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Title:      The Days of My Life Volume I (1926)
Author:     Sir H. Rider Haggard
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A Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook

Title:      The Days of My Life Volume I (1926)
Author:     Sir H. Rider Haggard

                         THE DAYS OF MY LIFE

                               VOLUME I

                           AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY


                         SIR H. RIDER HAGGARD

                              EDITED BY

                            C. J. LONGMAN


  I dedicate this record of my days to my dear Wife and to the
  memory of our son whom now I seek

                                                H. Rider Haggard

  White Sunday


Henry Rider Haggard was born on June 22, 1856, and died on May 14,
1925. The present work covers the first fifty-six years of his life,
commencing with his earliest recollections and ending on September 25,
1912. On that day he wrote to me: "I have just written the last word
of 'The Days of My Life,' and thankful I am to have done with that
book. Whenever I can find time and opportunity I wish to add 'A Note
on Religion,' which, when done, if ever, I will send to you." This
"note" he sent me on January 24, 1913. By his wish the entire MS. was
sealed up and put away in Messrs. Longman's safe, and was seen no more
till after his death, when it was opened by me in the presence of one
of his executors.

Rider Haggard entered on the serious business of life at an early age.
He sailed for South Africa in July 1875, when he was only just
nineteen, on the staff of Sir Henry Bulwer, the newly appointed
Governor of Natal. Eighteen months later he was attached to the
special mission to the Transvaal, led by Sir Theophilus Shepstone,
which resulted in the annexation of the Transvaal to Great Britain on
April 12, 1877. Shortly after the annexation the Master and Registrar
of the High Court at Pretoria died, and Haggard was appointed as
Acting Master when he was barely twenty-one, an age at which his
contemporaries in England were undergraduates at college. This
provisional appointment was confirmed a year later.

It can hardly be doubted that this early initiation into affairs had
an effect in moulding Rider Haggard's character, and that effect would
not be diminished by the tragic nature of the events which quickly
followed, with which he was closely connected--Isandlwana, Majuba, and
the Retrocession of the Transvaal.

In consequence of the Retrocession he returned to England in the
autumn of 1881. His African career was ended, he had a young wife and
child, and he still had his way to make in the world. His six years of
Africa had, however, not only given him a knowledge of the world and a
self-reliance rare in so young a man, but had also enabled him to
acquire an intimate knowledge of the history and characteristics of
the Native Races, which he was subsequently able to turn to good

From the circumstances of his early life he was thrown much into the
company of men older than himself, and he had a singular gift of
winning not only their confidence, but their love. The happy relations
which he was able to establish with his superiors in the Government
service are an example of this, and it was a faculty which never left

This autobiography deals not only with Haggard's life in South Africa,
and with his literary career, but also with an aspect of his many
activities which is less familiar to those who knew him mainly as a
writer of romances. He was always dominated by a strong sense of duty,
and by an ardent patriotism, and the direction in which he thought
that he could best serve his country was in an attempt to arrest the
rapidly growing migration of population from the country districts to
the slums of the towns. He thought that a healthy, contented, and
prosperous rural population was the greatest asset that a country
could possess, and this work will show with what ardour and energy he
devoted himself to the furtherance of this object, and to the
prosperity of agriculture generally. He journeyed through twenty-seven
countries examining the condition of agriculture, and published the
results of this survey in his book "Rural England." This undertaking
he described as "the heaviest labour of all my laborious life."
Besides this he travelled through the United States and to Canada as a
Commissioner appointed by the Colonial Office, to report to the
Secretary of State on the Labour Colonies instituted by the Salvation
Army. He also served on Royal Commissions which involved much labour
and long journeys. If to give unsparingly of one's time and abilities
to the service of one's fellow-men, without hope of reward, is to be a
philanthropist, surely Rider Haggard deserved that honoured name. But,
like many another man who devotes his time to work of this character,
he was much discouraged and disappointed because his labours were not
crowned by immediate results. Nevertheless, it is probable that the
causes for which he worked will, in the long run, triumph, and the
work which he gave so unsparingly will not be wasted.

I undertook the preparation of this work for the press because my
friend, Rider Haggard, wished me to do so. I hope I have not bungled
or failed in the execution of this labour of love. I wish especially
to express my gratitude to Miss Hector, who acted as Sir Rider's
secretary for thirty-four years, up to the time of his death, for
reading the proofs and for her unfailing kindness and help in many

My thanks are also due to various gentlemen for permission to print
letters: viz. the Father Superior of Mount Saint Bernard's Abbey for
several letters from the late Brother Basil; Mr. E. F. Benson for an
extract from a letter of Archbishop Benson; the executors of Sir
Walter Besant; Mr. Bramwell Booth, General of the Salvation Army, for
letters from himself and from General William Booth; the Earl of
Carnarvon for a letter from his grandfather; the Rt. Hon. Winston
Churchill for a letter from himself, and one from Lady Leslie; Lady
Clarke for a letter from Sir Marshal Clarke; the executors of Miss
Marie Corelli; Sir Douglas Dixie, Bart., for a letter from the late
Lady Florence Dixie; Lady Gwendolen Elveden for one from the late Earl
of Onslow; Sir Bartle Frere for a letter from his father; Sir Edmund
Gosse; Earl Grey for letters from his father; the Viscountess Harcourt
for letters from the late Viscount Harcourt; Mrs. Hanbury for a letter
from the late Rt. Hon. R. W. Hanbury; the executors of the late W. E.
Henley; Mr. H. C. L. Holden for a letter from Dr. Holden; Messrs.
Hutchinson and Co., Ltd., for a letter from Messrs. Hurst and
Blackett; the executors of the late Mr. J. Cordy Jeaffreson; Mr.
Rudyard Kipling; Chief Justice J. K. Kotze; Mrs. Andrew Lang for many
letters from her husband; Sir Oliver Lodge; the Hon. Mrs. A.
Lyttleton; the executors of the late Sir Melmoth Obsorn; Mr. Lloyd
Osbourne for five letters and an unpublished poem by R. L. Stevenson;
Messrs. G. Routledge and Sons, Ltd., for a letter from Mr. Trubner;
the executors of the late President Roosevelt; Colonel Walter
Shepstone for letters from his father, Sir Theophilus Shepstone; Miss
Townsend for a letter from her father, Mr. Meredith Townsend; Mr.
Evelyn Wrench for extracts from the /Spectator/. I have also to
express my thanks to the following gentlemen for kindly reading and
consenting to the publication of passages referring to them: Sir E.
Wallis Budge, Major Burnham, The Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd George, and Mr.
Thomas Hardy, O.M.

July 1926.                                              C. J. Longman.


A while ago, it may have been a year or more, the telephone in this
house rang and down the mysterious wire--for notwithstanding a
thousand explanations, what is more mysterious than a telephone wire,
except a telephone without one?--came an excited inquiry from a London
press agency, as to whether I were dead.

Miss Hector, my secretary, answered that to the best of her knowledge
and belief I was out walking on my farm in an average state of health.
Explanations followed; diversified by telegrams from the Authors'
Society and others interested in the continuance or the cessation of
my terrestrial life. From these it appeared that, like a sudden wind
upon the sea, a rumour had sprung up to the effect that I had vanished
from the world.

It was a false rumour, but the day must come, when or how I know not,
since Providence in its mercy hides this ultimate issue from our eyes,
on which it will be true, and like the storm that I hear raving
outside the windows as I write, the elemental forces which are about
every one of us will sweep me away as they brought me here and my
place will know me no more.

Before this event happens to me, this common, everyday event which
excites so little surprise even among those who knew us and yet,
whatever his degree or lack of faith, is so important to the
individual concerned, shall overtake me, before I too, like the
countless millions who have gone before, put on the Purple and have my
part in the majesty of Death, it has entered into my mind that I
desire to set down, while I still have my full faculties, certain of
my own experiences of life.

I have met many men, I have seen many lands, I have known many
emotions--all of them, I think, except that of hate; I have played
many parts. From all this sum of things, tangible or intangible,
hidden now in the heart and the memory, some essence may perhaps be
pressed which is worthy of preservation, some picture painted at which
eyes unborn may be glad to look. At least, such is my hope.

It is of course impossible for anyone, yes, even for a nun in a
convent, to set down life's every detail for the world to stare at,
unless indeed such a person were prepared to order the resulting book
to be buried for--let us say--five hundred years. Could such a work be
written by a hand adequate to the task, its interest as a human
document would be supreme. Also it would be beautiful in the sense
that the naked truth is always beautiful, even when it tells of evil.
Yet I believe that it will never be written. For were the writer mean
enough to draw the veil from the failings of others, he would
certainly keep it wrapped about his own. Only one man, so far as my
knowledge goes, has set down the absolute verity about himself, and it
is certain that he did not intend that it should come to the printing-
press. I refer to Samuel Pepys.

Still an enormous amount remains of which a man may write without
injuring or hurting the feelings of anyone, and by aid of my memory
that, although weak enough in many ways, is strong and clear where
essentials are concerned, and of the correspondence which, as it
chances, I have preserved for years, with some of this matter I
propose to deal. After all, a man of normal ability and observation
who has touched life at many points, cannot pass fifty-five years in
the world without learning much, some of which may prove of use to
others, and if he dies leaving his experience unrecorded, then like
water thrown upon sand it sinks into the grave with him and there is

Such are the considerations that lead me to attempt this task.

I suppose that before considering it further the first question that I
should ask myself and try to answer is, not to what extent I have
achieved success, but by how much I have escaped failure in the world.
No positive reply seems possible to this query until I have been dead
a good many years, for in such matters time is the only true judge.
Yet that final verdict is capable of a certain amount of intelligent,
though possibly erroneous anticipation.

Although all my life I have been more or less connected with the Law,
for which I have a natural liking, first as the Master of a High Court
and subsequently in the modest but I trust useful office of the
Chairman of a Bench of Magistrates, I have done nothing at all at my
profession at the Bar. In an unfortunate hour, considered from this
point of view, I employed my somewhat ample leisure in chambers in
writing "King Solomon's Mines." That, metaphorically, settled my legal
hash. Had it not been for "King Solomon's Mines," if even in
imagination I may dwell upon such splendour, I might possibly have sat
some day where sits my old friend and instructor, Sir Henry Bargrave
Deane, as a judge of the Court of Probate and Divorce, in which I
proposed to practise like my great-uncle, Doctor John Haggard, famous
for his Reports, before me.

Well do I remember how, when one day I was seated in this Division
watching a case or devilling for somebody, I unconsciously inscribed
my name on the nice white blotting-paper before me. Presently from
behind me I heard a whisper from some solicitor--I think that was his
calling--whom business had brought to the Court:

"Are you Rider Haggard, the man who wrote 'King Solomon's Mines'?" he
said, staring at the tell-tale blotting-paper.

I intimated that such was really my name.

"Then, confound you! Sir, you kept me up till three o'clock this
morning. But what are you doing here in a wig and gown--what are you
doing here?"

Very soon I found cause to echo the question and to answer it in the
words, "No good." The British solicitor, and indeed the British
client, cannot be induced to put confidence in anyone who has become
well known as an author. If he has confined his attention to the
writing of law-books, he may be tolerated, though hardly, but if his
efforts have been on the imaginative side of literature, then for that
man they have no use. That such a person should combine gifts of
imagination with forensic aptitude and sound legal knowledge is to
them a thing past all belief.

A page or so back I said that my experience might possibly be of use
to others, and already the suggestion seems in the way of proof. If
what I write should prevent even one young barrister who hopes to make
a mark in his profession, from being beguiled into the fatal paths of
authorship, I shall not have laboured in vain.

Next, I have never been able to gratify a very earnest ambition of my
younger years, namely, to enter Parliament and shine as a statesman.
Once I tried: it was at the 1895 election, and I almost carried one of
the most difficult seats in England. But almost is not quite, and the
awful expense attendant upon contesting a seat in Parliament (in a
county division it costs, or used to cost, over 2000 pounds) showed me
clearly that, unless they happen to be Labour members, such a career
is only open to rich men. Also I came to understand that it would be
practically impossible for me both to earn a living by the writing of
books and to plunge eagerly into Parliamentary work, as I know well
that I should have done. Even if I could have found the time by
writing in the mornings--which, where imaginative effort is concerned,
has always been distasteful to me--my health would never have borne
the double strain.

So that dream had to be abandoned, for which I am sorry. Indeed, a
legislative career is about the only one of which the doors are not
shut to the writer of fiction, as is proved by many instances, notably
that of Disraeli.

Thus it cames about that on these lines I have failed to make any
mark. Fate has shut those doors in my face. The truth is that "man
knoweth not his own way": he must go where his destiny leads him.
Either so or he is afloat upon an ocean of chance, driven hither and
thither by its waves, till at length his frail bark is overset or
sinks worn out. This, however, I do not believe. If everything else in
the universe is governed by law, why should the lot of man alone be
excepted from the workings of law?

However this may be, as heralds say in talking of a doubtful descent,
whether through appointment or accidentally, it has so come about
that, although I have done other things, I must earn my livelihood by
the pen. Now of this I should not have complained had I been in a
position to choose my own subjects. But unhappily those subjects which
attract me, such as agricultural and social research, are quite
unremunerative. Everybody talks of the resulting volumes, which
receive full and solemn review in all the newspapers, but very few
people buy them in these days. So far as I am aware, remunerative
books may be divided roughly into three classes: (1) School or
technical works, which must be purchased by scholars preparing for
examinations, or for the purposes of their profession; (2) religious
works, purchased by scholars preparing themselves for a prosperous
career in another world; and (3) works of fiction, purchased--or
rather borrowed from libraries (if they cost more than fourpence-
halfpenny[*])--by persons wishing to be amused. It has been my lot to
cater for the last of these three classes, and as there is other work
which I should have much preferred to do, I will not pretend that I
have found, or find, the occupation altogether congenial, perhaps
because at the bottom of my heart I share some of the British contempt
for the craft of story-writing.

[*] Written in 1911.--Ed.

I remember a few years ago discussing this matter fully with my friend
Mr. Rudyard Kipling, a most eminent practitioner of that craft, and
finding that our views upon it were very similar, if not identical. He
pointed out, I recollect, that all fiction is in its essence an appeal
to the emotions, and that this is not the highest class of appeal.
Here, however, we have a subject that might be argued interminably and
from many points of view, especially when we bear in mind that there
are various classes of imaginative literature. So far as I am
concerned the issue is that though I feel myself more strongly drawn
to other pursuits, such as administration or politics or even law, I
have been called upon to earn the bread of myself and others out of a
kind of by-product of my brain which chances to be saleable, namely,
the writing of fiction.

It is fortunate for writers that they do not depend wholly upon the
verdict of a hundred or so of contemporary critics. The history of
literature and art goes to show that contemporary criticism seldom
makes and never can destroy a reputation; in short, that Time is the
only true critic, and that its verdict is the one we have to fear. It
is in the light of this axiom that I proceed to consider my own humble
contributions to the sum of romantic literature. I can assure the
reader that I approach this not unamusing task without any prejudice
in my own favour. The test of work is whether it will or will not
live; whether it contains within itself the vital germ necessary to a
long-continued existence.

Now, although it may seem much to claim, my belief is that some of my
tales /will/ live. Possibly this belief is quite erroneous, in which
case in years to come I may be laughed at for its expression. It is
obvious also that a great deal of what I have written is doomed to
swift oblivion, since, even if it were all equally good, in the
crowded days that are to come, days even more crowded than our own,
posterity will not need much of the work of any individual. If he is
remembered at all it will be by but a few books. The present question
is, What chance have I of being so remembered, and I can only hope
that my belief in the vitality of at any rate some of my books may be

As it happens with reference to this question of the possible
endurance of my work, I am in the position of having a second string
to my bow. Years ago I turned my attention to agriculture and to all
the group of problems connected with the land. First I wrote "A
Farmer's Year." My object in compiling that record--which, if I live,
I hope to amplify some day by the addition of a second volume on the
same plan--was that in its pages future generations might see a
picture of the conditions under which agriculture was practised in
England at the end of the nineteenth century.

Afterwards I attempted something much more ambitious, namely, a full
account of agricultural and social researches carried out during the
years 1901 and 1902, which was published under the title of "Rural
England." To be frank, this description is perhaps a little too
inclusive, seeing that all England is not described in the
multitudinous pages of my book. It deals, however, with twenty-seven
counties and the Channel Islands, or one more than were treated of by
Arthur Young a century or so earlier. After this prolonged effort
exhaustion overtook me, and I retired to spend an arduous year or so
in classifying and writing down my experiences. Even now I have not
abandoned the hope of dealing with the remaining counties, and after
these with Wales, Scotland, and Ireland, but at my present age I feel
that it grows a little faint. The work is too tremendous and, I may
add, too costly, since what can be earned from the sale of such
volumes will not even suffice to pay their expenses and that of the
necessary journeys.

Still I hope that my work may help to show to posterity through the
mouths of many witnesses what was the state of the agriculture and the
farmers of England at the commencement of the twentieth century. I
trust, therefore, that should my novels be forgotten in the passage of
years, "Rural England" and my other books on agriculture may still
serve to keep my memory green.

Now I will close this introduction and get to my story. I fear that
the reader may think it all somewhat egotistical, but unfortunately
that is a fault inherent in an autobiography, and one without which it
would be more or less futile.

    August 10, 1911.

                         THE DAYS OF MY LIFE

                              CHAPTER I


  Danish origin of the Haggards--Early history in Herts and Norfolk
  --H. R. H.'s father and mother--His birth at Bradenham, Norfolk--
  Early characteristics--First school--Garsington Rectory, Oxon, and
  Farmer Quatermain--Lively times at Dunkirk--Adventure at Treport--
  Cologne--His uncle Fowle.

There has always been a tradition in my family that we sprang from a
certain Sir Andrew Ogard, or Agard, or Haggard (I believe his name is
spelt in all three ways in a single contemporaneous document), a
Danish gentleman of the famous Guildenstjerne family whose seat was at
Aagaard in Jutland.

About a year ago I visited this place while I was making researches
for my book, "Rural Denmark." It is a wild, wind-swept plain dotted
with tumuli dating from unknown times. There by the old manor house
stand the moated ruins of the castle which was burnt in the Peasant's
War, I believe when Sir Andrew's elder brother was its lord. Here the
Guildenstjerne family remained for generations and in the neighbouring
church their arms, which are practically the same as those we bear
to-day, are everywhere to be seen.

This Sir Andrew was a very remarkable man. He appears to have come
from Denmark with nothing and to have died possessed of manors in
eleven English counties, besides much money and the Danish estate
which he seems to have inherited.[*] Also he distinguished himself
greatly in the French wars of the time of Henry VI, where he held high
command under the Duke of Bedford, whose executor he subsequently
became. Moreover, he did not neglect his spiritual welfare, since,
together with his father-in-law, Sir John Clifton, he erected one of
the towers of Wymondham Church, in which he is buried on the north
side of the high altar, and bequeathed to the said church "a piece of
the True Cross and a piece of the Thorns of the Crown."

[*] See Carthew's /History of West and East Bradenham/, pp. 87-89.

I regret to have to add that there is at present no actual proof of
the descent of my family from this Sir Andrew. Among the other manors
that he possessed, however, was that of Rye in Hertfordshire, where
our arms are still to be seen over the gateway of Rye House, which he
appears to have built, that afterwards became famous in connection
with the celebrated Rye House Plot.

The Haggard family reappears at Ware within a few miles of the Rye
House in the year 1561, in the person of a churchwarden and freeholder
of the town, which suggests that he was a citizen of some importance.
At Ware they remained for about 150 years. To this I can testify, for
once finding myself in that town with an hour to spare I went through
the registers, in which the name of Haggard occurs frequently. One
member of the family, I recollect, had caused a number of his children
to be baptised on the same day, Oct. 28, 1688, though whether this was
because he suddenly became reconciled to the Church after a period of
alienation, or is to be accounted for by a quarrel with the clergyman,
I cannot tell. Or had the civil wars anything to do with the matter?

Subsequently the family moved to Old Ford House, St. Mary Stratford-
le-Bow, where, I believe, they owned property which, if they had kept
it, would have made them very rich to-day.

I recollect my father telling me a story of how one of them, I think
it must have been John Haggard who died in 1776, my great, great,
great-grandfather, sold the Bow property and moved to Bennington in
Hertfordshire because of a burglary that took place at his house which
seems to have frightened him very much. His son, William Henry,
settled in Norwich, and is buried in St. John's Maddermarket in that
city. His only son, also named William Henry, my great-grandfather,
after living a while at Knebworth, Herts, bought Bradenham Hall in
this county of Norfolk. It would seem, oddly enough, that Bradenham
once belonged to old Sir Andrew Ogard, or Agard, in right of his wife,
but whether this circumstance had or had not anything to do with its
purchase by my great-grandfather I cannot say.

His son, William Haggard, like some others of the family, was
concerned in banking in Russia, and in 1816 married a Russian lady,
the eldest daughter and co-heiress of James Meybohm of St. Petersburg.
My father, William Meybohm Rider Haggard, was the eldest child of this
union. He was born at St. Petersburg April 19, 1817, and in 1844
married my mother, Ella, the elder daughter and co-heiress of Bazett
Doveton, of the Bombay Civil Service, who was born at Bombay in June

I am the eighth child of the family of ten--seven sons and three
daughters--who were born to my father and mother. As it chanced I
first saw the light (on June 22, 1856), not at Bradenham Hall, which
at the time was let, but at the Wood Farm on that property whither, on
her return from France, my mother retired to be confined. A few years
ago I visited the room in which the interesting event took place. It
is a typical farmhouse upper chamber, very pleasant in its way, and to
the fact of my appearance there I have always been inclined, rather
fancifully perhaps, to attribute the strong agricultural tastes which
I believe I alone of my family possess.

Here I will tell you a little story which shows how untrustworthy even
contemporary evidence may be. On the occasion of this visit I was
accompanied by a friend, Sir Frederick Wilson, and his niece, who were
anxious to see my birthplace. Now near to the Wood Farm at Bradenham
stands another farm, which for some unknown reason I had got into my
head to be the real spot, and as such I showed it to my friends. When
I had finished a farmer, the late James Adcock, who was standing by
and who remembered the event, ejaculated:

"What be you a-talking of, Mr. Rider? You weren't born there at all,
you were born yinder."

"Of course," I said, "I remember," and led the way to the Wood Farm
with every confidence, where I showed the window of the birth-chamber.

As I was doing so an old lady thrust her head out of the said window
and called out:

"Whatever be you a-talking of, Mr. Rider? You weren't born in this
'ere room, you were born in that room yinder."

Then amidst general laughter I retired discomfited. Such, I repeat, is
often the value of even contemporary evidence, although it is true
that in this case James Adcock and the old lady were the real
contemporary witnesses, since a man can scarcely be expected to
remember the room in which he was born.

It seems that I was a whimsical child. At least Hocking, my mother's
maid, a handsome, vigorous, black-eyed, raw-boned Cornishwoman who
spent most of her active life in the service of the family, informed
me in after years that nothing would induce me to go to sleep unless a
clean napkin in a certain way was placed under my head, which napkin I
called "an ear." To this day I have dim recollections of crying
bitterly until this "ear" was brought to me. Also I was stupid.
Indeed, although she always indignantly denied the story in after
years, I remember when I was about seven my dear mother declaring that
I was as heavy as lead in body and mind.

I fear that I was more or less of a dunderhead at lessons. Even my
letters presented difficulties to me, and I well recollect a few years
later being put through an examination by my future brother-in-law,
the Rev. Charles Maddison Green, with the object of ascertaining what
amount of knowledge I had acquired at a day school in London, where we
then were living at 24 Leinster Square.

The results of this examination were so appalling that when he was
apprised of them my indignant father burst into the room where I sat
resigned to fate, and, in a voice like to that of an angry bull,
roared out at me that I was "only fit to be a greengrocer." Even then
I wondered why this affront should be put upon a useful trade. After
the row was over I went for a walk with my brother Andrew who was two
years older than myself and who, it appeared, had assisted at my
discomfiture from behind a door. Just where Leinster Square opens into
a main street, I think it is Westbourne Grove--at any rate in those
days Whiteley had a single little shop not far off at which my mother
used to deal--there is, or was, a fruit and vegetable store with no
glass in the window. My brother stood contemplating it for a long
while. At last he said:

"I say, old fellow, when you become a greengrocer, I hope you'll let
me have oranges cheap!"

To this day I have never quite forgiven Andrew for that most heartless

After all it was not perhaps strange that I did not learn much at
these London day schools--for I went to two of them. The first I left
suddenly. It was managed by the head master and an usher whose names I
have long forgotten. The usher was a lanky, red-haired, pale-faced man
whom we all hated because of his violent temper and injustice. On one
occasion when his back was turned to the class to which I belonged,
that I presume was the lowest, I amused myself and my companions by
shaking my little fists at him, whereon they laughed. The usher
wheeled round and asked why we were laughing, when some mean boy piped

"Please, sir, because Haggard is shaking his fists at you."

He called me to him and I perceived that he was trembling with rage.

"You young brute!" he said. "I'll see you in your grave before you
shake your fists at me again."

Then he doubled his own and, striking me first on one side of the head
and then on the other, knocked me all the way down the long room and
finally over a chair into a heap of slates in a corner, where I lay a
while almost senseless. I recovered and went home. Here my eldest
sister Ella, noticing my bruised and dazed condition, cross-examined
me until I told her the truth. An interview followed between my father
and the master of the school, which resulted in a dismissal of the
usher and my departure. Afterwards I met that usher in the Park
somewhere near the Row, and so great was my fear of him that I never
stopped running till I reached the Marble Arch.

After this my father sent me to a second day school where the pupils
were supposed to receive a sound business education.

Then came the examination that I have mentioned at the hands of my
brother-in-law. As a result I was despatched to the Rev. Mr. Graham,
who took in two or three small boys (at that time I must have been
nine or ten years of age) at Garsington Rectory near Oxford.

The Rectory, long ago pulled down, was a low grey house that once had
served as a place of refuge in time of plague for the Fellows of one
of the Oxford colleges. Twice, if not three times, in the course of my
after life I have revisited this spot; the last occasion being about
two years ago. Except that the Rectory has been rebuilt the place
remains just the same. There is the old seventeenth-century dovecote
and the shell of the ancient pollard elm, in the hollow trunk of which
I used to play with a child of my own age, Mrs. Graham's little sister
Blanche, who was as fair in colouring as one of her name should be. I
believe that she has now been dead many years.

Quite near to the Rectory and not far from the pretty church, through
the chancel door of which once I saw a donkey thrust its head and
burst into violent brays in the midst of Mr. Graham's sermon, stood a
farm-house. The farmer, a long, lank man who wore a smart frock, was
very kind to me--I found his grave in the churchyard when last I was
there. He was called Quatermain, a name that I used in "King Solomon's
Mines" and other books in after years. After looking at this farm and
the tree nearby which bore walnuts bigger and finer than any that grow
nowadays, I went to the new Rectory and there saw working in the
garden a tall, thin old man, who reminded me strangely of one whom I
remembered over thirty years before.

"Is your name Quatermain?" I asked.

He answered that it was. Further inquiry revealed the fact that he was
a younger brother of my old friend, whom I was able to describe to him
so accurately that he exclaimed in delight:

"That's him! Why, you /do/ bring him back from the dead, and he gone
so long no one don't think of him no more."

To this Garsington period of my childhood I find some allusions in
letters received from the wife of my tutor, Mrs. Graham. Like so many
ladies' epistles they are undated, but I gather from internal evidence
that they were written in the year 1886, a quarter of a century ago. I
quote only those passages which give Mrs. Graham's recollections of me
as I appeared to her in or about the year 1866. She says, talking of
one of my books, "I could scarcely realize that the little quiet
gentle boy who used to drive with me about the Garsington lanes could
have written such a very clever book." In this letter she adds an
amusing passage: "I was told the other day that you had never been
abroad yourself but had married a Zulu lady and got all your
information from her."

I suppose it was before I went to Mr. Graham's that we all migrated
abroad for a certain period. Probably this was in order that we might
economise, though what economy my father can have found in dragging a
tumultuous family about the Continent I cannot conceive. Or perhaps I
used to join them during the holidays.

One of the places in which we settled temporarily was Dunkirk, where
we used to have lively times. Several of my elder brothers,
particularly Jack and Andrew, and I, together with some other English
boys, among whom were the sons of the late Professor Andrew Crosse,
the scientist, formed ourselves into a band and fought the French boys
of a neighbouring lycee. These youths outnumbered us by far, but what
we lacked in numbers we made up for by the ferocity of our attack. One
of our stratagems was to stretch a rope across the street, over which
the little Frenchmen, as they gambolled joyously out of school,
tripped and tumbled. Then, from some neighbouring court where we lay
in wait, we raised our British war-cry and fell upon them. How those
battles raged! To this day I can hear the yells of "/Cochons
d'Anglais!/" and the answering shouts of "/Yah! Froggie, allez a votre
maman!/" as we hit and kicked and wallowed in the mire.

At last I think the police interfered on the complaints of parents,
and we were deprived of this particular joy.

Another foreign adventure that I remember, though I must have been
much older then, took place at Treport. There had been a great gale,
and notices were put up forbidding anyone to bathe because of the
dangerous current which set in during and after such storms. Needless
to say, I found in these notices a distinct incentive to disobedience.
Was a British boy to be deterred from bathing by French notices?
Never! So I took my younger brother Arthur, and going some way up the
beach, where I thought we should not be observed, we undressed and
plunged into the breakers. I had the sense, I recollect, to tell him
not to get out of his depth, but for my part I swam through or over
the enormous waves and disported myself beyond them. When I tried to
return, however, I found myself in difficulties. The current was
taking me out to sea. Oh! what a fight was that--had I not been a good
swimmer I could not have lived through it.

I set out for the shore husbanding my strength and got among the huge
rollers, fighting my way inch by inch against the tide or undertow. I
went under once and struggled up again. I went under a second time,
and, rising, once more faced that dreadful undertow. I was nearly
done, and seemed to make no progress at all. My brother Arthur was
within hailing distance of me, and I thought of calling to him. Then--
for my mind kept quite clear all this time--I reflected that as there
was no one within sight to whom he could go or shout for assistance,
he would certainly try to help me himself, with the result that we
should /both/ be drowned. So I held my tongue and fought on. Just as
everything was coming to an end--for the breakers broke over me
continually--my foot struck upon something, I suppose it was a point
of rock, and on this something I rested a while. Then, waiting a
favourable opportunity, I made a last desperate effort and struggled
to the shore, where I fell down exhausted.

