Umhlanga River, so named by the Kafirs from the reeds 13on its banks, which nearly hide it from view, and ascending a steep cutting along the side of a hill named Kaht’s Kop, caught sight at last, at a turn of the road, of the village of Verulam, lying snugly ensconced in a hollow among the hills on the banks of the Umhloti River. Another mile brought me to my journey’s end. Turning the sharp corner of a neglected graveyard, a pretty church on one side of the road, and on the other a sweet little thatched cottage, literally smothered with honeysuckles, and which I soon learned was the parsonage, greeted my view.

Putting up my horse at the inn, I called and paid my respects to the resident magistrate, Dr. Blaine, a member of my own profession. After lunching with him, we walked round the village, and he introduced me to the principal inhabitants, not omitting the worthy vicar, the Rev. W. A. Elder, and his wife, who were kind enough to invite me to take up my residence with them. A few more days saw me settled down, and I commenced regular practice in the county on April 3d, 1865.

Sugar was at that time paying handsomely and coffee promising well, and consequently good wages were given to native laborers; yet the planters, although surrounded by a large Kafir population, were never able to rely on obtaining a regular supply of labor, as the native was too independent, the young men merely working until they were able to save enough money to buy cattle sufficient to pay for a wife. The consequence was that the planters, although surrounded by hundreds of thousands of natives, had been compelled, about six years before my arrival, to organize a system of coolie immigration from India. One of the agreements they were obliged to enter into with the Indian government was that regular medical supervision should be provided for all immigrants; and to defray this cost, the planter was authorized to make a deduction of one shilling a month from the wages of each coolie.

I soon became acquainted with all the planters in my division of the county, and found that a regular visit once a month to each estate, combined with the exigencies of a private practice, kept me busy, “week in, week out, from morn till night.”

The planter of those days I found an excellent type of colonist. He was generally a man of means, well educated, 14“a good fellow,” young, and drawn from the English upper middle class. In some few individual cases there might be a want of ballast, but colonial experience, soon gained, supplied the deficiency. My range of practice extended from the cotton company’s plantation at the Umhlali to Kennedy’s sugar estate on the Umgeni River, a district forty-five miles long, and extending inland, as a rule, about seven miles. Within this area I attended, as nearly as I can remember, twenty-five estates, employing on an average 1,600 indentured coolies. When, after a long absence, I visited Verulam this year, I found matters greatly altered. Hospitals had been built there and at Avoca, a village some twelve miles distant, to which any important cases from the surrounding estates were sent. My old district had been divided into three medical circles, with three doctors to do the work which I used to do single-handed.



The climate of Natal I found extremely healthy, the average death-rate being only 16 per 1000 among the white population, while among the natives, judging from all inquiries, I do not think it amounted to half that number, though this is more or less surmise, as unfortunately among the latter no official returns were kept.

During my practice in Victoria County, extending over six years, I do not think there were twenty deaths among the white population, and as for the coolies, the change from India seemed to give them a new lease of life.

Inflammation of the lungs, bronchitis and other chest complaints were rare, and when they did occur were seldom fatal, the principal diseases of importance being dysentery, low malarial fever (bilio-remittent) and a peculiar form of hœmaturia, due to a parasite named the Distoma hæmatobium, introduced into the system by the drinking of impure water. I must not forget also to mention that an outbreak of diphtheria took place before my arrival in 1859, which was the first time 16this disease was known in Natal, and also that every now and then a severe form of chicken-pox broke out among the Kafirs, which more than once gave occasion for alarm, the malady having been mistaken for small-pox. Asiatic cholera and hydrophobia have never been known.

Although not dangerous to life, yet as peculiar to this colony, I ought to mention the Natal sore, a species of inflammatory boil, of a low congestive nature, with which new arrivals were almost always troubled.

These sores were often produced by the irritating bite of an insect known under the name of the tick (ixodes), of which there are different species, and also by the bite of the mosquito.

Specimens of the larger species of tick having fastened upon animals in such places as the ear, mane, etc., where they could not be rubbed off, become gorged with blood to the size of haricot beans. Those which attack men are much smaller. Ticks have no wings, no eyes, no mouth, merely legs, a pair of sharp, delicate lancets, and a pipe or rostrum covered over externally with small reflexed teeth, which they plunge into the skin, and then suck away, holding on by their barbs. Dr. Mann, formerly superintendent of education in Natal, writes: “this much, however, must be said even for these blind, bloodthirsty insects, their reality is not so bad as their reputation;” so that again we have an instance of an enemy of man not being so black as he is painted.

In 1869 I treated many cases of malarial fever in Victoria County, most of them, however, occurring close to lagoons on the coast, and though I met with other scattered cases of it in the country, this was the only outbreak which could be entitled absolutely epidemic.

I recollect in May of that year I had 120 cases among the whites and coolies on a sugar estate, which was situated on the sea-coast, near the mouth of the Umgeni River; but the fever was confined to this estate and Verulam, where I had four cases, the total mortality, to the best of my recollection, numbering nine.

The cases of dysentery, on the other hand, were often perfectly intractable, and would sometimes yield to no mode of treatment, and this was especially the case at the end of summer, when the experience of a sudden chill would almost certainly induce the disease. Sickness was most prevalent, 17if care were not taken, at the change of the seasons, and when rains of an exceptional character took place, cases both of fever and dysentery of a severe type were always expected. After the disastrous flood of August, 1868, these expectations were realized to an unusual extent. This great flood lasted from August 28th to the 31st, inclusive, the downfall of rain being greater than the oldest inhabitants could recollect, 15.60 inches falling in 48 hours, and 17.11 inches during the four days that the storm continued.

I had a very narrow escape at the time, when going to visit the manager of Fenton Vacy, a sugar estate about four miles from Verulam. This gentleman had been under my care for some days, suffering from a most acute attack of dysentery, from which, I regret to say, he eventually died.

A tremendous rain, which at the time I allude to had continued two days, had caused the rivers along the coast to rise from twenty to thirty feet, washing away both the cane from the fields and the coffee trees from the hillsides. In addition, it carved out impassable gullies in the roads, and choking up the rivers themselves with the carcasses of dead oxen, broken reeds and trunks of trees, flooded the surrounding lands, and brought everything to a stand-still. Notwithstanding the terrible driving storm, I did not like the poor fellow to die all alone, without a last effort to save him, so mounting one of my best horses, I rode as far on the way as Mr. Tom Milner’s, one of Natal’s oldest sugar planters, at Redcliffe, where I had to cross a stream at a drift close in front of his mill. When I arrived there, the water was running like a mill-race, but as Fenton Vacy lay on the other side, I determined to make an attempt to get through. In the Field, some time after, I read a full and accurate account of my adventure, names only being altered, written by a visitor who was stopping for a few days at Redcliffe, and as the article contains an accurate description of the class of rain storms to which Natal is occasionally liable, I shall take the liberty of reproducing it. The writer says:

“After spending a few pleasant days at the Royal Hotel, D’Urban, I was told that a trip to Victoria County was the thing every one ought to do, and that the planters were always glad to receive visitors lately out from England. Accordingly, having had a horse lent me, I started on a little tour, intending to visit some of the principal estates. The chief 18caution the old hands gave me at D’Urban was, ‘Look out for the rains, and when they come, don’t attempt crossing any river by yourself,’ the soundness of which advice I had ample means of testing before my return.

“The first river on my road was the Umgeni, stretching across which was an iron bridge, at this time a good forty feet above the stream, which was running rapidly but smoothly out to sea, distant some half mile or so. This bridge had been erected at great cost and trouble, and was pronounced to be strong enough to resist any flood.

“After a day’s hard riding I arrived at a sugar estate in Victoria County, and received from its owner a pressing invitation to remain a day or two and look round the place.

“All the week heavy showers had been falling, off and on, yet there was nothing to indicate alarm to an uninitiated eye. But after dinner, while we were sitting in the verandah enjoying our pipes and watching the clouds as they swept past, my host suddenly exclaimed: ‘If this east wind lasts through the night, we shall have a flood before three days are over, if not sooner. It was just such a night as this ten years ago, and very much the same time of year (about the middle of August), when we had one of the worst floods that have occurred in the colony. That stream which you crossed to-day, near our mill, rose a good thirty or forty feet, and you will notice to-morrow that we have made that allowance in choosing a site for our buildings. I don’t believe it ever has risen more than this; but if it ever should, it will carry everything before it.’

“Next morning, Melville, my host, was up before me, pacing the verandah, and grumbling to himself. On my asking ‘What’s the matter?’ he came out with ‘Don’t you see, or didn’t you hear, that, just after we turned in last night, one of the most tremendous storms we have had for years came on? It’s been raining bucketfuls all night! And there’s that manager of mine, sleeping down close alongside the reservoir and mill, has never rung the bell yet to muster all hands, when he ought to have had every man out half an hour ago, looking after the drains and water courses. If you want to see a flood, you have got here just in time.’

“The house stood on a hill about three hundred yards from the mill and the other premises, which consisted of manager’s house, engineer’s cottage, coolie and Kafir huts. Hurrying down there as fast as possible, we found all the men quiet enough, although the waters and river were beginning to show what might happen.

“To supply a water-power mill, which did duty partly as a cane-crusher, though used chiefly for grinding corn, there was a large reservoir, close to the manager’s cottage and considerably above the level of the mill and other buildings. On nearing this we found the banks overflowing, and the water between it and the mill nearly knee deep. Even this overflow was enough to frighten us; but we both turned white when Melville said: ‘If those banks give way, everything must go—mill, sugar, engine-house, and every one within reach; so look out that we don’t find ourselves amongst the number.’ The first thing was to ring the bell and muster all hands. There were about 100 coolies and 200 Kafirs, headed by the manager, who by this time was up, and the engineer, the two forming the 19whole white staff upon the place. Then there was a little excitement about volunteers to get a rope across the river, this being a usual precaution of Melville in heavy weather. Two trees on either side were reserved for this special purpose, and it was accomplished with great difficulty and not a moment too soon.


“All that day we never left the precincts of the mill. It took us all we knew to keep the water under, and to cut drains and cross-drains in all directions. Several times during the heaviest showers we were nearly beat, for the water came down, not in streams, but in sheets, and with such force that it was difficult to stand against it. At one time some of us were completely knocked off our feet and carried against the mill wall, where it was nearly waist high. Fortunately these violent rushes came but seldom, and lasted only a few minutes; for the buildings, being of light construction, could not have resisted such a current long, especially as the river itself at these times rose to within a few feet of the main works. We were thus kept constantly on the move till about 4 P. M., when the rains moderated somewhat; and about six o’clock Melville said we might knock off work, as he considered the premises safe, though the damage 20done was considerable, and the place looked as if a party of sappers and miners had been out under training.

“That night the rain stopped as suddenly as it had come on; and by the following morning the temporarily made drains and water courses were nearly dry, and the river much fallen, though still looking impassable. Whilst we were putting things a little ship-shape—laying out wet goods to dry, repairing roads and broken-down huts—Melville suddenly looked up and said: ‘Here is our doctor coming down the hill, and you may depend he is going to see a poor fellow on the next estate, who is dying of dysentery, though I don’t know how he intends getting across the stream.’ The sight of Dr. Hardy, who was a general favorite, brought everybody down to the banks, where, after a good deal of shouting and gesticulation across the foaming river, it was made out that Melville’s surmise was correct, and that the doctor intended crossing to visit his patient, who was, he feared, dying of dysentery, which Melville assured me was only too prevalent in the neighborhood; and, after a considerable amount of talking—the whites on this side trying to dissuade him from the attempt, as one of the most extreme danger, we saw him quietly take off his clothes and hand them to his native outrider, who was kneeling down imploring him in the most piteous manner not to go; at least so we judged from his attitude, and learnt afterward that our surmise was correct. Then, having only a thin cotton shirt on, without a moment’s hesitation he seized fast hold of the rope, which was trembling and vibrating with the force of the current, being in the middle quite under water, and commenced his perilous attempt. So long as the rope was out of the water he got on fairly; but when he reached the part under water the struggle for life began, and a desperate one it was, for on getting a little more than half-way his strength suddenly collapsed, and for a few seconds he remained quite stationary. Then, suddenly plucking up his courage and making one more desperate effort, he succeeded in turning over on his back, getting each arm round the rope, with his hands clasped over his breast. In this position he remained perfectly helpless, unable to make another move. We also observed a sudden change of his countenance take place; this, a few seconds before so full of daring and confidence was now pale and relaxed, the eyes closed, and the lips of a livid hue; his legs and body were entirely at the mercy of the water, the arms alone, happily, continuing rigidly locked round the rope. It is difficult to describe our feelings as we stood watching these outward signs of departing strength. Melville began frantically rushing up and down, offering hundreds of rupees to any one who would save the doctor, but of the three hundred niggers not a man moved. It seemed hard indeed to let a man die like this. So, it appears, thought and felt the manager; for, with an exclamation of horror, he got on the rope before any one could stop him, and struck out for the doctor, whom he very quickly reached, when, speaking a few encouraging words, he so far revived him by voice and gesture as to get about a yard nearer the shore; but the struggle was so fierce, the water so merciless, and the doctor so exhausted, that they could do no more, and the manager also found his 21strength and nerve fail him. Our feelings were now doubly intensified; for, instead of one man’s life trembling in the balance, there were two. For a short time both seemed lost, as, owing to the additional weight and strain upon the rope, they were more under water than above, each wave completely covering them. Suddenly, without a cry or a kick, the manager threw his hands up, and was in a moment carried like a log yards down the stream. Then indeed broke out cries and shrieks and yells from men, women, and even children, of ‘Save the master! Save the master!’ some in English, some in Hindostanee, and some in Kafir; and poor Melville was speechless.

“A little lower down the stream was a wide open space, which was called the drift, and through which the main road passed when the water was low. A general rush now took place there, as the only possible chance of picking up the floating body was at this spot. Two or three Kafirs of the Basuto tribe waded boldly half-way into this boiling torrent, joined hands, and the outside one, by a dextrous leap at the right moment, caught the upraised arm of the drowning man within a few feet of a mass of rocks and boulders, which must have caused instant death, and, amidst the cheers and shouts of all, landed him safe. Meanwhile, the doctor still continued clinging with a death-like grasp to the rope, it being in fact difficult to judge if life remained at all. But now, whether the example set by the manager stimulated others, or whether perhaps they felt some little shame, several men, headed by the engineer (who could not swim a stroke), succeeded in reaching him, and by dint of united efforts they brought him to land, also alive, but considerably more like drowned than the other. Both men, with the help of brandy and water, lots of rubbing, and the other usual remedies, after a time recovered; and in about two hours’ time Dr. H. felt able, accompanied by Melville, to go on his road to Lime Hill, which they reached only in time to find his patient rapidly sinking, and to receive his few last words, for he died that same evening before they left the house.”

On arriving home next morning, I found a vivid account of my adventure had reached the village. My faithful attendant in those days was a young native, both of whose arms I had amputated owing to an accident in a sugar-mill. This lad, seeing me struggling in the torrent, ran away in affright, making sure I should be drowned, and told my wife and every one he met what he had seen; consequently, on my return I received hearty congratulations from all sides on my lucky escape.

Years after, on the diamond fields, many a diamond this honest boy brought me when superintending my native servants, the loss of his arms having apparently sharpened his discerning faculties. Poor fellow, at last he gave way to that insidious enemy of the native, “Cape smoke,”[1] which, to our 22eternal disgrace, is sowing destruction and misery broadcast among them. One morning he had suddenly disappeared, never to return, but whether murdered or not I never could find out.

While I held the government appointment in Verulam, many curious cases, from a medico-legal point of view, came under my notice. The story of Kongota, the Kafir witch doctor, I have told in another chapter, but I will here relate a case which nearly terminated tragically to all parties concerned, and which occurred on the very same estate that I have just mentioned.

One fine moonlight night (if I remember rightly, in July, 1869) word was hurriedly brought to the magistracy that a most shocking murder had been committed and another attempted on the Fenton Vacy sugar estate. As district surgeon I rode out at once, and on my arrival found all the coolies in a terrible state of agitation, gathered in a crowd round a small syringa tree, to which they had securely bound one of their fellow laborers, who was pointed out to me as the chief actor in the tragedy which had just been enacted. In a hut close by was the body of the murdered man, his brains protruding from gashes in his skull, and in a house adjoining the cause of all could be seen in the person of a young and pretty coolie girl, with both her ears chopped off, moaning most pitifully.

As no investigation could be made that night, everything was left in the charge of the police until the morning, when I again, with the magistrate, visited the plantation. At the edge of a stream close by I was shown the spot where the man’s body had been found, and a large cane knife, with which the murderous deed had been done, was produced, having been fished up by the coolies from the bed of a rivulet some thirty yards distant.

The theory set up was the following: The man whom I had seen tied to the tree the night before was known to be madly in love with the murdered man’s wife, who, however, rejected all his advances; and he, it was supposed, out of revenge, had murdered her husband, and then attempted to murder her—a theory which seemed feasible enough. On 23going to the dead man’s house to see his body again before burial, I found all arranged most neatly, the body cold and stiff was laid out in white clothing; and as the deceased had been a Roman Catholic during life, a large cross of wild flowers was laid on his breast.

On looking at the gashes on the skull, of which there were six, through which, as I have already said, the brains were oozing, I was at once struck with the fact that they were all parallel, and this at once raised a doubt in my mind that perchance after all no murder had been committed, as it would have been impossible for these wounds not to have crossed one another, if only in a small degree. I ordered the man to be undressed, his burial robes to be removed, and examined him more minutely, when I fancied I detected a faint murmur over his heart. Giving further instructions, I returned again in the evening, and found the man actually alive and muttering to himself. To make a long story short, he made a most extraordinary recovery. In a few days he was able to give a lucid account of the whole affair—how, jealous of his wife, he seized her when grinding chilies, and chopped off her ears; then he described how he ran to the river’s brink, sat on the stone where he was found, and made a desperate attempt, with both hands, cleaver-fashion, to hack his skull to pieces with the cane knife which had been recovered, and which he had spasmodically thrown away. This fully accounted for the parallel longitudinal gashes, which had led me to doubt that a murder had been committed.

My fortunate observation virtually saved two lives, as the funeral procession standing outside his house was merely waiting my sanction for the burial of the body; when in due course of law, on the strength of the circumstantial evidence alone, the unfortunate but innocent admirer of the wife of the would-be suicide would have paid the extreme penalty of the law for his rash infatuation.

My readers may imagine the joy of the suspected murderer when I told him, whilst awaiting in the Verulam jail an examination into his case, the above facts proving his innocence. This, I may say, he had throughout persistently and consistently maintained. The all-important question for him of homicide or suicide was thus luckily and happily answered.

After practicing for some months in the division I applied 24for a confirmation of the acting appointment, which Gen. Sir J. J. Bisset gave me in April, 1866.

I now felt more secure of my position in the county, and as a result decided, in conjunction with a clerical friend, to commence a coffee plantation near Verulam. This progressed very satisfactorily for two seasons, when my partner, wishing again to join the ministry, from which for a time he had retired, we sold off, in order to dissolve our partnership, the estate we had bought, and on which we had already made extensive clearings and planted thirty acres of coffee. This did not deter me from another attempt at coffee planting, which I was again doomed to forsake before the trees got into bearing, as on my return, after my trip to India in 1871, I determined to go to the diamond fields, where I had already, as I mention later, sent a party to dig for me. I do not wish to dwell on matters which are not of public interest, yet I cannot help mentioning, en passant, that to an accident I owe the honor of becoming the son-in-law of one “whose name is still held in high respect in Natal, among British colonists, Boers and Zulus, and who belongs indeed to the very first rank of South African missionaries.”[2] Making a professional visit to the Inanda Mission Station (American) I met my “fate,” and in April, 1867, I married Dr. Lindley’s fifth daughter.

During the interim which elapsed from my first visit to the Inanda and my marriage, I had ample opportunity to observe the interest which Dr. Lindley took in the welfare, both temporal and spiritual, of the natives, and the unceasing efforts that he made for their advancement. The early work of the American missionaries reads like a novel. I will here give a short resumé of their mission to the interior more than fifty years ago, and the cause of its collapse at that time. The reason of my introducing this sketch is the general unacquaintance of colonists with the first steps of these noble men, these honored pioneers of Christianity.


25On Dec. 3d, 1834, the Burlington left Boston with a party consisting of six missionaries and their wives, of which the late Dr. Lindley, my father-in-law, was one, and arrived safely in Capetown on Feb. 5th, 1835, when three of their number, including Dr. Lindley, started almost at once for the interior. Seven weeks’ wagon traveling brought them to Griquatown, where they rested five months, arriving at Kuruman early in 1836. Here Dr. Lindley formed the acquaintance of the late Dr. Moffat, and received much advice from him as to his future course of action. Leaving Dr. Wilson behind with the ladies he went forward in company with Mr. Venables to Mosega, in Klein Mariko, the headquarters of Mosilikatze, chief of the Matabélé tribe, styled by Moffat the Napoleon of the desert, whose permission to advance had already been obtained. This position, about two hours from Zeerust, in the Transvaal Republic, was the place upon which they had fixed to build a station and commence their good work, a French mission having some short time before been expelled from the same locality by Mosilikatze.


The district was well chosen, and the spot where they 26settled, still called Zenderling’s Post (Missionaries’ Post), was situated in a charming, well-watered valley, embosomed in the hills in the district of Marico, near Magaliesberg, in latitude 25°, 27′, longitude 27°, 47′. Here, on June 15th, 1836, they commenced their labors, which, however, were soon to be brought to a tragic end. Mosilikatze did not approve of the teaching of the missionaries, which reflected to a certain extent on his own actions, forbade his people to listen to them, and himself left Mosega. Still these devoted men and women prayed and hoped that more favorable opportunities would arise; for, to add to their misfortunes at the time, a fever, obstinate and distressing, laid low many of their families—caused partly by the climate, and partly by the damp floors of the mud houses, which they had hastily built. Yet neither the distrust or suspicion entertained by Mosilikatze, or the ravages and deaths caused by the fever, drove them from the work to which they had devoted themselves.

I must now go back a few months, and ask my readers to study the previous state of affairs. During the winter of 1836, the Dutch in the Cape Colony, disgusted by the treatment, which, in their opinion, they were subjected to, and tired of British rule, determined to seek for “pastures new,” and consequently they made preparations all over the eastern and midland districts to emigrate. Some left for Natal, some trekked northward and crossed over the Vaal River, when Mosilikatze, becoming jealous of his rights, which had not been consulted, with his Matabélé warriors nearly annihilated several small parties of Boers, killing altogether twenty white men and twenty-six natives, taking away their horses, cattle and sheep. This, as may be imagined, roused a feeling of revenge, and as soon as possible a force large enough to punish Mosilikatze was got together, consisting of 107 farmers, and nearly the same number of Griquas and Korannas.

This organized reprisal left Thaba Nchu on Jan. 3d, 1837, and passing through a country almost depopulated, where scarcely a single man was to be seen, came to Mosega on Jan. 17th. All unexpected and unseen, at the very earliest dawn, the Boers fell upon the inhabitants of that most beautiful valley, and so sudden and so secret was the attack that the missionaries were taken as much by surprise as the natives, not knowing anything until they heard the whistle of the bullets 27flying around. “The Matabélé soldiers grasped their spears and shields and rushed forward, but volleys of slugs from the long elephant guns of the farmers drove them back in confusion. The commanding officer of these natives was away, and there was no one of sufficient authority to restore order. The warriors took to flight, and were hunted by the farmers until the sun was high overhead, when it was computed that at least 450 must have been slain,”[3] shot down on that bloody morn ere the sun could reach the meridian. Such a cold-blooded massacre, so one-sided an affair was it, that not a single man, either European or native, on the Boer side was touched. My wife’s mother has often pictured to me how, lying in bed, where for nine weeks she had been prostrated by rheumatic fever, her room was one morning suddenly filled by swarms of wounded, bleeding, helpless women and children, imploring her assistance and trying to escape from the inhuman butchery outside, but to no effect, as they were remorselessly shot down even at her bedside; in fact, “the outhouse in which their servants slept was literally shot to pieces.”[4] The Boers having set fire to about fifteen villages in the valley, then thought it advisable to retire with about 7,000 head of cattle they had found (!) and as Mary Moffat, writing to her father at the time, said: “Pillaged the (missionaries’) house before their eyes, and when they left, the Boers were still in the house, packing up all their horses could carry.” On leaving they urged, even used threats to force, the missionaries to leave with them, which they did, “submitting to whatever the Boers wished;” for removed far from civilization, shocked with the bloody sight just enacted, afraid of their own lives, and convinced that for years the introduction of Christianity had been postponed, they thought it the best thing to do. In after years (1859) the fact of the American Mission leaving Mosega with the conquerors, instead of remaining with the conquered, was often used by the Matabélé as an argument against allowing missionaries to again build in the country, as they were certain it would only be a matter of time before other white men would come, and their land would be taken away from them.

Mrs. Lindley was forced from her bed, and with a child in 28her lap rode for twenty-three hours on horseback without stopping. Mr. Grout, in his work on Zululand, says: “To their fear of being followed by a host of exasperated savages, to the unceasing cry of cattle, and to all the tumult of irregular, excited soldiery, add the want of proper food, especially for the sick; the absence of a road, save such as the open field affords; the want of a bridge or a boat on the now swollen streams; the want of a dry suit for the women and children, who had to be floated across the Orange River on a bundle of reeds, keeping only head and shoulders above water; then, forthwith out of the river, add a night of Egyptian darkness, through all the hours of which no sleep can be had, save that which comes in spite of torrents of rain, thunder and lightning, and all the noise of the motley group by which they are surrounded—and you have some idea of what fell to the lot of the missionaries, Lindley, Venables, Wilson and their families, on the journey.”

In coming down to the coast, not knowing the passes of the Drakensberg, they made a circuit around by Grahamstown of something like 1,500 miles, and reached Natal at the end of July.[5] This account may read as fiction in the present day, but it is notwithstanding a “romance in real life;” what the early missionaries suffered and endured to propagate the truths of divine religion among the heathen in former days, we can now with difficulty conceive. Dr. Lindley, on his return from Mosega, founded a mission station at Ifumi, at the south side of D’Urban, but owing to the rupture between Durgaan, the Zulu king, and the Boers, together with the murder of Retief and party, on February 6th, 1838, who had gone to ask the Zulu king’s permission to settle on the south side of the Tugela, the American missionaries considered it prudent to leave Natal for a time. Dr. Lindley, however, remained behind, but after the burning of his station at Ifumi, and after experiencing many dangers, he escaped on board the Comet, a little schooner, lying in the D’Urban harbor, and after first visiting Delagoa Bay, landed at Port Elizabeth on June 22d, 1838. Here he remained twelve months, until peace was restored by the complete overthrow of Durgaan, when he returned 29to Natal, and commenced, with the approval of his Board, to labor among the Dutch; and was the first to take over the pastoral care of the emigrant farmers.

The Rev. John McCarter says: “As pastor he labored amongst the emigrants for seven years (1840–1847) having as parish all Natal, together with the surrounding territories and the Transvaal Republic. Thousands of children were christened by him; his headquarters were Pietermaritzburg, Winburg, and Potchefstroom. It was thus that in 1843 the congregations of Winburg and Pietermaritzburg were amalgamated. Dr. Lindley himself mentioned to the writer, that at all times and places his words were listened to with the greatest concern, and the particular tenderness with which after his departure the memory of Lindley was continually held in these regions by those who knew him, witness what great good his labors brought about.”[6] In 1847 Dr. Lindley resumed his connection with the American Board, beginning his work again among the Zulus at the Inanda. In that year he was appointed with Dr. Adams, by the Colonial authorities, on a commission to see justice done to the natives, the instructions given to them being “that there should not be in the eye of the law any distinction or disqualification whatever, founded on mere distinction of color, origin, language or creed, but that the protection of the law, in letter and in substance, shall be extended impartially to all alike.”

Carrying out these principles Dr. Lindley worked zealously at the Inanda for twelve years, until he visited America in 1859. Returning in 1863, he again resumed the duties to which he had devoted so much of his life and energy. His success at Inanda was great and marked, and after working another decade, he returned to America in 1873, and resting from his labors, died in 1880.

Let me ask my readers to turn to another section of the Christian world, in which a not altogether unimportant part was played in the little church at Verulam. It will be remembered that I had taken up my abode with the Rev. W. A. Elder, the Church of England clergyman, and as it was at this time that the excitement over Bishop Colenso and his “heresies” was at its height, I was in the centre of a very hot-bed of 30opposition to him, the worthy vicar being most submissively orthodox.

After Bishop Colenso had published his work on the Pentateuch, which horrified the orthodox and excluded the bishop from almost all the church pulpits in England, he returned to the colony in November, 1865, and visited Verulam. The Rev. W. A. Elder thought fit, sincerely believing he was discharging a religious duty, to oppose his bishop conducting service in the church on one of his visitation tours, and this resulted in a scene, which took place on Sunday morning, Sept. 30th, 1866, not easily to be effaced from the memory of those who beheld it. As had always been the case when the bishop made his periodical visitations, the church was crowded, but even the earliest arrivals that morning found the rector waiting in the chancel, which in this simple building was merely a space railed off from the body of the church by a low wooden balustrade. Just before the usual time for the commencement of the service the bishop came in, walked up the middle aisle, advanced toward the chancel, and was about to enter, when Mr. Elder confronted him. Standing directly in the way, he read a protest against the bishop taking any part in the service, giving his reasons at considerable length. The bishop, who had a very commanding presence, stood while the document was being read with unmoved dignity. When it was finished, he made no reply, and did not show any consciousness of having even heard it. He made no sign of assent or dissent, his looks betrayed no emotion, but opening the gate of the rude screen he passed inside. For a moment Mr. Elder seemed as if he would stand where he was to block the bishop’s passage, but happily he made no attempt by physical force to prevent his entering, and he sat down again at his own side of the Holy Table.

A few minutes of anxious suspense on the part of the congregation followed, but as the incumbent made no signs of commencing the service, the bishop rose from a little covered wooden box on which he had been sitting, and with his well-toned voice in musical rythm, unshaken by anger or agitation, read out the text that precedes the Exhortation: “When the wicked man turneth away from the wickedness that he hath committed, and doeth that which is lawful and right, he shall save his soul alive.” Mr. Elder then at once left the church, and the bishop conducted the beautiful offices of Morning Prayer 31according to the rules of the Church of England, and delivered a most impressive and beautiful sermon.

It was not until some years after this occurrence that Bishop Colenso’s legal position was satisfactorily defined. Some little time after this, I was chosen one of the church-wardens, and on Mr. Elder’s leaving the country for England, previous to the bishop appointing another incumbent in his place, I read, in my official capacity, the church prayers to the congregation every Sunday morning. In addition to this rather novel experience, the government, about this time, during the absence of Dr. Blaine on leave, appointed me acting resident magistrate; so I acquired, during my residence in Natal, a varied experience which has since stood me in good stead. Everything went on swimmingly for the first few years, fine seasons, auspicious rains, plentiful crops, good prices, money plentiful, we had races, balls, concerts, sports, a fine regiment of mounted volunteers, all wealthy planters; in fact the Victoria County planter was renowned through the colony for his geniality and open-handed hospitality. Unfortunately, however, at last a wave of depression flowed over Natal, the planting interest came almost to its last gasp through bad seasons and the usurious rates of interest which the planters had to pay for advances against their crops. This, of course, affected me more or less seriously, as no more coolies were introduced, the sugar planters not being able to bear the expense, and those in the colony at the time by degrees becoming free, and thus relieved from compulsory taxation for medical attendance, my income diminished in proportion.

Just at this time (the end of 1870) the discovery of diamonds in Griqualand West, on the banks of the Vaal River, began to excite attention, and digging parties to search for these precious stones were formed both in the Cape Colony and Natal. We quiet folks in Verulam caught the fever, which was very contagious, as a proof of which one morning after breakfast I had no difficulty in organizing a company to proceed to the Vaal River, of which Mr. G. I. Lee, afterward chairman of the diggers’ committee, Kimberley mining board, and a member of many scientific societies, consented to take charge. At the same time I sent off a party on my own account, consisting of three white men and twelve Zulus with wagon, oxen, tools and provisions for six months’ consumption, 32intending in a few months to take a trip and see the dry diggings myself; but my anticipations of visiting Griqualand West and the Vaal were unexpectedly deferred for a year, as, in connection with the Natal government, I took the first ship-load of return coolies back to India. Many a pleasant day-dream this venture gave me during my long voyage of the immense fortune awaiting my return, and many a night, too, did I dream of Sindbad the Sailor, his second voyage and walk through the valley studded with diamonds. How these dreams were rudely broken, I will tell in another chapter, but before doing so, will devote a few pages to a description of Zulu customs and the scenery of the colony.





While acting as district surgeon at Verulam under Dr. Blaine’s magistracy, my connection with the government, as a matter of course, enabled me to gain an insight into native customs, with which I should not otherwise have had the opportunity of becoming acquainted. I had further the good fortune of being associated in these matters with a gentleman who thoroughly understood the Kafir language and character, and whose ability has since been recognized by his promotion to an important magistracy by the Natal government. I allude to Mr. J. C. C. Chadwick, then clerk to the resident magistrate at Verulam, Victoria County. This gentleman published in 1879 some commentaries on native laws, customs and usages,[7] which are very interesting.

There are many customs among the Zulus of Natal which are known only to the natives themselves or to those who 36have given great study to the subject. Some—among others Mr. F. B. Fynney, who now occupies an important official position under the Natal government, but whom I knew as a sugar planter on the coast—think that the Zulus must have had at one time an intimate connection with the Hebrew nation, as many of their customs are decidedly similar to those practiced by the Jews, to whom possibly they may have been in bondage in the past ages. Amongst the usages to which Mr. Fynney draws particular attention in support of this opinion, is the custom which the maidens follow of proceeding annually to the hills to mourn or wail, thus reminding one forcibly of Jephthah’s daughter. That they have a distinct religious trust, and acknowledge both the existence of a supreme being, who created all things, and who is endowed with infinite power, and that they also believe in another world and a hereafter, he has no doubt. One thing is certain—they are exceptionally superstitious, believe in signs, omens and supernatural agencies. Nothing, in fact, according to them, happens by chance. They even offer sacrifices to propitiate a supreme deity, whom not having seen, they yet believe. Then, too, they have their “lesser gods,” the spirits of their deceased ancestors; they have their conscience, their sense of right and wrong, and their laws and customs to regulate their social life. There is no denying the fact that a broad idea of a supreme divinity circulates among them, and, as the Right Rev. Henry Calloway, Bishop of St. John’s, who has devoted great study to the subject, says: “The existence of the religious instincts in the natives, of those germs of religious truth—which, among Christian people with a divine revelation, have been developed into so glorious a religion—is evident from the readiness with which, under proper teaching, they accept the fact of the creating power continued to be manifested in Providence; and that that creating power is our Father in heaven.”

The Rev. Dr. Lindley as well, after forty years’ experience among the natives of South Africa, always expressed to me his belief in the easy and gradual improvability of the native when not exposed to the contaminating influence of the low white colonist, and to the coarse materialism presented to him to copy.

37While I was district surgeon the customs of the natives interested me very much, and I will mention those which most attracted my notice. Ukulobola, or the practice of giving cattle to the father or guardian of a girl or widow, on her marriage, by her husband, is one of the oldest laws among the natives of South Africa. Looking at the practice from an Englishman’s point of view, it is tantamount to the purchase and sale of women, but it does not bear the same construction in the native mind, for it is by them considered as compensation for the loss of a daughter’s services at an age when, by her usefulness and affection, she might give some return for the care and attention which she received in childhood. Moreover, the girl glories in it as a proof of her worth, while the man himself would not value a wife who cost nothing. The intended son-in-law, when engaged to a girl, generally begins to pay the necessary cattle in instalments, and as he has to run the risk of their dying, their sickness and death very often delay the marriage. If an engagement is broken off the suitor gets back all the cattle he may have paid on account; again, if a wife die without issue the husband can claim the cattle he has paid, or the father must give him another girl instead; but if the husband die while the wife is still young, a younger brother takes the wife, or she returns home, and the husband’s estate receives back the cattle, supposing the wife has borne no children.

Their law of inheritance is a study in itself. A Natal Kafir looks upon any money or goods he may acquire as valuable only as a means of acquiring cattle, by possession of which he may obtain wives. Land they do not claim individually, and they set value on it only as the common right of their tribe. The head man of a kraal is a patriarch indeed, and is responsible for the good behavior of the members of it. If he has a son who is married, that son cannot, during his father’s lifetime, say which of his wives shall be his Ikohlo (right-hand wife), or which his Iquadi (left-hand wife), but his father, after due consideration, chooses them for him, and when once appointed neither their position nor that of their children can be altered, however badly they may behave. The Inkosikazi is the wife of the greatest rank, her hut is placed in the centre opposite the gateway of the kraal, and her eldest 38son is heir. The hut of the right-hand wife is placed to the right side, that of the left-hand wife to the left of that of the “inkosikazi,” and of course they occupy the next position to that of the chief wife. If male issue fail the chief wife, the eldest son of the “ikohlo,” or right-hand wife, can only succeed to the chieftainship in event of male issue failing all the wives of the left-hand side. The head of the kraal is entitled to receive all the earnings of his sons or daughters, but he is expected to start his sons in life, or in other words, to find their marriage portion. The following diagram shows the position of the chief huts in a kraal:

Generally when the head of a kraal dies, the heir leaves the kraal to the chief wife and to the “iquadi,” his younger brothers remaining, and if any of his father’s widows are 39young enough, his uncles or some other man is appointed to raise up seed to his (the heir’s) house. This custom is called Ukungena, but is now modified by allowing the widow, if she chooses, to marry some other man; if so, however, the new husband must pay a marriage consideration to the estate of the deceased husband.

The chase, too, has its rules, as also has the Umkosi, or dance of first fruits, a festival before the celebration of which, at the chief’s kraal, the first fruits of the season cannot be eaten. A large bull is killed by the young warriors of the tribe, which is skinned, cut up, and cooked, when the doctors first eat a portion, and then the chief does likewise, but in doing so spits out some in the direction of the country of each of his enemies, or rather of each independent government situated around him; for instance, Cetywayo, the King of the Zulus, used to spit toward Natal, the Transvaal, and the Swazi country, and utter the names of the Governor of Natal, the Administrator of the Transvaal, and the King of the Swazies, a custom equivalent to our drinking confusion to all the Queen’s enemies and singing:

“Confound their politics,
Frustrate their knavish tricks.”

The flesh after this is all cut up, thrown into the air, and all the men, like hungry dogs, scramble to catch the pieces.

Next day the chief and all the men of the tribe dance in the kraal, when, adjourning to a neighboring stream, the chief bathes, the ceremony of “Umkosi” is finished, and the tribe can partake of the first fruits of the season.

I may also mention the Inteyezi, or the sprinkling of warriors with a decoction of herbs and roots to make them fierce and brave, the eating of Insomyama, or the choicest meat, which, being consumed only in the house of the head of the family, at once establishes the superiority of the house, and consequently is very important evidence in trying cases of disputed inheritance. Then again there is the penalty of damages in the shape of an ox, which every man must pay who applies to another the defamatory term Umtagati[8] or to a girl of Isiropo,[9] and, further, there is the difference between 40the English and native laws of evidence, which, as I am not a lawyer, I will discreetly pass over.

The intimate acquaintance I made, however, with the customs of the native doctors (I suppose on account of its connection with my own profession) many a time afforded me food for contemplation and discussion.

It may not be out of the way here for me to mention the different recognized kinds of doctors (izinyanga): 1st, the wizard or diviner (inyanga gokubula); 2d, the rain doctor; 3d, the lightning and hail doctor; 4th, the medicine doctor (inyanga yokwelapa).



43The wizard or witch doctor is a very cunning, shrewd fellow, and he must also be a doctor of medicine. The profession is not, however, confined to the male sex, for as many women as men are engaged in its mysteries; but to describe how the patients are gulled, and how the very secrets about which they consult the doctor he manages to ascertain from themselves, in what a professional manner they are duped, and how the doctor’s riches and reputation increase, would take up too much time. Rain doctors are supposed to have the power of causing rain to fall, and are appealed to after a long drought, but they are clever enough never to commence their incantations until indications of rain are discernible, and consequently they are always sure of success. Next come the lightning doctors, who dance around the kraals they have been summoned to defend, brandishing their assegais during the flashes and violence of the storm in a manner that suggests insanity to the European observer. Naturally they are more frequently successful than unsuccessful. The hail doctors, again, believe that by burning medicine while the hail is yet distant they diminish its power, and that when they leave their huts to command it to depart it will return whence it came. It must be understood that these doctors are not to be regarded as opponents of the heavens, but simply as mediators. Bishop Calloway says that many heathen have asked him to pray for rain, because he was one whose office it was Ukumelana nenkosi—to contend with God—and who was under the protection of heaven, and safe so long as he was observant of the laws of his office. Last, but not least, is the medicine doctor. Sickness, the natives believe, is always caused by an enemy, or by the will of the spirits of their departed ancestors or relatives who generally protect them from harm, but, who being sometimes angry, allow sickness to overtake them, or the machinations of their enemies to prevail. The doctor’s father and grandfather have generally been in the profession before him, and the secrets of the healing art have thus been handed down from generation to generation, though in some instances he is a self-taught man, who has picked up some knowledge of diseases, roots and herbs by observation and experience; but no faith, whatever, is reposed in a doctor or diviner who happens to be fat. The medicines employed are mostly innocent, but still many powerful drugs are included in their pharmacopœia, for instance, they use the male fern (inkomankoma, lastred felix mas) as a remedy for tape-worm, emetics by the gallon for slight ailments, and as correctives after their beer-drinking orgies, other medicaments so powerful that whole families, both black and white, have been carried off by their felonious administration; but their useful medicines are so mixed up with useless adulterations that in most cases it would be better for the patient to “throw physic to the dogs.” It used to be the case of “no cure, no pay;” for, according to their law, if the patients died, or did not recover until another medical man had been called in, the doctor got no payment; but in Natal, now, on first attendance the doctor requires a preliminary fee of ten shillings, nominally to buy medicine, but at the same time he stipulates for receiving a bullock in case of a cure being effected. As a rule they administer harmless drugs, thinking it safest to believe in the motto of “vis medicatrix naturæ,” for there is no doubt the majority are the most arrant quacks ever known. Some, who rank high in the profession, travel from place to place, and as the result of their skill and knowledge of human nature, return home after an absence of months, or it may be years, rich in the possession of large herds of cattle. The doctor of medicine is also often a witch doctor, and so combines in one a knowledge of the two branches of the profession.

A case[10] occurred toward the end of 1866, in which I was engaged as government surgeon, which at the time created an 44immense sensation in Natal. It elucidates what I have just said of witch and medicine doctoring being often combined. I think the story of the tragedy will not be uninteresting to my readers.

Information was brought to the resident magistrate’s court at Verulam that a native had been severely assaulted in a location some miles away, and I was ordered by the resident magistrate, together with the clerk of the court, to proceed to the wounded man’s kraal and investigate the matter. Our path to the kraal, the home of the dying man, led through the passes of one of the wildest, most rugged and most picturesque regions to be found in the whole of Natal. Here, owing to the proximity of the sea, we found the vegetation clothing the rocky defile to be most luxuriantly dense and tropical. Tramping along the narrow Kafir path in order to reach our destination, we had to push aside fantastic wreaths of tangled convolvuli, force our way past festoons of monkey rope parasites and other climbers, and whilst avoiding the wild date tree on the one hand, had on the other to shun the prickly thorns of the crimson-fruited amatungulu. Our tardy progress scared the barking baboon in his rocky home, startled the chattering monkey from his lofty perch and the timid buck from his grassy lair, whilst the brilliant-plumaged uqualaquala and other feathered denizens of the bush flew away, alarmed at our approach. To describe the lovely, ever-changing scenery which broke upon our view is almost impossible; the majestic milk wood, the deadly euphorbia, the quaint Kafir boom, the spreading fan-palm, the aloe, cactus and wild banana, all lending their presence to produce an effect not easily to be effaced. Woe betide us, however, if we did not keep a sharp lookout for the deadly snakes coiled in the long grass at our feet, or for those which, hanging like green tendrils from the trees above, were ever ready to drop upon our heads.

On our arrival we found the man reported as seriously assaulted, whose name, by the way, was Umjaba, sitting quietly smoking bhang at the gate of his kraal, with a blanket round his shoulders, seemingly astonished at the excitement that he was creating.

On my asking him, through the court interpreter who 45accompanied us, what was the matter, he denied that any assault whatever had been committed on him, and as he neither showed me nor could I see any marks on his person, we returned to Verulam.

Next morning, however, news was brought to the magistracy that he was dead, and I was again ordered out to examine the body and report upon the circumstances. The facts which I gathered were as follows:

Two months before, somewhere about the end of the year 1866, a native doctor of the Amatonga tribe named Kongota, accompanied by a young native who carried his pack of medicines and charms, came to the kraal of an elderly native named Nokahlela, who resided in the Inanda division, not far from Verulam.

As is customary amongst natives, the doctor was well received and hospitably entertained by Nokahlela and his family, which consisted of several wives and children of all ages, from infants in arms to grown up sons and daughters.

It happened that shortly before the arrival of the doctor there had been a death in the family of one of the wives of either the head of the kraal or one of his sons. As is usual amongst the natives, the death was of course not attributed to natural causes, but was firmly believed to be attributable to the sorceries of some evil-disposed person, as I have mentioned above, generally termed an Umtagati, and Nokahlela and his family had some slight suspicion of a neighbor of theirs named Umjaba, with whom they had had some disagreement. All these facts and suspicions the wily doctor soon succeeded in finding out, and determined to turn to his own advantage.

About this time a child of Umjaba’s sickened and died, and the doctor, Kongota, who, if I recollect aright, had been called in to attend this child, ascertained that Umjaba was quite ready to suspect his neighbor Nokahlela of having brought about the infant’s death, and he therefore made it his business to encourage the suspicion. When he found that the suspicions he had encouraged were sufficiently strong, he boldly told Umjaba that they were well founded; in fact, that by the practice of his art and the power that he possessed of holding familiar intercourse with the spirits of the departed he had 46ascertained that it was an absolute fact that the child’s death was caused by the witchcraft of Nokahlela, and that if he wished to be revenged for the murder of his child he, Kongota, for a consideration could make that revenge easy to him. Having thus “sown the good seed,” he departed and returned to Nokahlela’s kraal.

Kongota then proceeded to fan Nokahlela’s suspicions as to the cause of the death of his wife, until he succeeded in convincing him that the death was caused by Umjaba, and having done so, he confirmed Nokahlela’s belief in the same manner as he had that of Umjaba. The two men were now both in the mood in which the doctor wished them to be—ready to undertake almost anything that promised revenge for the supposed injuries which each firmly believed that he had suffered at the hands of the other.

For the consideration of a fine young cow, Kongota promised to procure for Nokahlela the most complete satisfaction. Let us see how he fulfilled his promise. According to primitive native law, an “Umtagati” caught in the act of placing, during the night-time, at his intended victim’s kraal, charms or medicines with the supposed object of causing death or injury, could be seized and killed in the most cruel manner, viz., by being pierced with sharp-pointed sticks, without even the form of a trial. It was the gratification of treating his enemy in this manner that Kongota promised to Nokahlela.

In furtherance of his plan, he now returned to Umjaba and sold him for a head of cattle what he assured him was a most deadly charm. It looked like fine, bright gunpowder, and was in reality the seed of the wild spinach, and perfectly harmless. This he told him he had only to sprinkle at the door of each hut of his enemy in such a manner that no one could leave the huts without passing over it, and the death of every one of the inmates would result. Umjaba hesitated for some time, as he was afraid that he might be detected before he had effected his purpose, but on Kongota offering to accompany him on the midnight expedition he agreed to undertake it. The time was fixed and Kongota left him in order, as he said, to prepare the way for him to carry out his design. On the night following he promised to call for him and accompany him on his errand of mercy!



49The doctor had now only to instruct his friend Nokahlela to receive his nocturnal visitor, and then to reap his reward. This was soon done; Nokahlela made the necessary preparations for giving Umjaba a proper and fitting reception, and the doctor returned to the kraal of his dupe at the appointed time. They were to start together about midnight. When the hour approached, Umjaba, who felt rather uneasy about the possible consequences of the enterprise, armed himself with an assegai and a knobkerrie, that he might be able to defend himself in case of necessity; but the doctor, not approving of these warlike preparations, and thinking no doubt that he might receive a stray thrust or blow himself when his treachery was discovered, assured him that such precautions were utterly needless, as he had so charmed the kraal that all its inmates were wrapped in the profoundest slumber, that not a dog would bark, or a cat mew, and stated, moreover, that it was contrary to all precedent to carry weapons when engaged on such an undertaking. Thus reassured, and seeing that the doctor carried no weapon, Umjaba sallied forth to his doom, preceded by his treacherous adviser. On arriving at the gate of the kraal the doctor entered first, and observing the young men of Nokahlela’s kraal lying on each side of the entrance, ready to seize upon their victim, he whispered to them that Umjaba was following him unarmed, and hurried on to a hut at the further side of the inclosure, which he quickly entered, and wherein he took care to remain until after the tragedy so soon to be enacted outside should be finished.

Umjaba had no sooner entered than he was seized and secured by Nokahlela and his sons (six in all) who took him outside the gate, and at once inflicted on him the usual punishment awarded to abatagati, driving the pointed sticks right up into his bowels. He was then carried back and placed on the ground near his own kraal, where he was found the next morning by his family. As I have said, information was given to the authorities, and according to instruction I made my first visit to the spot early next day, where we found Umjaba apparently quite sensible, but who obstinately refused to give any information that would throw any light upon the matter. On my second visit, as I have already mentioned, I 50found the hapless Umjaba a corpse. On making a post-mortem examination I discovered and removed three pointed sticks, each at least a foot in length, which had been driven through the lower part of his body, right into the bowels, out of view, and the agony of which, although it must have been almost insufferable, he had possessed the stoicism to conceal. Suspicion, however, fell upon the family of Nokahlela, and they were all arrested, together with the doctor, Kongota; when the servant of the doctor, who had himself taken no part in the affair, gave information against the others, which resulted in the conviction of Nokahlela, his five sons, and last, but not least, doctor Kongota himself, and they were all sentenced to death. The doctor, Nokahlela and his eldest son were hanged, and the others were imprisoned for a long term of years, the sentences of death passed upon them being commuted by the governor.

There was for a long time great difficulty in getting evidence in this case. This was caused by the doctor having administered a dose of the already-mentioned spinach seed to every one in Nokahlela’s kraal who knew anything about the matter, telling them after they had swallowed the medicine that if ever they opened their mouths to say anything to any of the authorities concerning what they knew, they would surely that moment die. This kept them all quiet for a long while, until the doctor’s servant, who perhaps from his familiarity with the doctor had less faith in the potency of his medicines, told the Induna[11] of the magistrate’s court that he would tell if he were not afraid of dying. N-capai, the “induna,” assured him that he had nothing to fear from the doctor’s medicine, though he had everything to fear from the law if he concealed from the authorities anything with which he ought to acquaint them. He then made a clean breast of everything, and thus revealed the whole plot.

Umjaba, though he lived more than thirty hours after receiving these dreadful injuries, maintained silence to the last upon the whole matter. I suppose he considered that he had been rightly served for what he had attempted to do, and that there was no use in saying anything about the affair; but it always seemed to me a pity that Nokahlela and his eldest son 51suffered the extreme penalty of the law, as they were simply dupes in the hands of the doctor, and acted according to Kafir custom. The doctor justly met his fate.

This story in “real life” illustrates the power which witchcraft still exercises among the natives, and the vast field that yet lies open for the teaching of the missionary and the civilizing power of the white man.

During the six years I was in the Natal government service I had many other opportunities afforded me of observing the effects of native customs; but I will not tire my readers with more of these stories, as they serve but to further illustrate the effects of superstition ingrafted on ignorance.

Bishop Calloway, the greatest authority now living on the Zulu language, twenty years ago interested himself in collecting the “folk-lore” current among the Zulus, and endeavored to save from oblivion the popular traditions, religious legends and superstitions of that people, and “not to leave our children,” as he says, “to mourn, as our ancestors have left us, that the people have died away and the language become confined to a few mountain fastnesses or a few old men and women before we have gathered up what might be known of their past.” His collection of nursery tales (Izniganekwane) and the tradition of creation (Ukulunkulu) are exceedingly interesting to any student of “folk-lore” literature, the precision and exactness of the language showing that the Zulu is the highly elaborated language of a people at once superstitious, grave and clever, pastoral and agricultural; and also that the language is one in which thoughts and ideas on any subject can be clearly expressed.



After five years’ work without any intermission, I made arrangements early in 1870 to take a trip up country as far as the Drakensberg, a range of mountains which divides Natal from the Free State and Basutoland. I proposed to visit Captain Allison “at home” in his border residency, to see the celebrated falls, where I had been told the Tugela, rushing over awe-inspiring and romantic precipices, leaps 1,500 feet at a bound, then to visit the Mont aux sources, where from one single spot the Tugela issues forth on its course to Natal, the Elands River to the Free State, the Caledon to Basutoland, and the Orange River through the Cape Colony to the Atlantic Ocean; and further to explore the cannibal caves of Usidinane, situated in the heart of Putini’s tribe and Langalibalela’s location.

My wife, myself, Captain Hill, of the Victoria mounted rifles, an amateur photographer and four natives formed our party. Getting the wagons, oxen and provisions all in readiness, we left Verulam on March 3d.



55The country between D’Urban and Maritzburg, the capital of the Natal colony, ascends gradually from the sea level to an elevation of over 2,000 feet, sometimes in gentle slopes, sometimes in abrupt and rugged steps. Our road lay through the village of Pinetown, a noted health resort, round the cuttings of that precipitous height called Bothas Hill, which afforded glimpses in the far distance of the fantastic mountains, with their volcanic cones and extinct craters, of the Inanda location, and the gloomy defiles through which the Umgeni River could be seen twisting and winding. Then passing the Inchanga cutting, with huge blocks of granite hundreds of tons in weight studding the foreground, and Camperdown, a hamlet consisting of two or three homesteads and a third-rate roadside inn, we at last reached Maritzburg, some fifty miles from the coast. Here we remained over Sunday, and of course went to the cathedral and heard Bishop Colenso preach. The sacred edifice was crowded, as we were told it always was when this revered prelate occupied the pulpit; and I may here say that his noble and commanding presence, an attraction in itself, added greatly to the fascination of his eloquence. The sermon that the bishop gave us on the morning on which I heard him dealt with the trials and sufferings of Christ. In vain I looked out for heretical doctrines, but seldom has it been my privilege to listen to a sermon so devout in spirit and withal so orthodox.

It was difficult indeed, seeing and hearing him, to realize the opposition with which he was then meeting, or to comprehend the presumption, I might say the gnarling, that characterized the majority of his revilers.

While walking round the city I noticed that everything looked clean and cheerful. The streams of water running in open sluits along the side of the foot-paths, the clusters of weeping willows, the rows of stately syringas, and the pretty villas nestling in clumps of the densest foliage, conveyed the impression of ease and comfort. I also visited the various public buildings, including the banks, schools, library and hospital. On my last evening in Maritzburg, spending a few hours at the Victoria club, I met Judge Phillips (subsequently promoted to a similar judicial office in Cyprus), who, when talking over the route which I intended to take, told me that after reaching 56the summit of the Drakensberg and visiting the falls of the Tugela, I ought to come down again into Natal through a pass named after a certain chief Umbundi, “where,” he said, “you will have, if my information be correct, to pick your way through a forest of magnificent cypress trees such as you have never before seen.” I thanked him at the time for his information, and often since have I been glad that I took the judge’s suggested route, where, as he told me I should and as will be seen later, I found one of the grandest and most novel sights in South Africa. Next day, we left Maritzburg and ascended the Town Hill. Here we noticed the terraced character of the country, for this road rising step by step, at least 1,500 feet, landed us fairly on the plateau which forms the midland districts of Natal, where the long, rolling, grassy sweeps are the principal features of the landscape.

The cracks of the long whip, the shouts of the driver, the regular times to outspan and inspan, to eat and sleep, are the only events to break the monotony of a wagon journey. The power of the trusty wagon whip, with its crack so “loud and sharp,” has so bewitchingly been sung by Mr. Charles Barter, one of Natal’s oldest colonists, that I need not offer any excuse for reproducing it here. Many a time, to the tune of the “Fine old English Gentleman,” have I listened to the lay.

Britannia’s three great colonies, though children of one mother,
Yet each in habits as in soil, must differ from the other,
And each some symbol vaunts to show—the rapture of her soil,
A humble household symbol of her settlers’ honest toil.
So we along the Southern Coast, let none who hear deride,
Will sing our trusty wagon whip, with its lash of sea-cow hide,
Will sing our trusty wagon whip, with its lash of sea-cow hide.
Through many a dreary wilderness, o’er many a barren moor,
From Western Cape to fair Natal first trekked the stalwart Boer,
His was the white-capt wagon, his was the steady team,
And he cut the lash from the reeking hide of the sea-cow by the stream.
And the savage quaked when first he heard up steep Quathlamba’s side,
The crack of our dreaded wagon whip, with its lash of sea-cow hide,
The crack of our dreaded wagon whip, with its lash of sea-cow hide.
The Australian boasts his stock-whip stout, with which in mad career
He urges o’er the boundless plain the wild unbroken steer,
Or drives his herds to pastures new in swift and headlong flight,
Down many a stony torrent bed, o’er many a rocky height.
57But though loud and sharp its cracks resound adown the mountain’s side,
Yet it cannot match our wagon whip, with its lash of sea-cow hide,
Yet it cannot match our wagon whip, with its lash of sea-cow hide.
By Canada’s backwoodsman aye the narrow axe is borne,
Fit emblem of his wooded home—no theme for jest or scorn,
Right well her darksome forests know the sway of its fateful stroke,
As in answering crash comes thundering down tall pine or stately oak.
We may not scorn the narrow axe, the bold backwoodsman’s pride,
But we’ll shout ha! ha! for our wagon whip, with its lash of sea-cow hide,
But we’ll shout ha! ha! for our wagon whip, with its lash of sea-cow hide.
Then here’s to the tree our gardens yield, the tapering light bamboo,
And here’s to the hand that can wield it well, gin his heart be leal and true,
And here’s to the slow and steady team that all the livelong day,
Through rough and smooth, with even pace, still plod their onward way,
And here’s to the Vorslacht’s clap, which wakes the echoes far and wide.
Then hurrah! hurrah! for our wagon whip, with its lash of sea-cow hide,
Then hurrah! hurrah! for our wagon whip, with its lash of sea-cowhide.

But the rest from work did us all good. About thirteen miles from Maritzburg we made a halt in order to see the beautiful falls of the Umgeni, which are close to the drift where we crossed. The river here has worn its way through piles of columnar basalt to the edge of an awful precipice, where in one terrific leap of 372 feet it has for countless ages fallen into the broad, deep pool below, the encircling rocks around being clothed with trees, exotic ferns and flowers both beautiful and rare. Many a tale was told us of “moving accidents by flood and field,” of the sudden, tumultuous rush of waters when a flood came down, of belated wayfarers and of rash unfortunates washed over into the abyss. Leaving the pretty village adjacent to the falls, with its church and wayside inn, reminding one of old England, we went on, still ascending, another 1,600 feet to the Karkloof. I must not forget to mention that a few miles before we came to this range we passed Lidgetton, where the early settlers under the Burns’ scheme were first located. Here our attention was drawn to the gentle puffs of smoke lazily curling up from the steam mills working away in the forest, where, almost unseen by mortal eye, they were turning out the timber from which the colony obtains most of its best wagon material.

Trekking slowly, we crossed the Bushman River, the natives, 58seeing our wagons from a distance, bringing chickens, marrows, pumpkins, and milk for sale, until we came to the village of Estcourt, prettily situated on its banks, where I enjoyed a nice plunge in the river, which here purls over a pebbly bottom in a clear and crystal stream. Curiously enough, the Mooi River, a few miles nearer the Drakensberg, is shunned by any species of fish for miles, while in this river they abound. Here we were awakened one night, having outspanned late, by the noise as of dogs licking out the pots under our wagon, but as we had no dogs with us, we could not make it out, until our natives next morning, from foot-prints they saw, told us that hyenas had been prowling all round us, which was in this part of Natal a matter of unusual occurrence.

Pushing on, our next stage was Colenso, where the Tugela, beginning to assume grand proportions, courses swiftly to the sea; here, leaving the main road, we turned to the left, and trekking thirty miles further along a by-road but little used, came at last to the picturesque cottage where Captain Allison was living, seven miles from the spot where the Tugela falls over the perpendicular face of the berg. After cordial greetings we rested for the night, being most kindly entertained by Mrs. Allison and her daughters. The place seemed an “oasis in the desert,” for here, far away from the civilized world, we suddenly found ourselves in the midst of a circle as highly cultured as they were truly hospitable. While fully acquainted, out of the world as their residence might seem, with the latest sensations in literature, and doings of the fashionable world in European capitals, our delightful host and hostess had not neglected the study of the zoology of the colony, as their small but carefully selected menagerie of cranes, mahens, quaggas, baboons, etc., was sufficient to prove. Next day, with native police and horses which our host had kindly provided, off we started before the sun was hot to visit the Cannibal caves of Usidinane. I recollect, even now, what a merry party we were that morning, and how we made the mountains ring with our joyous shouts and mirth. Our guides, infected with our exuberant spirits, chanted a war-song as they marched jauntily along in single file leading the way, while we, riding behind, followed them by a Kafir path which led over broken ridges up the steep, water-worn side of a rugged mountain. 59After climbing some frightful ledges on its face, we suddenly found ourselves in front of the entrance to the Cannibal caves of the once so-much-talked-of Usidinane. This man, now a petty chief, though formerly not possessing any tribal rights, used some sixty years ago to live in these caves with his father and other natives, who, as well as himself, were driven by starvation to become cannibals when the country was overrun by the impis and invading legions of the Zulu king, Chaka, and the war-cries of that despot’s braves reverberated through the mountains. Usidinane is still living, at an advanced age, in charge of a few descendants of these cannibals, who, when Natal became tranquilized, came forth from the shelter they had sought, and occupied ground in the immediate vicinity, and are now called by the tribal name of Amazizi. Off-saddling on our arrival at the caves, before we commenced our exploration, we greedily set to work and ate up all the provisions we had brought, the keen mountain air having made us ravenously hungry.

My wife, though an excellent horsewoman, was greatly fatigued, so we determined, the day being far spent before our examination of the caverns was finished, to remain all night in them and return next morning. With the caves themselves I was rather disappointed, as they were merely like huge lime quarries scooped out in the rocks, yet evidence was not wanting of their having been tenanted by human beings, the charred ceilings and the vestiges of fire and bone-ash being distinctly to be seen in their gloomy recesses. It is to my mind an interesting fact that human flesh is never anywhere chosen by man from a sense of preference—either necessity, not depravity, compels—or revenge, not appetite, prompts its use. Some savages consume human flesh as a sacred rite, a part of their religion in honor of the dead, some as a sentiment of affection, and others again with the idea that principles such as courage and honor are conveyed from the dead to the living.[12]

Colonel Bowker, whose name is so honorably associated with Basutoland, in an article communicated to the Cape 60Monthly, in 1869, describing a visit to the Putiasana Caves, in that country, says: “There was but little disguising it [cannibalism], and the people when questioned spoke freely of it, as first a necessity and then a choice,” but this I think was simply native braggadocio. Charles Waterton, in his “Natural History Essays,” bears out my opinion. In his essay on “Cannibalism,” he says: “Before I can bring my mind to believe in the existence of cannibalism such as I have defined it at the commencement of these fugitive notes (the feeding of man upon man incited solely by the calls of hunger) I must be convinced that there really does exist a human being, no matter in what part of the world, who will slay his fellow man without any provocation having been offered or any excitement produced, but that he is known to deprive him of his life merely for a supply of daily food, just exactly with the same feelings and with no other than we should shoot a hare or a pheasant to entertain a dinner party.”[13] I have quoted this eminent author verbatim, and though there appears to be an omission of some such word as “not only,” his meaning is sufficiently evident.

When the sun went down the night became bitterly cold, so lighting a large wood fire, we sat round its crackling flames, which threw a lurid glare on as motley a group as that cave had ever held within its walls. White and black, male and female, horses and dogs. There we might have been seen, clustered all night round the embers of the dying fire, dozing and “dreaming” anything but “the happy hours away.” At early dawn, all shivering and shaking, hungry and tired, we began our return to Captain Allison’s, where our native servants, not knowing what had become of us, were overjoyed on our arrival.



63From the place where we were outspanned we could see standing out in bold relief some few miles away the magnificent panorama of the Drakensberg range, the white silver streak of the Tugela dashing down the mighty cliffs and dark, buttressed precipices in front, breaking into “snow-white foam, leaping from rock to rock like the mountain chamois,” and in the far distance, filling up the background of the picture, the towering crests 10,000 feet high, of Champagne Castle and Giant’s Castle, the highest summits of the range.

Resting a day and enjoying the inspection of Captain Allison’s stock, admiring his horses, trying their speed and jumping powers in hurdle-racing over the veldt, and indulging in a little long-range rifle practice, I made all arrangements to leave my wife at the foot of the mountain, ascend and see the falls from the plateau, which, although extending far backward into the Free State, is terminated so abruptly in front by the precipitous cliffs of the ever-frowning Drakensberg. Captain Hill being taken suddenly unwell, I started with three of the guides who had previously accompanied me to the Cannibal caves and some of my own “boys.” Climbing over a spur of the Drakensberg at Olivier’s Hock, I struck a lovely valley on the south side of a branch of the Eland’s River; but as the water was low at the time I was able to follow its meanderings for several miles. Jumping from boulder to boulder over the water holes in its course, I ascended the rocky bed of what was then a simple, gentle stream flowing along with quiet delight and singing the same old song to which generations (for this country had once been thickly populated) long since dead and gone had listened.

Suddenly, my guides, pointing to a large sandstone cliff up high in the banks overlooking the river, suggested that we should rest. Scrambling up we came to a large cave, when, to my intense surprise and delight, a perfect picture gallery presented itself, the whole of the walls being covered with rude Bushman drawings of bucks, elephants and men in different positions, gloriously promiscuous but remarkably graphic. The wild, the untamed Bushman I have never seen. Small and repulsive, he lives entirely by hunting with the bow and poisoned arrow, and although a few still lurk in the inaccessible cliffs of the Drakensberg range, which I was gradually nearing, the majority have been driven away by advancing civilization to the borders of Damara land and Lake Ngami. On again, after a rest of a couple of hours a few miles brought us to the pass, where the final struggle had 64to be made. What I had hitherto gone through was child’s play compared to the task now in front. Large perpendicular rocks, which to clamber over seemed almost an impossibility, stood in the way, as if blocking our further advance, and the pass itself contracting in width toward its summit, shut out the light and cast a weird and gloomy shadow over the scene.

At last, dead tired out, we gained the top of the mighty Quathlamba, 10,000 feet above the sea. Walking on a few hundred yards through the scarlet and purple heather, which here carpeted the summit, level like those of most mountains in Africa, I came almost at once to the banks of the long looked for Tugela, flowing quietly past to the tremendous brink, over which it was so soon to madly plunge and disappear. At a point in the semicircle of crags surrounding the falls I sat down with my “boys” all around me to admire the glories of a scene which they apparently enjoyed as much as I. Never anywhere, either before or since, have I beheld such a glorious sight, or one of such stupendous magnificence and savage grandeur. Neither cloud nor mist obscured our view, and there we sat perfectly entranced, never thinking of the flight of time, drinking in the beauty of the landscape, which lay stretched out, a glorious phantasmagoria, thousands of feet below.

Drinking a bottle of champagne, which at Captain Allison’s suggestion I had brought with me to the top, I, with the natives’ assistance, set to work and built a cairn, as a memento of the occasion, in the centre of which I placed the empty bottle with a minute of my visit inside; long ere this, however, I expect some wandering Bushman or Mosuto in his curiosity has leveled our handiwork to the ground, and felt the pangs of bitter disappointment on uncorking the bottle! The next thing was to prepare for the night. If it were cold in the caves below, what was it here? When the sun went down I had to crouch over a fire which some of the “boys” had contrived to light, though fuel was not easily found, while the others were busy making me a bed out of some dry heather which they had been gathering.

Turning in among this and the long grass they had cut, “tired nature’s sweet restorer, balmy sleep,” soon covered me 65over “like a cloak,” and in a few seconds I was indifferent to everything here below.

Early astir, we were welcomed by a most glorious sunrise, “the powerful king of day rejoicing in the east,” pouring forth a flood of beams tinted with such grandly gorgeous hues that with difficulty could I tear myself away after casting “one longing, lingering look” behind at a vista of such beauty as it may perhaps never again be my lot to behold. But before bidding this scene adieu, most likely for ever, the natives, by my order, pushed to the edge of the precipice a large boulder which they rolled over the face of the cliff, whilst I, with a stop watch, lying over the precipice with one of my men to hold me, lest I should become dizzy, marked the time the faint sound of its striking the rocks below came back to my ear. This I tried several times with the same result—twelve seconds—thus proving that the Tugela here falls in one unbroken sheet 1,600 feet.[14] After a cup of coffee, following out one of my original intentions, I spent some time in searching for the fossil remains of the large dinosaur, a gigantic reptile, which had been obtained in these mountains, but without success. At last we set off to find Umbundi’s pass, leading to the Ulandi valley, named so by the Kafirs after one of the peaks of the berg, by which route I hoped we should return to the wagons. Following for two or three miles the edge of the Drakensberg, Captain Allison’s police found out the pass for which we were looking. We hastened on and coming to its entrance, immediately commenced our descent. It was a narrow gorge, a perfect chink in the mountain, and the pathway leading down by a gradual slope, we could see was nothing more than the acute angle formed by the meeting together of the opposite sides of the ravine. We left the top about 10 A. M., and progressed very satisfactorily for two hours, the scenery becoming at every step more fascinating, sublime and majestic.

We appeared to be gradually leaving the world behind and sinking down to unfathomable depths, while the cliffs above, majestically towering on each side, one after another 66disappeared from our view as we pursued our devious course.

“Echo to echo, groan for groan,
From deep to deep replies.”

At last we came to a sudden stop, an incident which will remain engraved on my memory as long as I live.

We were brought to a stand-still by a steep, smoothly-worn chasm in the rock, having a large and apparently deep pool of water, as clear as crystal and as transparent and sparkling as glass at its base. How to get past this obstacle was the question! None of my guides would venture to drop over into the pool, and as the sides were equally precipitous, we resolved, after mature deliberation, to turn back, and ascending again, creep along a narrow ridge running longitudinally with the pass but some 300 feet higher up the mountain sides. Thus avoiding the pool, we hoped once more to descend and regain the more beaten track which we had been obliged to leave. This we did in safety after experiencing immense difficulty and danger. The mountain ledge to which we had climbed, and along which we had contrived to limp our way, not being more than a yard wide, and being studded with large, slippery stones and bordered by precipitous cliffs both above and below, sloping at an angle of 45°. As we descended from this giddy height, we at once found ourselves in the forest of cypress trees (Cupressus Wellingtona, so-called after a botanist of that name) which I have before mentioned. These trees,[15] clothed in their sombre funereal foliage, seemed altogether out of place, all the rest of nature seeming bright and gay, while they appeared doleful and sad. Making our way for some distance through what I may call this hypochondriacal freak of nature, we saw at last signs of returning life and animation, the sheep and goats browsing on the hillsides and the lowing cattle and neighing horses grazing on the “veldt” below. I breathed freely once more when we emerged from Umbundi’s gloomy pass into the valley of rare beauty and attraction leading to Captain Allison’s, and wound our way through the kraals of the Amangwani tribe, who people that locality, and I can assure my readers that I felt relieved when, after a long day of danger and excitement, I found myself safe at his hospitable house once more.



69To my intense disappointment, I found that through some mistake all my party had left six hours before my return, leaving me to follow alone; so bidding Captain Allison and his family farewell, I rode after the wagons, but it was not until two next morning I caught them up outspanned nine miles beyond Colenso.

Nothing of particular moment occurred during our return to Verulam, where I shortly resumed practice, much invigorated by the change.



Having heard of the safe arrival at the Vaal River, of my diamond venture which I mentioned in my second chapter, and being sanguine of its success, I determined to accept an offer to take charge, as government medical superintendent, of a detachment of time-expired coolies returning to India. It had always been a cherished wish of mine to see that historical land, and this presented a most favorable opportunity for me to gratify that desire.

After getting leave of absence from the Natal government, and securing the services of a locum tenens for my private practice, I started Feb. 10th, 1871, on a journey which proved so full of incident that I am irresistibly tempted to quote from letters which I wrote to my wife at the time describing the journey.

It is true that neither the sacred land of the Ganges nor “Araby the blest” is situated in Natal or the Cape Colony, and therefore the description of my adventures in these countries is not strictly appropriate to a journal of “Twenty Years in South Africa,” but as my experiences were at the time the comment of the Indian and Natalian press, I venture to reproduce them at the risk of any charges of wandering from my subject 71or of egotism, though I admit they might fairly enough be brought against me.

Bidding farewell to all at Verulam I spent the night in D’Urban, as the shipment of the coolies was not to take place until early next morning.

These immigrants, now homeward bound, had been the first shipped to the colony, arriving there by the Truro, Nov. 17th, 1860, ten years before, and were now returning in the Red Riding Hood, formerly one of the smartest tea clippers in the China trade. They were all got safely aboard by noon, though the skipper did not heave anchor until evening.

With a favorable wind we left the shores of Natal. What we suffered and endured, the characteristics of our passengers, our disappointing quarantine at Mauritius, our arrival at Madras, the continuation of the voyage to Calcutta and my own subsequent experience in Arabia, en route to Marseilles, the story of which is contained in the following letters, will, I trust, induce my readers to pardon the digression.

On Board the ‘Red Riding Hood, Feb. 22d, 1871.

My Dear ——: ‘A life on the ocean wave, a home on the rolling deep,’ sounds very exciting and spirit stirring when sung on shore, but all the excitement and enthusiasm vanish when one gets to sea on board a ship with some 400 coolies, men, women and children, as companions. Yet it was a sight worth seeing to behold the shipment at the outer anchorage when we left of the lame, the blind, the paralytic, the epileptic, the lepers without toes and the lepers without fingers.

“When the captain came off, he had got an absurd idea into his head that as he had been obliged by the surveyors to separate part of the hold for the women, that perforce the women must go there and leave their husbands. This I strenuously opposed, and was supported by Davis and Mason.[16] Now as there are not any single women on board, such conduct on his part was preposterous. We telegraphed from the ship to Pietermaritzberg, and got back an answer: ‘Make an amicable arrangement’. The captain being simply obstinate, I became obstinate, too, when, after haggling about the matter for four hours, he gave in and I had my wish, and we got under way about six o’clock, losing an anchor in the attempt; there was a rolling sea on, but very fine weather otherwise, or I do not know what we should have done. The scene on deck it is impossible to describe! Women lay about like logs in helpless, speechless agony, children crying and yelling, and the men, of course, doing the best they could for themselves.

72“I felt like Job, ‘leave me alone, for all is vanity.’ However, I recollected that old Job said this only when he was in the dumps, so I felt almost inclined to laugh at my own self-inflicted misery in taking the appointment.

“The whole of that week continued fine, and by degrees we got affairs into working order. The ‘tween decks,’ where the coolies are berthed, has port holes all along, and wind-sails are carried for ventilation, so that the air can be kept pretty fresh. On deck there is a large open kitchen built of brick, about twelve feet long and seven wide, where their food is cooked. I have two interpreters, two ‘sirdars,’ four cooks and six ‘topasses,’ or scavengers, under me. The coolies ‘fare sumptuously every day;’ they make most delicious curries of their allowance, which is rice, fish, tamarinds, turmeric, dholl, ghee, oil, mustard and pepper, as well as a sheep every Sunday. I can tell you they do not get such feeding in Natal. A meal such as I have described they get twice a day—at 9 A. M. and 3 P. M. At these times we get them all on deck, and they present a funny sight, the different family groups around their plates, helping themselves with their fingers out of the same pannikin. Here and there a wife, more attentive than the rest, feeds her husband, rolling the rice into balls and popping them into his mouth. Of course, among such a motley crew, we have some curious characters; one, styling himself ‘a Roman Catholic priest to his own countrymens’ is a curiosity—blind of one eye, a face with a sanctimonious leer, expressing, ‘What a fool you are to believe me,’ grizzly locks and a jagged beard, presenting a grotesquely solemn appearance. He sits day after day telling his beads and singing hymns. He has got a written paper with him to the following effect: ‘Gentlemens and Ladys, I beg to inform that I am a very poor old man; I have lost my sight and i can only see with my one eye and i have got small childrens to feed, so i hope gentlemens and kind ladys will help me and my childrens, it will be great favour to you, and God will bless you all and your families. I am your poor old man Antony, a Roman Catholic priest for my own countrymens.’

“I give him an approving nod when I see him, a little grog to keep his throat moist, and in return get the advantage of his petitions to the Throne of Grace, morning, noon and night.

“The familiarity of these semi-Christians with Holy Writ is something ludicrous. ‘How are you getting on this morning, Interpreter?’ I said to-day. ‘Very well, thank you; by the favor of the Lord Christ first, and secondly by favor of your honor.’ You see the relative position I hold here. Another, an old woman, who boasts of ‘Coffee Lister’ as her former master, continually holds up to me a rotten old blanket and says: ‘Present from the Natal government; good government, very!’ but adds, if I will give her a blanket, she ‘will pray the good Lord for me, my wifes [sic] and my families.’ We have also tailors, barbers, washermen and jewelers with us, who all do a roaring trade.



75“But to proceed with my description of the ship and its ‘cargo.’ It is hard work to make them keep clean; they seem to abhor cold water. There is, however, on board a strong force pump, which enables me to do my duty. Every other morning I have the men brought forward and stripped, then I have the sea water pumped on them ad libitum.

“As a body they have a large amount of money with them. The Calcutta coolies, especially some of them, have as much as £50, £70 and £100 each, one man has £300, showing very forcibly the result of industry and sobriety, or rather ‘taking care of the pence, and leaving the pounds to take care of themselves’! Domestic squabbles are of frequent occurrence. One little wretch of a woman leads a stalwart six-footer an awful life—all day long she is nagging at him, but at night she excels, for she yells, and shouts, and chatters, and cries, enough to deafen one. Last night she pealed out a regular triple bob-major from her belfry, but so discordantly that for the first time I had a patient in hospital! I relieved him for once of his better half, locking her up for the night by herself in the dark, to brew mischief for the morrow, and pull her own hair instead of that of her husband. She came out this morning, however, considerably subdued.

“Feb. 27th.—Since writing the above we have made scarcely any progress, and are just now drifting in an entirely opposite direction to the one we wish to take, and are some 600 miles distant from Mauritius.

“March 4th, 9 A. M.—Just arrived off Port Louis, have anchored, and the health officer has been alongside, and who should he be but an old fellow-student of mine. We were told that Paris capitulated on Jan. 26th, 1871, but nothing further, as we are quarantined because we have coolies on board. We have, however, from the Bell buoy a good view of the harbor and town of Port Louis, as well as of the Pieter Botte mountain, which, I believe, has been ascended two or three times. It has a curious summit, which it is almost an impossibility to ascend, though this has been accomplished by flying a kite over, and so getting ropes across. Things seem very different here from Natal, and on an older and more established footing. After waiting until 3 o’clock, no permit has come for us to go on shore, but water has come alongside, at least the authorities left it about 200 yards from us and we had to fetch it, all the crew leaving the water boat. Why such absurd regulations should exist, when our ship is perfectly healthy and from a healthy port, I cannot possibly understand. We might surely have all the plagues of Egypt on board, combined with a mixture of cholera, yellow fever and small-pox, to account for the way we are treated. They even float a letter to us, in a boat with a tow line; like Mr. Meagles in ‘Little Dorrit,’ it is enough to make one ‘Allong and Marshong,’ and fume and swear; but so it is.

“The master of the quarantine boat will come presently to get paid for the water, and he takes away any letters, and this among others....

At Sea, March 16th, 1871.

My Dear ——: In my letter to you from Mauritius, which I suppose you will have long ago received, you saw that I was much disappointed 76by not getting on shore through the quarantine regulations, which are very strictly carried out. Round about Mauritius there are several islands, viz., Flat Island, where a quarantine station is, Round Island, where a light-house stands 365 feet above the level of the sea, behind these Sugar Loaf Island, which rises with precipitous cliffs, and is merely a bare rock, also the Islôt Gabriel. In sailing without steam, vessels come to Port Louis at the windward side (east) of the island, and sail in a kind of channel between these islands and the mainland, as I will call it. We sighted the south corner of Mauritius about 4 P. M., but kept off until daybreak next morning (Saturday) when we made for our anchorage at the Bell buoy about three-quarters of a mile from the shore. The coasting round the island which we made was very pleasant. It was a beautiful sunshiny morning, with a gentle eight knots an hour breeze. We passed the Gunner’s Quoin, near which the English landed when they took the island from the French, Nov. 29th, 1810, and very close to it we went, within a stone’s throw. It is a large bluff which juts out with perpendicular cliffs all around. The water is deep enough, but it would be a frightful place to run against in the night. After rounding this headland we stood closer in, and got pretty views of the island, and the district of Pamplemouse, the background being closed in by the lofty mountains, of which the Pieter Botte forms one of the principal features, towering 2,676 feet above the sea like a Titanic obelisk. We could see the green fields where ‘de sugar cane grows,’ the mills with their smoky chimneys, the houses of the planters, with their steep thatched roofs, beautiful verandahs and grassy lawns, well cut and kept, running down in some places to the beach. As I gazed I pictured to myself the poor groaning coolies, doomed to sweat in the mills and to toil painfully in the fields; yet this even was a far easier task than to conceive how the ‘Reaper, whose name is Death,’ who during the last few years has been stalking through this island,[17] could ever have used his sickle so keenly in such a pleasant place. We were soon at Port Louis, passing by a barque from Newcastle, N. S. W., and anchored just opposite a fort bristling with guns, over which the Union Jack, ‘The flag that’s braved a thousand years, the battle and the breeze,’ was proudly flying.

“‘From Hull, Hell and Halifax, “Good Lord deliver us,”’ the thieves in the good old days used to devoutly pray. If they could have had my experience their litany would have been ‘From all sailing ships, coolie ships and Scotch ships, “Spare us good Lord.”’ The captain of this ship is a Scotchman, his mate is Scotch too. The former seems impressed with the idea that every one he comes in contact with has a design upon him, and he is also morbidly impressed with the pleasing delusion that all government officers are his servants, paid to wait on him. I can here see and learn to my cost how to save money. The flour we are using is quite sour, but still the cask must be finished before another is opened; the potatoes are old and unfit to eat; the salt beef is salt indeed, and the tongues are 77positively rotten—so that to eat them is an impossibility—but when drowned in vinegar and encased in mustard it is wonderful what an active imagination might not fancy them to be. The butter is rancid; the tin soups splendid emetics; the biscuit so hard that my poor teeth refuse to do duty; the water so putrid that I find it advisable to hold my nose and gulp it down. This style of living has considerably reduced me, but I don’t grumble, as I see it would be useless, I rather chuckle internally. The mate is a young, pig-headed, uncouth block of humanity, that wants licking into shape with a cat-o’-nine tails, his principal delight consists in calling those under him very pet names indeed. The second mate is a decent fellow, young, a colonial, born in Tobago.

“We found we should have to remain three days before permission would be given us to go on shore, so we got some water off under quarantine regulations, having an officer in a boat sailing round and round us continually at a distance of 200 yards, to see that no one had any communication with us. With a glass we could see into portions of Port Louis. This town lies at the foot of an amphitheatre of hills, and seems quietly nestled under their protecting wings. On the one side of the town lies the fort, with earthworks for defence, on the other is the quarter inhabited by the black population, thousands of whose little shanties we could see, built on the slope of the hill, and surrounded with trees. Further on we had pointed out to us the railway company’s works and the railway, with a fine viaduct crossing a deep ravine. The Pieter Botte mountain, though not the highest in the island, is very conspicuous. We weighed anchor at 10:30 P. M., and got at last fair away for India. One event has occurred to break the monotony of our journey, viz., the death of an old coolie woman. Her body was committed to the deep without any religious ceremony the morning after her decease, so that now, instead of

“‘Shaking on her restless pillow,
Her head heaves with the heaving billow;

and will continue to do so, I think, until the sea is called upon to deliver up its dead, as we buried her in about 1,600 to 2,000 fathoms of water, the bottom of which I do not suppose she will ever reach. She has one son on board, who takes the matter very calmly, Mahomed in the Koran giving good hopes of the future bliss of the faithful, of which she, I am sure, was one, praying devoutly every morning with her face turned to Mecca. In fact, these people would put to shame thousands of Europeans in the way they observe their religious rites. Going along the deck at sunrise, I can see some with their faces turned to Mecca, others worshipping the sun, looking intently at it, and returning thanks that they are permitted to see his glorious light once more, others calling on the beneficent deity, Vishnu, whereas I am afraid those who ought to know better omit to do anything of the sort.

