A chapter which introduces a Prince, and tells of our Appeal to the whole Army to write for THE FRIEND.
The next day's issue, that of March 22nd, was the best-looking number we had produced. We dropped those little frames on either side of the title of the paper which journalists call "ears" or "ear-tabs," so that the front page looked dignified and ship-shape, and the title read simply THE FRIEND, without its former addenda of "Playing cards" and "Cue tips." In place of these we printed the royal coat-of-arms. This issue contained a heart-felt eulogy of Sir W. S. A. Lockhart by the Field Marshal.
General Kelly in Camp Orders declared that hereafter horse thieves would be severely dealt with, and there appeared a notice by Prince Francis of Teck, "Staff Captain, Remount Department," that the army desired horses of certain ages and a certain height, as well as agents to buy them.
This reminds all who were at Bloemfontein how the Prince came and put up at the Bloemfontein Hotel, and began to fill up an immense yard just on the edge of the town with a marvellous collection of veldt horses, all of which, I understood, he succeeded in buying at £25 apiece, though I had just paid £100 for a pair, and most men were giving £40 at the least for every horse. The Prince worked like a beaver all the time he was at Bloemfontein.
There went to the stalwart and kindly Prince one day an artist who said he desired to surrender two mules which did not belong to him. It was not the truth that he desired to give them up, nor was it out of politeness that he told the falsehood. The fact was that the army had taken his horses and left him a pair of feeble, poorly animated steeds of the clothes-horse pattern, which gave out on the long road between Poplar Grove and Bloemfontein. At the same time two healthy mules, astray on the veldt, evinced a yearning for human companionship, and insisted upon intruding themselves upon the company of the artist and his Basuto servant while they were preparing lunch. To go on with his own weak and sick animals was to invite a loss of locomotive power in a country infested with Boers. To make use of the fresher mules was the natural and obvious alternative. Therefore the artist abandoned his horses and went on with the mules. Arrived in Bloemfontein, he at once continued his travels by joining the "bill-sticking expedition" of General French over to Thaba N'chu and the region beyond.
"Bill sticking," by the way, was how the officers nicknamed the distribution of copies of Lord Roberts' proclamation calling on the Boers to lay down their arms and sign a promise not to continue the war. When the artist returned to Bloemfontein he was met by friends who said that he would certainly be shot if he was found to be using animals that did not belong to him. Lord Roberts had grown angry, it was said, and had exclaimed aloud that no matter who or what the man might be, the next offender in this respect should be shot. It was this stentorian cry, and not the still, small voice of conscience, that sent the artist to the Prince, to whom he told the truth and made formal surrender of the mules.
"And very nice indeed it is of you," said the Prince, "very honest and straightforward. I will send some one to get the mules this afternoon."
"But, I beg pardon," said the artist, "now everything's all right, isn't it? The mules were not mine, and I have surrendered them, and there's no trouble to follow?"
"No, indeed," said Prince Francis, "I am much obliged to you. Animals are very scarce and we need all we can get; so very good of you to do as you have done."
"Well, now," said the artist, "won't you please let me keep the mules? The Army stole my horses and left me a broken-down pair. I had to turn them loose and take these mules or I should have been killed or captured by the Boers. I have nothing else to move on with. I wish you would let me keep the mules."
"Really," said the Prince, "I cannot do that. I never heard such a proposition in my life. I have no authority to do as you ask. Upon my word, this is most extraordinary. Come, I'll tell you what I will do. I'll see that you get a pair of animals at the Army price. I can't sell them to you or buy them for you, but I can have a pair put aside for you to buy of somebody who brings them in to sell."
No one who was not there can form any idea of the extent to which this looting or commandeering of horses was then being practised. They were stolen not only from in front of the Club--the busiest spot in the heart of the town--but from before the headquarters of Lord Roberts, and from in front of the hotels. Men were desperate; so many were without horses. Sicknesses, slaughter, and overwork had left us with less than half the animals we needed.
