|No Copyright - United States (NoC-US)
|Digitized by J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah
|The Boer as a Soldier and Citizen
! Transvaal RepuMic Has No Sta the Field at An Hour's Notice Black Foes of the Boer Incidents of Life in Kniger's Dominions The Doppers. v 1 . . (From the Salt Lake Herald.) I The Transvaal republic has no regu lar standing army, nor has it any enforced en-forced system of military training, but the burghers are liable to be called upon for active service in the field at very short notice. The country is divided di-vided into districts, over each of which a field cornet presides, his official functions func-tions being somewhat similar to those of our justices of the peace. His judicial judi-cial capacity is not severely taxed, though, as it is seldom brought into requisition except in trivial cases, such as insubordination of native servants and impounding of cattle, and as these cases are comparatively rare, his position posi-tion is somewhat of a sinecure, unless j the Transvaal government is making war on some of the neighboring Kaffir tribes. Then the field cornet becomes a particularly busy man. His duty un- der those circumstances is to ride from I farm to farm within his jurisdiction and notify the head of the house to meet his fellow burghers at some given point. Should the Boer, apprised in this manner, man-ner, have a valid excuse for not accepting ac-cepting service at that time, the field cornet may "commandeer" his horse, rifle or ammunition. If the farmer happen"to be a rich man he may be required re-quired to give several horses to the common cause, in addition to his own services. , , Boer Loves a Horse. On one occasion I was making a short . ftav at a Transvaal Boer's house while convalescing from an attack of malarial malar-ial fever and happened to possess an Knglish horse, whose splendid proportions propor-tions made him conspicuous among the smaller animals raised by the Dutchmen. Dutch-men. Ti.e Boers were preparing to suppress a native insurrection on the Transvaal border and the field cornet in going his rounds noticed my horse Ftandirg in the stable of the Boer whose hospitality I was then enjoying. No man in the world has a keener eye for a good horseor ox than.a Boer; it is one of the very few things he knows perfectly well, and he prides himself on it. My horse, I repeat, attracting the attention of the field .cornet, that official instantly commandeered me for active service. I explained to the gentleman gen-tleman that I Vas. in the first place, an invalid and unfit for the field, and that secondly and principally. I was not a Transvaal burgher and therefore exempt. He, of course, knew this, but was determined to have my steed with or without its owner. He argued that the head of a house, in which another i man ix-ac livinp- -hwainp resnonsible for ! that man's actions; that he took the place of his father; that, to all intents and purposes, he was his father for the time, being, and therefore the visitor should be considered as- a son; this axiom being established, it followed that I would have to let my horse go, for my worthy, host .would expect his real son to do the same. This little piece of Boer sophistry didn't work, however. I valued my horse too highly to part with him on any such terms, and threatened to take the matter into the courts if the field cornet insisted on commandeering the animal. After wasting wast-ing a good deal of valuable eloquence my friend eventually receded from his original position, and then endeavored to swap horses with me. In this he was thoroughly at home, and stuck to me like a leech a. horseleech. He dis-I dis-I covered more. ills .in my unfortunate I steed than I ever; dreamt that mortal j horseflesh was " heir to. wnile huwn I, animal, which' he; desired to exchange, rose momentarily in value.; My horse was, according tohis deliberate opinion, opin-ion, becoming 'wall-eyed, was on the high road to blind staggers, if he was not already suffering from botts he had good grounds for aiibel suit against his ! personal appearance, he was broken-winded, broken-winded, knock-kneed and double-jointed: he wasv in -short, -a caricature of a horse. The only reason my friend, the I field cornet, had for desiring him was ' , that he had a horse at home which just matched mine in color and size. Much to the Boer's disgust I remained unconvinced and he had to journey on without my liozinante. --- - Ready -For "War. - The, notice -given the burgher to take the field is usually extremely short. The South African native chief 'is not in the habit of sending an ambassador . declaring de-claring his intention of making war. He has a bad dream or a fit of indigestion; indiges-tion; his father's spirit has appeared to him or his cows are bewitched or something some-thing or other happens, so he summons his warriors, and' begins raiding. The 3oer has to act promptly and he does. There is no commissariat to arrange for, no speechifying or dinner-giving to be done, no 'war correspondents to be consulted.