“March 27th.—Since writing last we have had three more deaths—a man, a woman and a child. Before they were committed to the deep they were neatly sewn up in long canvas bags. The man, when he was put overboard, seemed unwilling to leave us. He got caught on a chain level 78with the waves, and at the speed we were going, with his back bent tightly across it, he stuck for a long time, it seeming impossible to shake him off! The poor woman was a Christian, and my Roman Catholic friend came to the front in full force. It was quite refreshing to see the energy he exhibited and the gusto with which he repeated his prayers and told his beads. He evidently seemed to appreciate the opportunity which providence had afforded him of showing his peculiar powers. I do not know whether you have seen any one buried at sea, but on me the peculiar, solemn plash which the body gives when it touches the water, has even a more impressive effect than when the earth thrown on a coffin-lid rattles a doleful accompaniment to the refrain, ‘ashes to ashes and dust to dust.’

“31st.—Weather is still continuing very calm. The coolies yesterday determined to make a grand offering to the Deity. All shades of religious opinions merged their differences, Mussulmen, Brahmins, Christians, all contributing something to propitiate the Almighty Power which ‘unseen they feel.’ You may laugh, but I also contributed, when after a prayer to Allah and his prophet Mahomed, we all shouted a grand ‘Hurrah!’—an unanimous shout it was. After this the money offering was tied up in a bag and fastened to the top of the mainmast, in ‘sure and certain hope’ of a fair wind resulting. Strange to say, such has followed, and this morning we are bowling along at ten knots an hour.

“April 8th.—Yesterday we sighted Ceylon, and during the day sailed slowly past it at a good distance from its shores, which with a glass I could see to be magnificently wooded. The first conquerors of Ceylon were Portuguese, the Dutch took it from them, and the English in turn drove out the latter, and have held it ever since, which, mutatis mutandis, is about the history of all our colonies.

“The highest mountain in Ceylon is called Adam’s Peak, about 7,000 feet above the sea, which we could see dimly in the far background. Nearer us, we saw ‘Westminster Abbey,’ some 2,000 feet high, and much closer to the coast. We are now within 300 miles of Madras.

“April 11th.—Madras is a splendid place to look at from shipboard. I go ashore this morning. Surf-boats came early alongside, curious looking things, about forty feet long, very light, not drawing more than two feet of water, and manned by thirteen to sixteen coolies, with long oars. We saw also some catamarans, these being made of three logs of wood just tied together, and it is perfectly astonishing to see how they go along over the surf, paddled by two Hindoos. Well, the captain and myself went ashore, to dance attendance at the halls of the great. How it would open some of the Natal people’s eyes if they could only see how things are done here! to see the Hindoo clerks in the merchants’ houses, in the custom-house, everywhere; fine tall men, some young, some old and venerable, all arrayed in spotless white, with matchless turbans.



81“The luxury, the silent evidence of wealth and prosperity which one sees everywhere, is very great in contrast with poor little Natal. The office of the agent of the ship is as grand a building as the D’Urban court-house, and far more luxuriously fitted up, punkahs playing all day, and diffusing a cooling breeze. Nobody thinks of walking; in cabs and carriages by hundreds the black and white are all riding. It is rather curious to see the old chimney pot again; it seems the correct thing here for ‘dress,’ that is the band and the park after the sea breeze sets in, say at 5 P. M. I went this afternoon to the people’s park to see the menagerie. They possess some splendid lions, tigers, jackals, monkeys, etc., but I could not stop to hear the band, as my time was limited.

“The collector of customs and the port doctor are coming off to-morrow morning at 7 o’clock to pass the coolies. I expect the captain will want me to go with him to Calcutta.

Off Saugor Light-house, River Hooghly, April 21st, 1871.

My Dear ——: I hope you have received a note informing you of my coming on here from Madras. I will now endeavor to follow my own footsteps over again on paper. On the Tuesday morning I landed at Madras. It is a large city, built right on the sea-beach, facing the rolling surf; it seems a mystery that anybody should ever have thought of founding a city on such a site, but in the days when the old East India Company was merely a mercantile, cotton buying and speculating firm, before it thought, by mixing itself in native broils, to increase its power, this was done, as much, no doubt as anything for the purpose of opposing some of the aggressions which the French at Pondicherry, some sixty miles to the south, were then making, for the French taught us the plan of ‘protecting’ the natives. It was entirely in this Presidency that Lord Clive, from being a mere clerk, achieved his early renown, and managed before he was twenty-seven to retire on £40,000 a year.

“Well, the town and suburbs extend some four or five miles along the beach. Talk about hardening the D’Urban streets, but to harden these must have cost a mint of money. They are all around for miles as level as a billiard table, or if you would prefer the simile, as flat as a grave-stone—the game, you know, gets finished at both places! The merchants’ offices, post-office, telegraph office, Supreme Court, are all near the pier, and to the rear and southward of these is the native town. These public buildings are all fine ones, though the dust and glare give the outside of them a parched appearance; inside, however, they are got up ‘regardless of expense.’ Comfort must be thought of in this climate. Further still to the south, say a mile, is Fort St. George. This is the first fort I have been in, and it seemed to my inexperienced eye to be impregnable, bastion on bastion, fosse on fosse. The fort is lit with gas, and inside, which comprises, I should imagine, some thousands of acres, there are the government buildings, mint, soldiers’ quarters and arsenal. Here during the mutiny came all the white people and the Eurasians, as they call half-castes. There is also an American Ice Co., with a magnificent ice-house some 200 feet high.

“Then I went to a native bazaar, where you may buy anything from a work on medicine down to a pair of slippers. I was much struck with the familiarity of these natives with English, nearly every man talks it, and 82the hundreds of carriage drivers all speak it well. I afterward visited the Mount Road, where all the aristocratic shops are, and where the elite do dwell, saw the governor’s house, then the general hospital, a fine building, which I went round with Dr. Chipperfield, a very nice man, who pointed me out many interesting cases. On Sunday morning, at half-past five, I was on the pier to catch the ship’s boat, got on board, and we set sail at once. While I was waiting Lord Napier, the Governor, came down with his staff; he looked quite pale and worn.

“It was most interesting to watch the Mausurah boatmen on their catamarans, shooting through the surf, and difficult to realize that before the building of the pier at Madras everybody and everything had to be landed through this surf; now this pier, which is of light iron girder work, projects beyond, and passengers and cargo can be landed on it, which is a great convenience. Guessing roughly, it is 600 to 700 yards long, and during a terrible typhoon which raged here some two years ago a French vessel ran right through the middle of it.

“Our captain, going up the Bay of Bengal, got very drunk. He managed to crawl out of his berth yesterday the first time since leaving Madras. As the fellow is detested, it afforded amusement (as his suffering was self-inflicted) to hear him sighing, hiccoughing and groaning with remorse of mind and stomach, unable to eat, afraid to drink and just strong enough to call in whispers ‘Steward.’ I advised a little brandy, ‘a hair of the dog that bit him,’ but recollecting his greed, on second consideration, I thought it would be a double lesson and that I could inflict a little more mental torture by ordering champagne, stimulating his stomach and teaching his pocket a lesson at the same time. We have fine weather this morning, but contrary winds, and are tacking about, whilst tugs are provokingly steaming past us, and puffing at us as if in derision.

“Saturday, April 22d.—When I wrote the foregoing yesterday, I did not anticipate such a night as we have just passed. Anchored in these roads (Saugor) for the night; at about 8 P. M. a regular north easter came on. In my life, so far, I have never experienced anything like it; it was accompanied by thunder and lightning. The crashes of thunder made the ship groan again, and the lightning was like a continuous exhibition of lime-light, the flashes succeeding one another with such terrible quickness that I could, I think, have read with ease, excepting that perhaps the light might have been too luridly bright. Then the wind, I cannot describe—when I tell you that it whistled through the bare rigging so that I could not hear myself speak on the poop, may give you some faint idea of its power. The moaning and sighing was painfully weird and dismal, reminding me of my feelings long ago, when first reading ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin,’ where Legree is worked upon by the moaning in the keyhole up stairs; but to add to all this were the cries and entreaties of the coolies to obtain freedom, the captain having battened them down in their quarters. Well, it blew strong and stronger, faces began to get long and longer, the captain looked as if he would give anything to get the tug, which in his meanness he had that afternoon refused, and I began 83to think that what appears to be to man’s advantage may in the long run prove his ruin, and to wish that I had stopped in Madras.

“The anchor began to drag, excitement increasing, all hands to let down a second, I knew too well we had not a third (you will recollect we lost it at Natal), so now our hopes were centred in either the gale moderating, or the anchors holding true. The worst thing for us was the wind was against the tide, and tended to make us run over our anchors and snap the cables. After about two hours’ anxiety the wind gradually declined, but the thunder and lightning continued all night. This morning we have taken the tug for £50 to Calcutta, some sixty miles, so if all is well we shall be there to-night. ‘They that go down to the sea in ships, see the wonders of the deep!’

“Sunday, 23d.—We did not get down to Calcutta last night on account of a two hours’ detention in the river by another squall, and we anchored about seven miles to the south. This morning we started at 4 A. M. and arrived at the coolie depot at 7 A. M. The Protector was not long in coming on board, and in an hour the ship was emptied of its living, noisy, restless, filthy freight. Here ends the first chapter of my coolie experiences, and the second will never open.

“India is a wonderful country, and Calcutta is a prince of cities, ought I to say queen? It is lit with gas, and water is laid on to the dwellings, up stairs and down; the houses are simply magnificent, and here a man can see that it is possible not only to exist, but to live. From Saugor to Calcutta, say 100 miles or more, as far inland as I could see, the river’s banks were inhabited by a teeming population. I speak truly when I say that every inch of ground was occupied. This delta must give support to thousands upon thousands. It is easy in observing this dense population to see how cholera, fever and dysentery must play frightful havoc when they rage amongst it, and to picture what terrible loss of life the failure of one season’s rice crop would produce. The country is exceedingly low and flat, and there is an embankment at each side of the river to restrain any extraordinary rise. In the great cyclone in 1864 there was a great storm wave forty feet high which swept over the whole of this country—a regular deluge, the only wonder was how even one soul escaped. The pilot told me that he came down next day in a steamer, and though the river is a mile wide at Diamond Harbor, and continues to increase seaward, he could see nothing but the dead bodies of men, women and children, cattle and horses. From his description the sight must have been a truly appalling one. Ships drawing some fourteen feet and twenty feet water were driven three miles inland and left high and dry.

“I have been driving about all day seeing the streets, shops, etc.; there are here 25,000 white and more than a million colored inhabitants. There is no such thing as walking, as the sun is overpowering, and you feel as if it would knock you down, so powerful is it. The Government House, where Lord Mayo resides, is a magnificent palace. He and all the aristocracy are gone away to Simla, in the Himalayas, for the hot season. 84I also visited the museum, but it is badly kept, and there is not much to see, but the native bazaars are the most wonderful places that I ever was in—narrow streets, full of small shops, each crammed with merchandise of every description. A man, to all appearance caged in a den, turns out and shows you cashmere shawls worth thousands of rupees, another one jewelry, another silks, another Japan and China curiosities—the business done being astonishing. I have made up my mind to take a trip up country before I leave India, and visit the principal memorable scenes of the Indian mutiny—Cawnpore, Arrah, Lucknow, Agra, not omitting the Holy City of Benares, the head centre of Brahminism, to which all good Hindoos make a pilgrimage at least once in their lives.



Having finished all the “red tape” (which the nature of my peculiar charge demanded) with Dr. Grant, the coolie emigration agent in Calcutta, I made arrangements with the captain of the Vixen, then lying in the Hooghly, to take medical charge of his steamer on her return voyage through the Suez Canal to England.

As she did not sail until the 6th of the month (May), I found I had time enough left to visit, as I had proposed to myself, the principal scenes of the Indian mutiny. After spending several days in Calcutta, I left Hourah, where the station of the East Indian Railway is, at the other side of the river, and took a return ticket allowing me to stop anywhere en route to Agra and back.

If I were to describe the whole of my trip, of which I wrote a full account at the time, I am afraid I should weary my readers, the circumstances and places connected with the memorable outbreak of the Indian mutiny being too well known to bear repetition.

I may, however, briefly state that I visited the French settlement of Chandernagore, twenty-two miles from Calcutta, like a French oasis in an English desert, or a French desert in 86an English oasis, as my readers may prefer, being only two miles long by one broad, and passing by numberless stations, rested at Dinapore, and then went straight on to Benares, the Holy City. Here the bridge of boats across the Ganges, the thousands of temples and mosques, especially the Doorga Khoud, or monkey temple, and its chattering, grinning crew of sacred inhabitants, the numberless splendid ghats along the river side, with thousands of men and women bathing and praying, the Lingam, or well of life, at which all pilgrims drink, the burning “ghat” where bodies after being reduced to ashes are committed to the Holy River, and the Mosque of Aurunzebe, kept me well employed for a day or two. I then visited Mirzapore, Allahabad, a great railway centre, and came on to Cawnpore, saw, of course, the Memorial Garden, the well down which “a great company of Christian people, chiefly women and children,” the dying and the dead, were thrown by the order of Nana Sahib, and then branched off to Lucknow. Never shall I forget the scene presented by the Kaiser Bagh, the great work of the ex-king’s reign, and its gardens, the Secunderbagh, where the 93d Highlanders and 53d foot, in fearful revenge, bayoneted to a man 2,000 rebel Sepoys, the fantastic Martiniere, a school founded by an eccentric Frenchman formerly in the service of the Hon. East India Co., about eighty-five years ago, the Residency, where for five long months a little band of noble hearts held out, and the room where the shell burst that was the death of Sir Henry Lawrence. I walked along the portico so graphically pictured by Trevelyan in his “Cawnpore,” which called to my mind the passage where he says: “Still, amidst the fantastic edifices of Lucknow, hard by a shattered gateway, rise or lie prostrate the pillars of a grass-grown portico. Beneath that verandah, in the July evening, preferring the risk of the hostile missiles to the confinement of a stifling cellar, was dying Henry Lawrence, the man who tried to do his duty.... An Englishman does not require any extraneous incentives to emotion when, leaning against the beams of that archway, he recalls who have thereby gone in and out, bent on what errands and thinking what thoughts. Between those doorposts have walked Peel and Havelock, and gentle Outram and stout Sir Colin, heroes who no longer tread the earth.” The 87ruins of the Residency and the adjoining houses have been allowed to remain as far as possible in the state they were left after “the relief.” To describe, however, the cemetery close by, with its beautifully cut green-grass turf, to picture the tombstones to loved husbands, erected by devoted wives, and recount their deeply touching inscriptions, to portray the monuments in remembrance of comrades in arms carried away by war, cholera, dysentery and fever, or to tell of others, on which were written all manner of poetical extracts and quotations from Holy Writ, would be an impossibility. Full of melancholy memories is the spot, and it was with a sense of relief I left the mournful scene. I then started for Agra, 906 miles by railway from Calcutta, visited the fort overlooking the Jumna, saw the celebrated bath with its mimic cascades in the Monarch’s Palace, and then drove to the Taj Mahal, a mausoleum built by the Shah Jehan for the tomb of his favorite Begum, which was finished just forty years ago at a cost of £3,000,000, heard the delicious undulations and marvelous acoustic properties of its dome, dwelt with astonishment on the jeweler’s inlaid work of jasper, agate, cornelian and other precious stones in the fine, white polished marble, and admired the noble cypress trees growing in the gardens. After resting here a day or two I returned to Calcutta well pleased with my excursion.

Leaving by the Vixen, we steamed down the Bay of Bengal and stayed for a few hours at Madras, on leaving which place our troubles began.

Accidents were continually happening to the engines, delays were constantly occurring, the wind was against us, until matters culminated as I will allow my letter to tell.

In The Red Sea, June 20th, 1871.

My Dear ——: Since writing to you from Calcutta we have been dragging along a weary existence in such a steamer! what with opposing currents, head winds and weak power, we only just managed to make Cape Guardafui, when our coal ran short, such a game! hen-coops, wooden boxes, spare spars, cabin partitions, then the masts were burned to keep us going. At last the captain sent the chief officer away in an open boat to Aden, which was distant some forty miles, on Sunday evening the 4th, to try and obtain a tug or coal. After he left, the steamer would not even steer under the sail she carried, but drifted down on the Arabian coast, until we were compelled to anchor on Wednesday, about 9 A. M. The 88captain and myself, with four boatmen, at once went on shore to see what the country was like and to see if wood was procurable. As you can imagine, distilling water with spars worth from £20 to £50 each was not a paying game. We landed and found low brushwood which would answer the purpose, and immediately signaled the steamer for another boat and a working party to come off; we then walked in the direction of some lofty mountains inland, when we saw the natives, roving Arabs and Somalis, coming down in force; the captain and I approached them. There was nothing else to be done, for we were too far from the boats to retire, and found them all more or less armed, the majority with old-fashioned matchlocks. Of course we did not relish these appearances, as in addition they had large knives stuck in their girdles, and all the books of sailing directions for this coast characterize them as bloody, cut-throat, treacherous wretches. One of the boatmen, however, who came on shore with us, on seeing them, ran off to the beach. Luckily for us the second boat had just arrived, and meeting the crew he told them of our situation, and they came running to our assistance. This had a salutary effect upon them, and gave us an opportunity to retire. As matters on board were proceeding to extremities, and seeing there was a doubt whether the mate had got to land or not, I volunteered, with the second steward and two darkies, to walk to Aden. The captain said the distance was about sixty miles, but we found it, however, in the long run, to be nearer 160. These Arabs seemed of two parties, and one of the more friendly made signs in the direction of Aden, as if he would accompany us there.

“Persuading the captain to let me go, away I went with my companions at 3 P. M., armed, but with very little water or provisions, as I fully anticipated reaching Aden, by walking all night, at about ten o’clock next day. We walked at a good pace, as we were going through a country peopled by tribes not to be depended on, keeping the sea-beach in order to push through and get past a point where probably they might intercept us. We walked until after dark, took a rest and bath in the sea, and then pushing on, as we heard guns firing in the pitchy darkness both on our right and left. The phosphorescence of the breaking surf casting a lurid glare over all. Our guide seemed uneasy, fired his gun, and then away he went. We thought we were in a regular trap; lying down on the sand, straining our eyes in the dismal darkness, we talked over the folly of our starting, asked ourselves who would thank us if we got our throats cut, and then, seeing our revolvers all right, we determined to sell our lives as dearly as we could if attacked. After an hour’s anxious watching and waiting for the moon, up came three camels with the guide whom we had suspected of playing us false. He urged us to hurry on, which you may guess we did, not stopping until 2:30 next morning, nearly done up. Stretching ourselves out, sleep wanted no wooing. I was off in a minute, and from the appearance of the moon must have slept about an hour, when we were awakened by a terrible hot wind. You cannot imagine anything like it; my hair was dry as stubble in a few moments, nearly stifled, suffocated, the only shelter I could get was to the ‘leeward’ of a camel. 89This wind continued for an hour, when we saddled up and away again. Let me tell you what camel riding is like. If you can fancy yourself in a blanket, with a man at each end holding it, and shaking you continually from one to the other, you may have some faint conception, but mounting is the worst. The camels are made to squat on their bellies to enable you to get up, otherwise a ladder would be needed. Well, when you are in the saddle, which is generally a most clumsy, primitive arrangement, the camel gets on its knees, which sends you backward, then up go the hind legs, and you get a contra pitch forward, and just as you are anticipating to salute your mother earth, he raises his fore legs, tosses you backward again, and you find yourself mounted. One of my black companions had a young, frisky camel which when he jumped on it made these movements so quickly that number two generally sent him over the camel’s head or left him hanging on by his legs, heels up, head down, round his neck. It is always to me intensely ludicrous to hear a nigger swear in English, and I think the most rigid Puritan would have laughed, at any rate in his sleeve, to hear this darkie ‘G-d d—n this young fellow (as he termed the camel) to ——!’ and consign himself, the ship, the country, the water, or rather the want of it, to eternal perdition, which he did with a gusto perfectly exhilarating.

“We journeyed along on this day (Thursday) without intermission, alternately riding and walking, under a blazing sun, whose piercing rays almost struck us to the ground, blistering and swelling our backs and feet even through our boots and clothes, until 11 A. M., when our guide told us we were approaching the confines of a friendly sultan, who rejoiced in the name of Hyder, surnamed the ‘six-fingered,’ on account of this work of supererogation accomplished by nature on his behalf. Sending on a messenger to apprise his highness of our coming, we gradually came in sight of a large mud fort, with some buildings alongside, a small mosque, with date trees around, and the remains of what once must have been a large city. Off-saddling at a distance of about 200 yards, a messenger came to us from the sultan, shook hands with us all, and then taking mine in his, like two schoolboys, we advanced a short distance, stood in line, fired a salute, and then walked up to be presented. The sultan, who was a fine-looking fellow, stood outside a small tent (which was matted inside and had carpets for himself and his visitors) with a body-guard on each side of about thirty men. All tattered and torn, dirty, sunburnt and unshaven, we were sad specimens indeed of Englishmen. I felt, for my part, somewhat ashamed of myself. He, however, received us most graciously, shook hands and invited us in, coffee was served in little cups, as hot and bitter as Cayenne pepper, and cold water was also supplied, a beverage which I never before so truly appreciated. Milk, dates, goat’s flesh, round cakes made of grain, were given us as well. Did not we eat!—no questions as to knives, forks, plates or dishes—our black friend simultaneously falling to. It is in cases like this only that one appreciates a man as a man; my hard-swearing friend being a regular good fellow.

“After this, the sultan, whom we managed to understand, expressed 90his pleasure at our having escaped with our lives from the tribes inhabiting the locality where we landed and through which we had passed, and wished me to give him a written acknowledgment of our having left his place in safety, so that if anything befell us between there and Aden, he would have this paper to show the English government. Moreover, as he lived a mile from the sea, and possessed boats, he offered to send a boat’s crew of ten men to the steamer at once, to give the shadow, if not the reality of his protection, and also offered us a boat to Aden. As I was suspicious, I declined giving him the document he wanted until we were in the boat, but he pressed very much for it, so at last I gave it him, but started immediately, so that we might get clear of his people if he meant treachery. Arriving at the beach, the boat getting ready to take us to Aden was such a small, leaky, crazy thing, and the sea was running so high outside and the surf breaking so heavily on the beach, that I demurred going in it. Fancy spending two days and a night in an open boat of that description. For my own part I would ten times sooner get shot at on land with a chance of escape than be upset at sea, and finish my career with a stomach full of salt water. So we started away again with the camels, getting water at a well close by to take with us, which we carried in skins tied to their sides. Most of these people had never seen a white man before. We saw some women at this well, not bad looking; one of them had a baby, which she carried in a sort of triangular flat wicker basket under her arm. She was quite afraid of me when I went near to look at it. Pushing on until long after sunset, and striking inland for a few miles from the coast, we came at last to a camp of Bedouins in a district of bare sand (with a little low bush interspersed), drifted into mounds like snow driven by the wind. There were also, here and there, the dry beds of rivulets, which in the wet season take the water of the hills to the sea. Here we rested for the night, and a lovely night it was, magnificently starlight and the atmosphere beautifully clear. Lying down, in less than a minute I was oblivious to everything here below. I left one of the darkies to keep watch, but starting up in a short time, I found the revolvers I had laid at my head gone and the nigger fast asleep. Presently our Arab guide, seeing me moving, came back with them from an adjoining camp-fire of Bedouins, where he had been exhibiting them and his knowledge of firearms at the same time, and what was better still, brought with him some goats’ milk and dates. Next morning the camels were lost, and we did not start until 7 o’clock. The intermediate time we occupied in rifle and pistol practice with the Arabs who came flocking around us at daybreak. They were very civil, seeing we had one of the sultan’s men with us. We took away a small goat on credit, as between this and Aden we understood we should get no more food. Another frightful, scorching day (Friday) succeeded, but there was nothing for it but to go on.

“My companion, who at the beginning of the trip had been very lively, continually singing ‘Up in a balloon, boys; up in a balloon,’ had come down from his lofty aspirations to the level of this world again, and a 91little below. The ‘Dead March in Saul’ would now have been too quick for him to march to. My black friend’s oaths were getting less fervid, and your humble servant was beginning to feel as if he would have liked to ‘rest in peace.’ However, being the head of the party he had the morale to keep up, so on we went; at 1.30 P. M., after six and a half hours killing exposure, we arrived at a small, squalid, mud-built village of Arabs. Everything was baked and parched as if it had been exposed for months to the blast of a large furnace. They were the most dirty, diseased, wretched-looking, poverty-stricken creatures I ever saw; I cannot picture the place to you, the frightful glare of a copper sky, the monotonous, ever-present sand, no vegetation, no shade, no living creature, save here and there a wretched camel, a fit accompaniment to the general misery, the place seemed perfectly God-forsaken! We got into the empty upper story of a mud house, and water was brought, of which we drank greedily. The news of our arrival spread fast, the room was rapidly filled with men and boys, quite amazed at seeing us, especially the steward, whose red hair excited a good deal of curiosity. Getting them out as best we could we managed to secure a short sleep, during which they killed and cooked the goat we had brought, so that with a little rice we made a tolerable meal. Here we got a change of camels and drivers, and started again at 3 P. M. to a well at some distance to get water, the all-essential for travel in this country. We found it very good and cold, the well being at least 140 feet deep, the sides surrounded by marble slabs which were worn into deep grooves, like the flutings of an Ionic pillar by the incessant friction of the ropes, which for centuries had drawn out the leather bags filled with the precious fluid. After leaving the well a further six hours’ march brought us to another camp of Arabs, where we only rested from nine until twelve, then off again; no rest for the wicked. My back, with constant work, was beginning to feel stiff, and my head to ache—unfortunately we had nothing to eat, and were yet a long way from Aden. At about 10 A. M. (Saturday) we came to another Arab mud fort, but could get nothing to eat or drink but some filthy water, so black and putrid that after each draught I vomited and vomited again, and some millet seed which we managed to fry. Proceeding after an hour’s delay, we struck the sea-beach at noon, and saw the rock of Aden, our haven of rest, looming like a giant spectre in the distance, right opposite to us across a large bay. The sea breeze was very pleasant and took away the feeling of intense heat.

“Here we rested to bathe, and then drawing our belts as tightly as possible across our empty stomachs we jogged wearily along for many an hour. To our great delight we came across some mussels, which we greedily swallowed without calling for pepper or vinegar! This was the most tedious day yet, no food, no water, and this great rock like a nightmare confronting us in the distance, and to which we seemed never to get any nearer. The camels were tiring, and we dare not walk on and leave them, on account of the prowling Somali fishermen. However, after resisting time after time the imploring entreaties of my companions to stop, 92threatening to leave them and push on alone, we came at 1 A. M. on Sunday to the gates of Aden, found them locked, threw ourselves down on the roadside, drank until nearly bursting at a well of brackish water, and slept a dreamless sleep after our twenty-five hours of travel and exposure. I am thankful that I have a spirit of dogged perseverance, or we should never have got there that night at all. The more the poor devils prayed to rest the more I was determined to go on. The steward had forgotten his songs, even Snowball, as we called the darkie, had almost ceased to swear, and his final oath, which came rolling out when he laid himself down to rest, had a pious, subdued tone of thankfulness in it. Next morning, up with the sun, we entered Aden as soon as the military opened the gates, when we fortunately met the agent of the steamer, a Parsee, in his carriage, who told us the chief officer having got to Aden in safety, had taken assistance to the steamer, and she had just arrived. He drove us to his house, where we had a glorious bath and a hearty meal, told us of the astonishment expressed in Aden at our journey, and the speculations made as to our ever arriving. We found the government authorities had been communicated with, and in fact we were the lions of the hour. Everybody congratulated us, and the ovation we received on returning to the steamer amply repaid us for the dangers we had passed. Lieutenant Prideaux, one of the captives during the late Abyssinian war, who was acting Political Resident at the time, sent for me to tell my tale, observing that no white man had done what we had done or been through these tribes since 1845. We stayed in Aden a few hours while the steamer finished coaling, and amused ourselves walking around one of the most heaven-forsaken places conceivable.

“Picture to yourself the crater of a volcano with a town built in the centre, to which access can be gained only through a gap, so to speak, in the wall, conjure up in your imagination a place where sometimes a shower of soothing rain never falls for years together, and then you can fancy Aden. I send you a photograph of the tanks built to catch and preserve the rain when it does fall.”

I shall not weary my readers with the details of my succeeding letter, as I should be merely re-treading familiar ground, but I may simply mention that waiting at Aden for a day to coal, we steamed slowly up the Red Sea without any incident worthy of note occurring, until arriving at Ismailia in the Suez Canal, where we remained over the night. This gave me an opportunity of landing, seeing the place and the beautiful house and gardens of Ferdinand de Lesseps. We stopped the next night at Port Said to take in more coal, and continuing our voyage arrived at Malta on June 30th.

Leaving the Vixen there I proceeded to England, via Marseilles and Paris, as quickly as I could, as I did not wish 93to overstep my leave of absence from the Natal government.

While in England I proceeded to the north, saw the faces of old friends once more, but as “time and tide wait for no man,” I tore myself away from old associations, and arranged to return to Africa in the Celt, one of the Union Company’s steamers. We sailed at the end of September, 1871. Fifteen years ago! It is wonderful what competition has done during these few years in improving the speed and style of the steamers on this route. Thirty-six long, dreary days we spent then on the Celt between Southampton and the Cape, now a little more than half this time suffices.

Hurrying on to Natal by the coasting steamer I arrived there after an absence of nine months, finding all well; but alas! the fortune I expected from my diamond venture was non est. No news whatever had been received from the men I had sent up country. This fact combined with the glowing accounts of the richness of the Colesberg Kopje (now the Kimberley mine), the rapid fortunes made there, and the depressed state of affairs in Natal, decided me to throw up my government appointment, and test my luck in the new El Dorado.



On returning to Natal after my trip to the East, I could at once see that this bright little colony had entered on a cycle of depression. This, as I have mentioned before, combined with other inducements, and the fact that the diamond fields afforded a wider scope for practice than the ever-decreasing population of Victoria County, determined me to sever my connection, at least for a time, with a district of which I shall always retain a most pleasing recollection.

I left for the Fields in the beginning of December, 1871, taking the usual route by Walsh’s passenger cart, via Pietermaritzburg, Harrismith and Bloemfontein to Du Toit’s Pan.

95As I passed through Pietermaritzburg I called upon Lieut. Governor Keate, who inquired into the particulars of my adventure in Arabia, of which he had heard. He kindly granted me the further extension of leave from my official duties in Natal for which I asked, as I intended, if I did not like the diamond fields, to return. Crossing the river Umgeni at Howick, and passing through the small villages of Estcourt and Colenso, we came at last, after three days’ post-cart traveling, to the foot of the Drakensberg. The road winding up the mountain was very steep, but in first-rate order and repair. The road parties of native laborers which each chief has to supply in rotation to the government, for, I believe, a period of six months, at a fixed rate of pay, were evidently doing their work well, but nevertheless the climb was a fearful strain on our horses.


We arrived in safety at Harrismith, the first town of the Orange Free State, lying within a few miles of the top of the Drakensberg, and next day, after a splendid drive at a hand 96gallop all the way, over a road as flat as a bowling alley, with a perfect Jehu at the reins named Brandon, the heedless scion of a good old Irish family, came late in the evening to Bethlehem, a quiet Dutch town, with two or three English stores, where we rested for a few hours. Then inspanning again, on we drove past Senekal, a wretched little place of about 100 inhabitants, and Winburg, the centre of a fine grazing district, to Bloemfontein, the capital of the state. Here Mr. Brand, the President, since knighted (1882) by the English government for his services in the settlement of the Transvaal difficulties, after the war resided, as did also a bishop of the Anglican communion,[18] but as it was dark when we arrived, I saw nothing of the city. I heard, however, sufficient reports of the dreadful havoc that fever of a remittent type was making among the residents on the diamond fields to make me anxious to arrive there as quickly as possible. We started next morning in the moonlight at 3 o’clock, and drove through, some seventy miles, to Du Toit’s Pan in one day. A long, dusty, tiring day it was, and as if to prove that “coming events cast their shadows before,” we met three or four ox wagons bringing away sick diggers from the fields, who had been stricken down by the prevailing fever.

The sun had long set when we neared Du Toit’s Pan, yet the camp, as seen in the distance was one blaze of light. The stores and canteens were open, thronged with customers, while the canvas tents of the diggers, some lit up with candles, some with wood fires, and others blazing with paraffin lamps, studded the surroundings of the mine as with a constellation of stars. When we arrived at Benning & Martin’s, the hotel of the day, the scene was one which almost baffles description. Clusters of men, work being ended, crowded round the post-cart to see the new arrivals, others thronged the adjacent liquor-bars, while every one showed signs of hurrying bustle and feverish excitement. After some refreshment, I took a short stroll through the camp. Novel sights and grotesque scenes met my view at every turn, the lights in the tents throwing “shadows on the wall,” in some cases of the most laughable description.



99I shall never forget my first night on the diamond fields. When I returned to the hotel I inquired for a bed, but was assured that not one could be had for love or money. Martin, the landlord, however, made me up a shake-down as a favor, on the end of the long dining table, where amidst shouts of “play or take miss” from a party of excited loo players alongside I soon fell asleep. At an early hour on the following morning I took one of the many passenger carts plying to the New Rush, otherwise called Colesberg Kopje (Kimberley), and after a drive of about two miles wended my way to the mine on foot, along roads ankle deep in sand, bordered with stores and canteens built of iron, and with canvas tents of all sizes and shapes fixed promiscuously around.

Arriving at the edge of the mine I paused to observe the novel sight which met my eyes. In those days roadways extending from one side of the mine to the other were the scenes of constant traffic, the diggers carting along them the diamondiferous soil from the claims to sort it on their various depositing grounds. Carts, horses, mules, oxen and men crowded these narrow roads, on each side of which the claims were scarcely less thronged. The tout ensemble was most interesting. Every patch of ground was occupied, the whole resembling a hive of busy human bees, bustling and elbowing, creeping and climbing, shoveling and sieving, to gather, if possible, honey from each opening flower, or, to abandon metaphor, to turn out a diamond from each bucketful of soil hauled to the surface. Not less than 10,000 natives, and from 4,000 to 5,000 white men, I should think, were busily at work the morning on which I first saw the diggings.

I knew that the Natal Verulam Co. had claims in No. 3 Road, and on inquiry I was directed to their manager, Mr. G. J. Lee, afterward for a long period chairman of the Kimberley mining board. Just at the moment I found him one of his native servants had turned out a thirty carat diamond from a sieve which he was shaking, and having a slight tinge of superstition in my nature, I at once accepted this as an 100omen of good luck. While I was looking at the claims belonging to this company my ears were all at once assailed by a deafening roar, for without any warning all the natives in and around the mine ceased work and yelled out at the top of their voices: “Hullah!” “Hullah!” Such a babel I had never heard before, and on turning round I discovered that a lady standing behind me, who had come to see the mine, was the innocent cause of all the disturbance. On inquiry I learnt this was nothing new, but that the natives from the interior, who perchance had never seen a white woman before they came to the diggings, were in the habit of taking this method of expressing their surprise and pleasure. Patti, Nillson, or Marie Rozé never, I am sure, had a more enthusiastic greeting.

With Mr. Lee’s kind assistance, I got suitable quarters on the same day, and next morning commenced professional work. At that time there were only two qualified men on the fields, but of quacks “enough and to spare.” It did not take long for me to settle down into practice, and in fewer hours than those who cast their lot in communities where they are personally unknown, and where competition is keener, take years to establish themselves, I found myself with as much as I could do, my arrival being looked forward to by many Natalian friends, who seemed only too glad to see me among them once more.

The great majority of those who consulted me were suffering from camp fever, as it was termed, which was malarial, aggravated by exposure to the sun, tent life, bad water, obtained in the early days from exposed dams or polluted springs, imperfectly tinned meat and fish, a scarcity of vegetables, and last but not least by strong drink. Intemperance was and is, though not now to so great an extent, the curse of the diamond fields. I feel certain that, out of the number of cases (which during an extensive medical practice of fifteen years’ duration) I have attended among the white population on the fields, at least seventy per cent. can be traced either directly or indirectly to excessive indulgence in alcohol, while the name is legion of the innocent natives who have been poisoned by the vile preparations passing under the name of brandy. The only treatment for the local fever which could be relied on, and one by which its relapsing tendency could be thwarted, I soon 101discovered was to order the patient’s removal to a distance away from the malarial taint, the sea-side if possible, as soon as the more urgent symptoms were abated, as only through an entire change of air could complete restoration to health be expected within a reasonable time. The railway even in this matter has come to our help, as on the first approach of the fever, the desired change can be obtained in a couple of days, or even less, and a threatened attack possibly averted. Cases of typhoid fever sometimes occurred, while dysentery, usually of a mild type, also existed. Pneumonia, croup, diphtheria, and in fact the majority of the other diseases with which practitioners most commonly come in contact, were rare, a physician’s practice in the early days on the fields being almost a specialty. This, to a great extent, could be accounted for by the population of the diggings being comprised of healthy and hearty men, mostly in the prime of life. Accidents too were few and far between, the mine not being deep enough for the falls of reef or diamondiferous soil to be dangerous, and no underground workings existing, the dangers of steam, blasting powder and dynamite were as yet unknown.

In 1871 the fields were abounding, as I have said, in quacks, but since then the qualified medical men have increased from two to twenty-two.

The river diggings having existed for some time, matters there had assumed more of a settled appearance than at the dry diggings. A wattle and daub house, originally built for the Rev. Mr. Sadler, a clergyman of the Church of England, ministering there, was converted into the first temporary hospital, but being found too small a more permanent building was erected, which again in course of time made way in 1873 for a fine stone structure, which was unfortunately consumed by fire, and remained some time in ruins before it was rebuilt. It is now chiefly used as a convalescent home. The Diamond News of the day bitterly attacked me, because I pointed out the folly of spending money in erecting permanent buildings at Klipdrift, a place which was becoming rapidly more or less deserted by the digging community. The absurdity as well as the cost of sending men with broken limbs, and suffering with fever, jogging twenty-five miles over broken roads to a hospital, never seemed to strike those who, having property 102at Klipdrift, were attempting at the time to bolster up the place in contradistinction to what were termed the dry diggings.

The Dry Diggings were not, however, entirely without any hospital accommodation. A large marquee was erected in 1871 at Du Toit’s Pan, under the auspices of Father Hidien, the first Roman Catholic priest on the diamond fields, who himself a short time afterward fell a victim to his never ceasing devotion. I heard many accounts, when I arrived, of his unbounded charity and tender care of the sick. I will relate one incident which came under my especial notice, and which occurred toward the very end of his unselfish career. Not long before he himself was fatally stricken with fever, an unfortunate white man, a perfect fever wreck, covered with frightful sores and merely a living skeleton, came to him for relief. Father Hidien took charge of him, and several times a day, as no nurse could be got, would, with his own hands, wash his ulcerous wounds. In the first stage of fever, until weakness bound the kind father to his bed, he continued with unflagging zeal to relieve, as far as he could, the sufferings of this afflicted creature; but as the ravages of disease made increasing strides and the visits of the priest, as a matter of course, grew fewer and fewer, it was pitiable to hear this unfortunate fellow, who was lying in a small bell-tent near, make the air resound with his unceasing cries for the good father’s help. Thus he continued to beg and implore him to come to his side until he was told that the parting spirit of his Samaritan comforter had gone to the land of the “Hereafter,” whither he himself followed in but a few short hours.

It was not until the arrival in 1872 of Dr. Dyer, who had been in the government service of the Cape Colony, that two long, cool wattle and daub buildings were erected near the race-course, providing beds for about twenty patients. Dr. Dyer, Dr. Grimmer and myself attended to this hospital gratuitously for some time. Everything in those days was of the most primitive description. A large tent served as a dead-house, and I well remember, on one of my morning visits wishing to see the body of a patient who I was informed had died during the night, finding on going into this tent merely the trunk of the poor fellow’s body left; the prowling, ravenous 103dogs, which then roamed about, having devoured the poor man’s limbs, which they had torn in pieces from his body.

The first case of lunacy which ever came to my notice in Griqualand West I also saw here. Divisions constructed of mud and wattles were placed between the beds to promote extra privacy in certain cases, so this lunatic when brought in was placed in one of these inclosures. There was but one white man and his wife to superintend everything. The first time I saw this poor fellow I found him raving mad, without an attendant, or even a straight-jacket, tied down with ropes, struggling in his wild delirium. The scene, but for its sadness, would have been ludicrously grotesque. The madman having managed to withe his body round, and having gnawed a hole through the mud wall, and head all the time popping in and out like a “Jack in a box,” was attempting to worry the patient in the next bed, the latter though almost frightened to death, being too weak to move away. The whole place was a chamber of horrors worthy of the pencil of a Gustave Doré. Although the management was much to blame, and the public were apathetic, yet the doctors attending did not escape public criticism. I can even now call to mind one very scathing attack, which I believe had much to do with the removal of the building, in which Hood’s lines were applied to them:

“’Twas strange, although they got no fees,
How still they watched by two’s and three’s,
But Jack a very little ease
Obtained from them.
In fact, he did not find M. D.’s
Worth one D. M.”

At the time, also, I wrote to the Diamond Field giving a description of the wretchedness of the place, and did what I could to promote improvement.

The hospital, which was established at the jail, and which was entirely under government control, was even worse than the Dry Diggings hospital which I have just described. At the risk of being a little tedious I will give an extract from a description of this place which I wrote to the Diamond News July 7th, 1873.

104“This so-called hospital is a tent about 12 feet by 9 feet in size without even a fly. Through this during the rains the water beats, and through the rents, which I also saw, the piercing wind on these cold nights blows as through a funnel on the poor wretched sinners within. It is not difficult for residents on these fields to picture further what the state of such a tent must be, after a blazing sun has poured its rays on it for hours in summer. Let us enter. Here a sight presents itself which I wish I could adequately describe. On the bare floor, deep in dust and sand, lie huddled together black and white, criminals and honest men, no beds, no bedsteads, some with only a blanket round them, and in this sorry plight they remain during the rains, exposed to the chance of the water every now and then washing, as it has done, right through, making the place rather a hot-bed of disease, than a refuge for the sick—the floor of the tent being lower than the surrounding ground. Here in the middle of the tent lay, with but an apology for a bed between his body and the ‘cold, cold ground,’ and with an old piece of zinc roofing at his head to prevent it from pushing through the canvas, a poor emaciated black, whose leg had lately been amputated; in one corner a poor blind creature sat piteously complaining, whilst in another corner a crouching native was busily engaged ridding himself of vermin!

“I need not particularise further. One white man there was, however, who told me he had been there twelve months. No doubt he could, if he would, ‘a tale unfold’ of misery and woe. Strewed in motley confusion on this dusty floor could be seen old clothes stinking with dirt, boots and shoes, crutches and soap, tobacco and tea-cups, salt and pipes, pans, buckets, a chamber utensil, half eaten provisions, an empty bottle holding a half burnt candle, and, as if in sorry burlesque, three or four Bibles provided with considerable forethought, no doubt to teach the unfortunate inmates the advantages of being ‘patient and long suffering in all their afflictions.’”

The miseries of these places, the exposés that took place, as well as the out-of-the-way situation of the Dry Diggings hospital, led the Southey government to see the necessity of increased and better accommodation, and a new hospital was built on the road between Kimberley and Du Toit’s Pan in 1874. Two or three days before it was to be given over by the contractors a serious fire broke out and destroyed more than half the building. The government, being short of funds, did not rebuild the part burned down, but made the portion which had escaped suffice for the wants of the community; and in Jan., 1875, the sole medical charge was given to the government officer, Dr. Dyer and myself being retained as consultants. The medical care of the patients was however in Jan., 1882 transferred from the hands of the government district 105surgeon to that of a purely resident surgeon, whose sole duty it was simply to attend to the hospital, government at this time resigning the management to a local board.

In 1876 the nursing care of the institution was undertaken by a certain sisterhood[19] of nurses and associates, under the superintendence of their head, Sister Louise, and it is impossible to speak in terms of too high commendation either of her management or of that of Sister Henrietta, who succeeded her, and who still retains that office and administers its important duties in a manner which I cannot too highly praise.

The hospital received considerable addition in 1876, and again in 1882 had a large wing, an isolation ward and an extensive native ward added. The medical tax, passed by the legislative council of Griqualand West (No. 2, 1874) of one shilling per month payable by each native, was received by the diggers, when it became law, with much disapprobation. It was consequently allowed to remain in abeyance by the Griqualand West government, until hospital matters came under the management of the local board, which I have before mentioned, in 1882. Then it was revived, and has been since paid by the diggers and companies, without demur, the amount being as a general rule deducted from the natives’ wages. The amount has varied from £10,000 in 1882 to £6,000 in 1885. The Kimberley hospital is now larger than any institution in the colony, its working staff numbering over fifty, and it contains sixty-six surgical[20] and forty-two medical beds for natives, twenty-nine for poor whites, twenty for paying whites, and an isolation ward with four beds. The number of cases treated here is enormous, the capital operations for the last quarter in 1885 counting forty-four, and the admissions amounting, during the same year, to 709 Europeans and 1,019 natives.

Returning to the early days of field life, the quacks soon found it advisable to take flight, as a steady influx of regularly qualified men was appearing on the scene, the only one retaining any kind of ground being a non-qualified homeopath. This quack was always, however, cautious enough to consult with qualified practitioners when his cases were 106in extremis, and by this means he escaped any penalty of the law, and procured a death certificate in proper order.

It seems passing strange, that in a sparsely populated though widely extended country or congeries of States, that a man possessing indubitable qualifications for the exercise of his profession, should be put to such frequent and utterly unnecessary annoyance in the matter of medical registration as sometimes occurs in South Africa. A physician or surgeon before he can legally recover his fees in every part of South Africa, requires, as there are five separate States, to be registered in no less than five different places. I was early taught this in a rather rough way; one of the advantages which confederation would bring being vividly placed before me in a very practical manner. In 1873 I attended a man and his family at Du Toit’s Pan, and as I found that no inclination existed to pay my fees, amounting to some eighty guineas; I sued for the amount, but was non-suited by the magistrate, on the exception being raised, that I was not a legal medical practitioner in that part of South Africa, not being registered in Griqualand West or the Cape Colony. As I was registered in England and Natal, I had neglected to comply with this form in Griqualand West, and consequently had to suffer.

The law courts of this territory have also decided another important point in medical law, agreeing in their judgment with English precedent. A medical man whose only qualification was the diploma of the Edinburgh College of Surgeons sued a patient for his attendance, who pleaded that he being a simple surgeon could not charge for a medical case, and the High Court sustained the exception. To the astonishment, however, of nearly all the faculty in South Africa, the medical board in Capetown after this, decided, entirely ultra vires, to grant permission to “Edinbro’” Surgeons, to practice medicine; consequently South Africa now is an Alsatia, to which all semi-qualified men can flee who find it impossible to enter the army or navy, or even obtain any poor-law appointment in England. Feeling myself interested in this matter, and being desirous of obtaining authoritative news from the “head centre” I telegraphed on May 23d, 1884 to the late Dr. Ebden, who held the position as president of the medical board in Capetown, to inquire “if the board 107intended to doubly qualify simple surgeons,” and received the astounding reply: “Board considers Edinburgh surgeons entitled to practice medicine.” It would be curious to fathom the reason why this preference was given to men holding Scotch diplomas! Quite independently of the fact that this abnormal announcement is contrary to all law, and contrary to the powers vested in the medical board, it is an injustice to the colonists themselves, and unfair to the rising generation of the country. In Europe there are at the present time more than one hundred and fifty medical students, sons of South African colonists, the majority of whom are receiving a university education. Can it be fair to these that they should be pitted against semi-qualified English adventurers?

The necessity of a medical act in South Africa, with proper penal clauses, becomes every day more apparent. The South African Medical Journal in 1884, on giving a resumé of that year’s events of interest, drew public attention to one glaring instance, which had to pass unpunished. In mentioning the case of two medical men, this journal observes: “The latter, a L. R. C. S. of Edinburgh only, had been practicing as a physician, although gazetted as a surgeon only. He had aggravated this by repeatedly signing his name with M. D. and F. R. C. P., a proceeding which was not only mendacious, but dishonest.” But yet this dishonesty had to remain without the infliction of any fine. This case is one among many, which shows the urgency of legislation in this direction.

Since the creation of a municipality in Kimberley in 1878, and the consequent introduction of sanitary regulations, duly enforced by law when necessary, the death-rate has very considerably diminished. The late Dr. Shillito and the writer, in March, 1879, prepared an exhaustive report for the mayor and town council on the sanitary condition of Kimberley. The death-rate at that time was enormous, as can be seen from the following table, which is a copy of that which we then furnished:

Total population 14,169 Deaths 867 Rate per 1,000 61.014
Europeans 6,574 236 „ „ „ 40.005
Other than Europeans 7,595 604 „ „ „ 79.052

At that time Kimberley was perfectly honeycombed with cesspools. We drew attention in our report to the evil effects 108of the existing system, and to the manner in which these had revealed themselves two years before, when an epidemic of puerperal fever and erysipelas robbed the community of many valuable lives, and we further showed that there was always existing a remitten fever of a dysenteric and typhoid tendency, which could in some measure be attributed to this defective sanitary condition. Our report led to the adoption of the “Pail system,” and the night-soil is now taken away regularly and buried some distance from the town, the consequence of which is that the death-rate from disease has diminished more than one-third, and the sanitary condition of Kimberley is to my own knowledge as good as that of any town in South Africa.

Kimberley, notwithstanding its improved sanitary condition, was in 1883 and 1884 visited by a disastrous outbreak of disease, which cost the community much, both in life and money. In May, 1882, small-pox was brought to South Africa by the steamship Drummond Castle, and spreading, proved very fatal in the Capetown Peninsula (Capetown to Simon’s Town), 4,000, less or more, succumbing to its ravages. Great apprehension was felt in Kimberley lest the disease might be communicated by the passenger wagons coming up from Capetown. Terror seized upon the digging community, and a quarantine station was immediately established at the Modder River, some thirty miles from the mines. Every care was taken, and all passengers were fumigated with sulphur before they were permitted to enter Kimberley. As the result, seven cases of small-pox were detected and detained for treatment, and all those traveling by the same wagons were kept in quarantine twenty-one days.

These efforts, which lasted from Sept. 1882 to March 1883, were entirely successful, and not one single case of small-pox broke out in Kimberley. This threatened invasion put the ratepayers to an expense of nearly £13,000, which, however, was a mere bagatelle compared with the outlay which the epidemic disease that broke out on the fields in 1883, 1884 and 1885 entailed. This came from another and quite unexpected quarter, and was not imported seaward. A certain body of Kafirs, who were coming to Kimberley to seek for work, were attacked at Klerksdorp, in the Transvaal, 109a small town near Potchefstroom, with symptoms resembling small-pox. The doctors there declared the disease to be aggravated chicken-pox, when the Transvaal government, not being satisfied, Dr. Dyer, who had been promoted to the chief medical office under the Transvaal government, was sent from Pretoria to report direct. In this report, dated Oct. 25th, 1883, he gave it as his opinion (concurred in by Dr. Francis, the special commissioner of the Orange Free State), that the natives were suffering merely from a severe form of chicken-pox, termed by them “Isi-mun-qu-mun-gwane.” These natives were then allowed to proceed on their road to the diamond mines, but of the sixteen who left Klerksdorp four only reached Felstead’s, a store about nine miles from Kimberley, when, the survivors being too weak to proceed, information of the fact was brought by passers-by. An outcry was soon raised, they were visited by medical men, materials to erect shelter for them were immediately sent out, a doctor appointed, and all the precautions commenced to be taken, which afterward led to so much expense. The civil commissioner at once (Nov. 3d, 1883,) appointed a board of six medical men to report on the disease, who after a prolonged inquiry left matters in statu quo, three averring that the outbreak was small-pox, and the others (myself among the number) arriving at a contrary opinion. Government then sent a physician from Capetown to investigate matters, who on Dec. 6th, 1883, declared the disease to be small-pox; so those declaring the outbreak to be a “bullous disease, allied to pemphigus,” and not contagious, as well as those declaring the disease to be a Kafir pox,[21] or an aggravated form of chicken-pox, were outvoted. It was during one of my visits, accompanied by Dr. L. S. Jameson, to further examine into this outbreak that I met with the nearly fatal accident which I mention elsewhere.

I will not weary my lay readers by entering upon a medical discussion, but may refer my professional brethren to a verbatim report published by the Diamond Fields Advertiser in a book form, of the case of Regina vs. Wolff, where Dr. Wolff, an American physician of more than average skill, was charged with failing to report the existence of “small-pox” 110in the hospital of which he had then charge, in which the whole matter is carefully discussed. The outbreak of pemphigus or small-pox, which lasted in its virulent form from Nov. 1883, to Dec. 1884, cost the inhabitants of Kimberley and the mines of Griqualand West the large sum of £37,503, 15s. 11d. Medical services were paid for at an extravagant rate, two medical men alone drawing the sum of £3,320, 10s. 6d., and what with the erection of iron hospitals, fumigating houses, dispensaries, ambulance wagons, horses and highly paid officials the outbreak was an expensive luxury to Griqualand West as long as it continued. The Dutch, also taking alarm, stationed patrols on all the roads leading from Kimberley to the Free State, excepting four, on which they erected fumigating stations just outside our boundary. At these stations they fumigated all Kafirs and others passing along, charging those not resident in the State, whether white or black. Some idea of the extent of this charge on the population may be formed from the fact that at the Reit Pass station alone 11,570 were fumigated in three months. Of the folly and uselessness I will remain silent. When the outbreak first appeared, the “Act to amend the law relating to Public Health,” No. 4, 1883, giving power to levy rates, and also for framing regulations for vaccination and quarantining was the only ordinance which applied, but in 1884 a special act was passed (Nov. 10th, 1884), giving the Board of Health power to levy rates on boroughs and mines, and to defray expenses. This was followed in 1885 by ordinance No. 41, by which the government was empowered to pay one-half of all moneys expended on account of small-pox; though previous to this the government had acted with great liberality, having defrayed one-third of every expense. The total number of cases reported from Nov. 1st, 1883, to Jan. 1st, 1885, the months during which the epidemic was at its height, was 2,311, and the number of deaths 700, or say 32.02 per cent. The proportion of white cases as against colored was very marked, the number of white being 400, with 51 deaths, or 12.07 per cent., and of colored 1,911, with 649 deaths, or 35.42 per cent. A second attempt to revive the scare was made toward the end of 1885, but this did not succeed, although twenty-five colored and one white man were sent to the lazaretto, alleged to be 111suffering from small-pox. A special commission to examine-these patients was sent out, on my describing a visit I had made to this lazaretto, and on my drawing public attention to the absurdity of the whole affair. This commission, although chosen from medical men believing in the small-pox theory, actually certified that half of the patients they saw in the lazaretto were not suffering from small-pox at all. My readers from this will be able to form an estimate of the cruel acts perpetrated at the time by ignorant officials, and to judge how, taking the small-pox view of the case, a loathsome disease would be propagated amongst healthy persons—how the innocent and guilty would suffer alike. After this exposure small-pox rapidly died out. The lazaretto is now removed to the west side of the mine, and the buildings surrounded by grounds, twenty-two acres in extent, are stationed on a high plateau on the road to Schmidt’s Drift. At present Kimberley is perfectly free from any cases of this disease.

In the beginning of this chapter I made mention of the first lunatic I ever saw in Griqualand West, who, as he belonged to the police, was removed, I believe, to Capetown, but ever since then, both before annexation and since, lunatics as a rule, up to a very short time back, have been left to drag out their weary existences, the victims of heart-curdling neglect, in the common jail. In August, 1885, I took occasion, when speaking on the subject of lunacy, to lay bare before the Kimberley public some of the scenes day by day enacted in their prison (their lunatic asylum?). In the course of a lecture I then delivered, I spoke thus on the subject:

“Here in the middle of the nineteenth century, in an era of boasted civilization, the only care we can give our lunatics, except in Capetown and Grahams town, is to herd them with criminals, and to chain and handcuff them with brutal severity, pending an official order for removal, which may never come. It is a painful thought, that among the poorer patients, who from the ills of life suffer mental alienation; fathers depressed from loss or anxiety, mothers from exhaustion resulting from the rearing of a large family, the young man from vice, dissipation or disappointed hopes, and the foreigner among strangers, looking wistfully back to his native home—that these, all suffering from diseases which might possibly have been stayed, should be thrust into jails without attendants, simply put in irons if violent, and almost compelled through sheer inhumanity and neglect to suffer the misery of incurable lunacy!

112“As I have just said, in all colonial towns except two, as far as I can learn, the jail is the receptacle of the lunatic. Kimberley, with its vast wealth, with its go-ahead citizens, is no exception. What tales the walls of its jail could tell! One poor black, to my certain knowledge, has been locked within its gates for twelve long years, and there you can see him—to-morrow if you like—bemoaning his fate, and cursing the government in the same breath! A poor white girl, the daughter of a man whom old residents must remember well in the palmy days of the Diamond News, has day after day, and every day since 1876, paced like a caged tigress up and down a small court-yard, panting for freedom, and growling in despair! One poor girl, black her skin may be, is handcuffed, so I learnt, for days together, to prevent her from stripping herself of all she wears. Two women I saw there myself, not three days ago, clad simply in nature’s garb, as naked as when born. A patient of my own was taken to this comfortless place some few months ago. His case wanted thoughtful care and instant attention. Red tape, however, consumed weeks of valuable time, the chance of cure was risked, and he, poor fellow, instead of being cared for by skilled attendants, was thrust handcuffed into a cell, ironically called padded, the floor left bare, on which he might have battered out his brains, had he chosen, in the frenzy of his despair! On another occasion, in that very same cell, a lunatic was confined one night not very long before. Upon the jailer paying his visit in the morning he looked anxiously round for the man that had been committed to his care the previous evening. To his astonishment, where do you think he found him? I will tell you. During the long, dreary watches of the night, the poor fellow, to escape from some imaginary foe, had scooped out with his nails a hole large and deep enough in which to hide, and there he found him, crouching like a wild beast in his lair. I saw this hole myself on a visit I afterward paid him. I will here ask you one question, who ought to inquire into these matters? Who is answerable for this shameful neglect?”

This account created quite a sensation, and was at once taken notice of by the government, who removed all but one lunatic, about whom there was some local quibble, to the asylum at Grahamstown. Some idea may be formed of the responsibility falling upon the shoulders of the Governor of the Kimberley jail when I inform my readers that during the last fourteen years 67,000 convicted prisoners have passed through his hands.

This chapter would be incomplete without a few words respecting the climate of Griqualand West. Taken as a whole it is very salubrious, and especially adapted to those suffering from lung disease, as the country being almost entirely devoid of timber or vegetation permits free currents of air to prevail, 113a condition which is very favorable to consumptive patients. Although the changes of temperature are very sudden and great, yet with proper care little harm is done, as the excessive dryness of the soil and atmosphere enables the residents to withstand with but little inconvenience a heat which would be quite unbearable in a moist climate. The rain, too, when it comes, generally falls in sharp and heavy showers.

The drinking water is upon the whole good, though that of the deep wells is rather hard, and in the shallow ones brackish, but the water now brought in from the Vaal River through the enterprise of Chevalier Lynch by means of pipes is soft and very wholesome.

The elevation of Griqualand West of about 4,000 feet above the sea appears to give it the air of a mountainous region, the ozone being constant, and ranging from 3.5 to 9.5 degrees on a scale of ten, the average being about five degrees.

In Kimberley the north wind is the prevailing one. From a report of 4,452 observations taken by Mr. G. J. Lee, F. R. Met. S., in 1885, in 681 cases it was due north; next in order came northeast and south winds, of about equal frequency, and next, with comparatively little difference, were winds from the northwest and southwest. As can be imagined Griqualand West is very dry.

It will be seen from the table below that there has been one year only during the last nine in which the rainfall came up to or exceeded twenty-five inches, which is about the English average: 1877, 13.58 inches; 1878, 9.34; 1879, 19.38; 1880, 15.43; 1881, 30.30; 1882, 14.77; 1883, 13.63; 1884, 20.46, and 73 days on which rain fell; 1885, 9.77, and 74 days on which rain fell.

In some months no rain falls at all. The following is a tabulated list of the months, during the last eight years, in which this has occurred: June, 1877; June, 1878; October, 1879; July, 1880; August, 1880; September, 1880; July, 1881; September, 1881; June, 1883; December, 1883; July, 1884; August, 1884; July, 1885.

During the year 1885 there were ninety-two days on which lightning was seen, seventy-four on which dew fell, two hundred and eighty-eight days on which there were clouds, and seven days on which ice was seen, although in the outskirts 114of Kimberley ice was much more frequent. I have given monthly returns in the accompanying table:

1885 Clouds Dew Lightning Ice
January 27 days 1 10 0
February 26 7 20 0
March 26 21 4 0
April 24 16 5 0
May 23 9 1 0
June 13 9 1 0
July 17 1 0 0
August 25 4 3 6
September 26 5 5 1
October 27 1 8 0
November 26 0 15 0
December 28 0 20 0

  288   74 92 7

The barometric pressure for the year 1883 appears to have been at its maximum in June, in which month the reading was 26.177 inches, and the minimum, which was 25.849 inches, occurred in January, while the mean for the year was 25.988 inches. All these readings are corrected to 32° F.

The heat experienced in Griqualand West is sometimes very excessive, when I state that the maximum summer heat of the day in the shade during the months of November and December was in the year 1883, 107°, in 1884, 102°, and last year 104°, whilst during the month of December, 1885, the ordinary bright bulb thermometer in the sun attained the height of 116.25°, and the blackened bulb in vacuo 174.6°, my readers may form some idea of the great range of temperature to which residents are exposed, especially if they contrast this with the minimum during the winter months, July and August, of 26° in 1884, and of 28.25° in 1885. At the same time it is interesting to note that the highest mean of absolute maximum temperature was 78.98° in December and the absolute minimum 52.52° in June. I have often conversed on this subject with one of the early Vaal River diggers, who told me that in September, 1870, he several times found the thermometer in his tent in the early morning standing at 32°, and at mid-day registering 112°, and on one occasion in 1870 it was as low as 17°.


115In the winter there is a great difference between the temperature upon the grass and that upon the bare soil. Wagoners are fully aware of this, for when on a cold, frosty night their oxen go astray, they look for them upon roads, or bare patches of ground, as they know where the instinct of the animals will lead them, the oxen appearing intuitively to know that the grass favors radiation and causes intense cold. I have often indeed known the temperature on the grass to be as low as 16°, or even 13°, when the temperature on the bare ground around was above freezing point. Any one living near the diamond mines can relate the scores of cases in which natives during the last ten years have lain down upon the veldt (grass) to sleep away their drunken carousals, and have been found stiff and dead in the morning.

Although “Afric’s sunny fountains” (comparatively few in number, however, on our high plateau) have, in good old Bishop Heber’s beautiful hymn, “rolled down their golden sand,” yet visitors who come out under the belief that pajamas, mosquito nets, and the lightest silken gossamers, etc., are sufficient to keep out the cold, would be astonished to find, as they might do, from time to time, pea-jacketed and ulstered individuals of varying ages heartily enjoying games of snowball under the supposed burning sun.

The dust storms, to which we are liable all the year round, are our greatest trial, sweeping over the country like a very sirocco, burning, blinding and choking up everything in their fury. Occasionally, to change the scene, we have storms of hail, with stones sometimes of extraordinary size, two and two and a half inches in diameter, whilst whirlpools ofttimes sweep and circle round, to relieve the monotony of the landscape.

Yet, notwithstanding these drawbacks, and the great variations in the climate, and putting aside preventible diseases, arising from defective sanitation, and reckless exposure, the climate is on the whole very fairly healthy for Europeans.

In the early days of the Fields the gambling spirit so infatuated many of the diggers, that, not satisfied with the excitement of the day’s luck, or ill-luck in the mine, they would prolong the accidents of fortune far into the night. In my next chapter I will give an account of that period.



“Chance, my dear Bob, chance is ten times a more intoxicating liquor than champagne, and, once take to ‘dramming’ with fortune, you may bid a long adieu to sobriety! I do not speak here of the terrible infatuation of play, and the almost utter impossibility of resisting it, but I allude to what is infinitely worse—the certainty of your applying play theories and play tactics to every event and circumstance of real life.”—James Dodd to Robert Doolan, Esq.—Lever.

If Mr. Dodd’s advice upon the subject of play, and his contention as to its worst results be correct, and I think no one can fairly contradict him, how much stronger is the position if the converse of the proposition be taken. The latter was the case, however, in the infancy of the diamond fields. There the daily work was one continual game at hazard with Dame Fortune. The “hard-up” and disconsolate digger of to-day might be Chance’s chosen favorite to-morrow. One blow of 117the pick, one turn of the shovel, might disclose for him a treasure exceeding his wildest imaginings, the difference between the precarious business of digging for diamonds and gambling at a faro table, in fact, being a moral difference only. Hence that hope which “springs eternal in the human breast” buoyed him up under all difficulties and prevented his ever yielding to absolute despair. But at the same time it tended to weaken the force of his moral character; he was compelled by circumstances to confront, and in a measure calculate upon, the chances, and probabilities of his daily avocations; he had to begin with that state of mind in which Mr. Dodd’s gambler is supposed to finish; and there is little ground, therefore, for surprise that, when turning from labor to leisure, the digger’s favorite recreations should be those of the gamester.

His surroundings, moreover, were depressing in the extreme. Even when mitigated by the company of a “chum,” tent life, upon mere bread and meat, with indifferent coffee, and no rational amusements at command, was not exhilarating. Is it wonderful, therefore, that the gregarious instinct of man should have led the diggers to while away the dreariness of their idle hours at the hotels or gambling saloons? Even of happy England did not Shenstone say:

“Whoe’er has traveled life’s dull round,
Whate’er his stages may have been,
Must sigh to think he still has found
His warmest welcome at an inn?”

And accordingly, in all mining camps, the two great social evils have always been drinking and gambling. The diamond fields were not singular in this respect, for the digger only followed the example of his Australian and Californian brother when he allowed his appetite for drink and his passion for play to run riot. The canteens and gambling saloons supplied the opportunities, and on the principle of “vires acquirit eundo”—reached such dire proportions as to call for legislative interference.

Of the evils of the drink traffic I may speak elsewhere. With regard to the other social evil I may mention that it first took firm hold of the community by the establishment of 118a saloon under the auspices of two partners, who had discarded the legitimate but slower processes of their ordinary digging operations for the more rapid if less regular method of making a fortune over “the board of green cloth.” There were many others, who all ran the game openly, engaged in this nefarious occupation, but I select these men, as they probably made the largest fortune in their business, if such it may be called, retiring in a few months with £40,000. The games most in vogue at this “hell” were “roulette,” “rouge-et-noir,” “trente-et-quarante” and “faro,” all of which, I must admit, were conducted in a perfectly honorable manner, and the legitimate odds invariably given the players. On the other hand the smaller fry of the hell-keepers descended to very low dodges indeed. One modest young man who kept a roulette table had four “zeros” and a “crown and feather” for himself, with thirty-six numbers for his patrons, whilst he would lay only thirty to one against any individual number, thus securing for himself in any event an advantage of some thirty-three per cent. upon each spin of the table, if luck were in other respects even. Another gentleman (?), by mechanical devices, as actually robbed his patrons as if he had knocked them down and rifled their pockets. This thief had the alternate divisions between the colors on his revolving ribbed wheel of fortune so contrived that he could direct the ball, by a right or left spin, on to such color as might suit his pocket best. I also heard of a still bolder spirit, who, becoming alarmed at the constancy with which one player persisted in backing the number 13, quietly called in the painter’s art to erase the dangerous figure and paint a second 31. He then allowed the player, who must have been strangely short-sighted, to continue backing his favorite number “13” for some nights afterward, no doubt looking upon this man’s infatuation as a certain annuity, before the fraud was discovered. This was “heads I win and tails you lose” with a vengeance for the banker. There were other devices which it is unnecessary for me to refer to here, but which all tended to increase the odds against the players.

Let me give a sketch of one eventful evening in a gambling saloon of the olden days: We approached a corrugated iron building of no great architectural pretensions, from whence 119came sounds of lively music and the hum of many voices alternating with an almost complete stillness, which was broken only by the ominous croak of the croupier or the reckless oaths of the losers. Upon entering we encountered an individual (technically called a “bonnet”) whose hateful duty it was to tempt men to play by the lavish way in which he staked money which to all appearance was his own, and to seduce the unwary into the meshes of his employer’s net. On this occasion I recollect the proprietor of the hell, no doubt urged on by an ardent thirst for gold, but who, however, was exceedingly anxious to preserve his incognito, passing himself off as an active business agent in claim matters, actually acting as a bonnet at his own “hell;” losing and winning hundreds with the greatest nonchalance. His manner was cheerful in the extreme, and as the night was yet young, the players scanty and the stakes small, he was free to inveigle our humble selves into play.

With a princely air, which ill became his vulgar exterior, he called for champagne, which we declined to drink, preferring to take a modest glass of spirits. He then politely offered other refreshments of a more solid nature, which we also refused, and finally suggested that we should “watch a game.” He declined to receive the payment that we offered, so led by curiosity we turned our attention to the tables, which by this time were surrounded by an eager throng of players. A motley crew they were, indeed. Old men and boys, the inveterate and apparently unmoved gambler and the nervous and manifestly excited tyro; the honest and dishonest, the mean and generous, the cowardly and brave; all classes were there. Some clad in decent clothes, but many in shirt sleeves and rough garb, just as they had come from the mine, had notes of large amounts in their hands, whilst bundles of them protruded from their pockets. Some again had but little money, and staked warily, frequently referring to the state of their finances; others had no funds at all, and simply looked on from sheer infatuation, having nothing, staking nothing, neither winning nor losing, but meddling and advising bystanders as to the best form and chance of play, until significantly warned by an attendant to keep silence. All, however, were beset by the “auri sacra fames,” and flocked like sheep 120round the croupier’s table, where it was not until after much crushing and grumbling that a new-comer who had evidently some considerable money to sacrifice at Dame Fortune’s shrine was admitted to the charmed circle. He was addressed as Captain H. by surrounding friends, and we watched his play with considerable interest, as despite a calm exterior his anxiety to win was evidently most intense. Play continued with varying success for some time, until his rolls having dwindled away, it seemed that H. had come down to his last £10 note. This he flung on the “red” with a look of sheer despair, and awaited the issue with an agony of expression that was painful to witness. “Red” would have proved his salvation, but alas! once more “black” was in the ascendant, and H. was “played out.” With a muttered oath, but without any words intelligible to the bystanders, he darted outside the saloon into the open. Those absorbed in play merely jeered at his sudden departure; their hearts had become hardened to such scenes, but even to their callous temperaments came a sudden sickening chill as the report of a pistol rang out clearly through the midnight air. Their unspoken thoughts found language as a chance passer-by excitedly rushed in, telling them that Captain H. had shot himself and was lying smothered in blood, dead in the road. It was too true. H. had solved life’s mysteries by one mad act, and had added another name to the long death-roll of fickle Fortune’s victims!

Shortly after this the laws against gambling were altered and rendered much more stringent by a government proclamation signed by Richard Southey and dated, 17th March 1873.

Prior to this, however, and whilst the gambling hells were in full swing, there had been rusting in the legal armory of the government a weapon which surely ought to have been sufficient to deal to some extent with the gambling nuisance. On June 2d, 1872, the government had already recognized the extent and growth of this evil, and with a view of lessening it, I find that the commissioners issued a notice, which was published in the Gazette, prohibiting lotteries and fining offenders twenty-five rix dollars over and above the forfeiture of the property played for, with an alternative of being severely flogged. Tavern keepers and publicans who 121had broken the act were also forever precluded from holding licenses. This latter notice caused the hell-keepers and their patrons to observe more caution, but it was merely an improvement on the surface, for the former speedily constituted so-called “clubs,” where gambling went on as freely as ever. A notice such as the following

Barkly House, _BEHIND MRS. WALKER’S RESTAURANT_, New Rush, _MR. JONES AT HOME_, _Every evening except Sundays at 8 p. m._ _Admit Mr._ ______ _This ticket not transferable._ _Per W. J._

was the next move of the “hell” keepers, and in spite of the government notice aforesaid of June 22d, they managed by means of this subterfuge to carry on their “little game” for a month or two longer, until the proclamation, on the arrival of Governor Southey, appeared in the Gazette on March 17th, 1873, which put an end to this disgraceful state of things.

No sooner had the governmental fiat against gambling gone forth than the sporting fraternity set their brains to work to devise some plan for rendering the new law abortive. The digging camps being close to the Orange Free State border, arrangements were made with the owner of Wessel’s farm, which is some six miles from Du Toit’s Pan, and in the Free State, to continue operations there. This is the locality which afterward became so notorious as a sort of harbor of refuge and base of operations for the illicit diamond trade of Griqualand West. To this rural retreat were transported roulette wheels and other gambling implements, and 122play was there recommenced, but without much success. Men who might succumb to temptation when it was thrust under their very noses were not weak or wicked enough to make active search for it; so the suburban “hell” died a natural death.

Your professional gamblers are, however, very pertinacious men, and whilst casting about for a new idea they decided to introduce “rondo en colo,” a game which combined the simplicity of “pitch and toss” with a capability for investing an unlimited amount of money. It had the further merit, moreover, of being an absolute certainty for the banker. In the other games which had previously been the fashion there was always a chance, though a tolerably remote one, of breaking the bank, or, at least, of winning greater or less sums from the establishment, but in “rondo en colo” all this was changed. The hawk had been forbidden to prey upon the doves, so he set the latter on to pluck each other, whilst he seized upon the feathers.

The modus operandi was as follows: The banker or croupier, who at this game required little or no capital, having secured the use of a billiard table, seated himself opposite to one of the middle pockets, and spread out upon the table in front of himself a semicircular piece of oil-cloth, upon the edge of which were painted the numbers one to eight, and certain other marks and combinations peculiar to the game. A round stick like a large ruler was provided, by which eight glass balls were propelled in an even line from one of the end pockets to its diagonal opposite at the other end of the table, and the stakes were won or lost according to the manner in which the balls were deposited in or near to the object pocket. One of the bystanders would stake say five pounds on the oil-cloth with a view of betting either on the number of balls that would run into the object pocket, or as to whether that number would be odd or even. If another bystander felt inclined to take up the bet he covered the stakes by placing an equal amount on the billiard cloth opposite to the sum already deposited upon the board. If the money were not covered there was no bet made. When a sufficient number of couples had backed their opinions the balls were rolled to the object pocket, the stakes were awarded according 123to the event, and last, but not least of all, the stakes were handed over to the winner by the banker, who, however, carefully deducted his five per cent, on the cast.

Of science there was none, the bank was sure to win. In fact if some unfortunate wight had the good fortune to win £100 for say twenty times, and then had ill-luck enough to back a losing event for £100 for twenty times following, the banker’s commissions of five per cent. would have swallowed up an amount exceeding the capital with which he commenced. This combination of safety and simplicity for the banker, however, failed to convince the authorities as to either the fairness or the legality of the game, and accordingly one busy evening when the game was in full blast, a tall, gaunt figure, with eagle eye and Roman nose, well known to all old residents on the Fields at the time, although since dead, suddenly came down upon the gamblers like “a wolf on the fold,” seizing all the money and dispersing the men, taking the proprietor into custody.

Curses both loud and deep greeted this summary proceeding, but it was all of no avail. The law took its course, a prosecution followed, at which divers ingenious arguments were raised for the defence by the late Mr. T. Mortimer Siddall, a most able lawyer, but all to no purpose. The new proclamation was so stringently worded as to preclude all loopholes of escape; every possible legal presumption was evidently to be construed against the accused; and a conviction and the heavy fine of £300 followed. This tolled the death-knell of public gambling at the Diamond Fields.

The prosecution could not, however, stop private gambling, nor in fact is such a desirable result practicable, for since the publication of the new law I have heard of very high play taking place. But though I have since known hundreds and occasionally thousands of pounds to change hands in private houses, the gambling nuisance is no longer flaunted before sober and respectable citizens, or what is of more importance, under the very eyes of those feebly pliant mortals who yield to the slightest solicitations of the gambling ogre.

The class of “wasters” which public gambling bred and fostered were a distinct outrage upon society. How could an honest and industrious but unlucky digger fail to draw invidious 124comparisons between his own hard lot and the “purple and fine linen” style of life which apparently marked the “rake’s progress” of the professed gambler? Had not some such proclamation been issued, I feel confident that episodes like that related in Bret Harte’s “Outcasts of Poker Flat” might have marked the progress of the fields, though I doubt whether any of the gamblers of that time would have compared very favorably with “John Oakhurst, gentleman.” The legitimate diamond industry afforded ample scope for the most enthusiastic speculator, and there was no need of any adventitious aid to add to the uncertainties of digging life.

In closing this chapter I may just draw attention to the fact that a new scheme, the “totalisator,” inciting and encouraging gambling on the South African race-courses has been introduced (1885). This, though it protects backers of horses from levanting bookmakers, and affords the current and proper odds on each race, ought at once to be stopped.[22] Its very existence proves the truth of the old saying that “one man may steal a horse, while another dare not look in at the stable door.”

I may further relate, in order to show the harm which legalized lotteries do to the moral tone of a community, that at the spring meeting, 1885, of the Griqualand West Turf Club, a thousand pound lottery was so rapidly subscribed that a second was started and filled almost at once, the club receiving 10 per cent. of the winner’s money. At the Capetown autumn meeting in 1886 a somewhat similar lottery was started, when a well-known Kimberley gentleman chanced to draw the favorite, and the news of his luck soon spread. Judge of his surprise on receiving a telegram from the horse’s owner, a supposed honorable man, to the following effect: “My horse sure of a place, will you give a third of prize? Otherwise I shall scratch him.” The Kimberley gentleman 125did not see his way to accede to this modest request, and preferred, much to the disgust of the too astute owner, to publish his telegram in both the Kimberley and Capetown newspapers. This course of action caused the question of the legality of these race lotteries to be raised in parliament, but the premier’s reply at the time was considered to be vague, and was severely commented upon by the press of the colony.



It is already a matter of history how in 1867 the first diamond was discovered in South Africa—not in the bed of a river or in the bowels of the earth, but among the playthings of a Boer’s child in a farm-house near the Orange River in the Hopetown district.

It is curious to note how—to slightly alter Pope—“great events from trivial causes spring.” In the same manner that the discovery of diamonds in Brazil and the opening up of the mines in that country virtually closed the Indian mines, so the diamond mines of Griqualand West have almost put a stop to the Brazilian trade.

There is a certain spice of romance about the story of the finding of the first diamond in South Africa, as told to me by a former patient of mine, Mr. John O’Reilly, who was the principal agent interested in the discovery, and who thus achieved for himself a historic name in connection with the development of South Africa. I took down from his own lips the following graphic account of the finding of this gem, which differs in some particulars from the version that has been frequently given:



129“It is nine years ago, you know, Doctor,” he said, “since I first lit upon the diamond which led to the finding and development of this wonderful place. I was trading around as usual, never dreaming of anything particular occurring, when in October, 1867, I outspanned at a farm belonging to a Boer named Niekerk, close to the Orange River. His youngsters, when I came there, were playing with pebbles just like the ‘alleytors and commoners’ beloved by Master Bardell in Pickwick, and their father was standing alongside watching them. Seeing me looking on, he pointed out one stone prettier than the rest in the hand of a little Griqua servant boy who was minding his children, and said: ‘Dars a mooi klippe voor en borst spelt’ (there’s a pretty stone for a woman’s brooch). I had a diamond ring on my finger, and I fancied I could see some resemblance to the cut stone; and taking it from the boy I tried to scratch my initials on the window pane, as I had somewhere seen that this was one of the tests of a diamond. As soon as I found that the stone would cut glass I offered to give Niekerk, if he would allow me to take it away, one-half of what I might get for it, supposing it proved to be a diamond. This he jumped at. I at once inspanned my oxen into my wagon, and went to Hopetown, our trading centre at that time. When I got there I showed it to Solomon, the store-keeper, you must know him, who chaffed me and laughing bet me a dozen of beer that it wasn’t worth anything, and that I must be an utter idiot to bother about such a mare’s nest. From Hopetown I trekked on to Colesberg, where I took another opinion. I asked the resident magistrate this time. He wasn’t sure what it was, but advised me to send it to Capetown. I didn’t care, however, to do that, so I sent it to Grahamstown instead, where Dr. Atherstone lived, who knows all about such things. When I arrived there myself shortly afterward and saw him he said there was no doubt it was a diamond, and a good one too. Dr. Atherstone sent it to Sir Philip Wodehouse, then Governor, who bought it for £500, half of which I gave, as promised, to Niekerk.

“You ask me how Dr. Atherstone found out what it was. Well, I’ll tell you what Dr. Atherstone told me. He said he took the stone round to all the jewelers in Grahamstown, and that their files couldn’t touch it; and this with something about specific gravity I didn’t at that time understand, made him feel certain it was a diamond. The discovery created an enormous sensation? You are right, it did; and if it had not been for that little bit of luck on the Orange River, diamond digging in Africa might still be unknown, and the country would never have made the progress it has.

“When people in the colony began to think that there was a chance of more diamonds being found where this one came from, numerous parties of fortune hunters came up and began to search along the banks of the Orange River, and afterward those of the Vaal. This is the way that the first diggers came here.”

130It is now seventeen years ago since Mr. Southey, then colonial secretary, laid the second diamond which had been found, on the table of the House of the Cape assembly, with the prophetic remark: “Gentlemen, this is the rock on which the future success of South Africa will be built.” There is not a man who knows this gentleman but rejoices that he still lives, ripe in years, to see the continued fulfillment of his remarkable prediction.

To cross the Orange River in those days was to go beyond the confines of civilization; but the diamond is a wonderful magnet, and as the news spread a large population of many thousands soon collected. The influx, as time went on, became of the most cosmopolitan character, North, South, East and West adding their quota, gold diggers came from the gulches of California and the creeks of Australia, “Cousin Jacks” from Cornwall, diamond buyers and speculators from London, Paris and Amsterdam, “tinkers, tailors, soldiers, sailors, ploughboys, apothecaries and thieves,” eager at all cost to embrace this chance of sudden wealth. Hardships were endured, money risked, labor spent. Some were lucky, others unlucky. The life on the river, however, is spoken of by the “old hands” as one of happy memory. I should think that thirty different sites were “rushed” by the early diggers on the Vaal,[23] and although Pinel and Klipdrift were the principal, yet the banks of the river for at least seventy miles of its course were more or less prospected and worked. As I will presently show, the river diggings after the discovery of diamonds at Du Toit’s Pan and the other three mines became rapidly deserted, until at the present time there are not more than 400 diggers altogether on the banks. The diggings are all in alluvial soil. No great finds are made. The diggers, however, enjoy a healthy, happy existence, surrounded by the beauties of nature, on the banks of a broad and majestic river, which in the early days bore on its broad bosom a perfect flotilla of ferry boats plying for hire day and night, and which 131even now, on the birthday of our beloved queen and other public holidays, may be seen in goodly numbers, with “youth at the prow and pleasure at the helm,” a very different form of life from the dust and discomfort of the dry diggings. The returns from these diggings are at present about £50,000 per annum.

