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    Chapter 68

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    Chapter 69
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    None of us can have as many virtues as the fountain-pen, or half its
    cussedness; but we can try.
    --Pudd'nhead Wilson's New Calendar.

    The Duke of Fife has borne testimony that Mr. Rhodes deceived him. That
    is also what Mr. Rhodes did with the Reformers. He got them into
    trouble, and then stayed out himself. A judicious man. He has always
    been that. As to this there was a moment of doubt, once. It was when he
    was out on his last pirating expedition in the Matabele country. The
    cable shouted out that he had gone unarmed, to visit a party of hostile
    chiefs. It was true, too; and this dare-devil thing came near fetching
    another indiscretion out of the poet laureate. It would have been too
    bad, for when the facts were all in, it turned out that there was a lady
    along, too, and she also was unarmed.

    In the opinion of many people Mr. Rhodes is South Africa; others think he
    is only a large part of it. These latter consider that South Africa
    consists of Table Mountain, the diamond mines, the Johannesburg gold
    fields, and Cecil Rhodes. The gold fields are wonderful in every way.
    In seven or eight years they built up, in a desert, a city of a hundred
    thousand inhabitants, counting white and black together; and not the
    ordinary mining city of wooden shanties, but a city made out of lasting
    material. Nowhere in the world is there such a concentration of rich
    mines as at Johannesburg. Mr. Bonamici, my manager there, gave me a
    small gold brick with some statistics engraved upon it which record the
    output of gold from the early days to July, 1895, and exhibit the strides
    which have been made in the development of the industry; in 1888 the
    output was $4,162,440; the output of the next five and a half years was
    (total: $17,585,894); for the single year ending with June, 1895, it was

    The capital which has developed the mines came from England, the mining
    engineers from America. This is the case with the diamond mines also.
    South Africa seems to be the heaven of the American scientific mining
    engineer. He gets the choicest places, and keeps them. His salary is
    not based upon what he would get in America, but apparently upon what a
    whole family of him would get there.

    The successful mines pay great dividends, yet the rock is not rich, from
    a Californian point of view. Rock which yields ten or twelve dollars a
    ton is considered plenty rich enough. It is troubled with base metals to
    such a degree that twenty years ago it would have been only about half as
    valuable as it is now; for at that time there was no paying way of
    getting anything out of such rock but the coarser-grained "free" gold; but
    the new cyanide process has changed all that, and the gold fields of the
    world now deliver up fifty million dollars' worth of gold per year which
    would have gone into the tailing-pile under the former conditions.

    The cyanide process was new to me, and full of interest; and among the
    costly and elaborate mining machinery there were fine things which were
    new to me, but I was already familiar with the rest of the details of the
    gold-mining industry. I had been a gold miner myself, in my day, and
    knew substantially everything that those people knew about it, except how
    to make money at it. But I learned a good deal about the Boers there,
    and that was a fresh subject. What I heard there was afterwards repeated
    to me in other parts of South Africa. Summed up--according to the
    information thus gained--this is the Boer:

    He is deeply religious, profoundly ignorant, dull, obstinate, bigoted,
    uncleanly in his habits, hospitable, honest in his dealings with the
    whites, a hard master to his black servant, lazy, a good shot, good
    horseman, addicted to the chase, a lover of political independence, a
    good husband and father, not fond of herding together in towns, but
    liking the seclusion and remoteness and solitude and empty vastness and
    silence of the veldt; a man of a mighty appetite, and not delicate about
    what he appeases it with--well-satisfied with pork and Indian corn and
    biltong, requiring only that the quantity shall not be stinted; willing
    to ride a long journey to take a hand in a rude all-night dance
    interspersed with vigorous feeding and boisterous jollity, but ready to
    ride twice as far for a prayer-meeting; proud of his Dutch and Huguenot
    origin and its religious and military history; proud of his race's
    achievements in South Africa, its bold plunges into hostile and uncharted
    deserts in search of free solitudes unvexed by the pestering and detested
    English, also its victories over the natives and the British; proudest of
    all, of the direct and effusive personal interest which the Deity has
    always taken in its affairs. He cannot read, he cannot write; he has one
    or two newspapers, but he is, apparently, not aware of it; until latterly
    he had no schools, and taught his children nothing, news is a term which
    has no meaning to him, and the thing itself he cares nothing about. He
    hates to be taxed and resents it. He has stood stock still in South
    Africa for two centuries and a half, and would like to stand still till
    the end of time, for he has no sympathy with Uitlander notions of
    progress. He is hungry to be rich, for he is human; but his preference
    has been for riches in cattle, not in fine clothes and fine houses and
    gold and diamonds. The gold and the diamonds have brought the godless
    stranger within his gates, also contamination and broken repose, and he
    wishes that they had never been discovered.

