Also a Kipling Poem, a Bogus Love-letter, and other Novelties.
Cue Tips and THE FRIEND Playing Cards.
Wafers All qualities at
at Barlow's 3d 3d Barlow's
(Edited by the War Correspondents with Lord Roberts' Force.)
The above was hereafter to be the wording of the full title of the new paper. It was again of the small size, necessitated by the infirm and petty possibilities of the dust-heap in which it was produced.
In this second number appeared a verse of a poem by Rudyard Kipling, who, unknown to us and unsuspected by himself, was soon to be so closely connected with our enterprise. As soon as we agreed to take control of the new paper, Mr. Landon had wired the news to Mr. Kipling, then in Capetown, with a request for a contribution for the first number. The fact that the poetic reply reached Bloemfontein twenty-four hours later was a matter of delight and surprise to all of us, for the chained lightning of the wired highway of correspondence loses its chief characteristic of speed where the military make first use of it in time of war.
I should not like even to imagine the disgust with which some of the lower order of censors, at terminal and junctional points, viewed this bit of poetry as it crawled along and they were called upon to approve it, perhaps, as "unseditious matter not calculated to give information to the enemy." But then I do not like to think of that breed of censors under any circumstances. It wrinkles my temper.
Mr. Landon's journalistic enterprise not only turned the eyes of all the Kipling collectors of the world upon our newspaper, but, because our printers left the date line "March 16" unaltered on an inside page of this number of the 17th, that issue became a curio among our readers. On the next day copies of the first hundred papers, which were issued before the mistake was noticed, fetched five shillings each. Within a month their price was twenty-five shillings. But that is only a twentieth part of what an odd and not specially distinguished number of THE FRIEND sold for at a bazaar in London last summer (1900).
Mr. Landon wrote a notable and brilliant editorial on "The Collapse of the Rebellion"; General Smith-Dorrien replied to the remarks about the Canadians at Paardeberg in the previous day's issue; Lord Roberts's congratulation to the Army was published in this number; and there also appeared my "love letter to Miss Bloemfontein."
As this love-correspondence attracted great interest then and was peculiar in its commencement, continuation, and end, I will tell, briefly, what the facts are concerning it. I was invalided and confined to my bedroom in the Free State Hotel, and, being advertised as a contributor, bethought me that it would be a graceful and pleasant thing to act as spokesman for the army in praising the pretty town, and acknowledging the gratitude we felt to the people for their friendly behaviour to us conquerors.
I did not know at that time that the town was a pestilential, bacillus-soaked headquarters for disease, or that far too many of those who smiled upon us hated us bitterly, and were even then engaged in encouraging the Boers, conveying information to them, and sneaking out at night to fight with the enemy or to snipe our outposts. In a word, though I had studied the Boer more closely and longer than any other London correspondent, I had not measured the breadth and depth of his contempt for truth, honour, and fair play. Therefore I wrote the letter to Miss Bloemfontein which, with certain other contributions to that day's paper, is herewith republished.
On this day the advertisements for what were then called "lost" horses already numbered three, and, already, we published a communication headed "Loot News" in which was stated the fact that the horse-stealing had become so bold that a horse had actually been taken from in front of the Club.
"Please note the following," the reporter wrote, "Section I, clause 1, of the newly promulgated constitution of the city without a Steyn--A man may kill a man and live, but a man who steals a horse may not live." Whether there will occur an opportunity in this book to explain how the neighbourhood of the Boers affected the moral atmosphere and demoralised our earlier views of property rights, especially in horse-ownership, I cannot yet say, but whenever the tale is told it will be discovered to be extraordinary.
(Edited by the War Correspondents with Lord Roberts' Force.)
BLOEMFONTEIN, SATURDAY, MARCH 17, 1900.
LINES BY RUDYARD KIPLING.
MARCH 17, 1900.
ST. PATRICK'S DAY.
Oh! Terence dear, and did you hear
The news that's going round?
The Shamrock's Erin's badge by law,
Where'er her sons be found.
From Bobsfontein to Ballyhack
'Tis ordered by the Queen,
We've won our right in open fight
The wearing of the Green.
THE STEYNLESS CITY.
Absent-minded beggars please note following intimations displayed at the Club House, Market Square:--
Taken from a boy in front of the Club on 15th inst., about 7 p.m., a bay gelding, about thirteen hands, star on forehead, white patch on top lip, tick marks on hind quarters, long tail trimmed square, branded R G off forehoof. A 15 near forehoof.
Will the gentleman who took a brown pony by mistake from a boy at the door of this Club-house on March 15 kindly return it to manager?
Also please note following:--
Section I, clause I, of newly-promulgated constitution of the City without a Steyn--A man may kill a man and live, but a man that steals a horse may not live.
THE LATE PRESIDENCY.
The official Headquarters of Field-Marshal Lord Roberts and his staff are at the Residency.
TO MISS BLOEMFONTEIN.
A LOVE LETTER.