While men were busily engaged in scraping away among the pebbles of the Vaal River, prospecting was going on some twenty miles southward. The first dry diggings struck were those of Du Toit’s Pan in the middle of 1870, which were worked chiefly by the Dutch, who at that time never thought of testing the ground to a greater depth than eighteen inches or two feet, and who, when they came upon calcareous tufa, abandoned their operations. Shortly afterward, on the adjoining farm, Bulfontein, and within gunshot range of Du Toit’s Pan, diamonds were found in the very plaster which lined the walls of the homestead. Hearing this, many diggers moved over from Du Toit’s Pan and proved the diamondiferous character of this farm, the returns from which, however, were found not to be equal to those of the former place, while a month or two later another diggings named Old De Beers, and situated about a couple of miles north of Du Toit’s Pan, were also opened up. An occurrence which has proved of absorbing interest to the whole of South Africa took place about this time. In July a young man of the name of Rawstorne, who came up from Colesberg in the Cape Colony, was out shooting, and becoming somewhat weary, rested himself under the shades of a thorn bush, and scratching the ground, from, force of habit and to pass the time away, unearthed a beautiful diamond. Highly elated with his unexpected success, when he returned after his day’s amusement to his friends at Old De Beers, he told them of his luck. Next day, the news having got abroad, the locality was “rushed” and hundreds of claims pegged out. The other diggings very soon became practically deserted. Men packed up their belongings, moved their tents, and sought the “New Rush,” and, almost as if by magic, in the very place where but a few days before deer had been quietly browsing, hundreds of diggers could be seen. This famous “Kopje” is now the Kimberley mine, the richness of which it is impossible to estimate. When this mine was first opened the claims were laid out in an oblong of 30 from north to south and 28 132from east to west, making in all upon the original plan 840 claims of 30 feet square (Rhynland measure), giving 961 English square feet to each claim. After the whole of the claims were measured and given out, hundreds of others were marked off and worked. Some were very soon abandoned as worthless, but others equally worthless were worked, the owners for some time hoping that a change for the better would take place, and that they would become remunerative. These extended far into the present site of the township, and much valuable time was lost in testing them.

At the present time out of the 420 claims originally worked 339⅕ only remain, and the holdings by various diggers, which at that time amounted to over 1,100, are now reduced to twenty-two companies and individuals. In the same manner Old De Beers with its 592, Du Toit’s Pan with its 1,417, and Bulfontein with its 799 claims, are represented by 6, 34, and 21 holdings respectively.[24]

No more wretched existence can be imagined than that endured by the early diggers. As I have already mentioned, a malarial fever raged, water was dear and bad, being carted in barrels from adjacent farms, (after even wells were dug it was sold for as much as 10s. per barrel) and so scarce that I have seen diggers wash in soda water which had been imported 700 miles from Capetown. Vegetables were also extremely dear and almost unprocurable, cauliflowers being retailed at 20s. each and cabbages at 8s., fleas and flies abounded, sand-storms blew in blind fury, and of amusements there were none; yet notwithstanding all these drawbacks, sociability ruled throughout the camps, and a helping hand was always thrown out by a lucky digger to assist his less fortunate brother.

Crime was nearly unknown. As I have mentioned elsewhere, the fields were too far inland and the cost of travel too great to induce any not honestly inclined to suffer the privations and incur the expense necessary to get there. Men would leave their tents for hours, even days, and yet find everything intact on their return, such was the quiet and order which reigned through the camp.



135But as time went on, and as transport became easier, cheaper and quicker, the fields became the rendezvous of, I should say, nearly all the light-fingered gentry and desperadoes that Africa contained; and as a consequence instances of illicit diamond buying, robberies and assaults became comparatively numerous, in fact Kimberley became “civilized.”

At the present day churches and chapels, a theatre and library, a municipal council, with a mayor, a properly drilled police force, a well-kept cemetery, the electric light, a race-course and grand stand, public gardens, with tastefully laid out grounds, an admirably arranged and conducted hospital for whites and blacks, a noble court of justice, a comfortably arranged post-office, telegraphic office, and other public buildings, with last, but not least, a large railway station (which for the present is the terminus of the iron way to the interior), are manifestations of the strides which, thanks to the discovery of the diamond, civilization has made in a region which a few short years ago was simply the hunting field of the untutored savage or the nomadic boer. Barkly, which I have already mentioned, Hebron, Likatlong, Boetsap, Douglas and Campbell are the other towns of the territory, though the Langeberg and some other parts are inhabited; but the description of a late writer that “they are poor—are almost waterless—the trading and mission stations occupied as a rule by the most depraved of the human race, things whose language is a curse or a click, whose forms are inferior to those of apes, and whose doom is extinction,” is perhaps a little too severe on the aborigines of this country.



Any work dealing with Kimberley would be incomplete that did not treat of the geology of the mine. For many years I have had the pleasure of an intimate acquaintance with Mr. George J. Lee, who has made the mineralogy of the Kimberley mine his special study, and who has been, as I have already mentioned, in Kimberley since the mine opened. To his kindness I am indebted for most of the information and for the drawings in the two following chapters.

137In the first of these I propose to give an account of the geological formation, not only inside, but also as revealed by shafts sunk by the Kimberley mining board and the Central and French companies, outside the mine.

The depth of the lowest working, either within or without the mine, is now about 550 feet, whilst that of the deepest trial shaft is 620 feet.

A section of the strata in the Mining Board shaft, about 700 feet from the north side of the mine, I will now describe, which strata, I may tell my readers, vary very little at any point in the vicinity, so far at least as is shown by the examination of the other shafts.

The surface soil, which has an average depth of six feet, is a bright red ferruginous sand, composed of somewhat fine rounded grains of quartz. Next a thin layer of calcareous tufa is found in some places, but not invariably; then follows a layer of laminated trap or blue whin, evidently an intrusive rock varying in thickness and depth in different localities. This layer, which is of a very decomposed and friable character, runs down diagonally in some parts, in broad sheets through the blue shale. A very even layer of light colored shales, on an average twenty-five feet thick and very soapy to the touch, comes next. These shales are of various colors, as pale bluish white, olive, yellow, gray, etc., and the laminæ are often thickly marked with different designs formed by decomposed iron, probably pyrites. Some of these markings are very delicate and beautiful, often resembling minute ferns or algæ, and in this bed various fossils have been found.

Beneath these we have a vast layer of blackish, or neutral tint, carboniferous shale, containing four or five seams of “iron band” (bog iron ore, or limonite) from one inch to one foot in thickness. The nodules forming these “bands” are very full of cavities, and are of different colors, yellow, red, and blue, with a dull appearance and rather soft. In some specimens the colors are beautifully bright, especially in the cavities. Many fossils have been found in this shale as well at all depths.

Very many nodules of a similar shale, but harder, varying in size from an inch to one or two feet in diameter, are found imbedded in this rock, or “main reef” as the miners term it, 138in contradistinction to “floating reef,” an erratic rock which will be mentioned when we come to describe the diamondiferous ground. These nodules often assume the forms of casts of shells, such as those of oysters, mussels, etc., and give the idea that the main body of the reef was formed from the grinding down of an older rock, of which these nodules are the remains, an assumption which there is much further internal evidence to show in all probability to be correct.

It may be as well here to mention that all the above shales, after drying by exposure to the air, disintegrate and form a fine friable mould, or even mud after much rain has fallen. This property of becoming friable after exposure is the cause of the frequency of “land slips” falling into the mine. When a fall or slip does take place, the bulk of such mass is usually in very small pieces, not in large solid blocks, which would be the case if the reef were not of a nature so extremely rotten and easily decomposed.

When these shales have been much exposed to the weather and the rain has penetrated to some depth, or when after a fall of rain upon friable reef this is covered up by another slip, a very interesting chemical process is set up, viz.: the decomposition of the iron pyrites which is very plentifully distributed throughout the black shales. This decomposition sets up such an intense combustion that the shale débris becomes red hot. This combustion I have known to last for months, even years, and the sulphurous acid gas evolved to be so plentiful that in damp weather or before and after sunrise it could be seen for many miles. To strangers looking into the mine this “burning reef” is a very startling sight, and many visitors of a superstitious turn of mind have often precipitately left in affright, on being jokingly told by miners when the latter were questioned about the heat, smoke and pungent sulphur smells—that the “Old Gentleman” was trying to break loose, or that they had come so near the “Old Gentleman” that he was now showing his anger. This and similar stories have often sufficed to scare away simple farmers from the place.

On many parts of the reef the surface becomes heated to such an extent that articles placed upon it are almost at once destroyed. Laborers cannot work upon it at all without thick 139boots, and these even are destroyed in a few hours, while in many cases natives cannot by any inducement be persuaded to go near.

The sudden combustion of coal in ships is caused by the very same agents, moisture and insufficient ventilation. These set up chemical change in the iron pyrites contained in the coal, and thus cause the explosions or fires at sea of which we frequently hear. This process of nature for reducing the iron pyrites is daily being imitated by the smelters in Spain and other countries, in the preliminary process for the reduction of the sulphur in copper ores, or copper pyrites.

Some of the crystals of iron pyrites found in the reef shale are so very beautiful and perfect that they have been set in pins and other ornaments.

After the black shale reef has been ignited by the above chemical means, and has cooled, it is as red as an ordinary clay flower-pot. It may be that the promoters of a brick company that was started here for the purpose of manufacturing bricks from the shales of the Kimberley mine, took their idea from the appearance of the shales when thus burnt by nature. The bricks made from reef, after being pounded and ground by heavy steam machinery, were latterly turned out of a very good quality, but the company collapsed, probably because they could not sell enough bricks to make it pay, as the high price of fuel rendered it necessary to charge £11, 10s. per 1,000, a nearly prohibitive price for ordinary building work.[25]

I may here mention that several narrow streaks of coal varying from an inch up to one of eight inches in thickness, discovered in the French shaft, have been found in the black shale. This coal partakes of the nature both of anthracitic and bituminous coal, the former quality predominating, but I may say, that even if it were found in quantity, it would only be suitable for specially constructed furnaces, as it is very refractory.

No “structure” or organic remains have been discovered in any specimen of coal found in the reef of which I am aware, 140but many coal plants have been found in the reef itself, and specimens have been deposited in various museums.

Some years ago the olive-colored shales of the reef at the southeast of the mine very frequently cracked, making great fissures at the surface. These often remained open for months and even years, until the whole mass of reef which was thus detached from the main body, gradually slid down to a solid bearing. In doing so, when the moving mass was heavy enough, the pressure upon the particles of rock within the fissure was so great that a fine, smooth and shiny face or a light gray color was made, entering many feet, with streaks or grooves running down, glistening and lustrous, the prismatic colors of which could then be seen for weeks together if viewed from a suitable position. When seen to advantage the sight was really charming, and could never be forgotten by those who had the good fortune to view it. But the first shower of rain would disintegrate the striated face of the rock, and by this means destroy the beautiful play of light described.

In the drives and deep workings in the black shale the miners are troubled both with fire-damp and choke-damp, and many accidents, more or less serious, have occurred therefrom through their ignorance.

The black shale is water bearing, and wells sunk in it to a depth of eighty feet or more yield in most cases a good supply.

I have, I think, for the present done with the sedimentary formations, and come now to the igneous rocks below them.

The first rock under the black shale gone through, as shown in the diagram, is a light gray volcanic rock, three feet thick, with a specific gravity of 2.815. The body of the rock is of a light bluish gray color, and contains beside other minerals nodules of quartz, agates and jasper, from the size of a mustard seed to that of a walnut.

Next is found eight feet of a compact augitic or hornblendic rock, of a deeper gray color and very tough, then a seamy rock resembling basaltic trap, which was only worked to a depth of four feet in the shaft shown in the section, but is of unknown depth, for, since the Mining Board shaft was abandoned, others have been sunk, one by the French company, 141and another to a depth of 620 feet by the Central company, and they both are still in this same rock.

This rock contains very numerous nodules of quartz (amygdaloidal), some of which are split into flakes, and others completely fractured. Many of these are white in color and semi-opaque; others have a red skin (jasper), with transparent white quartz within, while others are entirely red. There are also many small, dead grain-like nodules of a white color, as well as ribbon and other agates. In some of the deeper portions of this rock are many small fissures, presenting somewhat the appearance of having been caused by shrinkage; these, in most cases, are distinct from each other, and are filled with white crystallized calcite, or carbonate of lime. Some of the layers of this rock vary in color, and a very compact fine-grained specimen of a reddish color contains amongst other minerals rhombic crystallized carbonate of lime, white; very brilliant iron pyrites, and a mineral looking very much like galena, but harder, of a dark steel gray color, very brilliant, and easily separated into small cubes and laminæ. This is probably specular iron ore. Another mineral has also been found in small quantities, running in veins in the stone, which upon the top appears as having been fused and run, like tin or lead. It is sectile, and of the color of pale bell metal. Very many forms of crystallized carbonate of lime, including “dog-tooth” spar of a pale yellow color are found both in the hard and soft reef, and zeolites of various colors and species, bristling upon and within cavities of the rock. The reef as a whole is fairly even all around the mine, but at the southeast it is very much contorted in the upper layers.

The wall formed by the hard rock around the mine is very compact and smooth, and runs inward in some places as much as 30° or 40°, but in others very much less. This naturally causes a cutting out of the claims or a contraction of the mine, but it is said that the blue ground of the Kimberley Central company is now gaining again, and this state of things may also take place with other claims in the Kimberley mine at different depths. (See illustration.)

I think this is a fairly full and accurate description of the geological strata outside of the Kimberley mine. I shall now 142pass on and give a description of the formation of the interior of the mine.

When the place was first prospected there was little to distinguish it from the surrounding country, but in the eyes of the experts of those days the slightest difference was enough to urge them to seek, “fossick,” or prospect for diamonds, that is to say, scratch or dig up the surface, sieve and sort it, and sink small trial shafts, when if diamonds or good indications were not discovered at a moderate depth, the place was abandoned, and the prospector tried or “fossicked” elsewhere. A digger would pitch upon what appeared to him to be a likely spot, when, if after passing the red sand and the lime or calcareous tufa, he came to shale, he abandoned his “prospect” as useless; but if, on the other hand, after going below the lime he came to “yellow ground,” a substance something like greenish compact wood ashes, he would continue his work for some time, in the full expectation of being rewarded in the end by a good find. But in many cases this desired result was not attained, although the digger had every encouragement to persevere by finding garnets of various kinds, the pyrope garnet, usually called a ruby, especially giving him encouragement to proceed with his work; epidote, pisolites, talc ilmenite, called by the diggers carbon, iron pyrites, ice spar, zircon, and various other minerals; still after all his perseverance, and after finding all these indications, and sinking to a depth very often of twenty or thirty feet, not a single diamond would be found, he would abandon the place, when possibly after a time it would be tried again by other parties of diggers, but with no better result.

The surface, as already stated in the description of the reef, was a red, sandy soil of an almost uniform depth of six feet, followed by a layer of calcareous tufa and one of yellow diamondiferous soil, averaging in thickness sixty-five feet.

In the red sand diamonds were frequently found, especially when it was mixed with nodules of calcareous tufa which had been thrown out by the ant-bear (Myrmecophaga jubata) in making its enormous burrow, but the distribution of the diamonds which were picked up on the surface of a large tract of country was mostly attributed to birds. Coming next to the tufa bed proper, this was of a thickness from two to eight feet, but was not a compact homogeneous mass, but composed of honeycombed nodules and masses impacted together, which required much labor to break out. Some diggers smashed up all the nodules thus broken out with sledge hammers, or the sides of their picks, and sometimes, but very rarely, they were rewarded by finding diamonds.

143 Kimberley Diamond Mine, Griqualand West:——South Africa.—1885

145When the yellow ground was arrived at, which, as already stated, was of an average depth of sixty-five feet, and contained many nodules of calcareous tufa of all sizes, the color was of a pale yellowish green, but when it became dry it was somewhat of the color of bath-brick, very friable, and appeared much like fine wood-ash pressed together. It could be broken up to a fine powder with very little beating either with sticks or shovels. Most of this yellow ground was sorted dry, as washing was not practiced at the dry diggings at that time.

Some few feet, perhaps eight or ten, before the yellow ground joined the blue, a very gradual change of color took place from yellow to a lightish green, then light greenish blue, gradually darkening to blue; but still a line of demarcation of the two kinds of ground could easily be made out.

The top of the blue bed was not a level surface, but full of heavings and billows like a choppy cross sea. From the crest of a rise to the bottom of a hollow was about six feet; and the distance from crest to crest from thirty feet to sixty or more.

At this junction there was found in many instances a thin layer of porous soil holding water in the hollows or wave bottoms. This proved to be merely catch water, as after a short time it was invariably removed in the ordinary course of work, which would not have been the case had it been derived from perennial springs, yet this at the time created considerable alarm. All or most of the water that now finds its way into the mine, is through the main reef.

To turn again to the blue ground, it is mixed with small rounded stones of basalt and small angular fragments of carboniferous shale, as well as with many other minerals which I shall mention further on.

The blue ground is rather hard and tough when wet, but easily broken when it becomes dry, when the same characteristics which the black reef presents here show themselves in pulverizing when again wetted, much after the manner of 146quicklime, but differing from it in not developing heat. This property is made use of by the miners to release the diamonds.

Miles of country may be seen covered with blue lumps spread out to a thickness of from one to two feet, awaiting rain, or for the purpose of being watered by means of carts and water-hose, after which process it is rolled and harrowed by means similar to those used in dressing ploughed fields. The diggers used to employ gangs of natives to beat and break up this diamondiferous ground with picks and wooden beaters, yet the dusky native found time with eagle eye to watch his chance to steal. In this way it was thought the majority of the largest stones were lost to their rightful owners—but of this in another chapter.

The specific gravity of blue ground from claim No. 132 at about 170 feet from the surface was 2.268, air being 60° Fahr., and barometric pressure 25.83 inches. A cubic foot of wet blue ground would therefore weigh 141.34 lbs. The density varies slightly in different parts of the same claim and in different localities of the same mine.

The greatest depth to which the blue has been worked in the open is 420 feet, and underground by means of shafts and drives about 620 feet. The deepest trial shaft, as I have already stated, is 620 feet, and still no change is found in the character of the ground, except that it is a little denser and harder to work, and in most cases is also richer in diamonds.

It is a curious fact that when a claim was first opened out and found to be rich in diamonds, it generally remained so right down, and in like manner poor claims remained poor.

But bad or poor layers for a time changed this rule, so far as rich claims were concerned, for after some feet had been passed, say ten to thirty feet, a change for the better would invariably take place, so that in the long run a close estimate of what a claim would yield could be made. At the present time claims which were enormously rich at the surface, notably those now forming the Northeast company, were then and are now amongst the richest claims in the mine. I may also note that a belt existed around the mine adjoining the reef, from one-quarter to half a claim in width, which was invariably poor.

Poor surface claims often became changed to rich ones owing to the vicinity of a wall of floating reef, and it was 147often found that after months, even years, had been spent in working down a claim unprofitably, it would suddenly alter to a payable or probably a rich one, for at a varying depth alongside the floating reef, or after the reef had been removed, I have many a time known a change for the better to take place, and the owner, who had been almost reduced to the verge of bankruptcy, to be soon set upon his legs again.

Some of the claims at the west of the mine never paid the expense of working at the surface, nor even in the yellow ground below, and remain absolutely worthless to this day, although the blue ground has been reached, worked, and tested. About five claims in the very centre of the mine were proverbially poor, vast quantities of erratic boulders being mixed up with, and in some cases almost displacing, the yellow and blue ground. Some of these fragments of rock were of immense size, weighing thousands of tons, and at the same time were so solid that they had to be blasted to pieces. They consisted for the most part of dark and light colored shales, whinstone or basaltic boulders, and large masses of fine-grained micaceous sandstone, containing fragments of coal and remains of a fossil reptile. Much lignite in large stems and branches was also found amongst the boulders and in the blue. When this floating reef was removed, many feet of unprofitable blue had also to be removed before payable ground was reached, but when all the poor ground was taken away, the junction of which with the richer ground was very perceptible by a change of color, the remaining blue did not differ in average return of diamonds from the rich claims surrounding it.

Several remarkable detached boulders were found. One in No. 3 road south, of such a large size that it covered the two claims of a well-known digger named Olsen, Nos. 136 and 166. It was a pudding-stone, its chief constituent being grayish white crystals and fragments of feldspar, transparent and translucent, concreted together with carbonate of lime. This “erratic” contained also nodules of quartz, crystals of iron pyrites, and many small cavities filled with diamondiferous soil of a light brownish gray color.

Again in Nos. 8 and 9 roads south, there was an isolated basaltic boulder, nearly round, of gigantic proportions. It 148almost filled up claims 432 and 433 in road No. 8, and claims 462 and 463 in road No. 9, and measured in diameter 70 feet, 35 feet in the yellow ground and the same in the blue below. It was much decomposed, and large flakes or layers frequently fell away into neighboring claims, causing many lawsuits. The claim-holders burrowed round this piece of rock as long as they possibly could, but at last they had to face the expense of breaking it up and removing it. The upper portion of this stone in the yellow ground had a yellow, and the lower portion in the blue a blue tint, showing that the same cause which affected the coloring of the diamondiferous ground also affected the imbedded “erratic.”

The floating reef proper in the Kimberley mine extended from the southeast to the northwest; but there was also a large patch of floating reef running north and south in No. 8 road.

The width of this reef varied from five feet to forty feet, and the average depth was about 200 feet. It was formed of a light olive-gray colored laminated shale, with a few rounded stones and angular pieces of basaltic rock, as well as occasional fragments of fine grained sandstone. These walls of shale were for the most part compact and unbroken, with a few straggling pieces of various sizes in the immediate vicinity. This rock was totally different from any forming the walls of the mine, and no similar shale has been recognized to my knowledge in any part of the country.

At the southwest of the mine, in ground at that time belonging to Messrs. Lewis and Marks, there was a large floating reef composed of disintegrated igneous rock, resembling dolerite, which commenced near the main reef, and which jutted out to a distance of 120 feet in a northwesterly direction; this was a different rock from that forming the walls of the mine or any discoverable in the adjacent country.

Veins or seams of crystallized carbonate of lime frequently run through the blue ground in all directions, in sheets more or less broad, and varying in thickness from a mere trace to two or three inches. The calcite is covered with a coating of a grayish white substance, very soapy to the touch, resembling steatite. Some of this lime contained cavities, having a fine deposit of iron pyrites which exhibited the most brilliant iridescence 149conceivable. One specimen which I saw was so beautiful that it was thought even worthy of presentation to royalty, and the owner gave it to Captain Harrell (formerly Cis-Molappo commissioner) for the purpose, but through some blundering or other it never reached its destination. Eventually, I believe, Captain Harrell, with the consent of the donor, caused it to be deposited in the South Kensington Museum.

When Sir Henry Barkly was here in 1872 this was shown him, and he confessed it to be unique, in his opinion, and the prettiest specimen of the kind he had ever seen.

When a wall or block of blue ground is dressed down and left standing with such a vein—or greasy slip, as it is termed—in it, it becomes highly dangerous, as all above the vein (at times an immense mass) is liable to come down without a moment’s warning.

In 1874 an account of the chemical and optical properties of the yellow and blue ground, and the contained minerals was given in London to the members of one of the learned associations there by Prof. N. Story-Maskelyne, F. R. S., keeper, and the late Dr. W. Flight, assistant, of the mineral department, British Museum, and although rather technical in character will no doubt be interesting to those who would like to make themselves acquainted with the formation of the diamond mines. Extracts from this account will show the nature of the rock commonly but erroneously called the matrix of the diamond, and also furnish a list of minerals found in the samples furnished to the above mentioned scientists. Alluding to the yellow and blue these gentlemen say:

“Ground mass, pulverulent, soapy, light yellowish in the upper, and of an olive-green to bluish gray color in the lower regions of the excavations, is a hydrated bronzite. Through it is disseminated a considerable amount of vermiculite.... In this ground mass fragments of shale and a micaceous looking mineral—sometimes an important constituent.... It is a mineral of the vermiculite group.... Ferriferous eustatite (bronzite), prismatic crystals of a bright green color not infrequent, of the size of canary seeds—colored brilliant green by nickel.... Hornblendic mineral accidental—closely resembling smaragdite garnet. Ilmenite.[26]... Diallage much altered, opaline silica, sometimes resembling hornstone. Calcite. Bronzite, small bright green crystals, with something of an emerald tint, prismatic; angle 87° 20′. Hydrated 150bronzite; drab (or pale buff tint) much broken up, and cemented by calcite in bar-like forms, resembling feldspar.... Through it is disseminated a considerable amount of vermiculite—vaalite—surface of a fine bluish green like that of clinochlore, giving color to the mass. Hexagonal prisms 60° and 120°, resembling halite. Garnet zircon, brownish white. Hornblende crystals, with the appearance of smaragdite. Grossular garnet. Brilliant little black tourmalines. Smaragdite:—brilliant grayish green fragments of crystal, angle 125° 15′ equal to hornblende type. Olivine, steatite; variety of vermiculite, or a ferriferous eustatite or bronzite. Transparent striated mineral, of fibrous irregular outline, augitic cleavage; pale brown, in some lights a violet tinge. Between the fibres minute bars of brown vaalite, but tolerably free from calcite; occasionally associated with a yellow wax-like substance, probably opal. This striated mineral may be regarded as made up of

Bronzite 43.850
Hydrated bronzite 24.017
Opaline silica 30.895
Alumina .970
Chromium oxide .251

“The base of the rock[27] consists of the same ingredients as that described above, the mass of it being the hydrated bronzite. The rock is further very full of fragments of the shale, which has been altered, but still contains carbon; indeed the character of the rock is almost that of a breccia, in which these masses of shale are cemented by hydrated bronzite containing the vaalite and the bright green bronzite, with ilmenite and the other minerals associated with it.... The several minerals composing the rocks, exhibit this undoubtedly once igneous rock in the light of a bronzite rock, converted into a magnesium silicate, which has the chemical character of a hydrated bronzite.... The steatite like magma in which the other minerals and shale fragments are contained may have originated in an augitic mineral, but this is not very probable. The alterations that have ensued from the shattering of the eustatite rock, at a period subsequent to its becoming solidified, having aided in effecting the hydration that has so largely changed it from an eustatite rock into a mixture of eustatite with a hydrated eustatite, a combination which, both in its composition and structure, recalls vividly to the mind the similar mixture of the former mineral with the so-called pseudophite in which it occurs at Zdar, in Moravia.”

From the foregoing description a fair idea may be arrived at of both the formation and appearance of this mine, which may fairly lay claim to be one of the wonders of the world. In the next chapter I will give the principal theories concerning the origin of this mine.



The extracts in the previous chapter, taken from the papers of the afore-mentioned mineralogists, show, there can be no doubt, that the diamondiferous soil of the diamond mines of South Africa is, for the most part, the débris of an igneous rock; but little or no idea is given how the mines became filled with the soil. Although I am unable to throw any additional light upon this very difficult subject, I nevertheless am of opinion that this chapter would be incomplete without giving a few more extracts from previous writers. I may mention, however, that scarcely a sufficient number of facts have as yet been gathered to enable geologists to offer any theory of the formation of the diamond mines that will carry conviction with it.

In a report to Col. Charles Warren, acting administrator of Griqualand West, by Mr. T. C. Kitto, a mining engineer who was then visiting the province, and who previously had some experience in Brazil, and which report was published in 152the local government Gazette of July, 1879, he states: “I shall at once assume the Kimberley mine formation to be the result of earthquakes and volcanic agency. That the De Beers, Du Toit’s Pan, and Bulfontein belong to the same group; that the diamond deposit has been ejected from below, and that the diamonds were formed previous to their final deposition in the crater.”

Another geologist, Mr. Thos. Bain, district inspector P. W. D., “considers the numerous superficial deposits of calcareous tufa are the detritus of the tertiary deposits,” as the following quotation from Silver’s “Hand Book of South Africa” suffices to show: “In reference to the beds of clay-stone porphyry before mentioned, Mr. Bain supposes them to be the products of a vast volcano situated somewhere in the Drakensberg range, whose products spread ruin and desolation over the carboniferous forests for hundreds and thousands of square miles, and were afterward swept away by the action of water, except what yet remains of the débris in those porphyry dykes, and the greenstone tops of the multitudinous hillocks and kopjes in the region toward the north. The elevated plateaus of Hantam, Roggeveldt, Nieuweld and Sneeuwberg form its inland boundaries. This immense desert, as geology tells us, was once a great lake, bordered by an umbrageous flora, whose former existence can only now be attested by the petrified monocotyledons buried in its finely laminated slates, and whose waters were crowded with the numerous adentulous animals or the varied family of dicynodons and other saurian reptiles found in no other part of the globe.”

I give another extract from this admirable guide book of South Africa, as bearing upon this subject: “In the part of Namaqualand called Bushmanland, and which is a vast table-land about 3,000 feet above the sea, are immense deposits of what Mr. Dunn calls glacial conglomerate. These extend westward into the sovereignty (Free State), and in them in a sort of tufaceous limestone deposit seem to occur the diamond deposits which have made that region so famous.”

Dr. Ure, in his “Dictionary of Arts, Mines and Manufactures,” states: “The ground in which diamonds are found in the mines of Brazil is a solid or friable conglomerate, consisting

Pl. I. _Fig. 1._ _Fig. 2._

155Dr. Ure, in his “Dictionary of Arts, Mines and Manufactures,” states: “The ground in which diamonds are found in the mines of Brazil is a solid or friable conglomerate, consisting chiefly of a ferruginous sand, which incloses fragments of various magnitude of yellow and bluish quartz, of schistose jasper, and grains of gold disseminated with ologist iron ore, all mineral matters different from those that constitute the neighboring mountains. This conglomerate, or species of pudding-stone, almost always superficial, occurs sometimes at a considerable height on the mountainous table-land.”

Dana says: “The original rock in which diamonds are found in Brazil appears to be either a kind of laminated granular quartz called itacolumite, or a ferruginous quartzose conglomerate. The itacolumite occurs in the Urals, and diamonds have been found in it, and it is also abundant in Georgia and North Carolina, where diamonds have also been found, while in India the rock is a quartzose conglomerate.”

The following extract which also bears upon the subject is from a report by Mr. C. F. Osborne, M. E. on the Knysna gold fields, and may prove both interesting and valuable, and this I have taken from a blue book of the Cape parliament of May, 1886:

“The mineral character of the rocks is in some respects peculiar, and they differ much in reality and very much in appearance, from the gold-bearing rocks of Australia or California, and even from those of the Transvaal; and the average Australian digger, judging from appearances merely, would doubtless, at first sight and without trial, pronounce them non-auriferous.... There are several reasons why these rocks present such a difference in appearance from those of the gold-bearing countries I have named. One is that the principal gold-bearing rock here is itacolumite, a rock which does not exist, or is very sparingly developed, in Australia, the Transvaal, and in the greater part of California, but which is abundant and characteristic of the gold regions in Russia.”

I will not dilate upon the above extracts as to the source of the diamondiferous soil, and will pass on to the origin of the diamonds themselves. All authorities state that the diamond is intimately connected with gold and platinum, but I cannot find any record which convinces me of the diamond having been found in the matrix—that is to say, in the rock in which it was originally formed—as all the formation in which the diamond has been found appear to have been the detritus of older rocks, in which it by some means or other had become imbedded during the formation of the newer one.

156In “Precious Stones and Metals,” by C. W. King, M. A., which is a very learned and exhaustive work, I find the following: “Pliny remarks that the diamond is the companion of gold, and seems only to be produced in gold itself. He is here correct, although perhaps it may be but by an accidental coincidence; for all the diamond mines, the discovery of which is recorded, have been brought to light in pursuit of alluvial gold washings.”[28] Mr. King proceeds to remark: “The British Museum, amongst the native diamonds, exhibits an octahedral diamond attached to alluvial gold; and, strange confirmation of the ancient idea as to their affinity, not only is the primary crystal of that metal also the octahedron, but also its secondary modifications exactly correspond with those of the diamond. Modern science has made no further advance toward the solution of this problem beyond that propounded as a certainty in the ancient ‘Timæus.’”

The theory of the Oriental philosophers upon this subject is thus elegantly condensed in the tetrastich of Akbar’s poet laureate, Sheik Fizee, which formed the legend on the obverse of his chief gold piece:

“The sun from whom the seven seas obtain pearls,
The black stone from his rays obtains the jewel;
The mine from the correcting influence of his beams obtains gold;
And the gold is ennobled by the impression of Shah Akbar!”

It is interesting to confront the latest modern with this the most ancient explanation of the method pursued by nature in producing the diamond. Prof. Maskelyne remarks: “Of the numerous solutions of this problem one possesses peculiar interest, viz.: that considering diamonds as deposits on the cooling of fused metals (or other substances) surcharged with carbon.... Graphite, boron and silicon are formed on the cooling of aluminium surcharged with these elements; and the same elements—in other respects so closely grouped with carbon—separate in the adamantine form seen under analogous circumstances. The latter are crystallized, indeed, in different systems from the diamond, but they possess many of its characters in a remarkable degree.”

157Prof. Maskelyne also observes: “Gold seems in every diamond country to be either the associate or the not distant neighbor of the diamond. In the diamond, splinters of ferruginous quartz have been found. A high antiquity, and an origin perhaps contemporaneous and not improbably connected with the geological distribution of gold in the quartz-veins, may be inferred from these facts.... In Brazil it has been traced to its rock home in the itacolumite (a micaceous quartzose schist often containing talcose minerals, and intersected by quartz-veins) and also in hornblende, also continuous with the itacolumite. But whether these are the parent rocks—or whether they are metamorphic in nature—its origin comes from an earlier state of the materials that have been transmuted by time and the play of chemical and physical forces into itacolumite and hornblende slate, we are not in a position to declare.”

“Until lately the diamond had never been traced to its matrix, but this has now been done, in at least two instances in Brazil.” The writer above quoted says: “The first was in 1839, and the rock which contained it was described by M. P. Chasseau (Bull. de l’Acad. Royale, Bruxelles, viii., 331) as grès psammite, a sort of sandy freestone, the locality being the Serro di Santantonio di Grammagoa.

“The discoverers of the deposit took from it many diamonds, as the rock was soft; but deeper, it became harder, and consequently more difficult to work. As many as 2,000 persons from all parts came to the place; but they dug without order or plan, and, undermining the rock, part of it fell down. They still drew a profit from breaking the fragments and extracting the diamonds. We cannot say how long this was continued. M. Chasseau’s paper was written in 1841, and the deposit in question, as far as we can learn, is only again mentioned by M. Semonosoffin in the ‘Annales des Mines,’ 1842. But we know that in 1855 Mr. T. Redington, a native of Cornwall, was employed by the Vice-President of the Province of Minas Geraes to trace the course and tributaries of the principal river of the diamond district, so as to find the rock from whence the diamond came. Amongst other localities he visited San Joao, about twenty miles north of Diamantina, and here found a vein yielding diamonds, which 158had for about eight years previously been wrought by the natives. This he began to work, and though the number, size and qualities of the stones found have never been made public, he was still engaged upon it only some few months since, and probably is so at this moment. No doubt these, examples will stimulate others to attempt similar discoveries.”

Says Garcias: “It seems to me quite a miracle how these gems, which might be expected to be produced in the deepest bowels of the earth, and in the space of many years, should on the contrary be generated almost on the surface of the ground, and come to perfection in an interval of two or three years, for in the mines, this year for instance, at a depth of a cubit, you will dig and find diamonds: let two years pass and mining in the same place you will again find diamonds. But it is agreed that the largest are only found under the bottom of the rock.”

It is singular that in the early days of the dry diggings the diggers used in joke to express the very same opinions as I have quoted above, for they often unearthed diamonds coated with a thin, dark mineral crust, which disguised merely the shape of the diamond, not the color and lustre. Many diamonds were lost through this. After some months, exposure, or the attrition caused in again disturbing the soil in which they had been lying, the whole or part of the coating was so rubbed off that the diamond and its lustre became exposed to the digger’s delighted gaze. Most probably the idea of the ancients, as to the growth of diamonds, originated in the same or a closely similar manner.

Dana says: “The origin of the diamond has been a subject of speculation, and it is the prevalent opinion that the carbon, like that of coal, is of vegetable origin. Some crystals have been found with black uncrystallized particles or seams within, looking like coal, and this fact has been supposed to prove their vegetable origin.”

I take the following “New facts concerning the Diamond” from the Quarterly Journal of Science, Oct. 1873:

Pl. II _Fig. 1._ _Fossil Dicynodont Reptile (Owen.)_ _Fig. 2._ _Fig. 3._ _Natural Size_ _Fossil Leaf found by Geo. Jas. Lee in the white shale from the margin of Kimberley Mine at a depth of about 50ft.; facing road q South._ _Length (as restored) 2¹⁄₂₀ inches._ _Apex wanting ¹⁷⁄₄₀ inch._ _Width (entire) 1¼ inch._

159“Whilst our knowledge of the modes of formation of other gems is so rapidly advancing that the time does not seem to be very distant when the chemist in his laboratory will be able to produce them artificially if not in large at all events in microscopic crystals—the origin and mode of formation of the diamond is shrouded in apparently inexplicable mystery. It is even undecided whether the diamond is of igneous or vegetable origin, whether its nature is mineral or organic. Some diamonds appear to have been soft, as they are superficially impressed by sand and crystals; others contain crystals of other minerals, germs of plants, and fragments of vegetation. Professor Goppert has a diamond containing dendrites, such as occurs on minerals of aqueous origin, and there is at Berlin a diamond which contains bodies resembling protococcus pluvialis, and another containing green corpuscles linked together, closely resembling polinogtœa macrococca. (Palmoglœa Micrographic Dictionary.) Sir John Herschel quotes the case of a Bahia diamond mentioned by Harting, which contained well-formed filaments of iron pyrites. Messrs. Sorby and Baker have shown that the diamond may contain cavities entirely or partially filled with a liquid, probably condensed carbonic acid, and that the black specks in diamonds are really crystals which are sometimes surrounded by contraction cracks, a black cross appearing under polarised light. Sir David Brewster has likewise pointed out that the diamond possesses strata of different reflective powers. M. Damour states that diamonds sometimes contain spangles of gold in their cavities.... When shielded from contact with the air, the diamond may be exposed to the highest temperature of our furnaces without undergoing alteration, at least in the case of the colorless diamond; of colored diamonds more will be said hereafter.... A crystal of diamond, inclosed in a piece of dense coke and placed in a plumbago crucible packed with charcoal powder, was heated for half an hour in one of Siemens’ regenerative furnaces to the temperature at which cast-iron melts, without undergoing any change whatever. Another diamond, a cut (rose) diamond, which was inclosed in a crucible as before and heated for ten minutes in the furnace to a temperature at which wrought-iron melts, retained its form and the smoothness of its facets but became quite black and opaque, and exhibited a strong metallic lustre. The black portion formed a distinct layer of the thickness of a hair covering the unaltered substance within. These results confirm those of Schrötter, and appear to justify the view that diamond, though it undergoes no change when exposed to the greatest heat of a porcelain furnace or that at which cast-iron melts, is slowly converted at the temperature of molten wrought-iron into graphite. G. Rose states that some of the specimens of diamond in the Berlin collection appear quite black by reflected, though translucent by transmitted light, and that this black substance lying in the little irregularities of the surface is found by its behavior in fused nitre to be graphite. The relative ease with which graphite and diamond burn was determined by exposing them to the same temperature for the same time, when the following amounts of the three specimens were consumed:

Foliated graphite 27.45 per cent.
Diamond 97.76
Granular massive graphite 100.00

“In a superb cut diamond weighing between six and seven carats, 160the brilliancy of the stone was decidedly increased after the operation. The loss of brilliancy observed by Mr. Schrötter is a proof, in M. Baumhauer’s opinion, that notwithstanding the precautions employed, the diamond had come in contact with the oxygen of the air, or else that at so elevated a temperature a reducing action had been effected upon the magnesia (in which the diamond had been packed) by the diamond, which had then been superficially burnt by the oxygen of that earth.

A diamond which presented to the naked eye an appearance of dirty green was treated in a similar manner; examination with a lens showed that the color did not extend to the entire stone, but was confined to small portions, which formed small green clouds in the centre of the mass. After heating to a white heat in hydrogen, the brilliancy of the surface remained as before; the transparency was rather increased than diminished, but the green hue was transformed into pale yellow. Another small diamond, of so dark a green as to approach black, and almost opaque, assumed a violet hue, retaining, however, its brilliancy, and becoming more translucid. A small cubic diamond of light green color preserved its brilliancy and transparency intact, but lost its color completely. No difference in its weight before and after the operation could be perceived.

“Brown diamonds lose most of their color when heated to whiteness in hydrogen; they generally assume a grayish tint, and in all cases the shade is much lighter, and on examination with a lens they appear limpid, with black spots. Diamonds with a yellow tint, such as Cape diamonds almost invariably are, scarcely lose any portion of their natural color.... Several experiments were made by von Baumhauer, in concert with M. Daniels, upon gray diamonds, in the hope that the effect of heat would, by removing their color, add to their value; but, unfortunately, the desired result was not achieved, as the diamonds presented after treatment the same grayish appearance as before. Very different results are obtained when, instead of heating the diamond in an atmosphere of hydrogen, it is heated in contact with the air. It is unnecessary to employ a white heat, or to subject the diamond to it for so long a time, in order to render it dull, and consequently opaque; this being the result of positive combustion, which is proved by its loss of weight after the operation.

“This combustion is, however, quite superficial, as shown by M. Daniels, who found that when repolished the diamond recovered completely its transparency and its water; it was, moreover, remarked by Mr. G. Rose that if the diamond which had become dull was moistened with essence of turpentine, it reassumed its transparency and retained it so long as its surface continued moist. The diamond may also be heated in an atmosphere of oxygen.... In this case the stone obtains a vivid state of incandescence, and burns with a dazzling flame long before the platinum crucible has attained a reddish white heat. In most cases after the lamp has been withdrawn and the crucible is no longer red hot, the diamond continues to burn for some time, and presents the appearance 161of vivid light upon a dark ground. When the diamond is very small combustion may even continue until it is entirely consumed, and it is then seen to dart a more vivid flame at the last moment, like a burning match, the instant previous to extinction. When the stone is of considerable size the heat produced by combustion is insufficient to maintain it after the removal of the lamp, and it ceases in a few moments, notwithstanding the oxygen which continues to flow into the crucible. Although this last experiment has been repeated several times by these experimentalists, no other result has been observed than tranquil combustion of the diamond; such phenomena as turning black, transformation into coke, change of the state of aggregation, bubbling up, melting or softening, rounding of corners and angles, were in no case presented to our notice. Once only in experimenting upon an opaque grayish diamond, a few sparks were emitted, but these were evidently due to the presence of some foreign elements incorporated with the whole. Neither did the diamonds burst or split, save in one case, where such was foreseen by M. Daniels: a stone evidently composed of two diamonds joined together, upon the first application of heat broke with considerable violence into two fragments, each constituting a decided crystal.... All that took place in the crucible could be distinctly seen through the sheet of mica, and thus ample evidence was obtained that the diamond, while in a state of combustion, is surrounded by a small flame, the exterior envelope of which is a violet-blue, similar to that produced by oxide of carbon in a state of combustion.

“This is especially the case when the diamond is rather large, when the lamp has been withdrawn and the platinum has ceased to glow; the diamond is then seen upon the black ground of the crucible, brilliant with vivid white light, and surrounded by a zone or aureole somewhat less bright, its exterior edge being a blue-violet color. Some highly interesting microscopic observations relative to the dull surface of diamonds which have undergone partial combustion have been communicated by Mr. G. Rose; he has discovered on them regular triangular markings that resemble those occurring in abundance on the fine crystals from the Vaal River, and recall the faces formed on planes of crystals, soluble in acid, by the slow and imperfect etching action of such a re-agent, as, for example, the action of hydrogen chloride on calcite. Like them these depressions on the diamond bear an exact relation to its crystalline form, and are determined by certain definite faces, their sides being parallel to the edges of the octahedral faces of the crystal. Measurement with the goniometer shows them to belong to the icositetrahedron, the faces of which have not been met with on diamond. These symmetrically shaped pits can easily be seen by heating a thin plate of boart in a blow-pipe flame and examining it under the microscope.

“By prolonged heating several small triangular pits will often merge into one large one. A crystal of diamond, even when so reduced in size by oxidation as to be only visible with difficulty, continues to exhibit sharp edges and angles. A dodecahedron, with very rounded faces but 162smooth and brilliant surface, also exhibited the triangular pits often very distinctly; moreover, it had a brown color, which was not destroyed by heat, and must therefore be of a totally different nature from that of the topaz or smoky quartz.”

The above copious extracts by no means exhaust the very interesting and valuable particulars to be found in the article, and I would advise all interested in the matter to purchase this issue of the magazine, if still in print, and read for themselves.

It is a well-known fact that river diamonds and the diamonds of each mine are quite distinct in character from each other. The Old De Beer’s stones are much more like those of the river than are those of Kimberley. An experienced buyer can tell at a glance in most cases where a diamond was found, and many buyers, diggers and other experts have on oath expressed their conviction as to the source of certain stones before courts of law.

There are no rents or large fissures in the hard containing rocks of the Kimberley mine, but the joints and bedding remain undisturbed, thus showing that earthquakes have not acted upon them, at least to any appreciable extent.

There can be little doubt but that the pits or craters were formed by volcanic agency, but it does not follow that the contents thereof were thrown up at one and the same time, nor indeed that the present contents were derived from the craters at all. After denudation had taken place, calcareous tufa was deposited from the waters, and then the ferruginous red sand. It does not appear probable, as suggested by Mr. Kitto, that “the diamond was formed by a rock being crushed between other rocks previously to its being brought to the surface by volcanic agency,” as the rock would thus be merely broken into small fragments, whereas it is in the form of an impalpable powder, intimately mixed with boulders, nodules and crystals of foreign rocks.


Pl. III.

165Had diamonds been formed in this rock, and the rock crushed, the brittle diamond would not, in my opinion, have escaped being also crushed. It seems a more feasible theory that the rock when first elevated was in a heated state, and brought into contact with water then covering the land, and the sudden cooling caused its sudden disintegration, and that the diamonds and other materials foreign to it got mixed with it subsequently. However, in either case, the diamonds and other materials contained therein would still have to be accounted for, and it does not appear probable that these should have all been formed with or within one single rock, or that they are all of the same period and were elevated at one and the same time.

If diamonds were formed by heat, it was not in the Kimberley mine, as the shale walls and the agglomerate within the mine show no signs of having there been subjected to any great heat; on the contrary, water and air seem to have been here the active agents.

From the foregoing extracts it will be seen that no theory as to the formation of the diamond hitherto advanced is completely, if at all satisfactory, and the mystery, if penetrable, must be left to the geologist of the future.



Fig. 1. Scale ¹⁄₆₀ inch to the foot. This represents a section of a shaft sunk by the Kimberley Mining Board, at the N. E. of and about 700 feet from the then margin of the mine. The section was taken by Mr. Geo. Jas. Lee, a gentleman who was at one time chairman of the mining board, and who, when it finally decided to abandon the shaft named in 1878, took the section of which the accompanying diagram or illustration gives an accurate representation.

The dip of the strata is about 2°.5 N. N. W.

(a) Represents a heap of diamondiferous débris from the yellow ground of the mine, 14 feet in depth.

(b) Surface red sand, 6 feet thick. There was no calcareous tufa underlying the red sand here, as is usually the case within the mine proper and its immediate vicinity.

(c) Jointed trap, or blue whin, 15 feet.

(d) Light colored shales; bluish white, olive yellow, gray, etc., 25 feet. This layer, surrounding and joining the mine, is 50 feet thick, and contains many fossils, some of which are shown in the following plates.

(e) Black, or bluish black carboniferous shale, containing four or five “iron bands,” or limonite (marked f), from 1 inch to 1 foot thick. This layer is 225 feet thick, and in addition to many fossils also contains numerous flat-rounded pieces of black shale, of a harder nature than the body of the reef, and generally with a septum dividing the nodules. Water has evidently worn the masses down on each side of this hard division, 166often giving them the appearance of oyster, mussel and other shells, also of fish and other forms. One such stone amongst many (marked with an arrow) was found just above the hard rock, which here commences.

(g) A trachyitic breccia of specific gravity 2.815. This is of a very tough, horny nature, and of a pale bluish gray color, sprinkled with small particles, both angular and round, of a darker color (3 feet).

(h) Compact augitic, or hornblendic, very tough (8 feet).

(i) Seamy do. do., closely resembling basaltic trap, 4 feet worked, but of unknown depth. The total depth of the working represented in the diagram is 300 feet, and was the deepest working in the Kimberley mine at the time that it was abandoned.[29]

Fig. 2. This represents a diagrammatic section of the interior of the Kimberley mine, from the surface to a depth of about 300 feet, and made up as follows:

(a) Grass, etc.

(b) Red sand as in Fig. 1, 6 feet.

(c) Calcareous tufa, 6 feet.

(d) Yellow diamondiferous ground, 25 feet. At the junction of the “yellow” and “blue” the change of color previously alluded to is shown, and also the porous layer with water oozing from it, and trickling down the “face” of the claim.

(e) “Blue ground” with various “greasy seams;”

(f) and boulders.


Fig. 1. Hind feet and portion of the vertebræ of a fossil Dicynodont reptile (Owen), natural size. Found by Capt. Jas. Scott Helps, in the white shale in a cutting 50 feet deep, at the east of Kimberley mine, facing claim .018, and 40 feet back from the margin of the mine, measuring from the surface.

The above was drawn by Mr. Geo. Jas. Lee, in Jan. 1878, soon after it was found. The above specimen, together with three others, were presented by Mr. Geo. Jas. Lee to the trustees of the British Museum, and were, I believe, submitted to Professor Owen, who has now for some years past been engaged preparing a monogram upon the Dicynodonts. From the Photographic News of Oct. 16th, 1885, I take the following: “The British Association meeting at Aberdeen. In the Geological section, Dr. R. H. Fraquair described a new and very remarkable reptile, lately found in the Elgin sandstone, entirely from a photograph of the specimen submitted to him by Professor Judd. He was able to assign the creature to the genus Dicynodon, which characterizes similar sandstones in South Africa.” There are no sandstones, however, near the Kimberley mine, but the casts of Dicynodons have been found both within and without the mine, and also in fragments of white shale upon 167the surface of the ground a few hundred yards away from the mine. In Mr. Ralph Tate’s “Historical Geology,” the following passage occurs:— “Reptiliferous Sandstones of Morayshire: Geologists have maintained, on stratigraphical grounds, that the Reptiliferous Sandstones are of the age of the Old Red Sandstone; but the intervention of a conglomerate implies a stratigraphical break, and a lapse of time of indefinite extent; and the paleontological evidence favors the supposition that these sandstones are of Triassic age.” In the light colored shales to which I allude, and nearly in the same place, a fragment of a fossil fish (Palæoniscus) of Triassic age was found, and was presented to the British Museum. I may here repeat a passage from Mr. W. S. Dowel’s paper, already quoted in this chapter: “Professor Liversidge describes the geological formation of the district (Bingera, 350 miles north of Sydney, Australia) as being of the Devonian or Carboniferous age, but when making a visit in 1873 he was unable, in consequence of want of time, and wet weather, to secure fossils in order to verify his opinion. Since then Mr. Donald Porter and others have discovered fossils and indications that clearly go to show that the professor was correct in the opinions he had formed respecting the nature of the geological stratification and the age to which it belonged.”

Fig. 2. Portion of a fossil leaf, natural size, found by Mr. Geo. Jas. Lee on Oct. 13th, 1880, in the white shale from the Kimberley mine, at a depth of about 50 feet, facing road 9, south. Length (as restored), 2¹⁄₂₀ inches; apex (restored), ¹⁷⁄₄₀ inch; width (entire), 1¼ inches.

I must leave it for fossil botanists to determine the name of this leaf, but should it turn out to be identical with Heer’s “Populus primæva” (which I believe it to be), “from the Urgonian Pattorfick, Greenland, described twelve years ago (1875) and still remains (in 1885) the sole representative of this sub-class in any formation below the cenomanian and the most ancient dicotyledon known.” It is a very valuable specimen, and almost unique, and must be a source of great satisfaction to the fortunate finder, as well as geologists in general. Unfortunately at this time I have no books of reference upon this subject by me, nor have I seen a report of Heer’s discovery, therefore I must leave the classification of the above leaf entirely in the hands of experts in fossil botany.

A photograph of the impression of the leaf has also been taken, of which Fig. 3 is a copy. An impression of the upper and under surface of the leaf was found to have been very perfectly preserved as a hollow mould when the block of shale containing it was split in halves.


Fig. 1. This is a photograph of a portion of the stem of a Sigillaria, found in a fragment of black, or carboniferous shale, in the centre of the north margin of the Kimberley mine, at a depth of about 100 feet. This probably is a new, or at all events a hitherto undescribed species.

Other very perfect casts of Sigillariæ, as well as of Lepidodendra, have also been found in the black shale. In the same shale, and about the 168same locality, an imprint of a species of large reptile was found, probably of the order Crocodilia. The imprint was very perfect, and many feet in length, but unfortunately the native workmen then engaged in throwing down this “reef” had thrown down to the bottom of the mine every vestige of the fossil, before a friend of the writer requested Mr. William McHardy (then and now manager of the Central company) to procure a specimen for him. Mr. McHardy saw this cast himself and informed my friend of the find, and at his request (my friend’s) he at once returned to save it, but unfortunately not a vestige of it was to be found, the natives having thrown a vast quantity of reef down, so that the proverbial needle in the bottle of hay was easily discernible in comparison with my friend’s fossil cayman. Other interesting fossils have been found in these shales, and have been deposited by their owners in various museums in Europe and America.

This concludes an account of all the fossils in the shales of which I can give any authenticated delineation, but I may mention that dendrites are very common in the light shales, caused by iron stains, mostly of a dark red color. I have already stated in the body of the chapter relating to the Kimberley mine that coal, from a mere trace in thickness to eight or ten inches, has been found in the black shales surrounding the mine.

From the above-mentioned facts, I am inclined to believe that the exposed strata of the Kimberley mine extends from below the carboniferous in the primary rocks to the triassic in the secondary rocks, of course excluding the tufa and red sand, which would be much more recent, and from which I have not heard of any fossils being found.


Fig. 1. This shows a transverse section of a fragment of lignite found in the Kimberley mine, in Claim 165, at a depth of 140 feet, and embedded in “blue ground” or diamondiferous soil. Color, jet black.

a.a. Junction of two annual layers, or rings.

b.b. Fissure through medullary ray.

c.c. Portion of medullary ray.

Average of internal diameter of tubes, ¹⁄₁₀₀₀ inch.

Internal diameter of large tube, ¹⁄₈₀₀ inch. Number of layers from outside to centre of stem from which the section was taken, 48; and the remains of the bark still adhering to the specimen, ¼ inch thick. The above was drawn on Sept. 18th, 1877, by Mr. Geo. Jas. Lee, F. R. Met. Soc.; F. R. M. S., with the aid of neutral tint glass, 10 inches from the paper, and with ½ inch object glass, and A, eye piece, and magnified 121½ times, but here reduced to about 82.6 times.

The hardness of the lignite found in the Kimberley mine varies from that of soft charcoal to that of calcite, with which mineral it is mostly impregnated; the deepest being the hardest on account of containing more lime, and having undergone a greater change. It has been found in various parts of the mine, and at different depths. It has been also found in all the other mines, and in several instances large portions of stems, branches and roots were discovered. A specimen from De Beers mine was as hard as flint, but still retained its black color. In a specimen of a supposed root from De Beers mine the cells were square, instead of being circular, as in the figure.

I may here observe that “fossilized wood,” looking much like chalcedony or agate, is plentiful all over South Africa, and in the “Bush” (forest) of the Boston saw-mills, in Natal, not far from the river Umkomaas, inland to the north of Pietermaritzburg, whole stems of gigantic fossilized trees are to be found—and of the hardness of silex lying upon the ground. So far as I am aware the whole of such specimens are identical with the lignite of the Kimberley mine, thus tending to show that at one time this vast continent was/covered with forests of gigantic pine trees. The question at once arises, what has become of those forests? Have they been turned into coal in the place where they grew? or have they been washed into an ancient ocean and thus transported to some distant place? I think the answer must be that the greater portion have been washed away, and the remainder, the extent of which it is impossible to estimate, turned into coal and silicated wood, in, or nearly in situ. Fossil botanists will notice with interest the absence of distortion in the cells in the section delineated above, as evincing the fact that they have not been submitted to any great pressure.

Many of the specimens when found exhibited very evident signs of having been much rolled about and water worn, by their rounded ends, and the absence of attached branches, twigs, bark fruit and leaves, none of which have been found but the stems, larger branches and roots, with the exception of a portion of bark on the piece of the stem from which the above section was taken.

I must here draw the attention of my scientific readers to the great similarity to the section here depicted, and to a similar section of Greenland coal, as figured in the “Micrographic Dictionary,” 3d edition, 1875. The only apparent difference is in the slight distortion of the cells in the coal from Greenland.

Pl. IV _Fig. 1._ _Fig. 2._ _Fig. 3._ _Fig. 4._

169Fig. 2. This shows a vertical radial section of the same lignite as that of Fig. 1, and drawn upon a slightly smaller scale, and by the same means, by Mr. Lee.

Diameter of pits or glands, rather less than ¹⁄₁₀₀₀ an inch, or ¹¹⁄₁₂ of ¹⁄₁₀₀₀ = .000916 of an inch.

Centre bright spot of gland ⅔ less than the gland.

The above section shows a single and double row of glands, by means of which Mr. W. Carruthers classifies this lignite as being derived from recent pines. (For Mr. Carruthers’ report and that of other authorities of the British Museum, see end of this section.) I may here state that I have seen many very beautiful sections of coal made by Mr. G. J. Lee, obtained by him from various parts of the Cape Colony and the Free State, and they all more or less show the single and double row of pit arrangement, the only difference being that the pits or glands are much smaller, as are also the tubes.

170Vertical tangental sections are also the same as in the lignite, which exhibit the usual characteristics of sections of pine, in showing the usual reticulated and oval resin cells. In some sections the open network of the cells is very beautifully preserved.

The general reader would hardly thank me for further geological disquisitions, which I therefore abandon, though with a certain amount of reluctance.

Fig. 3. Remains of a shell, natural size, found by Mr. Hugh Cowan, in February, 1878, in his claim 163, imbedded in solid “blue ground,” 205 feet deep.

The color of the body of the shell is pale lavender, with white convolutions. Drawn by Mr. Lee, and presented by him to the British Museum.

It will be noticed that the above specimen was much broken and water worn. The outside of the shell was highly polished, and the broken edges much rounded.

Fig. 4. These are representations of the natural size of two bivalve shells, drawn by Mr. G. J. Lee, and found by Mr. James Beningfield in his claims 150 and 377 in the Kimberley mine.

These shells were of an olive-green color, and imbedded in fine clay sandstone. They were given by Mr. Beningfield to Mr. Lee, who presented them to the British Museum, the receipt of which was never acknowledged by the Museum authorities. I therefore fear that they have been lost.

I am not aware whether the above are marine or fresh-water shells. Several other specimens of shells have been found by Mr. James Beningfield, who has unfortunately mislaid or lost them, and I have heard of other diggers having also found specimens, but I have not had the good fortune to see them. The above were evidently found in “erratics,” but that found by Mr. Cowan was undoubtedly found in the solid diamondiferous ground.


Fossils from the Diamond Field, South Africa.—Mr. George J. Lee, of Kimberley, Griqualand West, has forwarded through His Excellency, Colonel Lanyon, the Governor of the colony, to Sir Joseph D. Hooker, C. B., for presentation to the British Museum, part of a carbonized[30] branch of a coniferous tree, found 195 feet below the surface in claim 196; a fragment of a fossil fish (palæoniscus) of Triassic age; and four casts of portions of the vertebral columns and ribs, and a foot of a small dicynodont reptile, preserved as hollow moulds, in finely laminated and friable shale. Also numerous pyritised bodies, possibly replacing some organism. The reptilian remains have been submitted to Professor Owen, C.B., who will notice them more fully hereafter. The fossil wood will be examined by Mr. W. Carruthers, F. R. S.—Geological Magazine, April number, p. 192, Decade II., Vol. VI., 1879.



Sir: The lignite from Kimberley mine, claim 196, consists of stems or branches converted into a brittle lignite, which still preserves the original size and form of the stems, and exhibits the internal structure peculiar to coniferæ. The wood cells have a single series of discs, as in the wood of the recent pines.

“The specimens from Kimberley mine, claim 165, are more altered, and approach the condition of our Paleozoic coal. The small portions which show structure (mother coal) consist of fragments of coniferous wood, exhibiting the disciferous wood tissue with the discs in single rows. The slides from the coal of Heilbron, Vaal River, Free State, consist of wood cells, with discs in single or double and opposite rows, as in the recent pines.

W. Carruthers,
“Botanical Department, British Museum.”—Geological Magazine, 1879, June number, p. 286.

Note.—The Paleozoic coal mentioned above was found imbedded in sandstone similar to that of the shells.



Very shortly after the discovery of diamonds on the banks of the Vaal River the diggers set themselves to solve the important question: How shall we win a maximum of diamonds with a minimum of labor? Sorting without mechanical appliances of any kind was indeed a weary and heart-sickening toil, especially when, as not very rarely happened, weeks elapsed without a single diamond being found to reward the digger for his almost ceaseless labor. Only the hope that “springs eternal in the human breast” enabled the searcher after precious stones to endure it; and so it was not long before inventions, which ingenuity brought to bear upon the object of answering the question above propounded, came into general use.



175First of all came the “Long Tom,” a trough fitted with ripples, into the head of which the gravel was thrown, and through which a constant flow of water drawn from the river was maintained, while the gravel was raked and the larger stones and pebbles removed, the fine gravel found behind the ripples being taken away to the sorting tables. To this contrivance succeeded the “cradle,” a wooden box placed upon rockers and pulsated upon a flat piece of ground or rock by means of a handle. The cradle contained three sieves, the first very coarse and the third extremely fine. Into the first the mud and gravel were poured, a constant flow of water being of course kept up. When the mud had disappeared the first sieve was hand-sorted, and loud indeed were the shouts of acclamation and universal was the adjournment to the nearest liquor tent when a diamond was found in this receptacle. The contents of sieves Nos. 2 and 3 were then emptied on different ends of the sorting table.

Both these appliances were introduced by old gold diggers, and were similar in construction to their Californian and Australian namesakes.

Third in order came the “baby,” so-called from its inventor, a Mr. Babe, an American. Three screens, somewhat similar to those used by bricklayers in making mortar, were suspended by reins (leather thongs) almost horizontally to four posts, and were kept in agitation by hand, the reins of course giving full play for “pulsation.” The subsequent process was nearly identical with that above described in connection with the cradle, which this machine indeed resembled in principle, though a decided improvement, as much more work could be accomplished with the aid of this invention than with the assistance of its predecessor.

Fourth in order came the “cylinder,” constructed of either wire sieving (10 inch mesh) or punched sheet iron fitted with lids, revolving on an axle, kept moving by a handle immersed in a tub of water. The gravel before being shut up in a cylinder was screened. This was found to be an excellent contrivance for saving labor, and was highly popular, as obviously the natives could have no opportunity of purloining 176diamonds from it, as it was only opened for the pouring out of the contents under the digger’s personal supervision, or perchance the observing eye of the partner of his joys and sorrows. It is perhaps unnecessary to add that after these machines had come into general use, many, especially the impecunious diggers, amongst whom were many Dutchmen, with overwhelmingly large families, did as best they could with a single sieve, which served as pulsator and everything beside. To-day even, many use this primitive appliance at the river.

Before passing on to the Dry Diggings and the systems that there prevailed, it may be as well to briefly describe the “sorting table.” The top of a packing-case balanced on a heap of gravel often had to serve this purpose in the early days of the river diggings, and beside it the digger knelt, crouched or sat, changing his position when it became too wearisome. The more affluent had a sorting table supported by legs, and covered with a sheet of iron, being slightly inclined from the digger, so that the water might not flow into his lap when the gravel was poured out in front of him. Those of my readers who visited the Cape court in the “Colinderies” have seen a sorting table almost if not quite identical with the best constructed of the early days. The “scraper,” too, which, though small in size and inexpensive in material, is yet an important instrument in diamond winning, has but little altered. This little wonder is not much to look at, being simply a piece of tin or iron about six to nine inches in width and three to four inches in height, with a straight edge and pointed ends. With this the sorter scrapes—scrapes—scrapes, pushing over the edge of his sorting table, garnets, jaspers, carbons, agates, pyrites, crystals and pebbles, which, however interesting to the scientist, are commercially valueless, until at last a diamond is found, and then the precious stone, large or small, is dropped into an unpretentious tin or perhaps a broken bottle, and the process goes on as before.

At the dry diggings sieving and hand-sorting were at first the usual methods employed, and it was long before even so much ingenuity as was required to construct an improved or altered cradle was brought into play. The processes named, however, being so wearisome and exhausting, they were at 177last abandoned; and among other labor-saving appliances one, for which much kudos was gained by the inventor or adapter—a Mr. Van Doussa—was largely used, but does not need detailed description, as it was simply a combination of the Long Tom and the cradle.

Before describing the elaborate washing machines, etc., in vogue to-day, I will proceed to give my readers some idea of the successive methods by which the diamondiferous soil has been removed from the claims for manipulation. The Kimberley mine attracting by its marvelous richness diggers from other mines was, at the time of its opening, and indeed still is, a wondrous hive of human industry. In the earliest days the sorting tables were placed in the claims themselves, and marvelous were the scenes that then might daily be observed. In a space of some dozen acres were often gathered together as many as ten thousand people; diggers with their wives, sisters and children, busily engaged in sorting; natives shoveling the earth into buckets ceaselessly, the whole scene dotted with myriad parasols and umbrellas of the most varied hues, and awnings of the most gayly-colored blankets. The example of Horace’s “magni formica laboris,” that insect to which Mr. Eugene Wrayburn objected to King Solomon referring him, was closely followed by thousands filled with sanguine hopes, some doomed to bitter disappointment, but full many destined in greater or lesser degree to have their realization.

After a time, however, as the claims were worked deeper, it was found more convenient to have the sorting tables placed outside the mine. I may here mention that in order to facilitate work, roads were reserved running across the mine from north to south. They were some fourteen in number, and 7½ feet being allowed from the claims on each side, were 15 feet broad. On these roads the native laborers tossed the ground, most of which was conveyed to the sorting tables outside the mine, but some to tables placed upon the sides of the road. The waste ground out of which the diamonds had been sorted was of course deposited outside the mine,[31] after having been conveyed along the roads in sacks or buckets, or sometimes 178in wheelbarrows or carts, by the “boys,”[32] the name by which the native employés were entitled.

As the mine became yet deeper the system of “benches” came into vogue. There were levels or terraces cut in the side of a claim, and on each of them was posted a native who shoveled up the ground thrown to him from the level below, until at last the precious soil reached the roadway, where a fourth or perhaps a fifth native was waiting to convey it to its destination. Of course the number of benches varied with the depth of the claim.

When yet more of the soil was excavated, another system had to be adopted, and then a post with a pulley attached was driven firmly into the road and the ground drawn up in buckets constructed of either hide or iron, whence it was tossed into carts drawn by horses or oxen, some of which, poor creatures, tumbled over into the claim, where they had to be slaughtered in order that their misery might be ended as soon as possible, while others were killed instantaneously. The loss of human life in these cases was, however, comparatively small.

This system, with the exception that many diggers used windlasses instead of posts and pulleys, prevailed until 1874, by which time the roads had fallen. This had long been foreseen, as isolated portions had long before crumbled away, the chasms being spanned by bridges erected at enormous expense. An entirely new system, therefore, had now to be introduced, and this took the form of “stayings.” They were, as a rule, three in number if the base or ground be counted, and may best be described as floors stoutly constructed, the first stage proper being placed at a height of about eight feet from the ground, the second about sixteen feet. Numerous standing wires were stretched from the claims and along these were drawn buckets containing the diamondiferous soil, one perchance bearing a fortune in its narrow space, literally a multum in parvo. The ground was hauled by windlasses worked by natives. So numerous were the wires that the mine seemed a 179yawning pit over which some Titanic spider had woven its web, while the noise of the wires was as loud as the din of the traffic in Cheapside or the Strand, the rattle of the machinery in a Lancashire factory, or, to be more imaginative, the roar of angry waves buffeting a rock-bound coast.

In their turn the stages were abandoned, for, as may be imagined, the process of hauling out ground by windlasses worked by hand was a slow process when the claims were worked to a depth of eighty feet or more. “Whims,”[33] worked by horses or mules, were substituted, and they were in general use until the reign of steam, which still continues.

In other chapters the geological characteristics of the diamonds are dealt with, and the best authorities quoted at considerable length; in this connection, therefore, it will suffice to say that the “yellow ground” only extends to a certain depth; this is friable, and was easily broken up by means of shovels and clubs known as “beaters.” Beneath this ground lies the hard blue, the discovery of which, as I mention elsewhere, caused no small consternation amongst the diggers, who feared when reaching it that they had come to what in alluvial gold digging would be called the “bed-rock.” This blue ground requires careful manipulation, and 1875 witnessed the general adoption of the “rotary” already introduced for the quicker manipulation of the blue. The machine in question may be thus briefly described: A species of “pay mill,” a round, stationary pan with two concentric rings of sheet iron about nine inches in height; in the centre an upright spindle driving six or eight arms, in which are fixed a number of flattish tynes, not unlike the prongs of a trident, placed in a diagonal direction. Into the circular trough formed by the concentric rings the ground was poured, water was supplied, and the mud kept in agitation by means of the tynes, the overflow passing through a small door or opening in the inner ring. This opening could be regulated by a slide according to the nature of the ground manipulated, rapidity of the revolution of the tynes, etc., etc. The machine was kept in work by means of cog-wheels at the top of the spindle. At opposite points of the circumference of the machine Kafirs 180were stationed to supply the motive power, and stood there turning and turning all day long. Later on horse power was used for turning the rotaries, which were much enlarged, and now are almost universally driven by steam power. These machines, originally about four feet in diameter, and capable of washing some forty loads per diem, are now made as much as fourteen feet in diameter and from 400 to 800 loads, according to the nature of the ground manipulated, can be washed daily by a single machine. A highly important adjunct to the washing machine proper is the cylinder, which was introduced after the discovery of the blue ground. This was frequently found to be too insufficiently disintegrated, even after long exposure on the depositing floors, to allow of its being rapidly washed without more or less serious loss of diamonds.[34] To prevent this loss the contrivance to which I allude was invented. It is a rotatory cylinder, fixed at an angle of some ten degrees, upon which a stream of water plays from a perforated tube directly above it. The upper part of the cylinder is of fine mesh, through which the finer particles of the wetted ground or mud fall upon a table, in the centre of which is an inclined trough leading to the washing machine, and along this the “magma” or slush mentioned flows by natural gravitation. The lower half of the cylinder is of coarser or more open mesh, allowing stones and larger lumps to fall upon the table to be swept off by sorters with watchful eyes for any large diamonds which may be present. This stuff is then generally treated as worthless and thrown away, but the yet larger lumps that issue from the mouth of the cylinder are, as a rule, taken back to the depositing sites for further exposure.

The mud which flows from the opening in the inner ring of the rotary is raised by small buckets (called elevators) on an endless chain to a height of some twenty-five feet, when it is ejected, the more solid portion flowing down screens, either to run down in “tailings” on the spot or into trucks to be emptied elsewhere. The uninitiated who visit a washing machine and elevator occasionally get an unpleasant surprise 181when their curiosity leads them to wander any distance from their guide, for the tailings, though solid enough at a distance from the flow from the elevator, are there almost liquid, though to the sight, by reason of the dry film at the surface, they appear literally terra firma. One unwary step and the too inquisitive visitor is up to his knees, waist, or even his neck, in a “slough of despond,” whence he is rescued possibly minus a boot or shoe by his apparently sympathizing though really much amused friends, a spectacle for gods or men.

I may here interpolate a few remarks as to the mistakes that were made, especially by the early diggers, as to the nature of the stone unearthed. Men unused to digging came and took out claims, especially in the Du Toit’s Pan mine, a mine which has from the first been renowned for large diamonds, and also for a considerable output of “crystals,” which are of no commercial value. A large crystal, showing all the angularity of the diamond and otherwise closely resembling it, often raises hopes soon doomed to be disappointed. A Boer (a true story for which I can vouch) arriving with his wagon, in which rode his wife and children, acquired a claim, and shouldering his pick, with shovel in hand, he started to work, and mirabile dictu, in an hour he discovered a huge stone. Delighted beyond measure at his glorious find, he yet deemed it prudent to conceal it from every one.

Packing up his goods and inspanning his oxen, he started for Port Elizabeth, where he had heard that the highest prices were paid for diamonds. A six weeks’ “trek” found him safely arrived at the bay, and with his gem in his pocket he sallied forth to the office of a well-known firm of buyers. He explained how he had become possessed of the priceless brilliant, how he had not shown it to a living soul and so forth, but when he produced the marvel of beauty, the merchant mercilessly shattered all his six weeks’ dreams by telling him that it was a “crystal,” and of no value whatever save as a curio!

To return to the subject of machinery. It was not, however, until after the share mania of 1880 and 1881, when many companies were floated, that much large machinery was imported from England. The small six and eight-horse power engines nevertheless began to give way to those of sixteen, 182twenty-four, and even sixty-horse power. The “blue” which had frightened the early diggers, too, and which had to be spread out on floors for miles around the various camps to disintegrate, at the great loss of time and money, about this period attracted considerable attention, it being thought possible that some other means of rendering it sufficiently pulverized for washing purposes might be discovered. A Mr. Cowan, a large digger at the time, spent several thousands of pounds in experimenting with steam, but to no avail. In releasing this “blue” from the mines, large quantities of gunpowder were used, until dynamite, of the estimated yearly value of £100,000, has been introduced into the system of mining within the last eighteen months or two years.

In consequence of the fall of reef in the Kimberley and De Beer’s mines, underground working has been resorted to, the open diggings in many instances having become practically unworkable in consequence of the enormous cost of hauling out the fallen reef. The diggings in the open unincumbered workings of the Kimberley mine before the disastrous fall of reef had attained to a depth of some 420 feet. By a system of “underground” mining the main difficulty in reaching the diamondiferous ground has been overcome, shafts have been sunk, tunnels made, and the precious “blue” again reached and hauled out. The richness of this “blue,” at the depth from which it has been brought, has again lifted the shareholders out of the mire of financial trouble in which they found themselves by reason of the great reef fall. From that time to the present, the Kimberley mine has been, comparatively speaking, relieved of its troubles. Shares in the various companies have risen, dividends have and are being paid regularly, and to human ken it would appear that the future of this mine, with still further improved working, which the exigencies of circumstances will suggest, is one of hope virtually assured.

The De Beer’s mine, the greater portion of which is now in the hands of a powerful company, with a capital of considerably over a million sterling, is fast coming to the fore. Large dividends have been paid, and tests made as to the future output. At a depth of 750 feet “blue” ground continues to be found in the shaft sunk for the purpose. Here also “underground” 183workings are going on apace with every probability of yielding for years to come handsome returns to investors.

In the Du Toit’s Pan and Bulfontein mines, companies which a short few years ago were non-dividend paying are forging to the front and their shares quietly approaching “par.” In the Du Toit’s Pan mine a test shaft of 450 feet below the open workings has been sunk, which proves that the dreaded reef is not increasing, and that the future is in a measure guaranteed.

The native labor of the diamond fields is drawn from an enormous extent of country, and includes nearly twenty different tribes, such as Zulus, Swazies, Basutos, Shangaans, Amatongas, Bechuanas, Metabélés, Mashonas, Makalolos, Korannas, Griquas, Fingoes, Pondos, Pondomise, Hottentots, etc. These number at the present time about 15,000, while the white employés can be estimated at about 3,000.[35]

Although no census has been taken it is estimated that the population consists of some 20,000 Kafirs, Malays, Indians, Arabs, Chinamen and other colored races, and about 6,000 whites, Colonials, English, French, German and Italians.

The number of steam engines at work in and around the four mines is computed at 350 with a nominal horse power of 5,000. Tramways of nearly 200 miles in the aggregate extent are in use, the trucks upon which are drawn by fully 3,000 horses and mules. To quote from the “Cape Official Handbook,” published in 1886, the annual expenditure in labor, material, etc., is not less than £2,000,000 sterling, distributed somewhat as follows:

Wages, salaries, etc. £1,000,000
Fuel and water 250,000
Mining material and stores 250,000
Explosives 100,000
Forage and stable expenses 125,000
Rates, taxes, general expenses 275,000

It will be remembered that the item of fuel is a most important one. Before the completion of the railway in 1885 and the consequent availability of coal at comparatively moderate 184rates, firewood for engine and household purposes was so greatly in demand that for a wagon-load weighing from 8,000 to 10,000 pounds as much as £45 was frequently paid, and a proportionate amount for smaller loads. Coal having now entered into competition by reason of cheaper transport the price of fuel has been greatly reduced, as may be readily imagined.

Through the wholesale consumption of growing timber, to which I have alluded, the country around has been denuded of wood, and the natural result of de-arborization has followed in continual droughts of frequent occurrence, nor has any effort been made so far to plant a new growth. This is greatly to be deplored; at the present moment fuel is brought by ox-wagons as far as 200 miles to the Kimberley market, which means some thirty-five days’ journey for the incoming and outgoing trips.

Water, too, is a most vital question on the fields. When the early diggers first came, as much as a shilling a bucket was given for that necessity, which had to be brought into the camp from springs four miles away. It soon became evident, however, that nature had stored an abundant reservoir. Wells were sunk, and a supply insured, which more or less sufficed many years afterward for all the purposes of manipulating the diamondiferous ground, as well as for household purposes. By the foresight of a respected citizen, Mr. Thomas Lynch, a scheme was started five years ago, which I successfully guided through the legislative council of Griqualand West, and which culminated in the floating of the Kimberley Waterworks Co., Limited. This company now brings in the water from the Vaal River, twenty miles away, and supplies not only most of the mining companies but also the private residences of Kimberley and the surrounding neighborhood. This company has had practically a monopoly, and the management of its affairs has been most judicious, but an opposition is now on foot for the separate supply of water to Du Toit’s Pan, Beaconsfield, and Bulfontein.

From the above particulars, which I have endeavored as far as possible to condense, my readers will, I trust, be able to form a tolerably adequate idea of the manner in which the mines of Griqualand West are worked.


I. D. B.

The diamond, from its value, its portability, and the ease with which it can be secreted, has offered in India, Brazil and the Cape, at all times, a great temptation to dishonesty to those engaged in winning it from the soil.

Whether we refer to the works of the English traveler, William Methold, who visited the mines near Golconda in 1622, (where there were 30,000 laborers then at work) and mentions that it was impossible to prevent the abstraction of diamonds; those of Tavernier, the French traveler, who visited the Indian 186mines in 1766; Mawes’ description of the Brazilian diggings in the same century, where, in spite of the strict watch maintained over the slaves employed, they managed to steal half of the diamonds produced, or we study contemporary literature with regard to the mines of Griqualand West, we find that although most severe punishments have always been inflicted with a view to stamp out theft, they have never hitherto been completely successful.

With this subject, however, I shall deal in a future chapter; in this I intend to treat of the rise and progress of the I. D. B. (illicit diamond buying) trade, and describe the various devices adopted by the black thieves and white receivers.

On the Vaal River diggings there was very little thieving. The semi-patriarchal state of society existing there was not conducive to such a crime, and moreover the natives had not yet acquired a knowledge of the value of diamonds or “klips”[36] as they were then termed. Each digger had brought from the Cape Colony, Natal, the Free State, or Transvaal, his own servants, hired for a stated time; he lived in their midst, gave them both food and physic with his own hands, temptation they were delivered from, as they dared not roam about, and they generally remained honest and faithful.

This state of things, however, did not last long, as dishonest white men and cute natives soon put the unsophisticated savage in the way they wished him to go; but it was not until a large population had gathered round the dry diggings, composed of the Du Toit’s Pan, Bulfontein, Old De Beers and the New Rush, or Kimberley mines, in 1870 and 1871, that diggers began to be alive to the enormous losses they were sustaining through the robberies of their native servants. At this time the white population might roundly be estimated at from 20,000 to 25,000, and the natives and colored people at from 40,000 to 50,000 souls, or to be within the mark say 60,000 altogether.

Now it could not be expected that this motley crew, gathered from all the four quarters of the globe, would be without some black sheep among them. This quickly became alarmingly apparent, for although the early diggers, attracted by the chance of sudden fortune, were mostly old, respectable 187colonists, Boers owning farms, and men who had lived in South Africa many years, yet very soon “camp followers,” as debased as any who ever hung on the rear of an army, began to arrive, drawn from the purlieus of European cities; London sending from Whitechapel and Petticoat Lane her quota of fried-fish dealers, old clo’ men, quondam fruit merchants, and “vill you buy a vatch” gentry, who speedily brought their home experience into profitable use.

The South African native, especially the Zulu, is, as a rule, naturally honest. The fact irresistibly forces upon us the conclusion, however reluctantly we may accept it, that the natives were first taught to thieve by white receivers of stolen goods.

In those days the Basutos, the Shangaans, the natives from the neighborhood of the Zambesi and the Limpopo, left their kraals and their happy hunting grounds in the far interior (allured by the glorious reports of the money which they could earn) to trudge hundreds of miles on foot for work in the mines, imbued with but one object, the height of their ambition, which was to become the proud possessor of a rifle or other gun.

The quicker this could be effected the sooner they could return to their homes; consequently the unscrupulous white man found apt scholars enough to his hand in these poor blacks, who rapidly learned to steal all the diamonds on which they could lay their fingers.

Then again, as another inducement to thieving, the raw native was enticed to the canteen to spend his money, and although at this time a strict law existed which prohibited any native being served with liquor without an order from his master, the keepers of low grog-shops evaded the law by keeping on hand a stock of false orders to suit any emergency, whilst the villainous compounds[37] they retailed lit up a fire which could be kept blazing by dishonesty only.

188At that time also (and even now, though in fewer numbers) eating-houses were kept by white men specially for natives. Among such of course were honest men who stuck to their legitimate business, but the greater number were suspected, and in the majority of cases rightly, of keeping such houses simply to facilitate and conceal their illicit transactions, supplying free food merely to induce natives to bring them diamonds.

The business done in eating-houses of this description was reduced to a system. A native of one or the other tribes, whether a Shangaan, a Basuto, a Zulu, or a Ballapin, was kept in the pay of the proprietors, according to the habitués of their houses. These various touts would remain most of the day, especially at meal times, sitting at the different tables prepared for native customers eating or pretending to eat with them. These men were chosen for their shrewdness, and any strange native coming in for a meal would immediately be accosted in a friendly manner by an astute rascal of his own nationality. Where did he come from? what was he doing? who was his master? in what claim was he working? what diamonds was he finding? were questions the answers to which were soon wormed out of him.

If the native had any diamonds for sale he was at once introduced to the private room of the master, which was at the back. If the replies to the various questions put to him were not considered satisfactory, or if he were suspected of being a “trap,” the “tip” was very soon given. The tout would rap on his plate and call out for “inyama futi” (more meat) which was the signal generally agreed upon, when the suspected native would be summarily ejected. Sometimes the native (although offering a diamond for sale) would not give the name of his master, which was enough in itself to excite suspicion of his being a “trap.”

“Woolsack,” a clever native detective in the employ of a Mr. Fox, who was at the time the head of the diamond detectives, was several times caught in such attempts to “trap.” I remember on one occasion seeing him professionally after he had been beaten and tortured by one of these Kafir eating-house keepers until he revealed his master’s name. “Baas Fox.” having at last been wrung out of him, and the fact of his being 189a “trap” found out, he was, after being barbarously treated, tauntingly told to go and show his marks to his master.

His brutal assailant, though all the time inwardly chuckling over his narrow escape, was loud in his public expressions of satisfaction that he had caught and thrashed a nigger who had had, as he said, “the imperence to fancy that a respectable man like him would buy a ‘goniva.’”[38] The detectives, though well aware of everything, but not willing to expose their hand, had to look on, grin and leave unavenged this assault on their native servant. If brought into court, they knew too well it would merely be a case of white evidence versus black. The injuries shown would simply be the marks of condign punishment meted out to a native for imputed and apparent thieving, inflicted under a natural outburst of indignant honesty incapable of restraint. The magistrate, in the meantime, let him think what he might, would on the evidence have to discharge the prisoner, or at most inflict but a nominal punishment.

