Captain Cecil Lowther joins the Wits and Poets again. A Report by Mr. Jenkins, who was "our Staff in himself."
Mr. Buxton wrote the stern editorial, "Judge ye," with which we led off the issue of April 14th. He reminded the Free Staters that England had, at the outset, no quarrel with them, but on the contrary had given them the "solemn assurance" that their independence and territory should be respected. The people of the little Republic had been led astray, had suffered conquest, and now were able to judge between the wicked whisperings of the two Presidents and the promptings of common sense and of regard for their future, "for," wrote Mr. Buxton, "brothers you must be with us, heirs and possessors of world-wide citizenship and Empire."
We had recorded our first wedding, and now was the day when we received the first application from an English firm desiring to advertise in our columns. A well-known house-furnishing firm were the enterprising inquirers. They said that they looked for a great development of the country and meant to send agents there when the war ended. On our part we made this request the basis of an editorial in which we said that this business letter "foreshadows the coming changes in local conditions with a prophetic touch."
Mr. Gwynne concocted a clever set of quotations which he called "Gleanings from Great Minds," and we published number three of our series of home-made portraits, choosing Dr. A. Conan Doyle as the subject. At this the Army at last began to whisper and suspect, and many a smile greeted each allusion to our enterprise.
But our chef d'oeuvre was a second contribution by "Bertie," whom all our readers knew to be none other than the handsome, the witty, the travelled, and the popular Adjutant of the Scots Guards, Captain Cecil Lowther. As the first letter had already been published in the Household Brigade Magazine I will not repeat it here, but the one that is now reproduced will give a lively hint of what our readers missed by the fact that Captain Lowther was away on duty in the boggy, sodden veldt, and could neither write nor think of writing, even to THE FRIEND.
A large collection is made from this issue of the paper of April 14th. All that is in this book reflects the excitement, the routine, and the dramatic and picturesque phases of a soldier's life, as well as the strange situations and conditions produced by the conquest and occupation of a city in war. If that is true (and it is true in a very great degree as I believe), then in no chapter are more of all these novel views of irregular life mirrored than in this. From this you shall learn what a soldier had in the way of rations, how a great and majestic mind dealt with the rumours that British prisoners were being far from generously, or even humanely, dealt with by the semi-civilised foe; how a polished wit out of his superabundant humour found time to set down his sparkling thoughts in a soaking wet camp or a cold, wet plain, within sniping distance of the enemy, and finally, how drained of almost every line of foodstuffs, medicines, clothing, and luxuries the over-burdened town we lived in was becoming.
ONE PENNY. THE FRIEND. ONE PENNY.
(Edited by the War Correspondents with Lord Roberts' Force.)
BLOEMFONTEIN, SATURDAY, APRIL 14, 1900.
SICK AND WOUNDED PRISONERS.
The following communication has been addressed to President Kruger:--
From Field Marshal Lord Roberts, Commanding in Chief in South Africa, to His Honour the President, S.A. Republic, Pretoria,
April 12, 1900.
It has been reported to me that the Non-Commissioned Officers and men of Her Majesty's Colonial Forces, who have been made prisoners of war, are treated as criminals and confined in Pretoria jail, where they are very badly fed. It has also been brought to my notice that at the beginning of March there were ninety cases of enteric fever and dysentery among the Non-Commissioned Officers and men in the camp at Waterval, and that, as Dr. Haylett, the Medical Officer in charge, failed to obtain from your Government the medicines and medical comforts which he required for the sick, he resigned, Dr. von Greldt being appointed in his place.
It is stated that the prisoners at Waterval have to bivouac on the open veldt without overhead shelter and with only a layer of straw to lie on, while the sick are placed under an open shed with iron roof. I am informed that it was only upon Dr. von Greldt threatening to resign that medicines and mattresses were supplied for the sick. I can hardly believe that your Honour is aware or approves of the harsh treatment of the prisoners belonging to the Colonial Forces, or of the want of consideration shown to the prisoners at Waterval. The former are Her Majesty's subjects, are duly enlisted, are subject to military discipline, and wear uniform. According to the recognised customs of war, they are entitled to be treated in the same way as any other soldiers of Her Britannic Majesty, and I must remind your Honour that all prisoners captured by the troops under my command are equally well treated, whether they are burghers or foreigners. The utmost care has been taken of your sick and wounded, and no distinction has been made in the field hospitals between them and our own soldiers.
[Illustration: The Front Page of "The Friend" of April 4, 1900.]
I invite your Honour's early attention to this matter, and I request that orders may be given for the Non-Commissioned Officers and men of the Colonial Forces to be released from jail and to be treated, not as criminals, but as prisoners of war.
I also request that the prisoners at Waterval may be provided with overhead shelter, and that the sick and wounded may be properly entertained and taken care of in accordance with Article Six of the Geneva Convention.
MY COMRADES' CONVERSATION.
When I was quite a young recruit, not very long ago,
My comrades' conversation was a talk I didn't know;
I really thought to some far-distant country I'd been shipped
When they said I was a "jowler," and described me as "just nipped."