    I think that the bulk of those details can be found in Olive Schreiner's
    books, and she would not be accused of sketching the Boer's portrait with
    an unfair hand.

    Now what would you expect from that unpromising material? What ought you
    to expect from it? Laws inimical to religious liberty? Yes. Laws
    denying, representation and suffrage to the intruder? Yes. Laws
    unfriendly to educational institutions? Yes. Laws obstructive of gold
    production? Yes. Discouragement of railway expansion? Yes. Laws heavily
    taxing the intruder and overlooking the Boer? Yes.

    The Uitlander seems to have expected something very different from all
    that. I do not know why. Nothing different from it was rationally to be
    expected. A round man cannot be expected to fit a square hole right
    away. He must have time to modify his shape. The modification had begun
    in a detail or two, before the Raid, and was making some progress. It
    has made further progress since. There are wise men in the Boer
    government, and that accounts for the modification; the modification of
    the Boer mass has probably not begun yet. If the heads of the Boer
    government had not been wise men they would have hanged Jameson, and thus
    turned a very commonplace pirate into a holy martyr. But even their
    wisdom has its limits, and they will hang Mr. Rhodes if they ever catch
    him. That will round him and complete him and make him a saint. He has
    already been called by all other titles that symbolize human grandeur,
    and he ought to rise to this one, the grandest of all. It will be a
    dizzy jump from where he is now, but that is nothing, it will land him in
    good company and be a pleasant change for him.

    Some of the things demanded by the Johannesburgers' Manifesto have been
    conceded since the days of the Raid, and the others will follow in time,
    no doubt. It was most fortunate for the miners of Johannesburg that the
    taxes which distressed them so much were levied by the Boer government,
    instead of by their friend Rhodes and his Chartered Company of
    highwaymen, for these latter take half of whatever their mining victims
    find, they do not stop at a mere percentage. If the Johannesburg miners
    were under their jurisdiction they would be in the poorhouse in twelve

    I have been under the impression all along that I had an unpleasant
    paragraph about the Boers somewhere in my notebook, and also a pleasant
    one. I have found them now. The unpleasant one is dated at an interior
    village, and says--

    "Mr. Z. called. He is an English Afrikander; is an old resident, and has
    a Boer wife. He speaks the language, and his professional business is
    with the Boers exclusively. He told me that the ancient Boer families in
    the great region of which this village is the commercial center are
    falling victims to their inherited indolence and dullness in the
    materialistic latter-day race and struggle, and are dropping one by one
    into the grip of the usurer--getting hopelessly in debt--and are losing
    their high place and retiring to second and lower. The Boer's farm does
    not go to another Boer when he loses it, but to a foreigner. Some have
    fallen so low that they sell their daughters to the blacks."

    Under date of another South African town I find the note which is
    creditable to the Boers:

    "Dr. X. told me that in the Kafir war 1,500 Kafirs took refuge in a great
    cave in the mountains about 90 miles north of Johannesburg, and the Boers
    blocked up the entrance and smoked them to death. Dr. X. has been in
    there and seen the great array of bleached skeletons--one a woman with
    the skeleton of a child hugged to her breast."

