A number as sparkling as a string of jewels--Joke Portrait Number Two.
A singular thing about THE FRIEND was that the readers could make sure at a glance, each afternoon, what had been the spirits of the editors earlier in the day. The issue of April 13th was positively frisky. We were all in our gayest moods, and the principal page was made to sparkle with most unlooked-for fun and flashes of wit.
Mr. Landon set out with his pen in search of an English millionaire who would supply us daily with a budget of home news cabled direct to us from London. Continually disappointed by the non-arrival of the Reuter despatches, he urged that some wealthy man should pay to have a long special cablegram sent to us daily, with a hint of all the world's happenings. "To us," did I say? no; for, as Mr. Landon expressed it, "All there is of THE FRIEND belongs to the Army. Its existence began for the soldier, and its profits pass back to his interests. If some of the kind-hearted people in England who are so ready to put their hands in their pockets in the interests of 'The Soldiers of the Queen,' only knew what the dearth of news from England means to the men, they would at once supply the want." It is too late now. That editorial never was copied in the English papers, I suppose; but you millionaires who want to reach Heaven--and you others who want to earn handles to put before your names--remember this in the next war, and send news to your army wherever it is halted in the field.
We found that the newsboys were charging two-pence for THE FRIEND, and that many complaints were pouring in upon us; therefore, in the blackest type, I rhymed to the readers--that being the most likely way to impress them with the truth--in couplets such as this--
Who pays a penny for THE FRIEND,
Pays all he needs to gain his end.
Whoever pays us more than a penny,
Should guard his brains, if he has any.
Fancy me dropping into rhyme! But, as I have said, the "Tommies" all did verse--or worse--and the example was epidemically contagious. Perhaps in another month we should have all turned versifiers, and produced copies of THE FRIEND wholly in rhyme.
In this number we published portrait No. 2 of our unique gallery, selecting Lord Stanley as the subject. My son Lester had made a cartoon in which the censor figured, and with which, for a very peculiar reason, Lord Stanley was not pleased, but this second venture of the family to do him justice in portraiture was eminently successful. It was precisely the same picture as that which we called a portrait of Mr. Burdett-Coutts on the previous day, but though Lord Stanley knew the joke no one else saw it. One of the censor's friends took from me a damp fresh copy of the paper, as I came out of the works with an armful, and looking at the portrait remarked, "I say, I did not know that Lord Stanley had an imperial--'goatee,' as you call it--funny I never noticed that he wears one. Devilish good portrait; clever of you to publish it." Mr. Burdett-Coutts was the only other man beside Lord Stanley to understand what we were doing. He fathomed the joke because we explained it to him, and I sincerely hope that he appreciated the pure fun and harmless pleasantry of the spirit in which it was conceived and carried out.
We had, from a coloured man, a letter complaining that we declared the British policy to be "equal rights for all white men, without respect of race or creed." To this he objected. He said that we were advocating the policy of the Republics, and added, "I would like to point out to you that when once your policy is known in this colony by our people it will cause universal dissatisfaction." He was presumably one of those natives, most numerous in the towns, who, by reason of their intelligence and ambition, deserve most helpful, generous consideration. But the "Universal dissatisfaction" which he threatened would include a myriad negroes of the Karroo and the so-called "farms" of the Boers. These form the mass of the natives; clothed in their complexions and living in huts of twigs and matting. Equality with white men can be offered to them by statute; but they cannot realise it, and the world has seen mischief, unhappiness, and perplexing political problems result from over-haste in this direction.
We did succeed in arousing an artist to defend his calling against the boasts of the mechanical manipulation of the camera. Mr. W. B. Wollen, R.I., was the champion of art, and he spoke for it with the ardour of conviction, and the force of one who is right and cannot be gainsaid.
I cannot think why we omitted to call upon Mortimer Menpes, Esq., the distinguished painter, then in Bloemfontein, to add his views to the series of letters we hoped to secure upon this subject, the Camera v. Art. Mr. Menpes had come to the war because, he said, nothing else was talked or thought of in London, and an exhibition of paintings of ordinary subjects, such as he gives with distinguished success each year, would have fallen flat. He was very busy, very popular, and very successful with the army. This issue (April 13) contained a witty letter by him upon the postage stamp craze.
