We retire from the paper, leaving it in able and patriotic hands.
The unique and delightful episode had ended. On April 16th, just one month after we established this new departure in war, we turned THE FRIEND over to the proprietor of the Johannesburg Star, upon an arrangement quickly and generously made by Lord Stanley. Within a week I was ordered home by the surgeons who saw the state my battered body was in. Mr. Landon preceded me by a few days, invalided also. Mr. Buxton remained upon the paper under its new proprietors, who were old workmates with him, and Mr. Gwynne remained, and yet remains as a war correspondent (January, 1901), sturdily doing his always excellent work in the field. In that work I think he has few superiors among living English-speaking correspondents, and I know that many military and journalistic experts agree with me. The pity is that the nature of his work for Reuter's has kept his genius as a writer practically hidden from the public.
Mr. Shelley took up the photographer's side of the entertaining duel between the men of his calling and the actual and proper artists; Mr. Melton Prior indignantly lamented an indignity or an attempted theft of which he had been the victim. We reported a great football match between the officers of the Gordons and those of the First Contingent of the Royal Canadian Regiment; and, finally, we perpetrated the fourth hoax, in what we called "Our Portrait Gallery." The "portrait" was in each case from the same advertisement block which Mr. Gwynne and I had found on the floor of the Express composing-room, which he had thought nearly enough like Mr. Burdett-Coutts to bear production as a likeness, and which we presently resolved to publish every day as a picture of a different man each time.
The notice of a concert in aid of the Widows' and Orphans' Fund refers to a notable enterprise engineered by the universally distinguished Mr. Bennet Burleigh of the Daily Telegraph, aided by Mr. Maxwell, the very talented correspondent of the Standard, and others. They carried it out with such skill that the entertainment proved the greatest social event, if we may so term it, of the army's sojourn in the capital. Every one of note who was able to be there attended it, and the receipts at the doors and in the competition over the works of Messrs. Prior and Wollen, were very considerable.
ONE PENNY. THE FRIEND. ONE PENNY.
(Edited by the War Correspondents with Lord Roberts' Force.)
BLOEMFONTEIN, EASTER MONDAY, APRIL 16, 1900.
"OUR FRIEND" NO LONGER
BY JULIAN RALPH
At some time all friends must part, and the time and parting have come to THE FRIEND, its friends of the public and those war correspondents who have been conducting this journal just one month to-day.
To-morrow this paper will be turned over from the charge of those who were only writers to the hands of men who are practised and able in the management of all departments of a daily journal.
In bidding farewell to our trust, we can boast of nothing unless it be that we have entertained the troops and the town, and made no enemies of whom we know. The rest of what we have done has only been trying--though we have tried hard.
We have said before in this column that it has been an unique experiment--to make one loyal newspaper out of two that were none too English, to make it with talent unused to the work, to make it, often, without news and to conduct it so as to produce something palatable to both the conquerors and the conquered.
We take this occasion to thank the Field Marshal, Lord Roberts, for the trust he reposed in us, and to express the hope that we did not disappoint him.
We also wish to thank those who have assisted us, both among our fellow correspondents and the talented men of the army. Poets we find the latter to be, for the most part. We hope all these will continue to give the helpful right hand to the enterprise under its new managers.
And so we say "adieu" to THE FRIEND, and good luck to its new conductors.
OUR PORTRAIT GALLERY
LIEUT.-GENERAL POLE-CAREW, C.B.
[Illustration: General Pole-Carew.]
We feel that we owe an apology to our readers for presenting the portrait of one of our first fighting generals in civilian costume, but our artist left his colours at home and refused to paint at all unless with plain black. The artist in question is Captain Cecil Lowther, of the Scots Guards, and this is his first effort in art. For General Pole-Carew, the subject of this masterpiece, what is there to say except that his promotion has gratified the entire army and evoked the heartiest congratulations from THE FRIEND?
THE WAR ARTIST OF TO-DAY
BY H. C. SHELLEY.