As I lay there panting, some coastguards, or whatever they are called,
who had observed what was happening through their spy-glasses, arrived
at a run and very properly expressed their views in the most strenuous
language. Recovering myself at length I sat up and said in my best or
worst French:

"/Si je noye, qu'est ce que cela vous fait?/"

The answer, that even then struck me as very appropriate, was to the
effect that my individual fate did not matter twopence to them, but
"how about the reputation of Treport as a bathing-place?"

I do not recollect that I dilated upon this little adventure to my
relatives, and I am not sure that even my brother, who was four years
younger than myself, ever realised how serious had been the crisis.

I suppose that it must have been earlier than this--for as to all
these youthful experiences my memory is hazy--that we stayed for a
while at Coblentz. I remember being taken on a trip up the Rhine that
I might study the scenery, and retiring to the cabin to read a story-
book. Missing me, my father descended and dragged me out by the scruff
of the neck, exclaiming loudly, to the vast amusement of the other

"I have paid five thalers for you to improve your mind by absorbing
the beauties of nature, and absorb them you shall!"

Of Coblentz I recall little except the different colours of the waters
of the Moselle and the Rhine. What remains fixed in my memory,
however, is the scene of our departure thence by boat. In those days
my father wore some false teeth, and, when the steamer was about to
start, it was discovered that these teeth were still reposing in a
glass upon his dressing-table a mile or more away.

A tumult followed and in the end Hocking, my mother's maid, whom I
have already mentioned, was despatched to fetch them in spite of the
remonstrances of the captain. Off she went like a racehorse, and then
ensued a most exciting time. The captain shouted and rang his bell,
the steam whistle blew, and my father shouted also, much more loudly
than the captain, whilst I and the remainder of the family giggled in
the background. A crisis supervened. The captain would wait no longer
and ordered the sailors to cast off. My father in commanding tones
ordered them to do nothing of the sort. The steam whistle sent up one
continual scream. At last the ropes were loosed, when suddenly
bounding down the street that led to the quay, her dress well above
her knees and waving the false teeth in her hand, appeared Hocking.
Then the captain and my father congratulated each other with a courtly
flourish, the latter arranged the false teeth in their proper home,
the boat started and peace reigned for a little while.

I think that it was at Cologne that we had a supper party, a
considerable affair--for wherever we went there seemed to be a large
number of people whom we knew. Among them was an aunt of mine, Mrs.
Fowle, my father's sister, who is still living to-day at a great age,
although her husband, the Rev. Mr. Fowle, who was then with her, has
long been dead. To her I am indebted for the following story of which
personally I have no recollection. It appears that when the
preliminary party or whatever it may have been was over, and at the
appointed time the company trooped in to supper, they were astonished
to find a single small boy, to wit myself, seated at the end of the
table and just finishing an excellent meal.

"Rider," said my father in tones of thunder, "what are you doing here?
Explain, sir! Explain!"

"Please, father," I answered in a mild voice, "I knew that when you
all came in there would be no room for me, so I had my supper first."

My uncle Fowle was a very humorous man, and the following is an
instance of his readiness. While in France an excited Frenchman rushed
up to him at a railway station ejaculating, "Mouton--Monsieur Moutain,
n'est-ce pas?"

"Non," replied my uncle quietly, "/Poulet, moi--Poulet!/"

When at last he was dying on a certain Christmas Eve, the servants
were sent for and filed past his bed bidding him farewell. When it
came to the cook's turn, that worthy person, losing her head in the
solemnity of the moment, bobbed a curtsey and said in a cheerful

"A merry Christmas to you, sir--I wish you a merry Christmas."

It is reported that a twinkle of the old humour came into my uncle's
eye, and a faint smile flickered on his face. The tale is of a sort
that he would have delighted to tell.

One more story:

Somewhere about the year 1868, my brother Andrew and I were staying at
Brinsop Rectory with my uncle and aunt Fowle. He was a generous man,
and, when we boys departed after such visits, used to present us with
what he called an "honorarium," or in other words a tip. On this
occasion, however, no "honorarium" was forthcoming, but in place of it
he gave us a sealed envelope which we were strictly charged not to
open until we reached a certain station on the line. To this day I can
see the pair of us fingering the envelope in the railway carriage in
the happy certainty that Uncle Fowle had surpassed himself by
presenting us with what the thin feel of the paper within assured us
was a 5 pound note!

The station was reached at last and we tore open the envelope. From it
emerged a sheet of blue paper on which were inscribed two texts, those
beginning with: "Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way?" and
"Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth." We stared at each
other blankly, for the state of our finances was such that we had
counted on that tip and did not quite appreciate this kind of holy

Oddly enough this piece of blue paper has chanced to survive all the
wanderings of my life; as I write I hold it in my hand. Would that I
had acted more closely upon the advice which it conveys!

                              CHAPTER II


  Bradenham Hall--Let to Nelson's sister--Mr. W. M. R. Haggard,
  father of H. R. H.--Chairman of Quarter Sessions--His factotum
  Samuel Adcock--Rows at Bradenham--Their comical side--Mrs. W. M.
  R. Haggard--Her beautiful character and poetic nature--Entrance
  examination for Army--Floored in Euclid--Hunting and shooting at
  Bradenham--Ipswich Grammar School--Fight with big boy--Dr. Holden,
  head master--Left Ipswich to cram for F.O. at Scoones'--Life in
  London--Spiritualist seances--First love affair--Left Scoones' for
  Natal on Sir Henry Bulwer's staff.

Bradenham Hall, in West Norfolk, is a beautifully situated and
comfortable red-brick house surrounded by woods. It was built about a
hundred and fifty years ago, and my family have resided there for four
generations. The only noteworthy piece of history connected with the
house is that it was hired by Mr. Bolton, the husband of Nelson's
sister, who on more than one occasion asked Lady Hamilton there to
stay with them. When I was a young fellow, I knew an old man in the
village called Canham who at that time was page boy at the Hall. He
remembered Lady Hamilton well, and when I asked him to describe her,
said "She waur a rare fine opstanding [here followed an outspoken and
opprobrious term], she waur!"

I may add that in my youth the glory of her ladyship's dresses was
still remembered in the village. After the battle of Trafalgar,
Nelson's personal belongings seem to have been sent from the /Victory/
to Bradenham. At any rate old Canham told me that it was his duty to
hang out certain of the Admiral's garments to air upon the lavender
bushes in the kitchen garden. A piece of furniture from his cabin now
stands in the room that Lady Hamilton occupied. Honoria, Canham
described as "a pale little slip of a thing."

Notwithstanding his somewhat frequent excursions abroad and certain
years that we spent at Leamington and in London when economy was the
order of the day, my father passed most of his life at Bradenham, to
which he was devotedly attached. He was a barrister, but I do not
think that he practised to any great extent, probably because he had
no need to do so. Still I have heard several amusing stories (they may
be apocryphal) concerning his appearance as an advocate. One of these
I remember; the others have escaped me. He was prosecuting a man for
stealing twelve hogs, and in addressing the jury did his best to bring
home to them the enormity of the defendant's crime.

"Gentleman of the Jury," he said, "think what this man has done. He
stole not one hog but twelve hogs, and not only twelve hogs but twelve
fat hogs, exactly the same number, Gentleman of the Jury, as I see in
the box before me!"

The story adds that the defendant was acquitted! However, my father
turned his legal lore to some practical use, for he became a Chairman
of Quarter Sessions for Norfolk, an office which he held till his
death over forty years later. He used to conduct the proceedings with
great dignity, to which his appearance--for he was a very handsome
man, better looking indeed than any of his sons--and his splendid
voice added not a little.

Most of us have inherited the voice though not to the same degree.
Indeed it has been a family characteristic for generations, and my
father told me that once as a young man he was recognised as a Haggard
by an old lady who had never seen him and did not know his name,
merely by the likeness of his voice to that of his great-grandfather
who had been her friend in youth. Never was there such a voice as my
father's; moreover he was wont to make use of it. It was a joke
concerning him, which I may have originated, that if he was in the
city of Norwich and anyone wished to discover his whereabouts, all
they needed to do was to stand in the market-place for a while to
listen. Here is a tale of that voice.

My youngest brother Arthur, now Major Haggard, had been lunching with
him at the Oxford and Cambridge Club in Pall Mall, and after luncheon
bade him farewell on the steps of the club and went his way, to Egypt,
I believe. Presently he heard a roar of "Arthur! Arthur!" and not
wishing to attract attention to himself, quickened his steps. It was
the very worst thing that he could do, for the roars redoubled. Arthur
began to run, people began to stare. Somebody cried "Stop thief!"
Arthur, now followed by a crowd in which a policeman had joined, ran
harder till he was brought to a stop by the sentry at Marlborough
House. Then he surrendered and was escorted by the crowd back to the
Oxford and Cambridge Club. As he approached, my father bellowed out:

"Don't forget to give my love to your mother."

Then amidst shouts of laughter he vanished into the club, and Arthur
departed to catch the train to Bradenham, /en route/ for Egypt.

My father was a typical squire of the old sort, a kind of Sir Roger de
Coverley. He reigned at Bradenham like a king, blowing everybody up
and making rows innumerable. Yet I do not think there was a more
popular man in the county of Norfolk. Even the servants, whom he rated
in a fashion that no servant would put up with nowadays, were fond of
him. He could send back the soup with a request to the cook to drink
it all herself, or some other infuriating message. He could pull at
the bells until feet of connecting wire hung limply down the wall, and
announce when whoever it was he wanted appeared that Thorpe Idiot
Asylum was her proper home, and so forth. Nobody seemed to mind in the
least. It was "only the Squire's way," they said.[*]

[*] No doubt some of the characteristics of Squire De la Molle and his
    factotum George in Sir Rider's Norfolk tale /Colonel Quaritch,
    V.C./, can be traced to Mr. W. M. R. Haggard and his servant Sam

It was the same with the outdoor men, especially with one Samuel
Adcock, his factotum, a stout, humorous person whose face was marked
all over with small-pox pits. About once a week Samuel was had in to
the vestibule and abused in a most straightforward fashion, but he
never seemed to mind.

"I believe, Samuel," roared my father at him in my hearing, "donkey as
you are, you think that no one can do anything except yourself."

"/Nor they can't, Squire,/" replied Samuel calmly, which closed the

On another occasion there was a frantic row about a certain pheasant
which was supposed to have come to its end unlawfully. My father had
ordered this fowl to be stuffed that it might be produced in some
pending legal proceedings. Samuel, who I think at that time was head-
keeper and probably knew more about the pheasant's end than my father,
did not pay the slightest attention to these commands. Then came the

"Don't you argue with me, sir," said my father to Samuel, who for the
last ten minutes had been sitting silent with his eyes fixed upon the
ceiling. "Answer me without further prevarication. Have you obeyed my
orders and had that pheasant stuffed?"

"Lor'! Squire," replied Samuel, "you stuffed it yourself a week ago!"

On inquiry it transpired that Samuel, to prevent further complications
and awkward questions, had prevailed upon the cook to roast that
pheasant and send it up for my parent's dinner. So the lawsuit was

My father was a regular in attendance at church. We always sat in the
chancel on oak benches originally designed for the choir. If he
happened to be in time himself and other parishioners, such as the
farmers' daughters, happened to be late, his habit was, when he saw
them enter, to step into the middle of the nave, produce a very large
old watch which I now possess--for on his death-bed he told Hocking to
give it to me--and hold it aloft that the sinners as they walked up
the church might become aware of the enormity of their offence.

He always read the Lessons and read them very well. There were certain
chapters, however, those which are full of names both in the Old and
New Testaments, which were apt to cause difficulty. It was not that he
was unable to pronounce these names, for having been a fair scholar in
his youth he did this better than most. Yet when he had finished the
list it would occur to him that they might have been rendered more
satisfactorily. So he would go back to the beginning and read them all
through again.

At the conclusion of the service no one in the church ventured to stir
until he had walked down it slowly and taken up his position on a
certain spot in the porch. Here he stood and watched the congregation
emerge, counting them like sheep.

Notwithstanding his hot temper, foibles and tricks of manner, there
was something about him that made him extraordinarily popular, not
only as I have said in his household but in the outside world. Thus I
remember that once the Liberals (needless to say he was the strongest
of Conservatives) offered not to contest the division if he would
consent to represent it. This, however, with all the burden of his
large family on his back he could not afford to do. It is a pity, for
I am sure that his strong personality, backed as it was by remarkable
shrewdness, would have made him a great figure in the House of Commons
and one who would have been long remembered.

In many ways he was extraordinarily able, though, if one may say so of
a man who was so very much a man, his mind had certain feminine
characteristics that for aught I know may have come to him with his
Russian blood. Thus I do not think that he reasoned very much. He
jumped to conclusions as a woman does, and those conclusions, although
often exaggerated, were in essence very rarely wrong. Indeed I never
knew anyone who could form a more accurate judgement of a person of
either sex after a few minutes of conversation, or even at sight. He
seemed to have a certain power of summing up the true nature of man,
woman or child, though I am sure that he did not in the least know
upon what he based his estimate. It must not be supposed, however,
that he was by any means shallow or superficial. In any great event
his nature revealed an innate depth and dignity; all the noise that he
was so fond of making ceased and he became very quiet.

Nobody could be more absolutely delightful than my father when he
chose, and, /per contra/, I am bound to add that nobody could be more
disagreeable. His rows with his children were many, and often on his
part unjust. One of the causes of these outbreaks was that he seemed
unable to realise that children do not always remain children.

Once when I was a young man in Africa--it was just before I was
appointed Master of the High Court in the Transvaal--I was very
anxious to come home after several years' absence from England, on
"urgent private affairs." To be frank, I desired to bring a certain
love affair to a head by a formal engagement, which there was no doubt
I could have done at that time.

For certain reasons, however, it was impossible for me to get leave at
the moment. Yet the matter was one that would admit of no delay. In
this emergency I went to my chief, Sir Theophilus Shepstone, told him
how things stood and obtained a promise from him that if I resigned my
appointment in order to visit England, as it was necessary I should
do, he would make arrangements to ensure my reappointment either to
that or to some other billet on my return.

I suppose that I did not make all this quite clear in my letters home,
and almost certainly I did not explain why it was necessary for me to
come home. The result was that the day before I started, after I had
sent my luggage forward to Cape Town, I received a most painful letter
from my father. Evidently he thought or feared that I was abandoning a
good career in Africa and about to come back upon his hands. Although
it was far from the fact, this view may or may not have been
justified. What I hold even now was not justified was the harsh way in
which it was expressed. The words I have forgotten, for I destroyed
the letter many years ago, immediately upon its receipt, I think, but
the sting of them after so long an absence I remember well enough,
though some four-and-thirty years have passed since they were written,
a generation ago.

They hurt me so much that immediately after reading them I withdrew my
formal resignation and cancelled the passage I had taken in the post-
cart to Kimberley /en route/ for the Cape and England. As a result the
course of two lives was changed. The lady married someone else, with
results that were far from fortunate, and the effect upon myself was
not good. I know now that all was for the best so far as I am
concerned, and in these events I see the workings of the hand of
Destiny. Many, I am aware, will think this a hard saying, but from Job
down man has found it difficult to escape a certain faith in fatalism
which even St. Paul seems to have accepted.

  There's a divinity that shapes our ends,
  Rough-hew them how we will,

writes the inspired Shakespeare, and who shall deny that he writes
truth? The alternative would seem to be the acceptance of a doctrine
of blind chance which I confess I find hideous. Moreover, if it is to
prevail, how fearful are our human responsibilities. Because my dear
father, who had the interests of all his children so closely at heart,
wrote a sharp and testy letter, probably under the influence of some
other irritation of which I know nothing, is he to be saddled with the
weight of all the consequences of that letter? Or am I to be saddled
with those consequences because I was a high-spirited and sensitive
young man who took the letter too seriously? If we knew the answers to
these questions we should have solved the meaning of the secret of our
lives. But they are hidden by the blackness that walls us in, that
blackness in which the sphinx will speak at last--or stay for ever

Meanwhile the moral is that people should be careful of what they put
on paper. When we throw a stone into the sea, who knows where the
ripple ends?

To return--these rows at Bradenham, ninety-nine out of a hundred of
which meant nothing at all, had a very comical side to them. Perhaps
they sprang up at table on the occasion of an argument between my
father and one of his sons. Then he would rise majestically, announce
in solemn tones that he refused to be insulted in his own house, and
depart, banging the door loudly behind him. Across the hall he went
into the drawing-room and banged that door, out of the drawing-room
into the vestibule (here there are two doors, so the bang was double-
barrelled), through the vestibule into the garden, if the row was of
the first magnitude. If not he banged his way back into the dining-
room by the serving entrance, and very probably sat down again in
quite a sweet temper, the exercise having relieved his feelings.
Especially was this so if the offending son had banged /himself/ out
of the house by some other route.

Only the other day I examined those Bradenham doors and their hinges.
The workmanship of them is really wonderful. After half a century of
banging added to their ordinary wear, they are as good as when they
were made. We do not see such joinery nowadays.

Considered as a whole it would have been difficult to find a more
jovial party than we were at Bradenham in the days of my youth,
especially when my father was in a good mood. The noise of course was
tremendous, because everybody had plenty to say and was fully
determined that it should not be hidden from the world. In the midst
of all this hubbub sat my dearest mother--like an angel that had lost
her way and found herself in pandemonium. Not being blest with the
Haggard voice, though she had a very sweet one of her own, often and
often she was reduced to the necessity of signifying her wishes by
signs. Indeed it became a habit of hers, if she needed the salt or
anything else, to point to it, and beckon it towards her. One of her
daughters-in-law once asked my mother how on earth she made herself
heard in the midst of so much noise at table.

"My dear," she answered, "I /whisper/! When I whisper they all stop
talking, because they wonder what is the matter. Then I get my

Here I will try to give some description of this mother with whom we
were blest. Twenty-two years have passed since she left us, but I can
say honestly that every one of those years has brought me to a deeper
appreciation of her beautiful character. Indeed she seems to be much
nearer to me now that she is dead than she was while she still lived.
It is as though our intimacy and mutual understanding has grown in a
way as real as it is mysterious. Someone says that the dead are never
dead to us until they are forgotten, and if that be so, in my case my
mother lives indeed. No night goes by that I do not think of her and
pray that we may meet again to part no more. If our present positions
were reversed, this would please me, could I know of it, and so I
trust that this offering of a son's unalterable gratitude and
affection may please her, for after all such things are the most
fragrant flowers that we can lay upon the graves of our beloved. The
Protestant Faith seems vaguely to inculcate that we should not pray
for the dead. If so, I differ from the Protestant Faith, who hold that
we should not only pray for them but to them, that they will judge our
frailties with tenderness and will not forget us who do not forget
them. Even if the message is delivered only after ten thousand years,
it will still be a message that most of us would be glad to hear; and
if it is never delivered at all, still it will have been sent, and
what can man do more?

I know that my mother believed that such efforts are not in vain, for
she was filled with a very earnest faith. After her death, in the
drawer of her writing-table were found four lines, feebly inscribed in
pencil, which are believed to be the last words she wrote. They are
before me now and I transcribe them:

  Lo! in the shadowy valley here He stands:
    My soul pale sliding down Earth's icy slope
  Descends to meet Him, with beseeching hands
    Trembling with Fear--and yet upraised in Hope.

My mother was married when she was twenty-five years of age, and
children came in what ladies nowadays would consider superabundance.
The eldest, my sister Ella, was born in Rome in March 1845, while they
were still upon a marriage tour, and subsequently, in quick
succession, the others followed. The last of us, my brother Arthur,
appeared in November 1860--well do I remember my father in a flowered
dressing-gown telling us to be quiet because we had a little brother.
This allows nearly sixteen years between the eldest and the youngest,
including one who came into the world still-born. Although she had ten
children living, my mother never ceased to regret this boy, and I
remember her crying, when she pointed out to me where he was buried in
Bradenham churchyard.

My mother never was a beauty in the ordinary sense of the word, but in
youth, to judge by the pictures which I have seen of her (photographs
were not then known), she must have been very refined and charming in
appearance, and indeed remained so all her life. Her abilities were
great; taking her all in all she was perhaps the ablest woman whom I
have known, though she had no iron background to her character; for
that she was too gentle. Her bent no doubt was literary, and had
circumstances permitted I am sure she would have made a name in that
branch of art to which in the intervals of her crowded life she
gravitated by nature. Also she was a good musician, and drew well. Of
her mental abilities I have however spoken in a brief memoir which I
published as a preface to a new edition of my mother's poem, "Life and
its Author."

I think that the greatest of her gifts, however, was that of
conversation. No more charming companion could be imagined. Also she
had the art of drawing the best out of anyone with whom she might be
talking, as the sympathetic sometimes can do. In a minute or two she
would find which was his or her strongest point and to this turn the
conversation. Notwithstanding the tumultuous nature of her life, her
illnesses and other distractions, she contrived to read a great deal,
and to keep herself /au courant/ with all thought movements and the
political affairs of the day. Further she did her very best to teach
her numerous children the truths of religion, and to lead them into
the ways of righteousness and peace. I fear, however, that at times we
got beyond her. It is not easy for any woman to follow and direct all
the physical and mental developments of a huge and vigorous family who
are continually coming and going, first from schools and elsewhere,
and later from every quarter of the world.

She never complained, but I cannot think that the life she was called
upon to lead was very congenial to her. When young in India, where at
that time English ladies were rare, as was natural in the case of one
of her charm who was known also to be a considerable heiress, she was
much sought after and feted. Then she returned to England and married,
and for her the responsibilities of life began with a vengeance, to
cease no more until she died. These indeed were complicated by the
fact that a time came when she had to think a good deal about ways and
means, especially after my father, who had the passion of his
generation for land, insisted upon investing most of her fortune in
that security just at the commencement of its great fall in value. Her
various duties, including that of housekeeping, of which she was a
perfect mistress, left her scarcely an hour to follow her own literary
and artistic tastes. All she could do was to give a little attention
to gardening, to which she was devoted.

On the whole life at Bradenham must have been very dull for her,
especially after the London house was sold and she was settled there
more or less permanently. She used to describe to me the wearisome and
interminable local dinner-parties to which she was obliged to go in
her early married life. The men she met at them talked, she said,
chiefly about "roots," and for a long while she could not imagine what
these roots might be and why they were so interested in them, until at
length she discovered that they referred to mangold-wurzel and to
turnips, both as crops and as a shelter for the birds which they loved
to shoot. One good fortune she had, however: all her children survived
her, all were deeply attached to her, and, what is strange in so large
a family, none of them went to the bad.

Such was the circle in which I grew up. I think that on the whole I
was rather a quiet youth, at any rate by comparison. Certainly I was
very imaginative, although I kept my thoughts to myself, which I dare
say had a good deal to do with my reputation for stupidity. I believe
I was considered the dull boy of the family. Without doubt I was slow
at my lessons, chiefly because I was always thinking of something
else. Also to this day there are subjects at which I am extremely
stupid. Thus, although I rarely forget the substance of anything worth
remembering, never could or can I learn anything by heart, and for
this reason I have been obliged to abandon the active pursuit of
Masonry. Moreover all mathematics are absolutely abhorrent to me,
while as for Euclid it bored me so intensely that I do not think I
ever mastered the meaning of the stuff.

I think it is fortunate for me that I have never been called upon to
face the competitive examinations which are now so fashionable, and, I
will add, in my opinion in many ways so mischievous, for I greatly
doubt whether I should have succeeded in them. The only one for which
I ever entered was that for the Army, which about 1872 was more severe
than is now the case. Then I went up almost without preparation, not
because I wished to become a soldier but in order to keep a friend
company, and was duly floored by my old enemy, Euclid, for which I am
very thankful. Had I passed I might have gone on with the thing and by
now been a retired colonel with nothing to do, like so many whom I

Of those early years at Bradenham few events stand out clearly in my
mind. One terrific night, however, when I was about nine years old, I
have never forgotten. I lay abed in the room called the Sandwich, and
for some reason or other could not sleep. Then it was that suddenly my
young intelligence for the first time grasped the meaning of death. It
came home to me that I too must die; that my body must be buried in
the ground and my spirit be hurried off to a terrible, unfamiliar land
which to most people was known as Hell. In those days it was common
for clergymen to talk a great deal about Hell, especially to the
young. It was an awful hour. I shivered, I prayed, I wept. I thought I
saw Death waiting for me by the library door. At last I went to sleep
to dream that I was already in this hell and that the peculiar form of
punishment allotted to me was to be continually eaten alive by rats!

Thus it was that I awoke out of childhood and came face to face with
the facts of destiny.

My other recollections are mostly of a sporting character. Like the
majority of country-bred boys I adored a gun. That given to me was a
single-barrelled muzzle-loader. With this weapon I went within an ace
of putting an end to my mortal career, contriving in some mysterious
way to let it off so that the charge just grazed my face. Also I
almost shot my brother Andrew through a fence which it was our habit
to hunt for rabbits, one of us on either side, with Jack, a dear
terrier dog, working the ditch in the middle.

I did terrible deeds with that gun. Once even, unable to find any
other game, I shot a missel-thrush on its nest, a crime that has
haunted me ever since. Also I poached a cock-pheasant, shooting it on
the wing through a thick oak tree so that it fell into a pool, whence
it was retrieved with difficulty. Also I killed a farmer's best-laying
duck. It was in the moat of the Castle Plantation, where I concluded
no respectable tame duck would be, and there it died, with results
almost as painful to me as to the duck, which was demonstrated to have
about a dozen eggs inside it.

Generally there was a horse or two at Bradenham on which we boys could
hunt. One was a mare called Rebecca, a very smart animal that belonged
more or less to my brother Bazett, which I overrode or lamed following
the hounds, a crime whereof I heard plenty afterwards. The mount that
most often fell to my lot, however, was a flea-bitten old grey called
Body-Snatcher, because of a string-halt so pronounced that, when he
came out of the stable he almost hit his hoof against his stomach. As
a matter of fact I discovered afterwards from some dealer that Body-
Snatcher had in his youth been a two-hundred-guinea horse. Meeting
with some accident, he was sold and put into a trap, which he upset,
killing one of the occupants, and finally was purchased by my father
for 15 pounds. But when he warmed to his work and the hounds were in
full cry, with a light weight like myself upon his back, there was
scarcely a horse in the county that could touch him over a stiff
fence. What his end was I cannot remember. Sometimes also my father
rode, though not in later years. I recall riding with him down some
lane out Swaffham way. Suddenly he turned to me and said, "When I am
dead, boy, you will remember these rides with me." And so I have.

After my time at Mr. Graham's, of whom I have spoken, came to an end,
how or when I do not know, the question arose as to where I should be
sent to school. All my five elder brothers, except Jack the sailor,
had the advantage of a public school education. William and Bazett
went to Winchester, and afterwards to Oxford and Cambridge
respectively; Alfred to Haileybury, Andrew to Westminster, and
subsequently my younger brother Arthur to Shrewsbury and Cambridge.
When it came to my turn, however, funds were running short, which is
scarcely to be wondered at, as my father has told me that about this
time the family bills for education came to 1200 pounds a year. Also,
as I was supposed to be not very bright, I dare say it was thought
that to send me to a public school would be to waste money. So it was
decreed that I should go to the Grammar School at Ipswich, which had
the advantages of being cheap and near at hand.

Never shall I forget my arrival at that educational establishment, to
which my father conducted me. We travelled /via/ Norwich, where he
bought me a hat. For some reason best known to himself, the head-gear
which he selected was such as is generally worn by a curate, being of
the ordinary clerical black felt and shape. In this weird head-dress I
was duly delivered at Ipswich Grammar School. As soon as my father had
tumultuously departed to catch his train, I was sent into the
playground, where I stood a forlorn and lanky figure. Presently a boy
came up and hit me in the face, saying:

"Phillips" (I think that was his name) "sends this to the new fellow
in a parson's hat."

This was too much for me, for underneath my placid exterior I had a
certain amount of spirit.

"Show me Phillips," I said, and a very big boy was pointed out to me.

I went up to him, made some appropriate repartee to his sarcasm about
my hat, and hit him in the face. Then followed a fight, of which, as
he was so much larger and stronger, of course I got the worst.
However, I gained the respect of my schoolfellows, and thenceforth my
clergyman's hat was tolerated until I managed to procure another.

I spent two or three years at Ipswich. At that time it was a rough
place, and there was much bullying of which the masters were not
aware. The best thing about the school was its head master, Dr.
Holden, with whom I became very friendly in after life when, as it
chanced, we lived almost next door to each other in Redcliffe Square.

He was a charming and a kindly gentleman, also one of the best
scholars of his age. But I do not think that the management of a
school like Ipswich was quite the task to which he was suited, and I
am sure that much went on there whereof he knew nothing.

The second master was a certain Dr. or Mr. Saunderson, an enormous man
physically, who was also a most excellent scholar. He was a gentleman
too, as the following story shows.

Once by some accident I wrote a really fine set of Latin verses. He
had me up and asked me where I had cribbed them. I told him that I had
not cribbed them at all. He answered that I was a liar, for he was
sure that there was no one in the school who could write such verses.
My recollection was that I proved to him that this was not the case
and that there the matter ended. It appears, however, as I learned a
few years ago on the occasion of my returning to Ipswich School to
take a leading part in the Speech-day functions, that the real
/finale/ was more dramatic. A gentleman who had been my classmate in
those far-off days informed me that when Mr. Saunderson discovered
that he had accused me falsely, he summoned the whole school and
offered me a public apology. From inquiries that I made there seems to
be no doubt that this really happened.

I did not distinguish myself in any way at Ipswich--I imagine for the
old reason that I was generally engaged in thinking of other things
than the lesson in hand. Moreover in those times boys did not receive
the individual attention that is given to them now, even in the Board
schools. The result was that the bent of such abilities as I may
possess was never discovered. On one occasion, however, I did triumph.

Mr. Saunderson offered a special prize to the boy who could write the
best descriptive essay on any subject that he might select. I chose
that of an operation in a hospital. I had never been in a hospital or
seen an operation, so any information I had upon the matter must have
come from reading. Still I beat all the other essayists hollow and won
the prize. This, as it chanced, I never received, for when I returned
to school after the holidays, Mr. Saunderson had forgotten all about
the matter, and I did not like to remind him of it.

I took my part in the school games and was elected captain of the
second football team, but did not stay long enough at Ipswich to get
into the first. Not much more returns to me about this period of my
life that is worthy of record. Although I believe that I was popular
among my schoolmates, who showed their affection by naming me "Nosey"
in allusion to the prominence of that organ on my undeveloped face, I
did not care for school, and found it monotonous, with the result that
my memories concerning it are somewhat of a blur.