ONE PENNY. THE FRIEND.
(Edited by the War Correspondents with Lord Roberts' Force.)
BLOEMFONTEIN, GOOD FRIDAY, APRIL 13, 1900.
TO THE INHABITANTS OF THE DISTRICTS OF ALBERT, STEYNSBURG, MOLTENO, WODEHOUSE, ALIWAL NORTH, BARKLY EAST AND COLESBERG.
On the recent retirement of the enemy to the north of the Orange River, the rebels who had joined them in the Northern Districts of Cape Colony were treated by Her Majesty's Government with great leniency in being permitted, if not the ringleaders of disaffection, to return to their farms on the condition of surrendering their arms and of being liable to be called to account for their past conduct.
I now warn the inhabitants of the Northern Districts, and more particularly those who were misguided enough to join or assist the enemy, that, in the event of their committing any further act of hostility against Her Majesty, they will be treated, as regards both their persons and property, with the utmost rigour, and the extreme penalties of Martial Law will be enforced against them.
ROBERTS, Field Marshal, Commander-in-Chief, South Africa.
Army Headquarters, Bloemfontein, April 9, 1900.
OUR PORTRAIT GALLERY.
It is with great pleasure that we present to our readers to-day a portrait of Lord Stanley, the present popular Press Censor with Lord Roberts' Field Force in South Africa. The portrait is by W. B. Wollen, R.I., and is a masterpiece. We like it, but we are surprised that the censor should wear precisely such an antediluvian collar as we saw on Mr. Burdett-Coutts in yesterday's view of our Portrait Gallery.
[Illustration: Lord Stanley.]
THE ABSENT-BODIED BURGHER.
BY A. B. PATTERSON.
A Screaming Farce now being played daily with great success in the Theatre of War near Bloemfontein.
1. JACOBUS JOHANNES VAN DER MAUSER (The absent-bodied Burgher).
2. KATINKA VAN DER MAUSER (His Wife).
3. REGINALD TALBOT DE VERE-CROESUS (English Cavalry Officer).
Scene: A Farm in the Free State. Pony saddled at the door. J. J. van der Mauser preparing to mount.
J. J. VAN DER MAUSER (Centre of Stage). Katinka! Katinka! Bring me the old rifle that is in the barn among the sheep-skins. The old muzzle-loading Boer rifle, with which my ancestor, the great Ten-britches van der Mauser shot the lion in the days of the Great Trek.
KATINKA: Nay, Jan! Pause and reflect! 'Twill blow thy head off. It has not been fired these thirty years.
JAN: Nay, woman! I purpose not to fire it. I intend to hand it in to the British--I only wish they'd try to let it off! Then will I return speedily, provided with a pass, and go up into the laager to do a little Rooinek shooting. While I am gone, Katinka, be not afraid. The English will put a sentry on the farm so that not a blade of grass shall be touched, not an onion taken from the ground. Be diligent, and sell them all the butter you can.
KATINKA: The proclamation says the price of butter is to be two-and-sixpence a pound!
JAN: Then don't take a penny less than three shillings and sixpence. If you run short of milk, drive in the cows of our neighbour Smith, who has fled to the English. And Katinka (whispers tenderly), if you see the Rooineks out in the open, don't stand anywhere near them, darling! You might get hit! You understand? Now, farewell!
(Proceeds to pull on an extra pair of breeches, and so goes off to the laager, while the band plays "My dear old Dutch.")
[Interval of some days, during which the British encamp near the farm, and Katinka sells them, at famine prices, every drop of milk and every pound of butter that the cows will yield, and every egg that the hens can be induced to lay.]
The open veldt. Row of kopjes in the middle distance. Enter cavalry patrol with Reginald Talbot Vere-Croesus at their head. (Band playing, "Let 'em all come.")
FIRST SOLDIER: I thought I heard a rifle shot.
REGINALD TALBOT DE V.-C.: Nay. 'Twas but a soldier being shot for stealing a bar of soap from an enemy's cottage. Serve the miscreant right. Take open order, there. Walk, march!