Editors, THE FRIEND,--SIRS,--Can you inform me whether there has been a sudden exodus from Bloemfontein of war correspondents armed with cameras? There ought to have been, and yet I have inquired in vain whether such an event has taken place. For, look you, the judgment has gone forth from the pen of Mr. Wollen that the "war artist"--meaning the man with a pencil as opposed to the men with a camera--"will come out on top." Truly, this is most disheartening. No one likes to be thrust to a bottom position, and if that is to be the fate of the man with a camera, why should he any longer endure the hardships of campaigning and the sorrows of separation from the comforts and companionships of home?
But the war correspondent with a camera has not gone home. He has no intention of doing so. He is unrepentant enough to believe that he, and not the man with a pencil, is going to "come out on top."
Let us have the point at issue clearly defined. War correspondents are with the army to report the war--some by word pictures, others by camera or pencil pictures. Sight-seeing is a passion with humanity. Every inhabitant of the British Isles would like to have a personal vision of the conflict in South Africa, but--save for two or three irresponsible persons whose presence at the front no one can understand--those inhabitants are compelled to rely upon the eyes of others. Now, leaving aside the correspondents who devote themselves to word pictures solely, the question to be decided is--does the man with the camera surpass the man with the pencil in depicting the actuality of warfare?
An astounding claim is made on behalf of the man with the pencil. He can, we are told by Mr. Wollen, show the public "an accurate bird's-eye view of what a battle is like." And he does it by "a few lines to indicate the background and characteristics of it." The same authority assures us that "the brain of the camera cannot take in all that is going on. The man with the pencil does so." Such is the case for the man with the pencil. Now for the test of cross-examination.
Modder River and Maghersfontein may be cited as two representative battles of the war, and so may be honestly used as touchstones to try the claim Mr. Wollen makes on behalf of the man with a pencil. In each case there was a battle-line of some five or six miles, in each case the enemy was invisible, in each case it was physically impossible for any one man to see more than a small portion of the battle. A spectator on the right flank at Modder River could have no personal knowledge of incidents which were happening in the centre of the bridge, or down the river on the left flank. Even of his own particular section on the right flank that spectator could not attain to a perfect knowledge. But the man with a pencil is untrammelled by such minor matters as time and space; he "takes in all that is going on." Or, if he does not take it all in, he puts it in his sketch. The result is no more "an accurate bird's-eye view of what a battle is like" than a photograph of Oom Paul is like a photograph of Mr. Chamberlain. In short, the facility with which the pencil-man can jot down what he did not see is his ruin.
It will be obvious that the man with the pencil, not being ubiquitous, cannot "take in" all that happens on a battlefield; he sees just as much as, and no more than, the man with the camera; for the rest--which forms so large a proportion of his sketch--he has to rely upon the testimony of others. Now, when the public have in their hands a result attained by this method, what is its value as an "accurate bird's-eye view of what a battle is like?" Absolutely nil. People at home want to see a battle as they would have seen it if they had been present, and no sane man will contest the assertion that the best medium for giving them that vision is the camera rather than the pencil. Try as he may after the actual, the man with the pencil thrusts his personality between the event he sees and the people at home for whom he wishes to reproduce it, and consequently his sketch becomes a miserable failure when considered as an "accurate bird's-eye view of what a battle is like."
On the other hand, what does the man with the camera do? He and his lens see at least so much of a given battle as any man with a pencil, and what they see they see with unfailing accuracy. Take that battery in action which Mr. Wollen choses to cite as a subject wherein the powerlessness of the camera is supposed to be illustrated. The camera man does not fear the test. He can show the guns coming into action, record their unlimbering, depict the preparation for firing, and time a photograph at the actual moment of firing. It is true that his picture will not show quite such a volume of smoke as the sketch of the man with the pencil. But why? Because the smoke is not there. The man with the pencil puts it in because other men with pencils have been putting it in for generations. Perhaps, too, the public would not mistake the sketch for a battle-scene if the smoke were absent. Anyhow, what becomes of the boast of accuracy? Moreover, the man with a camera will not present his public with a twelve-pounder firing from the carriage of a howitzer.
