Like a beehive for industry when Rudyard Kipling went to lunch with the Field-Marshal.
Rudyard Kipling was paying visits and getting acquainted with the local situation. He had left his wife and family at the far-famed Mount Nelson Hotel--the "Helot's Rest," as a statesman had called it--with its strange assembly of Rand and Kimberley millionaires, and other refugees from the two republics, its army officers, both of the invalid and the idle class, its censors, war correspondents, sight-seers, and ladies longing to get to the more exciting front.
I first saw Mr. Kipling there, and now found him tenanting a bedroom across the passage from my own in the Free State Hotel at Bloemfontein. When I went to shake his hand he was in the room of W. B. Wollen, the artist, and one of those men who having nothing good to say, are never content to stop there, was exclaiming, "Is it possible that I have the honour to meet the author of 'The Absent-Minded Beggar'?"
[Illustration: Field-Marshal Earl Roberts, V.C., K.G., K.P., G.C.B., G.C.S.I., G.C.I.E., Commander-in-Chief.]
"Yes," said Kipling, "I have heard that piece played on a barrel-organ, and I would shoot the man who wrote it if it would not be suicide."
A man of such broad build and short neck that you do not realise him to be of the average stature, wearing a broad-brimmed, flat brown hat of Boer pattern, and below that a brown short coat and very full trousers to match; a vigorous figure, quick in movement as a panther, quicker still in speech; a swinging and rolling figure with head up and hat well back out of the way of his sight which is ever thrown upward as if he searched the sky while he walked. His face is quite a match for his body, being round and broad as well as wide-eyed and alert. His eyes are its most notable features, for they are very large and open, and each one is arched by the bushiest of black eyebrows. They are habitually reflective and sober eyes, but, like a flash, they kindle with fun, and can equally quickly turn dull and stony when good occasion arises. It is not the typical poet's or scholar's face so much as it is the face of the man among men, the out-of-door man, the earnest, shrewd observer and the irrepressible hard worker.
It happened that both of us were to pay our respects to the Field-Marshal at the Residency on the same day, and both were invited to lunch. Of course, Mr. Kipling knew Lord Roberts very well--had seen much of him in India, where they had been both friends and mutual admirers. We went to the Residency together. There we met a very kindly and hospitable young gentleman who asked us who we were and offered us a visitors' book in which to record our signatures. To him we were presently introduced and found him to be none other than the Duke of Westminster, who, as Lord Belgrave had at an earlier stage, been with Sir Alfred Milner at the Cape. The Duke proffered us refreshment of the coveted sort, which, as we have seen, was quoted at 11s. a bottle "on a rising market," and then he conducted us to the great drawing-room with its strong suggestion of the grandeur of a ruler's residence, despite its garish wall-paper and its puckered-up carpet.
The whole Residency was like a beehive for industry. In the dining-room privates were hammering away upon typewriters, and officers were supplying them with copy. We peeped into the large ball-room, and lo! it was appointed with many desks at which members of the illustrious and aristocratic staff of the Field-Marshal were hard at work with pens and ink. Even in the drawing-room, the merely ornamental desks and tables were strewn with documents at which far from merely ornamental lords were writing.
When lunch was announced we found the dining-hall set with two tables--a very long one for the staff, and a very small one at its head for Lord Roberts. Mr. Kipling sat with the Field-Marshal, while I was placed between Lord Stanley and Lord Herbert Scott at the big table. I was not impressed by any unlooked-for excellence in the simple meal with which we were served. I had lived better on the open veldt whenever I had been able to get at my Cape cart, and the boxes I had stored in it. But the flow of wit and the hospitality and courtesy that were shown to me would have rendered worse fare beyond reproach.
After the meal Lord Stanley introduced me to the Field-Marshal, and my very first words caused those who do not know how great and broad a man he is, to think that I had offended Lord Roberts.
"I am very proud to know you, General," I said.
We talked for a few moments of trifling things, merely by way of making acquaintance.