At about this time an American correspondent who was never guilty of taking even an abandoned Boer horse, but who had purchased a fine animal of a negro on the veldt for five shillings, became very nervous over his purchase. He went to the stable and with the help of his servant clipped the animal close, so that it no longer resembled the long-haired beast he had bought. Then he went out into the street and met a Boer, who accused him of having taken his horse and who exactly described the animal in question. The Boer said he would report the case to Major Poore, the Provost-Marshal. The now frightened correspondent came to my room with his burden of sorrows, and stated his case to the company of officers, correspondents, and despatch-riders then present.
"The Boer's name is Voorboom," he said, "and he is in earnest. I suppose I shall be sent home in disgrace."
At the mention of the name three men spoke up saying that of all the rascals in need of a hanging this Voorboom was the sorriest. One had seen Boer combatants in Voorboom's house, another had seen Voorboom's brother trundling into a clump of bushes an English carriage which he had stolen; a third had met Voorboom and his negroes riding far and wide gathering up loose horses--English or Boer--which he was undoubtedly now bringing to town to sell to the Army.
"Give him an hour in which to leave town or go to jail at Simon's Bay," said a Colonel, ending the incident.
Mr. Kipling was in town at last and had promised us his assistance, but we could not then know whether this would be great or little; we could not have hoped or dreamed that it would prove a quarter or a third part of all our work, as it did. On the other hand, we were only too painfully aware that very little aid was being vouchsafed us. We found ourselves with a great newspaper on our hands, a newspaper with a gaping void of terrible dimensions. "Reuter" had promised its despatches to us, but these were not allowed on the crowded telegraph wires for days at a time, as it proved, and the whole burden was upon us, joined to the necessity we felt to do our full duty to our newspapers at home--one at least of which demanded a despatch every day and four letters a week if possible. The army had been counted upon for valuable and voluminous help, and it was practically sending us in nothing. Mr. Landon reminds me that within an hour of Mr. Kipling's arrival in Bloemfontein he went to him and said (with considerable trepidation): "We have put you down as an editor of THE FRIEND, and we have announced it." Then Mr. Landon held his breath and waited. "Well," Mr. Kipling replied, "I should have been mortally offended if you had not. Where's the office? I want to go to work as soon as I have finished my grape jam." He did literally go straight to work. As he entered our editorial dustbin he sniffed the mingled odours of ink, wet paper, and dust, and said, "It's quite like old times in India." It was agreed that I should stir up the consciences and pens of all our friends and readers in an ink-blast, fierce and loud. I did this in the editorial of the day entitled, "The Silent Army":--
Other armies (I wrote), have always been distinguished by brilliant raconteurs. Other armies have always contained a plenitude of wits and humorists. Other armies have been noted for the abundance of funny anecdotes with which chum assailed chum and battalion guyed battalion. Other armies have taken note of the more striking deeds of prowess, of valour and of strategy which have been done among their members; and other armies have boasted poets grave, poets gay, poets rollicking, and poets who dedicated their verses to their mistress's eyebrows.
Alas! none of these things has this poor army--so poor in wit and literary talent, however rich it be in courage, patience, dogged persistence and proud victories.
This army is like a sponge for taking what entertainment the sweating editors of THE FRIEND will give it. It is like a barnacle for fastening itself upon us and fattening its dead weight upon this little literary bark. It is like a horse behind our waggon, which was built, like most vehicles, to have its horses in front. It is like the veldt around us in its capacity to swallow any amount of refreshing rain and yet appear as dry in four hours afterwards as if it were the pavement of that place which can only be referred to by the use of one particular anecdote, which is as follows:--
"If I owned Satandom and South Africa," said a Canadian Tommy at Modder River, "I would rent out South Africa and live in Satandom."
But we nearly digressed--a sin unpardonable in an article so important as this, written hot upon the impulse of suffering and keen feeling.