    The great bulk of the savages must go. The white man wants their lands,
    and all must go excepting such percentage of them as he will need to do
    his work for him upon terms to be determined by himself. Since history
    has removed the element of guesswork from this matter and made it
    certainty, the humanest way of diminishing the black population should be
    adopted, not the old cruel ways of the past. Mr. Rhodes and his gang
    have been following the old ways.--They are chartered to rob and slay,
    and they lawfully do it, but not in a compassionate and Christian spirit.
    They rob the Mashonas and the Matabeles of a portion of their territories
    in the hallowed old style of "purchase!" for a song, and then they force
    a quarrel and take the rest by the strong hand. They rob the natives of
    their cattle under the pretext that all the cattle in the country
    belonged to the king whom they have tricked and assassinated. They issue
    "regulations" requiring the incensed and harassed natives to work for the
    white settlers, and neglect their own affairs to do it. This is slavery,
    and is several times worse than was the American slavery which used to
    pain England so much; for when this Rhodesian slave is sick,
    super-annuated, or otherwise disabled, he must support himself
    or starve--his master is under no obligation to support him.

    The reduction of the population by Rhodesian methods to the desired limit
    is a return to the old-time slow-misery and lingering-death system of a
    discredited time and a crude "civilization." We humanely reduce an
    overplus of dogs by swift chloroform; the Boer humanely reduced an
    overplus of blacks by swift suffocation; the nameless but right-hearted
    Australian pioneer humanely reduced his overplus of aboriginal neighbors
    by a sweetened swift death concealed in a poisoned pudding. All these
    are admirable, and worthy of praise; you and I would rather suffer either
    of these deaths thirty times over in thirty successive days than linger
    out one of the Rhodesian twenty-year deaths, with its daily burden of
    insult, humiliation, and forced labor for a man whose entire race the
    victim hates. Rhodesia is a happy name for that land of piracy and
    pillage, and puts the right stain upon it.

    Several long journeys--gave us experience of the Cape Colony railways;
    easy-riding, fine cars; all the conveniences; thorough cleanliness;
    comfortable beds furnished for the night trains. It was in the first
    days of June, and winter; the daytime was pleasant, the nighttime nice
    and cold. Spinning along all day in the cars it was ecstasy to breathe
    the bracing air and gaze out over the vast brown solitudes of the velvet
    plains, soft and lovely near by, still softer and lovelier further away,
    softest and loveliest of all in the remote distances, where dim
    island-hills seemed afloat, as in a sea--a sea made of dream-stuff and
    flushed with colors faint and rich; and dear me, the depth of the sky,
    and the beauty of the strange new cloud-forms, and the glory of the
    sunshine, the lavishness, the wastefulness of it! The vigor and
    freshness and inspiration of the air and the sunwell, it was all
    just as Olive Schreiner had made it in her books.

    To me the veldt, in its sober winter garb, was surpassingly beautiful.
    There were unlevel stretches where it was rolling and swelling, and
    rising and subsiding, and sweeping superbly on and on, and still on and
    on like an ocean, toward the faraway horizon, its pale brown deepening by
    delicately graduated shades to rich orange, and finally to purple and
    crimson where it washed against the wooded hills and naked red crags at
    the base of the sky.

    Everywhere, from Cape Town to Kimberley and from Kimberley to Port
    Elizabeth and East London, the towns were well populated with tamed
    blacks; tamed and Christianized too, I suppose, for they wore the dowdy
    clothes of our Christian civilization. But for that, many of them would
    have been remarkably handsome. These fiendish clothes, together with the
    proper lounging gait, good-natured face, happy air, and easy laugh, made
    them precise counterparts of our American blacks; often where all the
    other aspects were strikingly and harmoniously and thrillingly African, a
    flock of these natives would intrude, looking wholly out of place, and
    spoil it all, making the thing a grating discord, half African and half

    One Sunday in King William's Town a score of colored women came mincing
    across the great barren square dressed--oh, in the last perfection of
    fashion, and newness, and expensiveness, and showy mixture of unrelated
    colors,--all just as I had seen it so often at home; and in their faces
    and their gait was that languishing, aristocratic, divine delight in
    their finery which was so familiar to me, and had always been such a
    satisfaction to my eye and my heart. I seemed among old, old friends;
    friends of fifty years, and I stopped and cordially greeted them. They
    broke into a good-fellowship laugh, flashing their white teeth upon me,
    and all answered at once. I did not understand a word they said. I was
    astonished; I was not dreaming that they would answer in anything but

