22 JULY 1882, Page 22


Tux title of this work is somewhat misleading, unintentionally so, perhaps, on the author's part. It suggests an intimate personal

* With the Boers In the Transvaal and Orange Free State sin 1880-1. By Charles L. Norris.Newman, Special War Correspondent, and Author of "In Zululand with the British," London : W. H. Allen and Co.

acquaintance with the affairs of the Transvaal, seems to promise a new insight into Boor politics, and even holds out a hope of fresh light, from the Boor side, on the military incidents of the recent struggle. Such expectations will be disappointed. Mr. Newman reached the Boer camp several days after the Amajuba disaster, and of his twenty-six chapters only two deal with per- sonal experiences. Ho has, however, given us a work which, though it contains very little fresh information, and is by no means remarkable for clearness or vigour of style, may have its uses. It is well to remember the past history of our dealings with the Boers, of which we have here an epitome ; while some of those who ignore Blue-books, and think that the whole matter is sufficiently described by the term "disgraceful surrender," may, perhaps, read, for the first time, in these pages the official correspondence which preceded the late Convention.

When the Cape finally became an English colony, the pro- blem of governing the very mixed population which had settled there was no easy one. The original Dutch colonists, supple- mented by " French Huguenots, Flemings, Germans, Moravians, Piedmontese, Savoyards, and others," after being subject for many years to Dutch rule, had been transferred to England in 1795, given back to Holland by the Treaty of Amiens in 1802, reconquered in 1806, and permanently ceded to the British Crown in 1814. The more peace-loving and loss enterprising of the colonists had settled in and near the towns, but there was a considerable residuum, mainly of Dutch origin, which was tending to move further and further into the interior. This gradual separation, due to a species of natural selection, by which the more hardy and independent spirits were drawn away, has resulted in the establishment of the Orange Free State and the Transvaal of to-day. A people once separated tends to develope characteristics of its own, and to differentiate itself further, so that something of a national spirit soon began to show itself amongst the emigrant farmers. Their wander- ings, constant fighting with native races, want of education, and the inherited instincts of the slave-owner, all combined to keep them back in the scale of civilisation ; but Mr. Newman, who writes to some extent as their champion, is, perhaps, justified in holding that "their simple method of life, religious character, and primitive government • will compare favourably with the history of any other pioneering or colonising attempts, either of ancient or modern days." Colonisation has rarely been carried out without some cruelty and injustice to the aborigines, but it is to be hoped that such an episode as the following, which occurred in 1854,

stands alone :—" A man named Hermann Potgieter well known previously among the Kaffir tribes to the north, and not above an occasional raid, and indiscriminate slaughter and capture of the children for sale," falling into the hands of a native chief named Makapan, who had suffered from these " occasional " practices, was, not altogether unjustly, "pinned to the ground with assegais, and skinned alive." An avenging force of 500 Boers drove Makapan and his tribe into some caves, and " blocked up all the entrances with wood and stone." " Many of the poor wretches thus blocked up soon began to suffer from thirst ; but they were ruthlessly killed whenever they showed themselves. At last, so many died within that the stench, even in the open air outside, was unbearable ; and nearly 1,000 were killed outside as well." In a month's time, it was found that " nearly the whole tribe was destroyed." In spite of our own dynamite experiments on Secocoeni's caves, we may fairly take exception to Mr. New-

man's cynical comment on the above proceeding Sad as it is, yet I think the above description teaches a lessen, and shows us that savages must be fought, to a great extent, with their own weapons." - Dynamite is not, as yet, the weapon of savages.

Englishmen are apt to find difficulty in realising that it is possible for men of other races to underrate the advantages of their rule, and when, in 1877, Sir T. Shepstone formally annexed the Transvaal, no immediate misgivings were aroused. The annexation was objected to on general grounds, but the possi- bility of armed resistance does not seem to have been taken into consideration. And yet the past history of the Boers rendered such resistance highly probable. Their ancestors had rebelled as early as 1796, within one year of the first transfer of the Cape to England. They had trekked into Natal and the Orange Free State to avoid. British rule. In Natal they had fought against British troops sent to efface the Republic they had proclaimed, not without some grounds for believing that it would be tolerated. At Boomplaats, in the Free State, they had been defeated by