"You called him 'General'; you should have said 'Sir,' or 'Lord Roberts,'" said those who were concerned about the episode.
"The highest rank and title in the American Army is 'General,'" said I; "and in that way Washington, Grant, and all our leaders were saluted. Lord Roberts spoke of my being an American. I am sure he understands how I came to make a mistake, while, at the same time, paying him the highest respect."
Our newspaper showed that we were getting on rapidly with the new forces of administration--the outcome, first, of Lord Roberts's brain, and, next, of the extraordinary industry at the Residency. That most skilful of military railway engineers, Colonel E. P. C. Girouard, who, while head of the Egyptian Railways was also restoring our wrecked lines and manning them efficiently, announced in our 6th number (March 23rd), that the daily train to the south would leave at 7 a.m., and the train from the south would arrive at twenty-six minutes after midnight each day.
The Gordon Club opposite the Cathedral was to be reopened next day. The Wesleyan Church announced a parade service for the coming Sunday. The Presbyterian Church announced its meetings for the week. Services at the English Cathedral were also advertised. The Army Sports began on this date. Major Lorimer, of the Cape Police, came with a trooper and some despatch riders and was taken on the strength. C. V. F. Townshend, A.A.G. to the Military Governor, grappled with the negro problem in a warning notice that all natives must be indoors by eight o'clock p.m. unless possessed of a special permit, and that dancing and drunkenness in the streets would meet with severe punishment.
We published a very informing and authoritative editorial upon martial law, which one of the editors was at some pains to secure. I have a strong idea that it was written either by General Pretyman or Major Poore, but I have no means for making certain.
James Barnes, the distinguished American correspondent, who very kindly and with able results, took my place as correspondent of the Daily Mail when I was invalided home, wrote for this number a comparison between this and some recent American wars.
We led the paper with the full text of Mr. Kipling's poem, only one verse of which had reached us a week before.
(Edited by the War Correspondents with Lord Roberts' Force.)
BLOEMFONTEIN, MARCH 23, 1900.
POEM BY RUDYARD KIPLING.
(Owing to the exigencies of war, we were unable at the time to print more than one stanza of Mr. Kipling's poem, which we now present in its entirety.)
Mr. Kipling's poem, which we now present in its entirety.)
Oh! Terence dear, and did ye hear
The news that's going round?
The Shamrock's Erin's badge by law
Where'er her sons are found!
From Bobsfontein to Ballyhack
'Tis ordered by the Queen--
We've won our right in open fight,
The Wearin' of the Green!
We sailed upon commando
To vierneuk our Brother Boer--
A landlord and a Protestant,
What could the bhoys want more?
But Redmond cursed and Dillon wept,
And swore 'twas shame and sin;
So we went out and commandeered
The Green they dared not win.
'Twas past the wit of man, they said,
Our North and South to join--
Not all Tugela's blood could flood
The black and bitter Boyne;
But Bobs arranged a miracle
(He does it now and then),
For he'll be Duke of Orange, sure,
So we'll be Orange men!
Take hold! The Green's above the red,
But deep in blood 'tis dyed,
We plucked it under Mauser-fire
Along the trenched hill-side:
Talana's rush, the siege, the drift,
The Fight of Fourteen Days,
Bring back what's more than England's rose
And dearer than her praise!
God heal our women's breaking hearts
In Ireland far away!
An' Mary tell the news to those
That fell before this day--
Dear careless bhoys that laughed and died
By kopje and fontein--
Our dead that won the living prize--
The Wearin' of the Green!
[Copyright in England and the U.S.A.]
In times like the present when military matters are discussed by all classes of society, both by soldiers and civilians, the question of the law, by which discipline and law, not only among the troops, but also the civil population in the country they occupy are maintained, frequently arises, and the terms "Martial Law" and "Military Law" are often made use of as if they meant the same thing. It is to explain this that the following is written.