    The voices, too, of the African women, were familiar to me sweet and
    musical, just like those of the slave women of my early days. I followed
    a couple of them all over the Orange Free State--no, over its capital
    --Bloemfontein, to hear their liquid voices and the happy ripple of their
    laughter. Their language was a large improvement upon American. Also
    upon the Zulu. It had no Zulu clicks in it; and it seemed to have no
    angles or corners, no roughness, no vile s's or other hissing sounds, but
    was very, very mellow and rounded and flowing.

    In moving about the country in the trains, I had opportunity to see a
    good many Boers of the veldt. One day at a village station a hundred of
    them got out of the third-class cars to feed.

    Their clothes were very interesting. For ugliness of shapes, and for
    miracles of ugly colors inharmoniously associated, they were a record.
    The effect was nearly as exciting and interesting as that produced by the
    brilliant and beautiful clothes and perfect taste always on view at the
    Indian railway stations. One man had corduroy trousers of a faded
    chewing gum tint. And they were new--showing that this tint did not come
    by calamity, but was intentional; the very ugliest color I have ever
    seen. A gaunt, shackly country lout six feet high, in battered gray
    slouched hat with wide brim, and old resin-colored breeches, had on a
    hideous brand-new woolen coat which was imitation tiger skin wavy broad
    stripes of dazzling yellow and deep brown. I thought he ought to be
    hanged, and asked the station-master if it could be arranged. He said
    no; and not only that, but said it rudely; said it with a quite
    unnecessary show of feeling. Then he muttered something about my being a
    jackass, and walked away and pointed me out to people, and did everything
    he could to turn public sentiment against me. It is what one gets for
    trying to do good.

    In the train that day a passenger told me some more about Boer life out
    in the lonely veldt. He said the Boer gets up early and sets his
    "niggers" at their tasks (pasturing the cattle, and watching them); eats,
    smokes, drowses, sleeps; toward evening superintends the milking, etc.;
    eats, smokes, drowses; goes to bed at early candlelight in the fragrant
    clothes he (and she) have worn all day and every week-day for years. I
    remember that last detail, in Olive Schreiner's "Story of an African
    Farm." And the passenger told me that the Boers were justly noted for
    their hospitality. He told me a story about it. He said that his grace
    the Bishop of a certain See was once making a business-progress through
    the tavernless veldt, and one night he stopped with a Boer; after supper
    was shown to bed; he undressed, weary and worn out, and was soon sound
    asleep; in the night he woke up feeling crowded and suffocated, and found
    the old Boer and his fat wife in bed with him, one on each side, with all
    their clothes on, and snoring. He had to stay there and stand it--awake
    and suffering--until toward dawn, when sleep again fell upon him for an
    hour. Then he woke again. The Boer was gone, but the wife was still at
    his side.

    Those Reformers detested that Boer prison; they were not used to cramped
    quarters and tedious hours, and weary idleness, and early to bed, and
    limited movement, and arbitrary and irritating rules, and the absence of
    the luxuries which wealth comforts the day and the night with. The
    confinement told upon their bodies and their spirits; still, they were
    superior men, and they made the best that was to be made of the
    circumstances. Their wives smuggled delicacies to them, which helped to
    smooth the way down for the prison fare.

    In the train Mr. B. told me that the Boer jail-guards treated the black
    prisoners--even political ones--mercilessly. An African chief and his
    following had been kept there nine months without trial, and during all
    that time they had been without shelter from rain and sun. He said that
    one day the guards put a big black in the stocks for dashing his soup on
    the ground; they stretched his legs painfully wide apart, and set him
    with his back down hill; he could not endure it, and put back his hands
    upon the slope for a support. The guard ordered him to withdraw the
    support and kicked him in the back. "Then," said Mr. B., "'the powerful
    black wrenched the stocks asunder and went for the guard; a Reform
    prisoner pulled him off, and thrashed the guard himself."
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