Come, little Miss Bloemfontein, sit down beside me and let me hold your dimpled hand and look into those eyes which have caught the wonderful blue of these heavens, and the tints of your gardens and your bowery streets. I think our whole army likes you, you belle of the Boer aristocracy. You certainly change your lovers easily and lightly, but soldiers are reported not to mind a little coquetry when they are far from home. You have tripped out to meet us so enticingly, you have so led us into your bower with your warm little hand, and you have spoken so kindly to us, that we dislike to think you were quite the same to your earlier beaux in their homespun suits, their flapping hats, and their lavish indulgence in whiskers and beards, which, as you must know, are the cheapest of luxuries--prodigalities in which misers indulge to make a show and save a barber's bill.
You might have been hateful to us and we could not have blamed you, for we came too nearly, as certain other soldiers came to the Sabine sisterhood, with blood in our eyes and weapons in hand, fancying that you would cling to your old love, and never dreaming that he would run away and leave you unprotected in this placid and pretty little boudoir that you have set up here. You won't forget that little episode, will you, Miss Bloemfontein? And you did take note, didn't you, my dear, that when we found you deserted, all forlorn, we changed from lion to lamb, from blustering warrior to soft-spoken wooer? We spoke no harsh word to your people and did their goods no violence. Even now, we stand aside in our own place, crowding none of your servitors, but smiling back the smiles you bathe us in, and breathing our admiration softly--for you are a pretty miss and gentle--and we are not so stupid as to fail to see that you are no Boadicea, but a lover of peace and concord, if ever one has lived on earth since the Muses took to the clouds. Sweetness of loving sighs its soft song of delight in every breeze that rustles the leaves of your tree-garlands. Domesticity asserts its command, by your order, in the aspect of every cottage in your park-like nest. Homely comfort radiates from the hearths and the faces of all who live under your delightful rule.
I never anywhere saw a prettier or a more astonishing scene than I witnessed in your market-square on the second night of the stay, which we hope you will invite us to prolong to eternity. We sent a few greasy and stained melodists with pipes and drums to play in the square, partly to show you that we had dethroned Mars and substituted Pan in the best niche in our hearts, and partly to set our own pleasure tripping to gay tunes. And lo! out you came with your maidens and their lovers, your old men and matrons, and the children within your gates. And we all forgot that we had quarrelled with your cast-off favourite, that each of us had shed the other's blood, and that we had come to you with an anger that we supposed you matched within your own fair bosom. Your people and ours touched elbows and laughed and sang together. For one I was amazed. Of all the sharp contrasts of strife I know of none so bold and strong as that scene when it was compared with the scenes of only a few days back at Paardeberg and Driefontein.
It was your magic, your witchery, your tact that brought it about, you South African beauty. Without these helps we never could have enjoyed that evening as we did, and that evening was the bridge that spanned the gulf between the angry past and the happy future in our lives, little miss.
Draw closer, Miss Bloemfontein. Let our arms touch, and the thrill of ardent friendship vivify our new relation. You do like us British, don't you, dear? You don't have to be British yourself, you know. You can stay on being Dutch and piously Presbyterian and all the rest. We will respect whatever you admire, and we will promise to make you richer, freer, happier and even more beautiful--with the ripened charms of a long-assured content, if only you will let your chief predikant publish the banns next Sunday--or sooner, if you will.
A RECENT EXPERIENCE.
A recent experience of Mr. Bennet Burleigh and his colleague, Mr. Percy Bullen, of the Daily Telegraph, affords a fitting illustration of the dangers to which those attached to Field Forces are exposed. These two gentlemen left Poplar Grove last Saturday with the object of reaching General Kelly-Kenny's column, which had preceded them by several hours travelling along the high road running almost parallel with the Modder River. Near Abrahamskraal they caught sight of the central division fighting the Boers along the kopjes lying to the right. Mr. Burleigh, who was travelling in a Cape cart drawn by four horses, stepped down to survey matters, and while looking through his glasses along the high road he saw a party of Boers digging trenches. Some of them wore khaki, others were dressed in a style of the country, which betrayed their identity to the experienced eye. It was decided to return by the same road, further progress being obviously very hazardous, as the enemy was within a distance of 500 yards. The two carts occupied by the correspondents had barely turned round when a shower of bullets was sent in their direction, several striking Mr. Burleigh's vehicle, and others falling immediately in front of Mr. Bullen. A desperate race followed over a distance of several miles, in the course of which a convoy of several mule waggons was met. The officer in charge ordered the convoy to return immediately, and his instructions were quickly followed. Meantime a messenger was sent across to the central division to ask for assistance, as the Boers, though a considerable distance behind, were still shooting. By dint of hard work and much lashing of horses and mules, every one got safely away, but one of Mr. Bullen's team fell a victim to the enemy's fire. Fortunately the shot came from across the river, and the remaining animal, though sorely tried by the boulders and sluits of a bad road over which the whole of the convoy and escort had likewise proceeded at a break-neck pace, was able to pull the cart out upon the veldt and so elude further damage. By this time some of Rimington's scouts appeared, and one of the number kindly lent the correspondent his horse, by means of which he was able to rejoin his colleague at Poplar Grove, where the entire party passed the night. It was an exciting chase extending over several miles, and the safety of the correspondents and convoy was largely due to the zeal of the native drivers, who worked as if life as well as liberty depended on the result. The huge column of dust thrown up by the carts and horses was sufficient to baffle even the most expert riflemen, and the Boers who pursued were certainly not good shots even at close quarters. In order to assist his flight Mr. Bullen jettisoned a large quantity of horse fodder, whereas his experienced colleague, Mr. Burleigh, arrived in camp with all his goods intact, including a live sheep. It transpired subsequently that the messenger despatched for assistance, as well as two others who followed him, were captured. The correspondents state that the skill displayed by their drivers in avoiding the huge boulders which lined the high road, and especially in descending and ascending the banks of a very precipitous sluit with a twelve feet dip, was a most creditable performance, reminding one of the wonderful exercises of our artillery drivers at the Islington Military Tournament.