-no yellow journals to be mol-lififxi. mol-lififxi. The now-not-to-do-it English official, described by Dickens in "Little Dorrit," would be simply aghast sft the utterly unconventional, irregular manner in which the Boer prepares for war. His field cornet tells him to meet certain men at a certain point of the compass; the Boer throws saddle and bridle on his hore, fastens his cartridge belt around him. puts some "biltong" sun-dried meat) and haid biscuits in his haversack, takes his trusty rifle down and is ready for the enemy. The provisions pro-visions will last him for two or three days at a pinch, and meanwhile he expects ex-pects to come across some village belonging be-longing to the enemy which he is at lib- J'"tv t0 3'aid; the chickens and goats found there will replenish his larder. The Boers usually have comparatively comparative-ly Jit tie difficulty in suppressing native insurnctions. The South African tribes are not combined; they will sometimes go off like so many firecrackers, one after the other, but they rarely break out at the same time, and the Boers do not allow the neighboring natives to ! arm themselves and get ready before ! declaring war. They have wavs of find ing out what a native chief's intentions are. sometimes before he has clearlv made up his own mind; in that case they take the initiative and when they conquer a chief, in Zulu parlance, they "eat jim up." They destroy his villages nnd crops, shoot down hundreds of his warriors and carry off everv lac -r beast he possesses. This leaves him as I jK.or as Lazarus. An African native without his beloved "inkomo" (cows), is an object of contempt to himself and his neighbors. The cattle thus taken from the natives are sold at public auction auc-tion and the proceeds divided anion" the burghers who took part in the war The prize money is, in some caes quiet considerable, and it is as much love of loot as love of vaderland which induces the young Boer to take the field so readily. Advantage of Boer. In fighting the. Boer has, to1-start ; with, immeasurably the advantage over . the native, by possessing repeating firearms, which he is a master of. The only natives in South Africa who can use the rifle effectively are the Basu-, Basu-, tos. and they are by far the most in-; in-; ' tellieent and advanced negroes living in that country. The "assegai" (spear) and stabbing knife are the South African Afri-can natives' weapon. Usually they are combined, the Kaffir, at close quarters, snapping the handle of his assegai about a foot from the blade, thus transforming it into a dagger. The native, na-tive, when he gets as close as this, is by no means an enemy to be despised, nor is he to be contemned when fur--. ther off. Trained from infancy to the r use of "the assegai, he becomes, when matured, singularly adept. I have often of-ten seen, when passing through native "kraals" (villages) in Africa, little ebony tots 3 or 4 years old throwing ! their little sticks at an object in imi-- imi-- . . tation of their elders. Let us-look -at the Zulus' mode "of fighting for a mo-, ment. I have to state, in passing, that the most perfect specimens of humanity hu-manity are to be found among the Zulu race. A young Zulu man or girl takpn at random would serve for a sculptor's model. In constant activity, living almost al-most entirely in the open air, emulating his comrades in athletic exercises and feats of daring, tall, supple, sinewy and muscular,- the young. Zulu warrior is the ideal of manly vigor and symmetrical symmet-rical form. He rejoices in his manhood and prides himself on his color. Ask a Zulu which he considers the most beautiful beau-tiful -complexion, and he will proudly answer, "Black, like myself, with a little lit-tle red." This combative Adonis was at one time the terror of South Africa. Greatness of Chaka. The Zulu dynasty was founded by Chaka. who came with his followers side to side as he throws, that the air seems literally full of the quivering spears. These are the formidable enemies ene-mies who threatened to devastate the Transvaal, when England, taking pity on the Boers, took the country under j her protecting wing in 1877; these are j the foes from whom