There is something more to be said for the man with a camera. Now-a-days he is in the habit of screwing a telephoto lens to the front of the camera, and with that lens he can immensely outdistance the vision of even that all-seeing man with the pencil. Objects a couple of miles off are brought near, and groups of men can be photographed at such distances as prevent them assuming any posing attitudes. In this way actuality takes on the added charm of natural grouping, and I shall be greatly surprised if some of the telephoto pictures of this war do not take rank as the most artistic as well as realistic records of its incidents.
After all, the man with a camera may safely leave his case in the hands of others. Take a negative and a positive witness on the question in the abstract. Mr. Julian Ralph writes that "the pictures of our battles which are coming back to us in the London weeklies are not at all like the real things," and then he adds: "I saw the other day a picture in one of the leading papers by one of the best illustrators. It showed the British storming a Boer position. In the middle ground was a Boer battery, and the only gunner left alive was standing up with a bandage round his head, while smoke and flame and flying fragments of shells filled the air in his vicinity. In the rush of the instant he must have been bandaged by the same shot that struck him, and as for smoke and débris in the air, there was more of this in a corner of that picture than I have seen in all the four battles we have fought."
Now for the positive witness. He is no less a person than the art critic of the Pall Mall Gazette, who can no more be charged with a predilection for photography than Messrs. Steyn and Kruger can be saddled with a predilection for truthfulness. This critic dwells, as Mr. Scott did in the letter which opened this discussion, upon the old and new methods of war illustration, and then candidly adds: "I would like to say that the artists score off the photographer, but they do not. The public wants the facts as near as may be, and are too deeply stirred to be put off with melodrama."
One other witness may be called to give Mr. Wollen an idea of how the work of the man with the pencil is faring at home. Here is a recent private letter from England, which makes merry in the following fashion over those sketches which are so inclusive and accurate: "There is a picture of two gunners standing to attention after having exhausted their ammunition. The man nearest the gun is looking straight in front of him, with a bandage round his head, a bullet-wound in his face (close to the left ear), two in the right side of his chest, and one in his right leg, some distance above the knee. Within a yard of him is a bursting shell. But that man ignores such trivial things. Still he stands. I suppose the weight of so much lead in him keeps him up. One wonders whether he is hollow inside, so that the bullets all drop down into his feet."
No wonder, worthy editorial sirs, you have not witnessed an exodus of men with cameras from Bloemfontein; they are staying to "come out on top." Sincerely yours,
H. C. SHELLEY.
"WHO STOLE THE CART?"
To the Editors of THE FRIEND,--SIRS,--Practical jokes are out of date, and the perpetrators have universally come to be regarded as a mixture of fools and knaves. It is intolerable to attempt a practical joke upon a friend, but to play one upon a stranger is downright rascality. To accept an excuse for such a thing is to admit the pleas of the man who took a piece of old rope that he did not mean to take the horse that was at the other end; or that of other fellows who sneak property, pick pockets, or forge cheques, that these acts were all done in fun.
I have been much interested in reading in THE FRIEND about horses, saddles, bridles, and even riems being stolen in this campaign, but I think I can add to the list with a more startling experience of my own. I bought a waggon from a well-known man in this town and had it sent to a coach repairer to be overhauled. It was a conspicuous vehicle, as much so as a Soudan pantechnicon van, with white wall sides, upon which were painted, in letters that could be read half a mile away, the owner's name, business, and address. This waggon was impudently taken in the night-time, dragged to stables some distance away, and there left. From the police I have learned that paint had actually been purchased, and it was evidently the intention of the thieves to transform my waggon, by painting out the name and address, and so daub it with khaki or some other colour that it should become unrecognisable. By a fortuitous accident the waggon was discovered in the nick of time.
The law here is such that an aggrieved party must become a prosecutor, which is an undertaking a transient visitor naturally shirks.
I think it my duty to call attention to the circumstances and the inadequacy of the existing means for the prevention of wrong-doing and the punishment of the wrong-doers.--I am, sirs, yours truly,
War Artist, Illustrated London News.
WEDNESDAY EVENING CONCERT.