They ride round the stage with one eye on the kopjes and the other admiring the fit of their breeches. Rifle shots are heard from the kopjes. Band changes to, "You never know your Luck!" Heavy rattle of musketry from kopjes. Patrol driven back and retire to pom-pom accompaniment from the big drum. R. T. de V.-C. falls prone from his charger. KATINKA rushes in (r.u.e.) weeping hysterically and throws herself on his body.
ENTER JACOBUS JOHANNES VAN DER MAUSER (l.e.), and leans on his rifle, staring gloomily at the scene.
JACOBUS: Ha! ha! So it has come to this! She secretly loves the young English officer who reconnoitres kopjes with an eye-glass! (Sticks his chin out, claws the air and ambles about the stage à la Henry Irving.) But I will be revenged! Ha! ha! I have it! I will go and join the Johannesburg police! False woman, what sayest thou?
KATINKA (hysterically): I am innocent, Johannes. I am innocent! (Coils herself round the body of R. T. de V.-C. à la Sarah Bernhardt.)
JACOBUS: Innocent! Then why weepest thou?
KATINKA (rising suddenly): Weep! I should think I would weep. Didn't he owe us three pound seventeen and sixpence for milk! How am I to make the dairy pay if you persist in shooting my best customers?
(JACOBUS embraces her. REGINALD TALBOT DE VERE-CROESUS being, fortunately, shot exactly through the head with a Mauser bullet, recovers at once and embraces her also, and joins in a song-and-dance trio, "Be careful what you're doing with the gun," and the curtain falls to the tune of, "It mustn't occur again.")
NOTE.--This farce will be continued till further orders.
A. B. P.
THE WAR ARTIST OF TO-DAY.
To the Editors of THE FRIEND,--SIRS,--The present campaign has most decidedly, as your correspondent in THE FRIEND of the 11th says, commenced a new era in the history of illustrated journalism, but not to the extent that he thinks.
The camera and the pencil can, and will, live together during a campaign, but I venture to doubt if the camera will be able to do all that its champion claims for it, and the war artist who knows his business, which cannot be learnt in a single campaign, will come out on top. For reproducing and putting before the public scenes representing the strife and clamour of war, with its accompanying noise and confusion, the man with the kodak cannot compete for one single moment with the individual who is using the pencil.
How can he produce a picture that will show the public at large anything like an accurate bird's-eye view of what a modern battle is like? The brain of the camera cannot take in all that is going on. The man with the pencil does so. A few lines to indicate the background and the characteristics of it, and he is able to put before the world what has taken place, that is if he knows and has seen what troops have been doing.
In another paragraph there is a sentence which is a very unjust reflection upon "the old-fashioned war artists, who draw on their imagination." I should very much like to know who the old-fashioned war artists can be who are referred to in this manner. The few men who are still alive, and there never were many of them, are all men who have seen a large amount of fighting, have sketched and worked under fire, sent their work home often under enormous difficulties, and been in very many tight places. Why should these men be referred to in this way?
I suppose there has not been one single campaign in which the camera has been in such frequent use; but is it possible, by this means, to bring before us the various phases of a battle--a modern battle, I mean, with its absence of smoke, enormous expanse of front and general invisibility of both the attackers and defenders? Take a battery in action. Can it show us the excitement and turmoil round the guns, will it show us (unless it is a cinematograph) the trouble amongst the teams when a shell drops near them? I think not. What it can do, and does, is scenes which are more or less peaceful, such as camp views, incidents in regimental life and also bits on the line of march, but of an action--no! None of us artists are at variance with Mr. Scott in other parts of his very able letter, and we cordially welcome the camera artist, knowing very well that he has his field of work in which we cannot hope to compete with him for a moment; but to put the camera, which, after all, is only a very fine piece of mechanism, on a par with a sketch is more than most people can put up with, especially
Yours very faithfully,
W. B. WOLLEN, R.I.
To the Editors of THE FRIEND,--SIRS,--Is this a chestnut? Johannes Paulus Kruger sent a commissioner home to England to find out if there were any more men left there. The commissioner wired from London to say that there were 4,000,000 men and woman "knocking about the town," that there was no excitement, and that men were begging to be sent to fight the Boers. Kruger wired back "Go North." The commissioner found himself in Newcastle eventually and wired to Kruger, "For God's sake, stop the war! England is bringing up men from hell, eight at a time, in cages!"
