The Departure of Mr. Kipling, leaving THE FRIEND vigorous with the Impetus he gave it.
Rudyard Kipling left Bloemfontein for Capetown on the night of April 1st, in the same train that bore away Sir Alfred Milner, Colonel Hanbury Williams, and Colonel Girouard. The High Commissioner had been declared to be leaving a day or two later, but started at once in order to avoid giving the Boers notice to prepare mischief.
Of the happy days of boyish delight we editors spent with Mr. Kipling many brought incidents too trifling to be noted here, yet which went to fill a heaping loving cup of pleasant memories. "Heavens!" he once exclaimed, "how good it is to be with men who are doing things!" There was, for instance, the day when--as the reader may have perceived--two poems bore a note of merely suggested complaint from the sick in the hospitals. That note struck Mr. Kipling's sensibility, and he and Mr. Landon and I seized armsful of FRIENDS and set out upon a tour of the hospitals--then far too numerous in the public and semi-public buildings of the place. Mr. Kipling went ahead and distributed the papers, and we followed and whispered who he was to the sufferers in the cots. I never shall forget the look that came in each man's eyes, or how every one of them who was able raised himself upon an elbow to stare after the poet as he passed from room to room.
"God bless him," they said; "he's the soldier's friend."
And surely a blessing proceeded from him, in response to that which he received, for, at the knowledge of his presence, a new vigour and a sense of delight, such as they had almost forgotten how to feel, came to the sufferers. He had nothing of the theatrical about him, made no speeches, conversed in hushed tones, halted nowhere, posed not even to the slightest extent--but went on with doctor or nurse through the wards, listening and looking. I think that Mr. Landon and I were more conscious of the reflection of his fame than was he from whom it proceeded.
At one stage of our adventure we determined to cross from one hospital to another, over some intervening gardens. What an unsuspected wildness lay among those walled enclosures in the confines of a nation's capital. Little hills, little rivers, marshes, precipices, walls on the edges of tiny cliffs! It proved a better feat for Italian cavalrymen than for a stout poet, a man with a game leg and arms in lint, and a third one who did not know it, but who was already poisoned with fever germs. However, we had set it for ourselves to do, and we did it--without any more serious mishap than a kick in the equatorial region which I bestowed on the poet in dropping over a wall.
Mr. Kipling had other experiences with hospitals when we were with him and when he was by himself. He was qualified to testify as he did before the Commission that looked into the manner in which the care of the sick and wounded was bestowed.
While I was in Capetown I heard a story of an adventure of his, in which the parts played by him and by the hospital people were eminently characteristic of both. To begin with, he discovered that there were no bandages in a certain hospital! The reader imagines that such a state of things must have been most extraordinary--but it was not. Why should we conceal facts or mince words if we are earnestly endeavouring to probe our own weaknesses and mend our faults? I knew of hospitals without cots, without sheets, without pillows, without measuring glasses, without thermometers. These "hospitals" must have been little more than mere surgeons and staffs, for they applied to the Red Cross people for nearly everything--except medicines--which is required in the care of the sick. Thus Peter was robbed to pay Paul, for Tommy's "comforts" were swallowed up in getting him his necessaries. This was the case in Kimberley after the relief of the town, and it was again the case in Bloemfontein. But to return to Capetown. There Mr. Kipling discovered a hospital without bandages, in desperate need of bandages, in a city containing stores of bandages on sale in many places.
Mr. Kipling mentioned to an acquaintance that he was going to supply that establishment with bandages, and this acquaintance, who was connected with the Daily Mail's "Absent Minded Beggar Fund," at once offered to pay for all that Mr. Kipling would buy and take to the hospital. A cart was quickly loaded with bandages, and then Mr. Kipling was told that under the army rules the hospital authorities could not receive supplies from a private individual. "Well," said he, "I will dump the packages on the pavement before the door, and then tell them to come out and clear up the litter. They will get them into the building that way without tearing any red tape, I hope."