It has been stated, I may add, that certain chiefs required their subjects on their return home to bring them a tribute in diamonds. This I do not believe ever occurred to any great extent, if at all, as in 1872 a party of diggers to test this rumor, taking the law into their own hands, made a tour through a large portion of the Transvaal and Free State, overhauling thousands of natives homeward bound, without finding a single diamond on any one of them, although on one party numbering some 200 they found 197 guns, £3,000 in gold, and nearly two tons of gunpowder. In contradiction to this, however, the late Sir Bartle Frere told a deputation of the Kimberley Mining Board, which waited upon him during his visit to the Fields in 1880, that in coming down through the Transvaal several traders and other trustworthy people on whom he could rely had informed him that most of the chiefs, and in fact all the great ones, had stores of beautiful diamonds, which had been brought to them, a few at a time, by their young men on their return home from work at the Fields.

The native laborer at the present time through contaminating influences has become an adept, and will steal with an adroitness which almost defies detection.

190In the Brazilian mines every precaution is taken to prevent thieving, but without entire success. A slave on finding a diamond is compelled at the moment of its discovery to notify the fact by holding it up between his finger and thumb. No slave is allowed to remain for any length of time at any one part of the long trough in which the soil is washed for fear he should plant a diamond for subsequent removal. In addition, all are narrowly searched, but in spite of this care the slaves hide diamonds in the sores on their bodies, which they produce by cutting nicks in their skins for this purpose, and ofttimes also swallow them, though when a negro is suspected of doing so the administration of strong purgatives, confinement in a bare room and severe punishment invariably follow.

Our free nigger is not a whit behind his South American cousin; he uses his nose, mouth, stomach, ears, toes and hair to conceal the diamonds that he steals, and at nightfall walks home from the mine or from the sorting table singing with an air of abandon which would “deceive the very elect,” the diamond being all the while secreted on his person. This, previous to the passing of the last Act, he could do with impunity, for the searching of servants, although it had been for years permissible to masters, vide Government Notice No. 14, 1872, was not as it is now conducted by a government staff. This was especially the case when native labor was scarce, for then any individual master was afraid to make an exception which could give offense, and which might deprive him at once of the whole of his laborers.

Again, if in working on the depositing floors, where the blue ground which contains the diamonds is exposed to the action of the atmosphere, a diamond should happen to be turned up which could be seen at a glance was too large or which there was no opportunity to secrete, the wily savage would cover it up quite nonchalantly, but at the same time would arrange the lumps of “blue” around in such a way that when night came and he returned, he could easily find the spot and secure the precious stone for himself.

Sometimes in the mines when they were worked deep another dodge would be resorted to. Suddenly, at a given signal, the whole of a gang working in one of the claims would yell out, and jump as if the reef surrounding them were falling. The overseer 191in charge would instinctively look up, while the boy who had given the false alarm would coolly stoop down and pocket some large diamond which he had just unearthed. Many a beautiful diamond, too, has frequently been recovered from a native’s pipe, which was diligently being puffed with all the air of innocence, and I have even heard of goats, feeding near the floors set apart for the depositing of “blue stuff,” being turned into accessories (after the fact!), the hair of these animals affording a hiding place for stolen diamonds which were thus carried into the “veldt” beyond, and refound by the thief (his day’s work being over) without any danger whatever of searching or detective interference.

The receiver, however, is worse than the thief. The devices by which the white scoundrel saves his skin are quite as curious a study as those resorted to by the original thief.

This trade gradually resolved itself into a fine art as the law against it became more penal.

Before the company mania commenced at the end of 1880, and when the mines were worked by individual diggers, many unprincipled persons, both black and white, used their digging operations and the fact of their possessing claims as cloaks to account for the possession of diamonds which they otherwise obtained by illicit dealing.

About 1876 a cause celébre brought this prominently before the public.

At that time claims in Bulfontein and Du Toit’s Pan cost little money in comparison with claims in the Kimberley mine, and a great many were owned by natives and colored people. This case, which attracted great public attention, was that of John Vogel, a colored man, tried on April 22d, 1876, before his Honor, Mr. Recorder Barry, and a jury. This man was charged with contravening section 17 of ordinance 27 of 1874: “The said John Vogel being then a registered claim-holder, and the said diamond (79¾ carats weight) not being found in ground worked by him, although sold by him in his name as a claim-holder.”

According to evidence brought forward it was proved that Vogel received £20 only from the white man who bought the diamond, whilst another Kafir who accompanied him received £305 in payment for the stone, Vogel evidently lending his. 192name as a registered claim-holder for the sum of £20. Vogel was proved to have been largely engaged in this “trade,” and on several occasions to have sold to the same buyer.

He was found guilty and sentenced to three years’ hard labor. After sentencing the prisoner, the recorder then called for the white diamond buyer, a well-known merchant, and said: “Your own register shows that you have been in the habit of buying from this man, by which you have encouraged him in his acts, while at the same time you have kept no books sufficient to prevent me from saying that your conduct is above suspicion.”

It will be seen that even at this time opportunities were taken to evade the law with every show of legality.

Some again would lease their claims to “swell niggers” (both white and black having an equal government right to obtain digging licenses and possess claims) with an understanding that they, the claim-holders, should receive a percentage of the finds, at the same time well knowing that the percentage would be a large one, most of the diamonds in fact thus obtained being stones illegally bought from natives with money these dishonest claim-holders would advance, nominally for honest enterprise, but virtually for illicit purposes.

Others would give an extravagant reward to their native servants for each diamond they brought as a reputed find while working, which was of course merely another mode of buying from natives without fear of detection.

In late years it has become a very general practice even among respectable diggers and companies to give a percentage to native servants on the value of any diamond which they may bring.

One company at Du Toit’s Pan in particular by this means increased their returns to such an extent that they found it paid them to promise each “Happy child of Ham” twenty-five per cent. commission on whatever gem he might unearth. This was brought to general notice by a well-known writer in the local press in the following verses, which were much quoted at the time:

193I would not be a digger; No,
Nor yet an I. D. B.
In digging oft your moneys go,
The other’s felony.
But then, upon the other hand,
I should be quite content
If I only was a nigger, and
Got 25 per cent.
I’d not be a shareholder, or
Hold Atlas’s or Frere’s;
I am not even pining for
The scrip of great Be Beer’s.
In Kimberley the debts expand,
The loan, it isn’t lent;
So I’d rather be a nigger, and
Get 25 per cent.
I would not be a Chairman, or
Director of a Board,
For then I could not buy nice pipes,
Nor good Cape Smoke afford;
I might get nasty writs perhaps
When all my coin was spent;
I’d rather be a nigger, and
Get 25 per cent.
I wouldn’t be a Searcher, and
I wouldn’t be the Chief;
I wouldn’t hold the contract for
Removal of the reef;
I wouldn’t be Izdebski,[39] and
I wouldn’t crimes prevent;
I’d rather be a nigger, and
Get 25 per cent.
I wouldn’t be a Secretary
nor a Manager,
To be a toiling Overseer
I’d very much demur;
I wouldn’t build a crusher,
Nor such paltry things invent;
I’d rather be a nigger, and
Get 25 per cent.
I wouldn’t be proprietor
Of far-famed Kamfer’s Dam.[40]
Nor even Chairman of the French,
For all’s not real jam,
I’d scarcely purchase Centrals,
But I never should repent
If I only was a nigger, and
Got 25 per cent.

[No, ladies and gentlemen, many and many a time my mother has said: “’Arry, my angel-hearted boy, don’t let nothing never persuade you to be a Prime Minister of the Cape Colony, or a digger, or an England’s Only General, or a writer of novelettes in the “Independent,” or a Duke or a Marquis, or an Admiral of the Blue, or a Grand Old Man, or a President of the United States of America. Don’t you ruin yourself by being a Mayor or a Banker, or throw away your chances by marrying a Baroness Burdett-Coutts—or purchasing a 900 carat diamond found by an unknown Dutch farmer on an unknown Dutch farm when there is no secrecy about the matter from beginning to end.” “No, my beaming boy,” said the old lady, bless her heart! “You be a Christy Minstrel, and go work in the claims for your wages and 25 per cent.” I took the old lady’s advice, and—all together, if you please, gentlemen]

“I would not be an Hemperor,
I would not be a King,
I would not be a Hadmiral
Or hany sich a thing;
I wouldn’t be in Lowe’s Police
And live inside a tent;
I’d rather be a nigger, and
Get 25 per cent.”

194To resume, when the company mania set in, the number of individual diggers gradually decreased. Further restrictions were also placed upon those remaining, as well as upon the managers and lessees of companies, by the passing of a new law in 1882, which law is at present in force.

By this act the digger or lessee is compelled to make a monthly return of all his finds, in which any discrepancy is detected at once by comparing it with a return (also required) from the various licensed buyers of their monthly purchases; and an excessive return of diamonds, or a succession of astounding washings up from notoriously poor or insufficiently worked ground, at once serves to arouse suspicion, and has already in several instances led to a conviction, especially as the private and moral character of each digger or lessee is more or less known to the detective department.

Some white men run the risk of buying direct from natives, and to those knowing Zulu, which is the language of which all natives gain a smattering, the conversation becomes highly amusing. The word diamond is never mentioned; for instance, an illicit will accost a native with the question: “Ipi inkonyama?” (where is the calf?) The native replies if he has no diamonds: “Inkonyama yalukile no mina” (the calf has strayed with its mother), or the white man asks: “Tzinyamazana zi kona na?” (are there any bucks?) and the native, having some diamonds secreted about him, replies: “Zi kona” (there are some). In this manner the secret of their being engaged in illicit traffic is kept from all but the initiated.

These various phases of the crime, and others that I shall describe, have been for years brought to the notice of the public by the local press. The Diamond Fields Advertiser, in a leading article once stated: “There is something terribly revolting about the extent of crime arising out of the I. D. B. calling in all its ramifications. Inducing servants to steal, murder, perjury, receiving stolen goods, white women prostituting themselves to Kafirs for payment in diamonds, little boys employed by mining companies taught to steal and supplied with false pockets in which to conceal the gems, bribes attempted on officers of law, and a thousand other crimes are practiced and gloried in by gangs of ruffians, whom the law seldom reaches.”

195But it must not be supposed that many white men were or are foolish enough to buy direct from the raw native; unless the illicit buyer has “planted” his own gang of natives, or in other words educated thieves, on some company to bring him all the diamonds they can steal, he is very wary. One very curious case in point came to light in 1876, when the detective officers, searching among the “goods and chattels” of a man convicted for I. D. B., found, from memorandums in his possession, that he had no less than sixty natives “planted” on different claim-holders, whose sole object was to rob and bring the diamonds to their real master, who had engaged them for that purpose.

A diamond passed, in most instances, through four hands before it reached a legal holder.

The raw Kafir—the thief.
The swell native, or tout of
The low white man, generally agent of
A licensed diamond buyer.

On analyzing this series, it will be seen that the raw native, who is generally the worker in the mine or on the depositing floor, has only to evade the attention of the overseer to enable him to swallow or secrete about his person any diamond he may chance to expose. The lynx-eyed observation of his “brothers” is to him of no moment, for they are, as a rule, so true to each other that they never inform—brothers both in color and in crime. His work done, on returning home to his evening meal our subject’s real fun and excitement begin, in other words, the second scene of the illicit play now commences. His swell “brother” arrives, transmutes his ill-gotten diamonds into gold, leaving him to carouse far into the night and then “dream the happy hours away,” until the morning gives him again fresh opportunities for thieving.

Our low white man, in the meantime, with perfect confidence and security, is awaiting his native tout, “building castles in the air” on the possible profit of the night’s venture.

Now for the sequel, the last act of the drama. This man has an intimate friend, a licensed diamond buyer, a more cold-blooded but less plucky rascal than himself, whose honesty (!) and respectability (!) can be gauged by the fact that he buys next morning in his office, without any haggling and 196without even demanding the necessary permit, a collection of stones which he introduces in ordinary course to the trade as a “digger’s mixed parcel.” Sometimes, however, the raw native, unfortunately for himself, sells a diamond directly to the low white man, who (if the native be not a regular customer) takes advantage of his ignorance and pays him in frequent instances partly in good and partly in base coin. In this way spurious bank notes, of which the accompanying engraving is a fac-simile, and gilt medals in imitation of sovereigns with the inscription “Gone to Hanover,” are palmed off, and get into circulation. Again, some very honest licensed buyers would advance money to others lower in the social scale, but also licensed, who would run the risk of purchasing diamonds for them from any one, whether legally qualified to sell or not. Of course if any of these were trapped and the stone traced, the monied men could never be punished, as all their transactions, having been with licensed men, were perfectly legal. I may mention en passant that a great trade was done in gold at this time; certain well-known men, afterward company promoters and directors, trading in and selling on a Saturday night all the gold coins they could gather together during the week, at a premium of three or four per cent., to a class of men who could have no other but an illegal object in view. Such ramifications had this trade!

197This is the game as it used to be played; now with the new law there is more difficulty, and the process is somewhat altered.

This law, passed in 1882, is more stringent than any of its predecessors. Its main feature is that the onus of proof of the legal possession of diamonds is thrown upon the individual in whose custody they may be found, and any person within the confines of Griqualand West may anywhere, at any time, be searched by the detective department, and if diamonds are found on his or her person must give an account of their legal ownership or be liable to fifteen years’ imprisonment, with hard labor. The detective department at the time when this law came into force received information which led it to the arrest of a most notorious illicit diamond buyer, who both in Kimberley and at Jagersfontein[41] (a celebrated mine in the Free State) had suffered for this crime. Acting on their information, the officers thought that, on searching this man, they would make a grand haul, when much to their disgust instead of finding diamonds galore they found simply pieces of glass most skillfully prepared in exact imitation of real stones, when of course their prize was lost, and the man, to their chagrin, had to be liberated.

These sham diamonds at first were brought out from Europe in all sizes, shapes and colors, but at the present time this internecine illicit trade, or fight among diamond thieves themselves, is waged to such an extent that the detective department know of at least four individuals on the Fields who are engaged in the manufacture of these spurious stones.

Fluoric acid is employed, so I am told, to partially dissolve the glass of which these are made into the shape required. As a matter of course the sale of these sham stones when effected in Griqualand West is hushed up.

The man taken in by purchasing a spurious diamond of this kind fondly imagines at the time that he is buying a real although stolen diamond under its value. He knows, if he be a licensed buyer, that he is contravening the law in buying of an unlicensed seller, and consequently, on finding out the deception 198which has been practiced upon him, dare not give the seller into custody for obtaining money under false pretences. He is well aware such a proceeding would merely reveal to the public his illicit connection; again, if an unlicensed diamond buyer, he naturally desires to keep the whole affair a secret.

It was not so, however, in the Cape Colony proper, Natal, Transvaal or the Free State, where the operation of the act was not in force prior to recent enactments, and the remark still applies to Natal and the Transvaal, where any one, morality being out of the question, can buy or sell a diamond legally. I use “legally” in the sense that the law cannot touch him. Of course buying goods well knowing them to be stolen is a crime in every civilized community, but in this particular instance, without the special enactments of the Cape Colony and Free State, one almost impossible to bring home to the criminal.

A curious case was tried in Beaufort West in 1884, which ended in the acquittal of the accused, a man well versed, not only in the mysteries of the I. D. B. trade, but also in the punishment attendant upon its detection. This man offered a certain Jew residing there one of these spurious diamonds for sale. This Jew would not purchase on his own judgment, but asked a friend to value the stone for him, which after buying on his advice for £280 he found out was merely a piece of glass not worth a farthing. Not living, however, in Griqualand West, where an unlicensed purchase would have been a crime, which might have consigned him to the Capetown Breakwater for fifteen years, but in the Cape Colony, where no restriction was then in force, he called in the assistance of the law, charged the man with obtaining money under false pretences, and the case came ultimately before Judge Dwyer at the circuit court held in that town.

The sale by the prisoner was of course duly proved. Judge Dwyer, however, directed the jury that as the purchaser had been guided in his opinion by his friend, it was a question for them to decide whether he had been misled or not by the statement of the accused. The jury, as I said before, acquitted the prisoner.

It is certainly a curious phase in this glass, or in thieves Latin “snyde diamond,” question, or, as I term it, in this internecine 199struggle for unlawful gain, that in this province neither the manufacturer nor the possessor of these spurious articles can be brought to justice. It is simply with them a game of “heads I win, tails you lose.”

The arts and sciences were also called into play to forward the ends of this nefarious trade.

The science of chemistry was even as far back as 1872 requisitioned by both legal and illegal sellers of diamonds. It had been discovered that the boiling of yellow stones in nitric acid would give them a frosted white appearance, and by this means increase their apparent value by twenty to forty shillings a carat, according to the size of the diamond operated upon.

Many very knowing ones were taken in by this at the time, the diamond buyer of the day, one Moritz Unger, even falling a victim to the deception. During the past thirteen years this imposition has been spasmodically revived, although at the time (1872) it was thought that the exposure would once and forever warn the diamond burner that his “little game was up.”

Although no community can hope to succeed whose prosperity depends upon unlawful enterprise, yet it is a fact that this new law, although it has failed to diminish diamond stealing one iota, has yet driven away the very men who formerly used to extravagantly patronize the retail stores, hotels, and theatres of the place, whilst Capetown and Port Elizabeth until quite recently (session of 1885) reaped the profits of this disgraceful and debasing trade.

Immediately on the promulgation of this law (48, 1882) the detective department was stimulated to fresh energy, which was shown by rash and indiscreet action. For a month or two the passenger coaches leaving for Port Elizabeth and Capetown were searched at Alexandersfontein, a noted hostelry about five miles distant from Kimberley, and the luggage of the passengers overhauled. On one occasion this indignity was thrust upon the Bishop of the Free State, the Bishop of the Transvaal and the Hon. A. Stead, who were all traveling by the same coach to Capetown. I believe I am correct in stating that only on one occasion was any arrest ever made. This outburst of detective enthusiasm, however, soon exhausted 200itself, and passengers now leave Kimberley as heretofore, without let or hindrance, either by coach or rail. At this time, the passage to the Colony being dangerous, and the outlet through the Free State being considered insecure, the illicit trade was removed to Christiana, in the Transvaal, and diamonds run in that direction were shipped through Natal.

When the judges in the Free State, however, gave a decided opinion that their law extended only to acknowledged diggings, and trapping was abolished by the Volksraad in that country, the trade was again brought to our very door, just as suddenly to recede when the Free State passed, in the last session of their Volksraad, a diamond law containing the onus probandi clause.

A new village called Free Town sprang up on the boundary, a mile or two distant from Du Toit’s Pan, inhabited chiefly by men whose acquaintance with the diamond law of Griqualand West had been of too intimate a character, while both there and at Oliphansfontein, another Free State village close by Griqualand West, diamonds were openly bought and sold. One or two Dutch homesteads in the neighborhood over the border, within easy reach of our mines, were rented by gangs of Griqualand West illicits in order to ply their trade with ease and impunity.

The detective department was again seized with another fit of zeal, and many mounted men patroled the roads to these villages, searching all comers and goers, whether male or female, whom they suspected of connection with this traffic. In spite of this diamonds were “run the blockade” in large quantities. The I. D. B. fraternity were not lacking in devices. The book post conveyed many a parcel. A large hole was cut in the pages of some novel or ready reckoner and the space filled with diamonds carefully packed. The parcel being properly wrapped and posted attracted no attention from the postal authorities.

Kafirs were employed as runners at night, in the day white horsemen nicknamed “troopers,” were paid to face the risks, the diamonds they carried being wrapped in lead so that they could be dropped in the grass if danger loomed in the distance and then recovered again at leisure. Others of this ilk again 201having swallowed the precious stones ran the gauntlet safely, in open defiance of the detectives, with the diamonds in their stomachs. Horses were fed with balls of meal containing diamonds, driven across the border before the very eyes of the detectives, where, in course of nature, the diamonds were restored to the hands of their keepers. Dogs, too, were starved until they bolted lumps of meat in which diamonds were imbedded. The value of these poor brutes not being great enough to save their lives their stomachs were soon ripped open on their arrival at Free Town, over the border. The tails of oxen and wings of fowls were often utilized, passing the border unsuspected and unexamined, while carrier pigeons instead of carrying valuable information were used to transport valuable diamonds to Free Town, in the Orange Free State, and Christiana, in the Transvaal.

Astonishing ingenuity in trying to run illicit diamonds out of the territory was displayed by some. One man named Phillips, an instance in point, was found guilty by the special court of illegal possession. The reports of the case supply the accompanying particulars.

Phillips showed great cleverness. He had the heels of his boots made hollow and filled up with rough diamonds, sealing them down with wax. The handles of his traveling trunk were also made to remove, empty spaces behind being constructed for the same purpose. In fact the man thought himself safe enough. The detective department, however, suspecting him, and failing in all efforts to trap, engaged a man to form a pseudo friendship with him, or in other words, to play the part of a Judas. To keep up the deception and disarm suspicion this secret agent was rushed and searched by a well-known detective, thus creating an apparent reason for a fellow feeling between the two. The result can easily be guessed—Convict No. — for ten long years to come has now seclusion and opportunity enough afforded him by the government to ponder over the folly of confiding too much in his fellow creatures. These boots were exhibited in the Capetown Industrial Exhibition of 1884 and excited much interest.

I have learned since, however, that similar devices were used in Australia during the gold mania.

The dishonest licensed buyer at this time adopted another 202dodge. In order to evade the law, show the detective department a correct monthly return as regards weight of diamonds, and so avoid suspicion, he would keep on hand a large stock of boart nominally accounted as diamonds, but worth some three shillings to five shillings only per carat. Thus, supposing he bought a large illicit stone, of course under its value, he would throw away a corresponding weight of boart, which he could easily afford to lose. By this means he was enabled to produce a correct register to the authorities and have as well the proper weight of diamonds on hand supposing the detective department at any moment demanded a search.

But toward the end of 1884 and the beginning of 1885 the so-called “legal” traffic at Free Town and Oliphansfontein, in the Free State, was seriously interfered with.

A number of desperadoes formed themselves into a gang to attack and rob the buyers in the Free State, the argument by which they justified themselves being that it was nothing but fair play to rob men of property which they had no right to possess, and thus mete out to such characters, unofficial, but at the same time retributive justice. In other words, they knew the diamonds which they might steal were simply illegal purchases from thieves working for companies in Griqualand West mines.

The head of this gang was an ex-police sergeant and detective named Mays. He committed many highway robberies on the border, but diamonds were his sole object, he despised money and other valuables as booty beneath his notice.

These, he argued, would simply reduce him to the level of an ordinary thief, which he prided himself he was not. The men he robbed were always treated well, and generally had the opportunity given them of buying back their diamonds at a cheap rate, which, knowing full well they themselves were thieves, they generally did, not courting publicity.

This was not always the case. A celebrated trial at Boshof, in the Free State, in March 1885, showed otherwise. One of these gentry who “speculated” in that country, named Kemp, caring nothing for the exposure of his nefarious trade, on being robbed near Oliphansfontein of 2,073 carats weight of diamonds, worth £4,000, which he was taking to Capetown, 203gave such information to the Free State authorities as led to the capture, trial, and conviction of the thieves, who proved to be rival “speculators” in the same line of business. So far, Kemp missed his object, which was more the recovery of his diamonds than the punishment of the highwaymen. The revelations on the trial were simply startling, implicating as they did supposed honorable men in Griqualand West.

Chief Justice Reitz, on sentencing the culprits, who were all found guilty, did so in plain words. Addressing each in turn, after asking them whether they had anything to say, said in Dutch, of which the following is a literal translation (to Scotty Smith): “It is a pity that a man of your appearance should deal in stolen property. There is no excuse for you; it is a gross crime. The boundary line is getting dangerous for our people. It is quite an accident that Kemp was not killed. I took you for a man who knew better. I will punish you severely.”

To Leigh he said: “You are a sergeant in the police, you are a protector of the public, and you come into another land to commit a robbery. You come with a dished-up story; better you had not told such a thing. You, a sergeant in the police, using a knobkerrie and revolver. You might, in the strict letter of the law, be hanged; but now-a-days a more lenient view is taken. You were stopped by an accident from being hauled up for murder.”

To Herman: “You are a mean little scoundrel, acting in that way whilst a fellow co-religionist was being robbed, and perhaps all but murdered; such a little fellow you are. You get used for paltry, mean things, and here you assist in a mean way in a serious crime.”

To Welford: “The evidence against you, I think, is conclusive, although you have a right to say there is a conspiracy against you; those can believe you who like. I believe you are the man who started the whole thing. I would not wonder if you first originated the matter. You see the result of commencing by virtually doing a business of theft, because you think the law here could not touch you. Such action leads me to be more severe in your case. I think you are all sensible people; you knew it all well; there is no plea of ignorance.”

204The four prisoners were then sentenced to four years’ imprisonment each; with Scotty Smith and Arthur Gerald Leigh twenty-five lashes in addition.

So far as Kemp was concerned, the chief justice, adding injury to insult, refused his application for the return of the diamonds, giving as his reason that “Griqualand West was a civilized country with competent courts, and if these were his diamonds he could go to Kimberley, prove them to be his lawful property, and no doubt get them.”

Kemp, as Chief Justice Reitz advised him, in the following December brought an action against the chief of the Griqualand West detective department for the recovery of the diamonds, which resulted in a judgment of “absolution from the instance” with costs, the diamonds remaining in the care of the detective department. Judge President Buchanan, in giving this decision, distinctly stated that he did not believe Kemp, but allowed him another opportunity, if he chose, to prove the diamonds were not stolen property.

Kemp then noted an appeal, which came before the appeal court in January 1886, at Capetown. The Premier, Mr. Upington, who appeared for the detective department, said there was no proof that the diamonds were Kemp’s. He was another’s servant—a noted Free State (!) diamond buyer—had never been in possession of the diamonds, and was not entitled to sue. Mr. Leonard, the attorney general under the former (Scanlan) ministry, who appeared for Kemp, said he “would not ask the court to believe, as was attempted in the court below, that a thief could recover stolen property, but there was no proof that the diamonds in question were stolen.” The court, in giving judgment, held that there was no proof that the diamonds were Kemp’s property and dismissed the appeal, and the diamonds were forfeited to the Crown.

This decision was hailed with delight by the mining community, as it tended to overthrow a clique of pseudo-legal and illegal buyers, who had long worked in concert; therefore, at the present time, the Transvaal and Natal are the only territories where transactions in stolen diamonds are capable of not being criminally brought home to those engaged in them.

This so far is a faithful account of the I. D. B. trade and its various ramifications.

205Sir Jacobus de Wet, when recorder of our high court, once solemnly termed this trade the “canker-worm of the community.” The truth of his words time has over and over again but too truly established, as this canker-worm is gnawing away the very vitals of Diamond Field society.

To fully explain my meaning, men in some instances, I am sorry to say, occupying a fair status in commerce, mining or society are introduced to the new arrival; they have an ostensible business, and nothing in their manner would betray, save to one endowed with all the concentrated astuteness of Scotland Yard, that they were mixed up directly or indirectly with the nefarious business. They are not incapable of showing acts of kindness to the tyro on the Fields even without an ulterior motive, and the new-comer does not find out the real character of his kind acquaintances very often until he has been the recipient of favors from them, when even if he would wish once for all to sever his connection with them, custom and gratitude alike tend to prevent the separation. Positive proof of their being implicated in the traffic, from the very nature of the case, is not forthcoming, and so the young man gives his friends the benefit of the doubt, continues the acquaintance, and though he may not be actually drawn into absolute crime or abnormal vice, is certain to prove a living example of the truthful saying: “Evil communications corrupt good manners.”

Business relations too, like poverty, make us acquainted with strange bed-fellows in this part of the world, and the well-paying client, patient or customer is not readily rejected, or shown that his fees or payments are unacceptable, without so deliberate an insult as most men would shrink from offering, without stronger grounds than the suspicion that they are not entirely clean-handed. Hence, before a man knows where he is, he may have become the daily associate of unconvicted criminals. Men who themselves would not risk any direct meddling with the traffic are strongly tempted by offers of large percentages for the loan of money, which they may shrewdly suspect, though they do not know, will be devoted to the purposes of the illicit traffic: needless to say, such persons are morally accessories before the fact. I have elsewhere mentioned how those who in former days were themselves recipients 206of stolen diamonds are in some instances now the loudest in condemning their successors in the business, and this is brought forward as an argument to prove that free trade in diamonds is justifiable, an obvious and pitiable fallacy which I am only too sorry to say imposes upon many. The disgrace attached to the jail-bird in other parts of the world, however truly he may have repented of the wickedness that he had committed, here amidst the great body of the population is rarely imposed on the I. D. B. who has served his time, and men of comparatively high standing feel no shame in hobnobbing with them in public bars. While I would be the last man in the world to cast in a man’s teeth the sins which he has expiated in prison, or to frustrate him in his effort to earn an honest living, yet it is manifest that there is an opposite extreme, and that to exalt a convicted felon into a martyr, or even to make him a bosom companion, can scarcely be regarded as a sign of high integrity.

There is no doubt the receivers of stolen diamonds have made the most money out of the mines. There is no moral difference between the Whitechapel old clo’ Jew who “runs the klips,” the Hebrew swell who keeps his carriage at the West End, by purchasing diamonds at half their value in Hatton Garden, the Christian who lends money for the purchase of stolen goods, and who every Sunday thanks God he is not as other men are, and the respectable (?) colonial merchant “buying on the quiet.” They are all as much thieves as the veriest pickpocket of St. Giles’. The moral condition of the diamond fields is such that, although a man may be known to be habitually engaged in the trade, he is openly received until the jail’s portals are some day suddenly thrown back at the bidding of the special court to receive yet another victim, an example of the old, old story.

In a succeeding chapter I shall give some individual cases illustrative of my theory, in the next I shall deal with the treatment that this increasing disease has demanded and received.



When the diamond mines of Griqualand West, viz. Du Toit’s Pan, Bulfontein, De Beer’s and Colesberg Kopje, (now the Kimberley mine), got into full work, diamond diggers soon found out that they were being robbed to an enormous extent. Unfortunately but too many white men were to be found ready to receive the stolen diamonds from the thieves, who, at all events in those days, were almost exclusively natives.[42] A strange infatuation seems always to have possessed those engaged in the pursuit of “the trade” as it is euphemistically termed, which even the stringent penalty of a possible fifteen years’ hard labor, the culmination of repeated legislation, does not seem to have sufficed to overcome. 208The first attempt to put a stop to these robberies by legislation was contained in a proclamation issued by Sir H. Barkly, on May 30th, 1872, in which every unauthorized buyer or seller was made liable to a fine not exceeding three times the value of the diamond or diamonds so bought, and in default of payment to imprisonment with or without hard labor for any period not exceeding two years.

Soon after, further precautionary measures were introduced, and the traffic in diamonds between the hours of sunrise and sunset and on Sundays was forbidden (vide government notice No. 69, July 29th, 1872). On Aug. 10th of the same year, Sir Henry Barkly issued a further proclamation, diamond stealing by natives and the purchase by unprincipled white men having immensely increased, in fact having become at this time even the curse of the Fields. By this proclamation, any dealer in wines, spirits, or malt liquors was unable to hold a license to trade in diamonds. This was amended on Sept. 17th, canteen-keepers only being disqualified, and not wholesale dealers. There was a further enactment that no person could be registered as the holder of a claim, unless he produced a certificate from a magistrate or justice of the peace certifying to his character; this, however, was always a mere form, and was never refused. Provision was also made for the registration of all servants, while power was given to any master, without the assistance of a constable, or for any constable without a warrant, to search the person, residence and property of any servant within two hours of the time he left the claim or sorting table; but on Sept. 17th this proviso was amended, and it was made lawful for a master to search his servant at any time whatever. If diamonds were found upon him, it was presumed that they were his master’s, and the punishment to which the servant was liable was imprisonment with or without hard labor for any period not exceeding twelve months, or to receive any number of lashes not exceeding fifty, or to such imprisonment and such whipping.

At the time this proclamation was issued native labor was in great demand on the fields, and consequently the power given to the master by law was seldom if ever exercised, as he knew the almost certain result would be the loss of all his servants. 209A change was made by this proclamation of Aug. 10th, 1872, so far as unauthorized buyers were concerned, their punishment upon conviction being fixed at a fine not exceeding £100 sterling, or to imprisonment with or without hard labor for any period not exceeding six months. The crime of inducing servants to steal was punished more severely. Lashes not exceeding fifty were provided for in the proclamation, and the imprisonment increased to a period not exceeding twelve months, or to such imprisonment and such whipping. Many white men received lashes under this clause, and amongst others a German, who on coming out of prison, retired to his native country with over £30,000!

The increasing desire for drink among natives was considered by the authorities in those days one of the greatest causes of the development of their thievish propensities, and the canteen keeper who bought a diamond of a native, or took diamonds in payment or pledge for liquor, in addition to the punishment already stated, forfeited his license and became incompetent to hold one in the future. A further discretionary power was given to the court by which any such person might be convicted, of forfeiting his right to any claims and expelling him from the territory; but the last proviso was laughed at by men who had contravened this law, as no punishment for returning to the province had ever been inserted by the framers. If stringent laws had been properly drafted and enforced in the early days of the Fields, the abominable illicit traffic might have been nipped in the bud.

A great deal of animosity toward the natives existed about this period. Part of this feeling was originated, I think, from many white men not possessed of claims being jealous of their black brethren digging at Du Toit’s Pan and Bulfontein, while the facility for dealing in stolen diamonds, afforded by their possessing a digger’s license, was also a factor in the ill-will felt and expressed.

A great mass meeting was held in the Market Square, Kimberley, on Friday, July 19th, 1872, to bring pressure to bear upon the three commissioners who administered the government, and get them to take away all claim licenses from black or colored men.

Two of these gentlemen, weakly desirous of popularity, 210gave way to the general outcry and suspended all claim licenses to natives by a proclamation issued on July 24th, which contained a reservation certainly, (which may be taken for what it is worth) allowing the issue of such licenses on production from the various digger committees of certificates of character and fitness; but this was a prerogative they were little likely to exercise owing to the strong feeling then existing.

John Cyprian Thompson, to whom I allude elsewhere, the dissentient, a good lawyer and a thorough Englishman, did not compromise himself by joining in this most illiberal proclamation. The subsequent action of Sir Henry Barkly tended to prove the correctness of Mr. Thompson’s opinion, for as soon as the proclamation reached Capetown his excellency canceled it by another of Aug. 10th, 1872. In this he stated that “as it is inconsistent with justice that persons against whom no specific charges have been brought should be deprived of their rights and properties, I do hereby revoke, cancel, and make void the said proclamation, and do declare that the same shall be of no force or effect whatever, and that all licenses suspended under and by virtue thereof shall be returned and the holders thereof placed, as far as possible, in the same position as if the said proclamation had not been issued.”

The question of granting licenses to natives, and other matters of the same kind, then attracted little attention from government until some time after Governor Southey’s arrival, when the due constitution of our own legislative council having taken place, an ordinance was passed (No. 21 of 1874) dealing more strictly with licensed dealers and brokers. Dealers’ licenses were increased, at the suggestion of certain of them who thought by this means to monopolize the trade, to £50 and brokers’ to £25 per annum; dealers were obliged to buy in licensed offices, and brokers could not get a license without a magistrate’s certificate, proving that they were not under tutelage, and producing two sureties. By another short Act (No. 31 of 1874) diamond dealers were compelled, under a penalty of £50 or in default three months’ imprisonment, to properly register and record all their purchases.

Again, while Sir J. D. Barry was acting administrator, another ordinance was passed (No. 4 of 1877) repealing 21 and 21131 of 1874, re-enacting the main clauses but increasing the maximum punishment for a first offense to a fine of £500 and three years’ imprisonment, and for a second to £1,000 and seven years.

The most interesting point to observe in connection with the diamond trade ordinances is the gradual increase in their stringency, obviously the outcome of, and in direct ratio to, the growth of this illicit traffic; to bear this out, in 1880, when Mr. Rose Innes was administrator, the punishment of this crime was again increased to a maximum of five years’ imprisonment and £500 fine for the first, and ten years and £1,000 for the second offense, with six and twelve months in addition respectively if the fines were not paid.

I was vice-president of the legislative council of Griqualand West when this ordinance (No. 8 of 1880) was under discussion. At the time it seemed monstrous to me (these cases being left to the discretion of a single magistrate) that on the opinion of one man, without a jury, a fellow creature, possibly innocent, might be consigned to prison for ten long years. I spoke strongly on the matter, but it was argued that with a jury, the illicit traffic having so many ramifications (as the Spanish proverb has it, “by the parson’s skirts the devil gets into the belfry”), it would be almost impossible to gain a conviction.

To meet this emergency I proposed a three-judge court (the same principle that has since been adopted in Ireland with reference to the “Crimes act”), which suggestion was supported by the government, and now under the title of “The Special Court” criminals of this class appear before a just and strictly impartial tribunal

In 1880 (previous to high court with three judges being constituted) a special magistrate was appointed to act in conjunction with the Kimberley and Du Toit’s Pan magistrates to form the special court, but since our high court has been formed, and the Diamond Trade Act 48 of 1882 has become law, this office has been done away with, and one of the three judges now sits in turn as president of the special court.

The act just mentioned (48 of 1882) when it passed the Cape parliament might have been at once extended to the whole colony, but it was enforced by the government in Griqualand 212West only, consequently any one could buy or possess diamonds with impunity in the Cape Colony proper. As again in the Free State, although an ordinance was passed in the same year (No. 3 of 1882) of even greater severity, providing maximum penalties for its contravention of £2,000 fine, twenty years’ hard labor, 100 lashes, and last but not least the power to expel from the State all moral lepers in the shape of persons convicted outside the State in Griqualand West of I. D. B., their judges interpreted it not to extend beyond six miles from proclaimed diamond diggings; therefore so far as that State was concerned the free trade in diamonds was owing to an omission in and not a permission by the law.


213The judges there seem to have been actuated by the sound legal principle that penal laws should be strictly or rather restrictively construed.

Again in Natal and the Transvaal no law connected with diamonds existed except one in the latter State, forbidding the purchase of diamonds or gold without a special license, or from a native, under a penalty of five years’ imprisonment, £1,000 fine and confiscation, an ordinance practically null and void, for these might be purchased without question from any white man on paying a duty of five per cent.; consequently the main illicit trade was done outside the confines of Griqualand West, where there was no danger of interference from the detectives when diamonds once were safely transported across the border.

The Volksraad, in the Transvaal, I ought not to omit mentioning, also passed a clause in their extradition laws against all offenders charged with contravening our diamond act, which, however, they expunged on May 26th, 1886, out of pique, because the Cape colonial government would not take off the tax on tobacco and produce; consequently Christiana, a town situated close to the borders of Griqualand West, is again the seat of much illicit trade.

Natal, however, like the Transvaal, wants some good “quid pro quo” before it will assist the Cape in suppressing this infamous trade. During the session of the legislative council 1885–86, when the “Post-office law amendment bill” was under discussion, in which power was asked to detain and open certain letters, great and unhappily successful opposition was made by certain members, Mr. Binnes, a rising legislator, terming the clause this “jesuitical clause,” and two other members expressing surprise at the “mean, sneaking power” which the government by a “sidewind” wished to gain. For a time at least, therefore, Natal has converted herself into a “thieves’ highway.” Again in the present session, 1886–87, a similar bill has been thrown out. This conduct on the part of Natal politicians is attributed to some ill-feeling with respect to custom dues, and was wholly unjustifiable, so much so that the sister colony by thus protecting the leeches that suck the life’s blood of our great industry, lays herself open to the charge of wilfully becoming particeps criminis.

214These causes led to the most palpable, systematic and barefaced robberies, as may be readily imagined. So long as the Kafir thieves and white fences could in half an hour drive from Kimberley to the Free State, where no onus probandi of legal possession lay with the holders of diamonds, and whence a seaport could be reached without passing through any part of Griqualand West, the trade continued to thrive. Now, however, the injustice under which we were laboring is greatly diminished, first by the Free State Volksraad passing a law during the last session containing the much desired onus probandi clause, and second by our own parliament awakening to a sense of its duty and passing an act applying restrictions over the whole colony.[44]

The principal points in the Diamond Trade Act of 1882 are: (1st) That it shall not be lawful for any person to have in his possession any rough or uncut diamond, without being able to legally account for it; (2d) the punishment of those convicted under the act is increased to a maximum of fifteen years, the governor having at the termination of five years the power to remit the remainder of the sentence, on condition of the prisoner leaving the territory, with the alternative that if he return he can be rearrested and imprisoned for a term equal to the portion of his sentence unexpired at the time of his release; (3d) that none but a licensed person can export or import diamonds; (4th) that the chief of the detective department or police can stop any package in the post-office supposed to contain diamonds illegally, and warn the owner to be present at the examination, when if any unregistered diamonds be found, the owner is liable to the full penalty already mentioned; (5th) that a person finding a diamond must deliver it to the government, but to receive ten per cent. of the proceeds when the diamond is sold; (6th) that power under warrant is granted to detective officers and policemen to enter and search any suspected places, and in any highway, street, or public place, to arrest and search any suspected person, the onus probandi 215of legal possession resting on the suspected party if any diamonds be found; (7th) that diamond cutters must be licensed; (8th) that special permits must be obtained for washing débris; (9th) that every person is required by law to keep a register and to forward it monthly for examination to the chief of the detective department; (10th) that a special board be formed for protecting mining interests; (11th) that an accessory either before or after any contravention of the act can be charged and dealt with as a principal; (12th) and that a registration fee of one-half per cent. be levied on all exported diamonds.

These are the main additional clauses introduced into the law which is now in force; the remaining are not so important and refer to minor requirements, which have been reintroduced from repealed ordinances.

To go back a little, an ordinance was passed in July, 1880, when Mr. Rose Innes was administrator, providing for the searching of natives and others employed in the various mines. Owing to the want of unanimity between the four mining boards, no action was taken under this act until Feb. 1883, when the various mines were inclosed with wire fencing, searching houses at different outlets built, and a staff of men engaged to act as searchers.

These remained until February, 1884, under the detective department, the expenditure falling upon the different mines, the half per cent. registration fee on exported diamonds and the proceeds of those captured defraying a portion. The searching officers when under the detective department were excessive in number and extravagantly paid. The number and expense was ridiculous, eighty (80) searchers were employed in the four mines, and the expense was nearly two thousand pounds per month, for which they were supposed to examine all persons, white or black, leaving the mines, but this was done so hurriedly that the inspection became a mere farce. In January, 1886, the chief of the detective department reporting on this department gave it as his decided opinion that it had no effect on the theft of diamonds, and advised its discontinuance. Since this was written, however, great improvement in this department has taken place under Major Maxwell.

216I am able to give my readers some statistics comprising the searching and detective expense of the four mines which are interesting, showing the cost of the detective department for the first twenty-seven months after the promulgation of the act, and that of the searching department for twenty-two months after its inauguration:

September, 1882, to November, 1884.    
1 Registration Fees £38,145 14s. 2d.
3 Detectives’ Salaries 24,906 19s. 6d.
2 Captured Diamonds (sold) 30,671 12s. 3d.
4 Cost of Trap Stones (net) 4,011 8s. 7d.
5 Bonuses to traps 2,130 9s. 0d.
March, 1883, to November, 1884.    
1 Searching Department £39,578 14s. 6d.

I have good authority for stating that the value of the diamonds seized in searching amounted to less than £200. It will, however, be argued that “prevention is better than cure,” and that the searching was to prevent the abstraction of diamonds from the mines. This, however, it failed to do, it only altered the channel by which they passed from the elevated to the underground railway, or in other words, from the pockets of the Kafirs to their stomachs.[45] In February, 1885, the various mining boards took the searching arrangements under their own supervision, and retrenchment is now the order of the day.

When Act 48 of 1882 was before the Cape assembly, its provisions were minutely discussed. Being at that time one of the members for Kimberley, I had the opportunity of bringing my influence to bear. I did not oppose exemplary penalties being enacted for this increasing crime, but I decidedly objected, and in this I was supported by Mr. Saul Solomon, to flogging being inflicted for what was not a crime against the person but against property. I was so far successful that such brutal ideas were expunged from the act. Mr. Scanlan (now Sir T. Scanlan), who was then premier, kindly assisted me, though I was at the time in opposition, in passing through the house the “ticket of leave” system, which I introduced into the second clause. In getting this inserted, I acted on the assurance of some diggers, and these, too, the most determined 217to stamp out I. D. B., that the object of their wish for increased length of punishment was not revenge for the loss that they had sustained (for which motive they were credited by many), but a desire to rid the place, for as long a period as possible, of men who were reducing Griqualand West simply to a hot-bed of thieves.

I should not be giving my readers an idea of all the legal machinery brought to bear in order to root out and bring to justice this class of criminal if I were to omit a description of the trapping system as now in vogue. The detective department is one entailing immense responsibility on its chief. When it is remembered that “the thief, the robber, the assassin, the harlot, the murderer, and every other conceivable criminal flourishes” on this sneaking crime, it may be asked, seeing none are trapped but those who are well known to be in “the trade,” why the parrot cry of its un-English-like character is raised by many against so necessary a routine.

The detective service consists of a chief, about twenty-five natives, chosen for their shrewdness, nine white men, known to the public as detectives, and several engaged on special secret service. These officers are all well paid, not only to secure the services of reliable men, but to compensate them for the risk they run, though as a rule, the diamond thief is the veriest of cowards.

When a man is daily seen drinking, gambling and riotously living, without any visible means of subsistence, when his character can be gauged by the company that he keeps, and the detective department receives private information, that man is trapped; but not before he has bought three times do the detectives “run him in.”

Such, at least, is the system, as it has been explained to me by those who should be thoroughly acquainted with it. On the other hand, I know of a case of a young ex-officer of volunteers, who in a drunken moment bought a stone not intended for him, and was brought to trial. The detectives all swore that he had never, so far as they were aware, purchased an illicit diamond before in his life, and the court, taking that view, sentenced him to only eighteen months’ imprisonment. He was, moreover, released before the expiration of his sentence.

218The plan is as follows: The native who acts as the “trap” is thoroughly searched and then supplied with a diamond by the department. He starts on “his mission of mercy” followed by two or three detectives, who place themselves in different positions, so as to command a view of the premises where the transaction is expected to take place.

What follows is generally simple enough, the illicit buys the diamond and pays for it, when the Kafir gives a signal, and the detectives rush in and seize the man who is pointed out as the purchaser. The “trap” is again searched, when, as corroborative evidence, no diamond is found on him, but in its place, the money he has just received in payment for the “stone.” Convictions, however, are occasionally obtained when no money has passed, in which case, however, the evidence of the traps is required to be very strongly corroborated.

Black “traps” and white are employed by the detective department. The black trap is generally a native who does the dirty work purely as a matter of business, and is thoroughly honest; the white trap on the contrary is generally one who has been in the illicit trade himself, and either from avarice or motives of jealousy and revenge sells some former comrade to penal servitude and the breakwater.

In January, 1887, an instance occurred, showing that in spite of all the elaborate machinery of a rigid searching system, probably general if not universal, and the existence of the severe ordinance in question, etc., the native continues to steal diamonds. In a compound at Du Tot’s Pan, only a few months ago, the body of a native who died suddenly under suspicious circumstances was opened and a diamond of no less weight than sixty carats discovered therein.

The necessity for the extensive machinery and the enormous cost of the searching and detective departments will to my mind be done away with if the “compound system” inaugurated by the Central Co. in the Kimberley mine be carried out by other companies. In April, 1885, this company opened their buildings for native servants. I attended the opening ceremony, and to my surprise found a large yard some 150 yards square inclosed partly by buildings and the remainder by sheets of iron ten feet high. Within this inclosure were sleeping-rooms for 500 Kafirs, a magnificent kitchen and 219pantry, large baths, guard-room, dispensary and sick-ward, store and mess-rooms. There is no doubt that this arrangement will be the means of greatly decreasing the thieving by natives, but it opens up a great question connected with the business of the place, with respect to the “truck” system which must follow, and has yet to be threshed out.

During the fifteen years I have been on the Fields, I can conscientiously say, I have never known one single man found guilty who did not well deserve his punishment, though I have known many escape through the laudable determination of the judges to require most incontrovertible evidence before convicting.

I do not attempt for one moment to extenuate the crime or treat lightly the social ulcer which so undermines the moral health of the community, but I cannot help drawing attention, in connection with the subject of this chapter, to the 450 carat diamond which has just flashed like a meteor across the London market.

This is well known to have come from Jagersfontein. A whisper had never been heard of a diamond of such weight, such color and such brilliancy having been found there or in any other mine in the country, but a Port Elizabeth house quietly shipped it, and it was bought in London for £20,000 by a syndicate composed of men knowing the diamond fields intimately.

The actuality of this diamond came prominently before the public in a suit before the High Court of Griqualand West in October, 1886, in a case wherein the chief of the detective department was called to give evidence. During the course of this gentleman’s examination one of the judges said: “Do you know where that very large diamond produced in London some time ago came from?” “I do; from information received I could give your lordship the whole history of that stone from the time it left the ground until it reached Messrs. —— Bros.” This led to another question by one of the other two judges comprising the bench, which clinched the matter: “Was it a Griqualand West stone?” “No, it was not, my lord.”

These, perhaps, like the Pharisee, “thank God, that they are not as other men are.” But the question I would ask is 220this syndicate not the buyer, second hand, of stolen property?

Conscentia mille testes.

Even in England the crime of receiving stolen goods is heavily punishable, but in a case like this the worthies know well that it can never be brought home to them.

The charge has frequently been brought against the diggers that they had very considerably themselves to thank for the extent to which I. D. B. had spread. Had they taken proper precautions, it was urged, thefts would have minimized, and it was further pointed out, that though it might be true that if there were no receivers there would be no thieves, it is obviously true that if there were no thieves there could be no receivers. I cannot myself entirely acquit the diggers of the charge of culpable negligence. On the other hand, within the past three or four years there has been less ground for the accusation, as an elaborate searching system has been introduced. All the employés of the companies or individual diggers, white men under the rank of manager and colored men universally, are liable to be searched at any time. The white overseer even does not know when this may take place, as the order is secretly given from headquarters whom to search.

In connection with the searching of white men I may mention a lamentable occurrence that took place in the early part of 1884. A fiat went forth that they should be compelled to strip naked, and a natural feeling of indignation arose, as many of the overseers had been themselves pioneer diggers, and the majority of miners were men of undoubted respectability. A most regretable amount of ill-feeling arose between employers and employés, and though I believe the former were willing to forego the condition that absolute nudity would be required, yet the proviso that the boots should be removed was distasteful to the latter. At length a strike took place, to which, it is asserted, but with what amount of truth I cannot say, the men were urged on by unscrupulous outsiders, who had their own ends to serve. The first strike was of brief duration and passed over quietly, but the second, though also lasting a comparatively short time, was attended 221with fatal consequences. Briefly the circumstances were as follows: A considerable number of men were proceeding to the edge of the Kimberley mine to compel the French company to draw their fires. The men all distinctly assert they had no intention whatever of damaging the machinery or hauling gear of the company. A barricade had been erected by the servants of the company, behind which were armed policemen and certain diggers, etc., who had been sworn in as special constables. Various accounts are given as to how the affray began, at all events, though the police did not fire a single shot, the special constables shot dead on the spot four of the unfortunate men, who were buried next day, and another, who was an old patient of mine, died an hour or so after in my consulting-room, where he and a comrade who died a week after had been carried.

Great fears were entertained of a general riot; the canteens were ordered to be closed, the men who had fired the fatal shots were removed for safety to the jail, the government removed all firearms from the gun-stores, a corps of mounted specials was organized, while all save those whose passions were inflamed on one side or the other deeply deplored the sad events, and looked forward with the gravest apprehension to what a day or night might bring forth. The funerals of the fallen men were most impressive, hundreds, indeed I might say thousands, attending them, following most on foot, in slow procession to the solemn strains of the “Dead March in Saul.” Happily, however, there was no further bloodshed, and before a fortnight or three weeks were over, with but few exceptions, the men had returned to work and an amicable conclusion arrived at.

To proceed to the searching of natives, though there are certain differences in different mines, generally speaking the system is as follows: On arriving at the searching house they are compelled to divest themselves of their ordinary garb and pass through a central compartment in puris naturalibus, after which they assume working suits, needless to say absolutely pocketless. Their work over, they are first searched in the claims by the overseers and then are examined by the searching officers. They are stripped perfectly naked and compelled to leap over bars, and their hair, mouths, 222ears, etc., etc., carefully examined—no particularly pleasant duty for the searcher when the thermometer stands at perhaps 100° Fahrenheit in the shade.[46] There are grave doubts occasionally expressed as to the efficacy of this costly system, as comparatively few diamonds have ever been found in the searching houses, and the thievish native exercises an almost supernatural ingenuity in concealing his plunder, but the question is what diamonds have been prevented from being stolen rather than what stolen diamonds have been recovered.

Another system in which the supporters express a firm belief is that known as the compound system, which is shortly as follows. I have already described the Central Co.’s compound, but I will go a little more into detail: A company’s boys, instead of being allowed to wander about the town at their own sweet will, to feed at Kafir eating-houses (which are too frequently the favorite resorts of black I. D. B. runners, and whose proprietors are not invariably above reproach) and to drink at low canteens or smuggling dens, are confined to a company’s compound for two months, the period for which they now contract.

They are comfortably housed, and being unable to obtain the deleterious and adulterated liquor which has proved so many a native’s poison and death, are in the main much healthier than their uncompounded brethren, who spending two-thirds of their wages in drink on Saturday and Sunday are almost inanimate the following day and unable to work. It is needless to say that this system has aroused considerable opposition from the Kafir store-keepers, canteen-keepers and others whose purchasers are mainly natives, together with, it goes without saying, the I. D. B. gentry and a few who are neither I. D. B.’s, Kafir store-keepers nor the like, but who conceive that the system will tend to ruin the commerce of the town.[47] It is urged that the principle of “live and let live” was never more flagrantly outraged; that the bread is taken out of honest men’s mouths; that it is not by 223Kafirs, not even mainly by Kafirs, that diamonds are taken from the mines, and that it is a direct interference with the liberty of the subject. The last reason, however, is not a very cogent one against the subject, as the native agrees of his own accord to the contract, and philanthropists declare the compound to be an unmingled boon to the Kafir.

That it involves something allied to the “truck system” is apparently plain, as of course the necessities of life must be purchased in the compound, though it must be remembered that the legislative enactments which forbid the system in England were introduced to protect the employé whose wages were diminished by the unfair profits and the exorbitant interest charged by the “tommy shop,” not to protect the shopkeeper whose business was interfered with. Again, the wages are paid in cash, and the company’s store can in the event of the native failing to pay up at the end of the week merely, as I surmise, recover it by ordinary civil process. The companies disclaim all intention of making any profits for their shareholders by their shops in the compound, and are prepared to accept outside price-lists and distribute the profits among such institutions as the free hospital and the public library.

That those who have sunk their money, large or small, in the erection of Kafir stores and native bars feel the system a grievance I can readily understand, and for my part, on the principle of self-preservation being the first law of nature, am not disposed to blame them very much, if at all, for endeavoring to protect their interests by getting a bill introduced into parliament to abolish not the compound system, but to render it almost null and void by limiting the period during which the Kafirs can be kept in the compounds, through a clause principally to the effect that no goods can be vended there. A bill was introduced into the Cape parliament last year with this object, but a compromise, which is perhaps only temporary, was effected, and the bill withdrawn.

Most probably the matter will be brought before the house again next session, but I scarcely think it has much chance of passing; meanwhile the mining union has undertaken not to compound any white men, and to limit the period during which they keep the native compounded to two months only.

224In concluding this chapter I shall take the opportunity of expressing my own views on the progressive legislation by which the late legislative council of Griqualand West and the Cape assembly since annexation have attempted to cope with this crime. After a long and thorough acquaintance with all classes of this community (for which, to a certain extent, I have to thank my profession), I have come to the conclusion that the punishments now inflicted are not adapted to the requirements of the case. The present judicial procedure of sentencing this class of prisoner to a long term of hard labor, during which its members learn advanced lessons in crime, and then turning them loose, further accomplished, upon the unfortunate digger, is to my mind not only a tax on the country, but also a calamity to Griqualand West. In my opinion a shorter period of imprisonment would suffice, but to this I would add a sequestration of all the culprit’s movable and immovable property, and banishment from the colony for at least twenty years, under pain of say fifteen years’ imprisonment with hard labor should he return previously. Criminals of this class, again, are tempted by the extra chances of sudden fortune which it presents.

Cases in which second convictions have taken place are numerous, in fact there seems to be a peculiar fascination which irresistibly attracts its devotees, and seems to render the majority of them almost incorrigible; consequently one of the best methods of protecting the mining community against these vampires is that they should be entirely beyond the reach of a species of temptation that they are unable to withstand.

There is one point, in addition, which I must not omit to mention in closing this chapter, and that is the readiness with which the present ministry (1885–86–87) recommend the governor of the colony to grant pardons to I. D. B.’s. “Petition-mongering, too, is a highly respectable business, for legislators of the land condescend to handle and flutter the interesting documents in the faces of sympathizers; cabinet ministers are not averse to joining in the game, and the stamp of the very highest authority is secured for it when his excellency the governor is persuaded into opening the doors of the jail and bidding the exultant illicit go forth once more, to lay his 225roguish hands on the hard-earned gains of the diamond digger.”

I have known cases of the most extraordinary character, one I will mention in particular. On the prisoner’s first conviction, he received a sentence of five years’ imprisonment, but was liberated after fifteen months’ incarceration, when, at once resuming the same sneaking kind of theft, he was caught again, and seven years awarded to him to ponder over his outrages. Mirabile dictu! thirteen months saw him, through his excellency the governor’s kindness, a free man once more; but with well-earned experience, as he now, the third time of asking, makes Free Town, in the adjoining republic, not Kimberley, the safe base of his dishonest operations. The hammer which shivered this man’s links must have been heavily weighted indeed! As he told me, one hammer, which of itself was not heavy enough to complete the work, weighed £850.



Illicit diamond buyers are like the devils recorded in the gospel, whose name was “legion, for they were many.” The illicits are not only many in number, but also many in species.

The genus has little changed from the earlier times, for the I. D. B. was and is simply a receiver of stolen goods, well knowing them to be stolen, nothing more and nothing less. But the species of this genus are so numerous that their accurate categorist would almost rival a Linnæus or a Cuvier.

Some of the species are as extinct as the dodo; others have changed as remarkably as diseases, which once epidemic have become endemic, and members of the latter class, might, if classically inclined, appropriately quote, with reference to their altered position: “Tempora mutantur, et nos mutamur in illis.

The I. D. B. of 1872 was not the I. D. B. of to-day; the I. D. B., whose canvas canteen, thronged by semi-nude Shangaans, Zulus, Basutos or Ballapins, was occasionally burnt over his head, was a different person in his modus operandi and manner of living from the “speculator” of 1885.

227The “kopje walloper,” who was generally a gentleman of the Hebrew persuasion hailing from Petticoat Lane or the Minories, was one of those who, when diamond buying was as legal in the open air as in a properly registered office, used to haunt the edge of the mine. With satchel at side, well lined with gold and notes, sometimes on the chance of buying a diamond cheaply, trading on the ignorance of the finder, but generally with the view of tempting sorters to steal from the sorting table, he is now almost forgotten, although his moral counterpart exists to this day in the scoundrel who tempts, and but too often successfully, the white servants of a company or a claim-holder to become thieves, or to conveniently wink at the thieving of others.

The I. D. B. digger who could turn out as many diamonds in an afternoon’s wash-up as mealies on a cob, and by a marvelous dispensation of Providence was always hitting upon “splendid ground” in his claim, is now a rara avis, for the onus probandi of bona fide possession being now thrown upon the holders of rough and uncut diamonds, the digger who discovers priceless gems in notoriously worthless ground and by the aid of the poorest appliances runs a serious risk of being confronted with the judge of the special court.[48] To those unacquainted with diamond digging the awarding of a punishment for what might, at first sight, appear to be merely exceptional “luck” may seem more than Draconian, but this point will be referred to in a succeeding chapter.

The bogus licensed diamond buyer too who, frequently subsidised by some hidden man, merely pretended to transact legitimate business as a cloak for his illicit transactions, but did all that remunerated him in the “dead waist and middle of the night” is rapidly becoming extinct, owing to the stringent rules as to the proof of bona fide possession and the enforced registration of sale and purchase, though at the same time he is still extant in this year of grace, 1887. Like the cat employed by the ingenious monkey, however, in removing chestnuts from the fire, or the policeman in Gilbert’s opera, “his life is not a happy one.”

Again, the native claim-holder and digger who either bought 228a claim or was put into one to find diamonds, which, as a matter of fact, came from some other claim, perhaps some other mine, or even the river digging, now finds a more congenial occupation in running parcels over the Free State line or to Christiana in the Transvaal, or acting as an unlicensed diamond broker within the limits of the camp. “Jonas” and “Kleinboy” may still be seen with rings on their fingers and attired in a “masher” style which would not disgrace a West End tailor, but they are no longer diggers, though apparently their present occupation pays them handsomely enough.

Before the act of 1882 came into force Kimberley was a different place from what it is now—a nervous activity was universal. The booted and spurred I. D. B. could then be seen galloping on his well-groomed steed to his favorite resort, the canteen bars were thronged day and night, the billiard-rooms were crowded. The “Free and Easy,” too, had its frequenters, who were posted in all the comic songs of the day, and nightly twitted and tickled each other with the chorus of one at that time just out from home. These gentlemen evidently appropriated and appreciated the point of its refrain, singing with great gusto.

“They all do it, they all do it,
Though they very often rue it,”

as if their vile traffic and its consequences were one huge grim joke.[49]

At another music hall the song most in favor and nightly sung with immense éclat was one in which the adventures of a fortunate I. D. B. were told in the following doggerel, which was always sure of a vociferous encore, especially as many thought it had a peculiar local application:

“I’m shortly about to retire,
Then to Flo of course I’ll be wed,
I shall do the thing fine, buy shares in the mine
Or else float a company instead.
I’ll of course have a carriage and pair,
And later I shall not despair,
In the council I’ll get, and if you wait a bit
No doubt you will see me made mayor.”

229The fact of a song like this being sung in public speaks volumes as to the utter demoralization which then existed in certain circles.

In their well-known houses of call the popping of champagne corks was like one continuous fusilade, and money flowed like water, for at this time the illicit buyer had little or no fear of a detective tapping him on the shoulder and asking him to account for the diamonds in his pocket.

Professor Darwin may write about the development of species, but if he resided here he might describe how an eminently respectable (?) member of society is evolved from a thief. There are I. D. B.’s and I. D. B.’s, all grades from high to low, from rich to poor, some accounted among the creme de la creme of Kimberley society, even pillars of this or that church, pious receivers and ex-receivers of stolen property well knowing it to be stolen, others buying from hand to mouth to ward off starvation.

The I. D. B. moving in society, probably now the manager of a digging company, or a licensed buyer, but nevertheless a rank hypocrite who has worked his way through all grades of rascality to a certain position, wishes by associating with men of acknowledged social status to avoid suspicion, and therefore, as a matter of tact, he rails against the illicit trade and preaches morality ad nauseam.

If he has money or influence he is surrounded by satellites, who shine but by a borrowed light, or to alter the simile, by dogs who support their miserable existence by licking up the “crumbs that fall from the rich man’s table.”

So powerful is the leaven of corruption engendered by this illicit system, that men, otherwise of undoubted probity, “kowtow” to the man whom in their heart of hearts they know to be, to quote thieves’ Latin, a simple “fence,” because they think that

“Thrift may follow fawning.”

From the passing of ordinance 48 of 1882 until the extension of that ordinance to the entire colony in the session of 1885, Capetown and Port Elizabeth were the head-centres of the I. D. B.’s, who, possessing capital, wished to evade the consequence of their nefarious trade. These scoundrels 230bought diamonds which were stolen and smuggled from Griqualand West, and men, supposed to be honorable (?) merchants, even members of the legislative assembly, were reported as trading with these characters in diamonds which they must have known to be stolen.

An apparently legal, though in reality a dishonest trade, was carried on by these men, who were described by the editor of the Orange Free State Advertiser as “M. L. A.’s and M. L. C.’s, in league with thieves and receivers of stolen property.”

The Diamond Trade extension act has however been of infinite service in checking the illicit traffic at the Bay and Capetown, though it has not entirely extinguished it.

As a matter of fact, there does not exist anywhere a more unredeemable set of miscreants than the arch-thieves who are at the head of the illicit diamond trade in South Africa.

Illicit diamond buying, like all crime the root of which is greed of money, tends to kill all humane instincts, and leaves those who practice it more selfish than the very brutes and absolutely dead to every better feeling.

The flattering unction which the confederates of the I. D. B. fraternity lay to their souls, if any grain of conscience remains, is that they are merely guilty of a revenue offense. It is therefore only to their cowardly fear of punishment that the law of the land must appeal if a stop is to be put to the wholesale system of robbery which they have organized and carried on so long with comparative impunity.

The I. D. B. now and then boasts in his cups that he has bought hand over fist, and cares nothing for, the adjective detective; but when the aforesaid adjective detective lightly lays his hands on his shoulder, he usually manifests the craven cowardice of a Noah Claypole rather than the bravery of a bold outlaw like Robin Hood, or the semi-chivalrous audacity and recklessness of a Claude Duval or a Dick Turpin.


I. D. B.

In connection with this nefarious traffic, this insidious disease I will term it, the nature of which I have, I hope, fully explained in a preceding chapter, I purpose appending a few examples, grave and gay, to illustrate the subject.

The stories are not without interest, illustrating as they do a certain phase of humanity, and at the same time possessing the merit of strict accuracy, as I have carefully excluded any narratives for the truth of which I am not, so far as is possible in such secret transactions, personally able to vouch.

While it is true that some slight freemasonry, not to speak of a frequent exhibition of what might fairly be termed freehanded generosity, undoubtedly exists or has existed among the fraternity of the mystic three letters, it must not for one moment be imagined that their moral sense prevents them cheating each other quite as remorselessly as the unfortunate digger or shareholder, on whose vitals they so long have 232“preyed” without ceasing. Men engaged in this traffic will rob one another, and there is no honor whatever among thieves of this class, their standard of morality being low indeed. Creatures of this type will often descend to any depth to gratify their sensual pleasure, and to satisfy their greed for gold. Examples have not been infrequent on the diamond fields of men employing Kafir females, on the one hand as touts for their infamous trade, and on the other to minister to the basest lusts of their nature. These unfortunate women are, as a rule, faithful to their protectors (Heaven save the mark!) combining at the same time the capacities of mistress, drudge and go-between. Their life is a terrible one, poor creatures, as this tale will show.

A certain gentleman, who boasted of his intimate acquaintance with the mysteries of one of the gayest capitals in Europe, was living not so long ago with a smart and not by any means repulsive-looking Fingo woman. About this time camp fever was very prevalent, and he fell under its influence. For days, nay, weeks, the disease held him in its grasp, and as day and night he tossed in wild delirium, hiding himself in the bedclothes to escape from the imaginary detectives who were conjured up by his disordered brain, his bedside was but seldom deserted by this loving example of native fidelity.

His trade connection with the “boys” employed in the mine had, however, to be kept together, and here it was that the faithful creature showed the devotion of her nature by running great risks in purchasing diamonds from the natives who had been in the habit of coming to her paramour. When this man rose from his bed of sickness, to his astonishment she presented him with hundreds of carats of valuable diamonds, but my readers will scarcely credit it when I tell them that no sooner was this despicable hound able to crawl than he sneaked away to Europe, taking with him the diamonds that she had bought, and leaving her penniless to starve or gain her living on the streets.

Ingratum si dixeris omnia dices.

As a pleasing contrast to the story I have just related, I have now to record an instance of woman’s fidelity and presence 233of mind when brought face to face with danger to those she loved.

A man, his wife, and child resided in Newton, a quarter of the camp, at one time at least, as thickly studded with swell I. D. B.’s “as the autumnal leaves that strew the brooks in Vallambrosa.”

The husband was, not without reason, suspected of being what was euphemistically known as “in the trade.” So the detectives came to his house again and yet again, they emptied the sugar pots, they stuck their fingers in the pomatum, the pepper-boxes were turned topsy-turvy, making catarrh as universal in the house as cholera round Mecca; potatoes preparing for the diurnal tiffin were carefully diagnosed as to their diamondiferous capabilities, in fact Newton, the philosopher, suffered less from the incendiary propensities of his lap-dog than did Newton, the locality, from the “minions of the law.”

On one occasion when these gentlemen put in an appearance, a diamond of a large size was lying in the reticule of Mrs. —— upon the table. When about to rise and remove it, she was ordered by the officers to remain seated, whereupon she asked permission to send for a bottle of stout, a request at once acceded to. Hastily scribbling the words “Send bottle stout; keep bag till I come,” she rose and nonchalantly handed the message and reticule containing the diamond to her child, who toddled off to a neighboring canteen, where, as the mother knew, her husband was almost certain to be found. He, smelling a rat, made away with the stone, and the detectives very soon after left the house, baffled in their search, never dreaming of how they had been overreached. This woman’s presence of mind no doubt saved her husband many years in jail.

Though then notoriously “in the swim” they are now, having seen the error of their ways, earning an honest livelihood down Colony, and I am told often exhibit that “charity” which we are taught “covers a multitude of sins.”

In the case I will now mention Nemesis overtakes well-nigh all parties concerned.

About August, 188—, an individual over whose head was hanging a charge, not, however, connected with the diamond 234ordinance, determined to diminish his household expenses by sending his wife to Europe in charge of the proceeds of certain little private speculations which, it is needless for me to say, are never entered in the books of any mercantile firm. After selling off, he took apartments for his wife and another lady at a somewhat pretentious looking hotel in Kimberley.

All was going merrily as marriage bells are popularly supposed to do, the voyage was anticipated with eager delight, and a visit to an old friend in Hatton Garden was expected to prove highly remunerative; but “l’homme propose et Dieu dispose.”

The detective department, from “information received,” determined to make these ladies a domiciliary visit; so one afternoon, just as a nice little tiffin had been washed down with a glass of fine Clicquot, rendered still more delicious by the inspection of the glittering gems, which they had proudly been displaying to the longing eyes of the landlady, who had come in to remove the cloth, a sharp tap was heard at the door, and in walked the dreaded forms of two prominent detectives and a female searcher.

Quick as lightning the landlady whisked up the cloth, diamonds and all, leaving the room to give the officers the opportunity of a private and confidential interview with their startled guests. These gentlemen having explained the object of their visit politely introduced their female companion, and retired to smoke a cigar on the verandah.

The lady visitor, or rather the female searcher, at once took advantage of her position, and sarcastically remarked to her agitated “friends”: “Never mind, my dears, let down your hair; I have had finer ladies than you through my fingers before.”

After expressing satisfaction at the elegance of their coiffure, she then proceeded to admire their entire wardrobe, even the pretty little No. 2’s and silk stockings in which their tiny feet were encased did not escape attention.

Not finding any portion of their apparel encrusted with gems of purest ray, decidedly meant, in this case, to blush unseen, this “perfect lady” proceeded to express her appreciation of the delicate whiteness of their arms, somewhat marring their beauty, however, by leaving marks of sundry 235pinches which she inflicted to test the genuine nature of their plumpness.[50]

This interview being brought to a satisfactory or unsatisfactory conclusion, as the reader may elect to decide, the detectives and their coadjutrix took their departure. Forthwith the ladies rang the bell for the landlady, who promptly answered it, but wonderful to relate denied the most remote knowledge of the contents of the table-cloth, averring that when she shook it there was nothing but bread-crumbs to be seen.

What could be done? These ladies dare not appeal to the police, time pressed, their passages had been taken, so they were compelled to brave the perils of the deep, unsupported by the pleasing hope that they had cherished of a profitable visit to the horticultural domains of Hatton Garden, E. C.

Now would the reader be surprised to hear, that shortly after this incident, the husband of the landlady, whose eyesight had been so very defective, was suddenly seized with a desire to visit the Transvaal, possibly to investigate the gold-bearing qualities of that State, perhaps merely for an agreeable change. He did not, however, confine his peregrinations to the suzerainty, but proceeded to make an amateur survey of the proposed railway route between Pretoria and Delagoa Bay over the Lebombo Mountains. From the latter place he set sail for Rotterdam, which he reached in a much more satisfied frame of mind than his whilom lady boarders possessed on their arrival in London.

As all the world knows diamond cutters are to be found in considerable numbers in Holland, and it did not take him long to renew acquaintance with his old friends, some of whom were skilled in that trade. To one of these he intrusted the cutting of a valuable parcel of gems, which by an almost inexplicable coincidence was the exact counterpart of that which a few months before had disappeared so mysteriously at his antipodean hotel. Now, our Boniface was a gay old dog in his way, so he made up his mind to taste once more the long absent pleasures of the capitals of Europe, serenely conscious 236that a little extravagance was pardonable in a landlord whose very table linen produced more diamonds in one shaking than many a twelve-foot washing machine, worked by a Davy Paxman, would in thousands of revolutions. While enjoying the gayeties of Vienna, he received a telegram to the effect that his diamonds had been duly cut and were awaiting his disposal. So he at once returned to Holland, received his gems and secured the services of a well-known goldsmith for their setting, which proved in accordance with his orders both elaborate and costly. When all was completed he started once more for his South African home. Many a night, ere the billows rocked him to sleep, though congratulating himself on his lucky journey, he mentally execrated the tyranny of a government which he knew too well would on his arrival in Capetown heartlessly exact from him a certain duty of 30 per cent. ad valorem. The thought of this unwarrantable interference with the liberty of the subject haunted him continually, until one night as his cabin companion told me he was disturbed by a delighted chuckle followed by a semi-audible soliloquy: “Shtrike me dead, I’ve got it, pay the dam duty, not if I knowsh it, sho’elp me. I’ll risk it.”

Arrived at Capetown he induced a female passenger with whom he was acquainted, to conceal about her person the diamonds which already had had so strange a story, and thus endeavor to evade the eagle eyes of the revenue officials stationed at the dock entrance.

The attempt was unsuccessful, the diamonds were discovered and confiscated, and the fair contrabandista, having of course in self-defence revealed the owner, he was tried for the misdemeanor, when in addition to the loss of his jewelry he was sentenced to pay a heavy fine or in default of payment to endure a term of imprisonment.

For time he cared little, for character less, for money more, consequently as a matter of course the Capetown jail received within its walls a visitor who for several months had leisure to ruminate on the adage, “much will have more,” ofttimes more than it bargains for.

This same man on being liberated returned to the Fields, sunk lower and lower, until one day he was caught in “flagrante delicto” by the detective department. The breakwater 237at Capetown now is visited daily by the quondam tourist and the gradual progress of this valuable public work is materially assisted by the thews and sinews of our ingenious but not ingenuous hero.

As an illustration of the strange infatuation which this crime exercises over its votaries, how like the fascinated moth they flutter round the candle, singeing their wings, and what perfidy they can on occasions exhibit to one another, I will give a brief anecdote respecting a young man whom we shall call Silberfeldt.

Under the old diamond ordinance this bright specimen of humanity was trapped in the usual manner, caught red-handed by the detectives and sentenced to three years’ hard labor, of which time nearly two years were remitted in consequence of good conduct while in jail. Unwarned by this experience, ungrateful for the lenity shown him by the authorities, no sooner had he gained his liberty than he emulated the example of the scriptural sow and returned at once to his wallowing in the mire.

The further knowledge of the inner working of the I. D. B. craft, which he had gained during his temporary retirement from public life, had so increased his self-confidence that, considering himself now a veritable passed-master in its mysteries, he openly boasted there was not a man clever enough in all Griqualand West to catch him a second time; but unhappily for him, Ord 48, 1882, which throws upon the holders of diamonds the onus probandi of honest possession, had passed the Cape parliament, and had received Her Majesty’s sanction.

Too wary to be trapped by even the most astute detective, he nevertheless, with all his cunning, fell into the meshes of the law, and along with another was arrested under the section dealing with the offense of “illegal possession,” having been pounced upon one fine morning, when diamonds were found in the house where he and his companion were stopping.

The two were friends who had long been on terms of the greatest intimacy, and naturally they might have been expected to stick to each other through thick and through thin. When, however, they were placed in the dock and asked to plead, Silberfeldt at once, arrant coward as he was, exclaimed:

238“Oh! your vorship, I don’t vant to plead, I’m going to turn Queensh evidensh.”

This vision of a traitor’s liberty, this desire to shelter himself and protect his own worthless skin by “rounding on his pal” was soon rudely ended by the magistrate, who intimated that the Crown was not in want of any “Queensh evidensh” in the case at all, or to slightly parody Oliver Goldsmith—

“When the culprit cried, oh, yes!
The court it cried, oh, no!”

After evidence of a most conclusive character had been given, the accused were duly committed for trial to the special court, where, strange to say, “one was taken and the other left,” with a cruel irony of fate, the one taken (to the breakwater for seven years) was the perfidious Silberfeldt, the one left (to the enjoyment of his liberty) was the friend who so narrowly escaped betrayal.

As an instance of the fact that in temporal matters at least “honesty” does not always appear to be “the best policy,” I recollect an instance of which the truth can be vouched.

One fine spring morning in September, 187–, a certain diamond buyer, whom we will call Gonivavitski, might have been seen marching up and down the Bulfontein road enjoying the early rays of the sun, reading the daily paper, yet still keeping a narrow watch on the canvas frame-house in which he conducted his licensed (?) dealings. Active, robust, cheery, though a rogue in spirit and grain, manliness appeared to beam from every line of his seemingly honest face. Our friend, too, was of a dogmatic turn of mind, insisted on “cleanliness being next to godliness,” and no firmer believer in the proverb that the “early bird catches the worm” could have been found in all Kimberley.

Just as he had finished the leading article he caught sight of one of his clients approaching in an opposite direction. G. started nervously, as he did not desire the visit of this especial gentleman in the daylight—in other words he only bought of “niggers” after dark—but his dusky acquaintance gave him a sly glance, as much as to say: “I fancy I’ve seen you before,” a quite sufficient hint that “something” (as illicit stones are often called “in the trade”) was in the immediate neighborhood, so G. could not resist the temptation.

239Taking a bird’s-eye view of the situation, Gonivavitski hastily came up to the native, who, with a knowing leer, opened his hand, revealing a magnificent pure white diamond nearly the size of a plover’s egg.

Mooi klippe baas!” (fine stone, master) said the nigger.

Ya! kom hier sa, booi,” (yes, come this way, boy) said G. hurriedly, fearing observation.

The boy did as he was told, following the white man into his office, which was close by. The door was soon shut, the stone weighed and the bargain struck, the native starting off with the money at a round trot to join his “brothers,” who were waiting round the corner. But “conscience doth make cowards of us all,” and Mr. G. was not an exception; fearing that he had been watched, and regardful either of his spotless reputation, or of the pleasures of the “tronk”[51] looming in the future, started in hot pursuit and gave his late visitor into the custody of the first policeman he met.

“What’s up now?” said the guardian of law and order.

“Why, look here, this d—d thief of a nigger wants to sell me this ’ere,” was Gonivavitski’s answer, given in tones of simulated indignation.

“This ’ere,” however, was not the forty-carat white diamond of a few minutes before, G. was too clever for that, it was merely a piece of boart not worth a sovereign that he now produced.

A crowd soon gathered to watch the thief marched off to jail, the honest man following in his wake to lay the charge. Next day at the trial, a little perjury more or less was immaterial, the boy was sentenced to imprisonment and lashes, whilst Mr. G. in a few days found it necessary for the sake of his health to proceed to Europe, where he disposed of the diamond for a good round sum. With this addition to his former capital he returned to the Fields, where he still remains, boasting the possession of an ample fortune, gained, as he always says, by “’ard work and hearly rising.”

One of the most generally admitted apothegms of worldly wisdom is that “a man should always tell the truth to his doctor and his lawyer,” but like many far more valuable 240maxims it is frequently disregarded. An instance in which (albeit I am happy to say I have a tolerably good opinion of my fellow creatures) I could not place confidence in the statements of my patient, occurs to my mind in connection with the anecdotes of which this chapter is composed.

About two o’clock one morning in the year 1872 I was roused from the sleep I so much needed, as it was a sickly and busy season, by a hurried rapping at my front door. A doctor’s slumbers are through force of habit light, and in a few seconds my dressing-gown and slippers were assumed, and I hastened to answer the imperative summons of my visitor. A middle-aged citizen, whose reputation, although never openly impugned, was yet hardly enviable, greeted me in somewhat quavering accents, and with pallid cheeks desired my services without a moment’s delay. Having ushered him into my consulting-room I at once discovered the secret of his alarm. The sufferer informed me that “he had been discussing with some friends the means by which the rascally illicits evaded the law and concealed their ill-gotten gems on any sudden emergency, suiting the action to the word he had swallowed (or otherwise concealed from view) two sovs. and a diamond.”

I listened to the story with all becoming gravity, and proceeded to perform a surgical operation for the removal of the foreign substances, with the anatomical details of which it is wholly unnecessary to weary my readers. When relieved from his distress of mind and body he was desirous of further explaining the circumstances under which the sad occurrence took place, but as the subject did not particularly interest me I suggested that “time was on the wing,” which hint he promptly took, dividing the corpora delicti by leaving the gold with me and putting the diamond (a thirty-carat stone) in his pocket. Years afterward, when I heard that while sitting among the Dii majores of the Kimberley club this gentleman’s main topic of conversation was his extreme horror of the illicit traffic with its train of evils—I could not help calling to mind the episode of 1872. However, as we are told “the reformed rake makes the best husband,” I hope that my ex-patient believes all he now enunciates, and what is still more important has the courage of his opinions.

241I shall finish these few sketches of I. D. B. with the recital of an incident which occurred to me personally: the moral to be gathered I leave to my readers.

As nearly as I can remember, it was late on a cold winter’s night in June, 187–, that I heard a tapping at my bedroom window. It was a dreadful night. The south wind was blowing the sand from the débris heaps in fitful gusts, whilst the dust clouds were careering along so thickly that to see but a yard or two ahead was impossible. To those who know the mine and its surroundings it will require but a slight stretch of imagination to picture the bottomless pit from which “all hell had broken loose.”

Mentally anathematizing my nocturnal visitor, I rose and opened the door, when a Kafir thrust into my hand a piece of paper on which was scrawled in pencil:

Dry Diggings Hospital.

Dr. Matthews. Sir:—Mr. O. J. is tossing about and very restless to-night, and says he must see you. Will you come quickly—I think he is dying?

“Yours obediently,
I. P.”

Though at the time one of the surgeons of the Dry Diggings hospital, yet as O. J. was not under my treatment I did not much relish the idea of a dreary walk at that time of night. Not wishing, however, to disappoint the poor fellow, who had once worked a claim for me and who was now, so I had heard, dead out of luck, having, as the American gold digger says, struck “the bed-rock,” I dressed quickly and trudged away through the heavy sand to the wattle and daub shanty which then did service as a hospital.

On my arrival the attendant guided me with his flickering candle down the long barn-like shed to the bedside of O. J. At a glance I saw that death had marked him for his own. Beads of cold sweat stood out on his forehead, whilst clammy hands and convulsive paroxysms of his throat showed the nearness of the end.

“Sie können Deutsch verstehen nicht wahr, Herr Doctor?” (You can understand German, can’t you, Doctor?)

I nodded assent, when continuing the conversation partly in that language and partly in English, evidently with the 242object of keeping the attendant ignorant of what was passing between us, he imploringly looked up and said: “Do tell me doctor how long I shall live, I can’t last long.” I shook my head doubtfully, when he gasped out in tones of agonized anxiety:

“I shan’t, I won’t, I can’t die without telling you how when I worked your and Mr. Lynch’s claim in No. 6 I robbed you of nearly all your diamonds! Oh! doctor, how I have hoped, how I have prayed God to let me live, to spare me to work again, to make up the wrong that I have done you.”

Entering further into details of how he had been tempted, and how he hoped, even if he never could work again, to repay me out of a remittance he expected from Europe, he suddenly seized my hand and in feeble accents, broken by the death-rattle in his throat, uttered these earnest words:


Comforting him as well as I could, I assured him that, as far as I was concerned, he might bury the past in oblivion. Never shall I forget, to my dying day, the expression of intense relief which passed over his anxious face and the glow which came again to his pallid cheek by the assurance which I gave him.

As I was rising to bid him good night he again grasped my hand with both of his and piteously exclaimed:

“Don’t, don’t forget me, doctor, you’ll come, won’t you, and see me to-morrow?”