He had seen a coal mine.
CIRCULATION, APRIL 11, 5,500.
The circulation of THE FRIEND is as large as that of all the Bloemfontein papers combined.
[Footnote 18: This was a transparent joke, as there was no other paper in the town. But, joking apart, there never had been a newspaper in that country or region with such a circulation as ours enjoyed; yet it could have been twice as large had we employed our carts to circulate it in the outlying camps.--J. R.]
DOTS OR NO DOTS.
All about the New Stamp Issue.
BY MORTIMER MENPES.
How strange a thing it is that so small a matter as a general taste for collecting stamps should, as it were, elevate a man at a single bound into a position where his slightest tact at discrimination in detecting the difference of shades between two bits of paper of the same colour will sway and determine the destinies of a horde of fanatical collectors!
That a man should occupy so exalted a position was accidentally brought to my notice after a return to Bloemfontein from a run to the Cape, where I found the Market Square, the club, the hotels and the street corners grouped with people who appeared to be intensely interested in the discussion of some all-important subject. Thinking that some radical proclamation had been issued, I paused to listen, but instead of legal phrase and technical form greeting my ear, the only intelligible word which I could detect in the buzz which emanated from the centre of the group was "Dot."
I passed on to another group, where the same "dot" arrested my attention; then to a third, which was also "dotty," until, feeble and bewildered, I helplessly wandered about on the verge of an incurable "dottiness" myself.
Finally, I pulled myself together again and, blind to all danger, plunged into a group of "dotters," grasped one of them by the arm, and in reply to my appeals heard him hiss, as he roughly shook me off, "Surcharged stamps, you fool, misprinted, without dots." Then I understood. My curiosity was stimulated, I soon learned the subtle differences which add to or subtract value from the surcharged Free State stamps. Finally I became the proud possessor of a dotless one myself. That settled it; I became hopelessly "dotty" myself, and to the end of my natural days will always realise that affairs of State, literature, art, even money, are secondary to the importance of obtaining "the entire set," especially if they are from "the bottom row" and "dotless." This mania has taken possession of the entire army.
From Tommy to General, the last biscuit or a drink of whisky, or a pass to be out after 8 p.m. can be extracted after a dozen refusals by producing a dotless stamp.
Kruger could end this cruel war in an afternoon by simply sending out a dozen men mounted on swift horses, wearing white coats with the entire set without dots pasted on the back. These scouts should be unarmed and should ride in close to our lines and then turn round showing their backs. The moment the army would see the set, they would make a rush, and all the scouts would have to do would be to ride fast enough and in different directions, and by nightfall the Imperial forces would be hopelessly scattered, and lost in the boundless veldt. Kruger's scouts would be perfectly safe, for no one would dare to raise a rifle in their direction. Such an act might bring down a set; but imagine if you can the fate of the miscreant if one dotless stamp should be punctured or if--horrible thought!--a chance scattering of the lead should dot some of the precious bits of paper!
In my inquiries during the first stage of this disease, I found that Major O'Meara was the supreme authority on this subject. I found the Major seated in a small room of the National Bank sorting out from a huge collection the stamps which were to be surcharged. For three hours I watched him, as with wonderful skill and discrimination he picked out bits of paper which were obsolete and which an accidental surcharging would have made of untold value, and set the whole world of collectors into a palpitating hysteria of speculation, until finally catalogued and bought by some multi-millionaire bent upon ruining himself to appease his craze. That all the legally surcharged stamps are carefully catalogued in the Major's busy brain will doubtless surprise at some no distant date a few rascally speculators, who, possessing obsolete issues, have surreptitiously surcharged them, in the hope of creating a rarity to sell at fabulous prices. Leaving the Major's presence, I realised that the last stage of dotlessphobia had fastened itself on me, and, knowing that recovery is hopeless, have abandoned myself to full indulgence, hoping to derive at least some miserable satisfaction before the end. With this one reservation, I am determined never to surrender to the universal stamp collector's weakness of stealing. Others may walk uprightly through six days of the week about their ordinary affairs and turn aside on Sunday afternoon from the path of blindness to pilfer another collector's treasure while his face is turned away, out of politeness, to sneeze. But I; no, I shall never, never, no--I won't steal.