Kipling at last writes something that pleases the Boers--A Predikant's letter.
In the paper of March 30th we offered as complete and--you may be sure--as unique a newspaper as it was possible to produce. It contained the fresh news of the world, and it was at the same time full of the atmosphere of the army and the battlefield; of the outpourings of men who had laid down the sword and rifle to take up the pen. I wish I could reproduce the entire paper, but after all it was like many that followed, and to reproduce them all would make a book too cumbrous to handle and too full of warlike and military subjects to interest at least half of the public. Practically the entire first page was given up to proclamations, and looked like a miniature hoarding hidden under miniature posters. These crowded over into two columns of the second page, which also contained the still swelling display of advertisements of lost horses and horses for sale. Among the latter was this--
FIRST-CLASS HUNTER FOR SALE.
Julian Ralph desires to sell his blooded hunter "Rattlesnake," a superb horse with noted pedigree. He is in splendid working condition (aside--has caused his owner to wear a casing of lint, and to walk with difficulty on a heavy stick.) The horse can be seen at the Red House behind the Dutch Reformed Church.
The italics in the above advertisement are inserted here, and were not in the newspaper. They suggest what novel forms advertisements would often take if the advertisers always truthfully explained why they wished to part with their property.
W. A. Koller, the town clerk, notified all residents to call upon him and make a true statement of the bonâ fides of all their possessions in horseflesh. Captain P. Holland-Pryor, A.A.G., requested every burgher who had not given up any Government horse in his possession to do so without delay. Truly, the horse occupied a large share of interest and attention--much larger now that we were in need of horses than when they had come in abundance from every corner of the earth.
We published a remarkable address to the Free Staters by the Rev. A. A. Van der Lingen, once a candidate for the Presidency. He asked them if it was right for them to assail the peaceful territories of the British when thousands of their kith and kin are enjoying a full and perfect measure of equality and justice. He demanded to know "what you think seriously, in your own minds, will become of you if you prosecute the war and lose." The "old soldiers of Bloemfontein"--it seems there were eight retired veterans--cheered the Field-Marshal with an address.
[Illustration: Julian Ralph and his horse "Rattlesnake."]
Our five-guinea competition for the renaming of the Colony went on apace, and we recorded a great day of sport among the men of the Sixth Division, who enjoyed the band of the Buffs and the pipes of the Seaforths, Gordons, Black Watch, and Argyle and Sutherland Highlanders. Major the Honourable Robert White directed the sports with greater success than had attended anything of the kind among our troops on this side of Natal.
The soldiers still filed into our bare and dirty quarters asking for the paper, and one of them complained that it was not sent out to his camp, and that he had to come in and get it.
"Canadian, aren't you?" Mr. Kipling asked, "from out on the wheat belt?"
"Why, man, then what are you talking about? You'd ride in to Winnipeg, twenty miles, to get a paper if you were at home."
Mr. Kipling on this day wrote a tribute to General Joubert, whose death had just been made known to us. Hours after he wrote the poem, when tired of waiting to see the proof, he walked over to the printing-office, broke in by way of a window, and set up the last line of it at one of the printers' cases. What the printers thought of him we never knew, but he never forgot that the first bit of paper he picked up from the floor of the editorial room, when he was looking for something that had fallen from the table, was a violent attack upon himself in a piece of a Free State newspaper.
The only bit of all our work that our compositors saved was this poem to Joubert. That and a portrait of the late firebrand, Borckenhagen, were the only ornaments they deemed worthy to decorate their composing-room walls.
There were at least two English-speaking men among them. I grant to them the benefit of the doubt whether my reflections should extend to them also.
(Edited by the War Correspondents with Lord Roberts' Force.)
No. 12] BLOEMFONTEIN, FRIDAY, MARCH 30, 1900. [Price One Penny
LORD ROBERTS AND THE LATE GENERAL JOUBERT.
LORD ROBERTS' TELEGRAM OF SYMPATHY.
His Honour President Kruger, President of the South African Republic, Pretoria.