He drove off with the bandages, I am told by the gentleman who footed the bill, but how the supplies were smuggled in I have never heard. I suspect that the rule against receiving supplies from civilians got a great many wrenches and fractures. But for civilians such as at least one Red Cross Commissioner of my acquaintance, Heaven only knows what these hospitals, that consisted of little else than a corps of men, would have been able to do. I asked my friend how it could be possible that an arm of the Government of Great Britain could find itself in such helpless and pitiable plights, and he replied that red tape was the root of the evil. Nobody dared to buy a measuring glass or a pillow-case or a cot for fear that his enterprise might bring him a reprimand and his bill might be repudiated. The hospitals had made demands outmeasuring the supplies, or the supplies had not come up from the Cape, or to the Cape from London. If private generosity was not appealed to circumlocution must be resorted to by means of requisitions which would be slowly forwarded to London and there passed upon. By this means the supplies would reach the front within three months after the patients were dead--provided that all should go smoothly with the circumlocution machinery.
Mind, I know how extraordinary, excessive, and sudden were the demands made upon the Medical Corps after such a shocking affair as the Sunday fight at Paardeberg and during the enteric epidemic at Bloemfontein. I am in no position to say that any one was blameable or that better and ampler means of caring for the disabled could have been arranged. But let us not deny the facts or try to deceive any one with regard to them. That is no way for an earnest and ambitious and healthy people to meet an unpleasant situation.
On the contrary, that is the very way to make certain of a worse "breakdown" of the hospital service in the next war.
(Edited by the War Correspondents with Lord Roberts' Force.)
No. 14.] BLOEMFONTEIN, MONDAY, APRIL 2, 1900. [Price One Penny.
A SONG OF THE WHITE MEN.
[Footnote 15: The poem by Rudyard Kipling which we publish in this issue was written some time ago to be read at a dinner in Canada and then published in the Toronto Globe. It has never been read in public, and it has never before been published. Like all his poems and writings, it is for all time--as good next year as to-day and always excellent in all seasons. It is copyrighted in England and America, and used here by Mr. Kipling's permission.]
BY RUDYARD KIPLING.
Now, this is the cup the White Men drink
When they go to right a wrong,
And that is the cup of the old world's hate--
Cruel and strained and strong.
We have drunk that cup--and a bitter, bitter cup--
And tossed the dregs away,
But well for the world when the White Men drink
To the dawn of the White Men's day.
Now, this is the road that the White Men tread
When they go to clean a land--
Iron underfoot and levin overhead
And the deep on either hand.
We have trod that road--and a wet and windy road--
Our chosen star for guide.
Oh, well for the world when the White Men tread
Their highway side by side.
Now, this is the faith that the White Men hold
When they build their homes afar:--
"Freedom for ourselves and freedom for our sons
And, failing freedom, War."
We have proved our faith--bear witness to our faith,
Dear souls of freemen slain!
Oh, well for the world when the White Men join
To prove their faith again!
Mr. Rudyard Kipling left Bloemfontein for Capetown last night to rejoin his family and, presently, to sail with them to England. Believing that the arrangement of terms of settlement with the people of the Boer Republics will be the next important work for the British, he desires to be in London, there to speak and write for such a finish to the war as he deems best for Britons and Boers, for Africanders, for intending new settlers, for the future quiet and prosperity of South Africa, and for the honour and glory of the Empire.
The editors of THE FRIEND bade him God speed and knew, when they wished him health, prosperity, and a long life, that there is not a man in the British Army or man or woman in the Empire in whose name they could not have warmly and sincerely repeated their own hearts' utterances.
Mr. KIPLING came to the editorial rooms of this unique journal with an offer to assist us War Correspondents who are in charge, but he quickly and easily led us in the clearness of his views upon the paper's policy, in the wealth of talent he lavished upon its columns, and in the enthusiasm with which he collaborated with us. He evidently enjoyed this brief return to his old profession--as what man would not who ever fell under its exciting and fascinating influence? We do not doubt that he found an added and a powerful charm in the peculiar conditions under which we work--upon a journal created by and for a conquering army and published in a conquered capital.
But it is of the pleasure we have known in being co-workers with him that we would write if it were fit that we should share our emotion with the public. Pleasure would be a trifling word to use were we to let our emotions flow. Honour and Pride were better terms, expressive of our stronger feelings.