This I promised him, although with inward misgiving that his “to-morrow” would never come.

Instructing the attendant to pay special heed to the sufferer during the night, and again promising to return at sunrise, I trudged my weary way home.

Daylight saw me again at the hospital. Alas! Too late! No. 3 bed was empty! The troubled spirit had fled, its sins, I trust, blotted out for ever by a merciful and all-wise God!

Yet the wretch who tempted this poor fellow to steal diamonds, the sneaking creature who made him a thief and who profited by his thefts, I ofttimes meet strutting proudly about with an air of pharisaical honesty, to all outward appearance respectable and respected!



The “ten claim clause,” which was passed by the legislative council of Griqualand West under Governor Southey (vide clause 18, Ordinance 10, 1874), and prohibited any person, firm or joint-stock company to have registered in his name, or in the name of his or their accredited agent at any time within six months, reckoned from the date of the proclamation of a digging, more than one claim, and after that period more than ten claims, was brought forward by some interested men as the reason for the non-introduction of foreign capital into our digging operations.

The rescinding of this clause in 1876 (Ordinance 12, Nov. 20th) effected great changes, the alteration in the law throwing the road open for capitalists to buy out small holders in the Kimberley and other mines, virtually leading the way to the extraordinary mania for company-mongering and share-rigging which existed in 1880 and 1881.

244The repeal of this clause, however, which had never been in favor with capitalists, because it obstructed them from “blocking” claims in the mines, was hailed by some with delight, by others with foreboding, as the latter believed it to prognosticate the approach of monopoly and the departure of the individual digger. This repeal initiated a most remarkable period in the history of the diamond fields, in which a mania for company promoting and for mad speculation seized the whole community, of which a repetition is now going on at the De Kaap gold fields. It may not perhaps be a matter of surprise that the inhabitants of a place, depending on a somewhat precarious industry and one of which the proceeds are so liable to fluctuation, should be more or less imbued with the spirit of gambling, nor is there anything unusual in the digger deserting his mining operations to endeavor to gain wealth in a more rapid manner by speculation. Such circumstances have been of frequent occurrence in America and Australia, where many a man who had been unlucky as a digger, using his acquired knowledge has realized a fortune by speculating in shares or claims.

In the case of the sudden rise of the share mania in Kimberley, the most extraordinary point was to be found in the fact that the place had long thrown off the habits and appearance of a digging camp, and had assumed the customs of a settled town, while all matters connected with share transactions were conducted in so systematic a manner that the event bore a close resemblance to one of those speculative fevers which occasionally seize the home Stock Exchange. Kimberley was not alone in this novel excitement; the infection spread throughout the whole of South Africa, share transactions were eagerly carried on in all the coast towns, and companies with large capitals were also formed to work the diamond mines in the Free State, at Jagersfontein, Koffyfontein and Oliphansfontein, and half a dozen others of which it can now only be said

Gaudet cognomine terra.

It is no easy matter to fully trace why the cause of this wild desire for speculation seized upon the community. It has often been stated that it was simply an endeavor on the part of interested persons on the diamond fields to defraud the outside 245public and get rid of their worthless property. This, however, was not the case, although it must be admitted that in many instances the actions of promoters of companies were far from honorable. A more feasible answer to the question will be found in the fact that for some time past there had existed in Kimberley, companies which, although registered under the limited liability act, were of a semi-private nature; for instance, the “Compagnie Française” (French Diamond Mining Company) and the Cape Diamond Mining Company, both of which had been formed in 1879, some three years after the “ten claim clause” had been abolished. These undertakings were believed to be most successful, and the general public on the Fields were eager to participate in the profits of similar enterprises. When this desire became apparent there were many claim-holders who were desirous of realizing some ready money, or paying off some existing mortgage, by the sale of a share in their diamond operations, and hence the creation of new joint-stock undertakings.

That the first companies on the Fields, the British and Central, were formed with a most legitimate object, it is quite impossible to deny, and the reason for their formation is most easily to be seen. As the mine attained a greater depth, the expenses of working naturally became larger; elaborate machinery had to be erected, and more European labor was therefore required. Under such circumstances it is not strange that many diggers found it to their advantage to amalgamate with their neighbors; moreover, it often occurred that those who formerly had been actively employed in the mine were desirous of entering into other pursuits, and yet were not willing to abandon all interest in digging operations; consequently the formation of joint-stock companies naturally suggested itself as a convenient way of meeting the requirements of the case. It was under such circumstances that the first companies in Kimberley were formed. The shares in these undertakings very seldom passed out of the hands of the original holders and the system gave every promise of success; it is true that there were prophets of evil, who were ready even in those days to declare that this step was one on the road to ruin, so far as the prosperity of Kimberley was concerned, yet for a time the results of these companies in most cases proved 246to be unmistakably satisfactory, and it was this bona fide success which encouraged the promotion of numerous other schemes which were shortly afterward introduced.

In the early part of the year 1881 there existed about a dozen companies in the Kimberley mine, the total capital of which amounted roundly to two millions and a half, and the shares in these undertakings were in the hands of the most successful diggers on the Fields. These shares had not, of course, been purchased with cash, but every claim-holder who put his claim ground into a company received a certain amount of scrip for his property. It is impossible to dispute the fact that claim property had risen enormously in value during the few years previous to the establishment of the first joint-stock undertaking, and it is manifest that if claims were incorporated in a company at a price on which they could yield a fair dividend, that price was a perfectly fair one. The non-success of many of the subsequent undertakings was mainly due to the fact that the promoters were blind to this very simple truth, and had forgotten, or had never known, the first principles which should govern joint-stock undertakings. In fact people who would never have dreamed of buying a share in a business at £1,000, which would only secure a return on five hundred, invested freely in shares in companies, the claims in which would have given an admirable return on a small capital, but a very poor one, if any at all, on the enormous sums at which they were put in.

When once the idea that the joint-stock system was the most advantageous method for working the mines gained a hold upon the community, the excitement became intense, company after company was formed, and the shares in every case were eagerly taken up by the public. When the formation of a new undertaking was announced, the applications universally doubled and trebled the number of shares proposed to be allotted, and in fact a premium was invariably offered to a successful applicant for the chance he had secured of obtaining a share in any new venture.

The different lists for share applications were filled with marvelous rapidity, and remained open but a very short time. Ebden Street, the “Rue Quincampoix”[52] of Kimberley, 247was filled from morning to night with a tumultuous and maddened crowd. The various offices of companies in formation were simply stormed, and those who could not get in at the door from the pressure of the crowd, threw their applications for shares (to which were attached cheques and bank notes) through the windows, trusting to chance that they might be picked up. It is difficult to picture the eagerness, the plots, the rage of the excited multitude bent on securing this, the magic scrip, which was to make the needy rich and the embarrassed free.

It was astonishing how the mania seized on all classes in Kimberley, from the highest to the lowest, just as Law’s scheme and the South Sea bubble did during the previous century; how every one, doctors and lawyers, masters and servants, shop-keepers and workmen, men of the pen and men of the sword, magistrates and I. D. B.’s, Englishmen and foreigners, rushed wildly into the wonderful game of speculation.

One financial agent told me he floated five companies in three weeks, viz.: The Fry’s Gully, Du Toit’s Pan; the De Beer’s Central, De Beer’s; the Barnato Co., Kimberley; the Frere Co., De Beer’s; and the Globe Co., Du Toit’s Pan; and that although the capital required for the five companies was £496,000 only, yet £1,230,000 passed through his hands in the short time I have mentioned.

Business of every kind was neglected, mining operations were all but suspended, the sole topic being the share market and the profits to be made there. Many made unexpected fortunes, and realized in a few months gains larger than those a whole lifetime of work and economy could have procured them had they continued their ordinary pursuits. Under these circumstances it was only natural that many owners of worthless ground took advantage of the general excitement to form companies which had hardly the remotest possibility of success; it was evident that it mattered very little to the general public, or the majority at all events, what the company was, what the value of the claims might be or where they were situated, so long as it was a diamond-mining company it was quite sufficient to command public favor. The public bought shares in the diamond-mining companies as 248to-day they are doing in the gold companies, not to obtain dividends on their capital invested, but for purposes of pure speculation.

One of the most flagrant instances of bogus company promoting which ever came under notice was the imposition attempted at a farm named Frankfort, situated in the Free State, about sixteen miles from Kimberley.

This farm was prospected, diamonds found (?), a mine surveyed, claims given out, dams dug, shafts sunk and machinery erected, simply to bolster up a gigantic swindle, which but for the outspoken opinion of a surveyor named Kitto would have been foisted, through a well known European firm, who merely awaited his report, on the English public for £450,000. To assist in gulling home investors an American adventurer was actually sent to England with a parcel of beautiful diamonds, certified by affidavit to have been found in this mine, in order that those concerned in introducing the scheme to the public might give visible and tangible proof of the enormous value of the property which they had for disposal. Mr. Kitto’s report, however, decided the fate of what he terms “one of the most shameful swindles ever attempted.”

Many a laughable story is told of how diamonds were turned out of, or—to be more accurate—put into this mine. One probable investor on going down a shaft to examine the ground at the bottom had a hail-storm of little diamonds showered on him (some of which lit on the brim of his hat) which were meant for him to unearth in the loose ground at the bottom. This wonderful discovery of the diamond’s new “locate” did not tend to increase this gentleman’s opinion of the proffered investment! On another occasion an astute matron interested in the swindle roundly bullied her servants for their carelessness in finding only seven diamonds instead of eight, with which she had “salted” the wash-up.

To make a long story short, the “best laid schemes of mice and men gang aft agley,” the bubble burst, and the proprietors of this wonderful mine allowed the knowledge of its startling richness to sink into oblivion, and found consolation and support in ministering to the bodily wants of those whom business or pleasure took to that worked-out and forsaken Golconda.

249As another example of how things were managed in those days when the share mania was at its height, I may mention the case of a well-known citizen who conceived the happy idea of putting into a company certain claims in the Bulfontein mine which were then in his possession. These claims were twenty-six and one-half in number, and the services of an energetic promoter (who was to be paid £500 if he pushed the company through) having been secured, a prospectus pithily written was submitted to several well-known men who agreed to become provisional directors. The capital of the company was stipulated to be £30,000, in 6,000 shares of £5 each, of which £1 was payable on application, a similar sum to be paid on allotment. The vendor, however, reserved 3,000 shares for himself, so that only 3,000 were offered to the public. The modus operandi of floating this company was somewhat unique. It was known that locally the company could not go through, as the unkind assertion that “half of the ground was in the street” was generally believed, but that difficulty the diplomatic promoter overcame by sending copies of the prospectus to agents in the Colony and Natal fully a week before it was allowed to see the light of day on the Fields. This turned out to be a rather clever dodge, for, before its publication in the local prints, the secretary had in his possession sufficient applications by wire, the forms for which duly signed afterward came to hand, to insure the safety of the company. Locally there were but few applications. The first instalment of the company, however, was only just subscribed for and the share allotment made, when the collapse in the share market took place. What, however, is a singular thing in reference to this company is, that the money paid on application and that paid on allotment, which must have amounted to some thousands of pounds, has never yet been accounted for. The directors fell away one by one, no work was done or machinery ordered, and eventually the vendor became his own chairman, directors secretary, trustee, manager and the general multum in parvo of the Cosmopolitan Diamond Mining Company, Bulfontein mine! It has transpired that the shareholders’ money had not even been devoted to paying the licenses on the claims, for I find that up to Feb. 1887, there was an amount due to the London and South African Exploration 250Company (limited) of £2,008 for licenses on the claims from Sept. 1st, 1880. When this company was introduced to the public, one of the clauses of the prospectus read as follows:

“The well-known and regular returns of the Bulfontein mine are proverbial, and most of the companies recently formed at a very much higher rate per claim, are even now at a respectable premium; which, coupled with the fact that all difficulties and obstructions having been removed by the settlement arrived at between the claim-holders generally and the London and South African Exploration Company (limited), the provisional directors have all confidence in the future of this company.”

Although the vendor then stated that a settlement had been arrived at, yet in March, 1884, when sued by the London and South African Exploration Company for the rent which was due to them, this gentleman pleaded that the company had no title! Either his first statement in the prospectus or his last in pleading must have been audacious in the extreme.

The London and South African Exploration Company withdrew from the case, probably to bring it on again at a later period.[53] Some shareholders are asking what has become of the money, and whether the company should not be forced into liquidation, that the matter may be fully inquired into. The promoter of the company was never fully paid, and many outstanding accounts were never settled.

The floating of this company and its subsequent history forms a novel of itself, and is another proof of the loose manner in which important business involving thousands of pounds was transacted.

This was indeed a time when a visitor to Kimberley could not help being struck with the remarkable amount of business, legitimate and illegitimate, which was transacted in a place so lately a mere desert. As I have already mentioned the streets were thronged with an eager crowd, all engaged in the same pursuit, the purchase or sale of shares; a pursuit which each one firmly believed to be the high road to fortune. Well-nigh every conveyance which arrived on the Fields brought new comers, anxious to share in the supposed good fortune, all the hotels were crowded, and from every drinking 251bar might be heard the popping of champagne corks; for lucky speculators were lavish with their money, believing as they did that they had hit on an inexhaustible mine of wealth. Diggers who had hitherto scarcely managed to make both ends meet now imagined themselves wealthy, as their claims had been put into companies at a price sufficient to make them comfortable for life; men who before had been contented to work hard for five or six pounds a week secured positions as managers of companies with comparatively enormous salaries, clerks and shopmen became secretaries, and assumed all the dignity of their new positions, and lawyers were employed day and night, drawing up agreements and trust deeds. The insatiate thirst for speculation was not slaked by the opportunity afforded of drinking fortune’s drams in mining ventures alone. Although 113 of these were floated, yet some score of other schemes were thrown out as baits to catch the unwary investor. Brick, coal, laundry, transport, ironmongery, labor supply, theatres, clubs, hotels, aerated waters, in fact the prosecution of every conceivable industry was changed from private hands to those of managers and directors, some directors becoming veritable “guinea pigs,” occupying seats at as many as from ten to fifteen boards at the same time.

Extraordinary as it may seem, it is nevertheless a fact that in six months the nominal capital of the diamond mining companies rose from two millions and a half to over eight, and the companies in number from half a dozen to seventy-one; of these thirteen existed in the Kimberley mine, with a total capital of £2,685,000; eighteen at Du Toit’s Pan, with a capital of £2,200,750. De Beers had thirteen companies, whose united capital was £1,334,100, while at Bulfontein there were sixteen with the more moderate sum of £871,100. In addition to these there were about eleven companies formed to work the outside mines, and the capital required for this purpose was estimated at £923,000. Some idea of the large scale on which it was proposed to conduct these operations may be formed from the fact that the total sum proposed to be devoted to the purchase of machinery was no less than £650,700. Taking all these matters into consideration, it does not require very great experience in the art of finance to realize that the community 252of Kimberley was playing at a very dangerous game, and one which would sooner or later be attended with very serious results. Nor did the danger lie only in the fact that Kimberley speculated far beyond its capital, from the commencement to the end the hastily formed companies had but little chance of success, their very trust deeds being irregular. Again, the greed of the promoters exhausted the funds which should have been devoted to the development of the property, claims were put in at a price which rendered the payment of any but the most paltry dividends impossible, whilst the favoritism and nepotism of directors caused inefficient men to be appointed to posts the occupants of which should have had the utmost possible practical experience.

All this ought to have been clear to the old residents on the Fields, but for some unaccountable reason they seemed blind for the time to all principles of common sense; the Kimberley investor—I mean, of course, the bona fide investor and not the mere speculator in shares—seemed to throw his judgment aside altogether, and apparently believed that the “bonanza” from which he was to derive his future wealth was to be found in the ground, which, as he might have known, had scarcely paid for working in the hands of the individual digger, and could not be expected, even with the command of improved and costly machinery which capital could secure, to pay even decent dividends.

For many months, until June 1881, in fact, shares continued to advance in price to the most absurd premiums, and the most outrageous reports were taken as truths, while the influx of a considerable amount of money from colonial investors aided in fanning the breeze, which wafted the place on the rocks and breakers of financial distress.

The first check which the mania received was given by the sudden action taken by the local banks. The managers of these institutions had given way to the general excitement, and in fact had conduced to it by freely advancing money on all kinds of bogus paper, and now they suddenly became alive to the fact that the security of the scrip of mining companies might not be so sound as at first sight it appeared to be, and refused, for the future, to make any advances on this class of property.

253A loud cry of indignation was immediately raised from every quarter, speculators who had been purchasing heavily and mortgaging their shares to purchase more, and who now found that their system would receive a fatal blow, naturally complained of these, as they termed them, “arbitrary and injudicious proceedings” on the part of the financial institutions.

By slow degrees the mania abated, at last shareholders commenced to realize the fact that they had invested beyond their means, and what made the matter more serious they found it impossible to sell at anything like the price at which they had purchased. The natural consequence of this was a material fall in nearly all classes of shares. In spite, however, of the tightness in the local money market, the community by no means lost entire confidence in their pet schemes. To show the justness of these opinions, I will mention one company in particular, the “Barnato.” This was the smallest company in the Kimberley mine, consisting of four claims only, and was introduced to the public in March, 1881, at the enormous sum of £25,000 a claim, with an addition of £15,000 for working expenses, almost double the value put by any other company on their claims. The application list for shares was open for an hour only, when the required capital was subscribed for twice over, and in two days the shares were at twenty-five per cent, premium, at which price they changed hands freely. The faith of the investors in this company’s shares was fully borne out. During the succeeding eighteen months (before the company’s claims were covered over with reef) it actually paid dividends on this exorbitant capital to the tune of thirty-one per cent., distributing among its shareholders no less a sum than £35,650. The Central Company also paid in dividends during the first three-quarters after its formation fifty-one per cent., reaching a grand total during its first two and a half years of some eighty per cent., the amount in figures amounting to £321,985, 18s. 6d. But the majority of companies never paid any dividend at all for years, and some are even now not out of debt.

When it became apparent that the place had not a sufficient amount of capital to support its enormous number of mining undertakings, many plans were formed for the introduction 254of capital from Europe, and in the hope of this object meeting with a successful issue, speculators still continued to buy and sell shares, but as time went on and it became perfectly clear that the hope of any benefit being derived from this source must be abandoned, the value of scrip gradually became lower and lower, until at last in many cases it was all but nil, and where there were calls unpaid a minus quantity.

The decline in the value of shares in the market was enormous. Central shares in the Kimberley mine, which had an easy sale in March, 1881, at £400[54] per share were in 1884 almost unsalable at £25. Rose Innes shares which were sought after at £53 sank to £5, and a similar fall also occurred in the shares of all the companies in the other mines of the province. In the mines of the Free State the depreciation in the value of shares was more extraordinary still. An instance I well remember. A friend of mine after years of application to business, combined with indomitable perseverance, amassed a large fortune, when he was tempted to speculate in the Koffyfontein mine, to which I have already alluded, during the months of June and July, 1881. He bought during the height of the mania 1,200 Koffyfontein shares at £28 each, which were afterward within two years realized in his estate at 6d a share. He thus lost over £30,000 on the one venture. This was far from being an unparalleled instance of men being completely ruined by the unprecedented fall which took place in shares at that time. Though the diamond mania did not convey such widespread disaster as the South Sea bubble or the Mississippi scheme, yet it will be years before the effect of the South African “bubble year” of 1881 is forgotten.

On the time arriving when dividends were expected to be declared, in but very few instances were the directors able to do so. Ground which had yielded well in the hands of private owners often proved entirely unremunerative under the joint-stock system, and the reason of this was evident; the digger when working on his own account required no office with a highly paid staff; he was his own manager and secretary, he looked keenly after his own interests, and would 255never have dreamed of trusting the most vital matters in his business to a possibly incompetent servant.

In spite of the fact that, generally speaking, the company system had proved a failure, but little attempt was made to mend matters. Things drifted from bad to worse, until at last Kimberley entered on the worst financial crisis that it had ever experienced. The companies with few exceptions were more or less in difficulties. Pressed for their liabilities by the banks, they had in turn to put the greatest pressure on such shareholders as had not paid all the instalments on their shares, and in very many cases their action was useless, as the shareholders were unable to meet the demands made on them. The consequence was that the companies had to go into liquidation and work in the mines came to a partial stand-still. Kimberley was no longer the Kimberley of the past.

It may be safely said that in its rash and reckless speculation Kimberley was almost guilty of financial suicide, for not only was an all but fatal blow given to the industry which supported the place, but all confidence in its resources was for a time destroyed in the minds of its colonial neighbors and the home investing public. The good, sound investments, yielding large returns, to be made here, would startle the quiet folk who are satisfied with the “three per cents.” As an instance of the dividend paying capacity of some companies some months ago, I cannot help mentioning the Elma at Old De Beers; in November, 1883, the market value of its £10 paid-up shares was from 16 shillings to 20 shillings, when with good management in less than eight months it paid a monthly dividend averaging from two to three per cent., or for the investor who was lucky enough to buy in at the low prices, at the rate of 360 per cent. per annum.

The fact of Griqualand with its incalculable mineral wealth being now united to the colony by the line of railway opened at the end of 1885,[55] the knowledge that owing to this the cost of the production of diamonds must be vastly diminished, together with the lessening of theft, which the extension of 256the Diamond Trade Act to the colony and the re-enactment of a similar ordinance by the government of the Free State must produce, will tend to give a spurt to digging operations.

I shall next treat of the political stages through which the Diamond Fields have passed from their discovery to the present time.



After writing so far about the Diamond Fields, their past and present condition, the climate, the geology, and the peculiar crime and legislation there existing, I will now turn to the early history of a region which, if it had not been for the wonderful discovery of diamonds, would yet have been the home of the half-caste Griqua, the indolent Batlapin, the marauding Koranna, the pigmy Bushman or the pioneer Boer.

Griqualand West, the official name of this part of South Africa, is bounded N. E. by the Cape Colony, S. by the Orange River, N. by Bechuana Land, E. by the Orange Free State, and W. by the Kalahari Desert.

The chief inhabitants, the Griquas, are a mixed race, many of them half-castes, who came from the Cape Colony and 258settled near the Orange River under Adam Kok (himself a half-caste, his father being a Dutch Boer and his mother a Hottentot slave) in 1795, who in course of time resigned his chieftainship to his son Cornelius. Cornelius Kok, being absent from his people for some time, during which he visited Lord Caledon in Capetown, found, on his return in 1816, the Griquas settled down and his son, “Dam Kok,” reigning in his stead. Dam Kok, becoming restless about this time, left Griqua Town in 1819, dying subsequently at Philippolis in 1837. Andreas Waterboer, formerly a schoolmaster and preacher under the London missionaries at Griqua Town was, after “Dam Kok” left the district, unanimously chosen chief, and his appointment was confirmed in 1822 by Lord Charles Somerset, governor of the Cape. Andreas Waterboer then set about redressing wrongs, was both well-intentioned and useful to the British government, being a “friendly and sincere ally,” as well as hospitable and open-hearted to all visitors, and by these means so consolidated his power that he received a special recognition in the shape of a silver medal, which was sent him by Lord Charles Somerset. Notwithstanding this, although backed up by the English government and Sir George Cathcart, he was continually worried by land disputes with Cornelius Kok (whom, in 1838, he had deposed from his office of provisional captain) until his death on Dec. 13th, 1852, relieved him from further trouble. His son, Nicholas, who was then quite a boy, succeeded him. Troubles increased, the English abandoned the sovereignty (now the Orange Free State) in February 1854, and Nicholas Waterboer hemmed in, on the one side by the Transvaal and on the other by the Orange Free State, formally appointed David Arnott, on Sept. 1st, 1863, to act as his agent, which he had in reality been for some years. Long before even diamonds were discovered, the Orange Free State had insisted that there could be no question as to their right to all the country between the Orange and the Vaal Rivers, but as the district was of little value, no special steps had been taken by that government to insist on their so-called rights.



When the first diamond was found in 1869, and attention consequently drawn to the discovery, as I have before stated, the banks of the Vaal became peopled with diggers and prospectors, and Waterboer, at once seeing his necessity to deal with this large and increasing influx, ceded all the land to which he laid claim, some 17,000 square miles, to the English, the allowance of £150 per annum, which the English government had paid to Adam Kok, Cornelius Kok, and then to Andreas, the father of Nicholas Waterboer, being increased to £250, and afterward, in 1877, to £1,000, with £500 a year to his widow after his death. The Orange Free State now asserted its rights, based upon its former demands of having 260purchased Adam Kok’s rights with the land in question. The misunderstanding resulting between the English government and the Orange Free State, ending in the former giving the latter a compensation of £90,000, I shall more fully explain further on, but I may say here that Nicholas Waterboer is a living example of the care (?) bestowed by the English government, as a rule, upon those aborigines it may take under its fostering care. Nicholas Waterboer, formerly the undisturbed possessor of this valuable tract of country, now ekes out a miserable existence at Griqua Town, having parted with his country, the farms allotted to him mortgaged, his pension swallowed up by hungry creditors, ruined both in body and estate, a drunkard and virtually a pauper! I endeavored both in the Griqualand West legislature and in the Cape house of assembly to obtain some information respecting this poor chief and the ultimate destination of his pension, but without success.

Any one asked to describe the policy of governments in the diamond fields under the British flag would give no better answer than “making pie-crust promises.” That was the policy of the first representative of British rule “under instruction,” and it has continued to be the most marked characteristics of his successors. Every new “hand” that has been intrusted with the reins of government started on his career by reversing the policy of his predecessors and making promises, which, if he ever meant to keep, he revoked shamelessly and recklessly, either to gratify his own caprice for party purposes, or under the “instruction” of the imperial nominee, whose seat is fixed in Capetown, and who puppet-like moves according to “wire.” It is therefore not to be wondered at if the inhabitants of the diamond fields have occasionally become furious and uncontrollable. The facts of the diamond field history speak for themselves. Early in 1871 there was a flutter amongst the population digging for diamonds on the banks of the river Vaal, occasioned by the announcement that Mr. John Campbell, an official of the Cape government, had arrived at Pniel to be British resident, to represent British rule under the Union Jack, to administer law and order, and to keep off at arms-length the two neighboring states, who were bent on getting the territorial rights in their own hands; the Free State 261claiming all the land on the near, and the Transvaal that on the off-side of the river.

The English were jubilant, the Dutch furious. Mr. Campbell did not venture to hoist the flag on the Pniel side, for Mr. Truter, a subject of the Free State, was already sitting there as the representative of the Free State and holding magisterial office under the flag of that republic. The great mass of the population moreover (which at that time could not have been less than 6,000 souls) was Dutch, the proportion being about two to one. The Klipdrift bank of the river was peopled chiefly by Englishmen who were determined to hold the territory on which they had settled against all comers; to preserve their nationality; to pay no tribute to any Dutch state, and to secure their position by the aid of British rule; so that, when Mr. Campbell arrived, they were quite ready to welcome him and to rally round the British flag.

A number of diggers went across the river to Pniel to escort Mr. Campbell across the Vall, and all who did not do so assembled at the landing place on the Klipdrift side to receive him. He landed in Klipdrift amidst the cheers of the populace; a procession was formed to accompany him to his quarters, and when a day or two after he met the diggers he was as prolific of promises as a bramble is of blackberries.

All the diggers’ committees then in existence bowed down to him, and he assured them that no private right either to land or to claims was to be disturbed, that British titles would be immediately given to those who had obtained land either by grant or purchase from the chiefs or their agents, and that the law would be administered precisely as in every other part of her Majesty’s dominions. Three commissioners, Messrs. H. Bowker, F. Orpen and Buyskes, were appointed by proclamation to deal with the land, holding their appointments from the high commissioner, and all parties holding documents showing them to have land claims were requested to send them in at once to the commissioners, so that they might have titles substituted for them.

The territory at this time no more belonged to the British government than it did to the Mikado. Nicholas Waterboer, the chief of the Griquas, had it is true tendered his rights to the British government, but that government had not come to 262terms or closed with him. There were disputes between Waterboer and Janje, the chief of the Korannas and Batlapins; while Botlisatsi, a brother of Mankoroane, was contending that he was the chief of his tribe, and that his land included Bloemhof and Christiana.

Beside this the chiefs had no individual rights to land beyond those given them by their counsellors who represented the tribes, the native law being that the land belonged to the tribe, and that none of it could be disposed of to private individuals. The white men who had been permitted to settle among them had none but squatters’ rights, though the Boers had come in, marked out farms without leave being asked or given, had laid down beacons and denied that any natives had any rights over the land. When ordered off they refused to go.

Mr. Campbell some little time after his arrival proceeded to settle civil claims and to try criminal offenses, when it was discovered that he held office under the joint authority of Waterboer and the British government. This was a dilemma never calculated upon. The Griquas not being British subjects declined to be made subject to British laws, and Mr. Campbell was instructed to administer Griqua laws for the Griquas whenever it was applicable to the cases before him, and to do his best to satisfy all suitors. So Mr. Campbell, who had positively no legal jurisdiction, mixed the Griqua and British-colonial law and got along as best he could. The Transvaal government persisted in its protests against the British government exhibiting itself on the Klipdrift side of the river, and threatened to drive English and natives out of the country and claimed the land as their own. It was ultimately arranged, however, that this land dispute should be settled by arbitration, and this brought about what is known as “the Keate award.”

An arbitration board of three was appointed, consisting of Mr. Campbell for the British government, Mr. Jeppe for the Transvaal, and Mr. Keate, then lieutenant governor of Natal, to act as referee. The arbitrators met at Bloemhof, and witnesses were called from all directions, Griquas, Korannas, Batlapins, Barolongs, Boers and Englishmen all giving evidence. Of course the Transvaal and English arbitrators could not agree, and after a very protracted sitting Mr. Jeppe went 263“huis toe,”[56] or home, Mr. Campbell following his example and returning to the diamond fields.

Lieut. Governor Keate then took the matter into his own hands, completed the arbitration and decided that the territory in dispute belonged to the native tribes, and that the Transvaal had no shadow of claim to it or any part of it. The award, however, did not deal with details, the whole of which and the conflicting claims of the natives were left to be settled in the future. No beacons were laid down by the arbitrators to prevent after disputes, and as may be supposed it was not long before the territorial and land questions bred troubles with which the civil powers were unable to cope without resorting to arms.

Mr. Campbell assured every one on his return that the British government had won the arbitration, and his reasons for so considering were that although the award was formally recorded for the natives the territory was sure to come into the hands of the British government. Those, therefore, who had lodged formal land claims were all the more eager for their titles to be registered.

The land commissioners as soon as they commenced discussing the principle upon which land should be dealt with came to loggerheads amongst themselves, Mr. Holden Bowker proposing that all the land at the disposal of the government should be given out on the Queenstown system, of which he was the author, to which suggestion his colleagues were opposed, each having a plan of his own. The “Queenstown system” of settling the land was granting to applicants land at a nominal rental, each grantee being bound to occupy the land personally, to keep a certain number of men provided with arms and liable to be called out when needed to go on commando, and to appear at an annual review to be held in the district.

The government to put an end to the wrangle informed the commissioners that it was not their duty to grant titles nor to settle the principle upon which the land was to be given out. Mr. F. T. Orpen, who had been nominated surveyor to government, declined to hold the office of commissioner any longer and sent in his resignation. He pointed out that it 264could not have been the original intention of the government that the commissioners should only collect the documents upon which land claims were founded, as one commissioner could have done that as well as three. There is little or no doubt, however, that the fault attached to this broken promise was committed at the instance of the imperial government, who had not yet settled with Waterboer, fearing the heavy responsibilities that would be involved in so doing.

This course of action made the Free State all the bolder in its demands and its authorities sent to Pniel demanding from the diggers the license money for claims and stands which, if paid, would have enriched the Free State treasury to the extent of at least £1,500 a month—the claim licenses being charged at a rate of 10s. each per month.

The Berlin missionaries, who laid claim to Pniel as their property, protested, and the English diggers, together with many of the Boers who hailed from the Cape Colony and were digging at Pniel at the time, refused to pay.

The Free State threatened force. The diggers laughed at the menace when the Free State government called out a commando, which was instantly responded to by the Boers, and quite an army of Vrijstaat cavalry came over the border and encamped on a flat situated close to the river, about three miles from the Pniel diggings. Tax-gatherers were sent in to warn the diggers that if they failed to pay the army would move in and smite them hip and thigh. Messages were returned more plain than polite.

At this time there were about 4,000 diggers at Pniel, so the Free Staters maintained “a masterly inactivity” for several weeks, when some of them rode into the camp and blustered considerably. The diggers simply regarded their invaders as so many butts for ridicule, and the natives, who thoroughly enjoyed the fun, added to the diggers’ amusement by jumping up behind the riders on the Boer volunteers’ horses, which were gorgeously caparisoned with navy-blue saddle-cloths richly adorned with embroidery of yellow and red braid, while other dusky humorists seized the tails of the horses, laughing and shouting with all the artless glee and abandon of the sons of Ham.

The “army” saw it was useless to attack Pniel and some of 265the wisest of them made their way back to their farms and donned their mole-skins again. The bulk of them thought, however, that they would try and force money out of the diggers at the smaller camps, and selected for the experiment Waldek’s plant (where a number of English colonists were at work) thinking to take them by surprise, but the Free State Boers have no more love for being taxed than have their brethren in the Transvaal or in the Cape Colony, and certain of them in kindly sympathy took care to let the Waldek’s plant diggers know of the movements of the army. When the warriors rode into Waldek’s plant they found themselves face to face with armed men behind two small field-pieces and were given to understand that if they did not wheel about and be off they would be fired at. The advice of Bombastes, “begone brave army and don’t kick up a row,” was given in sober earnest.

There was an immediate halt. A deputation was sent from the army to meet a deputation from the diggers, and a mutual understanding was arrived at that there should be no fighting. There was a general indulgence in the cups that cheer and also inebriate, and the Boer army returned as empty-handed as they came. Mr. Campbell did not venture to cross the river to the side where there was a Free State magistrate, nor yet did Mr. Truter, the Free State official, venture to steer his barque to the side where Mr. Campbell had hoisted the British flag.

When the diamonds were first discovered Sir Philip Wodehouse was governor and high commissioner of the South African colonies, but he was recalled before there was anything like a general rush to the fields, which only commenced in the beginning of 1870. Lieut. Governor Hay filled the acting appointment until Sir Henry Barkly became governor and high commissioner in 1870, and the latter had not been long in the Cape Colony before he came up; the Cape parliament having decided that he should, between the sessions of 1870 and 1871, make all the arrangements for annexing the diamond fields to the Cape Colony, and at that time the diggers looked on this annexation as inevitable.

Sir Henry went to the Klipdrift side of the river and was received with the most strongly-marked expressions of joyfulness at his arrival. Triumphal arches were erected and a 266banquet was given him, but he was very reticent and little information as to how the fields were to be governed was gleaned from him. The chief point of interest elicited from him being that the land would soon be given out.

This visit was followed by the establishment of a high court presided over by a single judge, Mr. Advocate Barry, (now Sir Jacob Dirk) president of the court of the eastern districts of the Cape Colony. Mr. J. Cyprian Thompson came as public prosecutor and there was soon a full bar, Mr. Campbell holding the position of resident magistrate and the late Mr. Giddy being civil commissioner.

The discovery of diamonds at Du Toit’s Pan and Bulfontein in 1870 caused a revolution in the order of things. The diamonds could at this time only be obtained at Pniel and the other river diggings by the troublesome operations of digging out and removing boulders of immense size, some of which were many tons in weight. The labor, as may be conceived, was tedious to a degree when the diamondiferous gravel had to be taken to the river, cradled, washed and sorted; all employed whites as well as blacks were standing in water half their time, and chills, ague and fever were the natural consequences. There was no water at the Du Toit’s Pan or Bulfontein, the diamonds were found near the surface, and the diamondiferous stuff only needed sieving before it was ready for the sorting table.

The rush from the river to what were called “the dry diggings” was one of the most remarkable ever recorded. In one week after the existence of diamonds at Du Toit’s Pan in payable quantities was assured, Pniel, which had grown into a town with a population of at least 3,000, and provided with shops, post-office, hotels, law courts, etc., became almost forsaken with nothing to be seen of its past glories, nothing left but the deep pits from which the boulders had been removed and a few straggling remains of roads and mud buildings. The population of Klipdrift had been reduced by at least one-half, but the houses and stores there being chiefly built of stone could not be removed; and here, too, were the English courts, the judge, the public prosecutor, the headquarters of the frontier mounted police, of which force a number had been moved up to the Fields together with the civil servants.

267All that the English government claimed was the territory under the chieftainship of Waterboer. But the estate of Dorstfontein (Du Toit’s Pan) was the property of a citizen of the Free State, and he, as others had (although he was a British subject by birth), implicitly obeyed the laws of that state and was prepared still to be loyal to it and to submit to any digging laws that that government might pass and proclaim, and to pay any tax or royalty that the Free State Volksraad and government might see fit to demand. Mr. Truter, who had previously held his court at Pniel and hoisted the republican flag there, opened a court at Du Toit’s Pan, and English and Dutch alike respected his edicts and availed themselves of his court.

Happily for the diamond fields, diamonds were found on the Voornitzigt estate almost simultaneously with their discovery at Du Toit’s Pan, and this estate had been purchased by Mr. Alfred Ebden (now the Hon. Alfred Ebden, M. L. C.), of Old De Beers, on his first visit to Klipdrift, not with the remotest suspicion that there were rich diamond mines on it, but because of its close proximity to the already discovered diamond fields.

When diamonds were found on this estate there was less difficulty in the British government obtaining land for offices and courts than there had been before, Mr. Ebden being a British subject and therefore desirous that his property should be under his country’s flag, and he at once said that the government might take any ground which they might select as sites for the erection of buildings for official purposes.

At this time the local government was in the hands of three commissioners, Messrs. J. C. Thompson and Campbell and Commandant Bowker of the frontier mounted police, who were responsible to and acted under the instructions of the high commissioner. It was never clearly understood what their powers and duties were, nor could any one gather from their proceedings what it was intended they should do, except to act as buffers, so to speak, between the inhabitants and the high commissioner, and between the high commissioner and the president of the Free State. They continued their offices or “seat of government” as they called 268it, at Barkly, placing Mr. Giddy on the Voornitzigt estate as resident magistrate and civil commissioner, and appointing a small body of police to do his bidding, while they themselves paid periodical visits to the dry diggings, but never ventured into Du Toit’s Pan. When Bulfontein was found an attempt to gain possession of it was made by the Free State, but that was successfully resisted by the proprietors and diggers, who declined to permit what they called “the foreign yoke” to be placed about their necks. The high court, the post-office and all the English government offices were still centered in Klipdrift.

Whilst the river diggings existed it was not a public complaint that the natives stole diamonds. Occasionally a “nigger” was found to have concealed one, being egged on to the theft by some dishonest person who wanted to get diamonds cheaply.

When a diamond was discovered on a native he was “basted” with a sjambok. If he had disposed of it he was made to tell who bought it and the fellow was kicked out of the camp. The natives did not then know the value of diamonds, and they brought those which they found to their masters, but they were not allowed at the sorting tables and could only obtain diamonds from out of the claims. Very soon after the discovery of the dry diggings the character of the population underwent a change. Originally the diggers came from the colonies and adjoining states, and it was not until the early part of 1871 that Europeans came in any numbers. Then the class which in the slums of London live without labor began to put in an appearance, as I have mentioned before, and pitched their tents in these diamond fields.

From that time trouble began. They systematically bought stolen diamonds from natives or anybody, put up the niggers to all sorts of dodges by which their masters might be robbed, and on this becoming known Judge Lynch manifested his presence by the burning of the tents in which these evil doers resided, which blazed away night after night.

One man was taken to a tree and Judge Lynch delivered judgment against him to the effect that if he did not tell to whom he had sold the diamond he should be hung up by the neck until he was dead, and that such should be the fate of all buyers of stolen diamonds. The rope was put around the 269neck of the condemned thief, but the threat was not carried into effect, as those who were to perform the duty of executioners were told that they, living as they did under British laws, would be held guilty of murder if they carried out the sentence, and appalled at this they held their hands, and the native, for aught I know, lives to this day. White men keeping stores on the Voornitzigt estate were suspected, and one of them would no doubt have been torn to pieces had not some of his friends and companions come forward to save his life, when pale as death and shaking like an aspen leaf he declared that he was innocent. Nobody, however, believed in his innocence then, nor has he yet succeeded in convincing the old residents in his unsullied integrity. But by the skin of his teeth he escaped the vengeance of his justly infuriated enemies.

The firing of tents went on, and the commissioners had no power to interfere with any hope of preventing it; beyond a few policemen, they had no force at their command whatsoever, and hence could effect nothing themselves; they called, however, a meeting in front of the civil commissioners’ office, which was attended by many hundreds of diggers and others, the popular speakers saying that if the government would do nothing to protect their diamonds against thieves that they would take the law into their own hands. The commissioners were all present. Mr. Thompson, on the part of the commissioners, was the only one who was not trembling with fear. He said that he “would take care if any man, native or white man, was found either stealing diamonds, or in possession of stolen diamonds, he would punish him with the utmost severity of the law; but the law should not be that of Judge Lynch, and if he found a man setting a tent or other property on fire he would admit of no justification, and it would be useless for such a man to talk about stolen diamonds.” The learned gentleman would charge that man with arson, and he might be sure that he would receive the penalty provided by law for that crime.

He also said that the commissioners were considering what could be done to afford diggers protection, and would let them know when they had made up their minds. The meeting wanted to know if the commissioners would make up their 270minds by the following Monday. Mr. Campbell asked: “Will you promise not to set any more tents on fire until after Monday, and we will see what we can do?”

Mr. Thompson declined to be a party to any bargaining of that sort, and the meeting separated. There was no tent burning for some time after this.

Government by nominee commissioners was a mistake from the beginning. In both the elementary strength was lacking and the “main de fer” (certainly) and the “gant de soie” (probably) were both needed in dealing with so heterogeneous a community as that of the diamond fields. Sir Henry Barkly exerted himself to the utmost to make it work satisfactorily, but failed to do so. The system and the material were alike bad.

His excellency at that time thought that annexation would be perfected in the coming session of the Cape parliament, and was therefore anxious it should begin. That the commissioners must be got rid of was clear, as the diggers had shown themselves so completely dissatisfied with the existing order of things.

The land claimants had become clamorous for the titles which had been so long promised but were not yet forthcoming. The parliament of 1872 was convened but would have nothing to say to Sir Henry’s annexing proposals. This was another addition to the long list of promises which the people in the Fields had found to be violated.

The high commissioner was furious and would have liked to tell the honorable the house of assembly, his notions of the sense of honor possessed by M. L. A’s. who were in the majority. But scolding would not mend matters, and he therefore restrained himself from speaking out as he would liked to have done.

His excellency’s dispatches to the secretary of state for the colonies had inspired the imperial minister with confidence that the Fields would be readily taken over by the Colony, but when he found that was not to be he was no less furious than Sir Henry himself.

The adverse vote of the Cape legislature threw the onus of governing the Fields on the high commissioner himself; his correspondence with the president of the Free State was not only voluminous but provoked retorts from his honor which 271were not pleasant nor easy of reply, and personalities and loss of temper ensued; in fact the antagonism between these high officials was almost unprecedented, and existed for a considerable time.

The Boers of the Free State and all the Dutch in the Colony as well as in the Fields were in sympathy with the president, and they accused the high commissioner and the secretary of state for the colonies of having shamefully robbed the Free State of the territory for the sake of its diamonds. This charge, I may add, was believed in by a great many beside the Dutch, and it was asserted by some of the most influential journals in England that the home government would never have thought of setting up Waterboer’s claim to the territory in dispute had not diamonds been found to exist in it. This, however, was altogether untrue, for Sir Philip Wodehouse at the time when he was engaged in interviewing the British Kaffrarian annexation delegates at Aliwal North, who were opposed to the proposed absorption of their country by the Cape, was in correspondence with the president on the same subject, and complaining that the Boers of the Free State were encroaching upon Waterboer’s territory, and accused that state of having extended its boundaries beyond those marked out when the sovereignty was abandoned.

Moreover, long before any diamonds were discovered, Mr. David Arnott, the agent of Waterboer, had sent numberless protests to the Free State government respecting the Boer encroachments, and at a conference which had taken place on the same subject had produced evidence which he held to be more than sufficient to prove that Waterboer’s claim was incontestable.

On the 17th of July, 1871, the Colesberg Kopje, now the Kimberley mine, was discovered, and in November of the same year the whole of the diggings, without regard to title, were proclaimed to be under British rule. This was supposed to have been done in order to enable Sir Henry Barkly to perfect his arrangements for bringing about annexation during the session of parliament in 1872. His excellency little knew then how he was to be sold when the parliament met, but he afterward discovered, as we have seen, with how capricious and unreliable a house of representatives he had to deal.

272The manner of proclaiming British rule was unique, to say the least of it. The commissioners who were still in power, and a good many not in power, were in a state of mental fever about the hoisting “the flag that braves” and proclaiming British rule. It was all very well for Sir Henry to instruct the commissioners to proclaim British rule, but who was to read the proclamation.

The Dutch in the Fields “swore with an oath or something as good,” that they would not be “brought under the British yoke,” as they called it, and threatened to take arms and “deluge the Fields with blood” if their state was deprived of the governing powers over the dry diggings. The English on the Fields contrasted the proportions of the Dutch and English populations, and the long odds against the latter if the Dutch should show fight. The most timid were sure that the Dutch would rise to a man, and the lives and property of the English would be sacrificed; and if the truth be told many an English colonist then in these diggings would as soon have seen the Free State as the English flag flying over them, and no wonder, seeing that imperial rule had been in several instances the cause of disaster to South Africa. It is hard sometimes for colonists to remain loyal and true to their nationality when they are treated with contumely, distrusted and scoffed at by the chief and subordinates of the imperial colonial department, as has occurred more than once in this colony.

However, the morning of the 17th of November broke upon the diamond fields—the day on which the Fields from Klipdrift to the Modder River, the whole area on which diamond diggings had been established, was to be proclaimed British. John Campbell, Esq., in his plaids and buckles, a model Highlander from the crown of his head to the soles of his feet, slipped out of his office door, and with his colleagues was driven in a cart to the margin of the Colesberg Kopje. This illustrious commissioner, however, was not the man to “bell the cat;” that duty was taken upon himself by the late J.C. Thompson, then crown prosecutor and commissioner. The official car was surrounded by vehicles filled with loyals, loyals on horseback and loyals on foot, and Mr. Thompson read the proclamation from the scroll, which he unfolded and then 273nailed up to a hoarding close by. There had been a government Gazette published, but its place of publication had not as yet been moved to the dry diggings from Klipdrift, but whether the proclamation was gazetted or not I have never yet been able to discover, for when Mr. G. W. Murray asked for it, when he was a member of the legislative council, he was told by the government that the files had been lost!

Mr. Thompson, after nailing up a copy or the original proclamation, no one knew which, drove off in the triumphal British car to Du Toit’s Pan, followed by a long procession of horsemen and vehicles, amidst the shouts of the street mob and the melodious strains of an extemporized band, which, in honor of the occasion, was playing a colorable imitation of “The Campbells are coming.”

On reaching Du Toit’s Pan, Mr. Thompson repeated his proclaiming process there. The honorable gentleman unfolded a second scroll and read its contents, and then nailed up proclamation No. 2 on a hoarding. There was a great concourse of people who came to hear and see what was up. The multitude was a motley one. There were diggers Dutch and English, store-keepers and canteen-keepers, Dutch and English too, and diamond buyers with unmistakable Whitechapel marks or Bevis marks upon them, if the pun be pardonable. In the midst of the multitude stood the Free State magistrate and his clerk, both open-mouthed, very pale, and yet more astonished than pale. On referring to the paper on the hoarding, they found that Dutch as well as English had been enfolded in the arms of Britannia. There was no fighting, no bloodshed, but a good deal of tall talk. The Dutch authorities did not show bellicose intentions. The Dutch magistrate merely closed his court, locked his office door, put the key in his pocket, and paired off with his clerk to see the president to report the aggressive proceedings, and his place in Du Toit’s Pan “knew him no more forever.” The diggers went back to their work, after the customary indulgence in alcoholic stimulants. The general public exhibited few manifestations of joy, for it had even then begun to be whispered that if this were to be the prelude of annexing the Fields to the Cape, there was little in it for Griqualanders to glorify themselves over. A banquet was given at Benning & Martin’s 274hotel, Du Toit’s Pan, at which the officials secured front seats for themselves and their friends, and made the speeches of the evening, extolling themselves and each other, and becoming as full of loyal sentiments as they were of “Mumm.” From that day forth the rule was British, or supposed to be, but with the exception that the people had to pay more taxes there was nothing to indicate that “a vast, great, and glorious change” had taken place.



As before mentioned, the Cape legislature of 1872 broke faith with Sir Henry Barkly, who was thereupon accused by his imperial masters of having failed to keep the parliament in hand. The violation of pledges and promises has been a prominent characteristic of the policies alike of the Cape parliament and of the colonial office, and in both cases it has been prolific of evil consequences.

Sir Henry Barkly, owing to the unstable and vacillating policy of the Cape parliament, found himself on the horns of a dilemma. The imperial government taunted him with having shown a want of diplomatic tact in dealing with the colonial legislature, while the latter repudiated the charge 276which Sir Henry Barkly brought against the legislative assembly, i.e., that of having broken faith with him. Nay, the two honorable houses went even further, they vowed and declared that they had never done or said anything to warrant his sending to the secretary of state for the colonies the dispatches that he had sent. Here was a gordian knot for a governor to loose. What was he to do? He could neither report upon the colonial secretary, nor tell the parliament what he thought of the latter functionary’s action; he virtually exclaimed: “A plague upon both your houses, I’ll go to the Fields again myself.” So he made up his mind to order the government coachman to inspan the traveling wagons, the panels of which, by the way, were ornamented with the royal arms painted by a Cape artist, whose idea of the lion and the unicorn was sublimely humorous—the lion having too much skull by half, and the horn of the unicorn being as crooked as a ram’s, or a satyr’s. His excellency told his executive, that it was as plain as the Cape flats that British rule could not be administered in the diamond fields by commissioners and law courts, and that he was about to proceed to the Fields in order to see how the British flag was to be kept flying over the diamond-digging community. But Sir Henry had been soundly abused by press and public, both in the colony and Griqualand West. The idea then prevailed at Capetown that the diggers would think no more of chopping off a governor’s head than they would of decapitating a domestic fowl. On the Fields there was universal dissatisfaction, the commissioners all the while remaining with virtually “no work to do.” The holders of claims at Klipdrift had had to pay surveyors’ expenses which they had never calculated upon having to pay, and also to meet other demands which they regarded as extortionate, if not almost fraudulent. There were transfer dues, stamp duties and such like, to be enacted in the not far distant future, and the aspect of affairs was not cheering. The Free State was wrathful and indignant, and the Boers there were threatening vengeance. The Dutch on the Fields complained loudly and bitterly of having to pay taxes to British extortioners and being forced to submit to law and order, and declared that the British embrace was too ursine a hug for their comfort.

277Under these circumstances Sir Henry Barkly did not feel quite sure that his personal appearance on the Fields would not be made the occasion for an outbreak. Still go he must, and in order to ascertain how far he was risking his life he remained at a farm outside the camp on the first night of his arrival. The next morning, long before the breakfast hour, he saw scores of vehicles and horsemen coming over the hill leading to the homestead. It was an anxious moment. But there was the ring of the true British metal in the cheers of the horsemen as they neared the farm, and Sir Henry was soon convinced that his second visit was destined to prove even more acceptable to the Griqualanders than his first had been. The gubernatorial equipage, with Sir Henry and his adjutant, was soon on the move, and as the Fields bore in sight he could see Bulfontein and Du Toit’s Pan in holiday dress. There was bunting flying from every flag-post, and the margin of the mines was crowded with people, white and black. He was cheered all the way from his entry into the Fields until he reached his quarters in Kimberley; flags floated over his head, and triumphal arches spanned the roadways. On the day of his arrival he held a levee which was well attended, and he took care to have it generally known that he would receive as many deputations as liked to come to him to ventilate their grievances. Of grievances there were enough and to spare, in fact there was nobody without one, either real or imaginary. First and foremost of all was the land grievance. Legitimate claimants and land jobbers jostled each other without mercy and with scant courtesy. The diggers insisted that they had not been and were not protected as it was alleged they had been told they were to be. Diamond thieves, they asserted, were more pestilent than ever, having grown bolder and more unscrupulous, and the digging population suggested that if they had shown more regard for the protection of their own property than loyalty to the government diamond stealing would have been considerably diminished. The trading community also manifested extreme dissatisfaction, owing to the manner in which government contracts were given out, the belief prevailing amongst many that a system of favoritism if not of jobbery was in existence. The natural result of these real or 278alleged grievances was that the local government was in decidedly bad odor with the population generally.

The neighboring states had complained that guns and gunpowder were supplied to natives, and a deputation defending the system of supplying the natives with guns and gunpowder waited upon his excellency, who said that his attention had been called to the fact that more guns were supplied to natives than had been entered at the customs, where the duty was £1 per barrel, a fact which he could not understand. The deputation, however, explained it by the open ports, where no custom-houses were established, further asking Sir Henry to consider the number of small vessels which visited these ports from the Natal and Cape ports. The guns sold here were supplied to the dealers by the merchants, and the former paid the duty, although a large portion of it was lost to the government. The natives at that time came here more for the sake of getting guns than for money, and the deputation urged a sufficient amount of labor to work the diamondiferous soil could not be obtained if the supplying of guns to natives were prohibited. It was further pointed out to his excellency that the natives would even then continue to get guns from runners (smugglers), and that natives in the possession of the assegai, their national weapon, were more dangerous than when armed with guns. After hearing all the evidence and going into the question fully, Sir Henry Barkly decided that the gun trade must not be interfered with, and this opinion Governor Southey afterward endorsed.[57]

279Sir Henry Barkly promised that British title should be immediately given to legitimate land claimants, that contracts for government supplies should be called for by public tender, and that all real grievances should be removed. Protection was promised to the diggers, and so his excellency became very popular indeed, a banquet followed by a ball was given to him at Kimberley on September 12th, 1872, and both were completely successful. The late Dr. Robertson, formerly of Fauresmith, O. F. S., filled the chair at the banquet and introduced Sir Henry Barkly to his entertainers in admirable style. The doctor’s speech in introducing the toast, “the health of Sir Henry Barkly, her Majesty’s high commissioner in South Africa and governor of the Cape Colony,” was couched in elegant and appropriate language, and his excellency’s reply was received with enthusiastic applause. He told the assembled guests that up to the time of his present visit he had had but a slight conception of the importance of the diamond fields, and had found them to be of such a character that he realized the fact that they could not be governed by three commissioners. The wealth, intelligence and numbers of this community must have something better in the shape of government. To think of governing them from Capetown was out of the question, and as he found they were entitled to a government of their own he would take care that they should have it. The Fields should be a crown colony with a lieutenant governor and a legislature on the same model and as liberal as that of Natal, and this he would bring about as quickly as the preliminaries could be arranged. The 280ball over, Sir Henry paid a visit to Barkly where he held another levee, and there also a banquet was given him. The streets were decorated with flags, and triumphal arches which formed a complete roofing all through the main street. Here, also, the gubernatorial promises gladdened the hearts of the populace, especially those which referred to the land titles. At the banquet, which was given in the main hall of the Barkly club, it was endeavored to get a pledge from his excellency that Barkly should be the seat of government, but the attempt was a vain one, his excellency contenting himself by saying that they had the high court there and all the government offices, and that he would not forget the old proverb: “Be sure you are off with the old love before you are on with the new.” In a very short time after this, however, the high court and the government offices were removed to Kimberley, and the seat of government established there.

On his excellency leaving the Fields to return home, he had additional proof of the loyalty which animated the great bulk of the diamond field people. He was escorted to Alexanderfontein by at least a thousand persons, and he expressed his gratification at the reception he had met with there, and gave it as his opinion that her Majesty had no more loyal people in her empire than in the diamond fields of South Africa.

The special mission of Sir Henry Barkly to South Africa was to reform the constitution of the Cape Colony by the introduction of responsible government. That colony had become troublesome to the imperial government, inasmuch as the old régime parliament which had full control over the government purse strings refused to pass the taxing measures necessary for the administration of the affairs of the country, and unfortunately for Sir Henry Barkly his executive was too much divided for him to move with reasonable expectation of success. The colonial secretary, Mr. Southey, was firmly opposed to the introduction of the measure into the parliament then assembled, as the country had never been consulted on the question, which he held ought not to be forced. That honorable gentleman held to the doctrine as laid down by John Stuart Mill, that before responsible government is introduced into a country the people must ask for it, and when it was decided 281by a majority to introduce it the colonial secretary entered his solemn protest on the minutes on constitutional grounds. This was awkward, but Sir Henry Barkly received imperial instructions that it must be introduced into the parliament, and that he must get it passed. Sir Henry Barkly knew that if he should fail he would be recalled in disgrace, and accordingly did introduce it in 1873 at an early session and managed to force it through the legislature, but when he called upon the Hon. Mr. Southey to take office, that gentleman flatly refused to do so. He would not attempt to form a ministry, and he would not take office either as premier or in any other capacity. It now became necessary for his excellency to consider what should be done with the Hon. Mr. Southey, and he was offered the lieutenant governorship of Griqualand West with an adequate salary, and the recommendation to take with him his long-tried confidential clerk in the colonial office, Mr. John Blades Currey. Mr. Southey accepted the appointment, and the inhabitants of Griqualand West, especially the old colonists residing on the Fields, received the intimation with extreme satisfaction, for Mr. Southey enjoyed the confidence of both East and West. On the lieutenant governor’s arrival here, on January 9th, 1873, he was received with manifestations of great joy. The people went out in great numbers to welcome him at Alexanderfontein; triumphal arches were erected; bands of music preceded the procession into the towns; a display of fireworks and an illumination were amongst the tokens of rejoicing, and he was entertained at a banquet in the Theatre Royal, which was crowded to excess.

An executive was created consisting of four members, viz.: the lieutenant governor, the secretary to government (Mr. Currey), the crown prosecutor (Mr. J. C. Thompson), and the treasurer general (the late Mr. R. W. H. Giddy). No constitution was proclaimed for some time after Mr. Southey’s arrival, and the Fields were governed by the lieutenant governor and his executive, legal enactments being made by means of proclamations. One of Mr. Richard Southey’s first proclamations, issued on Feb. 5th, 1873, almost immediately on his arrival, and which pleased the diggers very much, was one to restrain the jumping of claims. Previous to this, a claim in 282any one of the mines, which might be worth thousands of pounds, if left by its owner unworked for three days, could be legally seized by any man who could prove this neglect; but the proclamation containing the letters patent declaring the colony of Griqualand West a crown colony was not promulgated until the July 16th, 1873, when Klipdrift was rechristened Barkly and the “Colesberg Kopje” Kimberley. The new names were given in honor of the then secretary of state for the colonies, Lord Kimberley, and of Sir Henry Barkly. They were created electoral divisions, the third consisting of the outlying or agricultural districts, being grouped together under the name of Hay, in honor of Lieut. Governor Hay, who was the first to unfurl the British flag over the Diamond Fields. The chief town of the last-named division was Griquatown, in which the Griqua chief Waterboer resided.


The constitution was, however, not received with anything like unanimous approval. The boundaries fixed were disputed 283by the neighboring States, and the enfranchisement and representation was by no means in accordance with the promises made by Sir Henry Barkly, inasmuch as it was not according to the Natal model. The legislative council was constituted on the deadlock principle, consisting as it did of eight members, four nominated by the general government and four elected by the voters, the lieutenant governor being president and having the casting vote. The governor had a power to veto in the first place, and the Queen in the second. At first it was said that no one would consent to be put into nomination for the four seats to be filled by the votes of the people. However, when the time of the elections came round, the seats were hotly contested. The council was first convened in 1873, but did not meet for business until January, 1874, when the elective members were Messrs. Green and Dr. Graham for Kimberley, Mr. Advocate Davison for Barkly, and Mr. David Arnott, the agent for Waterboer, to represent the electoral division of Hay. The first ordinance, viz. for the better regulation of diggings and mines, was promulgated on the 30th of the month named. The government and legislature for some time worked very well, but then a lack of cordiality among the members of the government themselves in the executive manifested itself, and there was as well no lack of revolutionary agitators to stir up the people to rebel against the government from the outside. Among the agitators were one or more generally accepted as Fenians, and several foreigners; the former with a hatred of British rule were bent on creating disturbances. They were joined by men who, although owning themselves British subjects, had party and personal ends to serve, dearer to them than their reverence for the crown. Leagues were formed and meetings were held, where sedition was loudly and plainly talked, mass meetings were convened on the market place, and the governor roundly abused. The lieutenant governor offered to receive deputations and to discuss matters, provided that the deputations should be composed of men who were known to be in the habit of conducting themselves in a becoming manner. But the agitators wanted their followers to come in large bodies, and this the lieutenant governor decided not to permit. The members of the league assembled armed for drill, and assumed a 284most warlike and threatening attitude. The lieutenant governor urged the necessity of the presence of a small body of her Majesty’s troops, and pointed out that moral force, the only force at his command, had no influence upon the men who, led by a clever and excitable digger named Aylward, were plotting against law and order. No attention whatever was paid to the suggestion of the lieutenant governor by the executive of the Cape Colony. There were no definite grievances brought forward by the men under arms, who were mere puppets in the hands of the riotously inclined wire-pullers. There were grievances, however, of a grave nature, and the non-fulfilment of promises respecting the land titles was the greatest of all. It is only right, however, to mention that the majority of the white population, aliens as well as British subjects, were thoroughly satisfied with Mr. Southey’s rule; and he had, during the time he was at the head of the government, done all in his power to make the people happy and prosperous, while the foundations of law and order had been so far as possible “both well and truly laid.” The social state of the Fields was excellent, and Government House was so thoroughly well-conducted that it led society with a genial and assuring hand. Balls and parties, indoor and outdoor pastimes and pleasures, afforded the recreation which the busy population required, and life in the Fields was generally pleasant and seemly.

Armed malcontents were now drilled in the public squares, and wherever they thought their proceedings would be most exasperating to the government and the loyal portion of the community.[58] This was kept up during the early part of 1875. Arms were imported from all directions and concealed in stores and licensed liquor shops, and in the month of April of that year the mob were led into open rebellion, the occasion chosen for the outbreak being the seizure of arms by the magistrate and police of Kimberley, and the arrest of the man on whose premises they were discovered. A body of armed men marched down to the magistrate’s office and demanded the release of the prisoner, the court-house being surrounded and an attack 285threatened should their demand be refused. A black flag to be hoisted on the edge of the Kimberley mine was to be the signal for the revolters to fire upon the court-house and government offices. The Kimberley prison was to be leveled to the ground, when, as the rebels calculated, the liberated prisoners would instantly swell their ranks and help to overthrow the government. The lieutenant governor refused to make any terms whatever with men under arms and ordered them to give up their weapons to the government. This they refused to do. The authorities were not, however, to be driven from the position they had assumed. A number of loyal inhabitants volunteered to assist the government, and the prison was guarded by these assisted by some of the police. Greatly to their credit the Germans then came forward almost to a man and joined the volunteers. Mr. James Anthony Froude, “the eminent historian,” as he is called, had paid a visit to South Africa at the instance of the Earl of Carnarvon, then secretary for the Colonies, to report on the chances of federating the whole of the Colonies and States under the British flag, and that gentleman, with his characteristic mental twist, took a most distorted view of everything he saw, and instead of supporting the lieutenant governor disparaged him, and actually held a conference with the rebel leaders. This conference did not take place in the presence of any of the authorities, and the insurgents declared at the time that their course of conduct had secured Mr. Froude’s[59] approval. This was before they broke out in actual revolt. A quotation from Mr. Froude’s writings, which appears in a book of which one of the most bitter opponents of the government is the author, strengthens the belief that Mr. Froude actually did encourage the rebels, whether intentionally or not. The passage is as follows: “The English government in taking up Waterboer’s cause, have distinctly broken a treaty which they renewed before in a most solemn manner, and the colonial office, it is painfully evident to me, has been duped by an ingenious conspiracy.”

The “ingenious conspiracy” was one of those flights of imagination in which the eminent historian occasionally indulges with most mischievous results to the colonies that he 286has visited and attempted to describe. There was no such thing as an “ingenious conspiracy to delude the colonial office,” as may be gathered from the facts before stated respecting the action of Sir Philip Wodehouse in the matter of the wrong done Waterboer by the Boers of the Free State. The chieftainship of Andreas Waterboer, the father of Nicholas, was confirmed by the British government before Nicholas was born, as is shown in the earlier portions of these pages. This is wandering from the subject of the revolt, but the necessity for this digression will be manifest to the reader.

The rebels had calculated that no magistrate would be found with sufficient courage to sit on the bench and try the arrested prisoner while the court-house was surrounded by men armed with guns and revolvers ready to fire at a given signal. They were mistaken, however, for the late Mr. Advocate Gray, then president magistrate of Du Toit’s Pan, took his seat on the bench, and then the Fenian leader, sword in hand, ordered the man appointed (one Albany Paddon[60]) to hoist the flag, which was accordingly done. There was no firing, though one gun was accidentally discharged. Some of the leaders began to reflect and came forward and entered into bail bonds for the prisoner. The rebels did not then, however, put down their arms. It was only after the high commissioner had threatened to send troops that they consented to do so. Colonel Crossman, who had been sent out as royal commissioner in Oct. 1875, to make inquiries and report, after taking evidence absolved the government of all blame. Then when the mischief had been done troops were sent up at an expense of £20,000, under the command of Sir Arthur Cunningham. Beyond showing that the imperial government were determined to uphold law and order, the troops did nothing but manœuvre in the market place, encamp at Barkly and attend balls and banquets given in their honor, as well as to fête the Diamond Fields horse, who had shortly before so gallantly fought under Sir Arthur in the war on the northeastern frontier, driving Kreli out of the country and bringing his tribe into subjection. The real grievance—and one destined to produce dire consequences upon the province—the delay in giving out titles and settling the land, had as yet 287found no remedy. Not even the chief Waterboer had been settled with, and Mankoroane, the chief of the Bechuanas, harassed on all sides by the Boers, had called upon the British government for protection, offering to make over his territory and people to the queen, as Waterboer had done before him. He, like Waterboer, had always been loyal to the British rule, and to use his own words: “I have always been true to the queen, have protected her people when they were in danger from the Boers, and now when my people are being crushed out of existence by the Boers the queen ought to protect me and my people.” The lieutenant governor was of the same opinion, and he suggested to the high commissioner that in justice and in policy the British government could not do better than annex Bechuanaland. His excellency further pointed out that to leave this fine country open was to pave the way for future troubles—which it has done. The high commissioner encouraged the scheme. Mankoroane and his councillors with a number of his people came down to Kimberley, if I recollect rightly, at the very time of Mr. Froude’s visit, and long conferences then took place between the chief and his advisers, and the lieutenant governor and his, the old chief being ultimately given to understand that he and his people and country were to be taken over, as Mr. Southey said, with the knowledge and consent of the high commissioner. This was another of the promises made only to be broken; and to prove beyond question that all the troubles predicted have come about, it is only necessary to allude to recent historical events culminating in Sir Charles Warren’s expedition to Bechuanaland. Mr. Southey had from the time of his taking office persistently requested the high commissioner to get the land question settled, and had sent warning after warning that delay in giving out the titles was fraught with the greatest possible danger. But the high commissioner was in the hands of the secretary of the colonies in the first place, and in the second his excellency had not mastered the situation. Then those who fomented discontent and disturbance had circulated, among other infamous slanders, that the lieutenant governor and the secretary to government were men bent on land-jobbing in their own interest and in the interest of their friends and political adherents.

288In the session of 1875 the high commissioner, despite his previously issued reassuring proclamation to the effect that no private rights should be disturbed, sent up a land ordinance drafted in Capetown, and requested the lieutenant governor to introduce it to the legislative council and get it passed into law. This the lieutenant governor respectfully but firmly refused to do. By the draft ordinance a land court was to be created, and a judge appointed to decide upon the claims of every one, no matter whether his claims were disputed or not. Even Waterboer himself, from whom the government had derived all their territorial rights, was to be forced into court and pay the expenses himself, to prove that his private properties, farms, etc., belonged to him. The judge was, moreover, to have power to reduce the size of farms, and in no case to permit one to be given out of more than 6,000 acres in extent. The lieutenant governor held that by allowing this ordinance to pass into the statute book the government would be abrogating its especial function, which was to protect those who could produce unimpeachable titles, whether obtained by grant, purchase or other legitimate means. The cost of going to law to obtain them they, he said, ought not to be compelled to incur. The law courts ought not, he maintained, to be called upon to deal with any land claims excepting such as were in dispute. The executive government could deal with the undisputed claims, exchange British for existing titles, etc., thus saving expenditure and delay, while the high court was quite sufficient to deal with disputed claims.

The high commissioner paid no heed to the lieutenant governor’s remonstrance, but came from Capetown to the diamond fields and introduced the draft ordinance into the council himself, while presiding, as he was empowered to do, when in the province. The popularly elected members at first declared that they would not vote for the measure; nor would they even take their seats; which course, had it been adhered to by them, would have effectually prevented the measure being carried, as no business could be transacted unless two of the elected members were in their seats. The high commissioner, however, by the free use of his powerful influence, led the elected members to alter their determination, hinting 289that if they did not take their seats, a proceeding equivalent to assisting in passing the ordinance, he would dissolve the council, and every one saw that if the high commissioner could not control the council the constitution under which it was created would be abolished altogether. The members took their seats, and the ordinance was forced through and became law. The land court was established, and Mr. Advocate Stockenstrom, of the supreme court, who was then practicing at the bar of the court of the eastern districts, was appointed the judge.

Sir Henry Barkly, having forced his land bill through the council, returned to Capetown, leaving Mr. R. Southey at the head of the government.

The greatest possible disaffection toward the land court soon found expression on all sides. The editor of one of the newspapers, The Diamond News, criticised the decisions of the judge with great freedom, and amongst other remarks said that: “Judge Stockenstrom appeared to be performing his duties under instruction, and if he was not doing so he was incompetent for the office.” The editor was summoned before the court by Judge Stockenstrom, and was charged with contempt of court. He so ably defended himself that the judge withdrew the charge in a semi-apologetic manner, but that did not allay the dissatisfaction. The advocate of Waterboer, on the ground that his client had been grossly insulted by the judge, and could hope for nothing like justice in that land court, retired, with his client from the court, and refused to continue his case.

The final adjustment was intrusted to Major, now Gen. Sir Charles Warren, the land court having been abolished and the judge withdrawn. Mr. R. Southey, soon after the purchase of the farm Voornitzigt, which was sold to government for £100,000, was recalled, and that was the last of Lieut. Governor Southey in Griqualand West.



After the conclusion of the Southey régime, Mr. J. D. Barry, the recorder of the province, held the reins of government for a time, pending the arrival of Major Lanyon, an officer who had distinguished himself on Sir Garnet Wolseley’s staff in Ashantee.

The posts of lieutenant governor and colonial secretary were abolished, and Major Lanyon as administrator, with Mr. Francis Villiers as private secretary, conducted the affairs of the government. The principal matters of interest during his day in Griqualand West were the passing of the annexation bill through the Cape house of assembly, the disturbances of the natives, necessitating the expedition to Phokwane, the quelling of the Griqua revolt, the trial of the editor of the Independent and the passing of Mr. Geo. Bottomley’s bill amending the liquor ordinance.

291There can be no doubt that the restless character of the diggers of the diamond fields which culminated in the rising on April 12th, 1875, had a good deal to do with the desire of the home government to get rid of the bother, annoyance and responsibility of governing so small, and at the same time so troublesome, a crown colony as Griqualand West. With that object a bill, of course at the instigation of the imperial authorities, was brought before the Cape assembly in June 1877, when a select committee was appointed, of which Mr. Richard Southey, formerly lieutenant governor of this territory, was appointed chairman, which had “instructions to restrict its inquiry to the number and description of the population, the extent and value of land, and the cultivation and other resources, the revenue and expenditure and general financial condition of the province.”

Major W. O. Lanyon, C. M. G., the administrator, went to Capetown and gave evidence before this committee; and although of course wishing to promote the desires of the imperial government, his answers to all the questions asked him evidently tended to make good what was generally understood to be his opinion, viz. that annexation was a doubtful measure at best, and that a province with mines of undisputed richness, whose only debts were £90,000 to the Free State, £16,000 to the imperial government for the expense of troops sent up there to quell the disturbances in 1875, and about £16,000 to the Standard Bank, was quite justified in retaining its own individuality. However, as will be seen in the sequel “Molteno (premier of the Cape Colony at the time) incorporated the major.”[61] The bill to annex Griqualand West to the Cape Colony passed the Cape assembly during the same session and received the queen’s assent in the following year, but became, so far as the inhabitants of the diamond fields were concerned, almost forgotten until the visit of Messrs. Sprigg and Upington in October, 1879, when Mr. J. Rose Innes, C. M. G., was acting administrator.



“Affairs of State” did not run altogether smoothly in Griqualand West. When Major Lanyon returned he found that the late Mr. Advocate Davison, member for Barkly, had resigned his seat in the Griqualand West council and left for England, and there were but three elected members in council when he introduced his annexation motion, to which he desired to gain their assent. Mr. Advocate Halkett, the senior member for Kimberley, and Mr. R. W. Murray, the member for Hay, contended that before such a vastly important change was made as the annexation of the province to the Cape Colony, which involved the destruction of its constitution and government, there ought to be a full council to discuss the submitted resolution, and they therefore demanded that the seat for Barkly should be filled up. This the administrator refused to do, or rather implied that he had contemplated doing so, but had neglected it. He evidently was determined to get his motion carried, while the members for Kimberley and Hay were equally determined that if he should do so, it would be by his own casting vote alone; and knowing that they were masters of the situation, they bowed themselves out with the announcement that they would not return until all the constituencies were represented. They kept their word. There was no election for Barkly and no more sittings of that 293council, which was shortly afterward dissolved, and it was not until some months had passed that a new one was elected. There were three councils in all. The names of the first members have been before given; the elected members of the second council, which was elected after the arrival of Major Lanyon, were Messrs. Tucker and Gilfillan (Kimberley), Davison (Barkly), and Murray (Hay). A vacancy occurred through Mr. Henry Tucker becoming disqualified, and the late Mr. Halkett was elected in his place. The next council, which was elected on Nov. 30th, 1878, consisted of myself and Mr. Bottomley (Kimberley), Mr. J. Paddon (Barkly), and Mr. J. Orpen (Hay).

An act of the colonial legislature which is not put into force within three years of its having been assented to at home becomes a dead letter, and it was not until this period had nearly expired that the concluding scene was put on the stage of the little theatre of the Griqualand West council, under the management of Mr. J. Rose Innes, but this I will describe later on.

There is no hiding the fact that during Major Lanyon’s administratorship there was a good deal of hostile feeling shown against him in some quarters, which was fostered by many who held the opinion that the major was inclined to be more of a martinet than if he had had the training of an officer in a regiment other than one of those in which Charles Lever’s Major Monsoon would have found congenial companionship, and in politics at least his peculiar idiosyncrasies, as displayed toward opponents, would have caused the late Dr. Johnson, had he known the major, to admire his talents as a “good hater,” although at the same time he would not have found him wanting in that opposite quality which is said to naturally follow. I have often heard Major Lanyon say: “Gentlemen, if I have ever erred, it has been the fault of the head, not of the heart,” and I may here state that the gallant major’s abilities, which were of no mean order, and his honesty of purpose, always received due recognition. The want of tact of this administration, and the unfortunate personal leaning of its chief, were strikingly exemplified by a case in point, in the prosecution of the editor of the Independent for an alleged criminal libel published in the issue of that 294paper of Nov. 16th, 1876. At that time the trade in diamonds with roguish natives employed by diggers which unscrupulous persons carried on, though they must have well known these cheaply acquired gems to have been stolen, was, as it still is, the plague and disgrace of the community. Proclamations and ordinances of the severest character were leveled against it, but without appreciable effect. A few of the lesser culprits were caught, imprisoned, and in some cases flogged, but still the illicit trade (before fully described) flourished, and this too although the laws had been rendered so stringent and complex as to prove a trap for the innocent but unwary.

Out of the confused state of these laws two causes célebres arose, which excited much interest among the diggers and showed the continued lack of common sense displayed by the government in their policy and modes of procedure. In the first instance an old digger, who had made himself prominent in the prosecution of diamond thieves and had also materially assisted in the overthrow and subsequent recall of the Southey-Currey faction, had in a moment of forgetfulness purchased a small diamond without having a dealer’s license and without being able to produce his special permit to the magistrate as by law required. There was no pretence that the diamond had been stolen or improperly obtained, but nevertheless the unlucky purchaser of this “precious” stone was sentenced, if I remember rightly, to twelve months’ imprisonment without the option of a fine. Granting, for the sake of argument, that the punishment was technically commensurate with the offense, the ardor exhibited by the authorities in the original pursuit of a political foe, to the minds of the independent diggers, was anything but satisfactory. That the man had no license to purchase diamonds, and that his permit, if he ever had one, had been lost or mislaid was admitted, but when the prosecution sought to establish the fact of there having been no permit given by the production of a list kept in the Kimberley resident magistrate’s office, and manifestly a most careless one, in which there was no mention of the name of the accused, his attorney very properly if not conclusively contended that this evidence was not sufficiently formal upon which to found a conviction for a technical fault involving extremely severe punishment. He argued moreover that if 295one magistrate’s list of permits was produced, those of all other magistrates should be put in evidence also; that the list in question might be imperfect, and as it was not in the custody of the buyer, entries might have been confused, altered or annulled without his knowledge; in short that the rough list of a single magistrate was not sufficient evidence on which so heavy a punishment ought to be inflicted on any member of the body politic. A subordinate official, however, swore “by all his gods” that it was “impossible for a permit to have been issued to the prisoner without an entry having been made in his record book,” and upon the strength of that evidence the accused was accordingly “cast into prison.” But observe the sequel. The ink was scarcely dry upon the warrant which tore the unhappy culprit from his wife and family and confined him amidst the vilest criminals, when lo! a whisper went abroad that his excellency himself had also been purchasing diamonds without any license and without any record of the necessary permit. What was the inference? Mindful of the positive manner in which the keeper of the records had gravely sworn to the impossibility of any permits having been issued without an entry in the proper book, the editor of the Independent newspaper, which had taken up a position of uncompromising hostility toward diamond thieves, published in the public interest certain queries respecting the anomalous and unpleasant predicament in which the administrator might be placed. There was no contention that he had been guilty of any malum in se or of purchasing other than for his own private use and pleasure, but merely of malum prohibitum. The Draconian severity of the law and the apparent impropriety of the previous conviction was strikingly shown forth. The article was very aptly headed: “Where is this to end?” and at the moment it was a question difficult to answer. The administrator, nevertheless, very promptly set about his reply, and took active steps against the bold editor who had dared to “come between the wind and his nobility.”

It was impossible to conjure up any entry in the record of permits, for the book had been too carefully and publicly examined by hostile critics for that; but hey! presto! in a very few hours after the newspaper article had appeared, a notice said to have been inspired by the government was publicly 296issued, in which it was triumphantly stated that the versatile major was after all in possession of a permit which could be inspected, etc., etc.

Upon reading this the cognoscenti winked knowingly at each other. After such an astonishing announcement it would only be thought reasonable that the administrator, upon finding so striking a confirmation of the force of the argument of the prisoner’s attorney that the record was not infallible, would have taken some immediate steps toward a reconsideration and possible mitigation of a sentence passed under a harsh law.

No such thing happened, however. On the contrary, elated with the successful experiment of “breaking a butterfly on the wheel” in the recent prosecution, he at once caused the outspoken editor to be arrested for a criminal libel upon “his excellency,” the accused being temporarily liberated upon the modest bail of £6,000! which was at once found.

A preliminary examination before the magistrate followed, and the editor was fully committed for trial. It would perhaps not be judicious to refer too specifically to the adverse opinions which were entertained by an independent public with regard to this case. Lawyers have or used to have a saying that “the greater the truth the greater the libel.” Suffice it to say that public comments were far from flattering to Major Lanyon and the members of his executive.

When the day of trial arrived excitement was raised to a very high pitch. The court was crowded to overflowing, and large numbers of the diggers were anxiously awaiting the result in the market square in front of the court-house. The administrator was located during the trial in a private room which adjoined the court, where a dejeuner à la fourchette and subsequent refreshments were plenteously dispensed to some chosen supporters of the existing state of things.

The judge wore his severest frown; the government officials hovered round the precincts of the court, and with bated breath awaited the verdict, which was to clear their chief’s character from the calumnious breath of an audacious critic.

But the imprisoned editor saw no reason for apprehension. Fortunately for him his case had to be decided not by a military dictator, nor yet by a single judge or magistrate, but by the 297sound common sense and fair play of a jury. Mr. Shippard,[62] the acting attorney general, went heart and soul into the prosecution.

In a labored and somewhat silly harangue he recounted with much unction the obsolete and barbarous customs of the old Roman emperors in dealing with those whom they deemed guilty of seditious libel. As he gathered courage during the delivery of his diatribe, he overcame the natural hesitancy of his speech and became even eloquent. It is true that the act which had been attributed to the major was one which, as it had been contended for the defence in a previous case, did not amount to a morally criminal charge, and should not be proved or provable by a mere loosely kept note-book, or punished by imprisonment without option of a fine; in fact not that the major was guilty, but that the other man was morally if not legally innocent; further, it was urged that the whole matter amounted at the most to a mere technical omission of a purely formal character, which might inadvertently be committed by any usually law-abiding citizen.

But the engineer did not like to “be hoist with his own petard,” and the attorney general, with “Gallio-like” unconcern for anything but his “Dryasdust” antiquities, snorted forth his anathemas against the offending editor. He introduced into his remarks a plentiful sprinkling of Roman archæology and referred with ludicrous solemnity to the old world restrictions upon the freedom of public criticism. He spoke with grave gusto of the good old times of the Emperor Zeno, when slanderous accusations against the “purple” were punishable with death. He must have forgotten that in Zeno’s time offices of state were openly bought and sold, and life and death had their price.

Did the honorable attorney general wish to apply the whole theory and practice of the old Roman criminal law to the affairs of our days of steam power, telegraphs and independent press? It is difficult to say how far some men will ride their hobbies.

After he had done with Zeno’s time, however, he was compelled to admit that capital punishment for the offense under consideration had been “mercifully commuted to a public 298flogging,” and seemed to imply that some punishment of that nature would not be inapplicable to the case of the editor who had spoken so severely of his patron. In this style he poured forth the vials of his wrath until the amazed crowd of listening diggers were agape with astonishment at the righteous (and loudly expressed) indignation of the prosecuting barrister. The audience might not unreasonably have expected that the next authority to be quoted by the excited counsel would be the customs and maxims of that “beauteous, implacable tyrant,” the lamented Nero.

An amusing incident occurred when the court rose for luncheon. The editor was of course a prisoner, the responsibility of his sureties while he was out on bail having ceased upon his appearing and pleading to the indictment, but the judge, who, it is only fair to state, treated him with marked courtesy throughout the trial, permitted him to leave the court en parole, as it were, for luncheon.

With the jury it was quite different. The acting attorney general did not want to let them mix with the outside crowd who had already expressed their opinion of the proceedings 299pretty plainly, and accordingly at his instigation, or at least with his concurrence, the hapless jurors were locked up sans ceremonie until after luncheon. Notwithstanding all the perverse ingenuity of the prosecuting counsel, he could not persuade the jury to convict the prisoner. After a short deliberation the jury returned a verdict of “not guilty” which was received with loud acclamations both inside and outside the court, the delighted diggers carrying off the liberated editor on their shoulders to celebrate the victory in the “flowing bowl,” while the major, accompanied by his sympathizers, made a hurried exit from the back of the court and went home a “sadder and a wiser man.”

The administrator, however, brought a civil action against the proprietors of the newspaper for libel, laying his damages at £10,000; but after considerable skirmishing an apology was accepted, and so ended a most disagreeable affair to all parties concerned. Many squibs and cartoons were published at the time, the one which drew the greatest attention being the accompanying (page 298), where Mr. Shippard and an editor well known in South Africa, formerly a member of the Cape house of assembly[63], Mr. R. W. Murray, are represented holding a skipping rope over which the major tumbles.