"Military Law" is the Law which governs the soldier in peace and in war, at home and abroad. It is administered under the Army Act which is part of the Statute Law of England, and which, by special provision, must be brought into, and continue in force, by an annual Act of Parliament.
With an army in the field, certain persons, not soldiers, are also subject to the provisions of "Military Law," such as civilians serving with the force in an official capacity; persons accompanying the troops with special leave, such as newspaper correspondents and contractors; persons employed with the troops, such as transport drivers; other persons known as followers who accompany the troops either as sutlers or on business or pleasure with the permission of the commander.
"Martial Law," on the other hand, is only operative in war. It is in fact no law at all, and has been accurately defined as the "will of the conqueror." The expression "Customs of War" would perhaps better define what is meant by "Martial Law," because the word Law conveys the idea to most people of an enactment containing a fixed and rigid rule which must be obeyed, and which, if disobeyed, will involve punishment.
This "Law" or "Custom" is applicable to all persons and inhabitants not subject to "Military Law" residing within the foreign country or that portion of it occupied by the troops, and also within districts under British rule abroad, which, in consequence of riot or rebellion, are so declared to be subject to "Martial Law" by proclamation.
It will thus be seen that a commander of troops in time of war acts in two distinct capacities. First, he governs the troops by "Military Law" only; secondly, in his position of governor of the country he occupies, he imposes such laws or rules on the inhabitants as in his opinion are necessary to secure the safety of his army, and also the good government of the district which, by reason of the war or rebellion, may for the time have been deprived of its ordinary rulers and the machinery for maintaining order.
For the purpose of administering "Martial Law" or the "Customs of War" no rules or regulations are absolutely laid down, but certain customs exist among civilised nations which are generally recognised.
At the present time the practice in force is that, when practicable, "Martial Law" should only supplement the civil procedure, but when the civil Government is absent or, in consequence of war, is paralysed, "Martial Law" must of necessity replace the civil.
In administrating "Martial Law" by a Military Court the ordinary procedure recognised by "Military Law" is followed. This is done because the Military Court would be composed of military officers whose training would make them conversant with such procedure, and because some uniformity in administrating justice would thus be ensured.
FACTS AND OTHERWISE.
We wish to draw the attention of the troops of all ranks to the benefits which the use of the Public Free Library offers.
A Branch of the Standard Bank is being opened in Colonnade Buildings under the direction of Mr. M. D. Savory, late Manager of the Oudtshoorn Branch.
The Powerful's contingent of the Naval Brigade, consisting of twenty-nine men and four officers, left by yesterday's train for Capetown. Mr. Midshipman Lewin, who is in command, has the honour of carrying despatches.
The great want of Bloemfontein just now is some place of light recreation and refreshment to which weary soldiers and civilians can repair after the labour of the day is ended. It is premature, of course, to expect anything so pretentious as the Alhambra or Tivoli of London fame, but the resources of the capital of the Orange Free State should be at least equal to the provision and equipment of a hall where songs and various forms of light entertainment might be presented nightly. Already there is talk of an enterprising agent proceeding to Capetown with the object of retaining the necessary artistes, who may be expected here as soon as the railway communication is open to the general public; but for present purposes there is sufficient talent amongst our soldiers and sailors and the townspeople to tide over the emergency. A committee of amusement with a good man as chairman is required, and the rest, with the permission of the military authorities, should be tolerably easy. The drums and pipes of the Highland regiments continue to do valiant service in the market square, but the time is surely come when entertainment on a more ambitious programme might be contemplated.
THE PROMOTION OF BINKS.
"Know Binks? Of course. Everybody does--local major, staff something at Headquarters of 10th Division--devilish useful chap to know."
Yes, Major Binks; but three short months ago I was only young Binks of the Buffers, arriving at Blankfontein to take charge of a Transport Company; I had no experience, and no instructions, except to "lick 'em into shape," and I felt like the title of a book, "Alone in South Africa." Not quite alone after all, for I had Wopples with me; Wopples being the servant my old uncle, Major Stodger, had found for me. "He'll kill your horses, of course, and lose your kit, but he was our mess corporal in the Blazers for fourteen years, and he'll pull you through."