I know of no more melancholy experience than to return to such a place
after the lapse of forty years or more, and look on the old familiar
things and find moving among them scarcely a living creature whom we
knew. I remember telling my audience on the occasion to which I have
alluded above, that to me the room seemed to be full of ghosts. Some
of the boys laughed, for they thought that I was joking, but a day may
come, say towards the year 1950, when they too will return and stand
as I did surveying an utterly alien crowd, and then, perhaps, they
will remember my words and understand their meaning. Some tradition of
me remained in the place, for one of the elder boys took me to the
room that was my study and showed me the first two initials of my
name, "H. R.," cut upon the mantelpiece. Although I was in a great
hurry to catch the train, I made shift to add the remaining "H."

There was a good deal of fighting at Ipswich, in which I took my
share. I remember being well licked by a boy who was aggrieved because
I had ducked him while we were swimming together in the river. When
his challenge to battle was accepted, and we came to fight it out, I
discovered that he was left-handed, which puzzled me altogether.
However, I fought on till my eyes were bunged up and we were
separated. One of the biggest boys of the school, a fine young man,
was a great bully and, unknown to the masters, used to cruelly
maltreat those who were smaller and weaker than himself. This lad
became a clergyman, and, as it happened, in after years I struck his
spoor in a very remote part of the world. He had been chaplain there,
and left no good name behind him. More years went by and I received a
letter from him, the gist of which was to ask me what land and climate
I could recommend to him to ensure a quick road to the devil. I think
I replied that West Africa seemed to fulfil all requirements, but
whether he ever reached either the first or the second destination I
do not know. Poor fellow! I am sorry for him. He was clever and
handsome, and might have found a better fate. I have heard, however,
that he made a disastrous marriage, which often takes men more quickly
to a bad end than does or did even the hinterland of West Africa.

While I was still at Ipswich I spent a summer holiday in Switzerland
when I was about sixteen, lodging with a foreign family in order to
improve my French. With the able assistance of the young ladies of the
house I acquired a good colloquial knowledge of that language in quite
a short time. I never saw any of them again. When my visit was over I
joined the rest of my family at Fluellen on the Lake of Lucerne.
Thence my brother Andrew and I walked to the top of the St. Gothard
Pass, there to bid farewell to our brother Alfred, who was crossing
the Alps in a diligence on his way to India at the commencement of his
career. We slept the night at some wayside inn. On the following
morning the pretty Swiss chambermaid, with whom we had made friends,
took us to a mortuary near by and, among a number of other such
gruesome relics, showed us the skull of her own father, which she
polished up affectionately with her apron.

At the top of the pass we met my brother and my father, who had
accompanied him so far. The diligence drove off, we shouting our
farewells, my father waving a tall white hat out of which, to the
amazement of the travellers, fell two towels and an assortment of
cabbage leaves and other greenery. It was like a conjuring trick. I
should explain that the day was hot, and my parent feared sunstroke.

I think that I remained at Ipswich for only one term after this trip
abroad. Then, in the following holidays, with characteristic
suddenness my father made up his mind that I was to leave, so Ipswich
knew me no more. It was at this period that my father determined that
I should go up for the Foreign Office, and, with a view to preparing
for the examination, I was sent to a private tutor in London, a French
professor who had married one of my sister's school-mistresses. He was
a charming man, and she was a charming woman, but, having married late
in life, they did not in the least assimilate. For one thing, his
religious views were what are called broad, whereas she belonged to
the Society of Plymouth Brethren, whose views are narrow. She told him
that he would go to hell. He intimated in reply that, if she were not
there, that fate would have its consolations. In short, the rows were
awful. I never knew a more ill-assorted pair. I think that I stopped
with these good people for about a year, imbibing some knowledge of
French literature, and incidentally of the tenets of the Plymouth
Brethren. Then my father announced that I was to go to Scoones, the
great crammer, and there make ready to face the Foreign Office

To this end, when I was just eighteen, I was put in lodgings alone in
London, entirely uncontrolled in any way. The first set of these
lodgings was somewhere near Westbourne Grove and kept by a young
widow. As they did not turn out respectable I was moved to others in
Davis Street, an excellent situation for a young gentleman about town.
Be it remembered that this happened at a time of life when youths
nowadays are either still at school or just gone up to College, where
they have the advantage of effective guidance and control for some
years. At this age I was thrown upon the world, as I remember when I
was a little lad my elder brothers threw me into the Rhine to teach me
to swim. After nearly drowning I learned to swim, and in a sense the
same may be said of my London life.

There is a kind Providence that helps some people through many
dangers, although unfortunately it seems to abandon others to their
fate. In my case it helped me through.

Among the risks I ran were those attendant upon spiritualism. Somehow
or other, I have not the faintest recollection how, I became a
frequent visitor at the house of old Lady Paulet, No. 20 Hanover
Square. She was a great spiritualist, and I used to attend her
seances. Undoubtedly very strange things happened at these seances
which I will not stop to describe. Among the other habitues of the
"circle" was Lady Caithness, who wore a necklace of enormous diamonds.
When the lights were turned down these diamonds were the last objects
visible. They gleamed alone, and seemed to be hung on air. On these
occasions a lady called Mrs. Guppy was the great medium. On Mrs. Guppy
I and a confederate used to play jokes. For instance, one of the
manifestations was that the table suddenly became covered with great
quantities of roses covered with dew. Off these roses my friend and I,
having unlinked our hands, broke a number of fat, hard buds and,
knowing where she was sitting, discharged them through the darkness
with all our strength straight at the head of Mrs. Guppy. Little
wonder that presently we heard that poor lady exclaim:

"Oh! the spirits are hurting me so."

I think it was Lady Caithness who made a somewhat similar remark when,
in the course of my investigation of certain phenomena that were
happening underneath the table in connection with some musical glasses
that seemed to be emitting their plaintive strains from between my
feet, I landed her a most severe kick upon the shins.

It was all very amusing, and would have done no harm had the business
stopped there. But it did not. Before I leave 20 Hanover Square,
however, I may mention that more than a quarter of a century
afterwards I revisited it under strangely different circumstances. The
house is now the home of various societies, and in the offices of one
of these societies I was called upon to preside as Chairman of the
Committee of the Society of Authors upon the occasion of a General
Meeting. Of course everything was changed, but it seemed to me that I
recognised the marble mantelpieces.

My acquaintance with Lady Paulet gave me the entree to the
spiritualistic society of the day. Perhaps some of them had hopes that
I might develop into a first-class medium. Among the seances that I
attended were some at a private house in Green Street. Here I
witnessed remarkable things. The medium was a young lady, not merely
in the conventional sense of the term, who evidently believed in her
mission and was not paid. She sank into a trance secured by many
tests, and "strange things happened" or seemed to happen. Thus, to
leave out the minor manifestations, two young women of great beauty--
or perhaps I should say young spirits--one dark and the other fair,
appeared in the lighted room. I conversed with and touched them both,
and noted that their flesh seemed to be firm but cold. I remember
that, being a forward youth of inquiring mind, I even asked the
prettier of the two to allow me to give her a kiss. She smiled but did
not seem to be at all annoyed, but I never got the kiss. I think she
remarked that it was not permissible.

She was draped in a kind of white garment which covered her head, and
I asked her to allow me to see her hair. She pushed up the white
drapery from her forehead, remarking sweetly that if I would look I
should see that she had no hair, and in fact she appeared to be quite
bald. A minute or two later, however, she had long and beautiful hair
which flowed all about her.

Afterwards either she or the other apparition remarked that she was
tired. Thereon her body seemed to shrink, with the result that, as her
head remained where it was, the neck elongated enormously, after the
fashion of Alice in Wonderland. Then she fell backwards and vanished

To this day I wonder whether the whole thing was illusion, or, if not,
what it can have been. Of one thing I am certain--that spirits, as we
understand the term, had nothing to do with the matter. On the other
hand I do not believe that it was a case of trickery; rather I am
inclined to think that certain forces with which we are at present
unacquainted were set loose that produced phenomena which, perhaps,
had their real origin in our own minds, but nevertheless were true

Sometimes these phenomena were purely physical. Thus I and some other
of the Scoones students' arranged a seance at the house of the uncle
of one of them in St. James's Place, where no such thing had ever been
held before. The medium, a feeble little man, whose name, I think, was
Edwards, arrived and at the door was pounced upon by two of the
strongest young men present, who never let go of him until the end of
the proceedings. These were various and tumultuous. We sat in the
darkened dining-room round the massive table, which presently began to
skip like a lamp. Lights floated about the room, and with them a file
of /Morning Posts/ which normally reposed in a corner. Cold little
hands picked at the studs in our shirts, and the feather fans off the
mantelpiece floated to and fro, performing their natural office upon
our heated brows. Our host, Mr. Norris, whispered to me that he was
receiving these attentions.

"Catch hold of the thing," I said, letting go of his hand.

He did so and thrust his fingers through the leather loop of the fan.
Then followed a great struggle, for somebody or something located near
the ceiling strove to tear it away from him.

"Stick to it," I said, and there followed a crack.

"Confound them! they have broken my fan," said Mr. Norris, and passed
me the round and carved ivory handle, which I felt so distinctly that
I could have sworn that it was separated from the feather top. I gave
it back to him and he threw it down upon the table, remarking that as
the "spirits" had broken it they might as well mend it again. When the
light was turned on later there before him lay the fan--but unbroken
and even unruffled.

This was curious but by no means the cream of the proceedings. We
became aware that heavy articles were on the move, and the light
showed us that we were not mistaken. There in the centre of the
dining-table, piled one upon the other, like Ossa upon Pelion, were
the two massive dining-room arm-chairs, and on the top of these,
reaching nearly to the ceiling, appeared Mr. Norris's priceless china

How were those massive chairs, which it would have taken two skilled
and careful men to lift to that height, passed over our heads without
our knowing it and set one upon another? Even if the medium, who as I
have said was held by the two strongest of the sitters, friends of my
own who were above suspicion, were free, he could never have lifted
those chairs. Even if he had had a confederate they could never have
lifted them, and certainly could not have arranged the china upon the
top of the pile.

I gave it up then and, after assuring the reader that these things
happened exactly as stated, I give it up now. All I can do is to fall
back upon my hypothesis that some existent but unknown force was let
loose which produced these phenomena.

Whatever may be the true explanation, on one point I am quite sure,
namely that the whole business is mischievous and to be discouraged.
Bearing in mind its effect upon my own nerves, never would I allow any
young person over whom I had control to attend a seance. I am well
aware that there are many different grades of spiritualism. The name
covers such occurrences as I have described and the researches of wise
scientists like Sir Oliver Lodge. Lastly, there is an even higher
variant of preternatural experience to which it may be applied--I mean
that of the communion of the individual soul still resident on earth
with other souls that have passed from us; this, too, without the
intervention of any medium, but as it were face to face in those
surrounding solitudes that, unless we dream--as is possible, for the
nerves and the imagination play strange tricks--from time to time they
find the strength to travel.

In short, spiritualism should be left to the expert and earnest
investigator, or become the secret comfort of such few hearts as can
rise now and again beyond the world, making as it were their trial
flights towards that place where, as we hope, their rest remaineth. To
most people that door should remain sealed, for beyond it they will
find only what is harmful and unwholesome.

Since those days nearly forty years ago I have never attended a
seance, nor do I mean ever to do so more.

During this time that I was at Scoones' a great event happened. I fell
truly and earnestly in love. If all goes well, this, I suppose, is one
of the best things that can happen to a young fellow. It steadies him
and gives him an object in life: someone for whom to work. If all goes
ill, it is one of the worst, for then the reverse is apt to come
about. It unsteadies him, makes him reckless, and perhaps throws him
in the way of undesirable adventures. In my case, in the end all went
wrong, or seemed to do so at the time.

I was taken by a friend to a ball at Richmond; who gave it I have long
forgotten. There I saw a very beautiful young lady a few years older
than myself to whom I was instantly and overwhelmingly attracted. I
say beautiful advisedly, for to my mind she was one of the three
really lovely women whom I have seen in my life. The second was the
late Duchess of Leinster, and the third was a village girl at
Bradenham who was reported to be the daughter of a gentleman. She,
poor thing, died quite young.

At length the ball came to an end and I escorted this lady back to her
carriage--she was driving back to London alone--with the intelligent
object of ascertaining where she lived. In this, by the way, I failed;
either I did not catch the address or it was too vague and general.
Ultimately, however, I overcame that difficulty by a well-directed
inquiry at a butcher's shop in what I knew to be the neighbourhood. It
occurred to me that even goddesses must eat.

The reason that I mention this matter is that quite a curious
coincidence is connected with it. The house where the ball took place
had a garden in front, down which garden ran a carpeted path. At the
end of the path a great arch had been erected for the occasion, and
through this arch I followed the young lady. Some thirty-five years
later I was present at her death-bed--for happily I was able to be of
service to her in her later life--and subsequently, with my wife, who
had become her friend many years before, was one of the few mourners
at her funeral. At the church where this took place it is the custom
to carry out coffins through the big western door. As I followed hers
the general aspect of the arch of this door reminded me of something,
at the moment I could not remember what. Then it came back to me. It
was exactly like that other arch through which I had followed her to
her carriage on the night when first we met. Also, strangely different
as were the surroundings, there were accessories, floral and other,
that were similar in their general effect.

I think I was about a year and a half at Scoones', making many
friends, collecting many experiences and some knowledge of the world.
How much book knowledge I collected I do not know, nor whether I
should have passed for the Foreign Office if I had gone up. But it was
not fated that I should do so. In the summer vacation of 1875 I went
to join my family, whom, in the course of one of his continual
expeditions, my father had settled for a while at Tours. I travelled
/via/ Paris, which I found looking almost itself again. On the last
occasion that I had visited it the Column Vendome was lying shattered
on the ground, the public statues were splashed over with the lead of
bullets, and great burnt-out buildings stared at me emptily. I
remembered a young Frenchman whom I knew taking me to a spot backed by
a high wall where shortly before he had seen, I think he said, 300
Communists executed at once. He told me that the soldiers fired into
the moving heap until at length it grew still. On the wall were the
marks of their bullets.

At Tours I did not live with my family, but with an old French
professor and his wife--I think their name was Demeste--in order that
I might pursue my studies of the language.

Whilst I was at Tours, making expeditions with the others to see old
castles and so forth, my father saw in the /Times/, or heard
otherwise, that Sir Henry Bulwer had been appointed to the Lieutenant-
Governorship of Natal. Now my father was a man of ideas who never lost
a chance of finding an opening for one of his sons, and the Bulwers of
Heydon in Norfolk were, as it happened, old friends of our family. So
he wrote off at once and asked Sir Henry if he would take me with him
to Africa on his staff. Sir Henry assented, which was extremely kind
of him, as I do not remember that he had ever set eyes on me.

Accordingly in a week or two Scoones' and the Foreign Office had faded
into the past, and I reported myself to my future chief in London,
where he set me to work at once ordering wine and other stores to be
consumed at Government House in Natal.

                             CHAPTER III


  Leave for South Africa with Sir Henry Bulwer--Arrive Cape Town--
  Government House--Lady Barkly--Bishop Colenso--Go on to Durban--
  Then to Pietermaritzburg--Reception of Sir H. Bulwer there--Sir
  George Colley--Duties of H. R. H. at Government House--Buck-
  hunting--Journey up-country to Weenen--Zulu customs--Witch-finding
  --Pagate's kraal--Great native war-dance--Lost in bush--Saved by
  Kaffir--More about Bishop Colenso--Sir Theophilus Shepstone--His
  friendship for H. R. H.--His character and policy--Captain Cox.

Here I ought to say a few words about Sir Henry Bulwer, who, I am glad
to say, is still living, and whom I often meet at the Athenaeum Club.
Indeed, within the last few months he has read a book of mine named
"Marie" in proof, which book I have dedicated to him. I was anxious
that he should read it, for he is an old man, and who knows whether he
will be alive when it is published a year or so hence!

For Sir Henry Bulwer I have and always shall retain the greatest
affection and regard; indeed, he is my beau-ideal of what an English
gentleman should be. Also his kindness to me was great. When first I
know him some thirty-six years ago, he was about forty, and an
extremely able public servant, who had received his training in
various Colonial appointments. He was most painstaking and careful in
all his methods, but to me his weak point seemed to be that he always
saw so much of both sides of the case that he found it difficult to
make up his mind which of them he ought to follow.

My farewells were hurried. I find among the few documents that I have
preserved of this period one from my mother which is signed by all the
members of the family who were at Tours, wishing me good fortune and
good-bye. Also--and this is more valuable--there is a copy of some
verses which she addressed to me. These I quote below.

               TO MY SON RIDER

        (On leaving home. July 1875)

  And thus, my son, adown Life's vernal tide
    Light drifting, hast thou reached her troublous sea,
  Where never more thy bark may idly glide,
    But shape her course to gain the far To be!

  Rise to thy destiny! Awake thy powers!
    Mid throng of men enact the man's full part!
  No more with mists of doubt dim golden hours,
    But with strong Being fill thine eager heart!

  Nineteen short summers o'er thy youthful head
    Have shone and ripened as they flitted by:
  May their rich fruit o'er coming years be shed,
    And make God's gift of life a treasury.

  That Life is granted, not in Pleasure's round,
    Or even Love's sweet dream, to lapse content:
  Duty and Faith are words of solemn sound,
    And to their echoes must thy soul be bent.

  Conscience shall hallow all; grant noble aim,
    And firm resolve the paths of vice to shun;
  And haply, in reward, Love's lambent flame
    Through storms of life shall shine, like Earth's fair sun!

  But a few days: and far across the flood,
    To stranger lands with strangers wilt thou roam;
  Yet shall not absence loose the bonds of blood,
    Or still the voices of thy distant home.

  So, go thy way, my Child! I love thee well:
    /How/ well, no heart but mother's heart may know--
  Yet One loves better,--more than words can tell,--
    Then trust Him, now and evermore;--and go!

                                        Ella Haggard.
  July 16, 1875.

I think them beautiful lines. Moreover they are typical of the writer.

  Duty and Faith are words of solemn sound,

Well, duty and faith were the stars by which she guided her own life.

Of our voyage to Africa there is little to be said except that in
those days it was long. On arriving at Cape Town we went to Government
House, where we stayed for about a week with Lady Barkly.

Government House is, or was, a large, quaint old place--I have not
seen it from that day to this--which had the reputation of being
haunted by a certain Grey Lady who had lived there generations before
in the old Dutch days.

Since these chapters were written some letters of mind have been found
at Bradenham. From one of these, dealing with my arrival in South
Africa, I will quote some passages:

                                              Government House
                                         Cape Town: August 18, 1875.

  My dear Father,--You will see from the heading of my letter that I
  have arrived all safe at Cape Town. We have not made a very quick
  passage, nor yet a very slow one. . . . Among other things we got
  up a sort of penny reading on board, for which I wrote the
  Prologue. I also had a good deal of work to do, getting up all the
  Langalibalele case and extracting the pith from a mass of blue-
  books. It is not easy to get at the truth when it is hedged round
  by such a mass of contradictory evidence. However the whole affair
  is rather interesting, inasmuch as it gives you an idea of the
  tremendous state of ferment and excitement the Colony was and
  still is in. . . .

  We arrived here early yesterday morning, expecting to find Sir
  Garnet Wolseley waiting for us, but he has not yet returned from
  Natal, which is very awkward, as we do not know whether to wait
  for him or to go on and meet him there. . . .

  I am getting on all right, though my position is not an easy one.
  I find myself responsible for everything, and everybody comes and
  bothers me. However it all comes in the day's work. I don't know
  yet if I am private secretary, but I suppose I am as nobody else
  has appeared. I make a good many blunders, but still I think I get
  on very well on the whole. I expect I shall have a tremendous lot
  of work at Natal as the Chief told me that he was going to
  entertain a good deal, and all that will fall on my shoulders in
  addition to business. We are very good friends and shall, I think,
  continue to be so, as he is not a captious or changeable man.
  . . . Beaumont, who was secretary to Pine (the late Governor of
  Natal), puts me up to a lot of things; he is an excessively nice
  fellow and we are great allies. . . .

  The merchants of Cape Town give a ball to-morrow night to which I
  am invited. It will be a good opportunity of studying the Cape
  Town aristocracy. I have just returned from calling on the Bishop.
  The Barklys have a first-rate four-in-hand and we went through a
  beautiful country, so our drive was a pleasant one. I like the
  Bishop very much. He is a thorough specimen of muscular
  Christianity. . . . This continual influx of strangers has a very
  depressing effect. There is another big dinner on to-night, and
  there won't be a soul I know among them unless Beaumont comes,
  which I devoutly hope he will. All these new faces that you don't
  know make you think of the old ones that you do know. . . . I hope
  that you are quite well now, my dear Father, and that you do not
  miss me as much as I do you.

    I remain, with best love to all,
        Ever your most affectionate and dutiful son,
                H. Rider Haggard (or "Waggart" as they put my name
                        in the paper).

  My mother will pity me when I tell her that I've got to get
  servants. Where on earth am I to find servants, and who am I to
  ask about them?

Now before we go on to Natal where the real business of my life began,
I will stop for a moment to take stock of myself as I was in those
days at the age of nineteen.

I was a tall young fellow, quite six feet, and slight; blue-eyed,
brown-haired, fresh-complexioned, and not at all bad-looking. The
Zulus gave me the name of "Indanda," which meant, I believe, one who
is tall and pleasant-natured. Mentally I was impressionable, quick to
observe and learn whatever interested me, and could already hold my
own in conversation. Also, if necessary, I could make a public speech.
I was, however, subject to fits of depression and liable to take views
of things too serious and gloomy for my age--failings, I may add, that
I have never been able to shake off. Even then I had the habit of
looking beneath the surface of characters and events, and of trying to
get at their springs and causes. I liked to understand any country or
society in which I found myself. I despised those who merely floated
on the stream of life and never tried to dive into its depths. Yet in
some ways I think I was rather indolent, that is if the task in hand
bored me. I was ambitious and conscious of certain powers, but wanted
to climb the tree of success too quickly--a proceeding that generally
results in slips.

Further, my eldest sister, Ella (Mrs. Maddison Green), informed me
only a month or two ago that at this period I was conceited. Possibly
I may have been, for I had been living in a very forcing atmosphere
where I was made too much of by some of my elders.

Four or five days' steaming along the green and beautiful coasts of
south-eastern Africa, on which the great rollers break continually,
brought us to Port Natal. At that time the Durban harbour was not
sufficiently dredged to admit sea-going vessels, and I think we had
some difficulty in landing. There was a reception committee which
presented an address of welcome to the Lieutenant-Governor, and I
remember hurriedly copying his answer as the ship rolled off the

Sir Garnet Wolseley had been sent to Natal as temporary Governor to
settle certain matters connected with its constitution. I think that
at that time he had left the Colony himself, though of this I am not
quite sure, as I am unable to remember when I first spoke to him. In
after life I met him on several occasions. Especially do I remember a
long talk with him at a dinner-party at the house of the Bischoffheims
in London some time in the eighties. He was a small, bright-eyed,
quick-brained man who expressed his views upon the public matters of
the day with a fierceness and a vigour that were quite astonishing. We
sat together at the table after all the other guests had left to join
the ladies, and I reflected that he must have had singular confidence
in my character to say the things he did to me. However, it was
justified, for of course I never repeated a word.

Those of the Staff whom I recollect are, or were--for I think they are
now all dead--Lord Gifford, Colonel (afterwards Sir Henry)
Brackenbury, and Major (afterwards Sir William) Butler. Of these the
one who impressed himself most deeply upon my mind was Butler. He was
a most agreeable and sympathetic man, who took the trouble to talk a
good deal to me, although I was but a lad. I recall that with much
graphic detail he told me the story of how, when he was suffering from
fever, he was nearly thrown overboard as a dead man off the West Coast
of Africa, where he had been serving in the Ashanti Expedition.
Recently I have been reading his very interesting and remarkable
autobiography, in which I see he describes this incident.

Subsequently--but I think this was at Pietermaritzburg--I became well
acquainted with Colonel (afterwards Sir George) Colley. He stayed with
us at Government House and I remember a curious little incident
concerning him.

He was leaving Natal and wished to sell a shot-gun which I wished to
purchase, though I am not sure whether this was on my account or on
that of Sir Henry Bulwer. We had a difference of opinion as to the
price of the article. Finally I interviewed him one morning when he
was taking his bath, and he suggested that we should settle the matter
by tossing. This I did with a half-sovereign, he giving the call, but
who won I forget.

Of my last tragic meeting with poor Colley at the time of the first
Boer War I may speak later in this book.

After a short stay at Durban we proceeded to Maritzburg, the seat of
government, in some kind of a horse conveyance, as, except for a short
time on the coast, there was then no railway in Natal. In those days
it was a charming town of the ordinary Dutch character, with wide
streets bordered by sluits of running water and planted with gum

Of the year or so that I spent in Natal I have not much to say that is
worthy of record. The country impressed me enormously. Indeed, on the
whole I think it the most beautiful of any that I have seen in the
world, parts of Mexico alone excepted. The great plains rising by
steps to the Quathlamba or Drakensberg Mountains, the sparkling
torrential rivers, the sweeping thunderstorms, the grass-fires
creeping over the veld at night like snakes of living flame, the
glorious aspect of the heavens, now of a spotless blue, now charged
with the splendid and many-coloured lights of sunset, and now
sparkling with a myriad stars; the wine-like taste of the air upon the
plains, the beautiful flowers in the bush-clad kloofs or on the black
veld in spring--all these things impressed me, so much that were I to
live a thousand years I never should forget them.

Then there were the Zulu Kaffirs living in their kraals filled with
round beehive-like huts, bronze-coloured, noble-looking men and women
clad only in their /moochas/, whose herds of cattle wandered hither
and thither in charge of a little lad. From the beginning I was
attracted to these Zulus, and soon began to study their character and
their history.

I will quote from a letter to my mother dated Government House, Natal,
September 15, 1875.

  My dearest Mother,-- . . . You will by this time have got my
  letters from Durban and the Cape. We left Durban at 10 A.M. on the
  morning of the 1st September and came up the fifty-four miles over
  most tremendous hills in five and a half hours, going at full
  gallop all the way, in a four-horse wagonette. There were five of
  us, the Chief, Mr. Shepstone (Secretary for Native Affairs),
  Napier Broome (Colonial Secretary), Beaumont and myself. Some of
  the scenery was very fine, but we were so choked by the dust,
  which was so thick that you could not see the road beneath you,
  that we did not much enjoy it. Our guard of honour did not improve

  When we got near Maritzburg crowds of people rode out to meet us,
  and we entered in grand style amidst loud hurrahs. We galloped up
  to Government House, where the regiment was drawn up on the lawn,
  and as soon as the carriage stopped the band struck up "God save
  the Queen" and salutes were fired from the fort. Then all the
  grandees of Maritzburg came forward and paid their respects to the
  Governor, and at last we were left alone to clean ourselves as
  best we could.

  The Government House is a very pretty building, not nearly so
  large as the Cape Government House, but far from small. I, who
  have to look after it, find it too large. I have a large bedroom
  upstairs and my office in the Executive Council chamber. The day
  after we arrived the swearing-in ceremony was held, in a room
  where the Legislative Council sit in the Public Offices building.
  It was a very swell ceremony indeed, and I had to go through an
  extraordinary amount of scraping and bowing, presenting and
  pocketing, or trying to pocket, enormous addresses, commissions,
  etc., etc. After it followed a levee, which tried my patience
  considerably, for these people came so thick and fast that I had
  no time to decipher their, for the most part, infamously written
  cards, so I had to shout out their names at haphazard. However,
  that came to an end too at last, and we drove off amidst loud

  I am at last clear on one point: I am not private secretary. The
  Chief was talking the other night to Beaumont about me and told
  him he had a very good opinion of me and thought I should do very
  well, but that he had /always intended/ to have an older man to
  help him /at first/, though who it is going to be does not seem
  clear. He wants somebody who can go and talk to all these people
  as a man of their own standing, which I cannot do. He also wants
  someone who has some experience of this sort of work. I am not in
  the least disappointed; indeed now that I see something of the
  place, and of the turbulent character of its inhabitants, I should
  have much wondered if he had made a fellow young as I am private
  secretary. Putting the money out of the question I would
  infinitely rather be rid of the responsibility, at any rate at
  present. I am sorry, very sorry, still to be dependent on my
  father, but you may be sure, my dear Mother, that I will be as
  moderate as I can. At any rate I shall cost less than if I had
  been at home. I have now learnt Sir Henry's character pretty well.
  I know him to be a man of his word, therefore I am pretty well
  convinced that I shall be his private secretary sooner or later.
  . . . I continue to get on very well with him, indeed we are the
  best of friends, and I have many friendly jaws with him. I should
  rather like to know who No. 1 is going to be, but I don't think he
  knows himself; he is very reserved on these matters. . . .

  Of work I have plenty here, but my chief trouble is my
  housekeeping. I have all this large house entirely under me, and
  being new to it find it difficult work. I have often seen with
  amusement the look of anxiety on a hostess' face at a dinner-
  party, but, by Jove, I find it far from amusing now. Dinner days
  are black Mondays to me. Imagine my dismay the other day when the
  fish did not appear and when, on whispering a furious inquiry, I
  was told the cook had forgotten it! Servants are very difficult to
  get here, and one has to pay 5 pounds a month at the lowest.

The next surviving letter is dated February 14, 1876. It gives an
account of a buck hunt which is perhaps worth transcribing.

  To begin with, I am getting on all right and have quite got over
  all signs of liver since I got a horse. This place, if only you
  take exercise, is as healthy as England, but exercise is a /sina
  qua non/. I got out for a day's buck-hunting the other day to a
  place about twelve miles off, a farm of fertile plain (about
  12,000 acres). The owner of it, a very good fellow, is one of the
  few people who preserve their buck.