Note.—Sir Wm. Owen Lanyon, R. C. M. G., who had been suffering for some time from cancer in the throat, died at the Windsor Hotel, New York, on April 6th, 1887.



Before touching upon what I will term our local wars, that occurred during Major Lanyon’s term of office, I will very shortly refer to the fourth Kafir war in which the Cape Colony was engaged, and this I do because the contingent the Diamond Fields sent to assist in this campaign played a far from unimportant part.

This outbreak arose from a dispute between the Gealekas and their hereditary enemies, the Fingoes, the former looking with envy upon the tract of country across the Kei occupied by the latter, but which the former had at one time possessed. The war arose from an affray at a beer drinking bout in 301August 1877, the Gealekas attacking the Fingoes to revenge the murder of one of their friends, which had been committed in a scuffle at the feast which I have just mentioned. Directly after this, numerous incursions began to be made by the Gealekas into Fingoland, and old colonists could easily see that war was imminent, when in September Kreli could not be induced to meet Sir Bartle Frere, who at that time happened to be on the frontier.

Toward the latter end of the above-named year, the chiefs Kreli and Sandilli massed their followings in open rebellion against the government. Corps of volunteers were raised, and with the regiments of regulars in the Colony were marched against the savage hordes of the Kafir chiefs, under the control of General Thesiger, afterward Lord Chelmsford. The turn of the year came and no material change in the state of affairs had taken place. The Gaikas and the Gealekas were gradually creeping toward a fastness known as the Perie Bush. This bush is in reality a forest, in length some thirty miles and in width varying from two to seven, and terminating to the northwest in the Amatola mountains, an almost impassable range, contiguous to the old frontier town of Fort Beaufort. In consequence of the vast area to be covered by the troops, it was impossible to prevent the natives and their cattle in obtaining entrance into the bush.

Once there, they thought that they had an immunity from danger, for on the top of the range a vast plateau extends, where they might obtain luxuriant pasturage for their cattle and cool, refreshing springs of water for themselves. It almost appeared, as the first moon of 1878 rose upon that portion of the Colony, that the guerilla warfare would be interminable, and a cry for help was raised through the Colony, which reached the province of Griqualand West. One hundred and twenty of our young bloods volunteered for service five hundred miles away, and with that military ardor which characterizes all colonists, they slung their guns across their shoulders, sprang into the saddle, and were at once ready for the toilsome, dusty, wearisome journey by road to King William’s Town, for those were the days of no railways. Colonel Warren, now Sir Charles Warren, the chief commissioner of the metropolitan police, was their trusted leader. The force, though small, was 302plucky and inured to hardships, just the right stuff to fight the wily savage, whilst their commander was highly popular with his men. It was on Jan. 10th, 1878, that this compact band started from the Diamond Fields, and a fine sight it was when Colonel Lanyon, the administrator, made them a parting address at Du Toit’s Pan in the presence of at least 3,000, who had assembled to wish “our boys” “God speed.”

Marching some forty miles a day under a “sky of molten brass,” they arrived in King William’s Town on the 25th of the same month. At that time the chief Sandilli was on the move, so the Diamond Fields horse were stationed about fifty miles out of King William’s Town in conjunction with the hapless 24th, afterward annihilated at Isandhlwana during the now historical Zulu campaign. Patroling the country around was their main duty for some six weeks, during which time, although the commissariat department was fairly well attended to, much hardship was endured by reason of the daily rains and the inadequate tent provision supplied by the colonial government. Strange to say, little sickness was engendered, nor did the hardy fellows suffer subsequently from their exposure. The rebels having in the meantime congregated in the Perie Bush, an order was issued for the Diamond Fields horse to repair thither.

Just at this juncture the Pondoland difficulties were drawing to a crisis, and when the Hon. Mr. Lyttleton was deputed to go to Kokstadt, it was thought the little force under Colonel Warren would be ordered to escort him.

It turned out otherwise; the Diamond Fields horse was required for action, and all the men were delighted. They had not, they urged, come down country for escort duty, but to show their qualities as fighting men. At all events they had not long to wait, for after a short period of duty in the dense demesne of the Perie Bush a brush with the enemy took place. Such was the thick and jungle-like nature of the underwood, and such the natural advantages of the position which the enemy had chosen, that two officers of the corps, Captain Donovan and Lieutenant Ward, a gallant young fellow, well known in Kimberley, were shot by the savage horde, and there was no chance at that moment for their comrades to avenge their death. The little force bided its time. In a few 303days it was reported to Colonel Warren that a vast body of the enemy, advancing on foot, according to Kafir custom, in battalions, and headed by petty chiefs on horseback, were making for the Perie Bush. This was at an outlying station known as Debe Nek, midway between King William’s Town and Fort Beaufort, and in sight of the fastness wherein they believed their safety would be assured.

The Diamond Fields horse (increased at this time by colonial recruits) was detached, but yet there were fifty-seven men of the original corps who volunteered to go out to meet the enemy. The latter was estimated at 1,500, or in other words the odds were twenty-five to one against our men.

They came on, one huge phalanx, singing their war songs, and fired with an enthusiasm peculiar to the Kafir race. Taking in the situation at once Colonel Warren ordered his men to dismount and secure the protection of a wide sluit running to the left of the Fort Beaufort road. Telling off three or four to hold the horses, and holding fully a dozen himself, he ordered the men to commence firing, and many of the enemy fell, but, as the front row dropped, on came the vast mass behind.

As our brave fellows peppered away with the skill of sharp-shooters some seventy of the savage horde were laid low, and then dismay seized the remainder. From the advantageous position selected by Colonel Warren it was impossible for the enemy to know the strength of its opponents. Consternation, as I have said, seized the sable host, and like Sennacherib’s army they melted away even as snow, not, however, before several of the Diamond Fields horse got into hand-to-hand combat with them. Although the slaughter was great on the side of the rebels, yet of the little force under Colonel Warren only one man was wounded, who through his own neglect afterward succumbed. The news of this gallant defence filled the inhabitants of the Diamond Fields with exultation. Congratulations were telegraphed down to Colonel Warren and his men, while the friends of the brave band under him were highly delighted. The back of the rebellion had been virtually broken. The news spread, as news only can spread among Kafir tribes, and Colonel Warren was looked upon by the Kafirs as possessed of supernatural powers. 304It only required tact to complete the subjugation of the rebels, and the leader was not lacking in this quality. It had been known that the women folk of the Kafir tribes intrenched within the Perie Bush were habitually allowed free ingress and egress. This they made use of for the purpose of bringing supplies from King William’s Town.

Reporting this fact to the late Sir Bartle Frere, the then governor of the colony, Colonel Warren was advised to communicate with General Thesiger. That red-tape entangled officer, however, deigned no reply, and seeing the waste of public treasure involved by General Thesiger’s indifference, Colonel Warren decided to act, knowing full well, if successful, that he would have the full support of Sir Bartle Frere.

An opportunity of carrying out his plan quickly offered itself. Out of the Perie Bush, seeking supplies, and almost in a starving condition, came 600 women and children. Surrounded and made prisoners by the Diamond Fields horse they were fed and taken into King William’s Town and there handed over to the civil authorities, to be afterward sent to Capetown and apprenticed as domestic servants.

The husbands and fathers, rather than that those they held most dear should be separated from them, possibly for ever, appealed to the chiefs, some of whom perhaps were sufferers from Colonel Warren’s coup de main, and so ended the Gaika-Gealika rebellion.

This sudden termination to the war, however, I believe was also the termination in the friendship previously existing between General Thesiger and Colonel Warren.

About this time bad news was received from the northern border of Griqualand West. Bolasike Gasibone, it was reported, was committing acts of plunder and generally exhibiting a total disregard of the laws of meum and tuum, and in consequence Major Lanyon, the administrator of the province, left on January 21st, 1878, with 150 volunteers for Phokwane to punish him. The major was absent from Kimberley some twelve days, found that there had been no fighting, found no one with whom to fight, merely old women, children and cows; he collared the cows, and returned with the spoil to the diamond fields. Many laughed at the whole affair, but a more serious view was afterward presented for consideration when the 305Revs. Messrs. Bevan and Ashton, two well-known missionaries, appealed to the public for assistance for the poor natives, who, they stated, were starving. Major Lanyon to stay public indignation sent a so-called independent commission to report on the state of affairs, consisting of Mr. Lord, acting attorney general, a submissive admirer of every act of government, and Mr. Baillie, merely a subordinate in the survey department. The report framed was of almost interminable length, occupying fifteen pages in the government Gazette of March 16th, but before it was issued the public had openly expressed their anticipations respecting the document. The public was not, however, prepared for its “highfalutin” rhapsodies on the “duty of man,” nor for the strange citing of Holy Writ in its concluding sentence, in which natives, owners of the soil and living an independent pastoral life, were told, after all their cattle had been forcibly removed, “if any man will not work neither shall he eat.”

Two months later (April 13th, 1878), the administrator of the Transvaal solicited assistance against Sekukuni, and as preparations were being made to give him assistance news arrived of trouble on our southwestern border, which was confirmed by a dispatch on April 21st from Mr. H. B. Roper, the magistrate of Griqua Town. A call to arms was at once made and readily responded to. Major Lanyon again left Kimberley, in three days’ time, with 100 men for Koejas. As soon as he arrived at his destination he called upon the natives to put down their arms, which they refused to do, and as they occupied a position from which it was impossible to dislodge them without cannon, Major Maxwell was telegraphed to at King William’s Town to at once bring up some field-pieces. In the meantime volunteers were leaving Kimberley almost every day for the front to strengthen Major Lanyon.

During Major Lanyon’s encampment at Koejas the Griquas, who had up to that time remained quiet (the rebellion having broken out among a number of colonial Kafirs and Korannas living on the banks of the Orange River), rose en masse and besieged Griqua Town, which was surrounded by them for eight days. On the night of the eighth day Major Lanyon rode through them with twenty men undiscovered and joined some 100 volunteers who had managed, the same day, to get into 306Griqua Town from the Kimberley side. On the following day the rebels were completely routed at Driefontein in a decisive engagement which lasted twelve hours and driven into their fastnesses in the Langeberg. Major Maxwell, whose arrival was eagerly looked for, arrived at Koejas on May 25th with the cannon, just in the nick of time, as on the 31st 600 natives attacked the camp, when the guns which he had brought up materially assisted to secure the success of the day. During the time all these events had been occurring Colonel Warren and “our boys” had been burning to respond to the calls for assistance which had reached them from Griqualand West. They had heard how volunteers had been raised and had taken the field under the command of the administrator, and how the country on the southwestern border was in a state of tumult and insurrection. Springing to saddle the plucky band made forced marches, this time in the cold, pinching month of May. “The air bit shrewdly and ’twas bitter cold,” but with no covering save a blanket and the saddle for a pillow, they quickly reached the junction of the Vaal and Orange Rivers. Scarcely had the force (numbering then about 200 men) crossed the Vaal River than Colonel Warren scented the disaffected Griquas at Wittehuis, where they had “enschanged” themselves in a formidable position between the Kaap Range and the Vaal River. Here the rebels were attacked and routed, and after completing their defeat Colonel Warren and his men pushed on to Griqua Town.

Thence he and Major Lanyon proceeded to the Langeberg, where several engagements took place, in all of which the rebels were defeated. The most important of these skirmishes was that of Paarde-Kloop, at which an immense quantity of wagons, oxen, horses and sheep were captured. There is nothing which makes a native regret rebellion more than the loss of his worldly goods. Capture his stock and he is defeated.

After these engagements the administrator returned to Griqua Town, leaving Colonel Warren in command, and there received the sad intelligence of the skirmish at Manyeering, resulting in the death of Messrs. Paterson, Rawstorne and several other well-known persons. While proceeding as quickly as possible on his road to Kimberley, he was attacked 307by and succeeded in defeating a body of rebels at Campbell, some thirty miles from Kimberley, where he arrived in safety after being some two months absent from the seat of government.

Colonel Warren now made a detour, suspecting the enemy to be lodged in a mountain situated to the northeast, and distant from the Griqua Town road some twenty miles. Here he only found groups of chattering monkeys, instead of the Griquas he expected.

The rebels had fled!


After remaining a few days in Kimberley to settle some urgent matters connected with the government, Major Lanyon proceeded to Bechuanaland, where he was joined by Colonel Warren, and where after the battle of Taikoon and other smart engagements the rebellion was finally crushed.

I may here say that the rebellion among the natives who were once, it must be kept in mind, the owners of the soil, arose with the white man from difficulties mainly respecting land, and from the dissatisfaction generally felt by a large proportion of them with Colonel Warren’s previous decisions in this regard, which had driven them to utter despair; for it 308was not until entreaties and even tears had failed to have any effect that they resorted to rebellion. Colonel Warren was by nature hasty beyond description, autocratic to a degree, and bigoted in the extreme.

The manner in which the natives had been treated both by Stockenstrom in the land court and afterward by Warren was freely commented upon by colonial statesmen. Mr. R. Southey, formerly lieutenant governor of Griqualand West, gave utterance to the following significant words in the Cape house of assembly, when speaking on the subject: “So gross was the injustice sustained by these people in the land court that had I been a Griqua, I too would have rebelled.”

Mr. H. B. Roper, now chief of the detective department and police commissioner of Kimberley, then the resident magistrate of Hay, was accused in an official dispatch by Colonel Warren of having been the sole cause of this war through his magisterial judgments, and every endeavor was made by interested officials to throw the entire blame of the war upon him. This official’s record books were subjected to the private scrutiny of the attorney general by the magistrate who succeeded him, who by this means wished to curry favor with the powers that used to be, but, although his sentences were found to be decidedly severe, they showed no taint of what could be construed into injustice, and the sinister scheme with respect to him fell through.

When Colonel Warren became acting administrator of Griqualand West, he published in the government Gazette the names of a commission which was to sit at various places and inquire into the causes of the war, but it never sat once.

And why?

Because it was found to be indubitably certain that the answer to every question as to the cause of the rebellion would be “land.”

In the month of August, 1878, all the volunteers, including “our boys,” returned to Kimberley, the latter having been more than nine months in the field, when the proceeds of the prizes captured throughout the campaign were equally distributed among them.

The reception given to the volunteers by the Kimberley people and the inhabitants of the Diamond Fields generally 309was most cordial and enthusiastic, reviews, balls and dinners being the order of the day.

As a resumé of the events of the war, I may here state there had been during the campaign fully twenty engagements, attended with considerable slaughter in the rebel ranks, from whom vast herds of cattle and numberless wagons were captured, while on the side of the volunteers the average loss amounted to little more than one man per engagement.

The rebellion brought attendant miseries in its train. The prisoners, including old men, women and children, were removed to Kimberley as soon as captured, and miserable objects they were.

In piercing cold weather, it being the middle of winter, with scarcely a stitch of clothes to their backs, they were sent up in wagon-loads, and penned like so many sheep in a yard adjoining the jail. In all they numbered some 700. During their confinement, extending over some fifty days, at the rate of three a day more than one-fifth died, and the survivors were exposed to public gaze in order that the townspeople might select those whom they chose for domestic service. The ravages of syphilis among these Griquas were perfectly astounding, scarcely a man, woman or child being free from its secondary effects. These prisoners of war, virtually slaves, soon one by one made their escape to their homes, and the government very wisely, on peace being proclaimed, did not enforce the terms of their apprenticeship.

But notwithstanding the victory achieved by our arms, native disturbances were not altogether finished. Shadows of a disturbance among the Korannas at the Salt Pan, near Christiana, darkening the air, Colonel Warren thought it better to nip any rising among these people in the bud. In this case there was “much ado about nothing.” The émeute commenced through a difference of opinion between a Koranna and a Dutch farmer concerning a cow, in which a German missionary took the part of the native.

The affair was so much magnified that Colonel Warren went up to Christiana accompanied by volunteers in January 1879, and sent for Hermanus Lynx, the captain of the tribe, and the German missionary to come before him. After inquiring into the affair Colonel Warren deemed it sufficient to 310put the missionary on his parole d’honneur, which parole the German missionary incontinently broke.

It then was deemed necessary to take more decisive steps, and a body of men were next day sent to the Salt Pan to arrest the “reverend” violator of the first law of honor, which was done, and he was brought back to Christiana, not, however, without the loss of one of the volunteers, who was killed by the accidental discharge of a gun by a Koranna.

After this all became quiet and the volunteers returned to Kimberley. The whole of the affair was much exaggerated, two men could just as satisfactorily have arranged the dispute between the Koranna and the Dutchman as two hundred.

Hermanus Lynx, the unfortunate captain of the Korannas, was confined for months a prisoner in the Kimberley jail, and Major Maxwell, the inspector of prisons, was compelled to state, when as vice-president of the legislative council I called for the papers in the case, “I have no warrant for his detention nor papers of any kind.” In a written statement which Hermanus Lynx afterward made, he imploringly said: “I want to know what I have done to merit my having been kept in prison for the past eight months. I have not committed theft nor killed any person.... I am not afraid.” As I have before mentioned I brought this poor fellow’s case before the council by asking the simple question: “For what crime and under what warrant is Hermanus Lynx confined a prisoner in the Kimberley jail?”

The illegality, the cruelty, with which this unfortunate chief had been treated would not bear exposure, consequently before the day came round on which my question must have been answered by the government Hermanus Lynx was a free man. This act of simple justice came too late to repair the injury done him. The government on his liberation supplied him with a tent, wagon and rations, but within a week he died on the banks of the Vaal River, ruined and heart-broken, having covered only twenty-five miles of his homeward journey.

Since the events chronicled in this chapter there has been no further disturbance among the natives in the country districts of Griqualand, for the possibly very excellent reason that there are no independent natives left.

311About this time my colleague, Mr. George Bottomley, introduced an act into the legislative council amending the liquor laws of the province, which was much needed,[64] and I fathered a private bill authorizing the supply of Kimberley with water from the Vaal River; but with the exception of continued progressive diamond legislation (which has been elsewhere fully detailed) nothing further of particular moment came before the council that session.



When Colonel Lanyon was sent by the imperial government to the Transvaal, Colonel (now Sir Charles) Warren was appointed acting administrator in Feb. 1879. His short “acting” career was characterized by procedures, which, if not strictly illegal, yet exhibited a great amount of impulsive self-will, which many times carried him a little too far. This was especially marked in his treatment of Mr. Advocate Lord, Q. C., the attorney general, which created for that gentleman, at the time, an immense amount of sympathy; Sir Bartle Frere, after he had fully studied both sides of the question, absolutely canceling the order suspending Mr. Lord from office, which he had made at the suggestion of the acting administrator. Such actions, however, caused less surprise when it was reported that Colonel Warren was also suffering from the effects of an accident, met with I 313believe, in the Perie Bush; but of this the public was not long kept in suspense, as a climax was reached in October of the same year, when the acting administrator had suddenly to leave the province, in the care of the government surgeon.

Griqualand West was then blessed (or cursed) with another acting administrator in the person of Mr. Justice de Wet (now Sir Jacobus), who administered the government until the arrival of his successor, Mr. Rose Innes, C. M. G., who in reality came like an assignee’s agent to wind up an estate, or in other words to prepare the territory for annexation.

To return to the visit of Messrs. Sprigg and Upington. As these gentlemen occupied the positions of premier and attorney general of the Cape Colony respectively, great importance was attached to their visit, as the conjecture was generally entertained that they had come to “spy out the land.” At a public dinner given them, these gentlemen gave forth what the inhabitants of the diamond fields thought no uncertain sound.

Mr. Sprigg, in his speech on the occasion, said: “That in the year 1878 the annexation act was returned with her Majesty’s assent, and it was signified to the governor of the colony that he was at liberty to put that annexation in force. The governor asked my advice on the matter, and I informed the governor of the Cape Colony and the governor of the province, when he was present himself, that I could not at that time advise that the act should be put in force, because I felt extreme unwillingness to annex any province to the Cape Colony against the wishes of the inhabitants;” while Mr. Upington was even more decided in his remarks, saying that: “He had seen it stated that his honorable friend and himself had come to Griqualand West with a view of doing something which, in the minds of some people at least, would be an injury to this province. He wished to give an emphatic denial to this statement.... They would seek to deal with the people of this province on the broad grounds of reason.... If they had intended to do anything against the wishes of the people why should they not have done it by a stroke of the pen in April 1878, or at any time down to the 314present day?... They had come to see the people and their representatives, to endeavor to come to a conclusion as to what would be the best for South Africa generally.” These utterances attracted much attention, but yet it was considered advisable to hold a public meeting and send a deputation to wait on Messrs. Sprigg and Upington. A meeting of 1,000 citizens was held in the Theatre Royal on Oct. 6th, 1879, when ten gentlemen, including the members of council, were chosen to form a deputation to wait on the above-named Cape ministers, but, as one of these, I came away as wise, after the interview, as before.

The inhabitants of Kimberley were, however, lulled into a sense of false security, in which they remained until Sir Bartle Frere electrified them by an unmistakable statement respecting annexation in his speech at the opening of the Cape assembly in 1880. In this speech he said: “In redemption of the undertaking given by the colonial legislature and confirmed by the colonial governor, we relieve her Majesty’s government of the responsibility of the administration of the affairs of Griqualand West. The bill passed for that purpose in 1879 will shortly be proclaimed, care being taken that the people of that important province shall not be left without legislation, at a time when a legislature in which they are not at present represented is actually in session.” What could be done? Remonstrances, petitions, public meetings, all had been tried and found to be of no avail. The elective members of the legislative council then made a move, and as a body supported a motion which I brought forward in June 1880, seconded by the member for Barkly, Mr. Paddon, to the effect “that in the opinion of this council the annexation by proclamation or otherwise of the province of Griqualand West to the Cape Colony would be detrimental to the best interests of the province, and opposed to the wishes of the inhabitants.” In a long and exhaustive speech I went through all the reasons against annexation, speeches to the same effect being made by the other elective members, when the attorney general, who no doubt had infinitely more respect at this time for the magnates of the Cape Colony than he had in 1884, when by bitter experience he found that it was vain to trust in “premiers,” proposed an amendment: “That in the absence 315of any public expression of opinion on the subject it is premature and unreasonable to ask this council to commit itself to the terms of the resolution, which is based upon the assumption that such opinion has been expressed,” and this was seconded by the treasurer general. On my calling for a division the president put the amendment—the president, the recorder, the attorney general, the treasurer general, in a word all the members of the government, voting for the amendment, and the elective members against, when the president, as a nominee of the Cape ministry, sent for a special object, exercised his right and gave the casting vote, which, of course, was in favor of the amendment, and against my motion—being “in keeping,” he said, “with the speech I considered it my duty to make.”

A fortnight after this a large meeting was held in the Theatre Royal, at which a resolution was passed approving of the action of the elective members, and thanking them for opposing the measure.

The position, however, was soon realized by many: That nolentes aut volentes we were to be cast off by the imperial government and absorbed into the unsympathetic Cape Colony; and perceiving that further opposition was useless, the inhabitants quietly accepted the inevitable, with the exception of a few stubborn spirits, myself among the number. Sept. 30th, 1880, the day on which was to be sounded the death-note of the autonomy of the province, at last arrived. The council met at the usual hour in the afternoon, but it could at once be seen that some unusual occurrence was expected. The acting administrator of the territory and president of the council, Mr. Rose Innes, C. M. G., sat at the head of the table, looking very solemn, while vis-à-vis at the foot I sat, supported by the members for Barkly and Hay. No member, either elective or non-elective, was absent. There was no vacant seat that day. The hall was crowded, many ladies coming to see the closing act of the drama which had for the last six years been produced under different managers in the small theatre of Griqualand West.

After prayers, the usual formal questions having been asked, I at once rose and read the accompanying protest against annexation:

316“We, the undersigned, elective members for the Province of Griqualand West, having ascertained that it is in contemplation to enforce at an early date an act, No. 39, of 1877, entitled “To make Provision for the Annexation in this Colony, of the Province of Griqualand West,” hereby desire our protest against the same to be recorded on the minutes of this council previous to its dissolution, for the following reasons:

“1st. Because it was understood at the time the act was under discussion in the Cape parliament that it would be submitted to the legislative council of this province before any attempt would be made to promulgate it; Whereas this has not been done, neither have the wishes of the inhabitants of Griqualand West in any way been regarded—whether in respect to the expediency of annexation or the conditions upon which it should take place.

“2d. Because the measure of representation accorded under the act to the electoral divisions of the province is, we submit, in no way commensurate with its wealth, and with the intelligence and enterprise of its inhabitants, and judging from the past we have little hope in this respect of reasonable treatment in future at the hands of a Cape parliament.

“3d. Because the circumstances of this province differing entirely from those of the Cape Colony, demand the presence of a local government, with authority to deal at once with mining and other questions requiring immediate attention; consequently we anticipate that great injury will be done this province by the seat of government being removed so many hundred miles away.

“4th. Because the inhabitants of this province object to being mixed up in the party contentions of the Cape Colony, where the scramble for place and power seems to override all other considerations and to retard that progress which would otherwise ensue.

“5th. Because Her Majesty’s subjects in Griqualand West have in no way forfeited their right to be consulted as to the disposition of this province or the alteration of their political status; but, on the contrary, have shown their fitness for self-government by defending their country and even in assisting neighboring provinces during the late general war with the native tribes.

“6th. Because, although the people of this province are undoubtedly loyal to the Queen’s government, yet they do most strongly object to the action of the imperial authorities in thus handing them over to a government and a colony with which they have so little in common; and we, in our own name and in the names of our constituents, hereby hold both the imperial and colonial governments responsible for all untoward events and results which may follow on annexation.

“Therefore, for these above stated and other weighty reasons, we hereby request that this, our protest against the annexation of this province to the Cape Colony, may be recorded on the minutes of this council, and that a copy of the same may be forthwith forwarded to the colonial government and the secretary of state for the colonies.


J. W. Matthews, V. P.
G. Bottomley.
I. Paddon.
H. Green.

317Then, as vice-president, I spoke against the measure and said, as reported in the local journals:

“In asking that this protest may be recorded on the minutes of the council, I may say I do so with a heavy heart, and that I find it difficult to restrain my feelings. It would seem that in the arrangements of this annexation all consideration for the welfare of this province has been overlooked. It was not so when Sir Henry Barkly was governor; he deprecated in the most emphatic manner possible the idea of governing this province from Capetown. Again, when Messrs. Sprigg and Upington were here recently, they saw, as Sir Henry Barkly had seen, the absurdity of such an idea, and in everything they said, both in private and public, they repudiated the suggestion of annexing this province to the Cape Colony. Mr. Upington was especially emphatic in his condemnation of such a policy. Is it not then a great outrage that in spite of all these protestations on the part of the Cape government we should be taken over without being consulted? It may be remembered that a public meeting which was called here to express sympathy with Sir Bartle Frere in connection with Zululand matters was very thinly attended, the people here showing by this their opinion of Sir B. Frere’s treatment of this province, and what they thought of the manner in which the petitions against annexation, emanating not only from the monied classes but also from the bone and sinew of the place, had been pigeon-holed and suppressed. There is no more right, there is no more reason, for us to be annexed to the Cape Colony to-day than there would be for Natal to be annexed to-morrow, which colony is simply nowhere in wealth and public enterprise as compared with this. [Loud applause.] We differ from Natal in many respects. I may remind you of one: when we were in danger, we defended ourselves with our own troops, and did not cry out for imperial assistance, we actually sent volunteers away to help the Cape Colony in its difficulties with Kreli and Sandilli, and are even now being called upon to assist in quelling a rebellion in Basutoland, the result of the latest blunder of the Cape ministry. [Hear, hear.]

“Some think that annexation will bring relief from the grievances under which we labor, but when they have to pay a tax on diamonds, have no administrator at hand to personally inspect and redress their complaints [hear, hear], what then?

“We may get a railway, but that is no certainty; we may get the advantage of a three-judge court, but these benefits are nothing in comparison to what we shall lose, when we lose our independence. For my part, I feel like a man who is unjustly charged with the commission of a crime. I feel like a man who has been wrongly convicted, but the jury have given their verdict and it remains with you, sir, as judge to-day to pass the sentence. As the mouthpiece of the law you must do its behests, but I protest against the passing of a sentence of capital punishment. [Loud applause.]

“So far as the elected members of this council are concerned they have 318done their duty to their constituents, they have resisted and protested to the best of their ability against annexation to the Cape Colony. I hope, however, sir, we shall soon recover our liberty under a wide scheme of confederation. I bow now to the inevitable. [Continued applause.]”

Messrs. Bottomley and Paddon, the junior member for Kimberley, and the member for Barkly, then also supported the protest which I had read, in short speeches, when Mr. Rose Innes, as if tired of the play, spoke the “tag” declaring the council dissolved, and the curtain dropped.

Thus was carried into effect the bill which three years before had passed the Cape assembly (No. 39, 1877), and which had nearly lapsed through effluxion of time. It was forced on with most unseemly haste at the finish, the provision in the 32d clause that the bill was to take effect when “all matters and things necessary to be done and to happen in order to enable the said annexation to be completed and perfected, have been done and happened,” being entirely ignored, the boundary line of the province, the most important “matter and thing” of all, not having been definitely settled.

Although we were taken over with all our liabilities and engagements, I am sorry to say repudiation has been, more or less, the favorite policy of the Cape government, so far as the “milch cow” of the colony is concerned.[65]

Mr. Rose Innes, C. M. G., having finished his work, left for Capetown, and Mr. P. A. Villiers, the acting colonial secretary, with all the public documents, title deeds and archives of the province soon followed in his wake, when instead of being a crown colony, with our own governor, and in direct communion with the imperial government, we found ourselves a portion of the colony of the Cape of Good Hope, and at the bidding of its responsible advisers!

Griqualand West was annexed to the Cape Colony in October 1880.

It was not until March 15th of the next year that an election took place for the return of two members to represent Kimberley in the Cape parliament. There were three candidates for the two seats. Mr. J. B. Robinson, Mr. George Bottomley, my former colleague, and myself. The excitement 319was most intense. The unlimited expenditure of money by the one, and the pertinacious sectarian adherents of the other, proved a formidable opposition, but the all-round support given the “red, white and blue” enabled me a second time to become the senior member for Kimberley. This election took place when the share mania was at its height, when money was very plentiful, and no ordinance being in existence forbidding brass bands, carriages, flags, rosettes, champagne and other little luxuries indulged in at such a time, the extravagant expenditure bore favorable (?) contrast with an English election in the “good old days.” As may well be imagined in a rich digging community some sharp practice occurred, but this was nothing in comparison with that which took place when the seat, which I afterward vacated, was filled up, for then the grave gave up her dead, the Capetown breakwater its convicts, and the natives “polled early and often” for the successful candidate!

The assembly was in session when Mr. J. B. Robinson and myself arrived in Capetown.



The first time I took my seat in the Cape house of assembly on April 5th, 1881, I listened to a debate on a motion introduced by the leader of the Dutch party, which confirmed me in the intention that I had previously formed of paying Natal a visit at the end of the session.

This debate was the first, I remember, which touched the question of Dutch feeling versus English, and was in reality the expression of a sense of gratitude by the Dutch party in the colony to the Gladstone ministry, for entering into negotiations with their brethren in the Transvaal after the defeat at Majuba, rather than allowing irritation at that defeat to prolong the war.

The debate led to the house agreeing to an amendment proposed by one of the members for Capetown, to the effect: “That this house desires to express its satisfaction at the cessation of hostilities in the Transvaal, and its earnest hope 321that all differences may be satisfactorily adjusted and a permanent peace established.”

Whilst listening to the various speakers, I became more than ever anxious to visit the scenes of the war just closed, and study on the spot the battlefields where in one campaign we had suffered three complete and disastrous defeats.

Before describing my visit to Natal, I must not forget to state that during the first session I sat in the Cape house of assembly the time was chiefly occupied by Basutoland affairs, and in discussing a vote of censure on the government with respect to the war in that country.

Being the senior member for Kimberley, and as it was not known to which side its members leaned, my speech on this subject excited considerable attention. It was generally expected that if the government were in the majority it would depend upon the votes of these members, and this conjecture proved correct, the result of the division being thirty-seven votes for the government and thirty-four against. The Sprigg ministry found, however, in a few days, that they could not carry on the government of the country, and resigned on May 9th. No business of any importance was transacted during this session after the resignation of the ministry, Mr. J. B. Robinson, my colleague, and I merely looking after the local interests of Griqualand West.

But to resume. Ten years had flown over since I had left Natal, and many striking events had occurred during that period. Langalibalele’s outbreak, his noble and successful defence by Bishop Colenso, Sir Benjamin Pine’s recall, Sir Garnet Wolseley’s five months’ politic interval, in which he “drowned the independence of the colony in sherry and champagne,” the Zulu war, and the dethronement of Cetywayo.

I was anxious as well to see what progress the colony had made in this interval, and once again have the pleasure of meeting the many old friends whom I possessed there. Consequently, when my parliamentary duties were over, I left Capetown in the S.S. Dunkeld on the 18th of June, and landed in Natal on the 23d. We arrived off the bluff in the middle of the night, and early dawn found me feasting my eyes once more on the glorious view of this land-locked bay, which recalled to memory many a pleasant scene of the past.

322Gliding gently over the dreaded bar, and landing at daybreak, I made my way to the Royal Hotel, and after breakfast sallied forth to see what changes a decade had wrought. At every step I was agreeably surprised at the improvements which I saw. Streets, which ten years before were knee-deep in sand, I now found hardened, the town council having spent £40,000 merely in re-forming a few miles of the Musgrave Road leading to the Berea; trams hourly running, where in my time horses could barely walk. New buildings and fresh stores, a magnificent theatre, and a new town hall showing the progress of the place. All, however, were not satisfied. One old colonist I met frankly said, “Don’t be deceived, Doctor, there is no reality in what you see, all imperial money, another Zulu war would suit us just now.” I could not help thinking whether the signs I saw were the evidence of real progress or mere ephemeral prosperity, and I asked myself the question, “Has sugar, has coffee, has the Overberg trade done all this?” I knew that two recent and eminent visitors had taken a harsh view of Natal and Natalians, having formed but hurried opinions of the situation.

Froude and Archibald Forbes no doubt thought themselves competent to judge, but the one was just as far wrong, and acted as unfairly to the body of Natal colonists, when he said: “Many of these are no better than the mean whites in the Southern States of the Union,” as the other when he wrote that the leading attributes of Natal colonists are “untruthfulness, insobriety and swagger.” With due deference to Mr. Froude, I distinctly say from years of observation, there is no section in Natal low enough to be compared with the mean white of the Southern States, whom even the darkies themselves despise.

The mistake which both Froude and Forbes made was one which a well-known writer has described as the great error of the nineteenth century, viz, hasty generalization.

Resting a night I took train to Verulam, Victoria County, my old seat of practice. This line of rail was all new to me, having been laid since I left, though it ran through sugar and coffee plantations which I knew well. On arriving at Verulam I procured a horse and rode off to visit the various estates in the neighborhood: Redcliffe, the Grange, Ottawa, 323Hammonds, Waterloo, Trenance, Southburn, Sunderland, and others whose names have escaped my recollection, and their hospitable owners I saw again. Many of the estates, however, I found had been taken up by Mauritians, and the vacuum pan sugar boilers, as well as the field overseers, had mostly come from that island, in fact old residents told me that in the trains running to and from D’Urban there was now almost continually a complete babel of French, English, Hindustani and Kafir. I must say that I was disappointed with the general appearance of the coast. Coffee enterprise seemed dying out fast, no planting going on, the trees suffering from an insect, the “borer,” and from the leaf disease (Hemiteia Vastratrix), which has played such havoc in Ceylon. The extent of land under sugar had increased, but drought, low prices, and the competition of beet-root were making the planters look serious.

Another phase of affairs which struck me as assuming unmanageable proportions was the keen competition of the cheap-living Asiatic, who in the cultivation of small holdings could almost beat the European out of the field. When I saw these men, these crofters, themselves working their patches of ground, I was at once let into the secret of their success.

White men in Natal, as a rule, think manual labor in the fields derogatory. The only exception to this of which I ever knew was a settlement of Germans near D’Urban. From the feeling generally abroad I can easily understand the unpalatableness of Froude’s remarks when he wrote: “Here and there a farmer makes a fortune, but generally the whites will not work because they expect the blacks to work for them. The blacks will not work because they prefer to be idle, and so no one works at all.” After all there is a considerable stratum of truth running through this statement.

To return to the coolie question, Indians seem very loath to leave Natal. I find in the last Natal Blue Book that out of 33,343, comprising men of all castes landed from India since immigration began in 1860, only 2,141 have returned, the total number of Indians in the colony in 1884 being 27,276, of whom 17,241 were males and 10,035 females.

Gen. Sir J. J. Bissett, in an address to the electors of Alfred and Alexandra counties in June, 1884, recognizing the 324importance of this point, said: “With regard to coolies, I consider that they are introduced for a specific purpose, they should at the expiration of their term of indenture be required to return to India, subject to a maximum extension of term (say) to fifteen years in all. I consider that any benefit derived from them by a section of the community is very greatly counterbalanced by the injury their presence causes the colony, both directly and indirectly. I am also opposed to coolies holding land in this colony.”

In my opinion Sir J. J. Bissett’s views display a lamentable ignorance of the first principles of political economy, and are suitable to a timid mercantile community only, afraid of the further cheapening of articles of consumption. A great proportion of the Indians, both in the West Indies and in Natal, as soon as they have served their time and are free from their indentures, become in every sense thorough colonists; they buy property, invest their savings, “marry and are given in marriage,” and show no desire, as statistics prove, to return to India—differing entirely from the Chinese, whose sole object is to return home as soon as possible with every sixpence they can drain out of the country in which they have been living. To my mind the turning away of thrifty bread winners from a country sparsely populated by an infinitesimal working class of whites is the height of absurdity. There is not even the excuse on the ground of morality which the Americans have against the Chinese in California. Moreover, how would Sir J. J. Bissett treat the question of the increase in their population? Would the children born in Natal be allowed to remain there or not? Would he have the Indians under British rule treated in the same manner as the Dutch have since treated them in the Transvaal State, where, certainly without the “liberty, equality and fraternity” popularly supposed to pertain to republican ideas, they passed a law through the Volksraad, which was promulgated on June 10th, 1885, disqualifying “Coolies, Arabs, Malays and other Asiatics” from obtaining the right of citizenship, or from possessing landed property, and compelling them further, under penalty, not only to register themselves, and pay £25 for so doing, but also giving the government power to place 325them in locations;[66] or would he have them treated as they are in the other Dutch republic (the Free State), where it is contrary to law to let fixed property to Arabs, and where they cannot even procure a license to trade.

No! Thank God such outrages cannot be committed under the British flag! In Natal less false pride, greater economy and industry are all the requisites necessary to produce a competition vigorous enough to stem the tide of Asiatic intrusion. There is one fact, however, which Natal colonists have seriously to face which is that to every white man there are at least thirteen Kafirs and one Indian.

The great point to my mind is for the European element to retain the voting power within fixed limits.

After my visit to Victoria County I returned to D’Urban and took train to the capital, Pietermaritzburg. The railway again was all new to me. No pleasant rest at host Padley’s now, no exciting drive round the Inchanga, no gallop over Camperdown Flats! Simply a six hours’ monotonous railway trip.

The first sight I caught and the first hand I grasped on my arrival was that of good Bishop Colenso, who met me at the station. Ten years had passed since last we met, but how delighted was I to see the same penetrating eye, the same majestic figure, the same elastic step, and to hear the same cheery voice as in years gone by. I had a long talk with him and his talented and philanthropic daughter over the events which had occurred during the years that I had been absent from Natal. Church matters and matters of state kept us engaged until evening approached, when the bishop started for Bishopstowe, leaving me to spend the night with my friends in Pietermaritzburg. Bishop Colenso was indeed one of those few men “who never swam with the stream, who bravely strove to stem the current, and regardless alike of popular and aristocratic favor pleaded with his latest breath for what he thought to be right and just.”

326Little did I think when he shook me by the hand on getting into his carriage that I should never see him again. It is a benign provision for us mortals that the future is wrapped in obscurity!

I left Pietermaritzburg the next day, June 30th, at 11 A. M., passed Howick and the magnificent falls of the Umgeni, and reached the Plough hotel, Estcourt, where I had a short rest. Leaving there at 2:30 in the morning I arrived at Ladysmith at noon, where we changed horses. The feeling against the “ignoble peace,” as it was called, I found increasing the nearer I approached the seat of the late war. In the hotel where the mail cart changed horses the landlord had just posted up the following notice:

Sacred to the memory of
The beloved wife of John Bull,
She died in the Transvaal and
Was buried at Candahar, March 1881.
Her end was peace.

and it was curious to see the soldiers and civilians crowding round the placard and to listen to their very candid if not complimentary remarks on the Gladstonian ministry.

Right opposite the hotel where we stopped was to be seen the large loop-holed laager, I should say, roughly speaking, about 300 yards square, which had been built by the villagers during the late scare. As we drove out of the village to Newcastle I saw how “in this weak, piping time of peace” the pomps of war could be utilized, for our parting recollection of Ladysmith was the sight of a large crowd of the youth and fashion of the neighborhood parading round a military band belonging to the troops stationed there, which was discoursing proud martial strains, a sorry satire on the situation!

In the afternoon, toiling up the Biggarsberg, we came upon a batch of Zulus, fine, strapping, jovial fellows, forming a large road party. At the moment what should appear in sight but two ambulance wagons full of our wounded men, just sufficiently recovered to be removed to one of the bare hospitals.



329This sight was enough of itself to make all the Zulus stop work and “wau” with curiosity. Seeing some wounded men accompanying the ambulances one Zulu bursting with fun and grinning from ear to ear, shouted out, “Sakubona,” (“I see you,” a form of greeting) “Johnny! upi lo Dutchman?” (“Where is the Dutchman?”) of course a regular peal of laughter at once followed this sally of native wit. I can assure my readers, that as an Englishman I sincerely felt for our wounded soldiers thus tauntingly jeered at, and I was able to estimate the tremendous shock that our prestige had received among the aborigines. The Zulus recognized the situation at once, the only thing our poor fellows could do was to grind their teeth and curse their fate as they wearily trudged along, victims of vanity[67] and misjudgment, the defeated of Laing’s Nek, Ingogo and Majuba!

There is no doubt that the retrocession of the Transvaal was a violation of a series of guarantees which had been previously given. Not only Mr. Gladstone and Lord Kimberley, but also Sir Garnet Wolseley, Sir Bartle Frere, Sir Theo. Shepstone and Sir Owen Lanyon had over and over again declared that the Transvaal would remain English territory, and that under no circumstances could the annexation be reversed. These emphatic utterances were made long before the outbreak of hostilities, and consequently the withdrawal of English rule after the Dutch had gained four signal victories within nine weeks, could be interpreted only by both Dutch and natives as an act, not of principle and equity, but of weakness and defeat. My friend, Mr. C. K. White, one of the nominees appointed by Sir Garnet Wolseley to the legislative council, which he gave as a sop to the Transvaal Boers, in a letter at the time appealed to Mr. Gladstone in the following touching words: “If, sir, you had seen, as I have seen, promising young citizens of Pretoria dying of wounds received for their country, and if you had had the painful duty, as I have had, of bringing to their friends at home the last mementoes of the departed; if you had seen the privations and discomforts which delicate women and children bore without murmuring for upward of three months; if you had seen strong men crying like children at the cruel and undeserved desertion of England; if you had seen the long strings of half desperate 330loyalists, shaking the dust off their feet as they left the country, which I saw on my way to Newcastle; and if you yourself had invested your all on the strength of the word of England, and now saw yourself in a fair way of being beggared by the acts of the country in which you trusted, you would, sir, I think, be ‘pronounced,’ and England would ring with eloquent entreaties and threats which would compel a hearing.”

Mr. Gladstone, however, changed his previously declared convictions. On January 21st, 1880, he stated in the House of Commons: “I must look to the obligations entailed by the annexation, and if in my opinion, and in the opinion of many on this side of the house, wrong was done by the annexation itself, that would not warrant us in doing fresh, distinct and separate wrong by a disregard of the obligations which that annexation entailed;” or again on June 8th, 1880, when in answer to Messrs Kruger and Joubert who had written to him, asking him to rescind the annexation of the Transvaal, he said “our judgment is that the Queen cannot be advised to relinquish her sovereignty over the Transvaal.” Yet little more than a year saw this “pronounced” opinion totally changed, and all confidence in Mr. Gladstone and his ministry almost annihilated throughout the length and breadth of South Africa.

Proceeding on my journey I crossed the Ingagane, passed the forts in course of erection by our soldiers close to the river, the heliograph twinkling in the sun, and after a long, tiring journey arrived at Newcastle in the afternoon.

Newcastle lies on a large grassy plain and in the centre of a district containing no less than 1,350 square miles of workable coal[68] close to the surface; and in the near future destined to keep up the credit of its name when the mines have been properly opened up, it will be noted for this production, and then no doubt a railway to the coast being by that time un fait accompli will supply the traffic of the eastern seas.[69] Newcastle was in the zenith of its commercial prosperity during the late war, and even when I visited it its glory had not quite departed.

331Wishing to proceed and see Majuba without loss of time, I found this would be an impossibility, at least for some days, had not Mr. Greenlees, an old resident, kindly given me his assistance and offered to drive me there himself the next day.

As a pleasurable interlude, especially in a place like Newcastle, a grand concert was advertised, which took place on the evening of my arrival, and the band of the 97th put forward as a special inducement. I went and saw a sight that I shall not soon forget. The “gods” were very uproarious and demonstrative, and not at all reticent in expressing their opinion. One singer, well known as a notorious bouncer about the power of England and the valor of her troops, on coming on was most cynically received. To me it was a mystery, but this was explained when he commenced to sing:

“In days of old, when knights were bold,
And barons held their sway;
A warrior bold, with spurs of gold,
Sang merrily his lay,”

for a terrific burst of pent-up anger seemed to thrill the “gods.” “Loop,” “Verdomde Englishman,” “Go and fight the Boers,” “Why did you run?” were the cries all round the hall, until the poor fellow slid away amidst the jeers and laughter of the audience.

Starting early in the morning, we were lucky enough to have as a companion a young colonial volunteer named Maclean, a relative of a former governor of Natal, who was one of the brave men who, after the day’s slaughter, stayed all night with the wounded on the battle field of Ingogo. Crossing the Incandu, our road lay past Fort Amiel, built during the Zulu war, and a twelve miles’ journey, ending in a precipitous rise, landed us on the plateau where the battle of Schuin’s Hooghte was fought. Then crossing the drift of the Ingogo, we breakfasted at Virmstone’s roadside inn on the bank of the river.

Just as we were once more inspanning to continue our journey, up rode Lady Florence Dixie and Sir Beaumont on their way to Newcastle. I was naturally pleased to have the opportunity of seeing a lady whose chivalrous defence of Cetywayo afterward had so much to do with his restoration, and with whose opinions on the late Zulu war and the 332treatment of the dethroned king I was so much in harmony. I may here mention that a few months later I had the pleasure of making Lady Florence Dixie’s personal acquaintance, when she and Sir Beaumont were passing through Kimberley.

But we had sixteen miles further to travel to Majuba, so on we went, leaving Mount Prospect and its cemetery on our right. We reached the foot of the mountain about 2 P. M. The views of Majuba from the road as we approached were simply grand, and it was hard to picture war and its horrors invading such a lovely spot!

I was again fortunate; at the regimental canteen at the bottom I met a corporal, who had been in all the three engagements, and persuaded him to guide us to the top, which he did, whiling away the tediousness of our mountain climb by relating his experience of the dreadful Sunday (never to be blotted out of South African history), and by recounting events of which he stated that he was an eye-witness, and which, whether his account was strictly correct or not, I prefer to leave unrecorded.

Greenlees, Maclean, myself and our guide all went up the same path, being the via dolorosa the English soldiers under Colley took on the ill-fated night of Feb. 26th, 1881, and not toiling, laden with ammunition and accoutrements, as they did, from 9:30 P. M. to near daybreak, but making the four miles’ circuitous ascent in three hours.[70] The top is just like a large soup plate, sinking down all round from the sides and flat at the bottom (about 420 yards long by 300 wide), so that no troops resting in the centre could see an enemy advancing up the sides of the mountain. Our guide told us the first intimation he got of the attack of the Dutch was from the consternation which seized every one, when the Boers, who had gained the summit from the Transvaal side, suddenly poured into them their first deadly general volley, although like other eye-witnesses he said there had been considerable desultory firing since daybreak.

This volley at once created such a panic that a regular stampede commenced, which the officers tried in vain to stop. It was sauve qui peut.

I had pointed out to me the perpendicular rocks, some as 333much as forty feet in height, where many of our men killed themselves jumping headlong down them in their mad retreat, bleeding, tumbling, dying one on the other.

There can be no excuse for the disaster of the day. The Boers themselves were astonished at their own success. Some apologists, I remember at the time, said our men were fatigued with the ascent, but yet they got to the top at 3 A. M., long before daybreak, and it was past mid-day when the Dutch fired the fatal volley which decided the issue of the day. Surely this gave hours enough for our soldiers to rest. Then who, I may ask, was responsible for the equipment of the expedition? Where were the Gatling guns and the rockets, which could have rained death and destruction on the Boer camp below? Why was no diversion made by us from our own camp at Mount Prospect? Who superintended the digging of the intrenchments(?) on Majuba? These and other questions will never now be answered. Again, about sixty Boers only gained the summit at first, therefore it could not be said our forces (554 rifles) were outnumbered.[71]

The very graves themselves bear silent witness to our blind retreat, for out of ninety-two killed that day only fifty-nine are buried on the top of the Majuba. The others, shot like game by the Boers in the wild run for life down the mountain sides, and who killed themselves in their panic-stricken flight, were buried below at the cemetery of Mount Prospect.

We remained at the top, enjoying a splendid bird’s-eye view of the Transvaal, the site of the Boer laager during the war, the battlefield of Laing’s Nek,[72] our own camp, etc., until the moon rose, when starting on our downward journey we reached the bottom at nine o’clock, and in half an hour were partaking of the hospitalities of Mrs. Greville’s hotel, where 334we discussed the merits of that eventful day, and the question of Dutch strategy versus English mismanagement far into the night.

Next day, before sunrise, I started for Mount Prospect, leaving my companions sleeping, overcome with the previous day’s exertions. A walk of three miles brought me to the cemetery, thirty yards long by twenty-six broad, which was surrounded by a double inclosure, the first built of sod, the second of stone.

The sunrise was magnificent, the air keenly crisp and clear, and the scenery, with Majuba filling up the background, I have never seen surpassed, but a more melancholy sight or one recalling sadder events to memory could not be seen the wide world over. Here in this little graveyard, all dead in vain, I saw quietly resting all that “outrageous” fortune had left of disappointed ambition, ruined hopes, and dreams of a glorious future! Far in the corner were the plain marble crosses erected to Sir Pomeroy Colley and Colonel Deane. Sir Pomeroy’s simply chronicled his death and burial, with the beautiful lines from “In Memoriam:”

“O for thy voice to soothe and bless—
What hope of answer or redress?
Behind the veil, behind the veil.”

while Colonel Deane’s spoke the truth of a valiant soldier “who fell in action at Laing’s Nek, at the head of a storming party, ten yards in front of the foremost man.” Alongside these were two little wooden crosses, pointing out the graves of Doctors Landon and Cornish. On Surgeon Major Cornish’s grave there was a beautiful wreath, with the touching words:

“Now the laborer’s task is o’er,
Now the battle’s day is passed;
Lands the voyager at last,
Safe upon that further shore.”

In fact the whole cemetery was like a garden of flowers, the graves covered with beautiful wreaths of immortelles, tributes from all parts.

I may here mention that I had the pleasure in August, 1886, just five years after making this visit and five years after the peace was signed, of being introduced at Barberton-the 335principal town on the Kaap gold fields, and elsewhere described—to Commandant General Piet Joubert and General Smit, who were the Boer commanders at Majuba. I had long been anxious to hear a viva voce statement of the Boer side of the question from some of the chief actors, and I eagerly seized the opportunity of “interviewing” the generals. On waiting on them according to appointment I was very courteously received. General Joubert I found to be a man who had seen some sixty summers, of middle height, with a tendency to corpulency, a greyish beard, sharp, dark eyes and a pleasing expression of countenance, though it was easy to see from his firm set mouth that he was a man possessed of great determination of character. There was no mistaking his nationality as his features were in the main those of the typical Boer. General Smit was taller, his features more regularly cut and of sterner cast, and with hair almost grey he looked just the determined man to lead a forlorn hope. General Joubert at once began the conversation by telling me that for some time he had considered it dangerous to allow the English forces the chance of obtaining the key to the position, which the occupation of Majuba certainly afforded, and acting on this idea he had determined to occupy the mountain, “but” he said, “before taking this step I was determined with the other commandants to make a thorough examination of the locality.” “All came to the opinion” continued General Joubert, “that the occupation of the mountain by the English was impossible, but I thought otherwise, and after this sent up a picket of fifty men each night. This was commenced on the Thursday night (Feb. 24th) preceding the eventful Sunday on which Majuba was fought, but by a remarkable act of Providence, the picket which was told off for duty on Saturday night, being composed of burghers newly arrived from Pretoria, lost the path up the mountain and spent the night encamped midway.”

“But,” I asked the general, “hadn’t Colley asked you to disarm?” “I will tell you,” he replied; “on Friday morning I received a message from General Colley calling on me to disarm, and saying he would send a dispatch to the imperial government representing the Boer grievances. I answered to the effect I could not do this without first getting permission of the chairman of the Triumvirate at Heidleberg, a process 336which would take four days. Now, I thought, all was right till Monday, and as a proof of my confidence, I even reduced my patrols. What made me also more certain was that on the next day I got a letter from President Brand telling me that there was every chance of negotiations for peace coming to a successful conclusion. I sat up late that night making copies of Brand’s letter to send to the Triumvirate at Heidleberg and to General Colley. On going to bed, I can assure you, I couldn’t sleep, my rest was uneasy and I tossed about till nearly four o’clock in the morning, when I called my boy to make a fire. Just as the day was dawning my wife, who had been with me only a few days, got up to make coffee. Going out of the tent she said, ‘see what lots of men are on the mountain!’ Suspecting nothing I merely said: ‘It is only our own people.’ She was not satisfied, however, but got my binocular, and looked again, when she called out excitedly: ‘Leave your writing! put down your pen! come here! the English are on the mountain!’ I ran out at once, there was no need for me to take the glass as I could plainly distinguish the English troops by their walk. I jumped on my horse, which like all other horses in the camp, according to general orders, was saddled at four in the morning, and rode at once to Franz Joubert[73] who had just come into laager the day before. ‘Now,’ I said, ‘didn’t I tell you the English would get up the mountain? Look, there they are.’ He wouldn’t believe me but insisted they were our own people. At this juncture I saw the men returning who should have formed the picket on Majuba the night before, and heard and saw two shots fired on them from the hill. I almost lost my temper. ‘Would our own people fire on us?’ I asked. ‘No! they are English, I say.’ When Franz Joubert calmly answered, ‘If that is so we shall have to get them down.’ Hurriedly telling him to go on up the mountain, while I would go back and send some more men, I galloped off to our laager. On my way I met my son with a message from General Smit advising me to come to Laing’s Nek at once as that might be attacked. So I left instructions for Veld Cornets Roos and Minnaar to attack Majuba on one side with about forty men, and the commandant of Utrecht with something like the same number would go up the other.”

337“But tell me, general,” I said, “were the English fully aware that the Boers were really coming up the mountain to attack them?”

“Yes! of course they were, they knew it for eight hours, as it was five o’clock in the morning when they fired the first two shots, and it was one o’clock when we got to the top.”

“Then it was not, as it is alleged, a sudden attack in force which gained the day?”

The general smiled at my question. “How could it be when heavy firing was going on all the morning up to the very last moment.”

“When the top was gained by the Boers, what took place next?”

“There was no resistance, all was over in a minute or two.”

“But tell me, general, how do you account for the fact that 500 English should run before 60 Boers who had just had an eight-hours’ climb up the mountain?”

“I don’t wish to give any opinion,” said the general, looking serious indeed, “but I am certain the hand of God was with us all through.” Then waxing quite eloquent, he continued: “Men of mine, whom I knew were such cowards, that in Kafir wars even I have set them to cook the pots, advanced with determined step, impressed with the work before them, actuated, I am sure, by an Almighty power.”

Then, continuing the narrative, he told me how General Smit sent him word about three o’clock that Colley was killed and how he forwarded instructions that the body should be carefully guarded during the night with “all honor and respect,” and that the wounded should be laid together and covered up, the prisoners of war in the meantime being sent under escort to the Boer camp and transported the next day by wagon to Heidleberg.

Considering the state of utter demoralization in which our troops had apparently fallen at the time, the Boers having been victorious in every engagement of the campaign, all Englishmen may be glad that a sudden mist stopped the attack upon our camp at Mount Prospect, which General Smit told me the Boers had decided to make, or a yet more disastrous defeat would, I feel certain, have been chronicled. 338I was strongly impressed with the belief that General Joubert recognized a divine Providence in everything, as over and over again he said, “the hand of God was in it all.” I was also informed that when this sudden mist arose, hiding our camp completely from view, that he quietly said: “Look at the mist, the Lord won’t allow us to go;” seemingly, like Cromwell, he was a firm believer in the universality of divine interposition and so accepted the sudden mist as a command of the Deity! “Thus far shalt thou go and no further.”

General Joubert’s description of his interview with Gen. Sir Evelyn Wood, five days after Majuba, was very graphic. I asked the general to allow me to take notes, to which he consented—when lighting his pipe he began: “You must know, doctor, that five days after the fight General Wood sent to ask me if I would meet him half-way between the two camps. This I agreed to do, and we sent wagons and tents from both sides. There were myself, General Smit and Mr. Dirkhouse, as clerk on our side, and General Wood, General Buller and Major Fraser on the English. When I arrived, after wishing each other ‘good morning,’ General Wood asked me: ‘Have you authority to make peace?’ I answered, ‘Yes, on one condition;’ he said, ‘what is that?’ I replied, ‘the annexation of our country to be withdrawn.’ ‘Then,’ I added, ‘her Majesty’s troops can leave with honor, I want no more.’ ‘But if I sign such a peace, will all agree?’ inquired the general. ‘Yes,’ said I, ‘all must in accordance with our law.’ After some moments’ deliberation General Wood asked me whether or not I would make peace according to the terms offered in a letter sent by Mr. Kruger to General Colley through President Brand. I answered distinctly, ‘No.’ At last General Wood begged that the armistice might be extended to twenty days to give Mr. Kruger time to arrange about terms, when, after discussing the matter for some time, a further cessation of hostilities for eight days was agreed upon between us, and we left Buller and Fraser to draw up a document to that effect.

“As we were standing outside the tent while this document was being prepared, General Wood told me I should have to get away from the Nek, because it was English territory, but I said: ‘We don’t fight for ground, we don’t claim any; why should I go? If you mean to make peace, the closer we get 339the better.’ General Wood replied, ‘I shall have to force the place then and drive you away,’ and pointing to his breast, and counting his medals one after the other, said: ‘Look, there are one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine medals, and if I pitch you out, another, which will make ten.’ I answered: ‘I must defend my country at all risks, and stand the consequences,’ He then looked straight at me and said: ‘Perchance you may kill me, but that is nothing; England has sixteen generals more.’ I then turned up my coat, and pointing to my breast, which was perfectly plain, said: ‘General, there is nothing here, and thank God, I want nothing behind that Nek there. I have not one single man to be killed for that. (I pointed to a medal on his breast.) We do not fight for glory, we fight for liberty, and for liberty every English general, I know, would also yield his life. We have not many generals, but although I and General Smit lead our men, each man knows he fights for himself and his country.’ General Wood then continued: ‘But what do you think of Colley going up the mountain?’ I answered: ‘I don’t know what to think; all I know is that I received letters from Brand and Colley only the day before, which tended to throw me off my guard, and while I was in the very act of writing answers Colley took the opportunity to go up the mountain.’ ‘And you drove him down?’ ‘I don’t say that, and I am glad no one behind that Nek says that either, but this I will say, that every man of mine when he looks at Majuba, when he looks at the top of that mountain there, thinks of nothing but the wondrous work of the Almighty.’ Wood seemed touched. ‘I am not an unbeliever; I also say my prayers,’ he ejaculated. ‘I am glad,’ I said, ‘to hear you say that, but do you know what we pray for? We don’t pray to conquer nations and annex countries; what we pray for is that Almighty God may so open the eyes of the gracious Queen of England that she and her counsellors may see what is justice and what is right, then we shall feel sure of our case and know that freedom to our country must come.’

“We then talked a little about Bronker’s Spruit and other incidents of the war, when, the document being finished, we went into the tent to sign it.”

Shortly after General Joubert concluded the above somewhat 340melo-dramatic description of his meeting with Sir Evelyn Wood, I took my leave, having spent a most interesting hour in the society of the generals.

Returning, however, to the description of my trip of 1881; when I got to the hotel I found all prepared for leaving, and after breakfast we started for Newcastle, intending to rest at Ingogo, as we had not time to visit Laing’s Nek (and moreover we could see the position from the road), where Colley’s first defeat took place on Jan. 28th, with a loss of 260 killed and wounded, and where Colonel Deane and Major Poole (Cetywayo’s old friend) were shot down. After a pleasant drive we crossed the Ingogo drift, the road gradually ascending until the plateau of Schuin’s Hooghte was reached, where Colley suffered his second defeat on Feb. 7th. Making a reconnaissance that morning with 273 of the 60th Rifles and 38 men of the mounted squadron from Mount Prospect, Colley was virtually lured to his destruction. The Boers retired before his advance, until having decoyed our troops to Schuin’s Hooghte, a high and perfectly unsheltered plateau, they opened a galling fire from the other side of the valley which intervened, a perfectly safe position for them. This was at 10:15 A. M., and until sundown our soldiers were nothing more or less than English targets for Dutch bullets. The field guns which Colley brought with him were useless; he had nothing to fire at but rocks, the Boers finding most excellent cover. The horses were shot down at the guns, the mules at the ambulance wagons, nothing living was safe for a moment from the Boers’ unerring aim. Maclean pointed out to me the exact stone, near the centre of the plateau, where Colley, Essex and Wilkinson took cover most of the day, and gave me a most vivid description of the field when, on a second visit next day, he found the place literally stormed by armies of cowardly vultures, attracted by the putrid effluvium from the rotting carcasses of the dead horses and mules. With my penknife I picked out splashes of lead from the crevices of the stones, as relics of the Boers’ accurate sighting. Wilkinson, brave young fellow, was drowned the same night in the Ingogo, when pluckily returning with comforts for the wounded, that river having become a sweeping torrent owing to the storm of rain which had been raging for some hours previous.

341These poor fellows, left on the plateau in the rain, were totally deserted except by one or two, Parson Ritchie, Maclean and Dr. McGan, Colley having made good his retreat in the night with his troops and guns to Mount Prospect. There these men lay in a heap, the dying and the dead together, the pitchy darkness of that long, cold, wet, dreary night now and again relieved by vivid flashes of lurid lightning. Only 142[74] of our soldiers were sacrificed on this occasion. I went to look at one of the two inclosed grave-yards of these ill-fated men. In the corner of a little inclosure by the roadside I found tokens of the conflict and relics of our loss. The helmets of the dead soldiers, riddled with bullets, were promiscuously piled together, while all around could be seen traces of the desolation war had produced.

Turning to the Boer losses and casualties. The news of the Boers having taken the Amajuba mountain reached the Red Cross Association on March 6th, at Bethlehem, O. F. S., when its members at once left for Laing’s Nek, arriving there on March 16th. Dr. A. C. Daumas, in a report which he wrote to the secretary of the association, dated Aliwal North, July 29th, 1881, said:

“You may easily fancy what our astonishment was on being informed that although accepted with thanks, our services were by no means so urgent and necessary as we had at first supposed.

“In fact, the hospital established by Dr. Merinski, close to the camp, only contained in all one man sick and three wounded.”

Further on, in the same report, Dr. Daumas stated:

“It would be rather difficult to tell accurately the number of Boers encamped in this pass (Laing’s Nek), but I do not think I am far from the truth in estimating their number at 1,000 men.

“This small army subsisted there without the help of any commissariat; each man was obliged to provide himself with his own food, which consisted generally in a purely animal diet. He did not receive any pay, and had beside to get his accommodation at his own expense. His obedience to his commanders was absolute. The most perfect order prevailed in this camp, where, strange to say, there never was any drilling done. Far from being intoxicated with their victories, the Boers always showed themselves extremely modest, attributing all their successes to the protection of heaven.... But what remains to be explained is how an 342army of several thousand men may have been able to take the field and keep it during several months without commissariat, and especially without any medical service, and should not have been more subject to the class of diseases which are in time of war the ordinary sad attendants of all armies.

“Should not the reason of these facts lie in this, i.e., that owing to his sobriety and to the strength of his constitution the Boer has been able to resist the physical causes which produce those diseases; as also through his political faith, coupled with genuine religious faith, he has been able to bear up against the moral causes.”

There is no gainsaying the fact that all through the war the Boers had implicit faith in divine assistance.

Leaving Schuin’s Hooghte we hurried to Newcastle, and next day I left for Ladysmith, intending to catch the mail cart which runs from the Rising Sun to Bloemfontein, and so through the Free State to Kimberley.

Passing through Harrismith, the border town of the Free State, we came to Bethlehem, where I saw the handsome Dutch Church, just finished at a cost of £16,000, and passing Senekal at 5 A. M., nearly frozen in the pitch darkness, I arrived in Winburg at twelve, at noon. Dr. Dixon, the leading practitioner there, soon found me out, and dining at his table with some Kimberley speculators, on coal not diamonds bent, spent a very pleasant afternoon. The post-cart left at 6:30 P. M.; at eight next morning we were in Bloemfontein, and everything going favorably along, July 12th saw me once more on the diamond fields.



When not attending to my parliamentary duties during the session, I took the opportunity of visiting the various sights around Capetown, among others I went over to Robben Island and inspected the lunatic asylum and leper establishment, and to Oude Molen to see Cetywayo and Langibalele. As the treatment of lunatics had always been a branch of medical study in which I felt an especial interest, my readers can well understand it was not long before I paid a visit to Robben Island, where the principal of the three lunatic asylums, of which the Cape Colony boasts, is situated.

On applying to the under colonial secretary he gave me a 344pass for myself and my wife, by the Gun, a little steamer belonging to the government, which plies regularly twice a week to and from the island.

It was a fine morning when we left the Capetown pier, but a chopping sea soon told its tale, and we were all glad after an hour’s tossing to arrive at the landing place of the island, where we were carried ashore by the native boatmen employed by the government.

Here we were met by the late Dr. Biccard, the medical superintendent (formerly a member of the Cape assembly, before the advent of responsible government), who affording us every hospitality, showed us over the asylum after we had recovered from the effects of our trip across.

Robben Island is a sandy, dry, exposed little island in Table Bay, of about 3,000 acres in extent, distant from the mainland about six or seven miles, and covered with a short, thick bush, affording excellent cover to quails, pheasants and rabbits, all which game are found there in abundance.

It has been used as an asylum for lunatics and a refuge for lepers and pauper sick for nearly half a century, the removal of the unfortunates from the mainland being a suggestion of Mr. Montague, who was at the time colonial secretary—Sir P. Maitland communicating it to the home government as “a plan proposed by Mr. Montague.” Dean Newman in his memoirs of the last-named gentleman, written in 1855, gives a very graphic description of the island: “It is a spot of painful and touching interest still, the unapproachable asylum of the leper and the lunatic; the ultima linea verum, the last shore of the disabled sailor stranded there an utter wreck of humanity; the remote infirmary and resting place for decay and sickness hopelessly incurable! It seems a kind of half-way halt in departure from the world; for many of its sojourners have bidden the happy face of mankind and the spots of active life a long and last farewell;” and, after the sights I saw there, I felt I could fully endorse every one of the dean’s words.

Forty years ago old Somerset hospital was the only lunatic asylum in the colony, but the miserable accommodation it afforded and the wretchedness of its unfortunate inmates led Mr. Montague to recommend the establishment of a lunatic asylum on Robben Island.

345To quote further from Dean Newman: “Robben Island appears destined, under all changes, to remain a spot of melancholy interest, cut off from the mainland by a wild sea, prevailing impetuous winds, and a distance of six miles—yet constantly in sight of it—it is a fit emblem of the miserable inhabitants who have in successive ages been transported there, severed from all association with the rest of their fellow men.

“For more than 150 years this island was the Dutch penal settlement and if the old record speaks truth most rigid were the punishments which were then inflicted. On the transference of the Cape to the English the island continued a convict station under British rule; but as we have seen there was no extraordinary desire manifested even then to make its discipline such as should reform the criminal or hold out to him the prospect of restoration to that society whose laws he had transgressed.

“When on a visit of inquiry to the island previous to the removal of the convicts he [Mr. Montague] noticed its healthy position and its fitness as a hospital for those whose complaints rendered it necessary for them to be removed from the less afflicted of their race.

“In his report on that occasion he thus refers to the suitableness of the island for patients and to the condition of the sick, diseased and insane who were under the charge of the government in different infirmaries, and establishments of the colony:

“‘As the salubrity of Robben Island has long been acknowledged, and there is abundance of stone, lime and labor on the spot to erect the necessary buildings, I would strongly recommend for your excellency’s serious consideration the expediency of removing the leper and pauper establishments of Hemet-au-Aarde and Port Elizabeth to Robben Island, also the pauper establishment of Capetown, and the lunatics at present confined in the Somerset hospital at Capetown.

“‘I have also visited the lunatics confined in the Somerset hospital; anything more wretched and inappropriate for its unfortunate inmates cannot be imagined than the lunatic wards; they are about fifty in number. There is no other lunatic asylum in this colony, and lunatics are 346sent to this one from all parts of the colony. It is quite impossible that the present mode of confining and treating these unhappy people can be much longer continued, a separate and proper building must very soon be erected for them somewhere, and I know of no place better suited for them than Robben Island.’”

When it was decided that the indigent and various patients in the hospitals of the colony should be removed to Robben Island, measures were promptly taken to erect suitable dwellings and infirmaries for their reception. The convicts were removed to road stations; the old convict buildings, which were much dilapidated, were pulled down, and this once barren scene, which had so long withered under the accursing influence of crime and the stern frown of retributive justice, began to smile under the beneficent influence of human kindness, sympathy and mercy.

There are now (1855) on the island about twenty buildings, with spacious apartments, airy, healthy and scrupulously clean. Externally the sunny, whitewashed appearance of the houses has an air of cheerfulness, and the neat church rising near them speaks of solace to the sick soul, as the rest of the institution does of care to the diseased body.

The establishment as reported in May, 1854, was:

Men. Women. Children. Total.
Lepers 38 20 8 66
Lunatics 49 53 4 106
Chronic Sick 106 21 2 129
Total       301

The division for the lunatics is commodious, well-arranged and striking from its great cleanliness; the chief occupation of those who are merely idiotic, or but periodically insane, being to keep it neat and wholesome. The sleeping compartments are ranged round two small court-yards, one for the men, the other for the women. In the day-time few of the lunatics are to be seen in the court-yard or dormitories, as the plan pursued by the medical officer is to allow all but the most violent and unsafe to roam at pleasure about the island. One is commonly set to watch another, and if you question A, whom you see on a strict and consequential lookout in some 347part of the island, on what he is so closely intent, with a sly smile he will point to B, and say, “I am taking care of that poor fellow;” but when you approach B and put a like interrogatory to him, he will tell you, casting a cunning glance at A, “I am looking after him, he is not quite right.” The less violent are used as servitors in the general establishment and perform much outdoor work about the island, and even take part in the management of the island boat which crossed to and fro to the mainland three times a week.

Amongst the most confirmed lunatics, who seldom go at large, are some painfully ludicrous cases. A sturdy black woman dressed in male appearance, if not absolutely in male attire, personates an African king, and certainly in words and imperious looks lords it over her subjects there, “in King Cambyses’ vein.” Another case from which the spectator almost religiously recoils is that of a little man from St. Helen’s, who is sane enough when spoken to on ordinary subjects, but if the Bible be mentioned, becomes instantly furious, and asserts that the New Testament (a copy of which he always has about him, and can read fluently in English and even quote with considerable correctness) is his gospel and that he is Jesus Christ. If reasoned with on this point he falls into such fierce paroxysms of wildness and violence as may well cause him to be taken for one of those demoniacs whom the merciful Saviour came to liberate and heal. But even with these most extreme cases, the lenient, judicious treatment which is practiced in this department, keeping the occasionally furious under close surveillance, rather than iron restraint, is found to answer far better than the old custom of the narrow cell, the griping gyve, and unmitigated confinement.

On a remarkably healthy and, as to aspect, cheerful spot near the sea, and commanding a fine view of Table Mountain and of the bold rocky coast behind it, are the buildings which contain the wards of chronic sick. Here are to be witnessed some of those sorrowful cases which are to be met with in all such asylums; such as slow wasting disease; the incurable maladies of the long sick, who have consulted many physicians and have been nothing bettered; the gradual sinking into the grave of those who have seemed for years upon its brink. For 348these, all that can be done is to relieve pain and make the last moments of life tranquil and free from want, and certainly at Robben Island this is done. The treatment, the dietary, the attendance, and even the kindness of one patient toward another, are here most praiseworthy.

I could see, on my visit, that although years have elapsed since this was written, every kindness was still shown by the officials to the unfortunates on Robben Island; still the surroundings were not such as could possibly tend to their recovery. The large ram-shackle buildings had an air of patchwork and decay, the yards were overcrowded, no employment or amusement could I see provided, except in the female ward, where I listened to one poor woman yawling out “Home, sweet home” on a piano more out of tune than her mind. A sad and sorry sight! Here, as in all similar institutions, there was every phase of this melancholy affliction to be observed. Since my visit Dr. Biccard has died, and the institution is now under the care of Dr. Ross, according to whose report last year there are now on the island 199 lunatics, some of whom have been there for thirty-five years. He states that but a small percentage of these cases can be looked upon as hopeful, owing to the length of time that has been allowed to elapse before they were brought under proper treatment. In one of his previous reports Dr. Ross observed: “If cases are treated within three months of the first attacks, four-fifths would recover, but if twelve months elapsed, four-fifths are incurable;” further, the material upon which to work is “very unpromising, and hence the fallacy of expecting European results when dealing with these life-long burdens on the country whose unsoundness of mind and unbridled passions render them equally unfit for liberty or neglect.”

I may also mention that there is under government supervision a hospital at Grahamstown, where last year 108 male and 67 female lunatics were in confinement, while old Somerset hospital is still used for chronic sick paupers, insane and female lepers, containing at the close of last year 55 male, 41 female lunatics, 141 chronic sick paupers, and 13 female lepers.

Leaving Dr. Biccard with the ladies, I walked on to inspect the lepers and the buildings in which they were housed. Here 349I saw human beings kenneled worse than dogs. In a long, low, thatched shed some forty poor creatures were stowed away. Both varieties of the disease, the tubercular and anæsthetic, could here be studied. Some I saw with their faces shiny, discolored and swollen, others with both hands and feet dropping off joint by joint; one man especially attracting my attention, whose nose, eyes, tongue and cheeks had all rotted away, and who, with a voice piping shrill and cracked, could barely make himself understood. He was a horrid, loathsome mass of putrid humanity. One fact, however, struck me at the time, that neither this man nor any of the other inmates complained of bodily pain. The building in which they were housed was such that I could not help picturing in my mind a spark igniting the thatch and a fire taking place in this hovel; how the poor wretches, sixty per cent. of whom were unable to leave their beds, would in their helplessness be burnt alive, possibly only too glad to find surcease of sorrow, at least in this world.


Here were black, half-caste and white all mixed together in hideous confusion, but, thank heaven! no females; the latter had been removed, I learned, some time before to Old Somerset hospital, not alas, however, until cohabitation had produced its results in beings almost, I fear, inevitably doomed 350to a life worse than death, and recalling Coleridge’s lines in his “Ancient Mariner”

“The nightmare Death in life is she
Who chills men’s blood with cold.”

These woe-begone creatures were allowed to go to the mainland if they wished once every three months, according to the criminally absurd enactments then in force. Of this opportunity many availed themselves, never returning, but sowing the seeds of a disease, hereditary and possibly contagious, as some believe it to be, broadcast through the land with impunity.

The lepers were, as a rule, idle, insolent and insubordinate, and knowing the incurable nature of their disease reckless and desperate to a degree. Half-castes, Malays, especially those whose morality was below the average, or those whose diet was, as a rule, confined almost exclusively to fish, I was told were more susceptible to the disease than Europeans. On making inquiries I learned many horrible facts. Among others I found the bath-room and the kitchen to be identical, one place only being provided for them in which to live, eat, drink and sleep, the “wash” or refuse and almost certainly contaminated food actually being used to feed the pigs and poultry, and, “Horror on horror’s head” the miserable sufferers themselves could be seen rolling about in squalid filth, their clothes soaked and besmeared with the discharges from their festering sores. No one seemed to have power or inclination to manage them; neglected and forsaken, they were left to the charge of fellow lepers as helpless as themselves, Horace’s “Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?” never having a better exemplification.

Dr. Wynne, the assistant medical officer in charge, who has had considerable experience of this disease in Bulgaria and Constantinople, although not noticing among the common fowls the tender-footedness, bowing of the legs, incurvated claws, and the nodular articulations which are the earliest symptoms of the disease in animals, yet distinctly stated in evidence before a select committee of the house of assembly in 1883 that he had come across pigeons, mice, pheasants and turkeys unmistakably suffering from leprosy; and he further 351remarked at the time that “the communicableness of this disease to animals is a matter of great importance, for the reason that it may also be communicable to human beings through the agency of animals suffering from the disease being used as food.”

After seeing and conversing with these poor social outcasts, and at the same time having had convincing proofs afforded me every day, from outside sources, of the increase of leprosy among the lower and colored classes, I left the island with the conviction that nothing but complete segregation could ever stamp out this dreadful disease. The success which has since 1865 attended the complete isolation of affected persons in the Sandwich Islands, where leprosy was unknown before its introduction by the Chinese in 1848, as compared with the immense strides the disease was then making, should be an inducement to our legislators to adopt the most stringent measures here, the more especially seeing how widespread this terrible and loathsome disease is becoming. It may not be generally known, but it certainly bears out the generally received theory of the contagiousness of leprosy, that the apostle of the lepers of Molokai is beginning to pay the penalty of his heroism. Shut away from all civilized and healthy humanity, Father Damien has for years been a willing prisoner in the island in which are collected and confined the lepers of all the neighboring Sandwich group. For a long time, though cut off from the outward world, Father Damien continued in good health, though alone among the dead. But the stroke has fallen at last. In a letter written recently he says: “Impossible for me to go any more to Honolulu on account of the leprosy breaking out on me. The microbes have finally settled themselves in my left leg and my ear, and one eyebrow begins to fall. I expect soon to have my face disfigured. Having no doubt myself of the true character of my disease I feel calm, resigned and happier among my people. Almighty God knows what is best for my sanctification, and with that conviction I say daily a good ‘Fiat voluntas Tua.’” Where is the heroism which will vie with this? And does not Father Damien’s martyrdom tend to establish the contagious nature of the scourge?

The following extract from the “People’s Medical Adviser” 352(London), bearing upon the question, is interesting: “The following is a summary of an account in the New York Medical Record, of the first attempt to use a condemned criminal for the solution of an important and scientific question at the Sandwich Islands. It appears that more than two years ago the government procured the services of Dr. Edward Arning, for the purpose of having a thorough and scientific study made of leprosy. Attempts were made to cultivate the bacillus lepræ, which is uniformly found in the diseased parts, but not in the blood, by Kock’s method, using various media, but without success. Numerous inoculation experiments upon lower animals were made, but although the bacilli would grow at the points of inoculation for a long time, the animal never became infected. At last Dr. Arning obtained permission to make an inoculation upon a condemned criminal, whose sentence was commuted to imprisonment for life. With the convict’s written consent an inoculation of leprous matter was made in his arm, and bacilli were found in the sore or the scar up to fourteen months after the operation; no constitutional symptoms being observed. One further observation of importance was made by Dr. Arning; he found that in putrid leprous tissues, and even in the body of a leper who had been dead for three months, the bacilli were found in great numbers. This seems to bear against their specific pathogenetic function. Owing to difficulties with the health board, it is stated that it is highly probable Dr. Arning will be obliged to discontinue his work of research. With respect to the cultivation of bacillus, Dr. Neisser, of Breslau, appears to have been more successful than Dr. Arning, for he has recently stated that in a few cases he has observed an exceedingly slow growth, and he also claims to have recognized spores, which the Hawaiian observer has so far failed to do.”

I do not consider, however, that these experiments in any way prove the non-communicability of the disease, when we take into consideration the length of time (ten to fifty years) that leprosy takes to destroy the general run of its victims.

Not only can it be seen here and there over the whole Cape Colony, at Fort Beaufort, Malmesbury, Saldahna Bay, Caledon, Fraserburg, Calvenia, Clanwilliam, Hopetown, in Fingoland and Namaqualand, but even at Weeren and Alexandra 353County, especially in the Amapapeta location. In Natal its ravages are attracting attention among the members of my profession and philanthropists generally. In the latter colony a commission was appointed on January 27th, 1885, by Sir Henry Bulwer to inquire into the extent of leprosy then existing. The report of that commission was published in the Natal Government Gazette of September 23d, 1886, and conclusively demonstrated that leprosy was widely spread and was slowly increasing among the native population, and recommended as a means of checking the disease the enforcement of strict segregation. Surely some method for its arrest or eradication might be taken from the lessons taught by other countries and from experience of the past! After the crusades in the fifteenth century leprosy played sad havoc in Europe, but taking alarm in time the lepers were sought out and separated from their fellows, Norway being the only country in Europe where this system was not adopted, and while the disease has disappeared in other lands, in the last named, after the lapse of more than three hundred years, it still lives.[75] This disease is also found in Greenland, Iceland, where it is termed “likthra,” in Lapland and the Faroes, but in these more northern regions, as leprosy is not considered to be contagious, its victims are objects more of pity than disgust. I believe that many local, lay and professional men think it a far-off disease, entombed in biblical lore; if so let them at once disabuse their minds of this idea and learn that this awful malady is a rapidly increasing scourge of to-day, extending from the North Pole to the South, from Iceland to Australia, India and America; Africa and Arabia supplying their quota of victims. “It distorts and scars and hacks and maims and destroys its victims inch by inch, feature by feature, member by member, joint by joint, sense by sense, leaving him to cumber the earth and tell the horrid tale of a living death, till there is nothing human left of him. Eyes, voice, nose, toes, fingers, feet, hands, one after the other, are slowly deformed and rot away, until at the end of ten, fifteen or twenty years it may be, the wretched leper, afflicted,, in every sense, himself, and hateful to the sight, smell, hearing and touch of others, dies despised and the most abject of men.”

354Dr. Keith Guild, M.D., district surgeon of East Griqualand, in a pamphlet published this year on leprosy, arrives at the conclusion that “leprosy is a blood poison arising from the combination of two other blood poisons, tubercular and syphilitic,” and goes on to assert that “leprosy among the natives of South Africa is neither more nor less than a form of tertiary syphilis.” There is a manifest inconsistency between these two statements, but if the latter be a correct one it must also apply to leprosy in general, which I myself would be very sorry for one moment to admit, for obvious reasons.

Looking upon this frightful picture, is it not time, I will ask, we were “up and doing” before it be too late?

To come down to figures: the cost of each leper on Robben Island is £63 per annum: while the total expenditure of the island annually, including lunatics in 1885, was £15,482, of which £5,000 was expended in salaries.

The following is a return of the leper patients admitted in the general infirmary, Robben Island, from the year 1845 to July 31, 1883, inclusive, the number remaining about the same, as fresh cases were only admitted as old ones died off:

1845 37
1846 35
1847 17
1848 26
1849 18
1850 14
1851 7
1852 13
1853 21
1854 14
1855 16
1856 15
1857 16
1858 19
1859 16
1860 13
1861 21
1862 22
1863 22
1864 12
1865 34
1866 19
1867 20
1868 21
1869 15
1870 24
1871 27
1872 17
1873 17
1874 19
1875 13
1876 17
1877 26
1878 19
1879 13
1880 15
1881 24
1882 21
1883—Jan. 1st to July 31st 9
Total 744

355After leaving these pitiable and miserable sights, Dr. Biccard invited our party to lunch, when we conversed with this genial old gentleman upon what we had seen, and over the past and future of the island. Then after enjoying a fragrant cigar with Dr. Wynne we returned to the mainland by the Gun on her afternoon trip.