After asking many questions and getting no answers, I found a seething mass of mules, waggons, and blacks, which turned out to be my company, and in the midst of it was a person of evidently some importance, who turned out to be the conductor. His natural perimeter was nearly doubled by the packets of papers which bulged from every pocket, and he was addressing the crowd in a variety of bad languages when I introduced myself, not without trepidation, as his new C."C."O. His smile was reassuring and patronising. "Oh, that'll be all right, sir; we're getting along nicely--but the Major's coming round to-morrow--commands the station, he does--and wastes a lot of time. Now, if you could offer him a bit of breakfast--"
Next morning the Major rode up; he was a melancholy-looking man with an absent manner. Before I could introduce the subject he said he would not interrupt me if I were having breakfast; I begged him to join me, but he said he never could eat at that hour, but he might as well come in--perhaps he might manage a cup of tea. He managed one cup, and then another, after which he brightened up a lot and managed porridge, fried liver, curried mutton, and half a tin of jam. After one of my cigars (also selected by uncle) he rode away, remarking that he was glad to find they'd sent up somebody at last who had a grasp of things--he felt he could rely on me.
Next day I was appointed his assistant. When I reported myself he said he wanted somebody whom he could leave in the office in case he had to go out--there was no other definite job for me just then; meanwhile I might as well look after the mess. I did so, or rather Wopples did so.
One evening the Major seemed somewhat upset, "Look here, Binks, the Brigadier is coming round to-morrow to discuss a defence scheme; he's inclined to fuss a lot; I've got to go out myself on duty, but you'd better stay in and have a lot of breakfast ready; I think you might almost run to a tin of sausages." Next morning the Brigadier rode up all alone at full gallop, scrambled off his horse, and began to shout, "Come along, come along; mustn't waste time on active service; got fifty things to settle to-day! Here's my brigade on this side of the river--now tell me at once where every man on the other side is posted"--here he fell over Wopples. "Who the deuce!--what, breakfast, eh? Well, well, must eat, even on service. I can spare five minutes. Come along." He rushed into my tent and spared five minutes. The five minutes prolonged themselves to ten minutes, then to an hour and a quarter, after which the Brigadier slept so sweetly that I had no heart to waken him. About 3 o'clock he woke with a sort of explosion, shouted for his horse, and galloped off talking as hard as ever.
Next morning I was appointed his extra A.D.C. with rank of Captain. "There'll be a lot of work for you later on," the Brigade-Major said, "but no bustle just now; meanwhile you might look after the mess." Again we did so. I was left in camp one day when the Brigade had gone out to do something--"Somebody must be left in charge, and, by the by, have a bit of something ready in case we come back hungry." I was reading the advertisement sheets of a paper six weeks old when Wopples rushed in. "Lord Upington, sir, staff boss at Divisional Headquarters, just a'comin' up the road! Wot a chance it is! Why, if he don't know what good living means--well, I'm a Boer!"
Wopples was too much of an artist to overdo things--there was just a taste of porridge--not enough to spoil one's appetite, a partridge with full complements of bread-sauce and red pepper, marrow-bones with hot toast and a nip of whisky, black coffee and cigars; where it had all sprung from goodness only knows.
When his lordship departed he said he would not forget me; his heart and other organs were so full that he quite forgot to mention the pressing business on which he had come.
Next morning I was appointed signalling officer to the Division. I had never done a signalling class, and pointed this out to the D.A.G., but he said it didn't matter, what they wanted was a really useful man to supervise generally the signalling business. Of course, just at present there was no signalling as we were on a wire; meanwhile I might take over the mess. Before the words were out of his mouth Wopples had taken the mess over; he had sacked two black cooks, discarded the mess pots in favour of his own, taken the measures of the mess stores, and was getting on with lunch. By that evening my position as an ornament to the staff was secure.