England forever j relieved the Boers by the great Zulu war of 18SS-9 and those are the Boers who are now showing their deep-seated gratitude to England for the favor. Ambition of the Black. In these days of advancing civilization, civiliza-tion, the African native is not content with his shield and assegai; he has seen so much terrific execution done by. the white .man's rifle, that, he ardently ' aspires as-pires to' become the possessor of one: I ildl iHK It-AlIiitTU ctlUUJllUU lit IS dj-lt to consider himself invincible until, at some critical moment, he suddenly j awakens to the fact that he is not near-1 near-1 ly as awe-inspiring with the much-I much-I coveted gun as he fondly imagined. I lived among the Pondos (a tribe cf ut- terly barbarous African natives) once for twelve months and can speak on this point from personal observation. In that country a trader was not permitted per-mitted to sell guns or ammunition to the natives and any guns brought into the country were liable to be confiscated confis-cated by the British authorities at St; John's river. Unscrupulous traders, however, evaded the custom house inspection in-spection by many ingenious methods. I remember one in particular, which was very successful for a long time. The owner of a small steamer plying between Port Durban, Natal and St. John's river was in partnership with a trader in Pondoland and this trader was strongly suspected of gun-running, but the strictest scrutiny of the officials failed to detect the means employed in smuggling, until, accidentally, they discovered that the smoke stack of the steamer, which was unusually large for a vessel that size, was lined with muskets intended for Pondo trade. The guns sold to these Pondos were usually old flint-lock muskets, at which' an early Pilgrim Father would have turned up his nose. After a Pondo had found means to purchase one. he would go to a locksmith, who eked out his existence in the country by doing odd jobs and the locksmith would replace the flint lock with a percussion cap nip'ble. Then the Pondo's soul would indeed swell within him. He was now the equal of any living man and he required re-quired neither angels nor ministers of grace to defend him. It never seemed to occur to him that practice was necessary nec-essary to make the weapon useful in his hands and if it had he could, not afford to waste good money on powder and lead just to shoot at a target. He would put the gun carefully, away in his hut and when the next native hunting party was organized he would join his companions proudly brandishing his death-dealing instrument to the unconcealed uncon-cealed envy of the other Jess fortunate hunters. "When he loaded his gun, he loaded to kill. A handful of powder and a double handful of- slugs, were surely enough to wipe out of existence anything that ever wore a hide. When an antelope appeared the Pondo would excitedly point his gun perhaps in the direction of -the buck, perhaps not shut his eyes and pull the trigger. At this juncture it was always -safest for the bystander to be in the rear cf the dusky hunter. The usual -result was that the game scampered off unhurt, while the astonished Pondo ruefully picked himself up some twenty feet from the spot where .he fired and while gasping for wind, felt carefully if all his limbs were still in oosition. Sometimes Some-times the gun would .buret and bowl over a few of , the bystanders. If this happened to a chief, he would swear some one had an "evil eye" on him and I would employ a w itch doctor to dis- I I cover the culprit and knock him on the head. Habits of Boer. ' j Apologizing to the reader for this digression, di-gression, I will return to the gentleman we aro at present studying the Transvaal Trans-vaal Boer. This individual is an anora- I aly. There are several points in ,his character and customs which are so obviously contradictory that it might be interesting, out of pure curiosity, to observe them. He is gregarfous In treking and recluse in private life. While loving a social pipe with his fellow fel-low Boer, he wants his neighbor to live so far away that his chimney smoke cannot be seen from the verandn. While professing the tenets of the Christian religion and considering himself him-self no unworthy representative of it, his real religion is that of the old testament. testa-ment. While witnessing evidences all around him of the utility of progres- ' ' .l??M, ' Y i I ' HEROTHODI,- CHIEF- OF THE BASUTOS. ; from the interior of the continent. Had he been white, he would go down to history side by side with Cromwell and Napoleon. He overran and completely