We can congratulate the friends of THE FRIEND that they shall read his work again in these columns before he sails for home. They have not lost him, but we have lost his company, we who knew his genius so well yet could not conceive it possible that to his talent he joined a personality so rich in varied charms as we have found it. For we have learned that he is sweet to the core, lovable, magnetic, modest, and sincere. He has the crystal frankness and the tireless enthusiasm of ever fresh and unsullied youth. Great as our readers know him to be in literature, we know him to be even greater as a man.
Good luck to RUDYARD KIPLING, always, everywhere, to the end--and, then, to eternity.
THE LATE COLONEL HON. G. GOUGH.
BY BENNET BURLEIGH.
And thou also hast gone over to the majority! To God's rest, most honest English gentleman. I saw thy bier go by but the other day in the streets of Bloemfontein. They gave thee, rightly, a soldier's funeral, and for love of thee many sorrowed and followed afoot to God's acre. Troopers with arms reversed were thine escort, our band played the "Dead March in Saul," and behind thy coffin, covered with the Union Jack and set upon a gun-carriage, walked that British Paladin, Field Marshal Lord Roberts, accompanied by a long concourse of all ranks--comrades of thine, men of distinguished service. Veterans and juniors were there, and besides these, for further token of the affection and esteem in which thou wert held by all who knew thee, a throng of the rank and file of the army.
All was as it should be, for we had come to say our English "Goodbye; God be with thee." Sprung from the loins of a race of soldiers, thou wert all a true soldier should be, tender, brave, and true, a gentleman above gentlemen.
It seems but a breath or so that I was wont to meet thee almost daily in London at the War Office. Lord Wolseley will miss thee, for he will never find a better Military Secretary than thou. Thy courtesy was uniform to all, thy frankness beyond question, as was thy readiness to do kindnesses; whilst thy fidelity to thy Military Chief was to thee a sacred duty.
Cheery and pleasant, Gough of the 14th Hussars was a "beau sabreur," a man who inspired friendship and commanded respect. I could recall many incidents in all of which thou acquitted thyself like a Gough. There was the morning of Abu Klea in the Soudan, after the night of alarms that found thy fortitude undisturbed. I stood beside thee by the screw guns when the Dervish bullet smote thee upon the head and thou wert felled to earth as with the blow of a hammer. None who saw thee as thou lay unconscious doubted but that thou had been killed outright. Even when we learned that thou survived we held to the conviction that to the weight of such a stroke thou must succumb. But thou recovered and we rejoiced. Yet such a blow must have left its impress.
None can ever know how in secret thou must have stoically suffered, for thy patience was as afore, unwearied, thy fondness for work and duty as untiring, and thy Christian spirit as unbounded. We, thy friends, thank thee for thy life of gallant bearing, thy sympathies, thy uncomplaining bearing of burdens.
I deplore that I was not permitted to meet thee again in thy new office, a member of the Staff here in South Africa, serving under the worthiest of leaders, the chivalrous Field Marshal, Lord Roberts. Thou art in God's hands, most excellent Gough. There mayst thou abide. So let it be.
FOR FREEDOM'S CAUSE.
BY TROOPER G. SIMES, ROBERTS' HORSE.
Not with vain boastfulness, careless, unheeding,
Left we our homes and prepared for the fray.
Sadly we answered our wives' gentle pleading,
Hearing the summons we turned to obey.
Not for the worth of the Rand's golden treasures,
Neither dominion, nor riches, nor power,
Ever had moved us to leave city pleasures,
Ever had held us together an hour.
'Twas not for this that we turned to assail you,
'Twas not for this that we entered the strife.
Loud though your country with tears may bewail you,
Can she blame us for this waste of young life?
What we have asked of you that we have given.
Down in the South you may live and be free.
When we have gained that for which we have striven,
Then we will come and will share it with thee.
Freedom you value but hoard as a miser;
Freedom we value but offer to all.
But of the conflict now sadder and wiser,
Blame you not us, but yourself, for your fall.