  The way you shoot is this: three or four guns on good horses ride
  over the plain about fifty yards apart. If an oribe gets up, you
  have to pull up and shoot off your horse's back, which is not very
  easy till you get used to it. Sometimes you run them as I did, but
  it wants a very swift horse. I had dropped a little behind the
  others, when in galloping up to join them my horse put its foot
  into a hole and came to the ground, sending me and my loaded gun
  on to my head some five or six yards further on. I had hardly come
  to my senses and caught my horse when I saw an oribe pass like a
  flash of light, taking great bounds. I turned and went away after
  him, and I must say I never had a more exciting ride in my life.
  Away we went like the wind, over hill and down dale, and very
  dangerous work it was, for being all through long grass the holes
  were hidden. Every now and then I felt my horse give a violent shy
  or a bound, and then I knew we had nearly got into some bottomless
  pit; if we had, going at that rate the horse would most likely
  have broken his legs or I my neck. And so on for about two miles,
  I gaining very slowly, but still gaining on the buck, when
  suddenly down he popped into a bush. It is curious how rarely one
  does the right thing at the right time. If I had done the right
  thing I should have got my buck--but I didn't. Instead of getting
  off and walking him up, I sent one barrel into the bush after him
  and gave him the other as he rose. By this means I hit him very
  hard but did not kill him. However, I made sure of him and struck
  the spurs into my horse to catch him. To my surprise he only gave
  a jump, and I found myself embedded in a bog whilst my wounded
  buck slowly vanished over a rise. I went back in a sweet temper,
  as you may imagine.

  We also hunt with hounds, and get very good runs sometimes. I
  very nearly lost my watch and chain in one the other day. I was
  tearing along at full gallop through the long grass when I thought
  I felt an extra weight at the end of my whip which was resting on
  the pommel of my saddle. I looked down and saw my watch and chain
  hanging to it. It was what one may call a lucky escape. . . .
  There is little news here of any sort. It is evidently thought in
  England that Froude made a fiasco of his mission, but I believe it
  was more the fault of the Home Government than his own. The only
  other thing is that some people fear resistance on the part of the
  Kaffirs when the time comes for the collection of the new hut tax,
  but I don't believe in it. . . .

In a letter dated Easter Sunday, 1876, there are some allusions to
Bishop Colenso and to the Zulu customs of the day which may be of

  There is but little news to tell, none indeed with the exception
  of the tragedy I mentioned in my letter to my father. Colenso
  preached a funeral sermon on him this morning, by far the finest I
  ever heard him preach. He was one of the Bishop's best friends,
  one who had stood by him when all deserted him. The Bishop quite
  broke down. I was sitting under him; all the last part of the
  sermon he was literally sobbing. It was touching to see stern-
  faced Colenso, whom nothing can move, so broken. He is a very
  strange man, but one you cannot but admire, with his intellect
  written on his face. I dare say that my father has met him in
  Norfolk, where he was a rector; he recognized my name the first
  time I saw him.

  We start for a trip up-country in three days' time; we shall be
  away until about the 22nd. We are going to explore Weenen or the
  Land of Weeping, so-called from the weeping of the women and
  children left alive after the great massacre of the Dutch.

  I saw a curious sight the other day, a witch dance. I cannot
  attempt to describe it, it is a weird sort of thing.

  The Chief Interpreter of the Colony told me that he was in
  Zululand some years ago and saw one of these witch-findings.
  "There," he said, "were collected some five thousand armed
  warriors in a circle, in the midst of which the witches [I should
  have said the witch-doctors] danced. Everyone was livid with fear,
  and with reason, for now and again one of these creatures would
  come crooning up to one of them and touch him, whereupon he was
  promptly put out of the world by a regiment of the king's guard."
  My friend interfered and nearly had his own neck broken for his

The Chief Interpreter alluded to must have been my friend Fynney, now
long dead, who was afterwards my colleague on the staff of Sir
Theophilus Shepstone. From him I gathered much information as to Zulu
customs and history which in subsequent days I made use of in "Nada
the Lily" and other books. There the reader may find a true account of
the doings of these awful witch-doctors. Often I have wondered whether
they are merely frauds or whether they do possess, at any rate in
certain instances, some share of occult power. Certainly I have known
them do the strangest things, especially in the way of discovering
lost cattle or other property. On the occasion of which I speak in the
letter I remember that the doctoress soon discovered an article I
thought was gone for ever.

I accompanied Sir Henry on a tour he made up-country and there saw a
great war-dance which was organised in his honour. I mention this
because the first thing I ever wrote for publication was a description
of this dance. I think that it appeared in the /Gentleman's Magazine/.

Among the new-found letters is one that tells of this war-dance. It is
headed Camp, Pagate's Location, May 13, 1876.

  . . . We have since my last letter home been trekking steadily on
  through the country in much the same way, except that we have left
  the plains and entered the mountainous bush-land, which, though
  the roads are terrible, is much pleasanter to travel through as it
  is more varied. Also you can make dives into the bush in search of
  a little shooting, though it is very necessary to take your
  bearings first. I neglected to do this the other day, and when I
  had been off the road five minutes I found I was utterly unable to
  find it again.

  When once you have lost your general direction you are done for. I
  wandered on and on till at length I saw three pretty, rustic-
  looking houses on a hill a couple of miles off, for which I was
  not sorry, for the evening was very gloomy and a cold east wind
  was driving down clouds and mists from the hill. Thither I and my
  tired horse and dogs clambered as best we could, now over masses
  of boulders, now through deep water-courses, till at last we came
  to the neighbourhood of the first house, just as night was setting

  As I approached I was struck by the stillness of the place, and
  drawing nearer yet I saw that brambles and thorns were mixed with
  the peaches and pomegranates of the garden, and that the fruit had
  not been plucked, but eaten away by birds; then I observed that
  the front door had fallen from its hinges. I rode in and found the
  place a picture of melancholy desertion. I went on to the next
  house and found it in the same condition, and the next to that
  also. I was now pretty well done, but as the prospect of sleeping
  in the bush or a deserted house was not pleasant I determined to
  make one more shot for the road. As soon as I had ridden over half
  a mile it came on to rain "cats and dogs," and I got ducked
  through and through. I turned to make for the houses as best I
  could through the dark, feeling uncommonly cold, when suddenly I
  stumbled upon a Kaffir coming through the bush. An angel could not
  have been more welcome.

  However there was a drawback. I knew no Kaffir, he knew no
  English. Luckily I did know the Kaffir name of Mr. Shepstone--
  "Sompseu"--which is known by every black in South Africa, and
  managed to make my friend understand that I was travelling with
  the "Mighty Hunter," also that there were four waggons. Now he had
  not seen these but had heard that they were in the neighbourhood,
  so following his unerring instinct he at once struck out for the
  high road from which I had wandered some five miles. Arrived
  there, he managed by the glimmer of the stars to find the track of
  the waggons, and having satisfied himself that they had passed,
  struck away again into the most awful places where anything but
  the Basuto pony I was riding must have come to grief.

  On we went for about eight miles till I began to think my friend
  was knocking under to the cold (a very little cold kills them) and
  making for his own kraal. However, to my astonishment he hit the
  track again and at length came safely to the waggons. I was not
  sorry to see them. I found the Governor in a dreadful state of

  Two days ago we went up to Pagate's kraal. He is a rather powerful
  chief under our protection, having some fifteen thousand people.
  It is a very good specimen of a chief's kraal. It stands on a high
  promontory that juts out and divides two enormous valleys at the
  bottom of one of which runs the Mooi River. The view is superb;
  two thousand feet below lies the plain encircled by tremendous
  hills bush-clad to the very top, while at the bottom flashes a
  streak of silver which is the river. There is little of what we
  admire in views in England, but Nature in her wild and rugged

  His kraal is curious. In extent it covers about ten acres. First
  there is the outer fence, inside of which are the huts, and then a
  stronger inner one to hold the cattle in times of danger. The
  chief's kraal is at the top and fenced off.

  We went into the principal hut and partook of refreshments in the
  shape of Kaffir beer.

  Next morning Pagate gave a war dance, which is one of the most
  strange and savage sights I ever saw. It was not very large as
  they only had a day's notice to collect the warriors; however some
  five hundred turned up.

  The dance was held in front of our camp. First arrived a warrior
  herald dressed in his war-plumage, ox-tails round the shoulders
  and middle, a circlet of some long white hair round the right
  knee, a circlet round the head from which arose a solitary plume
  of the Kaffir crane; in one hand the large white ox-hide shield
  and in the other his assegais, which however were represented by
  long sticks, assegais not being allowed at these affairs.

  This gentleman was accompanied by a little old woman who rushed
  about shrieking like a wild thing. He sang the praises of his

  "Pagate! Pagate is coming! Pagate the son of ---- who did ----,
  the son of ---- who did ----," and so on through some scores of

  "Pagate's soldiers are coming! Pagate's soldiers who drink the
  blood of their enemies, who know how to kill! Pheasants for whom
  no other pheasant ever scratched" (i.e. who could look after
  themselves), and so on.

  Then he retired. Presently the warriors arrived in companies
  singing a sort of solemn chant. Each man was dressed in his
  fierce, fantastic war-dress. One half wore heron plumes, the rest
  long black plumes; each company had a leader and a separate
  pattern of shield. They formed themselves into a half-square
  looking very fierce and imposing. Each company as it arrived
  caught up the solemn war-chant, which was sung in perfect time and
  was the most impressive thing I ever heard.

  As the chief came up attended by his bodyguard it grew louder and
  louder, till it swelled to a regular paean, when the old man,
  fired with martial ardour, flung off the attendants who supported
  him, and forgetting his age and weakness ran to the head of his
  warriors. I shall never forget the sight.

  The Governor drew near and was met with the royal salute accorded
  only to Cetewayo, Mr. Shepstone and the Governor of Natal--in
  itself imposing when pronounced by a great number, "Bayete,

  The dance then commenced and was a wonderful performance. Company
  after company charged past looking for all the world like great
  fierce birds swooping on their prey. Assegais extended and shields
  on high, they flitted backwards and forwards, accompanying every
  moment with a shrill hiss something like the noise which thousands
  of angry snakes would make, only shriller, a sound impossible to
  describe but not easy to forget. It would vary:--now it is a troop
  of lions, now a pack of wild dogs hounding their prey to death.

  Then forth leaped warrior after warrior: advanced, challenged,
  leapt five feet into the air, was down, was up, was between his
  own legs, was anywhere and everywhere, and was met with this
  sibilating applause which rose and fell and rose again, but always
  in perfect time.

  By this time they were well excited; even the little boys of the
  tribe had got shields and joined themselves on at the end, while
  the beauties, and some of them were not unworthy of the name, took
  hold of long branches and went undulating about (the only word to
  describe their motion) urging the warriors on.

  Presently forth sprang the heir-apparent, and in a moment the air
  was filled with this fierce sibilation and every warrior roused
  into wild activity.

  It was a splendidly barbaric sight. The singing was the finest
  part of it. The last royal salute was also imposing; it is made by
  striking the assegais on the shield. It commences with a low
  murmur like that of the sea, growing louder and louder till it
  sounds like far-off thunder, and ending with a quick sharp
  rattle. . . .

In a letter dated July 6, 1876, I say:

  . . . I stopped three days in Durban and enjoyed the change very
  much, as it was the first holiday I have had with the exception of
  a week when I was sick. . . . There is somewhat stirring news from
  the Transvaal telling of the first skirmish between the Boers and
  Secocoeni, a native chief of very considerable power. If the Boers
  have to deal with him alone they will be all right, though there
  will very likely be a good deal of bloodshed. But Secocoeni is a
  tributary of and allied to Cetewayo the Zulu king, who has of late
  been on the worst of terms with the Boers, so that it is more than
  probable that he and his thirty thousand armed men supposed to be
  hovering like a thunder-cloud on the borders of Natal, will take
  an opportunity to have a shot at them too: if he doesn't he is a
  greater fool than "Cetewayo the Silent" is generally supposed to

  On the other side of them, too, are the Amaswazi, numerically as
  strong as the Zulus and their nominal tributaries. These have
  hitherto been friendly with the Boers, not from any natural
  affection but to protect themselves from the Zulus who are braver
  and more warlike than they. But that friendly feeling has been
  shaken and I hear that the Amaswazi contingent counted on by the
  Boers to help them in the Secocoeni business has not arrived. If
  they patch up their differences with the Zulus and a united attack
  is made by this threefold power, Lord help the Dutch! War here
  between white and black is a terrible thing. No quarter is given
  and none is asked. But I shall know more about the business
  to-morrow when the Transvaal mail arrives. . . .

In my next letter, dated 6th October, I talk of articles which I am
writing, and add in a solemn postscript: "Don't say anything to
anybody about my having written things in magazines." Evidently the
/cacoethes scribendi/ had already taken hold of me. Also I say:

  The war in the Transvaal is at a dead stop for the present. The
  Conference in London seems to be rather a lopsided affair: our
  delegates and Brand appear to be settling the affairs of South
  Africa between them. I am delighted to see that they have given
  Mr. Shepstone the K.C.M.G. It is, I imagine, rarely so well
  deserved. I got a letter from him the other day; he seems very
  pleased with England generally.

From the next surviving letter, dated December 2, 1876, I gather that
Sir Henry Bulwer at this time was not quite pleased at Sir Theophilus
Shepstone's request that I should accompany him on his special mission
to the Transvaal. However, ultimately the thing was arranged. I say:

  He [i.e. Shepstone] wants me to come with him for two reasons.
  First, we are very good friends and he was kind enough to say he
  wished to have me as a companion. Second, I imagine there will be
  a good deal of what is called the champagne and sherry policy up
  at Pretoria and he wants somebody to look after the entertaining.
  It will be a most interesting business. . . .

This seems to be the last epistle that can be found of those which I
wrote from Natal, so I will return to my manuscript, which now
continues as I set it down before their discovery.

At Maritzburg there was a good deal of gaiety and entertaining at
Government House, with which, as Sir Henry was unmarried, I had much
to do. In connection with one of our dinner-parties I remember an
incident which shows that Sir Henry knew how to escape from a dilemma.
By some chance there had been invited the Roman Catholic bishop (I
think his name was Jolivet), a dean of the Church of England, and a
very shining Nonconformist light. Generally it was Sir Henry's custom
if a clergyman were present to ask him to say Grace, but on this
occasion, realising the difficulty of the situation, he passed that
duty on to me.

"Haggard," he said in a reproachful voice, which suggested that I was
neglecting my business, "will you be so good as to ask someone to say

I worked out the position rapidly in my mind and, coming to the
conclusion that one should stick to one's own people, ignored the
Roman Catholic bishop and went for the dean.

Talking of deans reminds me of Bishop Colenso, whom I used to meet. He
was a tall, able and agreeable man with a most interesting face, but
one who was desperately at loggerheads with everybody.
Ecclesiastically his position was that he had in effect been
excommunicated by the other South African bishops on account of his
views as to the Pentateuch, etc. He had appealed however to the Privy
Council, which disallowed the authority of the African bishops, so
that he remained the legal bishop of Natal. A schism ensued and the
opposition orthodox party appointed a bishop of their own, Macrorie by

It always seemed to me somewhat illogical that Colenso should wish to
remain in a Church of which he criticised the tenets, on the principle
that one should scarcely eat the bread and butter of those whom one
attacks. On the other hand the views that Colenso held forty years ago
--which, by the way, were suggested to him by the extraordinarily
acute questions put by Zulus whom we tried to convert to Christianity
--are widespread to-day, even among clergymen. He was in advance of
his generation, and like others suffered for it, that is all. If I
remember right, one of the great causes of the animosity of the South
African Episcopal Church against him was that he was said to look
leniently upon the native practice of polygamy. But here again there
is much to be said on Colenso's side. Many people find it difficult to
understand why it is more essentially immoral to marry several wives
than to marry one, provided that they /are/ married and, except for
good reason of divorce, supported to their lives' end. Particularly
can this be argued where natives are concerned whose very intricate
laws of property and succession are closely interwoven with this
custom of polygamy, to which the women are, or were, as devotedly
attached as the men.

A Zulu woman does not as a rule wish to be obliged to bear all a man's
children or to do all the work of his household. She likes to be one
of a band of sisters (for, having each of them her separate little
establishment, they seldom if ever quarrel) and to share in the
dignity of being one of a numerous family. Moreover their habit is,
from the time that they find themselves with prospects of motherhood,
to live apart from the husband until the child is weaned, say for two
years, which law results in the production of a race that is
physically splendid. Further, polygamy absorbs all the women;
practically none are left without husbands or fall into the immoral
courses which are the scandal of civilised nations. Such a thing as a
"girl of the streets" is scarcely known among the raw Zulus. If it
were explained to these, for instance, that in this country alone we
have nearly two million women who cannot possibly marry because there
is no man to marry them, or fulfil their natural function of child-
bearing without being called vile names, they would on their part
think that state of affairs extremely wrong. I remember a story of a
well-educated Zulu who was told that the Christian law laid down that
he must have but one wife. He replied that he would like to study that
law for himself, and, taking away a Bible, spent some months in
reading it from end to end. At last he returned to the missionary and
said that he could find no such law therein; that, on the contrary,
most of the great men in the Book appeared to have had many wives.
Oham, the brother of Cetewayo the Zulu king, made a somewhat similar
reply. He was a very powerful chief who desired to become a Christian,
and would naturally have brought many other converts with him.

"But," said he, "these women whom you wish me to put away have been
the companions of my life, and I refuse to cast them on the world in
their age."

So Oham remained a pagan; at least, that was the story I heard.

Another aspect of the case is that because of its attitude towards
polygamy, as to the rights and wrongs of which I express no opinion
who do but set out the other side of the argument, Christianity can
scarcely hope to compete with Islam where the bulk of the natives of
Africa are concerned. Islam preaches a god and says, "You may keep
your wives, but you must give up spirituous liquor." Christianity also
preaches a god but says, "You must put away all wives except one, but
spirituous liquor is not forbidden."

Among primitive peoples who are asked to abandon practices which their
forefathers have followed for thousands of years, one can guess which
line of reasoning is likely to be accepted, especially if they have
come to the conclusion that intoxicating drink proves more injurious
to the individual and the race than a plurality of wives.

Once of late years I made a speech at a big African missionary
congress in London, in which I ventured to put forward these aspects
of the case, or something like them. There were, I think, five bishops
on the platform, and I was rather astonished to find that out of the
five two seemed to think them not devoid of sense. The other three,
however, differed strongly.

Colenso, I should add, was unpopular among many colonists, not on
account of religious matters, but because he was so strong and, as
they considered, so intemperate an advocate of the rights of natives.
I confess that here again I find myself more or less in sympathy with
him. White settlers, especially if they be not of the highest order,
are too apt to hate, despise, and revile the aboriginal inhabitants
among whom they find themselves. Often this is because they fear them,
or even more frequently because the coloured people, not needing to do
so, will not work for them at a low rate of wage. For example, they
cannot understand why these blacks should object to spend weeks and
months hundreds of feet underground, employed in the digging of ore,
and, in their hearts, often enough would like to compel them by force
to do their will. Yet surely the Kaffir whose land we have taken has a
right to follow his own opinions and convenience on this subject.

Also many white men have, or used to have, a habit of personally
assaulting natives, frequently upon quite insufficient grounds. They
say or said that these would do nothing unless they were beaten. I do
not believe it. Where Zulus are concerned at least, a great deal
depends upon the person in authority over them. No race is quicker at
discovering any alloy of base metal in a man's nature. Many who are
called "gentlemen" among us on account of their wealth or station,
will not pass as such with them. By a kind of instinct they know the
true article when they see it, whatever may be the position in life
held by the individual in question. True gentility, as I have seen
again and again, is not the prerogative of a class but a gift innate
in certain members of all classes, and by no means a common gift. With
it rank, station, wealth have nothing to do; it either is or is not
born in a man, and still more so in a woman. To the Zulu the rest are
what he calls /unfagozana/, that is, low fellows. These, by
misfortune, are almost always in the majority. Like others, savages
have their gentlefolk and their common people, but with all their
faults even those common people are not vulgar in our sense of the
word. In essential matters they still preserve a certain dignity. Of
course, however, I talk of those savages whom I know. There may be
others among whom things are different. Also, in this respect as in
others, matters in Africa may have changed since my day. I talk of a
bygone generation.

One last word about Colenso. His native name of "Usobantu" shows the
estimate that the Kaffirs formed of him. It means "Father of the

Among other remarkable Natalians of that day were the old Chief
Justice (was not his name O'Connor?) and Mr. John Bird, the Treasurer
of the Colony and the compiler of a valuable work called "The Annals
of Natal" which in after years I had the pleasure of reviewing in the
/Saturday Review/. The Chief Justice has always remained in my mind
because of his curious power of self-control. I remember that when the
mail came in, which at that time I believe was only once a month, he
used to undo the many /Times/ newspapers that it brought to him and
arrange them in a pile. Then, beginning with the oldest in date, on
each day he would read his /Times/, nor, however exciting might be the
news, would he suffer himself to anticipate its daily development. He
never looked at the end of the story. Thus did he delude himself into
the belief that he was still in England and receiving his morning
paper wet from the press. The drawback to the system was that he was
always a month behind the Natal world and two behind that of Europe.

Mr. John Bird, a dear old gentleman, had the most marvellous memory of
any man I have ever known. He told me that if he once read anything he
liked he remembered it; if he read it twice he remembered it without
error; if he read it thrice he never forgot it. In his youth he had
been a surveyor, and in the course of his long waggon journeys in the
Cape he taught himself Greek. I have heard him offer to bet anyone
five pounds that he would repeat any book in Homer that might be
selected without making five mistakes. Also I heard him give a lecture
on "The Pleasures of Memory" which was nearly two hours long. In the
course of this lecture he made dozens of quotations from all sorts of
authors and never used a single note.

The only instance that I can recollect of parallel powers was that of
a gentleman who could repeat all my romance, "She," without a mistake.
I believe he was a South African, and I imagine he must have been a
relative of Mr. Bird.

But the most interesting man of all with whom I came in contact in
Natal was one who afterwards became my beloved chief and friend, for,
notwithstanding the wide difference of our years, that relationship
existed between us. I refer to Sir Theophilus Shepstone, or "Sompseu"
as he was called by the natives throughout South Africa.

Sir Theophilus was born in England in 1817, and emigrated to the Cape
with his father, a clergyman, when he was but three years old. In his
early youth he learned many Kaffir dialects at the mission stations.
After filling various appointments he became Secretary for Native
Affairs in Natal in 1856, a position which he held for twenty years.
His policy was to maintain the tribal system of the natives under the
supremacy of the British Crown, and to civilise them by degrees. Often
he has told me that he believed that the Zulus should be taught to
work and that their minds should be opened before attempts were made
to Christianise them. I should add that his policy, although much
criticised, was singularly successful. This is proved by the fact
that, notwithstanding the enormous number of savages who poured from
Zululand into Natal, with the single exception of the petty rising of
the chief Langalibalele ("the Bright Shining Sun"), which happened a
year or two before I went to the Colony, there was no rebellion or
native war during all the time of his management of affairs.
Personally he was known and almost worshipped by every Kaffir in the

"I love that boy," I once heard him say to one of my elder colleagues
as I passed by him, he thought out of earshot, and I have never
forgotten the words or the tone in which they were uttered. Well, the
affection was reciprocated, and will be while I have memory.

He was a curious, silent man, who had acquired many of the
characteristics of the natives among whom he lived. Often it was
impossible to guess from his somewhat impassive face what was passing
in his brain. He had the power of silence, but he observed everything
and forgot little. To me, however, when the mood was on him, he would
talk a great deal--the stories I have heard from him would fill half a
volume--and sometimes even unfold to me the secret springs of his
actions. I only once remember his being angry with me, for he was very
tender to my faults, and that was, I think, just before the issue of
the Proclamation annexing the Transvaal. I had ventured to suggest to
him that it would be wiser to leave the country unannexed and retire
to Natal.

"Then," I said, "the Zulus and the Boers will destroy each other, and
the Transvaal will fall like a ripe apple into the lap of Great

He asked me angrily if I understood what I was saying, and that such a
policy would mean the destruction of thousands of white men, women and
children by Zulu assegais, to be followed by a great war between white
and black.

I collapsed, but often and often since that day have I reflected that
my advice, tainted though it may have been with the callousness of
youth, was absolutely sound. For what happened? First we had to fight
the Zulus and slaughter them by thousands, paying no small toll
ourselves, and then we had to fight the Boers, not once, but twice. If
we had allowed them to exhaust themselves upon each other the total
loss of life would have been no greater, if so great, and the
settlement of South Africa would have been effected without the
shedding of British blood; moreover, in the end the Boers would have
implored our assistance and gladly have accepted our rule. But I
anticipate; of these matters I must speak later.

With the Zulus themselves, as distinguished from the Natal Kaffirs,
Shepstone had much to do. Thus in 1861, while King Panda still
reigned, and after the great civil war between Cetewayo and his
brother Umbelazi, in which the latter was killed or died at the battle
of the Tugela, he was sent by the Government to proclaim Cetewayo heir
to the throne. For some unknown reason, Cetewayo did not wish to be
thus recognised by the white men. Indeed a preliminary difficulty
arose. The Zulu lawyers and headmen declared that it was impossible
that their future king should be nominated by Sompseu. It was overcome
in the following extraordinary fashion. At a great meeting of the
indunas or councillors and chiefs it was announced that Sompseu was a
Zulu king, that he stood in the place of Chaka, the African Napoleon
and Panda's uncle, and that the spirit of Chaka had entered into him--
not a very comfortable possession for a highly respectable English
gentleman. From that day forward, quite independent of his authority
as a representative of the Queen, Shepstone had personal sovereign
rights in Zululand. Thus he could have ordered anyone to be killed or
have declared war or peace. It was, I firmly believe, because of this
personal authority that he was able to prevent the Zulus from
attacking the Boers in 1877, as I shall show that he did.

But of all these and many other events I have told in my book,
"Cetewayo and his White Neighbours," which was first published in
1882, and to that book I must refer the reader who is interested in
them. In these pages I do not propose to write a history of South
Africa during the eventful years in which I knew it, but rather to
treat of my personal experiences at the time, which perhaps may throw
some new light upon parts of that history.

The remainder of my life in Natal, that is as secretary to the
Governor--for I returned to that country afterwards in another
capacity--can be summed up in few words. I copied despatches, received
guests, and did my other duties, probably not as well as I might have
done. But in connection with these I cannot think of much that is
worth setting down.

Perhaps I may add a curious little story. Captain Cox, my colleague on
Sir Henry Bulwer's staff, who was an officer in one of the regiments
in Natal--I think he belonged to the ill-fated 24th--received a blow
while playing polo which severed what I believe is called the external
carotid artery, a vessel which runs up by the side of the temple. A
serious operation was performed on him by the doctors which
necessitated his being kept under chloroform for five hours, but great
difficulty was experienced in tying this artery. He seemed to get
better, and at last was allowed to eat a snipe which I went out and
shot for him. That evening some circumstance or other made me uneasy
about him, and of my own motion I passed the night sitting up in the
office, going in to look at him from time to time. He slept well, and
when the dawn came I thought that I would retire to bed. By an
afterthought I returned to give him another look, and found him still
lying asleep, but with the blood spurting from his head in a little
fountain. I pressed my thumb on the artery and held it there until
assistance came. Another operation was performed, and ultimately he
recovered, though one of his eyes was affected.

Captain Cox was subsequently wounded at Ulundi, and in the end died, I
think, in India when he was Colonel of his regiment.

                              CHAPTER IV


  Shepstone appointed Special Commissioner to Transvaal--Wide powers
  --H. R. H. on Shepstone's staff--Umslopogaas attached to
  Commission--To Pretoria by ox-waggon--Thirty-five days--Melmoth
  Osborn and Major Marshal Clarke on Commission--First acquaintance
  with Boers--"Opsitting"--President Burgers--Danger to Transvaal
  from Cetewayo's Zulus and Secocoeni's tribe--Arrive Pretoria--H.
  R. H. accompanies Osborn and Clarke on Mission to Secocoeni--Rough
  journey--Indaba at his kraal--Plot to murder English Mission--
  Frustrated by an accident--Safe return to Pretoria.

At the end of 1876 Sir Theophilus Shepstone was appointed Special
Commissioner to the Transvaal. His commission was a wide one, for,
although this was not known at the time, it gave him powers, if he
thought fit, to annex the country, "in order to secure the peace and
safety of our said colonies and our subjects elsewhere." When the
vastness of the territories and the questions concerned are
considered, this was a great authority to leave to the discretion of a
single man. But thus was the British Empire made before the days of
cables, when everything depended upon the judgment of the officers on
the spot.

On his way out to Natal from England he was shipwrecked on the coast
not very far from Cape Town, an event that some might have thought a
bad omen. I asked him what he thought of while as yet they did not
know whether they would escape.

"I thought that I should like to die decent," he answered, "and spent
the time in hunting for my trousers."

Exactly how I came to accompany Sir Theophilus on his important and
history-making Mission I cannot now recall. At any rate I went as a
member of his staff. Here is a list of us:

  Mr. Osborn, afterwards Sir Melmoth Osborn.
  Major Clarke, afterwards Sir Marshal Clarke.
  Colonel Brooke, R.E.
  Captain James.
  Mr. Henderson.
  Mr. Morcom, afterwards the Attorney-General of Natal.
  Mr. Fynney.
  Doctor Lyle, medical officer to the Mission, and
  Lieutenant Phillips, in charge of the escort of twenty-five Natal
    Mounted Police.

Of these I believe that with myself Colonel Brooke still survives
(1911), although he must be an old man now. Phillips also was alive
when last I heard of him. He rose to command the Natal Mounted Police,
and had then retired. The rest are all dead, Clarke being the last to
go, and I may say that I am the only member of the Commission left
living who was closely concerned with the political side of its work.

There was another individual attached to the Commission of whom I must
give some account. He was Umslopogaas, or more correctly M'hlopekazi,
who acted as a kind of head native attendant to Sir Theophilus.
Umslopogaas, then a man of about sixty, was a Swazi of high birth.[*]
He was a tall, thin, fierce-faced fellow with a great hole above the
left temple over which the skin pulsated, that he had come by in some
battle. He said that he had killed ten men in single combat, of whom
the first was a chief called Shive, always making use of a battle-axe.
However this may be, he was an interesting old fellow from whom I
heard many stories that Fynney used to interpret.

[*] The /Natal Witness/ of October 26, 1897, when reporting his death,
    says that he was son of "Mswazi, King of Swaziland, and in his
    youth belonged to the Nyati Regiment, the crack corps of the

As the reader may be aware, I have availed myself of his personality
to a considerable extent in various Zulu romances, and especially in
"Allan Quatermain." Here are two stories concerning him.

One day, long after I had left Africa, he had a talk with Osborn, whom
the natives called "Mali-mat."

"Is it true, Mali-mat," asked Umslopogaas, "that Indanda" (i.e.
myself) "has been using my name largely in books that he has written?"

"Yes, it is true, Umslopogaas."

"So! Now what does Indanda do with the books when he has written

"He sells them, Umslopogaas."