(Clear the line.) I have just received the news of General Joubert's death, and I desire at once to offer my sincere condolence to your Honour and the Burghers of the South African Republic on this sad event. I would ask you to convey to General Joubert's family the expression of my most respectful sympathy in their sad bereavement, and to assure them also from me that all ranks of Her Majesty's forces now serving in South Africa share my feeling of deep regret at the sudden and untimely end of so distinguished a General who devoted his life to the service of his country and whose personal gallantry was only surpassed by his humane conduct and chivalrous bearing under all circumstances.--ROBERTS.
[Footnote 12: Copyrighted in England and America; used here by permission.]
(Died March 27, 1900.)
BY RUDYARD KIPLING.
With those that bred, with those that loosed the strife,
He had no part whose hands were clear of gain;
But, subtle, strong and stubborn, gave his life
To a lost cause, and knew the gift was vain.
Later shall rise a People, sane and great,
Forged in strong fires, by equal war made one--
Telling old battles over without hate,
Not least his name shall pass from sire to son.
He shall not meet the onsweep of our van
In the doomed city where we close the score;
Yet o'er his grave--his grave that holds a Man--
Our deep-tongued guns shall answer his once more!
DEATH OF GENERAL JOUBERT.
No words of ours are needed to supplement the telegram of Lord ROBERTS and the three stanzas by Mr. RUDYARD KIPLING, which we print to-day, upon the news we have received of General JOUBERT'S death. We feel that we are but giving expression to the feeling of every man in the army of occupation in expressing our most sincere regret in hearing of the sudden decease of the great leader of our enemy.
FABLES FOR THE STAFF.
[Footnote 13: Copyrighted; used here by permission.]
BY RUDYARD KIPLING.
A General, having offered libations to Fortuna, went out to fight a Battle in the course of which his Frontal Attack developed into a Rear Guard action, and his left Flank became a Modulus of varying Elasticity for several hours, owing to his right Flank having wandered towards the Equator.
The Enemy seeing these Inexplicable Evolutions, were so overcome with Amazement that They retired in large Numbers and left the General a complete Victory.
A week later, the General, learning from the Reports of his Staff that he was a Heaven-born Strategist, diligently read a Book and gave Battle upon the lines therein laid down.
After this he was never seen to smile but frequently heard to murmur: "If I had only trusted my bally Luck instead of a bally Book, I should not be now travelling first-class to Stellenbosch."
MORAL.--Invention is a good servant, but the Letter killeth.
A BRAVE CANADIAN.
BLOEMFONTEIN, March 28th.
DEAR SIR,--In answer to a paragraph appearing in your paper of a past date under the heading of "Acts of Bravery performed during the War," allow me to quote one which I witnessed at Paardeberg on the morning of Cronje's surrender on February 27th. Every one knows of the gallant display made by the Royal Canadians on that never-to-be-forgotten morning, and how, as daylight broke, they had again occupied their trenches, leaving sixty killed and wounded on the field. As the sun came up behind the kopjes, revealing once more to Cronje and his men the exact position of our trenches, they opened a heavy fire upon them, and woe to the man who was indiscreet enough to show his head and shoulders over the earthworks! Between the trenches and the Boer position lay Canadian dead and dying. About 5.30 a wounded man about five hundred yards away was seen to be trying to make for our trenches under a heavy fire, but was at last observed to fall. Now and then, between the volleys, he was seen to wave his hands as if for assistance. Suddenly from the left of us a form was seen to climb the earthworks in front of our trenches, jumping down to make straight for the place where the wounded man lay, about ninety yards from the Boer trenches. Utterly regardless of the scathing fire which hissed about him, he ran on, and at last reached the wounded man and tried to lift him, but it was too late, for the poor fellow had breathed his last. Seeing it was of no avail, his would-be rescuer walked back over the ground he had covered, and although bullets whistled around him and tore up the ground in every direction, he coolly regained his trenches with a pipe stuck between his teeth. I have since ascertained his name was Private Thompson, of the Royal Canadians, and although I do not know whether his case is one recommended for distinction or not, still I have never during the campaign seen a case of such coolness and pluck as that displayed by Private Thompson. Considering the galling fire that swept the distance of four or five hundred yards which he covered in his endeavour to reach the wounded man, also his close proximity to the Boer trenches, it seems marvellous that he ever lived to get within four hundred yards of him, not to mention getting back without a scratch. His case is one of the most deserving of recognition, coming, as it does, from amongst the ranks of the gallant Canadian Volunteers, by whose side we have fought and marched since we left Graspan, and than whom a jollier or pluckier lot of boys never lived.