It was at something drift that we gave our first official dinner; we had secured a roomy farm-house with some bits of furniture, so, relying on Wopples, we launched into hospitality. And Wopples had surpassed himself. There was a haunch of venison which brought tears of joy to the five eyes of the three generals who partook of it--no mere common haunch, there were several such in camp that night--this was a haunch that had been through the hands of Wopples. Then there was his extra special entrée--but that is another course.
It was a dinner that might be eaten, but could never be described.
Next day I was gently approached by many red tabs. The Provost-Marshal said I was just the sort of chap for his department if I'd care to come; a R.E. enthusiast told me that a balloon was the only place for a real good view of a show and "he'd work the matter for me"; somebody on the intelligence said there was a real well-paid billet he'd been keeping open on purpose for me; and two of the generals declared piteously that they could not get on without my services. The third general had not recovered the dinner, but sent a grinning A.D.C. to represent him.
After that his lordship shut me and Wopples up together in his own room and kept guard outside himself. "We'll take care of you, Binks; we'll get you made a local major, and you shall ride the general's horse as you've lost all your own. I'll find you a Tommy's blanket, by Jove I will! and demme, I'll give you my own second shirt; but I'll be shot if you leave our camp, my boy--shot and starved!"
SOLDIERS' BATTLES AND GENERALS' CAMPAIGNS.
BY JAMES BARNES.
The writer, an American, who served during the Cuban war, has been asked to compare the present heated argument with the late unpleasantness in the Antilles.
It is rather difficult to draw any comparisons between this war in South Africa and the late conflict in Cuba. It is like comparing two games differing in rules and methods, and resembling one another only in the fact that they are played with bat and ball.
One of the strange things about the war in the West Indies was this--when it was over the world waited for the lesson, and there was none in the proper sense of the word. The God of battles must have been with America from start to finish; ours was the good fortune; we had all the luck. It was a series of miracles. Naval men waited to see the great things torpedo-boats would accomplish, and two of the much-dreaded machines were sunk by a millionaire's pleasure-craft transformed into a gun-boat. Vessels with armoured belts and protective decks were set on fire in the old-fashioned way by exploding shells igniting their wood-work. Dewey's victory at Manila was accomplished without loss of life on the American side, and Sampson's victory at Santiago was almost as wonderful--but one man killed and a few slightly wounded.
Army experts waited for the results of the use of long-range magazine rifles, smokeless powder, and high explosives, yet trenches and hills defended by men with Mausers were stormed and taken by men with Krag-Jorgensens in their hands in the old-fashioned way--a steady advance and a rushing charge to clinch it. Caney and San Juan Hill were old-fashioned fights with the exception of the fact that men were killed miles in the rear by the straying droves of bullets and never saw an enemy.
As in this war the losses did not compare to those of some hand-to-hand conflicts of the Rebellion, and many wounds that in the old days would have proved fatal, thanks to the merciful Mauser, amounted to very little. Perhaps to offer explanation of some strange occurrences of the Cuban war would be disparaging to the Spaniards. Perhaps the least that can be said is that in the main the Dons were shocking poor shots, and they had been so weakened by disease and hunger that they had not much fight left in them when it came to cold steel and clubbed muskets. The great losses in Cuba were from fevers, not from bullets. It is in the conditions and environments that the chief difference lies between the war here and the war over there. And it is from this present conflict that the world will learn. The Philippine war, costly as it was in life and money, was nothing but a series of victories over a half-civilised enemy. The interest in it in America, strange to say, dwindled to little or nothing after the first gunshot in South Africa.