"Then, Mali-mat, say to the Inkoos Indanda when you meet him across
the Black Water that, as he makes money by writing about me, it is
right and just that he should send me half the money!"

I took the hint and sent him, not money, but a very fine hunting-knife
with his name engraved upon it.

The other story is that not long before his death, which took place in
1897, Lady Hely-Hutchinson, the wife of the Governor of Natal, asked
him whether he was not proud that his name should appear in books
which the white men read all over the world.

"No, Inkoosikazi (Chieftainess)," he answered, "to me it is nothing.
Yet I am glad that Indanda has set my name in writings that will not
be forgotten, so that, when my people are no more a people, one of
them at least may be remembered."

I have a photograph of Umslopogaas which was taken the day before his
death. The face might have served some Greek sculptor for the model of
that of a dying god.

I think that we trekked from Maritzburg on December 20, 1876, and took
thirty-five days to traverse the four hundred odd miles between it and
Pretoria in our ox-waggon. It was my first real introduction to
African travel, and I greatly enjoyed the journey, hot as it was at
that time of year.

Well do I remember our leisurely progress over the plains, the
mountains, and the vast, rolling high veld of the Transvaal territory.
Still I can see the fearful sweeping thunderstorms that overtook us,
to be followed by moonlit nights of surpassing brilliancy which we
watched from beside the fires of our camp. Those camps were very
pleasant, and in them, as we smoked and drank our "square face" after
a day's trek, I heard many a story of savage Africa from Sir
Theophilus himself, from Osborn and from Fynney, who next to him,
perhaps, knew as much of the Zulus and their history as any living in

For instance, Osborn actually saw the battle of the Tugela, which took
place between the rival princes Cetewayo and Umbelazi in 1856. With
the temerity of a young man he swam his horse across the river and hid
himself in a wooded kopje in the middle of the battlefield. He saw
Umbelazi's host driven back and the veteran regiment, nearly three
thousand strong, that Panda had sent to aid his favourite son, move up
to its support. He described to me the frightful fray that followed.
Cetewayo sent out a regiment against it. They met, and he said that
the roll of the shields as they came together was like to that of the
deepest thunder. Then the Greys passed over Cetewayo's regiment as a
wave passes over a sunken ridge of rock, and left it dead. Another
regiment came against them and the scene repeated itself, only more
slowly, for many of the veterans were down. Now the six hundred of
them who remained formed themselves in a ring upon a hillock and
fought on till they were buried beneath the heaps of the slain.

I have described this battle, in which and the subsequent rout tens of
thousands of people perished, in a romance as yet unpublished[*] that
I have written under the title of "Child of Storm." It is wonderful
that Osborn should have escaped with his life. This he did by hiding
close and tying his coat over his horse's head to prevent it from
neighing. When darkness fell he rode back to the Tugela and swam its
corpse-crowded waters. Sir Theophilus visited its banks a day or two
afterwards, and told me that he never saw another sight so fearful as
they presented, because of the multitude of dead men, women and
children with which they were strewn.

[*] Published in 1913.--Ed.

There were never any quarrels among us of Shepstone's staff during
that long journey or afterwards. Indeed we were a band of brothers--as
brothers ought to be. Personally I formed friendships then, especially
with Osborn and Clarke, that endured till their deaths and I trust may
be renewed elsewhere.

When we crossed into the Transvaal our expedition assumed a more
business aspect. Greater ceremony was observed and a guard was mounted
at night, for we did not quite know how we should be received. Now I
made my first real acquaintance with the Boers, who came from all
quarters to visit or to spy upon us. They were rough folk: big,
bearded men with all the old Dutch characteristics, who made a greater
show of religion than they practised, especially when Kaffirs were
concerned. I did not like them much at the time--few Englishmen did--
but I can see now that I ought to have made more allowances. The
circumstances of their history and up-bringing account for that which
was repellent both in their actions and their character. Into that
history I will not enter further than to say that they had been bred
in an atmosphere of hereditary hate of England and its Governments,
which in some particulars, such as that of the manner of freeing of
the slaves in the Cape Colony in 1836, was not altogether unjustified.
Moreover they had fought fearful battles with the natives in the
territories they occupied, and learned to loathe them. The Old
Testament too was the standard by which they ruled their conduct. They
compared themselves to the Hebrews marching from their land of bondage
in Egypt, while the Kaffirs in the parallel filled the places of the
Canaanites and Jebusites and other tribes that were unfortunate enough
to stand in their way. So they slew them mercilessly, and under the
name of apprenticeship practically enslaved many of them. But in those
days I saw only the results, and judged by those results. I did not
see nor had I learned the causes which produced them. Now I know that
there is much to admire in the Boer character, also that among them
were many men of real worth. Indeed, as I shall tell, one of these
afterwards saved my life and those of my two companions.

On our way up to Pretoria we entertained our Dutch visitors on several
occasions as well as the circumstances would allow. These were uncouth
dinner-parties, but very amusing. At one of them I remember a jovial
old boy who sat next to me invited me to come and "opsit" with his
daughter, whom he described as a "mooi mesje," that is, a pretty girl.
I accepted the invitation, packed the old Boer off home, and went to
Osborn to inquire exactly what "opsitting" might be.

When I discovered that it consisted in sitting alone with a young
woman at night with a candle burning between the two, which somewhat
dreary proceeding /ipso facto/ involved a promise of marriage, I did
not follow the matter further. I should explain, however, that the
engagement depended upon the length of the candle. If the young lady
wished to encourage the "opsitter" she produced a long one that would
last till dawn, and his fate was sealed. If she desired to be rid of
him the candle was of the shortest, and when it was burnt out he was
bound to go. Conversation, if allowed, was unnecessary; all you had to
do was to sit on either side of the candle, which might not be passed.

I wonder if they still "opsit" in South Africa, or if the twentieth
century has made an end of this quaint and doubtless ancient custom.

In Pretoria, where everyone, whatever his nationality, was utterly
sick of the Boer regime, the Mission was received with the greatest
enthusiasm. There were reception committees, there were dinners, there
were balls, for although the community was practically bankrupt this
did not detract from its gaiety or the lavishness of its hospitality.
How the bills were paid I am sure I do not know, but I presume it must
have been in kind, for no one had any money. The position of the
Republic was desperate, and of it all despaired. Taxes could no longer
be collected, and it was said that the postmasters were directed to
pay themselves their own salaries--in stamps. The forces of the
country, or rather the commandoes of burghers, had been defeated by
the Basuto chief, Secocoeni, with a loss of seven thousand head of
cattle. As a result the war against this potentate and his nine
thousand warriors who lived in the Loolu Berg, a range of mountains
about two hundred and fifty miles to the north-east of Pretoria, was
then being carried on by a small force of filibusters. These men
received no pay, while they were expected to provide for themselves
out of what they could take. The upshot may be imagined.

The President of the Republic was a Cape Colonist minister of the
Dutch Reformed Church who was educated in Holland, of the name of
Burgers, a well-meaning, curious, and rather attractive man of
intelligence and good appearance, but one utterly lacking in stability
of character. He had recently visited Europe in the interests of the
Republic, and had even succeeded in raising 90,000 pounds in Holland
for the construction of a railway to Delagoa Bay, which money, I
believe, was lost. Also he was said to have had certain nebulous
dealings with the Germans which even in those days were a cause of
some anxiety to this country.[*] I have seen President Burgers almost
in tears over the condition of the Republic, nor did he veil his
opinions of its state in his addresses to the Volksraad, as anyone who
cares to consult the history of the period can discover for himself.
At no time was he an earnest opponent of the annexation. Ultimately he
accepted a pension from our Government, and died in the Cape Colony in

[*] See Sir Bartle Frere's letter to Mr. J. M. Maclean, "Life of
    Frere," vol. ii, p. 183.

The great danger with which the Transvaal was threatened in 1877 was
that of a Zulu attack. Secocoeni had all along been acting more or
less under the inspiration and orders of Cetewayo, who, when he saw
that this Basuto chief could defeat the Dutch, thought, not
unnaturally, that the time was ripe for him to strike. The Zulus, who
had never forgotten their defeat at Blood River in the thirties, had
many old scores to settle with the Boers. Moreover, Cetewayo's great
standing army of fifty or sixty thousand warriors were clamouring to
be allowed "to wash their spears," and as he did not wish to fight the
English and we would not allow him to fight the Swazis, only the Boers
remained. In considering the history of the annexation of the
Transvaal it should never be forgotten that Shepstone was aware of
this fact. Indeed not long after we reached Pretoria the news came to
us that the Zulus were waiting in a chain of "impis," or armies along
the frontier, prepared when the signal was given to sweep in and put
man, woman and child to the assegai. It was his fear that this bloody
design would be carried out which pushed on Shepstone to place the
land under the protection of the Queen, knowing as he did that in
their penniless and utterly disorganised condition, without an
effective government, or cannon, or reserves of ammunition, the Boers
had not the slightest chance of resisting the Zulu hordes. They would
have been wiped out up to or perhaps beyond Pretoria.

While I am dealing with this subject I will quote from a letter which
was written to me in November 1906 from Ireland by the late Sir
Marshal Clarke a propos of the review which I wrote of Dr. Leyds's
book, "The First Annexation of the Transvaal," which appeared in the
issue of /South Africa/ published on October 27, 1906. It is an
interesting document and illustrates the statements that I have made

Sir Marshall says:

  My attention was called some days ago to the article you wrote to
  /South Africa/ on the 27th ultimo. I have not read Lloyd's book.
  Brooke [our colleague on Shepstone's staff.--H. R. H.] told me
  that he began it but found it so full of misstatements, which,
  considering what I know of the author, was natural, he did not
  care to go on with it. I am glad that you did read it and were
  able to expose the falsehood of the charges levelled at Sir
  Theophilus. There are few of our party left now and not one with
  the complete knowledge you have of what took place in Pretoria at
  the time of the Annexation. I can of course fully endorse the
  story you tell of what took place when the joint commission went
  to Secocoeni, but only on one occasion, so far as my memory serves
  me, did I hear Sir Theophilus express in unguarded language to a
  Boer . . . [word illegible] his views as to the imminence of the
  danger that threatened the people of the Transvaal from the Zulus.
  I think it was Lyle [Dr. Lyle, the medical officer to the Mission
  --H. R. H.], who was with me, thought that what he said might be
  distorted to his detriment, but on expressing this opinion to Sir
  Theophilus he said he did not care, as he knew the reality of the
  danger he had indicated and felt that the responsibility laid on
  him must override any personal consideration. Looking back through
  all that has since occurred one feels all the more strongly the
  courage and sense of duty that actuated our Chief. Even had the
  Boers finally beat back the Zulu onslaught what a loss of life and
  untold misery must have at first resulted, and no one but
  Shepstone could have stopped Cetewayo and that only by the act of
  Annexation. . . .

I consider that this letter, emanating from so distinguished a public
servant as Sir Marshal Clarke, one of the most noble-minded and
upright men that I ever knew, is evidence of great value as to the
motives which actuated Sir Theophilus at this period. Moreover it
entirely confirms what I have written above.

While the negotiations were going on between Shepstone and the Boers
it was suddenly announced in the Volksraad "that peace had been
provisionally concluded with Secocoeni's envoys, according to which
Secocoeni and his people became subjects of the State, and that the
chief himself had ratified this among other stipulations."[*]

[*] Sir T. Shepstone to the Earl of Carnarvon, No. 111, C-1776.

This news of course was very important, since, if the Transvaal
Government had really reduced Secocoeni to become its subject, one of
the causes of the proposed British intervention ceased to exist.
Presently, however, there arrived a letter from the Rev. A. Merensky,
a German missionary at Botsabelo at whose instance negotiations for
peace had been begun, which threw the gravest doubt upon the
genuineness of this alleged treaty. The result was that a Commission
was appointed by President Burgers to investigate the matter, with
which were sent two members of Shepstone's staff to whom I acted as
secretary. The Commissioners were Mr. Holtzhausen, a Boer, and Mr. Van
Gorkom, a Hollander, who held some office in the Transvaal Government.
The representatives of H.M.'s Special Commissioner were Mr. Osborn and
Captain Clarke.

The journey to Secocoeni's country was long and rough, dangerous also,
as at this season of the year (March) the fever was very bad in that
low veld, so bad indeed that even the natives were dying. At a place
called Fort Weber was established a force of irregular troops in the
service of the Transvaal Government. They were in a wretched
condition, having for some while received their pay in valueless
promissory notes that were known as "Good-fors," or, at full length,
as "Good-for-nothings." Also out of their ninety horses eighty-two
were dead of sickness, so that they could scarcely be called an
effective body of irregular cavalry. Still ammunition remained to
them, for they received us with much firing of guns and of their two
small field-pieces; also with an address.

And now I will tell you a story which shows how valuable a love of
scenery may be under certain circumstances. Among the officers at Fort
Weber was one whom I will call Mr. A., who was largely responsible for
the alleged treaty with Secocoeni. Also there was a Boer called
Deventer, an excellent man who could sit a bucking horse better than
anyone I ever knew. Subsequently he entered the service of the British
Government and was killed, how, I forget.

Shortly after the Annexation Deventer told the following tale to
Osborn, and at the time we satisfied ourselves that this tale was
true. A night or two before our arrival at Fort Weber, when it was
known that we were coming, Makurupiji, Secocoeni's "Tongue" or prime
minister, visited the place in connection with the peace negotiations.
Whether he was still there when we arrived I am not quite certain.
During his stay Mr. A.--who, I should add, was not of pure Boer blood
--in Deventer's hearing assured Makurupiji that if the Boers had
scourged Secocoeni with whips, the English would scourge him with
scorpions. He said that they would take all the women and cattle and
make slaves or soldiers of the men. So earnest were his protestations
that at length Makurupiji, who knew nothing about the English, was
persuaded to believe him and asked what could be done to prevent these

Mr. A. answered that there was but one way out of the danger, namely
to kill the British envoys. To this plan Makurupiji at length
consented, and it was arranged that on our way back from Secocoeni's
town we three were to be ambushed and murdered by the Basutos. I
should add that we never learned whether or not Secocoeni himself had
any part in this scheme, or whether all the credit of it must be given
to Makurupiji, a very cunning and villainous-looking person, who, I
believe, ultimately committed suicide after the destruction of the
tribe, preferring death to imprisonment. If Secocoeni was concerned in
it retribution overtook him when, a year or two later, Sir Garnet
Wolseley stormed his town with the help of the Swazis and wiped out
his people. I think that he himself died in jail in Pretoria.

After the plot had been settled in all its details Mr. A. and
Makurupiji separated. During the night, however, Deventer, who was
horrified at the whole business, crept to where Makurupiji was
sleeping, woke him up and implored him to have nothing to do with so
foul a crime. Makurupiji listened to his arguments and in the end
answered, "My words are my words. What I have said I have said."

We arrived and, according to my original pencilled notes which I have
before me, started for Secocoeni's on March 27th. All that day we rode
through wild and most beautiful country, now across valleys and now
over mountains. Indeed I never saw any more lovely in its own savage
way, backed as it was by the splendid Blueberg range rising like a
titanic wall, its jagged pinnacles aglow with the fires of the setting
sun. At length, scrambling down the path, in which one of our horses
was seized with the dreaded sickness and left to die, we entered the
fever-trap known as Secocoeni's Town and rode on past the celebrated
fortified kopje to the beautiful hut that had been prepared for us.

Here we were received by Swasi, Secocoeni's uncle and guest-master.
All the population flocked out to look at us, clad in the sweet
simplicity of a little strip of skin tied round the middle. Even here,
however, the female love of ornament was in evidence, for the hair of
the women was elaborately arranged and powdered with some metal that
caused it to glitter and gave it a blue tinge. Our hut was very
superior to that built by the Zulus. It stood in a reed-hedged
courtyard which was floored with limestone concrete. Also it had a
verandah round it. The interior walls were painted with red ochre in
lines and spirals something after the old Greek fashion. Indeed, these
Basutos gave me the idea that they were sprung from some race with a
considerable knowledge of civilisation and its arts. In other ways,
however, they had quite relapsed into barbarism. Thus, as we entered
the town about a hundred women returned from labouring in the fields,
stripped themselves stark naked before us, and proceeded to wash in a
stream--though I observe that they did this "in a modest kind of way."
I should add that at this time very few white men had ever passed the
gates of Secocoeni's Town.

It was an uncanny kind of place. If you got up at night, if you moved
anywhere, you became aware that dozens or hundreds of eyes were
watching you. Privacy was impossible. You ate, too, in public. The
chief sent down a sheep. You saw it living, next you saw it more or
less cooked and held before you in quarters on sticks by kneeling
natives. You cut off chunks with your knife, ate what you liked or,
rather, what you must, and threw the rest to other natives who stood
round staring, among them the heir-apparent to the chieftainship.
These caught the pieces as a dog does, and gobbled them down like a

On the morning following our arrival, after a night so hot that sleep
was almost impossible--for at that season the place, surrounded as it
was by hills, was like a stewpan--we rose and, quite unwashed, since
water was unobtainable, ate more chunks of half-cooked sheep, which we
flavoured with quinine. Then after combating demands for brandy,
whereof the fame had spread even to this remote place, we surrendered
ourselves into the charge of the astute-faced Makurupiji, the fat
Swasi, and of the general of the forces, an obese person called
Galock, with a countenance resembling that of a pig. These eminent
officers conducted us for nearly a mile, through a heat so burning
that we grew quite exhausted, to the place of the /indaba/, or talk.
Here, under a rough shed open on all sides, sat about a hundred of the
headmen who had come "to witness." Beyond this was the chief's private
enclosure, where he was seated on the hide of a bull under a shady
tree, clothed in a tiger-skin kaross and a cotton blanket, and wearing
on his head a huge old felt hat. He rose and shook hands with us
through the gateway. He was a man of middle age with twinkling black
eyes and a flat nose, very repulsive to look on. After this he retired
to his bull-hide, where he sat chewing handfuls of some intoxicating
green leaf, and took no further active part in the proceedings. All
the conversation was carried on through Makurupiji, his "Tongue," who
personated him, using the pronoun "I," and talking of "my father,
Sequati," and so forth.

It was very curious to see one man pretending thus to be another,
while that other sat within a few yards of him apparently unconcerned.
Another strange sight was to watch the arrival of the various
notables. As each headman appeared he paused in front of the gateway
beyond which sat Secocoeni chewing his leaves, clapped his hands
softly together and uttered a word of unknown meaning which sounded
like "Marema." Then he took his seat with the others.

In the midst of this throng we squatted for four long hours. I
remember that I was perched upon a log in the blaze of the sun, taking
notes to the best of my ability--those which are before me now--as the
interpreters rendered the conversation from Sesutu into Dutch and
English. It was a very trying experience, since I had to keep my every
faculty on the strain lest I should miss something of importance in
this medley of tongues. On comparing the report we finally sent in
signed by Osborn, Clarke, and myself (C-1776, Enclosure 6 in No. 111)
--which report I remember I wrote--with my original pencil notes, I
observe, however, that not much escaped me.

Into the details of that document I will not enter here, as it is a
matter of history, further than to say that the alleged treaty under
which Secocoeni was supposed to have bound himself to become a subject
of the Transvaal proved to be a fraud. When this had been
satisfactorily demonstrated beyond the possibility of denial, the
officer whom I have named Mr. A., who had negotiated the said treaty,
rose in a rage, real or simulated, and withdrew, taking with him the
Dutch Commissioners, Messrs. Holtzhausen and Van Gorkom. After this we
entered the private enclosure and had an interview with Secocoeni
himself. At first the chief desired that Makurupiji should continue to
speak for him, but to this we refused to agree.

I need not repeat the substance of the interview, since it is
published as an enclosure to the despatch which I have quoted above. A
re-reading of it, however, makes me wonder whether Secocoeni himself
was actually privy to the plot to murder us, or whether it was
entirely Makurupiji's work. If he was, he must have been a really
remarkable old scoundrel. I am bound to add, however, that, as his
subsequent history shows, he was in fact a quite unprincipled person
whom no promises or considerations of honour could bind. So it is very
possible that he /did/ know all about the plot.

At length we bade farewell to the chief, whom we left still chewing
leaves like Nebuchadnezzar, and that was the last I ever saw of him.
On arriving at our hut we found that the Commission had departed,
leaving us without any guide. We went back to Secocoeni asking for
guides, and then began a series of mysterious delays. We were told
that all the men were out at work, although scores stood about us;
that they did not know the road, and so forth. At last Osborn
addressed old Swasi and others in a way they could not misunderstand,
with the result that two lads were produced.

These lads were named Sekouili and Nojoiani, or some such words,
appellations which we corrupted into "Scowl" and "No-joke." Under
their guidance we started. I may add here that when we had crossed the
mountains, for some reason which we could not at the time understand,
these Basuto boys expressed themselves as afraid to return to
Secocoeni's country, saying that if they did so they would be killed.
One or both of them remained in my service for a long time afterwards,
as they implored to be taken on with us.

By the time we had reached the crest of the first range the sun had
set and the moon was up. Here the path forked, one division of it,
that by which we had come, running on over the mountains, the other
following the line of a deep valley at a lower level. A discussion
arose between us as to which we should take; my elders were in favour
of the upper, preferring those ills we knew of, which the two boys,
Scowl and No-joke, begged and prayed us not to leave, almost with
passion. I have little doubt that this was because the ambush into
which they were directed to lead us was set upon that upper path. I,
however, pleaded for the lower path, just because the fancy had taken
me that thence the view of the moonlit valley would be very grand, and
stuck to my point. At length one of my companions, I think it was
Osborn, said with a laugh, "Oh! let the young donkey have his way. Who
knows, perhaps he is right!" or words to that effect.

Evidently my anticipations as to the view from this lower path were
not disappointed, for in my notes written up on the next day I find
the following:

"It was sombre, weird, grand. Every valley became a mysterious deep,
and every hill and stone and tree shone with that cold, pale lustre
that the moon alone can throw. Silence reigned, the silence of the

Had we gone by the upper path I believe it would soon have been the
silence of the dead for us. But if so my fancies, or some merciful
influence that caused and directed them, proved our salvation.

After we had ridden a long way through the silence that I have
described and were getting out of the mountains into the valley, we
became aware of a great commotion going on amongst the rocks a mile or
so to our left, where ran the road we should have followed. War-horns
were blown, and a Basuto warrior armed with gun and spear rushed down
to look at us, then vanished. Probably a match struck to light a pipe
had shown him our whereabouts, or he may have heard our voices. So we
crossed the mountains in safety. And now I will take up Deventer's

He said that it was the accident of our choosing the lower path that
in fact saved our lives, as on the upper one the murderers were
waiting. When we emerged from it the Boer Commission and Mr. A. had,
he added, crossed the great valley and reached the further range of
hills, where they were met by some troopers from the fort. Here, by
the blowing of the horns that we had heard, or otherwise--for these
natives have very strange and effective means of communication--
knowledge came to Mr. A. that in some unexpected fashion we had
escaped the ambush and were riding towards him across the valley.
Thereon, said Deventer, he lost all control of himself and called for
volunteers to shoot us down in the second nek. Then, according to him,
Holtzhausen--who, by the way, was one of the best fellows I ever knew,
a very honest and straightforward man, and who, like Mr. Van Gorkom,
had no suspicion of any of these things--intervened with great effect,
shouting out that if this wicked deed were done he "would publish it
in every Court of Europe."

After this declaration no volunteers came forward: indeed they might
have refused to do so in any case; with the result that about dawn on
the following day we arrived utterly worn out at Fort Weber--I
remember that several times I fell asleep on my horse--where we were
received quite affectionately by Mr. A.

When Deventer revealed all this appalling story some months later, he
asked and received a promise that no public use should be made of the
information, since when it came to his knowledge he was in the service
of the Boer Government, and therefore did not consider himself
justified in disclosing secrets to the prejudice of another servant of
that Government. This wish of his was strictly respected, but, as may
be imagined, the English authorities after the Annexation, although
they could make no use of their knowledge, were not willing to accede
to Mr. A.'s applications for employment under the new regime. A while
later he came to the house at Pretoria in which I was then living with
Osborn, who was the Secretary to the Government, which house, I think,
was called "The Oaks." Mr. Osborn received him, and I, who was writing
in an adjoining room separated from them only by some very thin
partition, heard words running high between them. He (A.) was
blustering and demanding to be employed as a right. In the end he
asked why he should be left out when so many other Boer officials had
received appointments. Thereon Osborn answered with great rigour,
"Damn it! Mr. A.--you know why."

The man attempted no answer, and a moment later I saw him walk out of
the house with a very crestfallen air, after which I think Osborn came
into my room and expressed his feelings on the whole subject with the
utmost freedom.

That is the story, of which the reader, if there ever should be such a
person, can form his own opinion. Of course it rests upon Deventer's
word supported only by certain corroborative evidence of a
circumstantial sort, such as the sudden departure of the Boer
Commission, leaving us alone in Secocoeni's Town without guides, the
behaviour of the two Basuto lads, and of the individual inculpated on
the occasion that I have just mentioned. Deventer /may/ have lied, but
I see no reason why he should have done so, and it was not in keeping
with his character, nor did any of us at the time find cause to doubt
the truth of his statement. On the other hand our disappearance from
this mortal sphere might have been convenient to Mr. A., who knew that
when we saw Secocoeni we should discover that the alleged treaty with
that chief which he had negotiated had been forged as regards its most
important clause. If we were all dead we could not communicate our
knowledge to the Special Commissioner, Sir Theophilus Shepstone, and
through him to the British Government, in which event his credit would
have been saved and the South African Republic, which he served, would
have been freed from a great embarrassment. It is not probable that
any more will ever be known of this matter, which, so to speak, now
rests between Mr. A.--whose name I refrain from mentioning--and God.
Of the Englishmen concerned I alone survive, and if any of the others
still live they must be very old men.

At Fort Weber I think we separated from the Boer Commission, also that
Clarke left us to attend to business elsewhere. Osborn and I trekked
day and night in an ox-waggon to Middelburg--trekked till the oxen
fell down in the yokes. It was a fearful and a sleepless journey. At
some period in it we were left quite without food. Only a single pot
of jam remained. We opened the tin and helped ourselves to the jam
with our knives, sitting one on either side of it in the vasty veld,
till we could eat no more of the sickly stuff, hungry though we were.

While we were thus engaged an eagle sailed over us with a koran or
small bustard in its claws. I shouted and it dropped the koran, which,
thinking that it would serve for supper, I secured and tied to my
saddle, unfortunately by its head, not by its feet. We rode on and I
noticed that the eagle and its mate followed us. In the end the
jerking of the horse separated the koran's head from its body, so that
the bird fell to the ground. In a moment the eagle had it again and
sailed away in triumph.

By the way, I still possess that knife with which I ate the jam. It
was given to me by my brother Andrew when I was about twelve and,
except for a month or two when it was lost upon the veld, from that
day to this it has been in my pocket. It is wonderful that an article
in daily use should have lasted so long, but I hope that it may remain
to the end of the chapter.

                              CHAPTER V

                            THE ANNEXATION

  Doubtful attitude of Boers towards Mission--H. R. H. attends
  debates in Volksraad--Paul Kruger--H. R. H.'s projected journey
  home--Which was given up--Transvaal annexed--H. R. H. delivers
  copies of Proclamation and hoists British flag with Colonel

Life at Pretoria was very gay during this Annexation period. We gave a
ball, followed on the next evening by a children's party; the
President entertained us to lunch. The English in the town gave us a
great dinner in the Volksraad Zaal at which "God save the Queen" was
sung with enthusiasm, and there were many other entertainments.

But underneath all these festivities grave issues were maturing.
Shortly after our arrival four hundred and fifty Boers rode into the
town with the object of putting us back over the border. They were
unarmed, but we discovered that they had left their rifles hidden in
waggons not far away and guarded by a hundred and fifty men. If they
really had any such intention, however, it evaporated after they had
proceeded to the Government offices to ask what the English were doing
in Pretoria and hoisted their flag in the Market Square. Then they
talked a while and went away. One man, I remember, either on this or
another occasion came and stood before the English flag which marked
our camp, and shouted, "O Father, O Grandfather, O Great-grandfather,
rise from the dead and drive away those red-handed wretches who have
come to take our land from us, the land which we took from the
Swartzels (black creatures)!"

Then he made a somewhat feeble rush for the said flag, but was
collared by his friends and taken off, still apostrophising his
ancestors. It all sounds very mock-heroic and absurd, and yet I repeat
that there was much to justify this attitude of the Boers. After all
they /had/ taken the land and lived there nearly forty years, and the
British Government had more or less guaranteed their independence. Of
course circumstances alter cases, and, as they could not govern
themselves and were about to plunge South Africa into a bloody war,
our intervention was necessary, but this the more ignorant of them
could scarcely be expected to understand, at any rate at first.

Many threats were uttered against us. Says Sir Theophilus Shepstone in
one of his despatches of that day to Lord Carnarvon: "Every effort had
been made during the previous fortnight by, it is said, educated
Hollanders who had but lately arrived in the country, to rouse the
fanaticism of the Boers and to induce them to offer 'bloody'
resistance to what it was known I intended to do. The Boers were
appealed to in the most inflammatory language by printed manifestos
and memorials . . . it was urged that I had but a small escort which
could easily be overpowered."

Indeed there is no doubt that at times during these months we went in
considerable risk. I will not set down all the stories that came to
our ears, of how we were to be waylaid and shot on this occasion or on
that, but an incident that I remember shows me that Shepstone at any
rate thought there was something in them. One night I and another
member of the staff--I think it was Morcom--were at work late, copying
despatches in a room of the building which afterwards became
Government House. This room had large windows opening on to a
verandah, and over these we had not drawn the curtains. Sir Theophilus
came in and scolded us, saying that we ought to remember that we made
a very easy target against that lighted background. Then he drew the
curtains with his own hand.

The Volksraad met and discussed all kinds of matters, but nothing came
of their labours, except the appointment of a Commission to examine
into the state of the country and confer with H.M.'s Special
Commissioner. I attended some of their debates and remember the scene
well. They were held in a long, low room down the centre of which
stood a deal table. Round this table sat some thirty members, most of
them Boers. At the head of the room sat the Chairman at a little
raised desk, by the side of which stood a chair for the use of the
President of the State when he visited the Volksraad. Among the
members was Paul Kruger, then a middle-aged man with a stern, thick
face and a squat figure. At one of these sittings I obtained his
autograph, a curious piece of calligraphy which I am sorry to say I
have lost. We saw a good deal of "Oom Paul" in those days, for on
several occasions he visited the Special Commissioner. Generally I
showed him in and out, and I recollect that the man impressed me more
than did any of the other Boers.