British troops; and that State had been annexed to the British Crown, to be given back again only six years later. The annexation of the Transvaal was quietly carried out, however, and the Boer Government " contented itself with issuing a pro- test, and passing a resolution to send delegates to England." The protest was moderate and dignified, the Boers referring, not without reason, to tho Sand River Convention of 1852, by which the British Commissioner guaranteed, " in the fullest manner, to the emigrant farmers beyond the Vaal River the right to manage their own affairs, and to govern themselves according to their own laws, without any interference on the part of the British Government." The new situation created by the annexation was unquestionably a delicate one, requiring careful handling, and the absence of the appearance of high- handed treatment. Mr. Newman's readers will be able to judge for themselves whether the unreason which led to the subsequent outbreak was entirely on the Boers' side, or not. We incline to agree with him that "had a Royal Commission sat in Pretoria, in 1877, or a different policy been carried out the recent terrible events would never have occurred." The course of the struggle which ensued is well known, and Mr. Newman does not add much to our knowledge on the subject. The Trans- vaal had been annexed because, in Sir T. Shepstone's words, it afforded a "strong temptation to neighbouring Powers, who are known to be anxious and ready to do so, to make attacks and inroads upon the State which from its weakness it cannot repel." It was natural, therefore, that the military strength of the Boers should be greatly underrated. The military operations —unfortunate to the last degree, with the exception of the defence of some of the Transvaal towns—were closed by the Convention of March 22nd, 1881, about which so much has been said and written.

Mr. Newman's final chapter is devoted to a "general review " of the events he has narrated. He condemns the short-service system and the too theoretical training of our officers, and he thinks " the conclusion is unavoidable that, until some radical changes are introduced into our Army, its old days of glory and pre-eminence are numbered." But the quoted reports of com- manding officers speak in the highest terms of the behaviour of the " raw lads " deprived by short service of their esprit de corps. Colonel Anstruther wrote after the Bronkhorst Spruit disaster: —" In conclusion, I have only to bring to your notice the con- duct of the men, which was admirable. They were as steady as rocks." Sir G. Colley, after the Lang's Nek affair, wrote :—" To the last the men were perfectly in hand, and ready to fight on."

" The behaviour of the men. on the line of march, in camp, and before the enemy has been all that could be desired." And at the Ingogo action, " The conduct of all ranks throughout this trying day was admirable ; the comparatively young soldiers of the 60th Rifles behaved with the steadiness and coolness of veterans ; at all times perfectly in hand, they held or changed. their ground without hurry or confusion." The resistance offered by the garrisons of Pretoria, Potchefstrom, and Stander- ton speaks for itself. On the whole, we incline to believe that such evidence is worth more than the opinion of the lady from whose letter Mr. Newman quotes, and the causes of the Amajuba disaster are certainly not to be explained by the short-service system.

Mr. Newman, happily, does not write as a partisan, and we are not quite clear as to his views on the later phases of the Transvaal question. It is true that he states,—" The action of the Liberal Government under Mr. Gladstone, from beginning to end of the whole miserable affair, can neither be said to have been guided by circumstances, necessary for political purposes, consistent, nor yet calculated to please either the Boors or the British out of the colony." But this sentenceb as a blank-cartridge sound about it, and does not fit the context well. We are not told in what the inconsistency lies, but we do learn that if the struggle had been prolonged, it " might have caused a warfare of race through South Africa dreadful to contemplate." More- over, Mr. Newman's opinions on some points are still, doubtless, in a state of solution, for with regard to the right of public meet- ing, we read :—" These meetings, though orderly enough in themselves, were yet productive of much evil and ought—if the Government had been strong enough and wise enough—in its own interests to have been put down with a strong hand. from the commencement." But then, only ten pages later: —" The prevention of public meetings had the effect of preventing that free discussion of their grievances so neces- sary to the Boers ; allowing the underhand and silent workings of demagogues to assume a prominence otherwise impossible, and throwing the people blindly into the hands of a few irre- sponsible and rash leaders." In these two sentences, the Con- servative and Liberal views of' an important question are respectively summed up. The assent apparently accorded to both argues the possession of a high degree of impartiality in our author.