Thanks to the kindness of the Military Governor, Major-General Pretyman, the concert in aid of the "Widows' and Orphans' Funds," London and Bloemfontein, will be held next Wednesday evening, instead of during the afternoon. Major-General Pretyman has conceded that upon the date in question, Wednesday, 18th inst., the pass regulation will not come into force until midnight. That means that citizens may move about after 8 p.m., or until twelve o'clock, without requiring any special pass or being called upon to produce a permit.
The committee of war correspondents declare that the entertainment will require no booming. It is to be a red-letter day in the calendar of concerts given for charitable purposes in Bloemfontein, both in respect to talent upon the platform and to the celebrities who will crowd the Town Hall that evening.
Amongst those who will appear will be Miss Fraser, the Free State nightingale, who will sing original verses written by Mr. Rudyard Kipling for the occasion; Miss Leviseur, Miss Jessie Fraser, Lieut.-Colonel Townshend, C.B., Surgeon-Major Beevor, Scots Guards, Lieut. James Forrest, Captain Nugent, the celebrated vocalist; Captain Wright, R.N. (The Skipper); the Lightning Cartoonists, alias The Gemini; Mr. Preshaw, Major Jones, R.E., besides, in the language of the entrepreneurs, "a coruscation and galaxy of stars of the first magnitude too numerous to mention in the brief space afforded." It is hoped that the military band will be present, but, at any rate, that the concert will be high-class without being dull is guaranteed from the fact that Messrs. Ivan Haarburgher and King are in charge of the musical arrangements.
Tickets may be had and seats booked at Messrs. Borckenhagen and Co. Prices: 5s., reserved seats; gallery, 2s. 6d.; soldiers in uniform to gallery, 1s.
ADIEU TO "THE FRIEND"
We made a money profit as well as a good newspaper--but the entire experience thus quickly passed into history.
Thus ends the history of this new departure in war and in journalism. Of it Mr. Kipling wrote afterwards, "Never again will there be such a paper! Never again such a staff! Never such fine larks." It has been impossible, after all my good intentions, to tell of scores of the peculiarities of the paper, and its editors' experiences. Sometimes copies of THE FRIEND did not look twice alike for days at a time, as we strove to make it more and more workmanlike, and more and more original and attractive.
We began, as I have said, with advertisement "ear-tabs" on either side of the heading. Then we put the Royal coat-of-arms in their places. Next we put the arms in the middle of the title space and published mottoes and notices in new "ear-tabs." At first we put double leads only between the lines of the leading article each day, but presently we dignified the cable news and Mr. Kipling's contributions in that way. We once put some editorial notices in rhyme, and set them up in black job type--when we changed the price of the paper to one penny for everybody.
We knew that our money returns were in confusion, but because we had taken over a business manager from one of the two commandeered newspapers, whom we could hardly expect to be in sympathy with us, and because we had established two prices for the paper and were being victimised by some of our customers, we could not see how the finance of our venture was likely to come out.
A practised man of affairs, from the City Imperial Volunteer Mounted Force, Mr. Siegfried Blumfeld, most kindly took the trouble to look into our accounts, and we learned from his report that we were making money, but not nearly enough to satisfy our pride and hopes. However, as events proved, we gained a splendid profit, and were able to make Tommy Atkins's newspaper pay a handsome sum toward "Tommy's" relief. All that any of us have even thus far learned of the profits is to be found in the following formal letter I received from Lord Stanley:--
ARMY HEADQUARTERS, PRETORIA, 3rd October, 1900.
SIR,--I have been asked by Major-General Pretyman, C.B., to forward you a copy of a letter which he has received bearing reference to the use made of the profits of THE FRIEND newspaper.
General Pretyman adds that there will be a further cheque, which he proposes to send to some other charity, but which he does not specify to me.
Julian Ralph, Esq.,
(Enclosure.) STELLENBERG, KENILWORTH, CAPE COLONY,
SIR,--As Honorary Treasurer of the Soldiers' and Sailors' Families Association, I enclose a formal acknowledgment of the cheques for £136 17s. 3d. so kindly sent to our Association by the War Correspondents. Should you have an opportunity of doing so, I should be very glad if you would convey to Lord Stanley and the other gentlemen our great appreciation of this kind and thoughtful gift.