CANADIANS ON MAJUBA DAY.
BY MAJOR-GENERAL SMITH-DORRIEN.
BLOEMFONTEIN, March 17, 1900.
To the Editor of "THE FRIEND."
DEAR SIR,--I have read your account of "The Canadians on Majuba Day" in your issue of yesterday. It is correct up to a certain point, but the last part of it is quite erroneous.
In justice to this gallant corps, and to the Company of Royal Engineers who were with them, I trust you will publish this letter--which recounts what actually happened from the moment the Royal Canadians advanced from the trench, 550 yards from the enemy, until they established themselves and made a new trench within 93 yards of the Boer trenches.
At 2.15 a.m. (on the 27th February), the Royal Canadians with 240 men in the front rank, the latter with rifles slung and entrenching tools, and about 30 officers and men, Royal Engineers under Lieut.-Colonel Kincaid forming the right of the rear rank of the Canadians, moved steadily from the trench, shoulder to shoulder in the dark night, feeling their way through the bushes, and keeping touch by the right.
At 2.50 a.m. they were met by a terrific fire from the enemy's trench, now only 60 yards in front of them.
The line was forced to fall back, but only a very small distance, the right of it under Captains Stairs and Macdonell, Royal Canadians, some twenty yards, where they lay down in the open and returned a steady fire--mostly volleys--for the next one and a half hours; the left had had to fall back rather further.
Under cover of these two Captains, Lieutenant-Colonel Kincaid and his R.E. officer and men, and the Canadian working party in that part of the line constructed trenches in spite of the galling fire, and by daylight had completed a most admirable work which gave grand cover against fire in all threatened directions, and was so well traversed with banks and sand-bags that not a single casualty occurred after it was occupied.
As day dawned a ruined house was noticed on the opposite bank of the river, from which this work could be enfiladed, and a party from the reserve was sent up the left bank to occupy it.
To cover the early morning attack as soon as the fire opened at 2.50 a.m., the Shropshires, in order to hold the enemy in the main laager, engaged them with long-range volleys, whilst the Gordons remained partly in the open and partly in the most advanced flank trench, which latter they lengthened and enlarged, ready to move forward in support.
Shortly after daylight a white flag was flying in the Boer trench, which was 93 yards from our newly-constructed trench, and soon the Boers came trooping into our line. They stated that they had no orders from General Cronje to surrender, but that they heard he intended to give in on the 28th February.
The result, however, of this gallant operation was that General Cronje altered his date one day earlier.
Your account says that our losses were comparatively small; so they were for the results gained, and considering the heavy fire which continued for nearly two hours at 80 yards' range. They only amounted to 45 casualties in the Brigade--thus, 12 N.C.O.'s and men Royal Canadians killed, 30 N.C.O.'s and men Royal Canadians wounded, and 3 officers wounded, Major Pelletier and Lieut. Armstrong, Royal Canadians, and Lieut. Atchison, King's Shropshire Light Infantry--a fold in the ground exactly covered the spot where the party was working, hence the absence of casualties in the Royal Engineers, and the slight losses in the working party of Royal Canadians.
Yours faithfully, H. L. SMITH-DORRIEN, Major-General, Commanding 19th Brigade.
(We are glad to be able to supplement our contributor's account of the gallant action of the 27th by General Smith-Dorrien's categorical letter, which supplies details which could hardly be obtained accurately at second-hand.--EDS. FRIEND).
A COLONIAL HERO.
While scouting at Makouw's Drift, two troopers of Rimington's Guides were fired on from a small kopje at close range. One had his horse shot, and the other, young Ewan Christian, son of Mr. H. B. Christian, of Port Elizabeth, rode back to bring him away. As he was bending down to help his comrade up behind he was himself fatally shot, the bullet passing through his back and out through his chest. He rolled off his horse and told his comrade to mount and ride away. Shortly afterwards Major Rimington and more men came up and heard the last words of the dying hero: "Tell my old governor I died game." On retiring the party were under a hot fire, several horses, including that of Major Rimington, being shot. Mr. Christian was buried with military honours.