Since our visit the government have decided to remove the lunatics to the mainland, having bought the farm Tokai near Capetown for that purpose, but at present the finances of the colony are at too low an ebb to warrant further expenditure, with a view to the introduction of any improved mode of treatment for these unfortunate people.

An act for the segregation of lepers has also been passed by the Cape legislative assembly (No. 8, 1884), which although a step in the right direction is exceedingly weak in some of its provisions. The main and vital point, compulsory removal, is altogether omitted, it being merely made lawful for the governor, on the certificate of a district surgeon or any other medical practitioner to the effect that a man or woman is a leper and the disease communicable, to authorize his or her removal, but no order is inserted in the ordinance that all lepers shall be brought before the district surgeon for such certificate, and that such certificate shall be acted upon.

Dr. Ross, the present superintendent of the island, states in his last report (1886) that “unless the segregation act includes a denial of all civil rights, the bastardy of all children born to lepers, and confiscation of their property for their public and special support and treatment, this horrible disease will never be stamped out.” Notwithstanding all the forcible lessons of the past I learn that the government (June 1886) are erecting wooden huts on the island at Murray’s Bay for the use of female lepers, thus holding out, as it were, a premium for the direct propagation of lepers; experience having shown that it is impossible to keep the sexes apart when located on the same island. The only saving clause is that very few children are born of leprous parents. I may here emphatically state my opinion that if strict segregation were enforced this dire disease would in half a century be a scourge of the 356past, and, I may add, that I am in accordance with all the best authorities in the belief that this is the only method by which this terrible and loathsome disease can ever be eradicated.

After spending a most agreeable and interesting day on the island, a pleasant hour’s sail brought us in the afternoon to the mainland, the sea having in the meantime become perfectly calm.

The next visit I made was to see trouble in a different guise, not the wasting of incurable disease, nor the visitation of a hopeless malady, but to see two men whose lives were being eaten away by the canker-worm of despair—Cetywayo and Langibalele! To those who have resided in South Africa during the last twenty years these names will recall many an anxious time to colonists, brought about, in my humble opinion, not by the desire of the colonists to do anything which was not legal and right—but in the first place by a want of tact in dealing with natives, and in the second from an uncontrollable infatuation seizing hold of one, spreading like an epidemic to all. Not two years had passed since “Cetywayo” had been in every one’s mouth, and had been the hero of the hour. Again had Bishop Colenso come forward to see fair play done to one whom he thought had been wrongly used, and again, as in Langibalele’s case, had he gained for himself the ill-will of the colonists. I had formed a decided opinion about these cases and was naturally anxious to study the “fons et origo mali” of each complication, and accompanied by my wife and various friends I paid Cetywayo several visits.

The drive of an hour in an open carriage, in such a climate as the Cape possesses on a fine winter afternoon, was pleasure enough to make even the Cape flats and bad roads enjoyable. Upon these despised flats, in an old Dutch house, with the usual lofty and spacious rooms, which, however desirable when adorned and well furnished, look gaunt and cheerless when neglected and empty, Cetywayo, the captive Zulu king, dragged out the weary days of his heart-breaking suspense. We were received by the king in a room that was bare save for a few chairs, and Cetywayo, a fine, large man, of dignified 357mien and sad, gentle expression, dressed in an ill-cut blue serge suit, and sitting ill at ease in an arm chair, looked a long way from being “at home.” He must have been a fine sight indeed in his royal kraal dressed in handsome umutye (tails, pronounced moochas) when in the height of his pride and state.

On one occasion being accompanied by Mr. Saul Solomon, M. L. A. (and “negrophilist” as he was by some called on account of his sympathy with and advocacy of the rights of the native, but a man and politician who had the welfare of his country as much at heart as the welfare of the native), we found on our arrival at Oude Molen that the interpreter was taking a walk, and a messenger was dispatched to call him. The king having evidently arranged himself to receive us, and growing impatient with the delay, came to the door and asked why we did not enter, my wife (who could speak Zulu) replied, “we are waiting for the interpreter.” Cetywayo answered, “what need for that when you can speak as well yourself,” and he insisted upon our entering then and there. Fortunately the interpreter arrived almost at once, and we did not run the risk of breaking any rule applying to visitors. Amongst other items of news we asked Cetywayo if he had learned from the newspapers (which he had translated to him every morning) that Mr. John Robinson (whom Cetywayo knew as a great supporter of Sir Bartle Frere) had been defeated in the election for the Natal legislative council, where he had held a seat for many years, when without speaking but uttering a soft pleased “Ah!” he shut his eyes, his face beamed, and passing his hand slowly across his mouth from one ear to the other, he gently drew in his breath as if drinking a long draught of some divine nectar. The news evidently gave him intense delight, and repeatedly jerking his thumb up and down he feelingly exclaimed: “What had I done to this man to make him my enemy, I have never even seen him?” and waxing warmer, he added: “Yes, Sir Bartle Frere is down and John Robinson is down too.”

We were told that Cetywayo enjoyed such visits as these, being a break in the monotony of his life. He was saved from vulgar curiosity by the government not allowing any one to visit him without a special permit. We found the women 358comprised in the household a great contrast to the quiet dignity of the king and his attendant chiefs; entering the room where they were at work making grass strainers and bead ornaments, they assailed us in loud, shrill voices, offering their wares for sale as if nothing more serious were on hand, being as keen to drive a good bargain as any professional peddler—it had not taken them long to learn the value of “filthy lucre.”

Walking on a few hundred yards we came next to the abode of a man who eight years before had set Natal in a blaze, had aroused the chivalrous feelings of its unswerving bishop, and had been the cause of its lieutenant governor’s recall!

Langibalele, or “the bright shining sun,” the cause of all this, we found sitting on the trunk of a tree at the side of a brick-built cottage, shading himself from the sun. Of middle height, blear-eyed, old, decrepit and almost in rags, he formed a sorry contrast to the dignified majesty of Cetywayo, whom we had just left.

I called to my recollection how, ignoring the orders of Sir Benjamin Pine, he had decamped[76] with his tribe and cattle over the Drakensberg into the Double Mountains of Basutoland, instead of answering a summons to come to Pietermaritzburg to explain the reason why the young men of his tribe had refused to register their guns; how made a prisoner by Jonathan Molappo, a Basuto chief, he was sentenced to convict labor for life and transported to Robben Island, and how Bishop Colenso, braving the prejudices of the Natal colonists, went to England, in the cause of justice and humanity, and exposed the whole matter,[77] that Langibalele’s sentence was reduced to twenty years’ safe custody on the mainland, and Sir B. Pine was recalled![78]

Shortly after parliament was prorogued Cetywayo had his heart’s desire gratified by being summoned to England, where 359his restoration to Zululand having been determined upon, the English government had thought it would be advisable to let him see some of the wonders of civilization before he resumed his power. The king was placed in the charge of Mr. Henrique Shepstone, a good Zulu linguist, and son of Sir Theophilus Shepstone, who was formerly secretary for native affairs in Natal. Cetywayo heroically bore the long sea voyage, being determined to leave no stone unturned by which he might possibly regain his forfeited position.

It may interest some to hear of him in London, so I will quote from a letter my wife’s description of a visit she paid to him as she passed through that city on her way to New York:

“I have just returned from making a call upon Cetywayo; it was a temptation after seeing him in his wretched Oude Molen quarters, just before I left Capetown, and knowing so well how he lived in his own uncivilized fashion, to see how he would look in a London drawing-room. Mr. Jonathan Peel was good enough to see our old friend, Mr. Henrique Shepstone, who is the special envoy in charge, and he most kindly arranged our visit.

“On our arrival we were received by Cetywayo with evident pleasure, who, seating himself on a sofa, waived us to chairs arranged in a circle before him. The three chiefs who had accompanied him were each seated in a corner of the room. One chief appeared to have three feet, as he had taken off one of his boots and carefully arranged it in line with his two feet—explaining to me in a tone of apology, that in walking the day before it had blistered his little toe. The poor fellows looked uncomfortable enough in European clothes, but there was no reason why they should have been rendered more ridiculous by wearing neckties with embroidered red rosebuds. Fancy sad, dignified Cetywayo with a red rosebud under his chin!

“Cetywayo opened the conversation by asking me how I came to be in London. I replied I had come as he had by steamer, and that I was shortly going further, to America, and I suggested that after he had seen England he should pay my country a visit. He looked at me, sadly shaking his head, and said: ‘I should not be here, were it not that I am as I am.’ I thought this answer for quiet dignity was simply perfect; it sounded even better in his beautiful Zulu than it does as I have translated it for you. Of course I could not allow him to dwell upon so painful a subject as his captivity, so I asked him if he had been much interested in the sights of London. Mr. Shepstone slyly remarked that the king was very anxious to see the German giantess on exhibition at the Alhambra, and that he expected to be altogether captivated. Cetywayo turned the joke by saying—‘he just says that about me, because he is in love with 360her himself.’ This fairly ‘brought down the house,’ and literally too, as Mr. Shepstone’s chair gave way under him at that moment, and this added to the general amusement. Cetywayo seeing a jet bracelet on Miss G.’s arm inquired the name of it, and declared his intention to take some ‘ujet’ ornaments back as presents for his wives. It struck me rather as ‘taking coals to Newcastle,’ as far as color went; but evidently his taste is neat, not gaudy. Cetywayo, growing restless, walked toward the window, when a shout from the crowd outside made him suddenly draw back, upon which one of the chiefs remarked, with the utmost disgust in his tones: ‘There they stand, from daylight till long after nightfall, and we don’t know what they want.’ Mr. Shepstone told us that at first Cetywayo was inclined to be very angry, deeming it great rudeness, but he had explained it to him that it was the delight they felt in seeing a ‘King,’ and this had somewhat appeased the poor captive. Mr. Shepstone now proposed that ‘the King’ should graciously indulge the people outside by returning to the window—which Cetywayo did, looking as if he felt they were making a fool of him, took off his smoking cap, and waited patiently while the crowd gaped and shouted ‘Hurrah!’ Shortly after this we left. Poor Cetywayo’s intense sadness, even when he laughed, made me feel quite sorry for him, even in spite of myself. You know I have never agreed with your absolute bearing toward his side of the Zulu war question. The friends who were with me, though biased against Cetywayo, admitted, after seeing him, that their feelings had become considerably modified.”


363The subject of the Zulu war has been worn thread-bare by each party, for and against, from their own standpoint. Mr. John Dunn’s book is the last ray of light cast upon it. I shall not weary my readers by entering into the matter at any great length, but, as it were, take my stand between the two parties and express my humble opinion as a colonist of twenty-two years’ standing, and as one who has learned to appreciate and feel a sincere affection for the native. No one is really competent to judge this question, who does not understand—1st. The native character and the strictness of their etiquette in the reverence shown to superiors, breaches of which are no less important signs of troubles brewing than is the “small, black cloud, no larger than a man’s hand,” which precedes a storm, and—2nd. The defenceless state—indeed, the caged animal helplessness, of the Natal colonists. The Zulu appetite for “eating up”[79] was there without a doubt; Cetywayo having asked permission of the Natal government to “eat up” the Swazis. What more natural than that the colonists should fear that this unsatisfied appetite might be otherwise appeased upon the slightest provocation, and what could be more aggravating to the spirit of a proud, self-willed Zulu king, than the restraints civilization was seeking to impose upon him? The last two Zulu kings had been shrewd enough to see the advantages and protection which friendly relations with the English government afforded them, against their natural enemies, the Boers, with their grab-all policy. For this friendship and moral support, John Bull, of course, required some compensation—the abolition of cruelties toward Zulu subjects by their king, and the insuring of the safety of the Natal colonists, he thought not too much to demand. Alas! had there been a “Chinese Gordon” to tie what might have proved a gordian knot of mutual friendship and protection, all would have been well. But what happened? Who can take the responsibility of fixing blame upon any one individual, when so many “cooks” were engaged in “spoiling the broth,” either by omission or commission? Frere, Shepstone, Cetywayo, Dunn, Bulwer, Colenso and John Robinson, with his newspaper. It must be admitted that Cetywayo’s character was the natural result of inherited tendency. The absolute power, the custom of cold-blooded murders for trivial offenses, or rather, when convenient, suspected offenses, the immense standing army, the longing for wars and “dipping of assegais in blood,”[80] added to the haughty self-will and the insecurity of the position of an irresponsible despot, which a Zulu king enjoys, all made Cetywayo what he was, a neighbor to be feared.

Who shall bear the blame of the irritation caused Cetywayo by the “impudent behavior of messengers” sent to him by the Natal government, or the growing anger he felt toward the government and its messengers, on account of their “assuming authority not recognized by him”? I quote from Mr. Dunn’s book, who also says, Cetywayo despatched messengers with a letter to the Natal government stating his wish to go against the Amaswazi, and to this he received the following document:

364“Reply of his excellency Sir Benjamin Chilley Campbell Pine, K.C.M.G., lieutenant governor of Natal, to Cetywayo, chief of the Zulu nation.

Office of Secretary for Native Affairs,
“Oct. 22d, 1874.

“The lieutenant governor has received the letter sent by Cetywayo, and the reasons given for making war upon the Amaswazi.

“The lieutenant governor sees no cause whatever for making war, and informs Cetywayo that such an intention on the part of the Zulus meets with his entire disapproval.

“Cetywayo must also remember that the Amaswazi are almost entirely surrounded by white people who have settled in the country, and it will be impossible for the Zulus, if war is made, to avoid getting into difficulties with them.

“Many years ago the lieutenant governor sent a letter to the late King M’Pande, requesting him to allow the Amaswazi to live in peace from any further attacks of the Zulus; he promised to do so, and has kept his word.

“The lieutenant governor trusts that what he has said will be sufficient to deter Cetywayo and the Zulu nation from entertaining such a project.

“By command of his excellency,
J. W. Shepstone,
“Acting Secretary for Native Affairs.”

And John Dunn adds: “The above letter made the king change his plans, although it enraged him, as I could plainly see.” Again John Dunn says: “From this time the tone of Cetywayo toward the English government began to change, and I could see, from the constant secret meetings which took place, that his intention was to make war somewhere; but I did not for a moment believe it was his intention to fight against the English, although I could see that he was greatly exasperated at the tone of the government, assuming an authority over him that he did not think they had a right to do.”

Then if we consider the refusal of Cetywayo to give up the men who made a raid into Natal (see appendix, ultimatum, clause 10, etc.), but instead was busy massing his warriors, and further, the recollection still fresh in the memory of all (when my own father-in-law had to fly for his life), how 365Cetywayo’s uncles, Tchaka and Dingaan, had swept Natal time after time, until “before Tchaka was killed” by his brother Dingaan, “he was supposed to have destroyed a million of human beings,” who will blame the anxiety of the colonists, especially when at this time the native tribes in the Cape Colony and Griqualand West were all engaged in rebellion against the English government?

The next factor in this war was the annexation of the Transvaal by the English government, professedly as a protection against the natives. The land dispute between the Transvaal and Cetywayo (see appendix, ultimatum clause, 3 to 10) had to be taken with the republic, and now the task of appeasing both parties in the matter was more than any government could possibly accomplish. The delay in settling the disputed land question had led to an impatient act on Cetywayo’s part (see appendix, ultimatum, clause 4). The English government, knowing well all the weary years of waiting which Cetywayo had borne, might well overlook this action; but when it did at last appoint a commission to settle the question, Cetywayo received a part only of the land he claimed.

Whether the idea was right or wrong, that now the Transvaal had been annexed the view taken by the government was changed by self-interest, it is no less a fact that Cetywayo was disappointed, and fresh fuel had been added to his disaffection.

At this time Sir Bartle Frere had come upon the scene, confederation being his mission. The danger of an army of trained warriors, 50,000 strong, at the command of an uncivilized king, on the very border of little Natal, was a very great obstacle; and considering Cetywayo’s sullen attitude, what colony in its senses would agree to be confederated with a little colony having such a danger upon its borders? Time can never prove whether Sir Bartle Frere’s judgment was right or wrong in sending the ultimatum and outrageous demands to Cetywayo which forced the war upon him.

There was one man, Mr. John Dunn, who might from his thorough knowledge of the Zulus have averted this war; unfortunately 366his attempt was delayed until too late, (See appendix—John Dunn’s letter to the Aborigines’ Protection Society). In Mr. Dunn’s book,[81] which is very interesting reading, he does not tell us of any effort he made with the Natal government to prevent the war, and one cannot help wishing that he had gone earnestly and unceasingly to work, both with the English government and Cetywayo, with that persistency which surely tells in a good cause. Possibly John Dunn did not realize the situation in time.


The recollections of Isandhlwana, Zhlobane and Ulundi make one’s blood run cold; but terrible as this war was, the cruelty and wickedness of having brought it about, could time prove it to have been unnecessary, cannot compare, in my mind, with the cruelty and wickedness of the disastrous Zulu settlement by Sir Garnet Wolseley and the after neglect of the Zulu nation by the English government. It was “adding insult to injury” to place these people under petty chiefs, and the whole nation became demoralized. They would have 367respected their conquered king even if he had had to accede to all the demands of the ultimatum and to owe allegiance to the English government, and they could have accepted a conquering power more especially when that power was the marvelous English. This latter disposition is what they naturally would have expected. But to place them under petty chiefs was just to set them again at the old game of one chief “eating up” another until one became supreme. When at last Cetywayo was restored it was simple cruelty not to have established him firmly and protected him from all danger. Sad indeed would Bishop Colenso have been had he lived to see the restoration of Cetywayo for which he worked so earnestly. It was poor “justice” that left the king, having destroyed his power, to the mercy of his enemies, and to die very shortly from poison or a broken heart! No one could have expected Cetywayo to resume his old footing among his people through any love they bore him. What does any native chief ever do to make himself beloved? The Zulus possess a dog-like fidelity toward their chiefs, and they may be proud of their conquests, but when we consider that Cetywayo could hold his position by the utmost severity only, ruling by fear rather than love, we cannot be surprised that his restoration without support was an utter failure. Even upon Cetywayo’s death it would not have been too late for England to annex the Zulus and accept a noble mission. With the natural fidelity of the Zulus, how easy a matter, with firm, kind rule, to gain their love as well!

What a field for civilization and Christianity! Supposing a governor had been appointed, laws made to keep the Zulu country for the Zulus, and laws also for their moral good, such as no spirituous liquors allowed, etc., what might not have been made of them? What is the consequence of this shirking of responsibility? As Cetywayo received no material support from England his son and successor was foolish enough to appeal for help to his father’s old enemies, the covetous Boers, who true to their nature have managed to gain possession of the better half of Zululand, and nothing has been done for the improvement or benefit of that grand Zulu nation—the war has brought them ruin only, when it might so easily 368have resulted in good. England in shirking this responsibility appears to me in the same cruel, sinful light as a mother who leaves her helpless, illegitimate babe on the door-step of a stranger.[82]



Some time before the opening of the fourth session of parliament in 1882, in course of correspondence with the Hon. Colonel Schermbrucker, M. L. C. for King William’s Town, I proposed to him that before parliament met we should make a tour through Basutoland, and see for ourselves the real position of affairs and the condition of the country, especially as so many conflicting statements were afloat. We agreed to meet at Maseru on March 1st, 1882. Determined that this appointment should be kept to the day, I left Kimberley at noon on Feb. 26th for Bloemfontein, en route to Basutoland.

Arriving at Boshof, a rising Free State town, in about six hours, we changed horses, and proceeding on our journey spent the whole of a delightful summer night, which a brilliant moon lit up as light as day, in speeding over the plains of the Free State. But what torture we suffered between this 370place and Bloemfontein! The wagonette in which we rode was sadly out of repair, and I thought myself lucky in getting the back seat, but, alas! being also the lid of a box, the hinges of which were broken, it was misplaced by any sudden jolt, so I found myself as often in the box as out of it.

I had not seen the neat little town of Bloemfontein for ten years, but I found it had not developed much during this interim. My previous errand had been of a very different kind. Then the whole of the state was in painful suspense on account of the critical state in which their president, Mr. (now Sir John) Brand, was lying. The executive, fearing the worst, determined to obtain further medical opinion upon his case, and sent to Kimberley for Dr. Dyer, a leading practitioner there, and myself, to post over with all speed. Our consultation with the president’s physicians was not hopeful, and we left, expecting the worst; however, some days after our return we learned that the disease had taken a favorable turn, and we had the satisfaction in a few mails to hear of the president’s gradual restoration to health.

During the few hours that I rested at Bloemfontein I had the pleasure of meeting his honor again, older and greyer certainly than he was ten years before, but looking full of health and vigor, “his age like a lusty winter, frosty but kindly.” He was sitting in his private room in the magnificent block of government buildings erected lately by the state. On introduction, he recognized me at once, spoke feelingly of the past when last we met, and asked me to dinner, an invitation which I was unable to accept, owing to my previous appointment with Colonel Schermbrucker on the first of March, which I had barely time enough to keep. I started the same afternoon in a special cart for Ladybrand, and traveled again the whole of the night. After “moving accidents by flood and field,” overturning the cart, losing the mules, getting wet through and nearly drowned in the Modder River, I at last outspanned for a couple of hours at Modderpoort, ten miles from Ladybrand, a mission station conducted by members of the Anglican brotherhood, who had been settled there since 1870. Father Douglas, the present head of the community, kindly showed me round the mission station. I saw the pretty stone church with its stained glass windows and solemn aisles, and the substantial mission house for the priests, but that which interested me most was the sight of the cave at the bottom of the garden in which during the early years of the mission Father Beckett, the founder, used to live. This good old priest, after years of arduous work, was called to his rest last year (in 1884), regretted by the whole country side.



373Bidding farewell to Father Douglas I reached Ladybrand at 6 P. M. “All’s well that ends well,” a good rest and sleep enabled me to start early next morning for Maseru, escorted by a well-known Basuto head man named Makolokolo, who with an escort of ten men had come to meet me. The scenery between Ladybrand and Maseru is magnificent, the mountains, with the grassy plains rolling between, to one who for years had seen nothing but heaps of diamond debris and tailings from washing machines seemed inexpressibly and over-poweringly grand. As we rode on to the drift of the Caledon we passed a long range of hills, where I saw the first signs of the war that had been raging. By faint curls of smoke high up the hillsides, mounting in the air, my attention was drawn to the presence of a number of refugee Basuto women and children living ensconced in caves, who had received permission from the Free State government to squat there pending the settlement of affairs.

Galloping quickly on, at ten o’clock I arrived at the drift of the Caledon River crossing to Maseru. I found the river running in torrents, the pont or horse ferry, damaged the day before, unworkable—in fact the late heavy rains had upset everything, but there, on the other side of the river, exact to the day and hour fixed months before, I could see my friend, the colonel, waiting. A hearty shout of recognition and welcome greeted me, and jumping into a boat I was safely landed on the other side, in Basutoland.

Our progress to Maseru from the Caledon River, about a mile, was one triumphal procession. As members of the Cape parliament who, the loyals knew by report, sympathized with their sufferings, Colonel Schermbrucker and myself were heartily welcomed by these poor broken-hearted people. They regarded us as men who would be able from personal knowledge and inspection to bring their cruel wrongs and 374sufferings before parliament, reveal their exact condition, and show the world, at least the South African world, the sad plight and the miserable state in which their loyalty and their belief in the flag of Old England had landed them.

Hundreds met us on the banks of the river; the crowd, “lumelaing” (saluting) us and singing and dancing their war dances, and increasing in numbers until our arrival at Mr. Trower’s store when we arranged with the leaders to have a meeting or pitso in the afternoon.

Maseru is a prettily situated village just on the confines of Basutoland, and during the war was an important rendezvous and depot. By good fortune I found an old brother, if not in arms in lancets, Dr. Cumming, stationed here, who invited me to accompany him to the camp of the Cape mounted rifles, when I spent a pleasant hour lunching with him and other members of the staff.

A splendid view of Maseru and the surrounding country is obtained from the high plain on which the camp was pitched.

From our open dining tent I could see on one side the winding Caledon, rushing along in torrents, on the other the grassy plain with the camp and its surroundings, whilst in front, below us, lay the pretty village of Maseru with its houses and stores, its trees and its gardens, and the residency which a short time before had witnessed a most plucky and successful defence against the attacking hordes of Masupha’s rebels. As a background to this lovely scene, three hills nicknamed by our troops, “the world, the flesh and the devil” completed the picture.

In the afternoon there was a large meeting of the loyal Basutos, and we heard from their own lips the story of their sufferings. Among the speakers was Sofonia Moshesh, whose magnificently built stone house I afterward saw in the distance when going to Thaba Bosigo, Makolokolo, a clever, far-seeing man, whose opinion was much thought of by the Basutos, Inodi, Jacob Matseke, N’tsane Moshesh, whose house surrounded by a forest of 2,000 gum trees is a sight ever to be remembered. The enthralled attention and eager anxiety of the assembly struck me very much, and it was impossible not to feel for men like Sofonia Moshesh and N’tsane Moshesh who had lost everything by their loyalty to the government. 375but who still trusted, still “hoped on” that justice would be done them.

The petition which was to be presented to parliament setting forth their grievances, and praying the house to allow three chiefs they had chosen to appear as their spokesmen at the bar of the house, was signed by all present, and the pitso broke up with loud cheers for the Queen.

After the pitso was over I walked up with Colonel Schermbrucker to the residency, saw how the place had been stormed and riddled by bullets on the day of the memorable attack on November 20th, 1880, and then went to see the accommodation provided for the “loyals,” of which we had heard so much. Tents all tattered and torn, affording no shelter from either the wind or weather, we found were the only housing provided for these loyal natives, who by obeying the orders of the government had been rendered destitute, robbed of their cattle, driven from their gardens and their fields, from house and home! We came away impressed with the fact that the conception formed by our loyal friends of England’s justice and power must be very mythical indeed.[83] Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s graphic and powerful description of the condition into which the province of Oude was brought by the emissaries of Warren Hastings is exceedingly applicable to the condition in which we found these deluded people. Well could they also say “this damp of death is the mere effusion of British amity! We sink under the pressure of their support!... They have embraced us with their protecting arms, and lo, these are the fruits of their alliance!”

Next day we rode through Ladybrand to Ficksburg, a distance of sixty miles, accompanied by Makolokolo and some ten mounted men. Arriving late, after a hard day’s ride through a country not at all interesting, we rested the night, having previously arranged to meet the chief, Jonathan (the late chief Molappo’s son), and his people at Leribe on the following day. Starting early next morning, we were met on this side of the Caledon drift by 200 of Jonathan’s men on horseback sent to escort us to Thlotsi Heights, the seat of the magistracy, and the place where hundreds of his men (loyals), driven from their homes by the rebel Basutos (like those whom 376we saw at Maseru), were squatting together depending on the government for food and protection.[84] Crossing the Caledon, the chief Jonathan met us, and Colonel Schermbrucker introduced me to him.


This chief is a noble specimen of the Mosuto, not very tall, but well made, though slightly stout, and with an intelligent and frank expression of countenance. He was attired in the undress uniform of a British officer and magnificently mounted. He conducted us to his house at Thlotsi Heights, where we had coffee and rested about an hour, when we started for Leribe. I shall never forget my ride. The whole of the Basutos who were at Thlotsi Heights joined us, every one mounted. Jonathan provided horses for Colonel Schermbrucker and myself, and we rode in front, Colonel Schermbrucker on one side, I on the other, the chief in the middle, with a cavalcade of at least 500 mounted men behind. The morning was bright and 377cheery, the air seemed charged with electric freshness, the grassy turf was like a spring-board, so never drawing rein, we raced along to Leribe, doing the nine miles in forty minutes.

On arrival I was astonished at what I saw; we off-saddled in front of two large stone houses,[85] built about ten years ago by Molappo, one for his white visitors, the other for his own use. The accompanying view I took at the time. The interior was beautifully furnished, and even pictures graced the walls, and this right in the heart of Basutoland, where civilization was supposed to have scarcely penetrated.

We rested a short time, were then invited to partake of what was really a fine dinner, after which we spoke to the large gathering of Basutos who had assembled to meet us, and listened to their mournful story, when after signing the petition[86] for me to present to parliament, the meeting broke up by singing the national anthem.

Mr. Maitin, the son of a much esteemed French missionary who interpreted for me, took at the time full notes of what the different speakers said. All their observations were to the point, and the quaint manner in which they were put well illustrated the shrewdness of the Basuto character, evidently wishing to imply only, amidst the tale of all their cruel sufferings, the one fact ever brought to the fore, “civis Anglicanus sum.” These notes he afterward sent to the Cape Times, from which paper I make a few extracts.

After giving some introductory remarks which I made to the large assembly, Mr. Maitin proceeds to report more in extenso what fell from the different natives of standing present.

Piet Makolokolo (to whom I have already referred as a man much trusted by the loyals), Sofonia, Kampa, Jacob Moseki, and other prominent men told their tale of suffering and neglect. Koadi’s and N’tsane Moshesh’s speeches, however, I give in full, as they contain the gist of what the other speakers said.

Koadi said: “I am very glad to see Dr. Matthews amongst us, and I was glad when he came to Maseru. I am very thirsty and I believe he can help in quenching my thirst. In short, I will state I agree entirely with what has been said by 378Sofonia, and with the petition which has just been read to us. We approve of what it contains. I ask you loyals if we speak truth in that petition? Your answer is ‘Yes.’ I will be short, as time is pressing. We are now in great misery. We are men who cried out to those in power to do something for us. Now I ask what are they going to do? I fully agree with Sofonia; he is right in saying the loyals are all crying, suffering, and in misery for their loyalty. He is right in saying before the rebellion we were rich, free, and independent, but now are poor and suffering.

“Yesterday some of my men came to me and complained of the bad tents, which do not afford shelter from the rain and cold, and reproached me with having persuaded them to follow the government. I do not say for a moment we have been wrong to remain faithful to the government. We all know that we received the Queen’s government from the hands of Moshesh, and as far as I am concerned I will be faithful to the government till the government casts me off. I have still, even now, great faith and hope, as I see a member of parliament amongst us, which proves to me that the colony will see us righted. As Sofonia says, we were killed because we were faithful. Must we die again? I hope if the first doctor fails the second will cure us. I think our petition contains all we wanted to say.”

Question from Dr. Matthews: “What has Koadi lost?” “I have only lost five head of cattle, taken from the Free State, but my people lost cattle and horses. My great loss is one greater than any amount of cattle, and that is my ground and my rights. Those who rebelled fought because they wanted the right of the ground, which I have lost, and which is my great loss. As a grandson of Moshesh I had rights and lands, with which I could do as I liked. When we were told about disarmament, before the rebellion, and were ordered to give up our guns, I came three times to Colonel Griffith, and told him I did not wish to separate myself from my gun, and he answered me by taking the Peace Preservation act, and saying, this is the law. I did not like to give up my gun, but I obeyed the law. Mr. Sprigg then came to Basutoland, and when Colonel Griffith informed us he was here I went to see him, and Colonel Griffith introduced me to the then 379colonial secretary; he asked me to state what I had lost, and he said that my property should be restored, and that the governor would protect my life and property. I will not relate how we were nearly destroyed, as Colonel Schermbrucker, who was our commandant, can witness on Oct. 20th, 1880; he has remained faithful to us during all our troubles. We hear it is peace, but we do not see it. I am glad Dr. Matthews took the trouble to come to us. I want to show him our food (an old biscuit was here produced); this is the food the government gives us, the government which promised us protection; we are often sick after eating this provision. The government was not able to protect us last year, so during the war we were well fed, but now this is the description of food we receive. I should like Dr. Matthews to take a walk and see our houses, huts and tents, and the manner in which we are now living, and, if he could go and see our old homes, villages, etc., and compare them. When you do compare them you will know who are the people who have suffered much, and what they have suffered. During the war the rebels did not suffer, because they had all our property and everything they wanted; they are still now the masters of the country, and of our property. We have been in this state of destitution for two years. Many of the present people are chiefs, but they are so badly dressed that you could take them for common people, and this is one of the results of their loyalty. It is a great pity that Dr. Matthews has not more time to spare, otherwise every one could speak to him. I blame Mr. Sprigg for our condition, because he made us promises, but it was not his fault if they were not carried out, because he had to go out of office; it was for his successors to fulfill those promises. I again thank Dr. Matthews for all his attention.”

N’tsane Moshesh followed in the same strain: “I greet Dr. Matthews and all the loyals. I cannot say how thankful I am that he has taken the trouble to come and see those men who remained faithful to the Queen. Moshesh handed over to the Queen his country and people, and here are the few people who remained faithful. I thank Dr. Matthews for coming here to see our miseries and to ascertain the true state of affairs. I endorse every word stated by Sofonia and Koadi. I have nothing to add. The petition contains the substance 380of our feelings, and every word of it is true, and I have only to thank Dr. Matthews for his trouble. I do not want him to think that because we are black we have no feelings. It is perfectly true what Koadi said—that we deceive our people, for they ask us now: ‘Where is the protection of the government?’ Another thing is, we speak only for Maseru, no loyal has been able to return to his home. Sofonia, Lefoyane, Koadi and myself were the first who said we would go back to our homes—we were anxious to do so, because we valued them. I went to my village according to Mr. Orpen’s[87] order, and found all my land divided between Theko Letsie and Mama Letsie; and who divided thus my property? who, but the man who calls himself the head of the loyals, Letsea, my brother! As it is stated, in the petition my ground, etc., cannot be valued in money, and I will never accept money as compensation. Cattle, horses, etc., are nothing, but to lose my rights as a chief grieves me. In cattle I lost 370 head—government gave me three! Every one knows how my village was planted with blue gum trees; there were 1,862 trees beside houses and other property, and now I live in a tent. I cannot state all that I would like to say as time is so pressing.”

After finishing this speech, all the Basutos, as I mentioned before, signed the petition, and I closed this most interesting interview by a few words of encouragement, to which Koadi, in the name of all present, replied: “I return thanks to Dr. Matthews for the loyals, and I am glad to hear there is hope of justice for them in the breast of Englishmen. We have heard of Moses, but we have no Moses, but perhaps you will be our Moses, and deliver us out of Egypt.”

The pitso being ended I rode back to Thlotse Heights, and bidding “good-bye” to Colonel Schermbrucker, who went to Ladybrand, I spent the night at the house of Dr. Taylor, the government surgeon. In the morning the chief Jonathan came to see me. We had a long talk on Basutoland affairs, and on leaving he presented me with a valuable pony as a memento of my visit. I left for Ficksburg next day and pushed through to Maseru, where I arrived late at night.

Before taking my trip to Leribe to interview Jonathan and his people I wrote a letter “greeting” to Masupha, asking 381him to grant me an audience, and also leave to visit “Thaba Bosigo” (the mountain of night), where he was living. On my return I found a message waiting me from Masupha, giving me the requested permission, and saying that he would be glad to see me. So early on the following morning (March 7th) I left Maseru with a native escort under Koadi, a grandson of Moshesh, passing the Berea on my left, which was the scene of the terrible disaster which befell Gen. Sir George Cathcart, then governor of the Cape Colony and high commissioner, in 1852, of which the following is a brief outline:

The general, at the instance of Mr. Commissioner Owen, then in the sovereignty (now the Free State), had advanced in November of that year with some 2,000 troops as far as the Berea to demand of Moshesh 10,000 head of cattle and 1,000 horses for not complying with an award of Major Warden’s forbidding him to cross over the border line between Basutoland and the sovereignty under penalty of giving offense to the Queen and incurring a severe penalty.

With the troops he had with him (Colonel Hare of the 73d regiment) taking the advance command, Sir George ascended the Berea mountain, the top of which forms a large plateau, in three places, to attack that wonderfully astute barbarian and punish him for breaking his agreement. There was a heavy mist on the mountain at the time, and our men mistaking the Basutos for so many cattle, on discovering their error fled panic-stricken. Some in retreating jumped over precipices in the mountains and were killed, while the others who escaped continued their flight far into the night to Platberg in the sovereignty. More than one hundred officers and men lost their lives on this occasion, and it is said that the general never returned to bury their bodies, this melancholy office being performed by the missionaries in the neighborhood. Moshesh, next day, diplomatic enough, was profuse in his excuses for the attack, and sent cattle as a token of his submission, which General Cathcart was only too glad to accept.

Going a little further I passed Boquatie, a curious village of people who came from the Vaal River in 1833, and at noon I arrived at the French Protestant mission station of the Rev. M. Jousse, situated in a lovely nook at the foot of Thaba Bosigo. Riding here from Maseru I was able to gain some 382insight into the richness and fertility of the country. For miles and miles, across a splendid valley, nothing could be seen but waving corn; its luxuriant growth, however, did not surprise me when on crossing the deep water gullies I could see no end to the depth of a continuous alluvial deposit. M. Jousse’s station was a sad sight to contemplate. Here was a church seated for 800, a boarding school with accommodation for fifty native girls, a day school, a mission house with every token of French elegance and polish, gardens with rare fruit trees and a yard around, kept scrupulously clean, while melancholy indeed was it to find all this virtually useless; the war had put a stop to the civilizing influence of the good missionary! The school was empty, the church deserted, he alone remaining at his post waiting until “wars and rumors of wars” had passed away.

M. Jousse accompanied me to Masupha’s and kindly interpreted for me. We found preparations had been made for our visit.

Under the shade of a spreading tree near his house skins had been laid and chairs arranged, Masupha showing unusual civility by receiving us at once. I had heard many reports of Masupha’s drinking habits, but he was quite sober. Of middle height, well dressed in European costume, a little beyond middle age, with a slight nervous twitching of the face, I now saw before me the man, black though he was, who had defied and was still defying the Cape government! Deep, clever and crafty, this was the man who had out-manœuvred ministers and statesmen! Lepocquo, with several other of Masupha’s sons and councillors, were present. Masupha freely went over the course late events had taken and closed our interview by saying: “As far as the loyals are concerned I will never have them back, before the war they were always quarreling, now it will be worse; as to the magistrates, they ran away of their own accord when the war began, it is now a question whether they should be allowed to return,” and, continuing, he said, “you talk about hut tax, refer this to a pitso of the nation, and as to guns, Sprigg has got five, he is kicked out,[88] so must the gun-tax be, too.”

I came away feeling that it would require millions of money 383and thousands of men to alter this wily chief’s determination to remain entirely independent. The Cape government had also become aware of the exigency of the case, and this led them to inquire whether her Majesty’s government would permit them to obtain the services of Maj. Gen. Charles George Gordon, C.B., R.E., “for the purpose of consultation as to the best measures to be adopted with reference to Basutoland,” and “to assist in terminating the war and administering Basutoland.” Chinese Gordon accepted the invitation of the Cape government, but found on his arrival in the colony that the only post offered him was that of commandant general of the colonial forces, a post he had refused two years before. Although General Gordon came to the Cape with the sole object of quelling the rebellion in Basutoland, yet he accepted this appointment, looking upon it merely as a temporary one until another position could be found for Mr. Orpen, who was then British resident in Basutoland. Gordon, on May 21st, addressed a minute to ministers on the Basutoland question. In this it could be seen he had intuitively grasped the position, and did not believe in setting up brother against brother, or in other words hounding on the Basutos to destroy one another. His various memoranda on this and other subjects were passed over in silence by the Cape government, although, believing in the opinion he had formed, he had offered to go and live as resident with Masupha for two years in order to settle matters.

About this time Mr. Sauer, secretary for native affairs, met General Gordon at King William’s Town and begged him to go with him to Basutoland. Gordon reluctantly consented, as he had formed an opinion diametrically opposed to Orpen’s policy, and thought his presence would be of no service; moreover, after his interview with Letsea (a chief supposed to be acting in concert with the government), he had become more convinced than ever that the government were taking steps in the wrong direction.

Mr. Sauer then persuaded him to visit Masupha, as a “private individual,” to see what could be done, but, can it be believed, at the very time General Gordon was undertaking this journey a force under another loyal chief, Lerothodi, Letsea’s son, was actually sent to attack Masupha.

384By sheer force of character and moral power, which were his great levers, he disarmed Masupha’s suspicions of treachery as far as he, Gordon, was concerned, and was allowed by that chieftain to leave “the false position” into which the Cape government, or rather the acts of one of its ministers, had forced him.


Gordon telegraphed his resignation to the Cape government as soon as he arrived at Aliwal North, which was accepted, and he soon after left the colony. The unnecessarily insulting and narrow-minded conclusion to the telegram sent to the general by the Cape premier, Mr. (now Sir Thomas) Scanlan, is now, since that hero’s lamented death, a subject of such world-wide ridicule that I may be excused quoting it once more: “I regret to record my conviction that your continuance in the position you occupy would not be conducive to public interest.” It will ever be a source of gratification to me that I had the opportunity of meeting this noble man.

To return to my narrative. M. Jousse accompanied me several miles on my road to Roma, the principal Roman 385Catholic mission station in Basutoland, which is built on land given to the Roman Catholic community by Moshesh in October, 1862. Our road ran around the foot of Thaba Bosigo by the pass where Wepener was shot in the Boer war with the Basutos, and past Job’s village, which fringed, so to speak, the mountain with cultivated trees and with houses built in European style. Passing St. Michael’s, another R. C. mission station, I descended into the valley and wound my way round to Roma. This station is most picturesquely situated. At its back a range of hills protects it from the south wind, while just in front a pretty mountain stream runs along, lazily turning a mill wheel as it courses by. The fathers (oblates of Mary) received me most hospitably. They showed me over the station, consisting of a fine mission house, two long double-storied buildings, one used as a dormitory for boys, of whom there are at least fifty resident, the other for girls, whose number, though about the same, varies.

These buildings, together with the necessary workshops and tools for teaching the boys various trades, a separate cottage for visitors, and a large church capable of holding 1,000 people, shaded by a perfect forest of gum trees, afford an example of what energy and perseverance can accomplish. I must not forget to mention as well that the garden in front of the mission house, arranged in beautiful terraces planted with orange trees, vines, fruit trees and flowers, conveys of itself at once the presence of refinement and civilization. I was fortunate enough to be in time for evening prayers, and heard the magnificent intoning of the Basuto boys, their voices severally blended being perfectly wonderful.

In Basutoland there are at the present time in connection with the French R. C. mission seven stations, five priests, three brothers and eighteen nuns, belonging to the community of sisters of the Saint Famille of Bordeaux, the first members of which sisterhood arrived at Roma in April, 1886, following Monseigneur Allard, the Rev. Mr. Gerard and Brother Bernard, who came up to Moshesh, the paramount chief of the Basutos, in October, 1862.

At Roma, the head station, named by Moshesh Motsi wa M’a Jesu, “the village of the Mother of Jesus,” there is every Sunday an average attendance at the church services of 800; 386and I am authentically told that the number of natives who every Sunday attend the different churches belonging to the mission throughout the country is at least 1,500. This is, however, nothing when compared with the attendance at the various grand feasts of the church, where at Roma alone it is no unusual circumstance for 6,000 or 8,000 to congregate. New Year’s day may be called their national fête. This year Letsea, the paramount chief of Basutoland, attended the ceremonies at Roma on that day, accompanied by an immense retinue of mounted followers; the throng was so great that a rustic altar was erected amongst the trees, “and a grand and singular spectacle it was,” the Rev. Father Deltour tells us, “to behold these thousands of sable figures, massed together under these trees anxious to witness the great act of Christian worship.” He further goes on to describe the incidents of the day: “Never in my life did I witness such perfect order and instant obedience in such a multitude. It was simply wonderful.” The paramount chief addressed the meeting in the following words, which I quote from a letter of the reverend father:

“‘I came to Roma, as the Rev. Father had invited me, and right glad am I that I did come and witness the work that is carried on in this mission. Here the Rev. Fathers and the Sisters sow the seed of peace and of religion. This is a village of peace and prayer. In their prayers they invoke the help of the Holy Virgin, as the Rev. Father has explained this morning; and in my opinion they are right. It is prayer that sustains our life. Basutos, be united to your chief, be one nation under one chief, or you will divide yourselves and be lost. Look at the stream which descends from the mountain; it gathers strength because its waters are not divided, but run compact toward that mighty something which I know not, and which is called the sea. Do likewise and you shall be strong. Let the Fathers and the Sisters pray for our Basutoland; let them pray for rain, which is so much wanted. Pula!’

“In response to the royal speech a tremendous ‘Pula’ burst forth from all, and was echoed far and wide by the surrounding mountains.

“After Letsea had spoken and the meeting was over, the cliffs and rocks of the mountain side almost in an instant were covered with spectators anxious to see the races, in which a hundred horses ran, in the presence of an excited multitude. As evening drew nigh and the sports were drawing to a conclusion, the mass of people retired, no visitors remaining in the village.”

The Basutos are, as a rule, in their heathen state, unreliable, lustful, intemperate and overbearing, and the work of the 387missionary as he strives to render them faithful, self-controlled and modest is an appalling task, but one undertaken in full faith of divine guidance.

The French Protestant mission, which has its headquarters in Paris, first began its operations in Basutoland at Morija in 1833. It possesses at the present time fourteen head stations and eighty-two out-stations, with a staff of twenty-one European missionaries and 122 native catechists and schoolmasters. In 1884 the number of church members was 4,988, and of day scholars in the schools 2,947.

At Morija, the head mission station, there is a training institution for young men who study for the Cape elementary teacher’s certificate, a Bible school for the education of catechists, together with a printing-press for the issue of a bimonthly periodical in Sesuto called “Leselinyana” (or Little Light). So it can be seen that Protestants are vying with Roman Catholics in spreading religious training and instruction among this people.

During the late war, however, there was a distinct difference to be noted between the influence exerted by the R. C. missionaries and the Protestant. The Protestant, as a rule, interfered and even still meddle with politics; they showed themselves partisans of the late Sprigg ministry, and the consequence was that their influence declined, their congregations fell away, and their schools became deserted. The R. C. priests on the contrary, ignoring politics entirely, feeling their duty to be more spiritual than temporal, were rewarded by having their schools and churches as well attended during as before the war. As an instance of the estimation in which they were held, two personal friends of mine, Fathers Libihan and Cretinon, in December, 1880, were ordered by their bishop to proceed to this very place, Roma, in the heart of Basutoland. The war was just then at its height, when having to pass Thaba Bosigo, where Masupha, the head centre of the rebellion, was living, they were hospitably received and entertained until the following morning. Though I am a Protestant myself, I cannot but recognize that this speaks volumes in favor of the non-political interference of my R. C. friends, and the esteem in which they were held by the Basutos. Let any Protestant missionary have attempted this at 388the time, his life would have paid the penalty of his temerity, and a just punishment, too, I should have considered it; the mixing of religion and politics among natives like Basutos, being, in my opinion, an unpardonable mistake. This difference between the conduct of these respective ministers with regard to public matters was recognized even by the Boers in their war of 1865–68.

Bidding the hospitable monks adieu, I left Roma next morning in a pouring rain, with the guides provided me by the chief Jonathan, having made all the arrangements to catch the Capetown steamer at East London.

Stopping at Khorokhoro to breakfast, I continued my journey through a country mountainous in the extreme.

Leaving the Morija mission station (French Protestant) on my left, I was caught in a fearful thunder-storm, the rain coming down in torrents, but I luckily found shelter in a hut in a small native village which lay in my road.

Entering, I found myself in the midst of a Basuto family, consisting of father, mother and seven little girls from four to twelve years of age. Here I had the opportunity afforded me of noting the truth of that which had often been told me concerning the rapid progress in learning, the precocity in fact, distinguishing Basuto children. If either Mr. Moody or Mr. Sankey had been with me, their hearts would have leaped with joy; here in the heart of Basutoland I found the noise of the outside storm drowned in the music of some of their popular hymns. The chief favorites, sung over and over again, were “Ntoa sa Balumeh” (Hold the Fort) and “Mali a Konyana” (The Blood of the Lamb). No sight ever impressed me more with the important position music and hymns hold as factors in the progress of evangelization.

Luther’s enemies once said that he worked more harm by his songs than his sermons, and I felt that the same might in the nineteenth century be repeated by enemies of the Christian faith concerning these two celebrated American revivalists. even in the wilds of Africa.

It would be impossible to picture or portray a more peculiar scene! Outside, the howling of the raging storm, the peals of rolling thunder, the flashes of vivid lightning and the plash of the torrents of rain; inside, the Basuto youngsters stark 389naked, myself and guides crouching over the fire drenched to the skin, while strains familiar in years gone by were sung with all the vigor and fervor of aboriginal youth! As soon as the storm had passed over I rode quickly to make up for lost time, and crossing the dangerous drift of the Salt River, rested at the Boleka ridge thirteen miles from Mafeting. This was as far as our forces ever advanced during the war. The road goes over a ridge which is not very steep, and is a gap in the mountain chain. At the village close to the roadside I saw many relics of the late war. Fragments of shells were lying about (this being the pass which our troops tried in vain to force), and I saw one unexploded sixty-eight-pound shell doing the peaceful duty of serving as a seat for a Kafir who in happy ignorance was sitting on it drying himself at a wood fire!

After a short rest for my horses and guides, I went over the ridge and passed by the deserted intrenchments where our troops had encamped in virtual idleness for months. A tedious ride brought me to Mafeting, which I did not reach until far into the night; when I was very fortunate in dropping upon an old friend, the late Captain Aschman, who gave me a “shake-down,” for which, as there was no inn in the village, I was sincerely thankful.

Next morning I visited the broken-down wattle huts and ragged tents where the loyals were herded together. I found them far worse off than their confrères at Maseru, and grave were their complaints against the government. The rations allowed them were not sufficient, they told me, to allay their hunger, and I personally saw some emaciated looking women collecting and eating the corn falling from the horses’ mangers. These unfortunate creatures, stung by our ingratitude, irritated by our injustice, hoping against hope, almost, despairing of relief and yet remaining loyal, were enough to excite the sympathy of any true man, and create a loathing of the cowardly panderers to expediency who were then conducting the government of the country.

Having thoroughly investigated the condition of these people, I next visited the cemetery, a short distance from the village, which is full of interest. Here many an old colonist, “sleeps the sleep that knows no waking.” Among the many monuments to men fallen in the late war is a fine stone pedestal 390erected in memory of the disastrous affair at Kalibani, which will ever be remembered in colonial annals as the place where, on Oct. 19th, 1880, thirty-five of the First Cape mounted yeomanry, men principally from Grahamstown and Albany, and who formed the advance guard of General Clark’s relief column, were cut to pieces. Every one of these unfortunate men, except one who was shot at a long range, were, as Surgeon Major Smith, now practicing in the Diamond Fields, who examined the bodies, told me, assegaied and hewed to pieces with the greatest brutality by the rebellious Basutos under the chief Mama.

A magnificent view of the surrounding mountainous country is obtained from this graveyard. The Kalibani mountain, the Kolo, the Boleka ridge, Tweefontein, Lerothodi’s village away in the distance, and close below Mafeting itself, pass as in a panorama before the view.

The mushroom-like prosperity of Mafeting, brought about by the share it received of the lavish expenditure of £6,000,000 of colonial money during the war, had, however, at the time of my visit, completely waned, and many had been sorely disappointed by the sudden cessation of hostilities.

Leaving this place in the afternoon I reached Wepener the same night, and after receiving the kind hospitality of Mr. Fraser, the merchant of the place, started again at daybreak, and arrived at Aliwal North after a long day’s drive. A good view of the town, which is of considerable importance, possessing a valuable library, a nice little club, large church and well-filled stores, is obtained before crossing the fine iron bridge leading over the Orange River.

Staying the night, noon next day found me sitting behind four horses on the road to Queenstown, where, after passing through Dordrecht, I arrived at six o’clock, just in time to catch the night train for East London, where I arrived next morning (March 13th). After a rest I went round the town, saw the sights, being particularly interested in the reclaiming of land which was going on under government direction at the mouth of the Buffalo River, and which, at some not far distant date, will be of great value. The next day I was invited to a large picnic given by one of the boating companies, at a delightful spot in a wooded glen about four miles from 391East London, on the banks of the Buffalo River. Glorious weather, good company, beautiful scenery, charming music, a fine lunch, sparkling champagne; everything harmonized to make a pleasant day. Colonel Schermbrucker and myself were called upon to speak, and we complied in a few words. Returning in the afternoon to East London I spent the night reveling in the mazy waltz at a ball given in the Mutual Hall, and sailed next morning in the Melrose for Port Elizabeth, where I transhipped to the Grantully Castle for Capetown.[89]

The opening of the Cape parliament following in a day or two, I found among the passengers ten fellow members of the house of assembly hailing from different parts of the colony, and proceeding to the performance of their legislative duties.

Among others on board I met Sir D. Wedderburn, since deceased, whose acquaintance I had formed in Kimberley, where I had the pleasure of entertaining him some few weeks before on his way round through Natal and the Free State.

Many a pleasant hour I spent talking over with him the various political topics of the day. His opinion of South African men and things had not been changed at all since I last saw him, and he told me “he had seen nothing in Africa which caused him in the least to alter the opinions he had formed before he came out.” I recollect his opinions on the then two all absorbing topics of the day, the Transvaal and the Zulu questions. These were very clear; he often said “we ought never to have fought for what we ought never to have taken,” adding in reference to the Zulu question, on which he had formed a decided opinion, “there was little pleasure in punishing men who bravely defended their native 392country.” Sir Bartle Frere’s “forward” policy found no supporter in him.

There was something irresistibly charming in meeting and discussing passing events with such a man. He impressed all who met him with the sincerity of his convictions and the honesty of his purpose.

Our journey, however, quickly drew to an end. The work of the session, we found on our arrival, had already commenced.

The main business transacted during this session was the passing through the house of assembly of an act, throwing further restrictions on the trade in diamonds, which I have already fully dealt with, the presenting of the petition of Jonathan Molappo, praying that a deputation of three Basutos might “plead their cause” at the bar of the house, which proved a profitless appeal, debates on Basutoland following ad nauseam, the grant of two extra members to represent Kimberley, and the introduction of the “Constitution Ordinance Amendment Bill,” allowing the Dutch language to be spoken in the house. This last measure met with no opposition, but became law on Jan. 14th, 1882. After this bill had gone through its various stages, Mr. Luttig, one of the Dutch members, rose and made the first speech in that language, expressing his gratification that no opposition was offered by his English speaking friends; but, though a Dutchman, he concluded by saying “that although it is my first speech in Dutch, it will most likely be my last, as I wish to promote harmony and good feeling, and when I speak, I wish my English friends who do not understand Dutch to know what I wish to convey.” This privilege has not since its concession been much used.

After the usual session in 1882, a short special session was held in January 1883, which was called to deal exclusively with the affairs of Basutoland, and arrange about the compensation of the “loyals” and other matters of importance. On my return to Kimberley in February after this special session, according to my previously expressed intention, I resigned my seat in the Cape house of assembly.

I then resumed full charge of my medical practice, until I met with a severe accident in December of the same year, when proceeding to inquire into some cases of suspected small-pox.



The average diamond digger, in the first wild rush, “the feverish race for wealth,” was not of a markedly irreligious disposition, as might have been expected, judging from the analogy of mining camps in other parts of the world.

The distance of the Vaal River from any colonial town, and the expense of reaching the diggings on its banks made it a matter of impossibility for men without means, either to reach the place or to support themselves after their arrival; hence, the first comers were, as a matter of course, above the general stamp of those who constitute a digging community. They were men, as a rule, well educated and well brought up, and it was not likely that they would altogether forget their early religious training or to allow these duties to lapse into utter neglect; but at the same time the results of the complete absence of women and children, and the sobering effect which their influence produces, was in the early days more or less observable.

394The first clergymen of the Church of England who visited the new El Dorado, were Archdeacons Kitton and Croghan, of the diocese of Bloemfontein, who visited Klipdrift, on the Vaal River, in 1870, where amidst the most strange and unusual surroundings they held religious services for the diggers.

I have still a vivid recollection of the primitive state of things existing, even when I arrived some months afterward. On the first Sunday that I spent on the Diamond Fields in November 1871, I attended a “Church of England” service at the New Rush or Colesberg Kopje, as Kimberley was then called. This was held in a canvas tent billiard-room, situated near the spot where the “Blue Posts” still remains. On entering I beheld a full-robed clergyman officiating at one end of a billiard table, which served for his reading desk, whilst a large and attentive crowd sat around the other end, some on rude benches which were fixed along the walls, others perched upon gin cases, buckets reversed, or any other make-shift that came to hand. The congregation behaved with suitable decorum, but I confess it was not easy to keep the mind from wandering to the incongruity of the surroundings. Whilst the parson was earnestly engaged imploring our deliverance “from all the deceits of the world, the flesh and the devil,” I caught many an eye looking askance at the cues in the corner, no doubt indulging in reflections on the past, and in speculations as to the success or non-success of some match to be played in the future. Moreover, when the parson was praying or the people singing, it was not particularly edifying to be interrupted by the lively chaff and occasional bursts of blasphemy, which we could plainly hear through the canvas party-walls, which separated us from the adjoining bar and its half tipsy occupants. Defoe’s lines:

“Wherever God erects a house of prayer,
The Devil always builds a chapel there.”

had here a liberal interpretation indeed—although I am not sure that they were strictly applicable in this instance, seeing that our parson had knowingly thrust himself into the devil’s own domain.

Notwithstanding these drawbacks, and despite the fiascos which resulted from our unfortunate attempts to properly render the appointed hymns, it was nevertheless refreshing to 395hear the grand old service once again and have the recollection of one’s early days brought back, even amidst such inharmonious concomitants.

The Rev. Canon Doxat was the first clergyman of the Church of England who took general charge of the diggings, and until his health gave way and he returned home invalided in 1877, both here, and in later years at Barkly, he was indefatigable in his work, whether as parish priest, attendant on the sick, or instructor of the young. The Rev. W. Rickards succeeded him at the dry diggings in 1871. During his rectorship a raw-brick structure, now a store, was erected in place of the canvas building which hitherto had done ecclesiastical duty, the congregation meanwhile growing rapidly in numbers and influence. During the whole of this period Mr. Rickards was also assiduous in pushing forward the cause of education, which had been much neglected. After this working minister’s leaving for England, three clergymen, the Revs. Messrs. Maude, Borton and Hanbury successively held the rectorship. During the incumbency of the first gentleman a new and larger church, of corrugated iron, was built in a more central part of the town, which, just on nearing its completion in 1879, was blown to the ground, a complete ruin, but it was quickly rebuilt, and opened for worship in 1880.[90] The church and schools during the incumbencies of these gentlemen gradually increased in numbers under the organization of the Right Rev. Allan B. Webb, D. D., bishop of Bloemfontein, under whose spiritual jurisdiction the English Church in Griqualand West was then placed. Bishop Webb, however, later on in 1882, resigned his see, and after an interval of three years the Rev. G. W. H. Knight-Bruce was appointed, last year (1886), to fill the vacant bishopric.

At the present time the Rev. Canon Gaul, who is rector of St. Cyprian’s and rural dean of Griqualand West and Bechuanaland, with four assistant priests, conducts the services 396of the church in Kimberley and Beaconsfield, while two native mission churches, one in Kimberley and one at Phokoane, in Bechuanaland, are ministered to by faithful and devoted clergy. I may add that several new churches and buildings are projected, but although the amount of money raised for church purposes during the year ending Easter, 1885, was £6,815, yet the church’s present financial condition still requires a zealous effort to be made by its supporters to clear it from the burden of debt.

The services, both at St. Cyprian’s, Kimberley, and at All Saints, Beaconsfield, may by some be considered of a High Church, if not ritualistic character, but although a tendency in that direction may exist, I am glad to state that these services are not conducted by High Church clergymen of an emasculate or hysterical type, men indulging in man millinery or ritualistic playthings, but by earnest, honest workers, in genuine sympathy with their fellow creatures.

Turning to the Roman Catholics, I am only doing justice to the memory of Father Hidien, the first Roman Catholic priest who visited the Fields, in stating that he was the leading figure in the religious world of the early days. Not only was he beloved by the members of his own faith, but a kindly disposition, never weary in well doing, and a boundless, practical charity, caused him to be revered by the members of every denomination. Dr. Allard, then bishop of, and who at the time visited the diggings, placed the Catholics on the Diamond Fields under his care, but this charge he did not long retain, for the summer of 1871, among its many victims, snatched away the good father from his work. Father Le Bihan, who had worked for several years among the natives of Basutoland, then came to take Father Hidien’s place. At that time the Catholics of Du Toit’s Pan, like the Hebrews of old in the desert, assembled for divine worship in a tent, while their priest, living in a tent wagon close by, was ready to follow his congregation wherever a new Rush might draw them.

When Colesberg Kopje (Kimberley mine) developed into a permanent digging, Father Le Bihan followed, and it was here through his instrumentality that a permanent church of wood and iron was erected. When this was out of debt, Father 397Le Bihan turned his attention to education, and built in an incredibly short space of time the three first schools in Griqualand West, one for boys, one for girls, and the third for infants. Just at this juncture Bishop Rickards paid the Fields a visit from Grahamstown, and at a banquet which was given in his honor on that occasion, I recollect that Mr. R. W. Murray, Sen., the vice-chairman, telling the company “that his experience of the Catholic church in South Africa was, that wherever the Catholics erected churches, schools at once followed, of which Kimberley was an instance in point.” The truth of the vice-chairman’s observations was felt by all. Later on the same evening the bishop responding to the special toast of “Education,” which had been entrusted to me, gave the first public intimation of his intention to introduce Trappist monks from a monastery in Algeria into South Africa, saying: “These would teach the sanctity of labor, and prepare the natives to receive the great truths of Christianity.” This scheme the bishop afterward endeavored to carry out, but the work at Dunbrodie, near Port Elizabeth, led to disappointment, the climate, drought and heat not favoring the efforts of the monks. Subsequently they removed to Mariann Hill, near Pinetown, in Natal, where every success is following their work.

Bishop Jolivet, however, soon discovered that Father Le Bihan’s labors could not longer be spared from the scene of his former triumphs, and Father Walshe took his place here in 1876, and entering at once heart and soul into the work of his predecessor, remained until the beginning of 1878. Then leaving he became a soldier of the cross in more senses than one, his tall form familiar alike to sick persons and young children and to prisoners and captives, his genial, happy disposition and his wonderful influence being transferred to scenes where his courageous devotion and his readiness at the call of duty could perhaps be even more appreciated than with us—as military chaplain during the Zulu war, the Sekukuni campaign and the Transvaal outbreak. He also was chaplain in the perhaps unnecessary, and to a certain section annoying, because bloodless, Bechuanaland expedition. He seemed to possess a charmed life. It mattered not to him whether he was cheering the wounded at Ulundi, regardless 398of the bullets raining around, or whether he was tending the sick in the beleagured fort of Lydenburg, duty was ever paramount, and he was indeed one of those

Quos non profani tessera proclii
Duxit in bellum.

It was my melancholy lot to see him (in consultation) during his last illness, bravely struggling for life against a severe attack of lung inflammation, which carried him off on Sept. 12th, 1885.

The Rev. Father Lenoir, the present parish priest, who succeeded Father Walshe in 1878, at once set to work with indomitable energy. Noticing the lack of opportunity which existed for the education of Roman Catholic girls, he built a convent, and with the hearty concurrence of Bishop Jolivet procured from Europe some Sisters of the Holy Family to assist in the meritorious work.

The ancient Greek proverb declares that “the beginning is the half of the whole,” or as the homely Saxon saw puts it, “Well begun and half done;” and now the Rev. Mother, Lady Superior, in a double sense of the word, and the Sisters of the Holy Family, perform their daily duties in buildings, which for Kimberley, a place but a few short years ago an uninhabited grassy plain, are simply magnificent.

Not content with this Father Lenoir commenced the construction in stone and brick of a building designed for a new church, the old one built by Father Le Bihan having become too small for the congregation. The foundation stone was laid by Bishop Jolivet on Nov. 1st, 1879, and in one year the most handsome sacred building in Kimberley was opened for divine worship. Father Lenoir told his congregation at the time that “nothing was too grand for the service of the Almighty,” and right well they had seconded his efforts, for this magnificent structure, possessing beautiful altar paintings and appurtenances which cost over £7,000, is entirely free from debt. A lesson from this might easily be learned by the members of the Church of England. In 1883 a new church and school were also erected at Beaconsfield.

These are under the care of the Sisters of the Holy Family and the priests of Kimberley, while a home for destitute children is in course of erection at Barkly.

399The Indians as well, who have found their way here from Hindostan, Mauritius and Natal, of whom a considerable number are Roman Catholics, receive their share of attention, no less than 200 being taught at the mission school. I may mention in conclusion that not only in spiritual but also in temporal matters the Catholic priesthood has endeavored to forward the public welfare.

St. Mary’s Benefit Society, of which since its formation in 1876 I have had medical charge, contributes greatly to the assistance of any of its members who may be stricken down by disease, and also aids in Catholic matters generally, while at the same time its thorough organization and its deeds of charity are assisting to make Roman Catholicism influential in the country.

In the early days of the Diamond Fields, when Griqualand West, which comprises the four diamond mines of the world, was still the property of the Orange Free State, and the institutions of the place were administered by its officials, the Dutch people and language occupied a position of importance. The Dutch as a rule are highly conservative in their religious tendencies, and it can well be imagined the Dutch Reformed Church, with its synod and kirkraad, its ministers, elders and deacons was not long in following and taking care of its nomadic adherents. The Dutch Reformed Church, which is Calvinistic in doctrine, was founded in the Netherlands in the year 1579. It then accepted as its chief doctrinal standard the Belgic Confession, translated in 1562 from the “Confession de Foy” of Guido de Brès. This confession was revised at the synod of Dordrecht in the years 1618 and 1619, and since that time the standards of the Dutch Reformed Church have been the following, viz., 1. The Heidelberg Catechism, containing instructions in the Christian religion. 2. The Belgic Confession, with more elaborate details, and 3. The Canons of Dordrecht, which are mainly supplementary to the Belgic Confession.

The earliest congregation in South Africa of the members of the Dutch Reformed Church, a branch of the Church in Holland, was formed at the very commencement of the Cape Colony, the first minister coming from Holland in 1665 to attend to its wants.

400The Dutch Reformed remained the Established Church of the Cape of Good Hope, notwithstanding the interim of English rule, which lasted from 1795 to 1802. In this latter year the Treaty of Amiens, having brought the Colony back to its former relationship with Holland, the administration of Cape affairs was resumed by the Dutch until 1806, when the Government of the Dutch was finally closed by the articles of capitulation agreed to at the foot of Sir Lowry’s Pass, and afterwards ratified at the Castle in Capetown in January of the same year between General Baird and General Janssens, the English and Dutch commanders. Public worship on that occasion received special mention. In the 8th Article of Capitulation it was stipulated that, “Public worship as now in use will also continue without interference.” And so it did, for the Dutch Reformed remained the Established Church in South Africa, and received state aid as well; no less than 30 congregations (until the passing of Saul Solomon’s “Voluntary Bill” in 1879 put an end to further state patronage) acquiring grants averaging £200 per annum each.

At the diggings on the Vaal River, the Dutch were not neglected by the pastors of their Church, ministers from the Cape Colony and the Orange Free State paying periodical visits to the camps. It was not, however, until there was a pretty certain prospect of the dry diggings becoming more than a passing dream that churches were built, congregations established, and ministers appointed, at Du Toit’s Pan and Kimberley in 1872. These congregations, which were large, numbering at Kimberley some 3500 souls, and at Du Toit’s Pan more than 1500, were in the first place independent, but became subject to the Synod of the “Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa,” (the official name for the Dutch Reformed Church of the Cape Colony,) when Griqualand West was annexed to the Cape Colony.

Owing to the decadence of mining by individual diggers, and the consequent falling away of the population, these churches have suffered much in the number of their adherents, the congregation of Kimberley now numbering about 1200 only and Du Toit’s Pan about 600 souls.

401The Dutch Reformed Church has no missions standing in connection with the parish of Kimberley, as the field is already taken up by the Berlin Missionary Society, and the Wesleyans and Independent bodies, but they have a native church at Beaconsfield founded in 1878, and a church for colored people, with fine buildings and parsonage, built in 1883.

At Kimberley the Rev. J. D. Kestell, the present pastor, has for some years been most zealous in superintending the erection of the new church just completed, situated in the Newton Market Square.

This church is unrivalled on the Diamond Fields. Built solidly of brick in Roman style, it has a most commanding appearance, and its interior, with beautifully fitted pews and panelled ceiling, is a fine specimen of chaste simplicity of architecture. To crown all, it has little or no debt, although nearly £6000 has been spent on its construction. At Beaconsfield the Dutch Reformed Church has a fine building for divine worship, while both there and at Kimberley, as well as at the Mission School for colored people, the cause of education is not forgotten. Before concluding my description of the Dutch Reformed Church, I must not forget to mention a sight, which occasionally was beheld some ten years ago, flitting across the view like the spectre of a bygone age. This was a visitor who appeared as singular in his garb as a Quaker of the old school would be to twentieth century eyes, for with a peculiarly shaped black cloth tunic, long hair cut in a circle round his neck and forehead like a Russian Cossack, a rough beard, lips cleanly shaved, and a hat oval and low crowned with a tremendous broad green-lined brim, to shade his ruddy cheeks, he used to be the “observed of all observers.” This picture is that of a “dopper” farmer who used occasionally to be seen selling his corn on our market, but who, I fear, from his continued absence, has long since been gathered to the garner filled with “the bearded grain and the flowers that grow between.”

These “doppers,” relics of the past, of whom, I believe, President Kruger is a representative in the Transvaal, do not 402differ essentially from the members of the Dutch Reformed Church in doctrine; they are simply more conservative in feeling, less liberal in action, very jealous of innovation and entirely unprogressive in ideas.

This I think will give my readers a fair idea of the Dutch Reformed Church as it exists in South Africa at the present time.


Among dissenting bodies, the Wesleyans are numerically the most important.

The first regular minister sent to hold service on the Diamond 403Fields was the Rev. I. Priestly, appointed by the English Conference in 1871. Previous to his arrival, however, the Rev. W. Wynne, who after a long interval has again resumed charge at Kimberley, conducted services in the various camps. During this interval, which extended over some twelve years, these services were carried on, among others, by the Rev. I. I. Calvert, well known through his labors in the Fiji Islands, and other talented and able men. As a proof of their energetic ministrations, up to the present time this body has steadily increased, and now, as the result of persistent work, in Kimberley alone, three English, one Dutch and one native Wesleyan church, under four European and one native minister, can be counted.

In Du Toit’s Pan there is an English as well as a native congregation, both under the charge of the Rev. B. Hayes. To show the hold which Wesleyanism has gained here I have carefully calculated the average Sunday attendance at the various Wesleyan chapels on the Fields, and find it to be nearly 2000, while I am also informed that 600 children regularly receive religious instruction.

In 1879 certain Presbyterians. Congregationalists, and a few Baptists, who had hitherto been worshipping with the Wesleyans, finding their numbers increasing, thought the time had arrived to constitute themselves into a separate Church. This was in due course accomplished, and although the Church that they formed had no connection with any Presbytery, being entirely self-governing, the title of Presbyterian was assumed. They possess a fine place of worship, and an average congregation of four hundred souls. The present minister is Mr. Lloyd, who displays great energy in the discharge of his duties, and has the satisfaction of knowing that his efforts are appreciated by large congregations.

The population of Kimberley, it is scarcely necessary for me to say, is made up of different nationalities, among which the German is one of the most segregative.

In one of the quiet thoroughfares leading to the mine, a neat little church may be seen, which on inquiry proves to be that belonging to the German Lutherans.

404The Germans for the last ten years have been fortunate enough to be able to worship God in their own language, and from the inauguration of the Lutheran services they have been conducted by their present pastor, the Rev. C. Meyer, of the Berlin Missionary Society. The first services were held in the High Court, lent for the purpose, in January, 1875, and were continued there until the completion of the present church in October of the same year. The congregation naturally being confined within the limits of those speaking the German tongue, it is not large, numbering about 150. The German children in Kimberley as a rule go to English schools, but twice a week their pastor holds a class to which he gives instruction, through the medium of the German language.

The Germans are virtually “Strangers in a strange land,” but notwithstanding this, they have devoted a good deal of attention to the natives, and the resident church minister has at the present time a large native mission under his charge.

Another congregation, and one which comprises men born in the most distant and diverse parts of the world, is that of the Jewish people, who have for ages been known as judges and dealers in precious stones, and who, therefore, as may readily be conceived, muster in large numbers at the Diamond Mines of Brazil, and in still greater numbers at those of South Africa.

As soon as the wonderful finds on the Vaal River became known in Europe, many representatives of eminent English and continental Jewish firms, with, of course, others drawn from the Colony, appeared on the scene, and a Jewish circle was soon formed which at the present time numbers some 1400 souls, of which about 600 are adult males. On the Vaal River and in the first days of the Dry Diggings at Du Toit’s Pan and New Rush, the Jews had no rabbi or reader to conduct their services, nor had they a synagogue in which to read prayers with due solemnity. Consequently on holidays and festivals, of which there are six during the year, some large store or public hall was converted into a temporary synagogue where were duly explained the scrolls of the Sacred Law, and where three members of their community officiated by turns.

405At that time no Sabbath holidays were kept, and if deaths occurred, or the anniversary of deaths was observed, prayers were read in some private house. When, too, the initiatory rite of circumcision had to be performed, a minister or rabbi, at a great expense, was sent for to Capetown or Port Elizabeth. The wealthy Jewish community of the Diamond Fields did not long allow this state of affairs to continue, but in 1876 built a synagogue at a cost of £3000 on ground given them by the London and South African Exploration Company. In course of time a rabbi was obtained from England, and a Hebrew school, attached to the synagogue, was duly instituted. This rabbi, the Rev. M. Mendelssohn, retired at the conclusion of the period of his engagement, and was succeeded by the Rev. A. Ornstein, a young but most energetic minister, in the month of August, 1881. The ministrations of this gifted and noble man lasted but too brief a time. He came here and found the Sabbath but rarely observed with any strictness, and in other respects too may be applied to him the words “his righteous soul was vexed with the iniquity of the wicked.” Undisturbed by the blazing heat of the African sun or the remonstrances of his friends, he pressed on his chosen path of self-denial and devotion, with the result that before a few short months had flown by he had fallen a victim to fever. His influence is not yet passed away, as the increased number of stores closed on the Hebrew Sabbath serve to testify.[91]

In connection with their synagogue the Jews have also two philanthropic Societies conferring monetary gifts and medical attendance on the deserving poor. Their charities, however, are not confined solely to their co-religionists, Jewish citizens having ever been found to the front in all works of charity.

Coming next to the Malays residing on the Diamond Fields: they form by no means an inconsiderable portion of the population, either in number, respectability or voting power. As long ago as the year 1871, three or four, more than ordinarily 406adventurous, could be seen digging at the Vaal River, and on the opening up of the Dry Diggings several might have been found at Du Toit’s Pan, but it is in late years only that the “Malay Camp” has grown to its present proportions, numbering now some 600 souls. The Malays on the Fields came of course originally from Capetown and Port Elizabeth. They mostly own and drive conveyances, and being also very expert masons are largely engaged in building operations. As a rule they are very healthy, not more than fifty deaths having occurred since the opening up of the Fields. They are honest, well-to-do, benevolent, respectful, affable, strictly sober, and, believing in predestination, they possess a remarkable serenity of mind in all the vicissitudes of fortune.

In Kimberley they have two mosques, one lately built, in which being Moslems, five times a day, as near as their avocations will permit them, they proclaim the two grand principles of their faith, the two grand dogmas of their religion, “Allah illah Allah Mahomet resoul Allah”—“There is one God and Mahomet is his prophet.”

As a body they follow out their religious observances with commendable regularity. Imaum Doud, whom I know well, is a most exemplary citizen. He has held the position of priest for the last eight years, yet no special respect is shown him on account of his “cloth,” for like all Moslem priests he is not paid, and has no authority, but is judged and held in general estimation simply for his piety and learning. Following out one of the most important duties of their religion, namely, that of performing a pilgrimage to Mecca, which is a duty incumbent on every Moslem once in his life to perform, unless poverty or sickness prevent, the Moslems of Griqualand West have in considerable numbers visited Arabia, no less than twenty having left Kimberley in one party in 1881. This a few years ago was a very expensive undertaking, the title of Hadji, which both men and women acquire by this pilgrimage, at that time costing each adult about £400. Now, however, rail and steam have reduced the expenses of this trip to about £100. Their funeral ceremonies, too, are carried out with exactness. After life has gone, the dead body is washed 407by one duly appointed, wrapped in grave clothing, no coffin being used, and then after the Koran has been read all night, the body is carried on a bier and buried on its left side in the grave. After certain ceremonies have been performed, the friends, wearing no signs of mourning, return and pray for seven nights in succession in the house of the deceased, while for forty consecutive days they religiously repair to the grave and pray over the remains of the departed.

The Moslems like the Jews circumcise their male children; swines’ flesh, as well as the flesh of most animals forbidden by the Mosaic law, is also prohibited. These disciples of Mahomet also believe in good and evil angels, in the immortality of the soul, in the general resurrection and judgment of the dead, in future rewards and punishments, and lastly in Heaven and Hell.

In perusing this short description, the question may naturally present itself to my readers, Whence did these Malays first come into the Cape Colony? I will answer this question very shortly. In the first place Europeans, going home from the East Indies, Malacca, Java, Sumatra, Celebes, the Philippines, etc., used to bring Malays as slaves as far as the Cape and there leave or sell them; secondly, the Dutch East India Co. supplied slaves to the burghers in order to cultivate on a more extended scale; thirdly, the Cape at that time was a convict station, to which many criminals were transported from the East; and lastly, free Malays returning from Holland, where they had gone as servants, on return often remained at the Cape, the Amsterdam authorities, in fact, recommending this line of action in 1656. It will be seen from this, that our Malay population, which numbers one-fifth of the inhabitants of Capetown, and about one-fifteenth or more of the Diamond Fields (white population), does not necessarily spring from either exiled, slave or criminal ancestry.

Before I conclude this brief description of our Malay fellow citizens, I may mention that they are exceedingly tenacious of their civil rights. An instance of this came personally within my knowledge. I have told my readers in a former chapter, something about the disease supposed by so many 408to be “small-pox,” which ran riot on the Fields in 1884. Now the Cape laws give power to the authorities to build lazarettos and forcibly remove all persons suffering from infections diseases, if they have not proper medical attendance and unless they obey strict quarantine laws. I was at the time of the last outbreak of so-called small-pox attending a well-to-do Malay suffering from the disease, and I took especial care that his friends obeyed the law to the very letter, as my patient had a great horror of being dragged from his home, and moreover was determined that the officer of the Board of Health should have no excuse for removing him. The health officer of the day, however, who was highly energetic (for which, so far he deserved due praise, if he was not too judicious), wishing to show his activity, attempted to drag this man against his will to the lazaretto. I happened very fortunately to arrive on the scene, just as this illegal attempt was being made by that officer, who assisted by about thirty police was dragging the sick man amidst the hoots and execrations of an infuriated mob through the streets into an ambulance. Knowing the law I at once advised the Malays to resist his removal pending an appeal to the magistrate, Mr. L. J. Truter, to whom a statement of the case was immediately sent. The magistrate saw at once the unlawfulness of the whole proceeding, gave instructions accordingly, and to my intense delight these myrmidons of the law who would not, who dare not, have attempted such officious illegality in the case of an European, had to slink away completely crestfallen. The man afterwards recovered, and to show his gratitude for my exertions both from a medical and civil point of view, organized the presentation of a silver cup to

J. W. Matthews, M.D.
“for his successful efforts in protecting
the Mussulman interest.”

This was presented to me at a large meeting of Malays in October, 1884.

A passing word would not be out of place concerning the Indians who are now on the fields in considerable numbers, say 700 to 1000 souls.

409They possess no place of worship, that is the pure Hindu, the believer in Brahma, Siva and Vishnu, but the Mahomedan division have just built a mosque and sent specially to India to procure an Imaum who will conduct their services in the future with proper rites. In October, however, of each year the Mahometan party form large processions and make the air discordant by the beating of “tom-toms.”

They celebrate this feast a whole week with allegorical imagery, men painted and chained like tigers dancing about to harsh music. This forms not so much a religious as a historical festival, by which they commemorate the murder of two of Mahomet’s sons and at the same time rejoice at the beginning of another year and keep green the memory of their early days in India.

It is not to be supposed that all professors or expounders of “Holy Writ,” are immaculate. Some crave after position and power, some after ease and pleasure, some after luxury and wealth.

To the second class I have specified belonged the most eccentric individual, who has made a trade of religion, that I have ever met. This “Apostle of the Faith,” as he called himself, turned up at Du Toit’s Pan in the year 1876. He was an odd creature, wore black broadcloth, a white choker and a bell-topper hat. In those days, a tall beaver was as rare as was the existence of the conservative working man according to the imagination of Professor Rogers, therefore “Bishop” Mellett, in his singular get up, was quite the sensation for a time among the diggers.

“Was he a real live bishop?” some asked; “Where was his diocese?” others inquired; “Was he a greater knave than fool?” “Was he an impostor trading upon the artless boer, under the cloak of religion?” These were queries with which “his Reverence” was soon confronted. “His Lordship” was a short man, of some fifty years, with a good deal of doggedness in his weather-beaten features, while every now and then a nervous twitching of the lips was evident to the close observer. The wags of the place were determined before 410he left to have some fun at his expense, and invited him to lecture to them.

To this he cordially acquiesced, especially when a dinner to be given in his honor was hinted at, to enable him to fortify himself for the oratorical effort he was expected to make. At this dinner, given in the dining-room of the Royal Hotel, Du Toit’s Pan, there were many visitors from Kimberley, and the high jinks played upon the “bishop,” of which, by the way, he seemed to be perfectly unconscious, created considerable hilarity among the jovial crowd. Dinner over a procession was formed, and a march made to the new billiard-room just being built for a rival hostelry, the “Fox and Hounds,” where a temporary platform and reading desk had been erected for the occasion upon two empty beer barrels. Candles were stuck here and there around and business immediately began. The Chairman appointed was a Dr. Graham, the very broth of an educated but rollicking Irishman. Duly introducing the “Bishop,” that reverend gentleman rose, and at once commenced his lecture, but the “Bishop’s” knowledge of the English language being very imperfect, he was asked to speak in Dutch, which was very humorously interpreted by a Hollander who was present. About an hour’s rambling twaddle brought the lecturer to his seat, his discourse concluding with the information that he was prepared to answer any questions concerning Holy Writ which might be put to him. Many were the questions and curious; the audience relishing the fun and seemingly vying with each other in their endeavors to confuse him, but the question that took the first prize in public opinion was, “Will His Lordship kindly explain why corrugated iron is sometimes called Gospel Oak?” Well this fairly nonplussed the “Bishop,” as probably it will some of my readers. This is one of those jokes that requires an explanation. Corrugated iron was the material generally in use for building, and the favorite brand was “Gospel Oak,” so-called because the manufacturer’s works, situate somewhere in the vicinity of London, were so named. The efforts of the “Bishop” to explain made the thing more ludicrous, and just as he was in the throes of a learned disquisition upon 411something or other, out went the candles, upside-down was turned the platform, “his Lordship’s” bell-topper became irretrievably ruined, a few rotten eggs beplastered his sunburnt visage, and in less time than it takes to tell, the impudent hypocrite was seen slipping away, hurriedly scrambling through an open window to the rear of the premises. A “hue and cry” was raised, and the whilom bishop on being run to earth received the rough handling (which did not, however, go the length of physical violence) which my readers may imagine he would receive from a rough mining crowd. After getting as much fun as they wanted out of their victim, the affair wound up by escorting him into a neighboring canteen, where everybody, “bishop,” digger, diamond buyer, or loafer became just as “fou” as was compatible with walking to his respective bed. When the “bishop” got to his room in the hotel, however, a cruel practical joke awaited him. Worn out with excitement and fatigue he threw himself on his bed to sleep, but pins and needles had been stuck all over and at once out he bounded with miraculous agility. Then came through the open window such a roar of laughter that the “bishop” could see further trouble was looming in the distance, and “discretion” with him “being the better part of valor,” he donned his nether garments and with coat, handbag, umbrella and bible, he cleared out as fast through the friendly door as his legs could carry him, and has, mirabile dictu, never since been seen on the Fields. He was recognized, however, some few months ago in the Transvaal still carrying on his pious frauds. In pursuit of his ecclesiastical functions he goes from farm-house to farm-house, staying here a month and there a month, or as long as the farmer will keep him, and so he plays his hypocritical “part” among the ignorant and confiding boers.