The committee of war correspondents with Lord Roberts' army, who undertook to conduct, for the first time in history, a full-fledged complete daily newspaper published in an enemy's capital two days after the conquest thereof, are all busy men in their own line of industry. They have constant daily work to do, they are trusted by their own newspapers to devote their whole talents and energies to the interests of the public at home. Nevertheless they have turned aside to conduct this newspaper, they are doing so, and will continue to do so to the day the army pushes on and away.
But in undertaking this task their idea was that they merely had to start the paper and give it a momentum, after which the army would turn to and flood the editorial sanctum with tales of humour, wit, and prowess writ upon sheets numberless as the leaves of Vallambrosa.
The reader will gather that this has not yet taken place. He will infer that the war correspondents are, like the last rose of summer, left blooming to ourselves. True, two or three generous and gifted souls in the army have come nobly into the breach with contributions; but the breach is nine columns wide--nine columns that persist in emptying themselves as fast as we fill them; in fact, nine columns which become fifty-four columns between each Monday and the succeeding Saturday. It is on this account that when the two or three generous and talented army men flung themselves in the breach, the breach was not aware of the fact--and we have not had the heart to wake it up and notify it that it was being filled, not caring to tell a falsehood even to a silly breach.
Come, then, ye gentles and geniuses, ye poets, ye anecdotists, ye thrillers and movers with the pen--join our staff, and put your mighty little ink-damped levers to the rock that we are rolling up the gigantic kopje of your thirst for news and entertainment. Your pay shall be the highest ever meted out to man--the satisfaction of souls content. Your company shall include a Kipling. Your readers shall be the bravest, noblest, proudest soldiers who ever served an earthly race.
You can ask no more. You can ask nothing else.
But in the meantime we want "copy."
We published also a brief communication respecting the Dutch name Stellenbosch. This needs a word of explanation. It had long been noticed that whenever an officer was prominently connected with a losing battle, or exhibited marked incompetence in any field of military work, he got a billet at Stellenbosch, a bowery village deep down in the Cape Colony, where was established our base camp of supplies. The name therefore attained a deep significance and common usage in the army, and to say that a man had been "Stellenbosched" was but the ordinary polite mode of mentioning what might otherwise have had to be said in many harsher-sounding words.
(Edited by the War Correspondents with Lord Roberts' Force.)
BLOEMFONTEIN, FRIDAY, MARCH 22, 1900.
Whereas it is considered necessary in the interests of the Orange Free State, and until arrangements may be made, that the provisions of the Customs Convention existing between the said State and the Colony of the Cape of Good Hope, and the Colony of Natal, shall be duly observed, and the Laws and Regulations appertaining thereto shall be enforced as soon as communication between the said Colonies and such portions of the Orange Free State as have been or may hereafter be occupied by Her Majesty's troops is restored, and the customary commercial relations are resumed; and whereas it is expedient that the necessary officers for the control and management of the Customs Department of the Orange Free State shall be appointed,
I, FREDERICK SLEIGH BARON ROBERTS OF KHANDAHAR, K.P., G.C.B., G.C.S.I., G.C.I.E., V.C., Field Marshal, Commanding-in-Chief of the British Forces in South Africa, do hereby nominate and appoint the following officers, to wit:--
Collector of Customs--Johannes Henricus Meiring. First Clerk--Albert C. Woodward. Second Clerk--Frederik Blignaut.
A WARNING TO NATIVES.
It is evident from the sentences inflicted by the Provost Marshal that the military authorities are wisely determined to repress all forms of lawlessness and unruliness on the part of native boys with a firm hand. Take the following three cases by way of illustration:--
No. 1. Boy: 28 lashes for resisting Military Police in discharge of their duty while arresting him.
No. 2. Two Boys: 25 lashes each for being drunk and fighting.
No. 3. 27 Boys: 5 lashes each for being disorderly and having no pass after 9 o'clock.
At the conclusion of the above cases of the day the Provost Marshal called the native police before him and complimented them on the good work they had done.