In after days I knew that Volksraad Zaal well enough, for when I
became Master and Registrar of the High Court I used to sit in it just
beneath the judge.

Doubtless I wrote a good many letters home at this time, but I imagine
that they were destroyed either on receipt or perhaps after my
mother's death. Four or five of them, however, my father preserved,
apparently because they refer to money matters. A little while ago my
brother William[*] found them when rummaging through papers at
Bradenham, and kindly sent them to me. I have just re-read them for
the first time, and, as a full generation has gone by since they were
written, I find the experience strange and in a sense sad. The
intervening years seem to fall away; the past arises real and vivid,
and I see myself a slim, quick-faced young fellow seated in that room
at Pretoria inditing these epistles which I had so long forgotten.
They are written in a much better hand than I can boast to-day, every
word being clear and every letter well formed, which doubtless was a
result of my despatch work. I will quote some extracts.

[*] Sir Rider's eldest brother, the late Sir W. H. D. Haggard,
    K.C.M.G., at that time Minister at Rio.--Ed.

                               Pretoria, S.A.R.: March 13, 1877.

  My dear Father,--Since my last letter matters have been rapidly
  advancing and drawing to a close. The Raad, after making a last
  move at once futile and foolish, has prorogued itself and left
  matters to take their course. Things are also looking much more
  peaceable, and I do not think that there will be any armed
  resistance. At one time an outbreak seemed imminent, in which case
  we should have run a very fair chance of being potted on our own
  stoep. . . . I spoke a day or two ago to the Chief as to my taking
  home the despatches, and he told me that he could not send me as
  the /bearer/ of the despatches, 1st: because it was no longer done
  except through foreign territories; 2nd: because I might be
  delayed on the road by sickness or accidents, and that in
  performing a long journey of the sort a mail-bag had a better
  chance of getting safely and swiftly to its destination than a
  messenger. "But," he said, "I will send you /with/ the despatches
  and with credentials to the Colonial authorities, empowering you
  to give such information as my despatches do not and cannot
  contain, which is a great deal" (Sir T. is not a voluminous
  writer), "and in this way you will be a living despatch."

  This is perhaps not quite so good as taking the actual letters,
  since I shall not get my expenses, but as far as regards other
  things it will answer my purpose equally well. It will be
  something to my name in case I wish or am obliged at any future
  time to avail myself of it. Besides it is indirectly a great
  compliment to myself. Any young fellow can carry despatches, but
  it is not for everybody of my age and short experience who would
  be trusted to give private information on so important a subject
  as the unexpected annexation of a splendid territory as large as
  Great Britain, information which may very probably be made use of
  in Parliament. Since I have been here I have done my best to study
  the question and to keep myself informed as to every detail, and I
  get my reward in this manner. . . .

  I think that I shall come home /via/ the Cape. It will be a stiff
  journey, 1200 miles in a post-cart, but it will be a thing to have
  done, and I want if possible to get to London at the same time as
  despatches announcing the Annexation. When the Proclamation will
  go I cannot say, but I think it will be in the course of the next
  fortnight. We received news to-night that the troops and guns are
  on the way to Newcastle. I shall start by mail following the issue
  of the Proclamation.

  We are going on as usual here working in the dark (we are
  beginning to emerge now) and waiting the result. It has been an
  anxious business, but I think that we are all right now.

  I had rather that my letters were not shown, as we do not quite
  know what line the Home Government is going to take, and I have
  spoken pretty plainly. [All these letters to which I refer here
  are missing.--H. R. H.]

It was after my return from Secocoeni's and, I think, within a day or
two of the Proclamation being issued, that I received that harsh
epistle from my father of which I have written earlier in this book,
that, as I have said, caused me at the last moment not to start for
England. It was a very foolish act on my part, as the reader who
studies the facts will see. I should have remembered that when he
wrote his letter my father could not have known that I was coming home
in this important position, namely to give /viva-voce/ information to
Lord Carnarvon as to all the circumstances connected with the
Annexation. Nor, although I have little doubt that my mother and my
sister Mary, now Baroness A. d'Anethan, were privy to the secret and
private reasons for my journey, to which I have also already alluded,
was he perhaps aware of them. However, so I acted in my hurt pride and
anger, and there the thing remains. I may say in excuse of this want
of judgment that I was very young, only twenty, and that I had to make
up my mind on the spot while, as the Zulus say, "my heart was cut in

Moreover I repeat my belief that the finger of Fate was at work in the
matter, how and why perhaps we should have to go back, or forward,
ages or aeons to explain. Years ago I came to the conclusion that our
individual lives and the accidents which influence them are not the
petty things they seem to be, but rather a part of some great scheme
whereof we know neither the beginning nor the end. The threads of our
destinies, in black or in scarlet or in sombre grey, appear and
disappear before our mortal eyes, but who can figure out the tapestry
that they help to weave? That picture lies beyond our ken or even our

The insect sees more than the worm, the snake more than the insect,
the dog more than the snake, and the man, erect in his pride, more
than all of them. But how much does the man see of the whole great
universe, or even of this little earth?

To the best of my belief I answered my father's letter, which I think
I destroyed upon the spot, very briefly, saying that I had abandoned
my idea of coming home. Apparently this letter was not preserved. One
remains, however, which appears to allude to the subject, and from it
I quote some extracts.

                                      Government House,
                              Pretoria, Transvaal: June 1, 1877.

  My dear Father,--I have to acknowledge your two letters dated
  respectively 27th March and the 4th April. I do not think that it
  will be of any good to dwell any more on what is to me, in some
  ways at least, a rather painful subject. . . .

  I received to-day my letter of appointment as English Clerk to the
  Colonial Secretary's Office with a salary of 250 pounds per annum.
  I have not yet got my appointment as Clerk to the Executive
  Council, which will be worth nominally 100 pounds per annum, but
  in reality only 50 pounds. It was to have been gazetted to-morrow
  with the other, but the Chief thought it better to wait. However,
  unless something occurs, I shall get it before long, as soon as
  there is an Executive to be Clerk to. The reason that 50 pounds is
  to be knocked off is that it is not desirable to give offence by
  making my pay higher than that of any other clerk in the service,
  and though virtually I shall stand first on the list, it is
  thought better that I should not be nominally either under or over
  the one or two drawing equal pay. My position as "English Clerk"
  will be a perfectly independent one. The English work of the
  office will be in my hands, and as it now far more than equals the
  Dutch and will increase day by day, of course it is the most
  important part of the business and will soon swamp the other.

  The reason of the delay in my appointment is that there has been a
  difference of opinion about it between the Chief and Mr. Osborn,
  who is to be Colonial Secretary and consequently my Head of
  Department and, under the Governor, of the whole service. The
  Chief wished me to stop on with him as Despatch Clerk with the
  same salary, and Obsorn wanted me in his office. In the end they
  compromised it: my appointment is made out as above, and when I am
  wanted at Government House I am to go there. On the whole I would
  rather have it as it is, for the work will be more interesting
  though harder, and the position, on the whole, better.

  So much for the appointment itself; now as regards its future
  probable or possible results. . . . It is far better to take
  service here than in Natal. In five years Natal will be to this
  country what Ireland is to England. To begin with, the Transvaal
  is more than six times its size. If the Transvaal at all realises
  what is expected of it, it will before long, with its natural
  wealth and splendid climate, be one of the most splendid foreign
  possessions of the British Crown, and if as is probable gold is
  discovered in large quantities, it may take a sudden rush forward,
  and then one will be borne up with it. So that whatever happens I
  think that I shall always do pretty well here. However, my aim is
  of course to rise to the position of a Colonial Governor, and to
  do that I must trust to good fortune and my interest. I may, or I
  may not, according to circumstances. At any rate I have now got my
  foot on the first rung of the Colonial ladder, and D.V. I intend
  to climb it. Whether I have done better than I should have done by
  first reading for the Bar I do not know: there is much to be said
  on both sides. The great thing is that I am now independent and
  shall, I hope, put you to no more expense or trouble, of both of
  which I am afraid I have given you too much already.

  This brings me to the subject of money. I am very sorry to see
  from your letter that I have overdrawn to the amount of 25 pounds.
  I must have miscalculated, as I was under the impression that sum
  made up the 200 pounds. I believe however that if you think it
  over you will not consider that I have been very extravagant. You
  always calculated that the 200 pounds would last two years, and it
  is nearly two years since I left England (if I remember right it
  was this very day two years ago that I decided to come to Natal).
  I have had to draw more lately, owing to the heavy expenses I have
  had to meet in connection with this Mission. Horses, arms and
  servants cannot be had for nothing, and I had to provide myself
  with all. If I get any pay for this business that will at all
  enable me to do so I hope that you will allow me to remit the 25
  pounds. If not I fear I shall have to draw on you once more for 20
  pounds in order to meet some debts which I must pay before the
  month is up in connection with the transhipping of my baggage to
  Cape Town and back, etc. I shall be very sorry to put you to that
  expense, my dear Father, but I trust that it will be the last time
  I shall ever have to do so. As to pay for this business, I live in
  hope. I rather fear that the Chief may consider that the fact of
  accepting service under this Government may cancel all past debts,
  but still I shall have a shot for it.

                                                   June 5, 1877.

  My dear Father,--I thanked the Chief the other day for the
  appointment, and he told me that he hoped it would be a good deal
  better soon, but that he was not sufficiently firm in his seat yet
  to make big appointments.

  I don't at all know how I am going to live here, and I fear that I
  shall be obliged to build a house. Mr. Osborn gave me a hint the
  other day that I should be welcome to a room in his house when he
  gets settled. He has not got a house yet: there are none to get.
  The probabilities are that I shall stay in this country for many
  years, so I shall have to build something sooner or later. It will
  be the cheapest way and by far the most comfortable. However I
  shall try to shift along for the present, live in a tent or
  something, until I hear about that money. I hope that it is not
  saddled with conditions [this refers to a legacy of 500 pounds
  which had been left to me many years before by a godparent.--H. R.
  H.]. The scarcity of money here is something extraordinary. Till
  within a month or two, the few who had any lent it on security
  often three times the value of the sum lent, at the rate of 15 per
  cent. per annum. The Annexation has had a wonderful effect. An
  "erf" or building side that would have sold for 40 pounds before
  is now valued at 130 pounds.

  Ever your most affectionate and dutiful son,

                                               H. Rider Haggard.

To return to public affairs. Ten days after our arrival at Pretoria
from Secocoeni's country the Transvaal was annexed to the British
Crown. Of the actual history of the events surrounding that annexation
I purpose to say little, as I have already written a full and true
account of it in my book, "Cetewayo and his White Neighbours." On one
point, however, I will touch.

On the 11th April, the day before the Annexation, Shepstone sent a
message to Cetewayo; I myself saw the messenger despatched. This
message told the Zulu king of the rumours that had reached Pretoria as
to his intention of attacking the Transvaal, and ordered him, if these
were true--which they were--to disband his armies, as the Transvaal
was about to become the Queen's land. In due course came Cetewayo's
answer. It is given in "Cetewayo and his White Neighbours," and I will
quote only a few lines here.

  I thank my father Sompseu for his message. I am glad that he has
  sent it because the Dutch have tired me out and I intended to
  fight them once and once only and to drive them over the Vaal.
  Kabana [name of messenger], you see my impis [armies] are
  gathered. It was to fight the Dutch I called them together; now I
  will send them back to their homes.

It is my firm and fixed belief that at this juncture no one except
Shepstone could have prevented the Zulus from sweeping the Transvaal
or, at any rate, from attempting to do so.

The great day came at length. On April 12, 1877, at some time in the
forenoon--I think it was about eleven o'clock--we, the members of the
staff, marched down to the Market Square, where a crowd was assembled,
Sir Theophilus remaining at the building which afterwards became
Government House. I do not remember that our little escort of twenty-
five Mounted Police were with us. They may have been, but I think it
probable that they were left near the person of the Special
Commissioner. That there was a possibility of trouble we all knew, for
many threats had been made, but in that event twenty-five policemen
would not have helped us much.

Everything being arranged decently and in order, Osborn stepped
forward and read the Proclamation, which was received with cheers by
the crowd, that of course was largely composed of English folk or of
those who were not unsympathetic. After this ceremony was completed
the ex-President Burgers' formal protest, of which the draft had
already been submitted to the Commissioner and approved by him, was
also read, and received respectfully but in silence. The text of these
historical documents can be studied in the Blue-books of the day, if
anybody ever reads an old Blue-book, so I will not dwell upon them

I recall that after everything was over it became my duty to deliver
copies of the Proclamation, and of another document under which Sir
Theophilus assumed the office of Administrator of the new Government,
at the various public offices. In front of one of these offices--I
remember its situation but not which one of them it was--was gathered
a crowd of sullen-looking Boers who showed no disposition to let me
pass upon my business. I looked at them and they looked at me. I
advanced, purposing to thrust my way between two of them, and as still
they would not let me pass I trod upon the foot of one of them, half
expecting to be shot as I did so, whereon the man drew back and let me
go about my duty. It was insolent, I admit, and had I been an older
man probably I should have withdrawn and left the Proclamation
undelivered. But I do not think that the incident was without its
effect, for it did not pass unobserved. I was but one young fellow
facing a hostile crowd which had gathered in the remoter spaces of the
square, but for the moment I was the representative of England, and I
felt that if I recoiled before their muttered threats and oaths,
inferences might be drawn. Therefore I went on. Whatever happened to
me I was determined to deliver my Proclamation as I had been ordered
to do, or to fail because I must.

My colleague, Major Clarke, had to deal with the same difficulty, but
on a much more heroic scale. The story as he told it to me afterwards
is as follows. He was sent down to take command of the filibustering
volunteers at Leydenburg. Arriving at the largest fort with only his
Zulu servant, Lanky Boy, for an aide-de-camp, he at once ordered the
Republican flag to be hauled down and the Union Jack to be hoisted,
which order, somewhat to his astonishment, was promptly obeyed. A day
or two afterwards, however, the volunteers repented them of their
surrender, and arrived in his tent to shoot him. Clarke fixed the
eyeglass he always wore in his eye, looked at them steadfastly through
it, waved his one arm and remarked in his rich Irish accent, "You are
all drunk. Go away." So they went.

This Lanky Boy, a jolly, open-faced Kaffir, was a good stick to lean
on at a pinch. Once two natives waylaid Clarke, but Lanky Boy killed
them both and saved his life.

After the Annexation things settled down rapidly, and when, some three
weeks later, the 1st Battalion of the 13th Regiment marched into
Pretoria with the band playing, it was extremely well received both
there and all along the road. On May 24th, Queen Victoria's birthday,
the British flag was formally hoisted at Pretoria in the presence of a
large gathering of English, Boers and natives. The band played "God
save the Queen," the artillery boomed a salute, and at midday
precisely, amidst the cheers of the crowd, Colonel Brooke, R.E., and I
ran up the flag to the head of the lofty staff. I think that Brooke
lifted it from the ground and broke it and that I did the actual
hoisting, but of these details I am not quite sure; it may have been
the other way about. In view of what followed it ought to have stuck
half-way, but it did not. It was a proud moment for me and for all of
us, but could we have foreseen what was to happen in the future we
should have felt less jubilant.

In one of the newly discovered letters to my mother, written from
Government House, Pretoria, on June 17, 1877, I find an allusion to
this hoisting of the flag. I say:

  We have Sir A. Cunynghame, K.C.B., stopping with us now; he starts
  for Leydenburg next Friday for shooting. On the same day the Chief
  starts for Potchefstroom and Lichtenburg, and will be away about
  five weeks. Mr. Henderson, Chairman of the Finance Committee, will
  be left alone with myself here. It will be a melancholy reduction
  of our large party. We are now awaiting with great anxiety to hear
  how the Annexation has been received. I suppose that the war[*]
  has drawn most of the attention from this business. It will be
  some years before people at home realise how great an act it has
  been, an act without parallel. I am very proud of having been
  connected with it. Twenty years hence it will be a great thing to
  have hoisted the Union Jack over the Transvaal for the first time.

  My absence, which I remember we set down at five years at the
  most, is likely to be a long one now, my dearest Mother. The break
  from all home and family ties and the sense of isolation are very
  painful, more painful than those who have never tried them know.

[*] Probably this is an allusion to the Russo-Turkish War.--H. R. H.

                              CHAPTER VI

                        LIFE IN THE TRANSVAAL

  H. R. H. appointed Master of the High Court at age of twenty-one--
  Boers very litigious--Fleeced by lawyers--H. R. H. reforms
  practice and taxes bills--Much opposition--H. R. H. supported by
  Judge Kotze--Boer revolt expected--Zulu War threatened--H. R. H.
  builds house with Cochrane--Jess's cottage--Sir Bartle Frere--Zulu
  War--Isandhlwana--Shepstone returns home--Treated shabbily by
  Government--H. R. H. joins Pretoria Horse--Elected Adjutant--
  Ordered to Zululand--Orders countermanded--Regiment to defend
  Pretoria against possible Boer revolt--H. R. H. sent in command of
  detachment to watch force of 3000 Boers--Exciting incidents but
  war postponed--Sir Bartle Frere at Pretoria--Estimate of his
  character--Anthony Trollope--Journeys on circuit with Judge Kotze
  --Herd of blesbuck--Pretoria Horse disbanded--H. R. H. resigns
  Mastership of High Court--Buys farm in Natal with Cochrane to
  breed ostriches.

Not very long after the Annexation the Master and Registrar of the
High Court died, and after some reflection the Government appointed me
to act in his place. It is not strange that they should have
hesitated, seeing that I was barely twenty-one years of age and had
received no legal training. Moreover in those days the office was one
of great importance.

To put it mildly, the lawyers who frequented the Transvaal courts were
not the most eminent of their tribe. Indeed some of them had come
thither because of difficulties that had attended their careers in
other lands. Thus one of them was reported to have committed a murder
and to have fled from the arm of justice. Another subsequently became
notorious in connection with the treatment of the loyal prisoners at
the siege of Potchefstroom. He was fond of music, and it is said that
before two of these unfortunate men were executed, or rather murdered,
he took them into a church and soothed their feelings by playing the
"Dead March in Saul" over them. He, by the way, was the original of my
character of Frank Muller in "Jess." Even those of the band who had
nothing against them were tainted by a common fame: they all
overcharged. It was frequently their practice to open their bill of
costs with an item of fifty guineas set down as "retaining fee," and
this although they were not advocates but attorneys who were allowed
to plead.

In those days the Boers were extraordinarily litigious; it was not
infrequent for them to spend hundreds or even thousands of pounds over
the question of the ownership of a piece of land that was worth
little. So it came about that before the Annexation they were most
mercilessly fleeced by the lawyers into whose hands they fell. This
was the situation which I was called upon to face. Also as Master I
held another important office, that of the official Guardian of the
estates of all the orphans in the Transvaal.

I entered on my duties with fear and trembling, but very soon grasped
the essential facts of the case. One of the first bills that was laid
before me was for 600 pounds. I taxed it down by one-half. Then,
either over this or some other bill, the row began. The lawyers
petitioned against me without avail. They appealed against my decision
to the High Court, again without avail, for Mr. Justice Kotze
supported me. For a whole day was that bill argued in court, with the
result that I was ultimately ordered to restore an amount of, I think,
six and eightpence!

Considerable percentage fees were payable to Government on these taxed
bills, and for a while I trusted to those who presented the bills to
hand over these sums to the Treasury. By an accident I discovered that
this was not always done. So I invented a system of stamps which had
to be affixed to the bill before I signed it. In short the struggle
was long and arduous, but in the end I won the day, with the result
that I and my flock became the best of friends. I think that when I
left them they were sincerely sorry. I remember that in one case, a
very important divorce action which occupied the court for more than a
week, the petition was dismissed not because the adultery was not
proved but on the ground of collusion. Of this collusion the parties
were innocent, but the evidence showed that the petitioner's solicitor
had actually drafted some of the pleas for the defendant's solicitor
and in other ways had been the source of the said collusion, thus
causing his client to lose the case. On this ground I disallowed all
his bill of costs, except the out-of-pocket expenses. No appeal was
entered against this decision.

Of the surviving letters which I sent home at this period of my life
several deal with my appointment to the office of Master and Registrar
of the Transvaal High Court, and others with public affairs. From
these I quote some extracts.

                                        Pretoria: Dec. 18, 1877.

  My dearest Mother,-- . . . Our chief excitement just now is the
  Zulu business. It is to be hoped that the Chief will stave it off
  till April, because the horse-sickness would render all cavalry
  useless at this time of year. I do not suppose that the Home
  Government will help, though perhaps they may, the Conservatives
  being in. If we have to fight by ourselves it will doubtless be at
  great risk and cost of life. You see, unless public opinion
  presses, the Home Government is always glad to set a thing of the
  sort down as a scare, and to let "those troublesome fellows settle
  it somehow." But I do not think that this is a matter that can be
  settled without an appeal to arms and one last struggle between
  the white and the black races. That it will be a terrible fight
  there is no doubt; the Zulus are brave men, as reckless about
  death as any Turk. They are panting for war, for they have not
  "washed their spears" since the battle of the Tugela in 1856, when
  the two brothers fought for the throne, and when the killed on one
  side alone amounted to 9000 men. They will come now to drive the
  white men back into the "Black Water," or to break their power,
  and die in the attempt.

  I think I told you that their plan of battle is to engage us in
  the open for three days and three nights. They say they intend to
  begin by firing three rounds and then charge in from every side.
  It will be a magnificent sight to see about twenty thousand of
  those fellows sweeping down, but perhaps more picturesque than
  pleasant. However, I have little doubt but that we shall beat
  them. Besides the thing may blow over. I am going to volunteer
  this afternoon. . . . I see that Sir Henry is getting unpopular in
  Natal. All the papers are pitching into him for being too "timid
  and cautious." He will be in a terrible way about this Zulu
  business. . . .

  P.S.--I have just "taken the shilling" as a cavalry volunteer.

                                        Pretoria: Feb. 11, 1878.

  My dearest Mother,-- . . . We are rather in a state of excitement
  (as usual), as the Boers are making some decided manifestations
  against us, and even talking of summoning the Volksraad. They
  think because we are quiet we are afraid. I should not at all
  wonder if we had a row, and in many ways it would not be a bad
  thing. Paul Kruger when he came back was entirely with us, but
  since his return has become intimidated by the blood-and-thunder
  party and now declares that he considers himself to be still
  Vice-President of the country. There are some very amusing stories
  told of him whilst in London: when asked what made the greatest
  impression on him there, he replied the big horses in the carts,
  and Lord Carnarvon's butler! "He was a 'mooi carle'" (beautiful

                                        Pretoria: March 4, 1878.

  My dearest Mother,-- . . . At home you seem rather alarmed about
  the state of affairs here, and it is not altogether reassuring.
  The Zulu business hangs fire, but that cloud will surely burst.
  Luckily the action Sir Henry Bulwer has taken has thrown much of
  the future responsibility on his shoulders. . . . It is not for a
  moment to be supposed that Cetewayo will be bound by any decree
  given against him. . . . Our most pressing danger now is the
  Boers. They really seem to mean business this time. From every
  direction we hear of their preparations, etc. According to the
  latest news they are coming in on the 16th inst., or else on the
  5th of April, five thousand strong, to demand back the Government.
  This of course will be refused. Then they are going to try to rush
  the camp and powder magazine and, I suppose, burn the town. I am
  still sceptical about it: not that I doubt that they would like to
  do it. I dare say they will be tempted by the small number of
  troops here (we have only 250 men). . . . I am one of the marked
  men who are to be instantly hung on account of that Secocoeni
  article I wrote. Some spiteful brute translated it into Dutch with
  comments and published it in the local papers. The Boers are
  furious; there are two things they cannot bear--the truth and
  ridicule. . . . It is precious little I care about them and their
  threats. . . . The abuse showered on the heads of the unfortunate
  English officials here is something simply awful. You would not
  know me again if you could see me as I appear in the /Volkstemm/
  leaders. However, it amuses them and does not hurt us. We only
  hope that when the Chief comes back (we expect him next Monday) he
  will take strong measures. He has been too lenient, and
  consequently they have blackguarded him up hill and down dale.

  P.S. I have a pleasing duty to perform early to-morrow--go and see
  a man executed.

Very well do I remember the experience alluded to in this postscript.
The individual referred to was a Kaffir chief of high blood, I think
the Swazi who was responsible for the killing of Mr. Bell in order to
avoid the payment of taxes. I cannot recall his name. He was a most
dignified and gentlemanlike person. At the execution the interpreter
asked him if he had anything to say before he died. He began to repeat
his version of the affair with which we were already acquainted, and
on being stopped, remarked, "I have spoken; I am ready."

In the grey morning light he was then led to the scaffold erected in
the prison yard. He walked to it and examined the noose and other
arrangements. The executioner proved to be hopelessly drunk; a black
Christian preacher wearing a battered tall hat prayed over the doomed
man. The High Sheriff, Juta, overcome by the spectacle, retired into a
corner of the yard, where he was violently ill. The thing had to be
done, and between the drunken executioner and an overcome High Sheriff
it devolved upon me. So I stood over that executioner and forced him
to perform his office. Thus died this brave Swazi gentleman.

                               Pretoria: Sunday, March 31, 1878.

  My dear Father,--Very many thanks for your long and kind letter of
  20th Feb. 1878 and all the advice it contained. With what you say
  I to a very great extent agree. I had some idea of shifting, but
  recent events have considerably altered my plans. I think that
  unless something unexpected occurs I am now certain of the Master
  and Registrarship here, which will be worth 400 pounds a year--
  with a probable increase of pay in two or three years. It will
  also make me a head of Department, which at the age of twenty-one
  is not so bad. However, experience has taught me that it is
  foolish to count one's chickens before they are hatched, so as I
  have not actually been appointed the less said about it at present
  the better. Even supposing I do not get it I am not sure that I
  should change unless I got the offer of something very good. This
  is a new country where there are very few above me, and a country
  which must become rich and rising--also the climate is good.
  However, I shall of course be guided by circumstances, and if I
  should do so I am sure you will understand that it will be because
  I thought it on the whole best.

  Of course the lawyers are making a desperate stand against my
  appointment, but with very little effect. It does not at all suit
  their book. They want to get in a man of the old clique who would
  not be above a "consideration." When first I acted one of them
  tried it on indirectly with me, wanted to pay me double fees for
  some Commissioner's work, but I think I rather startled him.

The next letter runs as follows:

                                        Pretoria: April 7, 1878.

  My dear Father,--I have to tell you what I am sure you will be
  glad to hear, namely, that I have won the day with reference to my
  appointment as Master and Registrar. I have seen H.E.'s minute to
  Sec. to Govt., so I am certain about it now. The last question has
  also been settled in my favour, i.e. whether I was to receive 300
  or 400 pounds per annum. I believe I am by far the youngest head
  of Department in South Africa. I have also the satisfaction of
  knowing that my promotion has not been due to any favouritism. My
  connection with the Chief has been against me rather than
  otherwise, because people in his position are very slow about
  doing anything that can be construed into favouritism. He was good
  enough, I believe, to speak very kindly about me when he settled
  the matter of my appointment this morning, saying that "he thought
  very highly of me and was sure that I should rise." This turn of
  affairs to a great extent settles the question of my going
  anywhere else. I am very glad to have got the better of those
  lawyers who petitioned against me, and also to have held the
  office so much to the satisfaction of the Government as to justify
  them in appointing so young a man. When I began to act eight
  months since I had not the slightest knowledge of my work, a good
  deal of which is of course technical, and what is more there were
  no records, no books, indeed nothing from which I could form an
  idea of it, nor had I anyone to teach me. In addition I had to
  deal with a lot of gentlemen whose paths were the paths of self-
  seeking, who did their utmost to throw obstacles in my way. These
  difficulties I have, I am glad to say, to a great extent overcome,
  and I intend to make myself thoroughly master of my position. Of
  course the very fact of my rapid rise will make me additional
  enemies, especially the five or six disappointed candidates, but I
  don't mind that. . . .

                              Pretoria, Transvaal: June 2, 1878.

  My dear Father,-- . . . I could not help being a little amused at
  the alarm everybody seems to be in at home about us here. The
  crisis which frightened you and which was really alarming at the
  time has long since passed, and I remain unhung. [I cannot
  remember to what crisis this refers.--H. R. H.] There is however a
  still blacker cloud over us now. Sir Garnet's famous thunder-cloud
  of thirty thousand armed Zulus is, I think, really going to burst
  at last. It must come some time, so I think it may as well come
  now. We shall have to fight like rats in a corner, but we shall
  lick them and there will be an end of it. I do not think a Zulu
  war will be a long one: they will not hide in kloofs and
  mountains, but come into the open and fight it out.

  In a letter I got from you nearly a year ago you said that if I
  wanted 500 pounds and the trustees would consent, you thought it
  might be advanced to me. If you still think so, and it could be
  done without inconvenience to anybody, it would be useful to me
  now to invest. I would guarantee 6 per cent. on it. Of course I
  only ask for it if it can be done without hampering you or my
  mother. I am going, as I told you, to build a nice house with
  Cochrane. In a place of this sort it is a great thing to have a
  pleasant home, and it will also be a very sound investment. I have
  bought two acres at the top end of the town for this purpose,
  where land will soon become very valuable. . . .

                                               H. Rider Haggard.

This house I built. We named it "The Palatial," and it has since
become well known as "Jess's Cottage." It was a funny little place
consisting of two rooms, a kitchen, etc., and having a tin roof. I
remember how tiny it looked when the foundations were dug out. I
believe that it still stands in Pretoria. At any rate an illustration
of it was published in the issue of /South Africa/ dated February 4,
1911, but if it is really the same building it has been much added to
and altered. The blue gums in the picture are undoubtedly those we
planted; they are very big trees now, I am told. I suppose the
vineyard we made in front of the house has vanished long ago, and
indeed that streets run across its site.

The Cochrane alluded to in the letter is Mr. Arthur H. D. Cochrane,
who came to the Transvaal with Mr. (afterwards Sir William) Sergeaunt,
one of the Crown Agents, who was sent out by the Home Government to
investigate its finances. We struck up a close friendship which has
endured unimpaired through all the succeeding years. I am thankful to
say he is still living, a man of almost exactly my own age.

During the period covered by these letters home I was overtaken by a
very sore trouble. The love affair to which I have alluded earlier in
this book unexpectedly developed, not at my instance, with the result
that for some little space of time I imagined myself to be engaged and
was proportionately happy. Then one day the mail cart arrived and all
was over. It was a crushing blow, so crushing that at the time I
should not have been sorry if I could have departed from the world.
Its effects upon me also were very bad indeed, for it left me utterly
reckless and unsettled. I cared not what I did or what became of me.
Here I will leave this subject of which even now I find it painful to
write, especially after a morning spent in the perusal of old letters,
some of them indited by the dead.