subjugated every tribe in Southern Africa, His name is still spoken with deep reverence by. the Zulus and with trembling awe by the other natives. Chaka was extremely liberal to bravery among his followers and inexorable to cowardice. When he ordered his warriors war-riors to charge, no matter against what odds,, there was no choice but to press onward. There was a chance of life,, however small, in. advancing, but retreat re-treat meant certain death; if the wavering wav-ering Zulu was not immediately speared by the warrior behind him, he, would most inevitably meet death by command of his king after the battle. For showing the white feather, Chaka has been known to order a whole regiment regi-ment to execution at the hands of their comrades. This enforced intrepidity made the Zulus perfect fire-eaters, and their repeated successes so intimidated the tribes they had not engaged with that most of them surrendered at discretion. dis-cretion. A Zulu fights with a hide" shields and assegais, . having in his possessior perhaps twelve of the latter, lat-ter, which he throws in such rapid succession from opposite directions, snriinrinf with wonderful ability from sive civilization, he is opposed to any innovation. While enjoying the in- I creased comforts which the Uitlander's money has enabled him to buy, he has a general and hearty dislike for the individual in-dividual who furnished the coin. Tpo indolent and unenterprising to develop the mineral wealth on his own farm, he resents' the success of the foreigner who has purchased the farm from him. Claiming that his one and only dream of life is liberty, pure and undefiled, he is content to exist, under a most grotesque gro-tesque travesty of it Krugerism. There is one thing, though, in which he is notably-consistent, and-that is 6ocial equality. The old folks are all "ooms" andV'tantes" and the young people are jail nephews and nieces. This equality does not prevent them from having social so-cial disturbances. In fact there is almost al-most as much slandpring and backbiting backbit-ing among a. .group: of Boers, as one can find in. a! fashionable drawing room. I give an apology taken from a prominent promi-nent Dutch paper, where itwas printed print-ed in both Dutch and English, to give it the utmost publicity. It speaks volumes vol-umes for Boer life. "I. the undersigned, acknowledge that with my low. mouth " and low.' jealous heart. I have unjustly accused the noble Mr. Willie Vogel and my respectable wife, Sesielja Johanna Wilimina Forster. I also acknowledge that I have often slandered other gentlemen with my low and jealous mouth, but I have always prevailed upon them to settle it with my cowardly crocodile tears. But this time I have been deceived by my low mouth and jealous heart, as this noble gentleman is" too re- j spectable to. settle it. - To show that 'I i have lied, I strike my mouth with my j hand and say 'Low mouth, why have you ; lied about Willie Vogel and his honor?' i Therefore. I wish this apology published : throughout the whole world, as a warning to others who may be as jealous as I am. I And after this I promise to say nothing "to the disadvantage of Mr. W. Vogel and I my wife. W. A. FOSTER.- 1 I sincerely trust that the noble Mr. Willie Vogel's nobility was satisfied by this confession, and that the beautiful I Sesielja Johanna Wilhimina lived happily hap-pily ever after. ' ; Better Stable Than House. When a Boer selects a site for building build-ing purposes his first care is to erect a. good stable for the horses; that is, the -favorite Tiding horses for the family, and it will frequently happen that the stable is far superior in appearance and comfort to the family residence. If the Boer is successful in gathering in the shekels, his growing children may im-I im-I portuhe him until he consents to build a more elegant mansion. I once called at a Boer's farm a few days after the finishing touches had been given to the new house and the Dutchman took i a childlike pride in showing me every nook and corner. The old house where he and "tante" had seen many ups and downs during thirty years of conjugal association was a thatched roof, green brick building, with mud floors, standing stand-ing at the head of a fine orchard. Up to the time of my visit the family had : not been able to induce the old lady to move into the new house. I had a talk i with her on the subject, and apparently failed in the mission my newly found "oom" had sent me on. "Tante" insisted in-sisted that the house had become like, a second self to her, she had no patience with the new-fangled notions the children chil-dren were