When the British entered Bloemfontein there was general rejoicing in the native "location," but it is impossible to insist too plainly that the clemency of British rule will not extend to violent, drunken, and disorderly persons, whether they be white or black.
ARMY ORDERS, SOUTH AFRICA.
ARMY HEADQUARTERS, GOVERNMENT HOUSE, BLOEMFONTEIN, March 20, 1900.
1. Death of Commander-in-Chief in India.
It is with deep regret that the Field Marshal, Commanding-in-Chief, announces to the Army in South Africa the death of His Excellency Sir W. S. A. Lockhart, G.C.B., K.C.S.I., Commander-in-Chief in India, which occurred at Calcutta on the evening of the 18th of March, 1900.
Lord Roberts is sure that his own feelings will be shared by every Officer and Soldier who has served under Sir William Lockhart's command, and more particularly by those who have been personally acquainted with him.
After a long and varied Military career, which began in Abyssinia, time of the Mutiny, and which included war service in Acheen, Afghanistan, Burma, The Black Mountain, Wazeristan, Isazai, and finally the command of the Tirah Expeditionary Force, Sir William Lockhart was appointed to the Chief Command in India. Possessed of exceptional ability, he distinguished himself alike as a Staff Officer and as a commander in the field, and by his uniform kindness and consideration he endeared himself to all who came in contact with him. In the late Commander-in-Chief the Soldiers in India, both British and Native, have lost a friend whose only thought was to further their interests and promote their welfare, and the Indian Empire has lost a trusted Counsellor who, on account of his intimate knowledge of the Native races, and his acquaintance with Eastern affairs, cannot soon or easily be replaced.
With reference to Army Order No. 5 (b) of 4th March, for Captain R. H. Hall read Captain R. H. Hare.
The Field Marshal Commanding-in-Chief has great pleasure in publishing the following telegram which has been received:--
From Sirdar Khan, Bahadur Casim, Haji Mahomed Khansahib, Kazi Mahommed Ali Murshaj. Bombay Mahomedans offer your Lordship, your gallant Officers and Soldiers hearty congratulations on brilliant success Transvaal, and pray Almighty crown efforts greater success and honours.
By order, W. KELLY, M. General, D. A. General.
THE WEARY TREK.
Trek, trek, trek,
On the wild South African veldt,
With anthills here and anthills there
And holes and ruts, you're inclined to swear,
For your mokes will religiously take you o'er
These impediments by the score,
But you trek, trek, trek.
Trek, trek, trek,
With a heart as heavy as lead,
For the comrades who have bit the dust
Whilst fighting for a cause that's just,
With bootless feet and clothing torn,
From chilly night to dewy morn
You trek, trek, trek.
Trek, trek, trek,
There's nothing to do but trek,
While your mules half starved and done to death,
And yourself ditto and out of breath,
You wish to Heaven the war was o'er
And you say sweet (?) things of the cunning Boer,
But you trek, trek, trek.
GO TO ---- STELLENBOSCH!!
To the Editors of "THE FRIEND," SIRS:--In the course of a lengthy experience I have heard many quaint conceits and many hard swear words, and have kept a small notebook in which I have jotted down anything especially new. I was the unwilling auditor the other day of a quarrel between two individuals whose rank and profession shall be nameless. The conversation became very animated, and finally one exclaimed with savage irony, "Oh, go to Stellenbosch!" Fortunately some passers-by interrupted the fracas or else I verily believe blows would have been exchanged. Now you, sirs, with your opportunities of knowing many lands and varied languages, may perhaps be able to inform me where this place is and why the request to go there should have caused such fury and such agitation on the part of the individual addressed. It will be a relief to the consciences of Her Majesty's lieges if the time-honoured "D----" can be relegated to the limbo of forgotten oaths in favour of such an apparently innocent expression. I write in all innocence, as no man likes to use a phrase, especially such a potent one, without understanding its meaning.--
Faithfully yours, CHIRIOGICUS.
[We believe that the place mentioned was located somewhere in the Arctic Regions by the Jackson expedition.--EDS.]