Here was a different state of affairs. Cuba (for Puerto Rico was a "walk over") was a country full of dense forests and tangled undergrowth, offering a screen as well as a hindrance to the movements of an army. South Africa is the greatest defensive country in the world, and the Boer is trained by nature and inheritance to make the best of it. Yet it took time to teach some of the English military leaders to adapt themselves to the new conditions--it was hard for them to break away from the traditions of Waterloo and Badajos. The Mauser began to correct the old ideas of warfare in a way that it had failed to do in Cuba. The prophecies in Bloch's remarkable book were fulfilled almost to the letter. Proper scouting in an open country is a dead department of military service. How long did we lie at Modder River without knowing anything of value of the movements of the enemy? A series of kopjes might conceal a few sharpshooters or an army--at a mile's distance scouts were under the fire of an invisible foe. A good shot ensconced between sheltering rocks discounted four men advancing in the open. In Cuba the American troops were harassed by marksmen concealed in tree-tops who often fired upon them from the rear, but the forces opposed to them in front were mostly infantry, and the problem resolved itself into a contest between individual soldiers as fighting units. It was a soldiers' conflict.
A war in a country such as we have been fighting over for the last five months admits of one thing only--the strategic movements of a military genius. The generalship of a great leader is a necessity. Bravery is well-nigh wasted and courage almost discounted. Mobility of force is essential, forces operating at great distances but under one central head are a sine quâ non, and in long-range artillery lies the preponderancy of power. More and more does the great game approximate the moves in a chess problem. It must be admitted that in Cuba there were no such scientific movements, and it has taken the march of Lord Roberts from Enslin to Bloemfontein to prove the fact beyond question that soldiers' battles, where one side is entrenched and invisible and the other advancing in attack, are things of the past, except in a wooded country or where all preliminary movements are concealed. We had soldiers' battles here, but by fighting them the lesson has been taught which the world will learn.
AN OFFICIAL DINNER AT GOVERNMENT HOUSE.
On Tuesday, March 20th, Lord Roberts entertained the following Military Attachés, accredited by the Great Powers to his staff, at dinner at Government House:
Colonel Stakovitch, Russia; Commandant d'Amadi, France; Major Esteben, Spain; Captain Baron V. Luttwitz, Germany; Captain Slocum, America; Captain Hieroka, Japan.
There were also invited the following to meet the distinguished guests: Lieut. General Sir H. Colvile, Lieut. General Kelly-Kenny, Major General Sir W. Nicholson, Major General Pretyman, Major General Wood, Major General Marshall, Major General Pole-Carew, Major General Gorden, The Very Revd. Dean of Bloemfontein, The Honble. Mr. J. G. Fraser; the Private Secretary; the Military Secretary; Major General Kelly, Colonel Richardson, Mr. Justice Hopley, Colonel Stevenson, Colonel Viscount Downe, Lieut. Colonel Otter, Captain Bearcroft, Lieut. Colonel Ricardo, Colonel H. C. Cholmondeley, Colonel Lord Stanley, Reverend H. J. Coney, Lieut. Colonel Byron, A.D.C., Captain Lord Herbert Scott, A.D.C.
After the Queen's health had been drunk, Lord Roberts, in a happy little speech in which he proposed the health of the foreign Attachés, said that he had much regretted while in Capetown not having been able to entertain the Attachés, but now he felt some satisfaction at not having been able to do it, as he was able to entertain them as comrades, while at Capetown they would only have been representatives of foreign Powers. He had often been distressed at seeing the Attachés undergoing many discomforts on the march. But it had shown him that they were officers devoted to their duty, and regardless of all discomforts. He had not heard complaint or murmur of discontent at their want of comfort, in fact, the only complaint made was one to Lord Downe in which Attachés represented to him that he, with a regard for their personal safety, had not allowed them to go as close as they could wish to the passing line. It had been a great pleasure to see them there that night, and he hoped before long to be able to entertain them again in Pretoria.
Colonel Stakovitch, the Russian Attaché, replied, saying how pleasant it had been for him and his comrades to accompany the British Army on their great and successful march. He thanked the Field Marshal for his kindness and courtesy to them, and wound up by proposing the health of Lord Roberts and his army, to which Lord Roberts made a suitable reply.
The band of the Buffs played a selection of music during dinner.
The Austrian Attaché was unavoidably absent, having left on a short visit to Capetown.