Griqualand West has been, until the advent of the railway, at too great a distance from the large towns of the colony to entice many celebrities to come and see the mines, and visitors, especially those belonging to the religious world, have been few and far between.

Since the opening of the Colesberg Kopje, I can recollect 412only the spasmodic visits of one or two Bishops of the English Church, the short stay of a lecturing infidel and buffoon, whose name I will not advertise by mentioning, but who was publicly presented with a diamond ring by certain gentlemen possessed of more money than brains, the mission of Dr. Somerville in connection with the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, and the meteoric appearance of Father Henerberry, a second Father Matthew, who for fourteen days filled the Roman Catholic church to overflowing by his powerful crusade against drink. For some twelve months past the Salvation Army has been established, but contrary to expectations has attracted comparatively little attention of either a favorable or opposite character.

I should be shirking an evident duty if I were to omit calling attention to a matter which must ever hear witness against Kimberley and the surrounding camps, and that is the opportunity which for years the religious section of the inhabitants have thrown away of spreading the truths of the Gospel to the natives,[92] who have been attracted to their very doors from the far interior. I am within the mark when I compute that during the last sixteen years an average of at least 10,000 natives (new arrivals) has each year been drawn to work in our mines by the reports, carried from one to another by those returning, of the riches awaiting them. What a field for missionary enterprise has not this presented? Now, has not the chance been lost? What “glad tidings of great joy” might not even one or two in whom the seed thus sown had borne fruit, have spread on their return?

I am glad to notice, however, that at last proper advantage of this vast field for the propagation of the truths of the Gospel is about to be taken.

One important point must not be overlooked: every man in Kimberley even now is but a bird of passage, merely drawn by the chance of making money quickly as the first arrivals were, and then escaping from a place which possesses very 413few social attractions, and, in respect of natural beauty and comfort of dwellings, none—the impossibility of getting away felt by some, the desire for further accumulations evinced by others, keeping together a mixed and heterogeneous population such as could scarcely be found in any other country.

The rising generation is mostly to be pitied, doomed to spend their young lives in a place which in South Africa at least can only be exceeded in wretchedness by the Namaqualand copper mines. No trees, no grass, no carolling birds, no rippling brooks. Nature seems paralyzed or dead. No wonder the seeds of early piety are all blown to the winds, when God’s day is desecrated by the sight of the open offices in the diamond market (although fortunately on that day no business can be legally transacted), by the noise of continuous blasting in the mines, and the sight of railway drays laden with fruit and flowers running through the streets. At times the man of strong religious instincts feels sick at heart, and for the moment thinks that money alone is thought of—Regina Pecunia, the “Almighty Dollar,” the sole deity adored.



Dean Swift says: “Law is a bottomless pit; it is a cormorant, a harpy that drowns everything.” And believing implicitly in his words, I will not weary my readers with any elaborate disquisition on the legislative enactments, etc., which served to make up the law under which we lived in the early days of the Diamond Fields. Suffice it to say, that to me it seemed a very medley of inconsistency, an olla podrida, a thing of shreds, of patches, making “confusion worse confounded.” Roman, Dutch, English Common. Colonial Statute Law and Proclamations of the local government were blended—no, I should rather say flung together in a fashion so devoid of system as to be absolutely chaotic. The laws of Griqualand West since annexation are now identical with Colonial Laws, with the exception of a few local enactments, but at the time they were sui generis, or rather, if I may be allowed, omnium genorum, homogeneity being remarkable 415for its entire absence. It speaks well for the contented nature of the diggers, that complaints against this anomalous condition of things were so little rife.

In the early days, a genuine brotherly feeling reigned among the diggers at Colesberg Kopje (Kimberley Mine), and though of course an occasional quarrel would arise, yet as a rule there was universal amity existing.

Such a crime as robbery was, for a long time, scarcely known. The digger left his tent all day with the entrance flaps merely tied down, and returned at night from his work in the mine with no apprehension as to the security of his goods and chattels. In those halcyon days, with scarcely an exception, the natives, who are often unjustly accused of naturally possessing thieving propensities, established the falsehood of the charge by living an honest and laborious life, faithfully carrying out their master’s behests, and never robbing him of a single splint.[93]

It is my firm conviction, (and it will be admitted that I have had extensive opportunities of judging), that the native laborers, who have been flocking at the rate of 30,000 per annum to the Diamond Fields, are, as a rule, sober, upright, and virtuous before they have been corrupted by the white men, who induce them to steal, or are demoralized by drinking the liquor supplied them by white men. Had it not been for the unscrupulous scoundrels who first introduced illicit diamond buying, and for the almost indiscriminate sale of liquor to natives, they would in all probability be still as honest as at the early period, when, except in trivial assault cases, they were very rarely brought before the Court.

Kimberley, at this time, was without any building set apart as a High Court. When the Judge came from Barkly on circuit, he sat in a large building called the Mutual Hall, which used to serve a variety of purposes, being fitted up for theatrical entertainments, which were frequently given there, while religions services were also held in it from time to time. I remember a trial for murder taking place in this building before Mr. Recorder Barry, the first judge on the Diamond 416Fields. The alleged facts of the case were briefly as follows: The accused, a man and a woman, had thrown the husband of the latter down the mine—the supposed motive for the crime being that a guilty intrigue which existed between them might be continued without interference. The discovery of certain suspicious circumstances had led to their arrest and committal.

All through the day the Judge and jury had sat hearing the evidence, but very few of the public had attended. As, however, night came on, and it became known that the Judge purposed sitting till the case was concluded, the Hall was quickly crowded with diggers.

Here were men begrimed with dust and coatless as they had hurried there, men who had removed the signs of their daily toil; the floor of the Hall was thronged so that none could move; on the window-sills stood men clinging to each other for support, and to the very girders of the roof a number of adventurous youths had climbed; a veritable sea of faces met the eye, as one gazed around. On the stage sat the Judge surrounded by the tawdry wings. Some were associated in the spectator’s minds with occasions widely different from the background. A glimmering light was shed by a row of flimsy Chinese lanterns suspended above, and on the Judge’s desk were a couple of glittering dips. In front sat the counsel at a table of rough planks, elevated chair high on liquor cases, and behind them were the prisoners mounted on boxes stamped with the battle-axe trade-mark, and bearing the inscription, Henessey’s XXX. As the night wore on, the excitement grew intense; the feelings of the public were dead against the prisoners, perhaps scarce a score in that vast crowd had a doubt as to their guilt or wished them to escape the murderer’s doom. The addresses of the counsel and the charge of the Judge were listened to in breathless silence, and then the wearied jury retired. Apparently some doubt existed in their minds, for the verdict of Not Guilty was returned.

The present High Court in Kimberley is a lofty and extensive building constructed of brick and stone, but for years after the Mutual Hall had been abandoned as a temple of 417Justice, the Judge or Judges sat in a wretched, tumble down shanty, which is still occupied by the Special Court for the trial of offences against the Diamond Trade Act.

The Resident Magistrate’s Court was the favorite arena of litigants in the early days, as there under Special Proclamations cases involving £500, when there was an acknowledged debt, and £250 in matters of disputed debt or damages, might be tried in a speedy and summary manner eminently satisfactory to those who abhorred the “law’s delays.” This extensive jurisdiction has since been largely reduced, with the result of vastly increased costs and other serious inconveniences to the honest man, who has unfortunately become entangled in the meshes of the law.

The first Recorder of the High Court of Griqualand West, as I have just said, was Mr. now Sir Jacob Dirk Barry, a scholar and jurist of no mean pretensions, and it is not too much to say that at each critical period of the history of the Fields, as the tent burnings and the rebellion already described, it was largely owing to Judge Barry’s firmness and earnestness in the endeavor to maintain obedience to law and order, that consequences which might have proved disastrous in the extreme were happily avoided. After Mr. Barry left there were several judges and acting judges appointed, until, annexation having taken place, a court of three judges was formed, of which Mr. Justice Buchanan was made President.

Of the first Attorney General, Mr. John Cyprian Thompson, I have but little to say, as ill-health almost from the time of his appointment prevented him from taking an active part in public affairs. To the superstitious it would have seemed as if there was a bar upon the Attorney-Generalship; since annexation the Crown Prosecutorship of Griqualand West, Mr. J. C. Thompson’s successor, Mr. S. G. Sheppard,[94] afterwards Judge and at present Administrator of the Crown Colony of British Bechuanaland, his relations with the other members 418of the Executive becoming somewhat strained, tendered his resignation. Mr. J. S. Lord, Q. C., who succeeded him, gave up his office in preference to either having to submit to undue interference in the performance of his office or else living in a continual state of “protest;” the next, who was the first Crown Prosecutor, was removed from his post, but hitherto the gentleman at present holding the appointment has maintained his relationship with the Attorney General without friction.

But in no British Colony, I should think, have so many enforced or semi enforced changes taken place among officials as in Griqualand West. In the short space of a decade there were three Resident Magistrates, a Clerk of the Peace, two Commissioners of Police and a Chief of the Detective Department, who were either removed from their respective offices or deemed it advisable to resign.

As my readers may conceive, the Diamond Fields attracted a certain number of barristers, many of whom must have made large sums of money. The fees paid by illicit diamond buyers, when a barrister was engaged for the defence, were, I believe, something enormous. These cases were but a small source of income compared with the long protracted lawsuits that used formerly to arise between various wealthy claim-holders, and subsequently after the claims had been put into companies between these bodies. In the early days there was a court specially established to adjudicate upon claims to unoccupied land situate in Griqualand West, and here several gentlemen of the long robe picked up gold and silver with rapidity. The cases from which the lawyers perhaps derived most emolument was a civil action brought by Isaac Sonnenberg and Edward Eager Hurley against Alfred Ebden, the registered proprietor of the farm on which are situated Kimberley mine and town—and another brought on behalf of the London and South African Exploration Co., Lim., against the government. In the first case Messrs. Sonnenberg and Hurley sought to oust Mr. A. Ebden from his farm on the ground that they had bought a prior and preferent claim, but their enterprise signally failed. In the latter case, the company gained their point and compelled the government to disgorge 419some portion of the rents and license moneys, which they had improperly received and retained.

Of attorneys there were enough and to spare, and their manner of conducting business, at least in the early days, was decidedly unique. The one grand characteristic that distinguished them was a phenomenal and perennial thirst, and the manful efforts which they made to quench it were worthy of a better cause. Should a clerk omit to dot an “i” or cross a “t,” your attorney would at once propose an adjournment to the nearest canteen while the error was being rectified. Was a case won? So joyful an occasion demanded a copious libation. Was a case lost? A cup of consolation was forthwith quaffed. Was a compromise agreed on? The prospect of renewed amity between the whilom litigants was surely worthy of a foaming bumper.

The “Green Bar”[95] was the green room of the Judicial Theatre. I have frequently even known adjournments of the Magistrate’s court for the evident if not the avowed purpose of liquidating some abstruse point of law. There was a vast amount of “bluff,” as it is vulgarly termed, and tall talk on the part of the attorneys in those days. I remember upon one occasion, a leading member of the side bar describing a respectable witness as having come into the court with the Bible in his hands and a lie on his lips, while the passages at arms between the practitioners seemed often acrimonious to a degree; but when the court rose, the feuds were forgotten and the contending parties again sped to the “Green Bar,” which possessed for them an absolutely magnetic attraction.

Of the law agents, a genus I think peculiar to South Africa, and in those days, at least, admitted without having to give the most infinitesimal proof of their legal knowledge, I shall not say much. Some were very good men and fair lawyers, but as a rule they consisted of “ne’er do wells,” who having failed in every thing turned to the law as a dernier ressort. The worst of them had no education, no brains, and no money, their sole stock in trade being an absolutely unlimited amount of arrogance which enabled them to prey upon the public. A 420few men of this class were, until recently, still to be found on the Diamond Fields.

The arrangements for juries were needlessly troublesome. Many classes of persons being exempt, the drawing for juries pressed heavily on the poor digger, who, while compelled to wait day after day in the precincts of the court, was beset with fears, not improbably well grounded, that his “boys” (native laborers) were appropriating to their own use any diamond they might discover. Despite the unpleasantness and loss entailed by serving on a jury, few diggers neglected to answer to their names.

For whatever reason the lawyers were not generally long-lived. I saw a list made out by a legal friend of mine, when in a somewhat gloomy frame of mind the other day, according to which some twenty had died since the opening of the Diamond Fields.

I cannot help here mentioning the sudden end of one of the leaders of the Bar at the time, and a man well known in South Africa. I was an eye-witness of the tragic occurrence. Mr. Advocate Walker, many years prior to the opening of the Diamond Fields, had enjoyed an extensive and lucrative practice in Natal, and at the time of which I am now speaking was conducting the defence of a case in which I was interested. Driving home from my consulting-room on the evening of the day before which the case was expected to be called, I pulled up at Mr. Walker’s house to have a final consultation on some points I thought of importance. I found him smoking his cigar by the fire, looking somewhat unwell, but without anything in his appearance to lead me to anticipate the awful catastrophe impending. I put my questions to him, and for an answer, Mr. W. extending his arms remarked, “Don’t bother, certain to win to-morrow.” As he uttered the last word, he gave a sudden start, bounded from his seat, while from his mouth a jet of bright crimson blood spurted against the wall opposite. For him to-morrow came not. He never spoke again. An aneurism of the heart had given way and in a few seconds he was a corpse. Ever since that melancholy event, I have experienced a sense of no little uneasiness when 421the probable results of “to-morrow” have been discounted “to-day.” As the poet says “to-morrows cheat us all,” and thus it was in the case of poor Walker.

On mentioning this incident to a friend of mine he drew my attention to the following exquisite lines, which I think are worthy of reproduction here:

“We will gather flowers to-morrow,
When the mist of rain is o’er,
When the air is warm and sunny,
And the tempest howls no more.”
But the flowers are parched and faded,
For the clouds have passed away,
And we leave them still ungathered,
Though to-morrow is to-day.
“We will climb the hills to-morrow,
In the morning cool and bright:
Who could scale those rugged mountains
In the noontide’s scorching light?”
But the snow-wreaths clothe the summits.
And the mists hang chill and gray,
And we leave the slopes untrodden,
Though to-morrow is to-day.
“We will lend an ear to-morrow
To our fallen sisters’ woes;
We can scarcely hear their voices
While the music comes and goes.”
But along the thorny highway
Still with weary feet they stray,
And we pass them by, unheeding,
Though to-morrow is to-day.
“We will leave our work to-morrow,
And with eager hands and strong,
We will lead the little children
Far away from paths of wrong.”
But our hands grow old and feeble,
And the work goes on for aye,
And the little children perish,
Though to-morrow is to-day.
“We will raise our eyes to-morrow
To the cross on Calvary’s brow;
At our feet the gold is sparkling,
So we cannot heed it now.”
422But we clutch the glittering fragments,
‘Mid the dust, and mire, and clay,
And we cannot raise our eyelids,
Though to-morrow is to-day.
Brown Robin.From Chambers’ Journal, March 19, 1887.

I may here, though not strictly connected with this subject, call attention to the strikingly curious names adopted by many Kafirs working on the Diamond Fields, and give some instances of the manner in which they attract public notice. Natives are by no means destitute of a sense of humor,[96] and very often when they have been working for an employer of passionate disposition, and have been addressed by him in no complimentary terms, they voluntarily retain as their appellation some abusive title, or strong objurgation of which he has made use in the course of his remonstrances. I have not infrequently known a magistrate, on asking a native prisoner his name, to receive the reply “G—d d—mn” or “Bl—dy Fool;” while one unfortunate fellow, when asked the same question in the charge office promptly answered, “Go to H—l,” and it was not until he had been twice or three times knocked down for his apparent insolence, that the Sergeant discovered that the native had simply given a truthful if startling answer to the question put to him. Such names as “Cape Smoke” (i.e., Colonial Brandy), “Pontac” and other alcoholic terms are not uncommon, while “Sixpence” is one of the most favorite names of the natives.

Perhaps one of the most singular illustrations of the eccentric nomenclature to which I allude, and the strangely incongruous circumstances under which instances of it occur, was given in the High Court some two or three years ago. The anecdote serves as an example of how, even in matters of most solemn, nay tragic import, a ludicrous element may be present.

423A native named “Brandy and Soda” had been tried for murder and found guilty, if I recollect rightly, before Mr. Justice Buchanan, the Judge President. Awful as is the sentence, and heartless as the man must be who can hear it pronounced unmoved, yet many, by no means devoid of humanity, for a moment smiled, as the Judge, having assumed the black cap, thus addressed the prisoner: “Brandy and Soda, you have been found guilty by an impartial jury of the awful crime of wilful murder, upon the enormity of which it is unnecessary for me to dilate. ‘A life for a life’ is the law for both the black man and the white, and there is no alternative left me but to pronounce on you the sentence of death. The judgment of this court is that you, Brandy and Soda, be hanged by the neck till you are dead, and may,” etc.

In concluding these few remarks relative to the legal profession, I would disclaim any wish to infer that lawyers are not a necessity, far from it, but they are a necessity with which one would fain dispense. I would not wish to imply that the lawyers of Griqualand West are more unreasonably exacting than their brethren in other places, but this observation cannot be regarded as fulsome adulation or extravagant eulogy. It will, however, be evident. I could not advocate so extreme a measure as that proposed by Dick to Cade, “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.”[97]



Having now dwelt at some length on the three professions, Divinity, Law and Physic, as represented on the Diamond Fields, I will resume my personal narrative.

I have good personal reason for recollecting the outbreak of so-called small-pox, which (as the reader will remember) I have described in a previous chapter. The medical practitioners of the Diamond Fields were at the time for months in a state of the utmost excitement over the quæstio vexata of small-pox or no small-pox, and although the weight of evidence and the opinions of those whose qualifications and experience almost served to carry conviction was certainly in favor of the latter theory, yet on the opposite side were ranged, besides those to whom the public attributed (I trust and believe wrongly) interested motives, some men of undoubted ability in their profession and above the suspicion of maintaining the scare for the sake of their personal advantage. The 425authorities were naturally more or less in doubt also, for “who shall decide when doctors disagree?” and many were the commissions of doctors dispatched by Government to visit “Felstead’s,” a farm some eight miles from Kimberley, where a temporary hospital was erected, all natives coming from the Transvaal examined, and those found suffering from the disease isolated. On the morning of December 1, 1883, Dr. L. S. Jameson, one of the most able physicians in the Diamond Fields, in accordance with the request of government, drove out to the place in order to make an official report.

Our inspection over, we re-entered the vehicle and set out on our way home to breakfast, when my horses became unmanageable and dashed amidst a herd of cattle, with the result that the cart was overturned and Dr. L. S. Jameson thrown out with immense force some fifteen yards, happily without sustaining any hurt, while I was less fortunate, for though I fell out close beside the vehicle, I received such serious injuries (involving extravasation of blood upon the brain) that I remained for four or five days perfectly unconscious, and on coming to my senses found myself in the Carnavon Hospital, suffering from paralysis of the right side. Here let me briefly thank Mr. Denis Doyle, the able and energetic Sanitary Inspector of the Kimberley municipality, for the great and invaluable services which he rendered to me, so I am told, on the morning of my accident, by providing relays of natives to carry me to the hospital. I would also warmly thank those members of my own profession, especially Dr. L. S. Jameson, who took on himself the sole responsibility of my case, for their unremitting attention: the good sister Henrietta and kind sisters and nurses of the hospital, and the public of the Four Camps, who exhibited an earnest solicitude as to my condition, that deeply touched me and that I shall never forget. Immediately on my recovering sufficient strength to move about, I determined to take a tour through the Transvaal, a country that I had long been desirous of visiting, and I booked a seat for Pretoria in the coach leaving Kimberley on December 31, 1883. My friends, however, not thinking me strong enough to travel, caused me much vexation, by ingeniously 426contriving that I should miss the coach, and in consequence my journey was postponed for another week. However, I took good care that their over-solicitude, as I thought it, should not make me miss the coach a second time, and I left on January 7th.

Just as I was sitting in the coach, preparing to start, a bundle of letters was placed in my hand, including one from my wife, who was then visiting our children in Germany. Curiously enough this letter was written on the very day after my accident, and contained the following request, “Let me know if anything, however trivial, has happened to you to-day. I have a strange feeling that something, I know not what, has occurred, which makes me intensely anxious.” I do not intend to draw any deduction from what, after all. may have been a mere coincidence, but the facts, nevertheless, are as I have stated.

How many times before T returned to Kimberley, if my pride would have allowed me, should I not have freely admitted the folly of my journey! To a man who had sustained a shock to his nervous system such as I had, the bumping for nearly a fortnight in a four-horse coach along primitive South African roads, was naturally not the best course of curative treatment.

Leaving Kimberley early in the morning a long stage brought us to a roadside inn, which was, and is, I believe, kept by M. Grandier, formerly a trooper in Weatherly’s Horse during the Zulu war.

Taking out the horses we rested here some time, and I persuaded Mr. Grandier, whom I had met in Kimberley, to tell me the story of his narrow escape at Zlobani Mountain during the war with Cetywayo. The facts of his escape, as he related them to me, are indeed stranger than fiction. “I was a trooper,” said Mr. Grandier, “in Weatherly’s Horse, and I shall never forget the morning of the 28th of March, 1879, and the attack of the Zulus at Zlobani. Ah! Mon Dieu, Colonel Weatherly was a fine man; we worshipped him, and would have followed him to the jaws of death. It took us most difficult work to get to the top of the mountain; we were at it all night, but we accomplished it. We stopped at the top an 427hour or two, when Colonel Buller perceived the black hordes in thousands just like monkeys, climbing up on all sides to hem us in. The Colonel told us to get down as quickly as we could, and did not we ride! I shall never forget the last sight of my beloved old Colonel; the picture is still in my mind. It seems but yesterday I saw him in the distance surrounded by howling Kafirs, all hope lost, covering his son, a bright, fair-haired lad of fifteen, from the cruel assegais of his brutal foes. I jumped down the sides of rocks as big as this house, my little horse always landing on its legs, and at last, after many escapes from the Zulus, got safely to the bottom. Five or six of our fellows at once got hold of my stirrups, seized my horse’s tail, nearly dragging him to the ground, and so weighted the poor brute that he was done up in a mile or two, and I had to leave him. What did I do? I ran like the devil and managed to hide myself in some tall grass, when, as night was coming on, I thought I was safe. Four Zulus, however, spied me out; it was no use my resisting, so they seized and stripped me of everything. I never could tell why they did not kill me; the only thing they did was to drive me on in front of them, telling me to ‘hambake.’ Every moment I thought my last. After walking some miles, we stopped at the kraal of Umbelini, an ex-Swazi chief, half-way up the valley, who was one of Cetywayo’s adherents. How I wondered what would happen next! Naked as I was, they tied me to a post, when the women tore round me as if mad, spat in my face, and pulled out my beard, while the men formed a circle, and yelled and danced about me like very fiends! This lasted far into the morning, when, half dead from fatigue and terror though I was, a Zulu, who could speak a little Dutch, raised my hopes of life by telling me that I was meant as a present to Cetywayo. Resting a little they started me off with an escort, to a place which I afterwards found to be Ulundi, Cetywayo’s head kraal. I can assure you I was as naked as when I was born, and the broiling sun in the day and the cold at night almost drove me mad. At Cetywayo’s I was treated just as badly as at Umbelini’s. The women again acted as perfect devils from the pit below. Cetywayo was disappointed with 428me, did not believe I was unable from weakness to handle the two guns that he showed me and which had been taken at Isandhlwana. He told me to get back to Umbelini’s kraal (for the worst I presumed) as he found me of no use. Starting back with two Kafirs as a guard, at the close of the day I felt completely exhausted, when they allowed me to rest close by a mealie field on the banks of a stream. Fortunately for me my guards were nearly as much wearied as myself, and only too glad to take a rest. One sat down to snuff, while the other went to fetch water. A sudden idea struck me, and, making a regular leap for life, I jumped and seized an assegai lying on the ground, and in less than no time stabbed the Zulu who was engaged in snuffing, right through the heart. Then snatching one of the rifles that they had with them, I waited for the Zulu returning with the water, who, as soon as he caught sight of me, bolted into the long grass, leaving me free once more. The excitement gave me fresh strength to begin another fight for life, and, to make a long story short, in two or three days, after a desperate struggle, I got back to the camp at Kambula, much to the surprise of my comrades, who for eighteen days had given me up as lost. For weeks I suffered much from the exposure, but recovered sufficiently to get to Ulundi in time for the finish. I shall never, however, forget or get over my introduction to Cetywayo.”

The story and our lunch being finished, on we went to Christiana, my only companion in the coach being a Mr. Fowler, who was engaged by some English capitalists to report on certain properties in the Transvaal said to be auriferous. Obviously plain and straightforward, his manner commanded confidence, and his report of the places which he was specially engaged to examine, as I afterwards heard, was not of the glowing color that distinguished others which were made to home capitalists, by perhaps personally interested experts, as I then believed.

Some few miles from Christiana, our next resting-place, we crossed the Vaal River, which is here a broad flowing stream some 200 yards in width, and continuing along its bank for some miles we arrived there at about seven o’clock.



431The coach was soon surrounded by the villagers, its arrival being looked upon as the event of the week.

Among the throng that came to meet the coach, I saw several gentlemen (?) whom I recognized as former residents of Kimberley, who had sought another sphere on account of the strictness of Ordinance 48, 1882 (Diamond Trade Act), and who were pursuing their peculiar line of business in a place where they were safe from the annoyance of inquisitive detectives asking unpleasant questions, and had chosen Christiana for their abode as being the nearest village in the Transvaal to the border of Griqualand West.[98] As soon as the coach stopped, we were pounced upon by a Health Officer, who forced us into a little triangular shed, reeking with burning brimstone, in order to fumigate us, the absurd idea having spread to the Transvaal that a couple of minutes’ exposure to sulphur fumes would kill the germs of small-pox, and so lessen the chance of our bringing this dreaded infection with us.

The official in question was not over exacting. He assured me in strict confidence, that the small-pox scare in Kimberley was nothing but a “doctor’s rush,” and to prove to us his belief in what he said, he was contented with a merely formal inhalation on our part of the unpleasant smoke, thus satisfying his conscience that he had done his duty. Two hotels, one or two stores, the Landtrost’s office and a few straggling houses, comprised everything that was to be seen.

Leaving this place, for six hours[99] until we arrive at Bloemhof, the road ran alongside the Vaal River. All the inhabitants of this small village, which was of about the same type as Christiana, were fast asleep when we drove up, so we merely remained there long enough to change horses.

This place leaped into notoriety some fourteen years ago, in consequence of being selected as the scene of the famous Bloemhof arbitration, otherwise known as the Keate award, a definition of boundaries which satisfied nobody. A handful of burnt brick houses, here one and there one with a plastered 432front, glaring out like spectres in the hazy moonlight and revealing a Gehenna of desolation and dust, is all that remains, so far as this Sleepy Hollow is concerned, “photographically limned on the tablets of my mind, when a yesterday has faded from its page,” as Gilbert (W.S., not the esteemed Kimberley attorney) observes in a well-known Bab ballad.

Stopping two or three times for the same purpose, first at Clarkson’s store, in front of which there is an immense lake some miles in circumference, and again at Maquassie’s Spruit, sixteen hours more jolting brought us to Klerksdorp, one of the most charming little villages that I have seen in this country. The pretty houses nestling among the fruit trees, and the roadside inn so clean and so comfortable, recalled pleasant memories of many an old English village.

Immediately before our arrival here we played the principal parts in a reproduction of the laughable farce “Fumigation.” as performed with such immense success in Kimberley, Christiana, etc. Here, however, the performance was decidedly unsuccessful, both the players, stage managers and prompters being far too sleepy to care whether anybody’s choking in the sulphurous exhalations of the “property” brazier was realistically rendered or a hollow mockery. Six hours more and we drove at a gallop into Potchefstroom, and drew up at the Royal Hotel. Learning the time the coach would start for Pretoria, and that I should have but three hours to look around, I started off at once to see the town, first attracted by the stately trees, towering at least sixty feet high, which lined the principal streets, giving an air of staidness and solidity to the little town, and at the same time inspiring an idea of well-to-do, if slightly humdrum, respectability and quietude, such as may be observed in many a New England village. The substantial brick built houses, too, surrounded by beautiful shrubs and graceful willows, the clear water from the Mori River running in sluits through every street, formed a striking contrast to the iron houses, the debris heaps and the dusty parched-up place that I had but two days left behind. Passing Reid’s store, which stands at one side of a market square, at least twenty acres in extent, with a plain and unimposing church. 433in the centre. I made my way to the Court-House at the opposite corner of the square, which, on the breaking out of the war, was one of the places held by our troops.

Though nearly two years had elapsed since the cessation of hostilities, the place showed the signs of the past struggle, by its general air of desertion, and the poverty-stricken appearance of a whilom-beleagured town. On making my way in, I could see by the marks all round how the place had been riddled by bullets, and could imagine the hot fire to which it had been exposed. The hole in the door was pointed out to me, through which the bullet sped which killed Capt. Falls, on the very first day of the attack by the Boers.


After Capt. Falls’ death Colonel Clark, now Her Majesty’s representative in Basutoland, took command, and with the thirty-five men he had with him defended the building for three days, until the Boers fired the roof, and he was forced to surrender on December 20th.

434The Boers, elated to a degree, outraged every rule of war, sentenced the men who had capitulated to hard labor and forced them to work in the trenches which they (the Boers) were digging in front of the fort, where some of our troops had taken shelter, and which they were defending. There, exposed to shot and shell, several lost their lives, killed by the bullets of their comrades in the fort, who knew them not. I next visited the fort itself, which had been the scene of so many painful events. In a space but twenty-five yards square were crammed during the siege nearly 300 souls, of whom about 100 only could bear arms, and here men, women and children remained cooped up from the date above mentioned until they surrendered on March 20th, evacuating the fort on the 23d. In the rear of the fort a stone enclosure was pointed out to me containing the graves of those who died during the four months’ siege. There is no doubt Cronjé, the Dutch commander, ought to have been severely brought to task, as he was guilty of a decided breach of the rules of war, in that he never informed the garrison, which when it surrendered had only a few rotten mealies left, of the armistice which had been agreed upon after Majuba, on the 6th of March, news of which he received in Potchefstroom on the 12th, and was published in the Staats Courant on the 16th. During the siege our losses were: one officer killed and four wounded, twenty-five rank and file killed, and forty-one wounded. The survivors after the surrender were marched to the Free State border and liberated.

There is no doubt that Potchefstroom, which at one time, when the Transvaal was divided into two Republics, was one of the seats of government, lost much by the war. When I was there all the men of business with whom I conversed, told me that property had immensely depreciated in value, and while walking round the town I myself saw proofs of this in the many houses that were tenantless: but although Mr. Robert Acult of the firm of Reid and Co., the largest merchants of the place, told me that business was decidedly reviving, yet the non-reappearance of any banking institutions since the war told me its own tale. One thing, however, I 435noticed, that to all appearance a friendly feeling seemed to exist among all classes.

“Time and tide wait for no man,” so the frantic blasts from the driver’s bugle announced the readiness of the coach for departure. Taking our seats, off we started for Pretoria at eleven o’clock—

“Smack went the whip, round went the wheels,
Never were folks so glad;”

for now at last we began to see “the beginning of the end.” The journey from Potchefstroom to Pretoria is excessively wearisome, and the country very level and tame. We saw nothing worthy of recording, unfortunately passing the celebrated caves of Wonderfontein[100] in the night—nothing to break the monotony of our journey, save the periodical changing of our horses, nothing to occupy our attention but the oft-repeated arguments, whether or not there was any improvement in the team, or the discussion whether time had been gained or lost. In fact we all felt an incessant longing for our journey’s end.

On arriving at Pretoria we drove at once to the Post-Office to deliver the mails, then going round to the principal hotel, Up with the lark, I made the round of the main part of Pretoria before breakfast. Just in front of the hostelry where I was stopping, the Market Square extended like a large grass plot, very little business evidently being transacted there, as grass was growing nearly all over. At one end there was a large Cathedral in course of erection,[101] which I was told would cost £20,000, and will be a decided ornament to the town when finished. The streets were all at right angles, lined in many places with large gum trees, while the houses, neat and cosy, had pretty, well-kept gardens in front, between which the rose hedges were blooming in prodigal profusion. I saw no public buildings in the place worthy the name. The government offices and banks, built merely of brick, had no pretensions to architecture whatever. Every thing seemed in a 436state of utter stagnation, very different, I was told, to the state of affairs under British rule, when building was going ahead and trade and speculation were brisk.

Gold was the theme of conversation at every meal, and seemed to have attracted to the place the few strangers whom I met at the hotel, mere speculators either in prospective gold concessions, or engaged in examining and certifying to the richness of gold fields about which, before they even had made an inspection, the “straight tip” had been given them as to the kind of report expected.

Here, visiting the capital town of the Transvaal, it was impossible not to look back and think over the causes which led to the late war. Any impartial observer of men and things could come to no other conclusion but that, if Sir Theophilus Shepstone had remained in the Transvaal, and had been allowed to finish that which he had so well commenced, the Transvaal would have been a British possession to-day. Sir Theophilus Shepstone, if not known personally, yet at least by name was familiar to every farmer in the State. There is no doubt that President Burgers was driven, at the time of Sir Theophilus Shepstone’s arrival, almost to despair. With a dissatisfied people, no money in the Treasury, the Sekukuni expedition a failure, Sir Theophilus Shepstone appeared on the scene just at the right moment. As proof of this, read Mr. Burgers’ speech in the Volksraad in March, 1877:

“You have lost the country by your own stupidity. It is not this Englishman, or that Englishman, it is you—you! who have sold the country for a soupie.[102] It is now too late, you have become a danger, and a nuisance, and, like Turkey, your prostrate carcase is infecting the air. England now says, as she said to Turkey, ‘Remove it at once, remove it, or we shall do it at your cost.’”

President Burgers again, in the very last speech he ever delivered to the members of the Volksraad, out-Heroded Herod in his disappointed (?) frankness—in fact the Transvaal’s most bitter foe could not have spoken more openly.

This is the peroration of his speech on that eventful occasion: 437“Gentlemen, I may say in conclusion that when you want presidents, when you want doctors, when you want clergymen, when you want surgeons, when you want any educated men whatever, you have to get them from abroad; but whenever I bring forward measures for railways, for education, and for other necessary advancements, you refuse to pass them or pay for them. I say emphatically your independence is not to be lost, but is lost.”[103]

Yet if Mr. Burgers had then or at any moment held up his little finger, Sir T. Shepstone must have gone back. Instead of that Mr. Burgers, knowing he would never be reelected President, saw in the arrival of the English an opportune solution of the difficulties of the Executive, and this, to my mind, was the secret of his advising the Boers not to resist, but simply to “Protest! protest, and never cease protesting!”

No wonder, in after years, the Transvaal Boers were furious and looked with disgust upon Mr. Burgers and his action and words, when they learned that in 1878 Sir Bartle Frere gave orders that Mr. Burgers was to be paid an allowance of £500 per annum, with arrears from April 12th, 1877, the day on which Sir T. Shepstone issued his Proclamation, taking over the country. This, when it became known in 1879, was looked upon by the Boers as a bribe to Mr. Burgers, and at any rate my readers must agree with me, that this allowance should have been paid out of Imperial funds, as the country was taken over for Imperial purposes.

Aristotle in his “Politics” states that revolutions are produced by trifles, but not out of trifles. The revolution in the Transvaal was precipitated by a trifle, but that trifle was led up to by a series of blunders to my mind quite unpardonable. The trifle to which I allude was the harsh treatment (as it 438was at the time considered by the Dutch) in the Potchefstroom district of a man named Bezuidenhout, who was summoned for certain taxes amounting to £27 5 0. Refusing to pay, his wagon was seized, and on the day appointed for its sale in the local market, Bezuidenhout drove it away in face of the authorities to his farm, and Commandant Haaf was sent to arrest him, but found him too well supported by his friends and had to retire. On account of this, the great mass meeting at Paarde Kraal was held on December 8th, 1880, which lasted until the 13th, when the Boers formed the solemn resolution of fighting for their independence.

But to return to Sir Theophilus Shepstone, in an address which he issued shortly after his arrival, addressed “To the Burgers of the Transvaal,” in April, 1877, he thus appealed to them:

“Some of you were among the old pioneers, many of whom I knew as acquaintances, and not a few as friends. Others of you are children of those who belonged to that adventurous band, but who have passed away.

“Practically, I am an Africander, as you are proud to call yourselves. I can speak in your language, and have spoken to hundreds of you on the subject of my mission. I therefore know the feelings of those who are against it as well as those who are for it.

“Has not the war with Sekukuni, whom you all consider to be but an insignificant enemy, and which is not yet settled as was supposed, dealt a fatal blow to the prestige of the Republic, to its financial condition, to its government, and to the credit of the country, and has it not caused disaster and ruin to many families which your government found itself powerless to remedy? You all know as well as I do, that it has.

“You are surrounded inside and outside your boundaries by at least one and a half million of natives, none of whom have been made firm friends by your past intercourse with them, and of these one of the weakest has dealt you a deadly blow. It follows, therefore, that you can neither sow nor reap except 439by the tacit permission of the native population, and they have lost the respect for you which they had for the pioneers.”

This plain unvarnished language had its effect. He was cordially received, and Her Majesty, in her prorogation speech, addressed to Parliament on the 14th of August, was able to say, “The Proclamation of my Sovereignty in the Transvaal has been received throughout the province with enthusiasm. It has also been accepted with marked satisfaction by the native chiefs and tribes; and the war, which threatened in its progress to compromise the safety of my subjects in South Africa, is happily brought to a close.”[104]

But concerning Sir Owen Lanyon, who followed Sir Theophilus Shepstone, the Boers knew nothing, and regarded him with suspicion. Then again his training was against him—he was too autocratic, too self-willed, his military style of discipline too severe, and these qualities, which were rapidly rendering him unpopular even as Administrator in Griqualand West, he still retained, and manifested in his new and larger sphere.

Sir Owen Lanyon was sworn in as Administrator of the Transvaal on March 4th, 1879, and during the very next month he begged Sir Bartle Frere, then in Natal, to come to Pretoria, and assist him in arranging affairs which were beginning to look serious. In fact from his arrival to his departure on April 8th, 1881, he was over-handicapped. Sir Owen Lanyon, to judge from his conduct in the Transvaal, seemed to think it necessary to remove all those who had supported Sir Theophilus Shepstone, and put his own men in their place.

The Hollanders, an important element, were exasperated 440by the removal of their countryman, Dr. Kissik, from the post of District Surgeon, to make room for an old Diamond Field favorite; the barristers were insulted by the appointment of an Attorney General ignorant of the Dutch language, and a man upon whom they looked down as merely a newspaper reporter, and an attorney’s clerk; and lastly, the entire country was aroused when, in face of direct promises to the contrary, Mr. De Wet, Recorder of Griqualand West, was raised to the post of Chief Justice over the head of Mr. Kotzé, who had the confidence and admiration of all parties.

While all these apparent trifles were accumulating, there was silently growing up a spirit of flunkeyism, which seems innate in English people. The Transvaal is essentially republican, and such a spirit was utterly unsuited to the ideas of the inhabitants. One correspondent in the Transvaal wrote to me at the time—“sycophancy and subserviency are in the ascendant, good independent men are shunted to make way for those who know how to truckle to the powers that be.”[105]

Sir Bartle Frere at once acceded to Sir Owen Lanyon’s request. Arriving in Pretoria from Natal on the 10th of April, 1879, after several conferences with the Boers, he almost reconciled them to annexation by telling them that they should have as free a constitution as their brethren in the Cape. Sir Garnet Wolseley, however, came out, superseded Sir Bartle Frere in the High Commissionership for South East Africa, and arriving just too late for Ulundi, and the overthrow of Cetywayo, came to the Transvaal, and was sworn in as Governor on September 29, 1879. Sir Garnet spoke just as strongly as Mr. Gladstone (whom I will quote anon) had written, concerning the impossibility of our retiring from the Transvaal, and both at Wakkerstroom, Standerton and Pretoria assured his hearers that the Transvaal would remain British “as long as the sun shone.”

To add insult to injury a constitution of merely government and nominee members was formed, which was laughed 441and jeered at by nearly the entire country, both Dutch and English.[106]

At this time the Volkstem, the organ of the Boers in Pretoria, urged the farmers not to give any excuse to Sir Garnet Wolseley to attack them, but simply to protest, passively resist, and follow out President Burgers’ advice in March, 1877, when he told them “Have patience, your plan is to protest, keep on protesting, and ‘alles zal recht kommen.’” The Dutch followed this advice for a time, as they did not forget the success which attended these tactics in Holland 300 years before, when under Counts Egmont and Horn, in 1566, they managed by a series of protests, to Madrid, to rid themselves of the Spaniards and Spanish rule.

Sir Garnet Wolseley then went home, and Sir Pomeroy Colley in March, 1880, succeeded him as High Commissioner for South Eastern Africa. Events rapidly culminated. On December 13th, the Triumvirate of Kruger, Joubert, and Pretorius being formed (Lanyon in Pretoria still being nominal administrator of the country), three commanders were organized, one of which went and met the 94th Regiment at Bronkhorst Spruit, another to Potchefstroom, where it besieged the Court-House and Fort, while the third made Heidelberg its headquarters.

So the war commenced.

The three months’ siege or investment of Pretoria by the Boers was a very tame affair indeed, the state of alarm the place was in being nothing but the direct consequence of the Boer success at Bronkhorst Spruit, which I shall presently describe. As soon as conductor Egerton brought into Pretoria the account of the disaster at this place, a grand meeting of the townspeople took place, and Sir W. Owen Lanyon at once 442placed Pretoria under martial law, all Dutch sympathizers being allowed but half an hour’s grace to clear out, bag and baggage; the Convent, the gaol close by with its yard, and the military camp were fortified, and to these places all the inhabitants of the town, about 3,000, were compelled to remove, and leave their homes to the mercy of any intruder.

Dr. Dyer, the District Surgeon of Pretoria under the Lanyon administration, in former years a practitioner at the Diamond Fields, and who when I saw him in Pretoria held the same appointment under the Boer government, very kindly spent the whole of Sunday morning in driving me around and pointing out the principal places of interest, at the same time giving me most interesting personal reminiscences of the siege, during which he was principal Civil Medical Officer. We drove first to the old military camp, and saw the long parallel rows of barrack buildings, built during the British occupation, but which then were all empty and forsaken. “It is impossible,” the Doctor said, “to picture what we went through, or to realize the contrast between the thronged busy place this was during the siege and the silence of to-day.”

Indeed it would be difficult to find a valid excuse for the action of the authorities at all in dragging the inhabitants away from their houses and homes, and penning them up like sheep together, were it not that a species of panic had come over all.



445Such was the terror and excitement existing that, although Pretoria had a garrison of 2,000 effective men, reckoning regulars and volunteers, yet a force of at the most 600 Boers kept them and the inhabitants shut up for months, like rats in a cage. This garrison made one or two sorties. On the 16th of January they had a fight at Elandsfontein, of which the less said the better, and another on February 12th, at Red House Kraal, situated the other side of the Six-mile Spruit, on the road to Natal. This was a Majuba in miniature; our troops, showing the white feather, made a regular skedaddle. Nixon, who has written a most interesting work on the Transvaal, and who was in Pretoria at the time, says he saw our men running away down the hills into Pretoria, as hard as their legs could carry them. Eighty Boers made 200 red coats take to their heels, and the remainder of a column, 900 strong, were, to the disgrace of our arms, ordered to retire. The Boers formed a supreme contempt of the “Rori Baajtes.” These disastrous occasions, though such exceptional instances in the long and glorious annals of British arms, suffice in no way to tarnish their brilliant lustre in the eyes of those better acquainted with European history than these uneducated Dutch farmers. But to return to my sight seeing. After leaving the late military camp, we went to the gaol. This is very well kept, and in first-rate order. I walked round and saw the additions which had been made to the yard during the siege, all now merely mementoes of the past. Among the prisoners in the gaol, my attention was drawn to one tall, princely looking native pacing his cell and clanking his chains with an air of haughty disdain. This was no other than Niabel, alias Mapoch, who with another chief, Mampoer, had been sentenced to death by the Transvaal government, but reprieved.

The story of Sekukuni’s murder, Mampoer’s execution and Mapoch’s imprisonment, reads like a novel. Sequati, a Bapedi chief on the northeastern border of the Transvaal, had two sons, Mampoer, a son by the royal mother, and Sekukuni, a son by a wife of inferior rank. They fought for the succession, when Sekukuni being victorious usurped the throne and Mampoer fled to Mapoch, a small chief in the Transvaal. As time went on Sekukuni would not pay taxes to the Boers.

Johannes, a petty chief, with whom in former years he had been on bad terms, but who, having made up the dispute, now resided near him, was the first to rebel against the Boers. Mampoer assisting them. Johannes was killed and his tribe utterly broken up. The Boers, following up their success, tried to subdue Sekukuni, but failed, their Amaswazi allies having left them, being utterly disgusted with their (the Boers’) cowardice.

President Burgers then went to the front himself, but all in vain. Deserted by the burghers, who raised the now proverbial 446cry of “huis toe,”[107] and broken-hearted, without adherents, without money, he had to return to Pretoria and leave Sekukuni virtually master of the situation. This ultimately led to Burgers’ downfall and the assertion of British authority, and here he learned from painful experience that “the Boers were not those of the great Trek, and he himself was not Ketief, Maritz, Pretorius the elder, or even Paul Kruger.”

After the British annexation of the Transvaal, Sekukuni did not come to any settlement, so when Sir Garnet Wolseley arrived in September, 1879, after the dethronement of Cetywayo, he at once sent a special envoy, dictating terms to Sekukuni, which the latter refused. This at once led to an attack upon his stronghold, which Sir Garnet Wolseley stormed and captured, supported by sixteen companies of infantry. 400 mounted men, two or three guns and 10,000 Swazi levies under Mampoer, and Sekukuni was taken prisoner. He remained prisoner as long as the English retained possession of the country, but the Boers specially stipulated for his release in the now celebrated convention of Pretoria (Article 23).[108] When Sir Garnet Wolseley gave Mampoer back the country which Sekukuni had usurped, knowing well that Sequati his father had in former years proclaimed him chief, Mampoer took over one of Sekukuni’s young girls for himself; but on Sekukuni’s release and return in terms of the convention, he demanded her back, and this led to another fight, wherein Sekukuni was killed. The Boers now accused Mampoer of murder and called upon him to surrender himself, but instead of this he took refuge with Mapoch, with whom the Boers had also a quarrel, as he would not acknowledge them or pay taxes. War was now declared against Mapoch (Niabel), who defended himself bravely for many months; but at last, worn out by hunger and want, he and 8,000 of his men, who were afterwards “apprenticed” into slavery, surrendered, and Mampoer and Mapoch both found themselves prisoners of war.[109]

447They were tried and sentenced to death, and although Mr. Hudson, the British Resident, pressed upon the Boer Executive the desire of the English government that capital punishment should not be carried out, no notice was paid in the case of Mampoer, the sentence of Mapoch alone being commuted.

Mampoer with his dying breath said, “I have fought Sekukuni for the Dutch, I have fought him for the English, and now I am hanged for doing my duty.”

Poor fellow! his execution was a sad, brutal exhibition. Pretoria was full, even on my visit, of the accounts of the scene, how the rope round his neck broke, how he was hoisted again into position, and how the day of his execution was looked upon by the Boers as a gala day, and an opportunity of exhibiting their independence of the “verdomde Englishmen.” Even photographic art was called in to perpetuate this official murder, the accompanying view of the execution being openly sold in the streets of Pretoria.

When I saw Niabel, he knew I was an Englishman and a stranger, and by his manner evidently wished to show me plainly the contempt in which he held his captors. Leaving the gaol, Dr. Dyer drove me all round the outskirts of the town and then put me down at my hotel. Next day Mr. S. Marks, the managing director of the Eerste Fabrieken, a large distillery about nine miles from Pretoria on the Pienaars River, and who had been the originator of the French Diamond Mining Co. at Kimberley, kindly drove me out to see the factory. Immediately on crossing the Pienaars River, after an hour and a half’s pleasant drive, the distillery, malt-kilns and stores appeared in sight. The building, 210 feet long, 90 feet broad, and four stories high, was fitted up with the most powerful machinery made on the latest principles, and contained as well large store-rooms for spirits and grain. Every class of work I found done on the premises.

448The establishment indeed made quite a village in itself. A fine block of buildings opposite the distillery contained the offices, store-rooms for material, carpenters’, blacksmiths’ and coopers’ shops, farm laborers’ houses and stables. More than this, the company had large tracts of land under cultivation, with oxen, cows, horses, and mules in numbers, farming being a branch of the business. After looking over the distillery I spent an agreeable half hour tasting the various liquors and liqueurs. These numbered at least forty, and were manufactured from four kinds of grain—mealies, rye, barley, and Kafir corn, and then flavored.

Mr. Stokes, the manager, was exceedingly kind, and invited Mr. Marks and myself to dinner in the evening, when I had the pleasure of becoming acquainted with his charming and accomplished wife. I could have fancied myself at the West end of London, in the midst of civilization, not in the centre of the Transvaal. The appointments of the table, the English trained waitresses, and the cooking were perfection. After coffee and a delicious cigar, we retired for the night, but I felt it would take a long time to efface from my mind this unexpected little glimpse of refinement and culture. On my return to Pretoria next day, I asked Mr. Fox, formerly a large Imperial contractor during the Zulu war, who had invited me to dine with him, to advise me where I could get horses and a conveyance to take me as far as the battlefield of Bronkhorst Spruit, when he very kindly offered to drive me there himself if I would start early next day, as that happened to be the only day he could spare from his many business engagements. I jumped at the chance, and, making all arrangements to start in the morning, I went to bed early in order to get a good night’s rest before this little drive of eighty-four miles. Mr. Fox, however, had some difficulty in arranging his horses, and we did not get away until ten o’clock. Driving out of Pretoria we had an extensive view of the lovely town. It was the middle of summer, and the trees and fields looked so pretty and so green, and the rose hedges in full bloom so lovely, I was perfectly enraptured, and fancied myself in old England again. Nothing of particular interest 449presented itself as we went along. The country for miles undulated in grassy plains, here and there diversified by ranges of hills. We passed the Eerste Fabrieken on our left, Mr. Steuben’s beautiful place “The Willows” on our right, when pushing along the horses, only outspanning for an hour in the veldt about half-way, arrived on the scene, so memorable at least in South African history, at five o’clock in the afternoon. Crossing Bronkhorst Spruit, the ground gradually rises, and on the right-hand side of the road, dotted here and there with mimosa and thorn trees, a very gradual eminence is formed, which was the point of vantage taken by the Boers in intercepting our troops en route from Leydenburg, and about to concentrate in Pretoria.

I had thoroughly posted myself in the occurrences of that eventful day, which I will shortly relate. The 94th Regiment, together with camp followers, numbering 267 souls in all, forming a cavalcade a mile and a quarter in length, was slowly dragging its way to Pretoria, when on approaching Bronkhorst Spruit at about half-past two o’clock in the afternoon of the 20th of December, 1880, certain mounted Dutch scouts were seen galloping along the top of a ridge near by. These men brought a message, requesting Colonel Anstruther, who was in command, not to advance any further pending an answer from Sir Owen Lanyon to an ultimatum which had been sent him. This he refused, when, without further ado, the Boers, about 500 strong, opened at once a murderous fire upon our men, who were totally unprepared for so sudden an attack. Down the bullets rained like hail, and our men, who lay on the ground without a particle of shelter, were picked off with deadly precision, until Col. Anstruther himself, mortally wounded, and most of his officers hors de combat, seeing the day was lost, surrendered to the Boers, after a fight lasting just twenty minutes.

After inspecting the ground and the relative positions the Dutch and English occupied during this short but disastrous fight, we visited the two principal places where our fallen soldiers lie buried. The larger of these we found enclosed by a high stone wall about eighteen yards long by twelve yards 450broad, and shaded by two beautiful mimosa trees. Here lay the last remains of fifty-eight N. C. officers and men of the 94th Regiment, and one N. C. officer, and one private Army Service Com. killed, as the tombstone erected to their memory states, in action on December 20, 1880. In another and smaller graveyard, some 100 yards nearer Pretoria, the officers who fell are buried. The wall surrounding these graves had just lately been repaired by order of the English government, and, as if purposely planted to keep the sun’s scorching rays from burning up the green grass waving over them, another large wild mimosa tree threw out the protection of its flowering branches.

I have good reason to remember my visit. Wishing to see the graves and read the inscriptions on Col. Anstruther’s tomb and those of the various officers buried alongside him, I clambered to the top of the wall about four feet in height, when in my weak state I reeled over, fell inside, and, fenced in as it were, it was some half hour before my companion, who himself had lost the use of one leg, was able to get me out. Here lie buried together five out of the nine officers who were in charge of the 94th Regiment, which as I said before was proceeding from Lydenburg to Pretoria. I had leisure enough you may imagine to copy their names. Neat little crosses at the head of each grave showed the burial-places of Lieut. Col. P. K. Anstruther, Capt. T. McSweeney, Capt. N. McLeod Nairne, Lieut. H. A. C. Harrison and E. T. Shaen Carter, transport staff. The four officers who escaped with their lives were Capt. Elliott, for whose subsequent and bloody murder in crossing the Vaal River two Boers were tried in Pretoria but acquitted; Lieut. Hume, Dr. Ward, and conductor Egerton, who, it will be remembered, had the good fortune to reach Pretoria in safety, with the regimental colors wrapped round his waist, being allowed by the Boers after the fight to proceed there in order to obtain medical assistance. Surgeon Major Comerford and Dr. Harvey Crow, the latter now in practice in Pretoria, whom I had the pleasure of meeting, went out immediately on Mr. Egerton’s bringing in the disastrous news, and attended to the wounded.

451Such was the precision of the Boer fire, as Dr. Crow told me, that the bullet wounds averaged five per man; truly “every bullet” in this case had “its billet.”

The Boers had evidently taken especial care to choose the ground and measure the distance before our wagon-train appeared in sight.

I was told on good authority that many of our soldiers’ rifles were found after the fight actually sighted at 800 yards, whereas 300 would have been nearer the mark, and that this accounted for the few disasters among the Boers, who only acknowledged, at all events, to one man having been killed outright, to one dying of his wounds, and to five who were wounded but recovered.

It was just the same at Majuba, the sighting of the rifles of our men picked up by the enemy being woefully incorrect; it is therefore not difficult to account for the smallness of the Boer losses there also.

Col. Anstruther, who was in command, lingered six days, until death put an end to his sufferings, dying in his tent, as Dr. Crow told me, in presence of Drs. Comerford, Ward, and himself. Even in his official dispatch, written on his deathbed, Col. Anstruther never accused the Boers of having acted unfairly in the fight, although a rumor to that effect was freely circulated.

Dr. Crow wrote at the time a most touching account of his burial. He said, “Words fail to describe a scene so sad and so unique. The remains were placed on a stretcher and carried by four sergeants, three out of the four being wounded; while the majority of those who followed were wounded too, some on crutches, others wearing splints, others with bandaged heads, and some unable to walk, were carried on the backs of their more fortunate comrades. At the grave not a dry eye could be seen, and one and all seemed to think that a friend, a good man, and a soldier, in the widest and best sense of the term, was gone for ever from their midst.”

Mr. Nellmapius, the Portuguese Vice Consul, whose acquaintance I had formed on the diamond fields, and Mr. John Gray of Transpoort, who years before I had known as a sugar 452planter in Natal, with a few others, did all they could for the wounded, who for four months were kept and attended to under canvas.

The Boers, it is said, showed a good deal of kindness and attention to our wounded immediately after the fight; but a friend of mine who was there at the time, and with whom I discussed the question of the Boers and their motives, assured me they did not treat our wounded kindly from any feelings of sympathy, but from a fear of after consequences, should the tide of war flow against them, and it was that reason which made them leave us alone after the fight to sink or swim as best we might, without let or interference.

Turning our horses’ heads homewards, we just managed to drive a few miles on the road to Pretoria when darkness overtook us, and we outspanned near some Dutch wagons which were going up to Sekokoni’s country. I received great kindness from the Boer in charge, who, seeing I was far from well, insisted on my taking a sleep in his wagon until the moon rose, which it did about four o’clock in the morning, enabling us to continue our journey.

Whatever may be reported concerning the incivility and churlishness of the Boers, I only speak from my own experience when I say that during the whole of my trip I received nothing but kindness at their hands. I, however, treated them with proper courtesy, not as an inferior race, which so many English upstarts do, did not order when I should ask, nor forget that the farmer was to a certain extent my host. These Dutch farmers have become uncivil in their own defence. A good deal is due to the diamond fields, and the different classes they have attracted. On the coach arriving at a Dutch farm-house, where as a favor its passengers were allowed to rest, some among them would, too often, take unpardonable liberties, would order round the inmates, enter the gardens, break off branches of the trees, steal the fruit if ripe, if unripe pelt each other with it from sheer wantonness, and leave when they had caused the farmer all the damage and annoyance they could. No wonder that in time all strangers were treated alike with abrupt and scant courtesy. Pushing 453along when the moon rose, we drove to Zwart Kopje, close to which there is a nice farm-house surrounded by splendid fruit trees. This was the place where the first fight took place after Bronkhorst Spruit. Zwart Kopje at the time was a very strong position, but our troops were successful in dislodging the Laager which the Boers had formed there, losing, however, six men in the attempt, while our enemies lost three. Here we took a good rest; intending to make the “Eerste Fabrieken” the last stage before Pretoria; we did this and then resting a short time at Mundt’s farm, seeing some pretty girls and eating some delicious fruit, we arrived at Pretoria about six P. M., after a most delightful and interesting trip.

I need scarcely say that sleep soon fell upon me, but dreams of cruel disappointment, broken faith, ruined prospects, shattered fortunes, disgrace and despair, haunted me the livelong night, and when morning broke, I woke up with the stern fact forcing itself upon me, that all, alas! was but too true, the vivid dreams of the night being but phantasms of the day’s sober realities.

Even in Mr. Gladstone’s political manifesto, previous to the last general election but one, he thus attempted to excuse his disgraceful surrender to the Boers after the defeat at Majuba: “We have been severely condemned because, after supplying military means such as to place beyond doubt the superiority of the British power, we refused to prosecute a work of sanguinary subjugation.”

How Mr. Gladstone could write such misleading words, in the face of his own previously expressed opinion, in face of the distinct and positive answer he made Mr. Rylands in the House of Commons on January 22, 1881, that, “it was the resolute intention of the government to establish the British supremacy in the Transvaal in the first instance,” in the face of Bronkhorst Spruit, Laing’s Nek, Tugogo, and Majuba, four defeats, which entirely put an end to the belief in British superiority, not only in the minds of the Boers, but also in those of the natives, is difficult to understand.

The retrocession of the Transvaal will remain a blot on the 454Gladstone escutcheon which no amount of sophistry will ever be able to wipe out.

My medical friends were very kind; the luncheons, dinners, and suppers I ate, and the genial society I enjoyed at their hospitable boards, I shall never forget.

The mail cart I learned started for Natal the next evening, so I spent the day in taking my farewells and in preparing for my journey. The mail was, however, delayed, and did not leave until two o’clock in the morning, Dr. Crow very kindly sitting up to see me safely away. At last we started for Pieter Maritzburg, when bidding the genial doctor “Good bye” and Pretoria adieu we rattled away at full gallop, with 450 miles of South African road before us.



The mail cart by which I left Pretoria was so arranged that the passengers sat back to back, but as there was the driver besides myself only. I was obliged to sit at the back to preserve the balance. Feeling very weak I tied myself in with a rope, which, having passed round my waist, I fastened to either side of the tent of the cart, so that whatever might happen, I could not be thrown out. The road to Six Mile Spruit was very smooth, the night dark, and being dead tired out, I fell to sleep at once; Morpheus, however, did not long hold me in his arms, for my slumbers were soon disturbed. I was suddenly awakened to the fact that something had gone wrong. Collecting my scattered senses, I saw at once that the driver had outspanned the horses, and tied them up, two to each wheel, where, neighing and kicking with fright, they were pulling and swaying the cart about in opposite directions to get loose, till at last over it went, and all four horses tore themselves free and broke away at a bound. Fortunately uninjured, yet unable to get out by myself, I laid tied 456up fast in the cart, until at dawn of day the driver, who had been sleeping in the stable of a farm-house close by, came to inspan again. Seeing the cart upset, the horses gone, he naturally looked to see where I was, and releasing me from my awkward predicament, went to seek for his horses. The farmer himself next appeared on the scene, one of the fattest, jolliest, old fellows I have ever met. He paid me more kind attention than I could ever have expected, and insisted on my going to his house, where we drank cup after cup of coffee until the sun was well up. Von Schalkveigh, for that was his name, once an Old Colony farmer, had been loyal to the backbone during the war.

At last, the horses being found, my driver made up for lost time, and after two or three changes of animals, we drove up to the “Royal Hotel” at Heidelberg just as the rain was commencing to pour in torrents.

This is a neat village of about 250 inhabitants. The Blesbok Spruit, which nearly encircled it, formed quite a picture in the foreground, while the background was filled up by the hills over which we had just come. Heidelberg had always been described to me as an oasis in the desert, my informants applying that term to it both from its natural beauties and from the geniality of its residents. It did not take me long to find out it was a colony composed almost entirely of thrifty, well-to-do Scotchmen, who had chosen, with considerable cuteness, the best position for miles round on which to settle.

Mr. MacLaren, the “institution” of the place, a prosperous merchant, and I can say without fear of contradiction one of the most hospitable Scotchmen in South Africa, invited me to lunch. His kindness to the English officers brought here as prisoners of war, after the Dutch success at Majuba, was a matter of common report. It was well known if he had not entertained them as guests of his own, they would have been confined in the common gaol. Such kindness at such a time cannot be over estimated. Here the Boers had their headquarters during the war, the Dutch flag having been hoisted at the beginning of the revolt, without resistance or bloodshed, on Durgaan’s Day, December 16th, 1880.

457During the war the Boers behaved very creditably to the townsfolk, treating them well and paying for everything which they got from the stores. Round about they made laagers to defend the place, possession of which our troops from force of circumstances were unable to even attempt to gain.

It was still raining when we drove away, and just as darkness was closing round we outspanned at a farm-house where we stayed the night. The next afternoon we came to Standerton on the Vaal River.



This village, with 300 regulars and 70 civilians, was invested by 700 Boers on December 24th, 1880, and for two months and a half, until the armistice was proclaimed, it was able to act on the defensive only.

Crossing the river, in a few hours we came to the residence and store of Mr. Michaelson, where we stopped the night. These had been used as hospitals by the Boers, from January 45828th, 1880, to the close of the war. Here the road divides, one branch leading to Wakkerstroom, the other to Coldstream, and over Laing’s Nek into Natal.

Within forty yards of Mr. Michaelson’s house the Boers have erected a monument to their dead who fell at Majuba; on this every death which occurred on that day, so fatal to our arms and prestige in South Africa, is distinctly recorded.

The accompanying picture is from a sketch which I made on passing. When looking at this reminder of scenes gone by, I could not help thinking over our own dead, sleeping peacefully in the graveyard at Mount Prospect, just across the border, a few short miles away.

Mrs. Michaelson and her husband were very kind, invited me into their private house, gave me a good dinner and bed; but I had not long to rest, as Mr. Michaelson awoke me before daylight in the morning, the mail cart starting very early. Passing Coldstream, the sun was just rising as we came near on our left hand to the site of the Boer camp during the late war; and now, more vividly than on my former visit, seeing both sides of the situation, could I realize the fact that if the late Sir G. Pomeroy Colley had taken any rocket apparatus, or Gatling gun, with him on his ascent of Majuba, or even ordered a diversion to be made at Laing’s Nek, the Boer camp must have lain entirely at his mercy. The day would have been his own, Gladstone’s fit of repentance unnecessary, and the English flag would yet be flying over the Transvaal.

The morning, beautiful and clear after the night’s rain, enabled me, as the post-cart passed along the road winding at its base, distinctly to see every outline of Majuba once more, towering 3,000 feet above. It is one of the finest scenes in South Africa, and will well repay a visit, the more so as within a radius of ten miles the student can read three lessons in the history of his own time.

Away on our left we drove past the battlefield of Laing’s Nek, bid farewell to the resting-place of poor Colley at Mount Prospect, took a last look at the roadside inn, now alas! in ruins, where two and a half years before I had passed such pleasant hours, until arriving at the Ingogo drift, Vormstone 459gave me a splendid breakfast. An hour’s rest, off we went again, crossed the Ingogo and made the gradual ascent, which I have described before in another chapter, to the battlefield of Schuin’s Hooghte.

Here I got the post-cart driver to stay for a quarter of an hour, while I paid a second visit to the graveyard close to the road. I found everything just the same as when I was last there immediately after the war, except that close alongside a neat little monument had been erected in commemoration of those who fell on the field, and those who died, ignominiously deserted three short years before.



Galloping down from Schuin’s Hooghte, a few miles more brought us to Newcastle, and as the mail for Maritzburg did not start till next day, I got a good rest. Everything in Newcastle had gone back. No signs of the lavish spending of Imperial money! No military camp with its reckless expenditure 460now. The fine hotel, which on my former visit was crowded with officers, contractors, sutlers and army hangers-on, had been burnt down, and was in ruins. “The place thereof shall know it no more for ever.” My old friend, Greenlees, invited me to dinner, but I noticed that he looked upon me with kindly pity, as one with whom cruel fortune had made merry, and not as

“A man that fortune’s buffets and rewards
Had ta’en with equal thanks.”

I left Newcastle early next morning, travelling over the same ground as I did years before, stayed at Ladysmith an hour or two, and tried to eat a most infamously served lunch in, I think, the “inn’s worst room,” and started again for Colenso, where I rested the night. At early dawn we were on the move. On we went, calling at Pinchin’s hotel at Estcourt, kept by a fellow passenger who came with me to Natal “two decades” before in the “Tugela” then away again past Howick and the beautiful falls of the Umgeni, to Maritzburg.

The railway embankment in course of construction showed me the rapid strides civilization was making, and was a proof that the iron horse would soon neigh at a distance of 100 miles from the seaboard. In former days I always went to the “Plough Hotel;” and, with a feeling I have of never forsaking old friends or places, I went there again, but the hotel had evidently been decorated (?) by contract for external show. The backyard was covered in with glass, the floor paved with tawdry tiles, and a few stunted plants sprouted in despair from green painted pots. Everything for mere meretricious effect. The bugs, mosquitoes, dirt and disorder of my bedroom were sufficient to drive me away to D’Urban next day. Before I went, however, I found opportunity to see a few friends whom I had known years before. Among them Mr. Henrique Shepstone, who in my Natal days was Coolie Immigration Agent, afterwards Judge Philip’s private secretary during the memorable trials in the Barbadoes, then Secretary of Native Affairs in the Transvaal during the Lanyon régime, 461and subsequently Imperial Government agent in charge of Cetywayo during his visit to London, but now the Hon. H. Shepstone, Secretary of Native Affairs, having lately been promoted by Sir H. Bulwer to this post, which was formerly held by his father, Sir Theophilus Shepstone. Mr. Polkinghoene, the Treasurer General, whose beautiful coffee estate on the banks of the Umhloti River I had often visited, was looking after the finances of his adopted country, while my old partner in planting when I was on the coast had forsaken the cure of coffee, and taken to the cure of souls!

Reclining in a luxurious railway carriage, I was able to look back on post-cart travelling and its miseries, thinking of Virgil’s “Forsitan hæc olim meminisse juvabit,” the present comfort making up for the disagreeables of the past. Every comfort or pain in this world is by comparison, and a first-class railway carriage seemed a very haven of rest after my 700 mile post-cart trip through Griqualand West, the Transvaal, and Natal. “Comparisons are odious,” but after the “Plough” at Maritzburg, the “Royal” at D’Urban, where I stayed, seemed a perfect paradise. I can scarcely tell how thoroughly I enjoyed my few days rest before the steamer “Asiatic” bore me to Capetown!

The Indian waiters robed in spotless white, the recherché bills of fare, the noble dining-room with punkahs in constant play, the beds supplied with mosquito curtains, the obliging landlord, the tout ensemble in fact, forced me, after an experience of nearly every large hotel in South Africa, to one conclusion, which was that the “Royal” at D’Urban was beyond any comparison the hotel of the country.

After a few days pleasant coasting, calling at East London, Port Elizabeth and Mossel Bay, meeting friends at every place, we anchored at last in Table Bay, but as the wind had suddenly commenced to blow great guns from the southeast, the Captain would not risk docking his steamer.

Expecting to meet my wife, who had cabled she was coming out, after hearing of my accident, I risked going ashore in a small boat, getting drenched through for my pains. “All’s well that ends well,” however, and on landing I found 462that she had arrived safely the day before in the “Athenian” and was awaiting me.

I was naturally very curious to learn what had caused her unaccountable anxiety, which I mentioned in my last chapter, as particular care had been taken to keep the fact of my accident from being cabled to her, and she had remained in entire ignorance of my condition until letters reached her. She told me that she was sitting alone reading, much interested in her book, when she felt a sharp thrill, like an electric shock, pass through her from head to foot. This distracted her attention for a moment, but as she was about to resume her book, she heard a voice distinctly say “Pray for Joe, pray for Joe.” This occurred on Sunday, December 2d, which was the day after my accident, and when in both Kimberley and Du Toit’s Pan prayers had been offered in many churches for my recovery.

In as far as I have read the accounts of such phenomena, this differs from them in some respects, and so I think may be interesting to members of the Psychical Research Society, and those engaged in investigating such mental phenomena or coincidences as clairvoyance, thought reading, etc.

Although I ought to have taken a longer rest from work, I could not hear inactivity, and resumed the practice of my profession on February 14th, 1884. This I continued as before until August, 1886, when, as I tell later on, I visited the Kaap Gold Fields.



During the course of the year 1886 certain events occurred which determined me upon visiting Europe, and possibly settling in America, but before deciding upon the exact date of my departure, I resolved to visit Barberton, the main town of the Kaap Valley Gold Fields, in the Transvaal, and learn for myself on the spot the truth or otherwise of the statements then being made about the Fields, and which were exciting such intense interest in the Cape Colony and Natal, and even were beginning to attract the attention of the European capitalists.

I left Kimberley with that object in view in August last, by the mail coach, which ran through as far as Marais’ Farm, a few hours beyond Middleburgh, a small town seventy miles from Pretoria, the capital of the state, and which may be remembered as a place of some importance during Sir Garnet Wolseley’s operations in the Sekukuni war. I trusted, though the mail-coach service ended there, that some favorable opportunity of getting on to Barberton, the chief mining town 464of the district, might present itself. The gold fields that I was especially desirous of visiting lie between the Godwaan plateau and the Makoujwa range of mountains, along the valley of the Kaap and Crocodile Rivers, about 240 miles east of Pretoria. The ground between Kimberley and Pretoria I had travelled over three years before and consequently was well acquainted with it. The country I found as naturally rich and as picturesque as on my former visit, but I could not detect any signs of progressive energy or life. Everybody seemed imbued with the same lethargy and lack of industry and enterprise. On my arrival at Pretoria, however, I found the town, or rather the bars of the European Hotel and the clubs, in a state of unnatural ferment, owing to the “boom” occasioned by the newly discovered gold deposit at Witwatersrand, a place some thirty-five miles distant.

The gold there, I was told, had been found in a well-cased conglomerate, and the yield per ton was reported to be something fabulous. As a natural result speculation of the wildest character was going on.

Before arriving at Potchefstroom, formerly the capital of the state, the coach passed Wonderfontein, a farm where we changed horses, and which now possesses a certain historical importance as being the main centre of the Boer deliberations during their late successful struggle for the independence of their country.

Here the driver of the coach was induced to wait an hour in order to give the passengers the opportunity of visiting a renowned cave in the vicinity.

A tedious drive all night had brought us at last, at ten o’clock in the morning, to Wonderfontein. During the last hour or so, when the rising sun with profuse splendor “tipped the hills with gold,” the scenery, which had been rather monotonous since daybreak, became lighted up by glimpses of the beautiful Mooi River, which we could see running like a thread of glittering silver at the foot of a high range of hills to join the Vaal River below Potchefstroom. Of a wonderful cave on this farm I had often heard, and long wished to see. Mr. V. Aswegen, a son-in-law of the late proprietor, very kindly consented to act as guide, and show us the subterranean wonders which he told us he had discovered seven years ago, when out hunting game, at the same time adding that the existence of the cave was but little known, not many visitors coming to the spot. On our arrival at the place pointed out to us by the guide (four miles from his house), which was surrounded by trees, we scrambled down a few feet into something like a pit twenty feet deep, and about thirty yards in diameter, having at one corner a little hole barely large enough to admit a man.



467Through this we groped one at a time. We did not advance far before the pitchy darkness caused us to stop and light the candles and lamps with which each visitor had been provided. Then continuing our descent for twenty minutes at least, as it were into the bowels of the earth, we were suddenly ushered into a hall of dazzling whiteness, a scene of startling fairy-like beauty presenting itself which words fail me to describe. Passing on a few yards we found ourselves in a large amphitheatre, at least one hundred yards across, with a dome sixty feet in height, arching above. From this hung in profusion groups of glittering stalactites, like giant icicles, some being as much as thirty feet in length, others shorter, and all the color of driven snow, which, combined with the stalagmites growing as if out of the floor and in some cases meeting, produced an effect which was simply superb.

Stalactites are produced, I may state, by the percolation of water, holding some mineral matter in solution, through the rocky roofs of caverns; the evaporation of the water producing a deposit of the mineral matter, and gradually forming the long pendant cones. Large caves are found only in limestone regions, and chemistry shows that water holding lime in solution does so by virtue of the carbonic acid it contains, and will deposit the lime when the acid escapes.

Imagination here could revel at will, and play any freaks she chose. To the fancy were suggested vivid and varied scenes, while associations of all kinds—recollections of the past, and anticipations of the future—crowded on the spectator’s 468mind. In one corner the stalactites extended nearly to the ground, in circular pillars, and to the eye of fancy seemed like the carved confessionals in some continental cathedral, and it needed no great stretch of imagination to expect momentarily the appearance of the fair penitent and “holy friar.” A little further—still allowing fancy scope—there could be seen the pipes of a magnificent organ, extending to the dome, while, seemingly to prove that all was real, our guide ran his fingers over these vibrating pipes, bringing out a succession of tones both musical and clear. Looking on the other side of what I shall term this magnificent hall, the Roman Forum, with its eloquent speakers, and the noble orations they delivered in centuries gone by, were brought vividly to one’s memory by the very model of an ancient rostrum, standing ready for another Cicero again to mount and passionately declaim “Quosque tandem abutere, Catilina, patientia nostra.”

At the request of my companions I mounted this natural platform, when amid most enthusiastic plaudits from the friendly audience I spoke as felicitously as I could on the Transvaal and its resources, and dwelt upon the probable time, the countless ages, which had been consumed in the formation of the natural beauties we were viewing.

Before bidding farewell to this never-to-be-forgotten scene, we gathered together underneath the centre of the dome and sang “God save the Queen,” our guide, with the precision of a drummer, beating time on one of the pendant cones. I must not forget to mention that the echo which reverberated through this majestic hall reminded me most vividly of the Taj Mahal at Agra, and of the curious acoustic properties of that white marble mausoleum. But the distant notes of our driver’s bugle summoning us, we were suddenly reminded that we must again tempt the fortunes of “a cold, cold world,” and leave these mysterious caverns to the darkness of midnight and the silence of the grave.

After a day’s rest at Potchefstroom we went on to Pretoria (the seat of government since November, 1865), where we stayed the night, and started next morning for Marias’ 469Farm, sixty miles beyond Middleburg, where, as I have already told you. the mail service ceased. Here I and a fellow passenger were compelled to hire a special conveyance to take us on to the Duivel’s Kantoor, passing through the romantic Eland’s Valley and by the side of the Barret-Berlyn property. This village (the Kantoor), which is picturesquely situated at the very edge of the Drakensberg overlooking the Kaap Valley, was formerly the headquarters of the diggers for alluvial gold on the Godwaan plateau, and also the residence of the gold commissioner. I will refer to one of my letters for a description of the scene: “A short distance from the hotel where I am resting I have just seen one of the finest sights that has fallen to my lot to behold since I have been in South Africa. It is only a stone’s throw from the table where I am writing to the edge of the Drakensberg, but before the grand scene which I shall essay to describe to you bursts upon the view, the pathway twists and winds through such immense water-worn sandstone boulders, tossed as it were promiscuously around, and of every conceivable size and fantastic shape, that no wonder the illiterate and superstitious but God-fearing Boer imagined some supernatural power—the Devil himself, in fact—when in a capricious mood had taken a particular interest in the locality.

“You have not forgotten, I am sure, our trip to the Falls of the Tugela in 1870, where, in one unbroken sheet, we saw that river leap over the Drakensberg 1,800 feet. I can even now picture to myself the view from the top of the Berg, a spot where few save the prowling Bushmen, with their poisoned arrows, have ever been; and can well remember how I feasted my eyes on the vast expanse below, studded with the homesteads of enterprising British colonists. I have been, as you know, on Majuba’s heights, and have seen the rocks up which General Smith and his plucky band resolutely climbed on that eventful Sunday morning, performing one of the most heroic feats of modern times—and I have lingered for hours on Table Mountain, viewing the magnificent panorama of Capetown, with its docks and shipping, the picture framed on the one side by the green of its beautiful suburbs, and on the other 470by the blue of the mighty Ocean. But these all pale before the view of the Kaap Valley from the Duivel’s Kantoor.

“When I first reached the edge of the Berg, the Kaap Valley—2,000 feet below me, which I knew from report was some thirty miles in diameter and surrounded by an amphitheatre of hills—presented a weird and beautiful appearance, being entirely covered by a dense white mist, which seemed like some vast inland sea. At the same time the rising sun, topping the hills on the other side of the valley, added to the novelty of the scene by pouring its dissolving rays, through a clear and cloudless sky, on the misty surface which glittered like a mirror as it reflected back the golden sheen. By degrees, as the sun, rising higher in the heavens, became more powerful, the conical-shaped hills which dotted the valley began to pierce through the mist, and beautiful islands with their bays and inlets seemed traced as on a map before me. I could not leave the place—I seemed rooted to the spot; but after turning round for a few seconds a still greater surprise was in store, for during the brief period that my attention had been withdrawn, a change, as if by magic, had taken place. The ‘blanket’ or ‘table-cloth,’ as the mist is called, had suddenly disappeared, and the whole valley was exposed to view; only, however, hanging over the spruits and marking their courses, did it still remain.”

Ten or twelve years ago, I have been told, this valley was in many parts a complete swamp; it was, notwithstanding this however, a favorite resort in the winter for the Boers from the neighboring high lands who came to shoot the big game—the lions, tigers, buffaloes, and rhinoceri, with which it abounded; but my medical knowledge soon told me the reason why the Boers had formerly named this romantic valley “The Valley of the Shadow of Death,” for the stern reality forced itself upon me that the pestiferous breath of the rolling mist, that I had just so much admired, although beautiful and fair to view, was dangerous in the extreme, and would yet prove the “bed-rock” which full many an unlucky digger would be sure to “strike.”



473To the northeast I had pointed out to me the conical-shaped Spitzkop, which, with the Devil’s Knuckles, Mauch Berg, 8,725 feet high, and Macdonald’s Berg, mark the Lydenberg Gold Fields, and straight across to the south and southeast I could see Barberton, Moodie’s Lower Camp, Pretorius Kop and the Tafelberg, while the Makoujwa range, which forms the boundary between the Transvaal and Swaziland, formed the background to the scene. I am told there is an oil painting of this beautiful valley in the South Kensington Museum, painted by a Dutch artist as long ago as 1790. All the way on our road to Barberton, at which place it took us at least eight hours to arrive, we found the valley through which we passed uninhabited; yet there were at almost every few yards, in the shape of piles of stones, heaped together for mealie-garden clearings, evidences that this valley had but one generation back been enormously populated. In the early part of the century Umselikatzi, the late chief of the Matabeli—himself a Zulu, in fact a cousin of Chaka—was sent out of Zululand by Chaka, Cetywayo’s uncle, when he swept through Swaziland, and depopulated this valley, and, as one writer says, “they slew and slew until their arms were tired of killing,” then establishing himself in Matabele Land, beyond the Limpopo, set himself up as an independent monarch. This accounts very clearly for the fact that, although other tribes and languages intervene between the Zulu country and Matabele Land, yet nearly pure Zulu is even now spoken by the Matabeli.

The Kaap Valley after this became a species of “No Man’s Land,” and the habitat simply of refugee Kafirs and broken-up tribes, who acknowledged themselves subjects of the Swazi king and paid him tribute. The Swazis, however, from time to time, sent commanders further north, and made raids on Sekukuni’s Kafirs, or Bapedi, who, although they were once or twice successful in repulsing the invaders, were at last conquered, when the Swazis became paramount as far north as the Steelpoort River. This strip of land extending from the Makoujwa range to the river above-mentioned, including of course the Kaap Valley, was ceded to her Majesty’s government by the Swazi king; who, however, now declares that 474he never gave it to the Boers, who obtained it from us on the retrocession, but to her Majesty.

On my arrival at Barberton, which is the rendezvous of all the prospectors in the neighborhood, I found it to consist of a mining town of about 2,000 inhabitants, nestling at the foot of the steep range of hills which serves to divide the Transvaal from Swaziland. This place, which but a few months before had been a village with but one or two houses, before I left was the centre of a large and increasing population. Some idea may be formed when I tell you that the government has allotted 3,000 building stands on which there are hotels, stores, churches of different denominations, either completed or in course of erection, two stock exchanges, a club, a theatre, two music halls, three newspaper offices, three banks, a market-house, as well as large government buildings, comprising courts of law, post and telegraph offices, and last, but not least, that necessity of existence known in this country as a “tronk,” but elsewhere a prison—in fact, if it were not for the absence of the railway-engine and electric wire, none of the requirements of civilization would be wanting.

Some idea of the sudden rise of Barberton may be gained when a comparison is made of its past and present postal requirements. In March, 1886, the revenue from the sale of postage stamps amounted only to £24, while more than £1,000 worth were sold in December of the same year. During the same month the revenue from other sources amounted to over £16,000, and taking this as a fair monthly average at the present time, the revenue from Barberton and the Kaap Gold Fields alone is considerably greater than that of the whole state some two or three years ago.

Naturally, among a population composed of men of various types and nationalities, a great diversity of character must be found, hard-working men, sober toilers, drunken sots, worthless loafers, men of strict integrity, and others without a grain of honesty in their composition, are to be met with daily. Sad to say, a good many of those sent up to the Kaap Gold Fields to prospect, supported by syndicates in the Colony or 475Natal, never searched for the precious metal save in the billiard room, though as a change, now and then, they took an enjoyable picnic on the veldt at the expense of the confiding contributors to their outing.

It is a matter much to be regretted that strong drink, with its accompanying vices and crimes, and the diseases that its excess induces, especially in hot countries, always follows the advent of the Anglo-Saxon. In and around this small community canteens and low grog-shops absolutely swarm, the number of licensed houses in the district being over 200—or one grog-shop for every ten of its population. The state places no limit on the issue of licenses, either wholesale or retail; at present, until Barberton be declared a township, when a retail liquor license will cost £50, the one can be obtained for £12, and the other for £15, per annum, and Sunday trade is not restricted.

Barberton and the surrounding locality, in my opinion, would be as healthy and have as low a death-rate as any place in South Africa, the climate being both pleasant and invigorating, if only the simplest sanitary precautions[110] were adopted by the authorities, and the population generally were fairly abstemious.

I wish here to correct a most erroneous impression which seems to prevail through South Africa as to the danger of residence in Barberton during the summer months. The climate of Barberton is but little, if at all, more unhealthy than that of Kimberley, and I speak advisedly from professional experience gained in both places. The only real exception that can be taken against Barberton as compared with Kimberley is, that being some seven degrees nearer the equator, the heat is more intense, and consequently greater care has to be taken in avoiding its depressing influences than in the other locality named. Let me, therefore, beg of you to disabuse your minds of the belief that Barberton in summer-time is a hot-bed of malaria. I must confess that I started to Barberton with a certain amount of trepidation as to the possibility or probability of myself or my healthiest neighbors being 476stric