In the autumn of 1878 Sir Bartle Frere, the High Commissioner for
South Africa, had arrived in Natal; and towards the end of the year--I
think it was in November--he issued his famous ultimatum to the Zulus.

Respecting Sir Bartle as I do, and agreeing with him generally as I
do, and sympathising with him from the bottom of my heart as to the
shameless treatment which he received from the British party
politicians after his policy seemed to have failed and the British
arms had suffered defeat, I still think, perhaps erroneously, that
this ultimatum was a mistake. Although the argument is all on his
side, I incline to the view that it would have been wiser to
remonstrate with the Zulus and trust to the doctrine of chances--for
this reason: neither Cetewayo nor his people wished to fight the
English; had Cetewayo wished it he would have swept Natal from end to
end after our defeat at Isandhlwana. But what I heard he said at the
time was to this effect: "The English are attacking me in my country,
and I will defend myself in my country. I will not send my impis to
kill them in Natal, because I and those who went before me have always
been good friends with the English." So it came about that he forbade
his generals to cross the boundary of Natal.

Whichever view may be right, the fact remains that the ultimatum was
issued and from that moment war became inevitable. Our generals and
soldiers entered on it with the lightest hearts; notwithstanding the
difficulties and scarcity of transport they even took with them their
cricketing outfit into Zululand. This I know, since I was commissioned
to bring home a wicket that was found on the field of Isandhlwana, and
return it to the headquarters of the regiment to which it belonged, to
be kept as a relic. The disaster at Isandhlwana I for one expected.
Indeed I remember writing to friends prophesying that it would occur,
and their great astonishment when on the same day that they received
the letter the telegraph brought the news of that great destruction.
This far-sightedness, however, was not due to my own perspicacity, but
to the training that I had received under those who knew the Zulus
better than any other men in the world.

One of these, Mr. Osborn, who afterwards was appointed Resident in
Zululand, was so disturbed by what he knew was coming that, after a
good deal of reflection he wrote a solemn warning of what would occur
to the troops if their plan of advance was persisted in, which warning
he sent to Lord Chelmsford through the officer commanding at Pretoria.
It was never even acknowledged. I think that I saw this letter, or, if
I did not not, Osborn told me all about it.

The disaster at Isandhlwana occurred on January 22, 1879. A night or
two before it happened a lady whom I knew in Pretoria dreamed a dream
which she detailed to me on the following day. I am sorry to say that
I cannot remember all this dream. What I recall of it is to the effect
that she saw a great plain in Zululand on which English troops were
camped. Snow began to fall on the plain, snow that was blood-red, till
it buried it and the troops. Then the snow melted into rivers of

The lady whom it visited was convinced that this dream portended some
frightful massacre, but of course it may have sprung from the excited
and fearful feeling in the air which naturally affected all who had
relatives or friends at the front.

A stranger and more inexplicable occurrence happened to myself. On the
morning of the 23rd of January, which was the day after the slaughter,
I saw the Hottentot /vrouw/ who washed our clothes in the garden of
"The Palatial" and went out to speak to her. The fat old woman was in
a great state of perturbation, and when I asked her what was the
matter, she told me that terrible things had happened in Zululand;
that the "rooibatjes," that is, redcoats, lay upon the plain "like
leaves under the trees in winter," killed by Cetewayo. I inquired when
the event had occurred, and she replied, on the previous day. I told
her that she was speaking falsehoods, since even if it were so no
horse could have brought the news over two hundred miles of veld in
the course of a single night. She stuck to her story but refused to
tell me how it had been learned by her, and we parted.

The old woman's manner impressed me so much that I ordered a horse to
be saddled and, riding down to the Government offices, repeated what I
had heard to Mr. Osborn and others. They too said that it was not
possible for the tidings to have come to Pretoria in the time. Still
they were uneasy, thinking that something might have happened at an
earlier date, and made inquiries without results. I believe it was
twenty hours later that a man on an exhausted horse galloped into
Pretoria with the evil news.

How did the old Hottentot woman learn the truth? It could not have
been called from mountain-top to mountain-top after the Kaffir
fashion, since the intervening country was high veld where there are
no mountains. I have no explanation to offer, except that the natives
have, or had, some almost telegraphic method of conveying news of
important events of which the nature is quite unknown to us white men.

The consternation at Pretoria was very great, especially as the news
reached us in a much-exaggerated form. No wonder that we were
perturbed, since there were few who had not lost some that were dear
to them. Thus one of Sir Theophilus's sons was killed, and for a while
he thought that three had gone. Afterwards his skeleton was recognised
by some peculiarity connected with his teeth. Osborn had lost a son-
in-law, and so on. Personally I knew many of the officers of the 24th
who fell, but the one I mourned most was the gallant Coghill, with
whom I had become very friendly when he was at Pretoria as aide-de-
camp to Sir Arthur Cunynghame. He was a peculiarly light-hearted young
man full of good stories, some of which I remember to this day.

As the reader will remember, he and Melville died back to back in a
vain attempt to save the colours of the regiment, which colours were
afterwards recovered from the bed of the river. I would refer any who
are interested in this sad history to "The True Story Book," published
by Messrs. Longmans in 1893, where I have told the tale of Isandhlwana
and Rorke's Drift. That account may be taken as accurate, for two
reasons: first, I was well acquainted with the circumstances at the
time and saw many of those concerned in the matter, and, secondly, I
sent the proofs to be checked by my friend Colonel Essex, who was one
of the three or four officers in the camp who survived the disaster,
as subsequently he did those of Laing's Nek and Ingogo.

I remember that I asked Essex, a man with a charmed life if ever such
a gift was granted, what he thought of during that terrible ride from
the Place of the Little Hand to the Buffalo River. He told me that all
he could remember was a kind of refrain which came into his mind. It
ran, "Essex, you ---- fool, you had a chance of a good billet at home,
and now, Essex, you are going to be killed!" The story has a certain
grim humour; also it shows how on desperate occasions, as I have noted
more than once in life, the stunned intelligence takes refuge in
little things. Everything else is beaten flat, like the sea beneath a
tornado, leaving only such bubbles floating in the unnatural calm.

Not very long after this terrible event Sir Theophilus Shepstone was
summoned home to confer with the Colonial Office respecting the
affairs of the Transvaal, and well do I remember the sorrow with which
we parted from him. I remember also that before this time, when all
was going well, in the course of one of those intimate conversations
to which he admitted me I congratulated him upon what then appeared to
be his great success, and said that he seemed to have everything
before him.

"No, my boy," he answered, shaking his head sadly, "it has come to me
too late in life," and he turned away with a sigh.

As a matter of fact his success proved to be none at all, for he lived
to see all his work undone within a year or two and to find himself
thrown an offering to the Moloch of our party system, as did his
contemporary, Sir Bartle Frere. And yet after all was it so? He did
what was right, and he did it well. The exigencies of our home
politics, stirred into action by the rebellion of the Boers, appeared
to wreck his policy. At the cost of I know not how many English lives
and of how much treasure, that policy was reversed: the country was
given back. What ensued? A long period of turmoil and difficulties,
and then a war which cost us twenty thousand more lives and two
hundred and fifty millions more of treasure to bring about what was in
practice the same state of affairs that Sir Theophilus Shepstone had
established over twenty years before without the firing of a single
shot. A little more wisdom, a little more firmness or foresight, and
these events need never have occurred. They were one of Mr.
Gladstone's gifts to his country.

But the very fact of their occurrence shows that Shepstone, on whose
shoulders everything rested at the time, was right in his premises. He
said in effect that the incorporation of the Transvaal in the Empire
was an imperial necessity, and the issue has proved that he did not
err. I say that the course of history has justified Sir Theophilus
Shepstone and shown his opponents and detractors to be wrong, as in
another case it has justified Charles Gordon and again proved those
same opponents and detractors to be wrong. On their heads be all the
wasted lives and wealth. I am sure that the future will declare that
he was right in everything that he did, for if it was not so why is
the Transvaal now a Province of the British Empire? Nothing can
explain away the facts; they speak for themselves.

How shocking, how shameless was the treatment meted out to Shepstone
personally--I presume for purely political reasons, since I cannot
conceive that he had any individual enemies--is well shown by the
following letter from him to me which through a pure accident chances
to have been discovered by my brother, Sir William Haggard, amongst
his own papers.

                                        Pietermaritzburg, Natal:
                                             July 6, 1884.

  My dear Haggard,--I am afraid that I cannot take much credit to
  myself this time for giving you practical proof that I think of
  you by writing you a letter, for although I do as a matter of fact
  think of you both, almost as often as old Polly the parrot calls
  me a "very domde Boer," an expression which you taught the bird
  and which it has not forgotten, yet this is essentially a selfish
  letter written with selfish ends; but let me assure you that it is
  nevertheless leavened, as strongly as ever, with the same old

  The fact is that the Treasury at Home have made a fierce and
  ungenerous attack on my Transvaal accounts, and threaten to
  surcharge me with all items to the extent of several thousand
  pounds for which receipts or vouchers of some sort are not
  forthcoming. Among these are two small payments to you: one they
  call a gratuity of 25 pounds, an acknowledgment of your services
  to the mission for which you received no pay, and the other 20
  pounds as compensation for a horse that died on your journey as
  Commissioner to Sikukuni; and I want you to be good enough to send
  a certificate acknowledging the payment of each of these items and
  stating that you signed a receipt for each when it was paid. They
  are under the impression that Colonel Brooke, who kept the
  accounts, never took care to get receipts: the fact being that he
  was most careful on this point; but that the vouchers and some of
  the accounts also were, most of them, lost during the siege of

  The officers of the Treasury have reflected upon my personal
  honesty, and Mr. Courtney has amused himself by writing some
  facetious paragraphs; this has of course furnished more or less
  amusing reading for the society journals. The Colonial Office
  defended me very vigorously, but I have strongly resented such
  treatment and shown the injustice and untruthfulness of it, or any
  foundation for it, in a memo. to the Secretary of State. Meanwhile
  the Treasury withhold my pension.

  This letter is horribly egotistical so far, but I could not help
  it, as I explained on the first page.

  As things have turned out, it was a fortunate thing that you left
  this country when you did. Our condition as Englishmen, or rather
  the condition of our Government in regard to this country, reminds
  me strongly of the craven soldiers under Baker Pasha when they
  were beaten by the Arabs at Teb: they are described as meekly
  kneeling to meet their fate. That is exactly what the British
  Government have been doing, since Majuba, in Africa. The Boers
  have now taken possession of Central Zululand, and they are quite
  right to do so. The Government allowed anarchy to run rampant on
  their [the Boer's] border; and then publicly declared in the House
  of Commons that they intended to leave the Zulus to settle their
  affairs in their own way, and they called in the Boers to settle
  them for them on the promise of giving them land. They have made
  the boy Dinizulu king, and have helped the Usutu party to destroy
  Sibelu, who was made independent by the British Government within
  boundaries formally assigned and pointed out to him. This was part
  of their bargain. Now they [i.e. the Boers] are negotiating for
  the land they are to get, and as the king's party have got all
  they wanted to get out of the Boers, I shall not be surprised if
  some difficulty should arise between them. It was at one time
  feared that the Boers might not respect the Reserve, and so bring
  on a collision between them and the Government, and that would of
  course mean a very serious difficulty in the whole of South
  Africa; but I hope that there is no fear of this for the present
  at any rate.

  Poor old Osborn seems to be quite worn out by all the worry that
  he has had ever since he left the Transvaal, and I do not wonder
  at it; he has not been allowed to rule, and yet has been required
  to interfere, so in the eyes of the Zulus, as indeed in those of
  everyone else, he is neither fish, flesh nor good red herring.
  . . . Sir Henry Bulwer has a very bad time of it; he sees and says
  what ought to be done, but there is no response, and things are
  left to drift, until some eddy or other in the stream strands
  them. I am very sorry, often, for him; and I [think] that if it
  were not for his sense of loyalty to the Government at home he
  would throw up. . . . I have had a serious illness since I came
  back from England, congestion of liver; but am well again. With
  much love to you both,

                                                   T. Shepstone.

Can anything be more piteous than the tale the aged statesman tells in
the above epistle? He, of all men the most spotless and upright in
character, to have reflections made upon his "personal honesty," and
by the servants of the Government which he had served with such signal
faithfulness throughout a long life! Only a very little while before
this letter was written those who, or whose masters, were seeking to
brand him as a common thief had come to him for help in their
difficulties, asking him once more to visit Zululand and further their
tortuous and wretched policy by carrying out the restoration of
Cetewayo. I believe that the annexation of the Transvaal, which cost a
million to surrender and two or three hundred times that sum to
reconquer, was effected at an expense of about 10,000 pounds in all.
It was this comparatively insignificant sum that, nearly seven years
subsequently to its disbursement, was subjected to the microscopic
examination of the Treasury clerks. Vouchers, as he says, were lost or
destroyed during a prolonged siege, and here was a great opportunity
of throwing mud at an honoured name, and of causing its owner, already
sinking towards the grave, to spend his last years in poverty by
depriving him of the pension that he had earned.

Now, as I am involved in this matter--to the extent of 45 pounds
sterling--I had better defend myself, lest in due course reflections
should be made upon my honesty as well as upon that of my Chief. The
25 pounds was, I believe, given to me to cover certain out-of-pocket
expenses, I being at the time totally unpaid. The 20 pounds was
compensation for a horse of more than that value which died when I was
serving with the Secocoeni Commission upon a somewhat arduous
business. In after years the Treasury wrote to me direct about this
said horse. I answered that, so long a time having elapsed, I could
not carry the details of the loss in my mind, but that to save the
trouble of further correspondence I should be happy, if they wished
it, to send them a cheque for the amount. To this proposal I am still
awaiting a reply.

Such is the treatment that the greatest Empire in the world can mete
out to its servants if their services chance to have proved
inconvenient to the political prospects of the party in power. Well,
as Gunnar said in the immortal Saga, when one whom he trusted refused
to help him in his uttermost need and gave him to his death, "Every
one seeks honour in his own fashion." It would appear that the fashion
of party hacks, however exalted or successful, does not always agree
with the tradition and practice of the average English gentleman. But
over such a matter it is easy to lose one's balance and write without
a desirable moderation. So I will leave the facts to speak for
themselves. It seems to me that no words of mine can make them blacker
than they are, nor indeed do I wish to dwell upon them more. To me, at
least, they are too painful. Let history judge.

After the Zulu disaster a mounted corps, which was christened the
Pretoria Horse and composed for the most part of well-bred men, was
enrolled in that town. In the emergency of the times officials were
allowed to join, a permission of which I availed myself. At a
preliminary meeting of the corps I was elected adjutant and one of the
two lieutenants, the captain being a Mr. Jackson, a colonial gentleman
of great experience.

I was, and indeed still am, very proud of the compliment thus paid to
me by my comrades while I was still so young a man. We were ordered to
proceed to Zululand with Weatherley's corps. As it chanced, at the
last moment these orders were countermanded, which perhaps was
fortunate for us, since otherwise in all human probability our bones
would now be rotting beneath the soil of Zululand in company with
those of the ill-fated Weatherley's Horse.

The reason for this change of plan was that of a sudden the Boers,
seeing the difficulties of the English Government and knowing that the
Zulus were not now to be feared, as their hands were full, began to
threaten rebellion so vigorously that it was deemed necessary to
retain us for the defence of Pretoria. To the number of about three
thousand men they assembled themselves upon the high veld at a
distance of thirty miles from Pretoria and here formed a semi-
permanent armed camp. I was sent out in command of six or eight picked
men to an inn that I think was called Ferguson's, situated a few miles
from this camp. We were unarmed except for our revolvers, and the
object of my mission was to watch the Boers. I had my spies in the
camp, and every night one or other of these men crept out and reported
to me what had taken place during the day and any other information he
could collect. This I forwarded to Pretoria, by letter if I thought it
safe, or, if I had reason to fear that my messenger would be stopped
and searched, by means of different-coloured ribbons, each of which
had a prearranged significance. At different points along the road I
had horsemen hidden day and night, and, as my messenger galloped up,
the relief emerged to meet him, took the despatch or the ribbon, and
in his turn galloped away to the next relief. In this fashion I used
to get in news to the military authorities very quickly, covering the
twenty-five miles of rough country in about an hour even on the
darkest nights. Cochrane, I remember, was nearly killed by his horse
falling with him in the blackness when engaged upon this dangerous and
exciting duty.

I gather from the following document scribbled in pencil by my
captain, but undated, that somehow has survived to this day, that my
letters were very hurriedly written. Here it is:

  Dear Haggard,--Your last safely to hand. The only thing meant in
  my last about writing clearly was that we could hardly make out
  some of the words. Colonel Lanyon[*] said he could see that you
  had written in too great a hurry. It is better to take a minute
  longer in writing to prevent any word being misread here, which
  might lead to fatal results. Would you like me to send a good
  stock of food? It was no fault of mine that it was not taken with
  you. The Landdrost's instructions were imperative that the men
  should take nothing. Parents are wiring into me now and say they
  hear their sons are starving. Would you like any of the men
  relieved? I should not ask, but do it, only they seem to have got
  so very nicely into the thing that I would prefer them staying on
  unless you think I should send some fresh ones. I think that for
  the next few days it will not be necessary to send very often.
  However I leave this to you. We are not having /all/ beer and
  skittles here. What with guards and fortifying, our time is well
  taken up. I have sent down for your letters, also Cochrane's.

                                    Yours very sincerely,

                                                     E. Jackson.

[*] Colonel (afterwards Sir Owen) Lanyon succeeded Sir T. Shepstone
    when he went home.

After a while the Boers in the camp got wind of my proceedings, and a
large party of them, from thirty to fifty men I should say, rode to
the inn fully armed, with the avowed intention of shooting us. In this
emergency I, as the officer in command, had on the instant to make up
my mind what to do. To attempt flight would, it seemed to me, betray
the truth as to the reason of our presence. Moreover we should almost
certainly have been captured. So I determined that we should stop
where we were.

They came, they dismounted, they stormed and threatened. I on my part
gave orders that no man was to suffer himself to be drawn into a
quarrel or to do anything unless we were actually attacked, when all
had liberty to sell their lives as dearly as they could. I can see
them now, standing about and sitting round the large room of the inn
with their rifles between their knees. I sat in my little room
surveying them through the open door, pretending to understand nothing
and to be engaged in some ordinary occupation, such as reading or

After an hour or two of this things came to a climax, and I began to
wonder whether we had another five minutes to live. It was then that
the ready resource of one of my sergeants, a fine young fellow called
Glynn, saved the situation. One of the Boers paused in a furious
harangue to light his pipe, and having done so threw the lighted match
on to the floor. Glynn, who was standing amongst them, stepped
forward, picked up the match, blew it out, and exclaimed in tones of
heartfelt gratitude and relief, "Dank Gott!" (Thank God).

The Boers stared at him, then asked, "For what do you thank God,

"I thank God," answered Glynn, who could talk Dutch perfectly,
"because we are not now all in small pieces. Do you not know, Heeren,
that the British Government has stored two tons of dynamite under that
floor? Is this a place to smoke pipes and throw down matches? Do you
desire that all your wives should become widows, as would have
happened if the fire from that match had fallen through the boards on
to the dynamite beneath? Oh! thank the Lord God. Thank the Lord God!"

Now the Boers of that day had a great terror of dynamite, of the
properties of which they were quite ignorant.

"Allemagte!" said one of them. "Allemagte!" echoed the others.

Then they rose in a body, fearing lest we had some devilish scheme to
blow them up. In a few minutes not one of them was to be seen.

Shortly after this dynamite incident I was relieved by my
co-lieutenant, a very nice fellow whose name, I think, was Fell. I
returned to Pretoria on a beautiful stallion which I had named Black
Billy. I remember that Black Billy took me from the inn to the town in
very little over the hour. Here with the rest of the corps I was
stationed at the Government mule stables, not far from the nek through
which I believe the Natal railway now runs.

A few nights later things grew more serious. Our pickets and scouts,
to say nothing of natives, announced that the Boer laager, which, by
the way, was now pitched much nearer to the town and practically
besieging it, had broken up, and that the Boers to the number of
several thousand were marching on Pretoria. So indeed I believe they
were, but something, probably the news that we were more or less
prepared to receive them, caused them to change their minds at the
last moment, with the result that the attack was never actually
delivered. Of this, however, we knew nothing in our mule-stable. All
we knew was that at any given moment we must expect to bear the first
brunt of the onslaught of several thousand men, which would first
impinge upon our position. For some reason which I cannot recollect,
my commanding officer, Captain Jackson, was away that night; I think
that he had been sent on a mission by the Government and taken the
other lieutenant with him, leaving me in command of the corps.

Well, I did my best. A few candles were all that I allowed, set at
intervals on the floor of the long building, that they might not shine
through the loopholes and draw the enemy's fire. I posted my best
shots, Cochrane among them, upon the upper platform, and the rest at
the loopholes we had prepared upon the ground floor and upon the
little external bastions. Our extemporised pikes were also laid handy
for immediate use.

Till dawn we waited thus, growing rather weary at the last; indeed I
never remember a longer night. Then came the news that the Boers had
drawn off, leaving Pretoria unmolested, after which we went to bed
feeling as flat as ditch water.

However, all these operations were postponed for two years, for the
reason that so many British troops were pouring into South Africa in
connection with the Zulu War that the Boers came to the conclusion
that the time was not opportune to rebel. With /their/ usual good
sense they waited till, with /our/ usual folly, we had shipped almost
all the troops back to England and Sir Garnet Wolseley had sent the
last cavalry regiment out of the country, and allowed (or perhaps it
was Lanyon who allowed it) three hundred volunteers, nearly every man
of whom was a loyalist, to be recruited there for service in the
Basuto War. Then their chance came, one of which they made the most.
Then, too, the Pretoria Horse, under a slightly altered name, had its
full share of fighting, losing, I think, about a quarter of its number
in killed and wounded. But, alas! at that time I was no longer there
to command a squadron. I was on the Natal side of the Berg, listening
to the guns thundering at Ingogo and Majuba.

Sir Bartle Frere, after interviews with the Boer leaders in their
camp, reached Pretoria in the middle of April 1879, and remained there
a fortnight as Colonel Lanyon's guest at Government House. I remember
that I commanded the guard of honour which met him in the veld and
escorted him into the town, a duty which gave rise to a good story
that I will tell at my own expense.

By this time the Pretoria Horse was a very smart body of mounted men
divided into two squadrons. I regret to say, however, that although I
was, I believe, efficient enough in other respects, owing to a lack of
military training I was not well acquainted with the ceremonial words
of command. When the High Commissioner appeared I ordered the corps to
present arms, which they did in fine style. But arms cannot always be
kept at the "present," and in due course it became necessary that they
should be returned to their original position. Then arose my
difficulty. I had either neglected to provide myself with or had
forgotten the exact words that should be used. Yet the occasion was
urgent: something had to be done. So I shouted in stentorian tones--or
so at least my military friends used to swear afterwards when they
wanted to chaff me, though to this hour I do not believe them--"Put
'em back again!" Well, it served. The Pretoria Horse grinned and the
arms went back.

I saw Sir Bartle a good many times while he was in Pretoria, being
brought in touch with him not only as an official but because he and
my mother had been friends when they were young together in India. He
was a tall, refined-looking man of about sixty-five, who always seemed
to me to be employed in collecting first-hand information, questioning
everyone whom he met on the chance of extracting something of value. I
think that occasionally the Colonial officials and others rather
resented his continual cross-examination. Indeed there is a trace of
this in a report that he wrote to the Colonial Office as to
Shepstone's character, dated February 1879, in which document he
complained that he could not get as much out of Sir Theophilus as he
would have wished. Now knowing my Chief as well as I did, my
conclusion is that he did not altogether like being pumped, especially
as he was not sure what use would be made of the information or if it
would be correctly assimilated. Shepstone was always open enough with
those whom he thoroughly knew and trusted, but these, I admit, were
not very many in number. Sir Bartle describes him as "a singular type
of an Africander Talleyrand, shrewd, observant, silent, self-
contained, immobile." So he may have appeared to him, but I doubt
whether he ever really understood the man or with what keys to unlock
his heart.

In short, I imagine that when he was in Frere's company Shepstone
always remained more or less on the defensive. Whatever may be the
truth of this matter, Sir Bartle makes one undoubted mistake in the
paper from which I have quoted. He says that Shepstone had no sort of
sympathy with the Boers. This was not the case, as I know from many
talks with him. He was full of sympathy for the Boers, and understood
them as few men did. Moreover he appreciated all their good points,
and most of them admired and were attached to him personally. Had this
not been so he could never have annexed the Transvaal with such
comparative ease. Moreover it should be remembered that all the acute
troubles with the Boers arose after his departure from that country.

In my opinion, if I may venture to give it, Sir Bartle Frere was a
great administrator and /almost/ a great man. But I do not think he
was suited to the position in which he found himself. Had Lord
Carnarvon been a better judge of men and of character, he would not
have appointed Frere to the High Commissionership of South Africa.
Frere imported into South Africa the methods of the great Indian
administrators, and attempted to apply to peoples as far apart in all
essentials of habit and of character as is the North Pole from the
Tropics the policy that he had learned in the training and traditions
of the East.

Had he been a younger man he might have adapted himself, and without
altering his principles, which were just and good, changed the manner
of their application. But age had already overtaken him when he landed
at the Cape. He looked upon the Zulus as though they had been some
Indian clan whom he, the Satrap, had only to lift his hand to sweep
away in the interests of the mighty and remote Dominion which he
served. He overlooked the wide divergence of the circumstances of the
two lands and of the complications introduced by the existence in
South Africa of two white peoples--the English and the Dutch--
hereditary foes, who only awaited the removal of a common danger to
spring at each other's throats. I do not believe that he ever grasped
the problem in its entirety as, for instance, Shepstone did. He saw
the Zulu war cloud looming on the frontier of Natal and determined to
burst it even if it should rain blood. But he did not see that by this
act of his, which, after all, might perhaps have been postponed, he
was ensuring the rebellion of the Transvaal Dutch. His Indian
traditions came into and dominated his mind. Yonder was a savage
people who threatened the rights of the Crown and the safety of its
subjects. Let them be destroyed! /Fiat justitia ruat coelum!/

Even at this distance of time it is difficult to speak of the
treatment meted out to this most upright public servant and
distinguished man, who, be it remembered, had only accepted his office
at the urgent prayer of the British Government, without using words of
burning indignation. By the Liberals he was of course attacked, since
his action gave them a convenient stick wherewith to beat the
Government. This was to be expected. What was not to be expected was
the lack of, or rather the half-hearted nature of the support which he
received from his official superiors. About this time Lord Carnarvon
resigned the Colonial Secretaryship owing to some difference of
opinion between himself and his colleagues on other matters, which, in
view of the state of South African affairs, many people will think he
might have overlooked, and Sir Michael Hicks Beach filled his place.

The next step in the persecution of Sir Bartle Frere was to attack him
through his pocket, as Shepstone was afterwards attacked in the same
way. A certain special allowance of 2000 pounds a year, which he had
made one of the conditions of his acceptance of office, was publicly
withdrawn from him. This was done by Lord Kimberley, the Liberal
Secretary of State for the Colonies in 1880, and as even then Frere
would not allow himself to be goaded into resignation over a money
matter, a few months later the sacrifice was completed. He was
recalled with ignominy, no other word seems to meet the case. He
retired to England to die, as thought many of his friends, of a broken
heart. Thus did Britain reward her faithful servant whose greatest
crime was an error of judgment, if indeed he really erred, a matter
that may well be argued. Well, he took with him the love and respect
of every loyal man in South Africa, and when all these squalid party
turmoils are forgotten, his name will shine on serene and untarnished
in the sky of history.

To return to my personal reminiscences of this great Governor. During
the year 1877, in an unguarded moment I wrote an article descriptive
of my visit to Secocoeni, which was published in an English magazine.
In the course of this article I gave an accurate and lively account of
the /menage/ of an ordinary Transvaal Boer, in the course of which I
was so foolish as to say that the ladies were, for the most part,
plain and stout. I do not think that I signed the paper, but from
internal evidence it was traced back to me, and, needless to say,
translated into Dutch by the journals of the Cape Colony. Then a great
hubbub arose, and ultimately, two years later, the matter came to the
ears of Sir Bartle Frere.

He sent for me and very rightly reproached me for my indiscretion. In
defence I replied that I had written no word that was not the strict
and absolute truth.

"Haggard," he said in his suave voice, "do you not know that there are
occasions on which the truth is the last thing that should be uttered?
I beg you in future to keep it to yourself."

I bethought me of Talleyrand's saying that language was given to us to
conceal our thoughts, but did not, I think, attempt to cap the
argument by its quotation. In fact, his censure was well deserved. As
St. Paul teaches us, all things may be lawful, but all things are not
expedient, and at this juncture it was certainly inexpedient to make
little jokes about the uncountable fleas in Boer bedsteads.

Another noted man who visited us was Mr. Anthony Trollope, who rushed
through South Africa in a post-cart, and, as a result, published his
impressions of that country. My first introduction to him was amusing.
I had been sent away on some mission, I think it was to Rustenberg,
and returned to Government House late one night. On going into the
room where I was then sleeping I began to search for matches, and was
surprised to hear a gruff voice, proceeding from my bed, asking who
the deuce I was. I gave my name and asked who the deuce the speaker
might be.

"Anthony Trollope," replied the gruff voice, "Anthony Trollope."

Mr. Trollope was a man who concealed a kind heart under a somewhat
rough manner, such as does not add to the comfort of colonial

I think that my most pleasant recollections of the Transvaal are those
connected with my journeys on circuit in company with Judge Kotze.
Generally we travelled in an ox-waggon from town to town, and employed
our leisure as we went in shooting, for at that time parts of the
Transvaal veld were still black with game. Then at night we would sit
by our camp fire eating the dinner which I always cooked--for I was
very expert at the culinary art--or, if it were wet and cold, in our
waggon, where we read Shakespeare to each other till it was time to go
to bed.

One such night I remember well; it was on the high veld somewhere in
the neighbourhood of Lake Chrissie, where the duck-shooting was
magnificent. We read "Romeo and Juliet" and went to sleep in due
course. At dawn I poked my head between the curtains of the waggon,
and in the dense mist that rolled around us saw a great herd of
blesbuck feeding all about the waggon. I woke the Judge, and reaching
down our rifles, we opened fire. He missed his blesbuck but I killed
two at one shot, a thing I had never done before. Truth compels me to
add that the Judge claimed one of them, but on that point I was unable
to accept his learned decision.