If I was "slightly dragged," or with my "praco" couldn't cope,
They said I'd "lost my monnicker" and earned an "extra slope,"
And, though I'm known as Ferdinand to all my kin and kith,
They went and dropped my Christian name and called me "Dusty Smith."
They called me "Dusty Smith."
But a soldier's life is the life for me,
And the foe shall ne'er alarm me,
For you won't feel queer on "Drug-hole beer,"
What's called "three-thick" in the Army.
I asked them what my food would be. They said: "Your food? Oh, that's
'Meat,' 'jipper,' 'spuds' and 'rooti,' with occasional 'top-hats.'"
They said I'd find coal-hugging quite a lively little job,
Then they put me "on the timber" and they called me "Junior Swab."
But when my work was over, after "tapping up" a bit,
I'd take my own "square missus" out--you bet we made a hit.
And when I had to go on guard she'd come there every day
To see me marching down the street and hear the "fiddlers" play.
Just to hear the "fiddlers" play.
So a soldier's life is the life for me,
And the foe shall ne'er alarm me,
As I slope my gun in Number One
What's called "Long-Swabs" in the Army.
But now I understand them 'cause I know my way about,
And comprehend the Sergeant's unintelligible shout;
When he says: "Shooldare Hipe!" I know that he means: "Shoulder hup"
So I'm never for "Small-dodgers" and I never got "Built-up."
I'm not a mere "Jam-soldier," I've extended sure enough,
And been made "Assistant-bully" so I help to cook the "Duff."
I keep my kit and rifle clean, so's never to be rushed,
And I've never been "done-tired" and I've never once been "pushed."
No, I've never once been "pushed."
Then a soldier's life is the life for me,
And the foe shall ne'er alarm me,
And soon I shall be Corporal,
What's called "Sauce-Jack" in the Army.
GLEANINGS FROM GREAT MINDS.
BY H. A. GWYNNE.
"The horse is the natural enemy of Man: the horse is the only animal that will dash himself over a precipice to avoid the shadow of his own feed-bag."--Kipling.
"All civilians must remain in their houses after eight o'clock at night."--Hints on Housekeeping (by Lord Roberts).
"Your Mounted Infantry--it is as much as they can do to keep their hats on."--Albrecht, captured Boer Artillerist.
"I call the Cavalry the Oh, Lor! regiments. They ride up to a kopje and stare about till they are fired at, when they say, "Oh, Lor," and gallop off."--Albrecht.
"I'd rather be a coward all my life than a corpse half a minute."--Solomon (junior).
OUR PORTRAIT GALLERY.
DR. A. CONAN DOYLE.
[Illustration: Dr. A. Conan Doyle.]
The accompanying wood-cut is a portrait of the well-known author, Dr. A. Conan Doyle. The author of "Sherlock Holmes," who is so generously giving his time and whole-hearted attention to the sick and wounded, will, by the use of the "Holmesian method," be able to tell, without a moment's hesitation, at what period of his eventful life the photograph was taken, of which the accompanying block is a representation.
ANOTHER LETTER HOME.
BY CAPTAIN CECIL LOWTHER.
MY DEAR FATHER,--Since I last wrote to you we have been having a quiet time down South "pacifying the country." This consists in collecting arms--which we keep--and inviting the burghers to take oaths--which they don't keep--at least some of them don't. Every one seemed pleased to see us and very ready to tell all about their neighbours' misdoings. If one believes only half of what one was told, the smiling little village where we were quartered must be only one station this side of a very warm place.
A spice of danger is added to police work if there are other detachments in the neighbourhood. It is this wise. Two of our captains who were out after springbok one day were suddenly glued to the ground by the well-known whistle of bullets over their heads. Leaving their respective hills after dark, they returned and, with quivering lips, recounted to us the dangers through which they had passed. An eviction party was organised and a thorough search made for hidden rifles on the farm where the incident had occurred.
Not unnaturally, none were found, as we heard on our return that Stoke had been out with six Non-Commissioned Officers and had walked the country in line shooting at everything that moved.
You remember Stoke, don't you? He was the fellow who was not going to bring a knife and fork out with him as everybody on service would of course eat with his fingers.
Do you remember that rather pretty song that MacRavish in the A.S.C. used to sing? "Lay down thy lute, my dearest." The Provost-Marshal has now adopted it for his own, and I have had to give up all the loot I had collected in the last three months. It is very disappointing, but I suppose he will give it back when his staff have taken what they want.
We have been having a bad time the last few days, as there are detachments of troops constantly passing to the front, and unless one lies quite quiet they shoot at one. Their scouts, too, bang through the middle of the kitchens and camp "looking for the enemy," which is rather annoying for us, but it does not do to interfere.