everlastingly pastering her with; if that was all the good that came of sending girls away to school ' she thought they were much better off at home, learning how to keep one housq tidy. What hurt her sense of decorum most seemed to be the fact that the ! girls had heaven knows by 'what spe cies ot nypnotic mtiuence persuaded the old man to buy a piano That piano was tante's pet aversion. In her young days people were highly contented with the music of the' German . concertina and a mouth organ, but now . if "tante" "tan-te" was afterwards induced to live in the swell house I am certain she was never comfortable in it. As to the new house itself: The Boer had engaged e gcod architect itom a neighboring town, who had done his work faithfully. Thc edifice was a splendid one; oom was rich, and once having fixed the idea in his head that he needed an aristocratic domicile, he had spared no expense. But the line of dema'rkation between the architect's design and Boer taste was painfully clear. Regarding the painting of the doors and windows there had been considerable family dissension. The old man wanted them rosy red, the sons insisted on a brilliant blue, while the girls and sorely they ought to know, for hadn't they been to a boarding school in the "dorp"? maintained a glorious green was the only correct color. The old lady, it appeared, had not entered into this discussion, feeling her contempt too strong for words. As a. compromise, nearly the house was apportioned off . and the disputants left to decorate their portion in the color he or she fancied most.' The result was startling. start-ling. In some cases, the large front door in particular, the whole family had Jointly done the decoration. This door-had green panels, blue top and bottom and bright red sides. "Oom" considered this the finest example ofl high art in the, whole wide, wide world, and would get' so absorbed in contemplating contem-plating it that his pipe would sometimes go out. The arrangement arrange-ment and stvle of the furniture fur-niture was in keening with the paint. Certainly if . effect was what my respected re-spected uncle was driving at he had hit the bull's eye first shot. The poorer Boers for fifty miles round 'would come and gape- at that house, and then go home 'wondering' when they would be rich enough to live in such 'a paradise, I would have prolonged my stay with this worthy familyhad.it not been that; one of the girls volunteered to give me a specimen of her boarding school polish. pol-ish. She accompanied herself on the piano and sang did I say sang? Well, we'll let it. pass then "Far Away." That reminded me that I had other duties du-ties to perform and despite my good old uncle's cordial invitation to spend the night at his house I was soon far away myself. Experience With Doppers. j As a contrast to the foregoing, allow me to relate my experience one. night ir a "Dopper" house. The Doppers are j the lowest class of South African I Dutchmen, and as a rule thejr seem en- I tirely free from any intuition. They have a money-saving instinct, but it can , hardly be dignified by calling it ambi- j tion, since when they do aeo.uire money j it appears to make no difference to their habits. To my tale, however. It was near snnriown and masses of ominous clouds, as black as a tinker's pot, wrere gathering in the west. Every now and then a clap of thunder would make my horse snort with fright. An African thunderstorm is something which would make even King Lear seek the nearest shelter, and I looked for one. A mile or so from the road I was . on I' saw a small house, and I dashed my ster.,1 at it, reaching the door just 'as the rain came pelting down in sheets. It proved to be a Dop-per's Dop-per's house, who, seeing me -approach, had' opened 'the door for me. Giving my horse to a scantily attired Hoten-tot Hoten-tot bay I lost no time in accepting the Boer's ifrvitation to enter. " The first thing I noticed was that my host's "onderbaatjie" (vest) had a thick cobweb cob-web spun across the opening above the top button. I-observed it in a casual way, without trying to conjecture how It came there, but I subsequentlycama to the conclusion that it happened' on account ' of the Dopper's never taking his clothes off. There were three 5T)ung men and two full grown young women in the "zit kaamer" (sitting room), besides "oom" and "tante,".and three or four young children. The Toys had just returned with the 'old man from rloughm" rd wPre then brut to ci joy i he luxury of a Futch bath. There w-ere only two rooms in the house, the sitting-ea ting-drawing - smoking-working-courting room, in" which