ONE OF THE GORDONS WHO WAS THERE.
THE EMPIRE'S DEFENDERS.
BY B. CHARLES TUCKER.
See, they come marching over the plain,
Cheerfully bearing their wounds and pain,
Soldiers and sailors alike to the work,
Never a man of them doing a shirk.
These are the men that you owe a debt;
England, remember it; never forget.
Scorched and parched 'neath the broiling sun,
Not a word of complaint, work must be done.
Wounded and shattered, bespattered with blood,
Drinking of water akin to mud.
These are the men you owe a debt;
England, remember it; never forget.
Ponder it well in your leisured ease,
These, the soldiers of lands and seas,
Building the Empire hour by hour,
These, the foundation of all thy power.
These are the men whom you owe a debt;
Empire, remember; you dare not forget.
THE SILENT ARMY.
BY A. E. C.
The Silent Army 'as its work,
Duties that it cannot shirk,
Six days a week; then there's kirk For us in the Silent Army.
There's guards ter mount, fatigues to do,
Bread ter make an' meat ter stew.
If yer think there's time ter write to you, Well! strite! yer must be barmy.
Yer says yer owns as we can fight,
Able to read, but not to write;
We tries to fly our own kite, Us chaps in the Silent Army.
We're glad enough ter git your print,
Glad enough when bound with lint,
Y're dull if yer can't take the 'int; Indeed! yer must be barmy.
It isn't always that us men
Finds the time to use a pen,
For we've work to do, sir, when We are in the Silent Army.
We 'as our duties to attend,
Food to cook and clothes to mend;
Arsk Kiplin', he's the sojers' friend-- The friend of the Silent Army.
[The hint has been taken as far as the hospitals are concerned. They get THE FRIEND on application.--THE EDS.]
GRUMBLES FROM THE RANKS.
That a soldier's life is a merry one
Is what some people say,
But when you're on short rations,
Well, it isn't half so gay;
And you can't "live fat" in Bloemfontein
Upon a bob a day.
Grumble No. 1.--This is a recognised fact with bread at 1s. per loaf, tea at 6d. per cup, and sugar at 1s. 6d. per lb.
If you've had a present sent from home,
You can take the tip from me,
It's been "commandeered" by somebody,
And it's one you'll never see,
So as each mail arrives you ask,
"Where can that parcel be?"
Grumble No. 2.--Almost every man has a complaint to make regarding the non-receipt of parcels despatched from home.
Then when you see the water-cart,
You rush up for a drink,
You're going to get a "quencher,"
At least, that's what you think;
But it's only there for ornament,
And you're threatened with the "clink."
Grumble No. 3.--According to some authorities, the soldier, like the camel, can go for lengthened periods without water. The soldier himself thinks otherwise.
By night we had to stand the cold,
By day we stood the heat,
And we got lots of duty,
But not too much to eat;
We had two biscuits daily,
Some tea(?) and half-cooked meat.
Grumble No. 4.--Some one having said that eating was a habit, it was decided that several experiments should be tried. The first (half-rations) having proved an unqualified success, should be followed by another of a more exhaustive nature. Tommy suggests that this one (no rations for a fortnight) should be tried upon the officers.
We're rugged in appearance,
Of a tint distinctly brown,
We're bearded and we're dirty,
As well as broken down:
So why the dickens don't they send
Our kit-bags from Capetown?
Grumble No. 5.--This is what we would like to know.