All the rifles are supposed to have been given up in the neighbourhood, so I was hurt in two senses--when I sat down on a very hard sofa in a farm close by and found that the cushion was stuffed with two Mausers and a lot of ammunition. The farmer professed to be as surprised as I was, but I don't see why he should have objected to my taking them away. He said they must have been left there accidentally by Potgieter or Pienaar. As you cannot throw a stone without hitting some one of those two names his statement was rather indefinite, besides being untruthful. It is awfully good of you sending me out all those woollen comforters and meat tabloids, but next time you are sending I wish you could send me enough stuff to put a new seat and knees to my breeches, as they are both deficient at present and even on active service they scarcely come under the head of "luxuries."--Your affectionate son, "BERTIE."
Get all you can but don't take less.
It is all right to claim as much as you think you can get and to get all you really can, but in case of argument it may be just as well to have this little list stuck inside your helmet. You may know some way of getting more than this--striking the A.S.C. when it is badly rushed, or very sleepy--but if you reach the issue depôt when it is too wide-awake for you, here is the list, just to make sure you'll not take less than regulations give you.
One man, one day:--Biscuits, 1 lb.; fresh bread, 1-1/2 lb.; preserved meat, 1 lb.; fresh meat, 1-1/4 lb.; coffee, 2/3 oz., or tea 1/3 oz., or 1/2 oz. of each; pepper, 1/36 oz.; salt, 1/2 oz.; sugar, 3 ozs. (including sugar for lime-juice); compressed vegetables, 1 oz.; fresh vegetables, 8 oz. (when available); rice, 2 oz. (in lieu of vegetables); cheese, 2 oz. (in lieu of 4 oz. of meat); jam, 1/4 lb. (three times a week); rum, 1/64 of gallon--when ordered; lime juice, 1/320 of a gallon, if certified to be necessary by the medical officer; candles, 1 per officer; office authorised canteen.
Meal or flour for natives 1 lb. a day, which may be increased to 1-1/4 lb. when supplies are plentiful; natives receive the same ration as soldiers with the exception of vegetables. Meal or flour is usually substituted for bread.
Indians enjoy a special scale of rations.
Forage:--English horses: oats, 9 lbs.; oat-hay, 7 lbs.; bran, 3 lbs.; chaff, 2 lbs.
Colonial horses: Mealies, 8 lbs.; oat-hay, 4 lbs.; bran, 2 lbs.; chaff, 2 lbs.
Mules: Mealies, 5 lbs.; bran or chaff, 2 lbs.
To officers.--If you countersign a claim for any more than this you had better be sure it is in the hands of a very "trustworthy" man, who can bluff it through, and get the A.S.C. men mixed up. If he doesn't know his way about they'll catch him up and send him back.
BY J. W. JENKINS.
[A young Philadelphian who very cleverly united in his own work and person the entire reportorial staff of the paper.]
This town is hungry. The shops are practically bare. Nothing worth speaking of comes to market. The matter has passed from the stage at which it might be regarded as a joke. Bloemfontein really hungers for necessary articles of diet, and it has one week in which to raise an extra appetite before the first train of foodstuffs comes to its stores. The hopes of two trucks a day for Bloemfontein merchants, held out two weeks ago by the Imperial Military Railway Officials, have proved vain. The two trucks never came. The line has been taken up wholly by the transportation of troops and army supplies. Next Thursday, however, unless the present plan is changed, a train of 20 trucks will leave Port Elizabeth with goods for merchants here. There will be one train a week thereafter. All day on Wednesday and Thursday the business men flocked to the Director of Supplies, who will assign to each his proportion of tonnage.
For a week the best families of Bloemfontein have been without butter or sugar. The hospitals have commandeered nearly all the fresh milk. There is not a can of condensed milk to be bought in town, nor a can of jam, nor of cocoa, nor a pound of coffee. The last candles sold in town were sent in from a country store. They disappeared in a day. The town depends for its potatoes on the few which come into town every morning.
The daily supply of fresh vegetables is so small as to be hardly worth mentioning.
Toilet soaps and English laundry soap disappeared long ago. You cannot buy a razor or a shaving-brush or a tooth-brush.
More than one druggist lacks material for putting up prescriptions: glycerine, cascara, bromide of potassium, boracic acid, carbolic disinfectants, ginger, zinc oxide, blue ointment, acetate of lead, and iodoform. Absence of some of these from the prescription shelves might result seriously.
Eno's Salts and chlorodyne cannot be bought in town. Beecham's Pills were "all out" four months ago.
The flour mills have been closed for several days for want of water. They will resume, feeding their boilers with well water, but the end of the wheat supply is in sight. There is still mealie meal, but bakers declare that it won't make bread.
Cigars that are worth smoking and whisky worth drinking haven't been seen for a week. Hospitals take all the soda-water that the factory can make.
Shoemakers have not even veldschoens in ordinary sizes. They have had no leather for two weeks, so shoe repairing is out of the question.
Winter is coming on, the mornings are already growing chilly, but clothiers have no hose and no heavy underwear of white man's quality. All hats suitable for army wear were sold long ago.
Merchants declare that if they had not been promised two trucks a day by rail they would have brought supplies from Kimberley by ox-waggon. It would have taken six days, but would have been worth while.