Yours very truly, (Signed) W. L. Sclater.
Had we been able to "inspan" a proof-reader with a Lee-Metford rifle and a determination to use it to enforce his "corrections," we should not have announced the Queen's reception in Dublin as a great tribute by London, neither should we have made Mr. Kipling speak of a "shixlvl" when he wrote a "shovelful." Four of us had to fill a great chasm nine columns long and wide every day, and to do proof-reading as well. We produced the nine columns incidentally as a thing done with our left hands, the while that our minds and souls and master-hands were devoted to correcting proofs. Bravely as we battled with them, they kept coming like a swift tide, until, in a reckless way of putting it, they were heaped on our table as high as the top button on each of our coats. When it came to time to go to press we regularly and daily observed that we had not only overlooked errors enough to wreck our reputations, but that the compositors had failed to correct many of those which we had marked. Gravely, in a body, we used to march to the printing-office and threaten to send the guiltiest culprits as prisoners to Simonstown, charged with being hostile to the blessings of enlightened government. Then we would go to lunch and the paper would come out--so full of mistakes that there was clearly nothing to do but to allow the humour of the situation to have its way, and to laugh until we almost cried at the extravagance of the offences we were committing against journalism and "the art preservative of arts."
Despite its whimsicalities, THE FRIEND was a dignified newspaper, and very nearly a complete one. The largest daily circulation of any Bloemfontein newspaper had been 400 copies, but we regularly sold from 5,000 to 5,500 copies. We published Reuter's telegrams from all over the world (semi-occasionally when military messages did not block the wires), and the Capetown Argus's tidings of what went on in South Africa.
As I have written elsewhere, "its unique origin and purpose, and its eccentricities, combined to make it the basis of a collecting mania." Copies with a mistake in a date line, corrected after one hundred papers had been struck off, brought five shillings on the date of issue, and ten shillings two days later, and the price had risen to a guinea by the time the newspaper was turned over to the managers of the Johannesburg Star and Capetown Argus. This took place when it was apparent to all of us that two or three of us were not in the physical trim to serve THE FRIEND and our distant employers without causing one or the other to suffer great neglect.
The competition for complete sets of the newspaper ran the price up to £10, and this strife ran neck and neck with the rivalry to obtain sets of Free State postage stamps made British by the letters V.R.I. on an overline of printing. One of these stamps was quoted at £10 while the army lingered in Bloemfontein, but I have my own reason for thinking that THE FRIEND will receive a higher valuation than any "pink sixpenny stamp" or any set of stamps, for it fell to the lot of that journal to emphasise the present power and usefulness of the press as no other journal has ever done.
A single copy of this newspaper is reported to have fetched £25 at a London charity bazaar.
Since the return to England of three of the editors we have decided to perpetuate the little organisation in a fraternal "Order of Friendlies," and Rudyard Kipling has designed a badge which Messrs. Tiffany & Co., jewellers, of Regent Street, have most ably and artistically executed in gold and enamel. Facsimiles of it adorn the cover of this book. It is of the size of a two-guinea coin. On its obverse side are the colours of the old Free State and Transvaal, upon which is imposed the red cross of Saint George. In the ends of the cross are the initials of the four editors in Greek capitals. Lord Roberts's badge has his initials in the centre of the cross in green under a golden coronet, and where the ring is, on top of our badges, his has a green enamel shamrock leaf. On the reverse side are four pens crossed and surrounded by a motto, "Inter Prælia Prelum," "In the Midst of War the Printing Press," here couched in monkish Latin. Lord Roberts's badge has a drawn sword of gold on top of the crossed pens. Only seven men in all the world belong to this order: Lord Roberts, Lord Stanley, Messrs. Gwynne, Kipling, Landon, Buxton, and myself. All others are eligible, however, who have dedicated themselves to "telling the truth at all costs and all hazards," so that the mind fails to grasp the future possibilities of its membership.