we all were, and the kitchen. The three boys and pa had removed their "veldtsch-oens" "veldtsch-oens" they wore no socks and exhibited exhibit-ed a considerable amount of real estate es-tate on their ankles. A Hottentot girl came in with a dish of hot water and a rag, and beginning with the old man, she went the round of the ploughmen, washing the four pairs of substantial feet in the same bowl of water. Oom then took the "vaadook," or dish cloth, .which the servant girl had used, and I after wringing it partially dry, wiped his -face with it and then passed it to the nearest son, who having completed com-pleted hl3 ablutions passed the rag to his brothers. The last Boer's face left you in considerable doubt as to whether wheth-er he had cleaned one-half or dirtfed the other. Somehow! I didn't feel as hungry hun-gry as I did when I first entered the house; My uncle, after this refreshment', refresh-ment', plied me with questions as to my occupation, destination, nationality and habits, and having apparently satisfied himself, handed me his tobacco pouch. I felt that I was getting along pretty well, under the circumstances, until I made a break for vhich I don't think "tante" ever forgaTe me. The floor was made of earth and antheap beaten beat-en dow-n hard and polished until it resembled re-sembled ebony. Ordinarily, it required a well-balanced skater to move over it with ease,, and to make matters worse, my host was expectorating, freely and j after drinking the stuff they called coffee, cof-fee, to place the empty cup on the table, I didn't exercise sufficient care in putting my foot down, with the result re-sult that I sat oh the floor in italics, and "tante's" best visitor's cup was smashed to atoms. She tried to smile, but her face evidently hurt her. The young folks laughed long and boisterously boister-ously at the incident, and. since jokes are scarce among' the Boers, are probably prob-ably still laughing at it. Supper came along soon after, and I managed to swallow " something for 1 appearance's appear-ance's sake. The storm still raged violently, vio-lently, and I saw it was no use attempting at-tempting to continue my journey before morning. I then began wondering if there were any buildings near at hand where the family slept. I was not left in doubt long. The room we were in had a loft,, anrj shortly after supper one of the boys climbed a ladder and I began throwing feather beds down from the loft. The other boys moved the dining table to the side of the room and began arranging the beds in a cir-clj. cir-clj. in thf- midrllpi nf the floor This then, was our t;edroom as well. Family Bedroom. r My host pointed my bed out to me and set the example by turning in as he was, after removing his coat. I don't know why he removed his coat; perhaps he was afraid of creasing it. The old lady, after seeing that the sons were in position, blew the light out. I was at first glad she did this, because the convenient darkness hid my burning blushes, but I soon wished she had thrown the candle out into the rain. It was a Dutch candle, home-made from all sorts of fatty substances, with a wick in it like a hcrse blanket. When the old lady blew it out it had some two inches of burning rag, which gave out the rankest compound of villainous villain-ous smells that ever offended mortal nostril. This was an inconvenience which passed away in time. There were others that did not. Oom was, I believe, be-lieve, the bos$ snorer of the century. The noise he mado would have turned a bull frog green with envy. And then he had so many surprises -in store for you.. Just when you expected him to get right down to basso profundo he would emit a sibillating sound like an engine letting off steam; then he would choke and guggle violently, violent-ly, and just when you were half hoping 'an apoplectic fit had fOLO.1 LCU 111, nc nuuiu luiic up ctgiun wo lively as ever. Every last one of the . family snored, but the old man could give them- all points and win every time, hands down. What between the noises made by this charming family and the noises made by the native servants in the kitchen, J found ample time to wonder what I had done to deserve de-serve this purgatory. About 3 a. m. the rain ceased and I went out and spent the rest- of the time until daybreak day-break in the stable. My host found me. there rubbing my horse down, and he complimented me on being an early riser. He said I was the first Englishman English-man he had met who didn't care to lie in bed after daylight, and' if I persevered perse-vered I would, in time, make a fairly good Boer. : ' 1 . J. WILLIAM EDMUNDS.