On one of these journeys I nearly came to a bad end. On a certain
morning before breakfast I wounded a bull wildebeest, breaking one of
its hind hocks, and mounting a famous hunting horse that I had, named
Moresco, started to ride it down. But that wildebeest would not be
ridden down, at least for a very long while. Being thin,
notwithstanding its injury it went like the wind, and finally led me
into a vast company of its fellows: I think there must have been three
or four hundred of them. When once he began to gallop game, Moresco
was a horse that could not be held; the only thing to do was to let
him have his head. Into that herd he plunged, keeping his eye fixed
upon the wounded beast, which in the end he cut out from among them.

On we went again and got into a great patch of ant-bear holes. Some he
dodged, some he jumped, but at length went up to his chest in one of
them, throwing me on to his neck. Recovering himself with marvellous
activity, he literally jerked me back into the saddle with a toss of
his head, and we proceeded in our wild career. The end of it was that
at last the bull was ridden to a standstill, but I could not pull up
Moresco to get a shot at it. He went at the beast as though he were
going to eat it. The bull charged us, and Moresco only avoided
disaster by sitting down on his tail. As the beast passed underneath
his head I held out my rifle with one hand and pulled the trigger; the
bullet went through its heart and it dropped like a stone. Then I tied
my handkerchief to its horn in order to scare away the aasvogel, and
rode off to find the camp in order to get assistance.

All that day I rode, but I never found the camp on those vast, rolling
plains. Once towards sunset I thought that I saw the white caps of the
waggons five or six miles away. I rode to them to discover that they
were but white stones. A tremendous thunderstorm came on and wetted me
to the skin. In the gloom the horse put his foot upon a rolling stone
that gave me a terrible fall that bruised and nearly knocked the
senses out of me.

After lying a while I recovered. Mounting again, I remembered that
when I left the waggons the rising sun had struck me in the face. So I
rode on towards the west until utter darkness overtook me. Then I
dismounted, slipped the horse's reins over my arm, and, lying down on
the fire-swept veld, placed the saddle-cloth over me to try to protect
myself against the cold, which at that season of the year was very
bitter on this high land. Wet through, exhausted, shaken, and starved
as I was--for I had eaten nothing since the previous night--my
position was what might be called precarious. Game trekked past me; I
could see their outlines by the light of such stars as there were.
Then hyenas came and howled about me. I had three cartridges left, and
fired two of them in the direction of the howls. By an afterthought I
discharged the third straight up into the air. Then I lay down and
sank into a kind of torpor, from which I was aroused by the sound of
distant shouts. I answered them, and the shouts grew nearer, till at
length out of the darkness emerged my Zulu servant, Mazooku.

It seemed that this last shot saved me, for really I do not know what
would have happened if I had lain all night in that wet and frost, or
if I should ever have found strength to get on my horse again in the
morning. Mazooku and other natives had been searching for me for
hours, till at length all abandoned the quest except for Mazooku, who
said that he would go on. So he wandered about over the veld till at
length his keen eyes caught sight of the flash from my rifle--he was
much too far away to hear its report. He walked in the direction of
the flash for several miles, shouting as he came, till at length I
answered him.

So, thanks to Mazooku, I escaped from that trouble, and, what is more,
took no harm, either from the fall or the chill and exhaustion. He was
a very brave and faithful fellow, and, as this story shows, much
attached to me. I think that some instinct, lost to us but still
remaining to savages, led him towards me over that mighty sea of
uninhabited veld. Or of course it may have been pure chance, though
this seems improbable. At any rate he found me and through the
darkness led me back to the camp, which was miles away. The
vituperation of Kaffirs is a common habit among many white men, but in
difficulty or danger may I never have a worse friend at hand than one
like the poor Kaffir who is prepared to die for the master whom he

Ultimately the Pretoria Horse was disbanded. So many British troops
had been poured into Africa that the Boers, with their usual slimness,
thought the time inopportune to push matters to the point of actual
rebellion, and therefore dispersed to their homes to await a more
favourable hour. This came later when Sir Garnet Wolseley, who,
whatever his gifts, was not blessed with foresight, had, as I have
said, despatched all the cavalry back to England. At this time no
local assistance was required in the Zulu War. So it happened that my
soldiering came to a sudden end, for which I was sorry, for I had
found the occupation congenial. Also I was, as I have said, restless
and reckless, and since Sir Theophilus had left Pretoria everything
seemed changed. Most of my colleagues had departed this way and that,
and one of them, old Dr. Lyle, was dead. He had built a house near the
town, purposing to settle there, but was seized with some frightful
liver complaint. I went to say good-bye to him, and never shall I
forget this last farewell. At the door of the death-chamber I turned
round. He had raised himself on his arms and was looking after me, his
dark eyes filled with tenderness, shining large and round in a face
that had wasted to the size of that of a child. In a day or two he was
gone, a martyr to his own goodness if all the tale were told.

Cochrane and I took it into our heads that we would shake off the dust
of Government service and farm ostriches. As a beginning we purchased
some three thousand acres of land at Newcastle in Natal from Mr.
Osborn, together with the house that he had built when he was Resident
Magistrate there. We had never seen the land and did not think it
worth while to undertake the journey necessary to that purpose, as it
lay two hundred miles away. In this matter our confidence was
perfectly justified, since my dear friend Osborn had scrupulously
undervalued the whole estate, which was a most excellent one of its

I forget what we paid him for it, but it was a very modest sum. Or
rather we did not pay him at the time, as we wished to keep our
working capital in hand, nor do I think that he demanded any security
in the shape of mortgages or promissory notes. He knew that we should
not fail him in this matter, nor did we do so.

On my part it was a mad thing to do, seeing that I had a high office
and was well thought of; yet, as it chanced, the wisest that I could
have done. Had I stopped on at Pretoria, within two years I should
have been thrown out of my employment without compensation, as
happened to all the other British officials when Mr. Gladstone
surrendered the Transvaal to the Boers after our defeat at Majuba, or
at any rate to those of them who would not take service under the
Dutch Republic, as I for one could never have consented to do.

I find among my papers the letter accepting my resignation. It is as

                              Colonial Secretary's Office,
                                         Pretoria: May 31, 1879.

  Sir,--I have the honour to acknowledge receipt of your letter of
  the 29th inst. tendering the resignation of your office as Master
  and Registrar of the High Court, and to inform you by direction of
  his Excellency that he regrets that the Government should lose the
  services of an officer who has performed difficult duties so

                    I have the honour, sir, to be
                                Your obedient Servant,
                                        M. Osborn,
                                            Colonial Secretary.

I find also the following letter from Mr. Kotze, the Chief Justice.

                              Pretoria, Transvaal: May 24, 1879.

  My dear Haggard,--Before you leave Pretoria I desire to record my
  regret at losing your services as Master and Registrar of the High
  Court of this territory.

  For two years you have discharged the duties of this office with
  the greatest ability and satisfaction, and I have every reason to
  believe that you carry with you the good wishes of all who have
  known you here. Although I regret that you thought it fit to
  resign your post, I think you have not acted indiscreetly in so
  doing. The salary (400 pounds) attached to the office of Registrar
  and Master is only really equivalent to 200 pounds in England or
  the Cape Colony, and although there exists the possibility of an
  increase thereof, such possibility is very remote.

  The Civil Service in the Transvaal offers no inducement for young
  men of ambition or ability, and hence farming if properly
  conducted affords a far better prospect to those willing and able
  to work.

            Wishing you every success in your future undertaking,
                            Believe me,
                                    Very faithfully yours,
                                                    J. G. Kotze.

Here, while I am speaking of Kotze, an able judge and an upright man,
who ultimately did take service under the Boers and met with no good
treatment either from them or subsequently from the British
Government, I will record a curious instance of his memory.

About twenty years later he came to England and stayed with me at
Ditchingham. On his arrival I took him to the cloak-room to hang up
his overcoat. On the next peg was an old frieze ulster of mine which
had survived from my early life--and, I may add, still survives, for
to this day I sometimes wear it.

"Why, Haggard," he said, "that is the coat you used to wear when we
went on circuit together after the Annexation."

It is curious that a man should remember a garment after so many
stormy years, especially so as he only saw it hanging on a hook.
Indeed such an incident makes one wonder whether we ever really forget

So my life at Pretoria came to an end. Cochrane and I rode away one
morning to a Boer stead somewhere in the neighbourhood of where
Johannesburg now stands, and bought and paid for our ostriches. I
think that Cochrane must have driven them down to Hilldrop, our new
home near Newcastle in Natal, for I have no recollection of assisting
in the business. Nor do I remember ever visiting Hilldrop until I came
thither eighteen months or more later with my wife.

From that day to this I have never seen Pretoria or the Transvaal, nor
do I wish to see them. All is changed there, and I should find nothing
but graves. I prefer to remember them as they were when I was young.

But of Natal I was destined to see a good deal more, as I hope to tell
in the next chapter, which will deal with my life there at the time of
the Boer rebellion.

                             CHAPTER VII


  Death of Prince Imperial--Justin Sheil, early friend of H. R. H.--
  Thinks of becoming Trappist monk--H. R. H. tries to dissuade him--
  Sheil takes simple vows--H. R. H. visits him--Takes final vows as
  Brother Basil--Death of Father Basil, who had become Sub-Prior--H.
  R. H. returns home to Bradenham--Engaged to be married--Married
  August 11, 1880--Jack Osborn, son of Sir Melmoth--H. R. H. becomes
  his guardian--Goes to school in England--Returns to South Africa
  and dies--Sir Melmoth Osborn's gratitude to H. R. H. and his
  father--He becomes British Resident in Zululand--Origin of
  character of Alston in "The Witch's Head"--Letters from Judge

One of the last things that happened before I left South Africa was
the slaying of the Prince Imperial by a Zulu outpost. Well can I
remember the thrill of horror, and, I may add, of shame, that this
news sent through all the land. Yet it has always seemed to me that
the most of the blame should have fallen, not upon the unfortunate
officer and his companions who were with the Prince, but on whoever
allowed him to go out upon picket duty of so peculiarly dangerous a
nature. The incident itself is easily explained. Nothing is more
terrible than a sudden rush of savages on a little party that does not
suspect their presence, especially when the attacking force may
perhaps be numbered by hundreds. The Englishmen concerned lost their
heads, that was all. It was a case of /sauve qui peut/. Doubtless
until it was too late they thought the Prince was with them. Well, he
died as anyone might be proud to die, and, as it seems probable, by
his death changed the history of Europe, or at any rate the destiny of
France, for doubtless, had he lived, his chance of succeeding to the
imperial throne was excellent. Again, one wonders whether such things
happen by hazard, or if it were the hand of Fate that threw those

After an absence of four eventful years I arrived in England when I
was a little over twenty-three, an age at which many young fellows
nowadays seem to be, and indeed often are, but boys. In one thing I
was fortunate: I found all belonging to me alive and for the most part
well. With my two greatest friends of the Scoones' period of my life,
however, Arthur L. and Justin Sheil, it was otherwise. The former was
dead; he was a good fellow, and I hope that some day and somewhere we
may meet again. Meanwhile God rest him!

My recollection is that Arthur L.'s illness began in a form of
religious mania. If so, my other great friend, Justin Sheil, also
passed into the shadow, or the glory, of religion. Before proceeding
further with my story, here I will tell his, although the end of it
may cause me to anticipate. This I do not only because he was, or
rather is, dear to me, although he has long been dead--for I may truly
say that the change of death has in no instance altered my affections,
unless it be in the manner of increasing them--but for two added

Of these the first is that his case is the most perfect instance of
what I may call the monastic mind that I have encountered. The second
is that I presume that the iron rules of the Trappist monks, save in
questions strictly connected with the advantage of their Order, allow
of the preservation of no human memorials of those who have passed on.
In their graveyard at Mount St. Bernard's Abbey I saw certain low
mounds and, at the head of these, little nameless wooden crosses, all
that remained of the brethren who had been called away. Therefore I, a
sinner, would make my humble offering to the /Manes/ of a good man and
say a few words that I trust may help to preserve his memory among
those who come after us.

As it chances, certain letters that Sheil, or Brother Basil, as he
came to be called in religion, wrote to me have survived, although I
dare say that others are lost. The first of these evidently was
written in answer to one of mine sent to him after my return to
England in 1879. It is dated Mount St. Bernard's Abbey, Leicester,
October 21st.

After congratulating me on my safe return to England, it says:

  I suppose that you have not seen Walsh or the unfortunate Norris
  since you came, or they would probably have told you of my strange
  experiment here; I am thinking of becoming a monk of the
  Cistercian Order commonly called Trappists. If you have not heard
  it before I suppose you, who knew me better than most people, will
  be most surprised. When I first came here I intended writing to
  you, but I had quite forgotten your address, and when I got it
  from my brother in New Zealand I thought I might as well wait till
  I had made up my mind whether to stop here or not. I may say that
  I am still uncertain as to that; the life is hardish, and I am
  softish, but I am afraid of dropping back into my old ways if I
  leave, so I am hovering. . . .

The next letter, dated October 26th, is evidently written in answer to
one from myself, of the contents of which I have no recollection. It
is clear, however, from the context, that I attempted to dissuade
Sheil from the career which he had chosen in language that must have
seemed to him almost impertinent. In fact to a strict Roman Catholic
doubtless it was impertinent. In youth most of us are intolerant, and
I was no exception to the rule. As we get on in life all such things
vanish. Personally to-day I am not prepared to quarrel with any
religion worthy of the name, unless it be that of Mahomet in certain
of its aspects. I have learned that they all spring from the same
light, though the world being, as it were, cut crystal, that light
flows from its facets in different-coloured rays. Here is the letter:

  When I got, yesterday, your mysterious-looking letter labelled
  "Private" and with an awful black seal, I wondered what dark
  secrets it was going to unfold. When I had read it I think that I
  should have been inclined to laugh if I had not been sorry that
  you should be the victim of such dull and stale delusions with
  regard to monks and the motives that induce a man to become one.
  You have used hard words, and you will let me add that I think it
  unworthy of a man of your mental quality to live year after year
  confronted by the Catholic Church (/pulchritudo tam antiqua et tam
  nova/) and be content to derive all your knowledge of it from some
  vulgar Protestant pamphlet, and all your ideas of its institutions
  and ways from what I suppose you were told in the nursery. You go
  to the originals to discover what Hegel or Comte really teach, and
  you are eager enough to find out all about Darwinism, etc., but as
  for Catholics, you not only don't inquire from them what they
  really teach but you assume to lecture them. Having relieved my
  mind so far, I can assure you your letter was far from giving me
  offence; on the contrary; I know very well you are not singular in
  your views, and that many who call themselves my friends think the
  same, but you are the only one who has taken sufficient interest
  in the matter to tell me so, and therefore I thank you. I don't
  intend to defend the monastic state. It has existed since the
  beginning of the fourth century, has been continually attacked,
  and yet it has flourished; all Catholics look and have looked on
  it as a higher and more perfect state, and therefore I will assume
  it; it has been often and eloquently defended, and moreover it
  could not be done in a letter. However, the fact that it is good
  in itself is not at all a conclusive reason why I should embrace
  it; and if you had tried to dissuade me from it on the score that
  I had made myself unfit and unworthy for it I should have had very
  little to answer. I did not come here in consequence of any
  trouble of the kind you allude to, nor any other, nor in a fit of
  disgust. When I said I was afraid if I left of dropping into my
  old ways, I meant the idle, aimless, useless life I led when you
  knew me and some time after: my only object was pleasure and
  happiness, and I was unscrupulous in trying to get them. However,
  about six months previous to coming here I had made a great change
  and lived more or less as a Catholic should: I had got out of
  Chancery and paid my debts and begun reading for the Bar in a
  Conveyancer's rooms, and it was under these circumstances that I
  came here, and it is what I shall resume if I leave. I prefer
  London and Paris to Africa how fair soever be its skies, and the
  Park to the Sahara. You see my prospects in the world are not so
  darkened as you think; nevertheless they do not wear a very
  fascinating smile to my eyes. For, take everything at its best and
  assume that I should succeed in everything: after many years'
  drudging I should be a successful barrister, and perhaps end by
  becoming a judge if I was very lucky. What good should I have done
  my fellow-men by that? Don't you know that when a man in practice
  dies, a hundred rejoice, thinking that they will get some of his
  work, for one who is sorry? Do you feel grateful to a lawyer worn
  out with briefs, as if he were a public benefactor in consenting
  to work in the world instead of retiring to some rural or suburban
  retreat? Judging by the ordinary run of man, in fifty years I
  should be a crabbed bachelor, or still worse a tormented and
  disappointed married man--not much better than your "soured monk."
  Besides, I believe in the immortality of the soul, and in fact it
  was the great "hereafter" which weighed on my mind and prevented
  my being content with prospects which sound well enough to most
  people. And if I made myself my own and only centre in this life,
  why should I at the hour of death suddenly change and love my
  Creator; and if I did not what chance should I have of enjoying
  Him? You will say that it is possible to love God in the world;
  and so it is: the thing I am trying to decide is where it will be
  easiest for /me/ to do so. It may be more heroic to remain and
  fight your battles bravely, but permit me, where the consequences
  of defeat are so hideous, who really am in such matters nothing
  but a coward, who have been so often overcome, at least to think
  of flight.

  I repeat I have decided nothing; the Church insists upon people
  being tried for two years at least before taking simple vows (i.e.
  that can be dissolved by the superiors if they find you unfit),
  and five years before taking solemn vows, which can only be
  dissolved by the Pope. Compare this caution with the approved
  facility with which a man may bind himself for long periods as a
  soldier or for life in marriage! I may eventually regret it; but
  what may not be regretted, and how many things have most men done
  which they do regret! Surely you should not omit to do a good
  thing because you /may/ regret it. I might say a good deal more,
  but have no time. I once more thank you for writing as you did,
  with your old warmth and not without your old eloquence. Finally,
  if you like to come here, if you have the time, the inclination,
  and the opportunity, I am sure the Abbot would be very glad to
  accommodate you for any time under /three months/ (that is the
  rule) in the guest-house. I warn you however that the /fare/ is
  /very/ frugal, and twenty-four hours might exhaust your patience.

                                    Very sincerely yours,
                                                       J. Sheil.

It seems to me that, in the above letter, dear Sheil goes far towards
justifying the attack that I had evidently made upon his position.
"Permit me . . . at least to think of flight." He admits that he had
run away from the world and its temptations because of "the hideous
consequences of defeat," i.e. the loss of his soul. His idea was that
by shutting himself up in an iron box he would avoid sin and its
"hideous consequences." But I wonder now, as I wondered then, whether,
supposing the capitulation to the natural impulses of the body to be
cardinal sin, such sin is really avoided by the method of the iron
box? True, they cannot be gratified, for, if you wish to drink, there
is no whisky; if you wish to make love, there is no woman, and so
forth. Yet in that case does not the wish assume the proportions of
the accomplished deed? A noted passage in the New Testament seems to
suggest that this may be so; also incidents in the lives of the saints
occur to me, though we are told only of those in which they triumphed.
Of course /if/, by the aid of terrible abstinence or of prayer, every
human desire and frailty can be banished and the mind can become, so
to speak, sterilised of all harmful thoughts, then a condition of
absolute though negative virtue will be attained. Whether the virtue
thus gained--if it be possible to gain it while even sleep and its
dreams remain--is of a truer and higher quality than that proportion
of goodness which can be won, that more soiled garment which must be
worn by him who remains in the world and bears the heat and burden of
its day; often falling, but struggling to his feet again; sinning, and
lamenting his sins; striving to do better, yet frequently in vain;
living the full life, bringing others into that life and, to the best
of his ability, bearing their burdens; doing here a good and there,
perhaps, a harm; and at length, filled with experience, departing
penitent and mercy-seeking to whatever future career may await him--is
not for me to say. Probably the question must be answered in
accordance with the temperament and gifts of the questioner. For me it
is too hard. However, it is more or less dealt with on one side of
some of Sheil's remaining epistles.

The next of these is dated nearly a year later than that which I have

                      Mount St. Bernard's Abbey; August 3, 1880.

  I thank you for thinking of writing to tell me of your marrying;
  you were right in thinking it would interest me. If joy and
  prosperity came by my wishing you would certainly have your fill
  in all your life to come. I am glad you are marrying, as I think
  it much better for a man than knocking about by himself. I suppose
  you had some photos struck on this auspicious occasion; if so, may
  I suggest that the one I have of you was youthful when you gave
  it, I think six years ago, and that I should very much like to
  have another, and, if it is not asking too much, one of Miss
  Margitson (I hope that is rightly spelt, but your writing is more
  shocking than ever)? I am not surprised at your anxiety to get
  back to South Africa and your weariness of England; I suppose our
  brightest sky is only a fog to you.

  As for myself, I took the simple vows a short time since; of
  course I cannot consider myself absolutely fixed till the solemn
  vows, but I hope I am. I don't see how anyone can avoid having an
  intellectual if not a practical contempt for this life if he
  believes in eternity. I was reading the other day that if a man
  had been born at the beginning of the world and shed one tear
  every thousand years, he would now have shed six tears; yet the
  time will most infallibly come when any and every one will be able
  to say that at that rate he would have filled the ocean with
  tears. This seems to me striking and true. The thing is that the
  happiness or misery of all this future (there is only one
  alternative) depends on what you love in this life; you /must/
  love the Invisible. The beauty of the life we lead here is that it
  makes this comparatively easy.

  I should have liked to give you a small token of my feeling for
  you, but, as I suppose you know, a man who takes the vows ceases
  to be the owner of any moneys or of anything else; (of course if I
  was not admitted to solemn vows I should recover what I have
  given). I hope you will accept my good will. Have you seen Walsh
  and Fuller and de Roebeck? Remember me to them, and also
  particularly to Mr. Norris. Good-bye. I hope you will not forget
  Auld lang syne (nor the photograph). I should like to have been at
  your wedding and seen your bride.

                                Very affectionately yours,
                                                  Brother Basil.

In due course I married, but before alluding to that matter I will
continue and finish the story of Brother Basil. At the end of our
honeymoon my wife and I made a pilgrimage to Mount St. Bernard's
Abbey. This I did both because I wished to see him and because in my
vanity I thought that if we could come face to face I might be able by
my personal influence to induce him to return to the world. I confess
that I felt afraid, needlessly afraid as it proved, of facing these
stern and silent monks on an errand which they would know well was
inimical to them. Still I determined on the attempt.

There were some difficulties about the journey--I forget their exact
nature--but at length we arrived without being expected. I stated my
object and, somewhat to my surprise, was admitted with my wife. I was
almost sure that a young woman would not be allowed to pass those
portals. On the contrary we were most courteously received by an
extremely charming sub-prior, a thorough man of the world and a
gentleman who was able to talk to us of many lands and events. He said
that Brother Basil should be sent for, and after a while I heard heavy
wooden shoes--I think they were wooden--clumping down a passage; the
door opened and there appeared the Sheil from whom I had parted some
six years before. He was clad in a coarse robe; his head was tonsured,
or such is my recollection; his face was pale, and it seemed to me as
though the work in that scorching weather in the hot harvest field
from which he had been summoned had exhausted him. At first he could
hardly speak, which was not wonderful seeing the unexpected nature of
the occasion and the rule of silence in which he lived. His delight at
our visit seemed very great. After some talk, greatly daring, I asked
if I might see him alone. To my astonishment the request was granted
at once. We went out, I think into a graveyard--or it may have been
the garden, though certainly I saw a graveyard with its nameless
little wooden crosses--leaving my wife with the sub-prior.

Then came the struggle. I argued high and low, I implored, and was
utterly worsted. I could not move him one inch; my arguments he
answered, my beseeching he put aside with the most sweet and tender

"Many have scolded and lectured me," he said; "you are the first who
ever came here to try to snatch me from what you believe to be an
intolerable fate."

That was the substance of his words, mingled with thanks and

We returned, and my wife and I were shown something of their farm and
of the school where the monks taught children; also all their terrible
mode of life was exposed to us: the dormitories, the bare board on
which they took their scanty vegetable fare, the stern rules of their
Order--nothing was kept back. I remember that I was filled with
admiration, although I remained in moral rebellion against this
terrific system which turned men into dumb creatures and fed their
bodies with the bread and water of affliction for the benefit of their
souls. I was shown a prize bull they had which was in the charge of a
monk who had been a Yorkshire yeoman. A sign was made to him: he was
allowed to speak to me, about the bull but nothing else. How the words
poured from those silent lips, jumbled, incoherent at first, then
growing clearer as the habit of speech returned to him. The broad
Yorkshire accent and the familiar terms of farm life sounded bizarre
in those surroundings as he sang the praises of his bull.

Another sign and he was silent. We returned and were served with a
bountiful meal and most hospitably attended. Then came the farewell. I
shook Sheil's hand and looked into his patient eyes. The door clanged
to behind us. It was our last meeting in the world.

A letter written by him a few days later shows something of the state
of mind excited in him by our visit. It is dated September 8, 1880,
over thirty-one years ago.

  I had intended asking you about the photographs you promised, but
  duly forgot them; I hope /you/ will not do so. There were other
  things too which I had intended saying, but I suppose the flurry
  of first meeting obfuscated my memory. It takes time to get into
  one's old swing, and I generally feel awkward at first meeting
  with people I have known well after a long absence; there are so
  many things to say, so many memories, that one does not know where
  to begin, and flies from one thing to another in a most
  unsatisfactory way. What made it worse in our case was that we
  were both in new circumstances, and that you had not become
  reconciled to mine. I feel ashamed at all the trouble and expense
  you have been at to come and see me; I wish I could show my
  gratitude better than by words, but it is hard to see in what I
  could be of use to you; if however there is ever anything I could
  do, and you let me know, I will. Perhaps when you come back again,
  if you have not had enough of it, if you will come and see me we
  will arrange things much better.

  I wish you and your wife all happiness; I think I said it was a
  poor affection which only wished for its object happiness for
  fifty years or so of this life; and what I wish is that we may all
  go home together and be together always. Remember me to Walsh and
  to poor Norris.

                            I remain, affectionately yours,
                                                  Brother Basil.

  Where would a letter find you in Africa?

Something less than two years have gone by and I find another letter
in answer to one of mine written on my second return from South Africa
owing to events which I hope to describe in due course. It is dated
Mount St. Bernard's Abbey, June 4, 1882.

  I was glad to get a letter from you of the old length if in a new
  vein. I am sorry you have been obliged to leave Africa, though I
  confess I think your new profession [that of the Bar.--H. R. H.]
  more in your line than developing ostrich plumes. I suppose at the
  Cape there is only a step between law and politics. I wish you all
  success and prosperity. Many thanks for your interest in me; I
  still continue content in my position, and I look forward to
  making my final vows about this time next year. I am satisfied
  that this is a high vocation and that I personally am called to
  it. I should like to know how you account for the fact that I,
  being what I am, not given to virtue nor enthusiasm, should have
  conceived the idea of coming to such a place, that I should have
  executed it, not without sacrifice, that I should have persevered
  in it, and that now after four years' trial I should have no
  greater hope than to pass the rest of my life here. It is a marvel
  even to myself; there is but one explanation--the incomprehensible
  mercy of God. You may prefer the vocation of St. Paul to that of
  St. John Baptist, but it is safer to recommend both. Anyhow it is
  more modest not to condemn a way of life which has been followed
  by so many, so great, so holy men now these fourteen centuries.
  There is no country that owes more to St. Benedict and his rule
  than England. No one that I am aware of says that it is necessary
  for everyone to become a monk in order to be saved; but some are
  called, and if they are faithful they will have an easier and
  better salvation. Everyone who believes the truth faith and keeps
  the commandments is safe. All this is the penny Catechism (I wish
  you would buy one), for as yet my theological science extends
  little further.

  One reason why people have a difficulty in understanding such a
  life as ours is that they forget original sin. They say, God
  created the good things of life in order to be used, etc. But we
  are fallen and corrupt, and things no longer have the effect upon
  us that God intended in creating them; they were to have raised by
  their use our minds and hearts to God, and of course it would have
  been absurd for the unfallen Adam to practise asceticism. But now
  unfortunately our natures drag us down, and usually the more a
  man enjoys good things in life the less he thinks of God; and I
  suppose this is why the rich and riches are so much denounced in
  the Gospel. Anyhow no one ever applied himself seriously to the
  love of his Creator without feeling the necessity of separating
  himself more and more from comfort. Even in a monastery it
  requires a constant effort to set our affections on the things
  that are above and not to mind things that are on earth, to attend
  to the invisible which does not pass away. In fact it cannot be
  done perfectly till we can say that the world is crucified to us
  and we to the world, and that with Christ we are nailed to the
  Cross. (Of course only the Saints ever really do this. "Nullus
  amor sine dolore.") You are wrong in saying that it is hard to
  come face to face with God's will in this world, because God is
  not far from every one of us. If any man wants wisdom let him ask
  of Him Who giveth to all abundantly, and he shall receive it. The
  day after receiving your letter I was looking over the life of my
  patron St. Justin, it being the eve of his feast; he was a
  heathen, but possessed by a passion for truth. He spent his youth
  wandering from one school of philosophy to another, dissatisfied
  with them all, till one day he met on the seashore an old man who
  began telling him of the wisdom of the prophets and of Christ, and
  after such speaking concluded by saying, "As for thyself, above
  all things, pray that the gates of life may be open to you; for
  these are not things to be discerned, unless God and Christ grant
  to a man knowledge of them." I believe that anyone who really
  desires to know the Truth, and who is resolved to embrace it at
  all costs, and who prays for light, will come to it and will then
  first understand what it is to "rejoice in hope."

  I am sorry you gave me no news of Norris or Walsh; I never hear of
  them except from you. One effect of leading an uneventful life is
  that the past stands out clearly, unobscured by subsequent
  impressions. My compliments to your wife and Mr. Haggard.

                                Very sincerely yours,
                                                  Brother Basil.

  When your book comes out [Brother B. here alludes to "Cetewayo and
  his White Neighbours"] I will make one of my sisters send it if it
  is not too long; I have not much time for reading, especially in

It will be observed from the tenor of this letter that the writer is
already almost lost in the monastic atmosphere. He still retains his
personal friendship for myself and is interested in one or two of his
old associates, but all his earnest thought is given to his soul and
its salvation. The world is slipping away from him. He even fears to
read my forthcoming history lest it should be "too long" and take his
time from his devotions and self-imposed physical labours, which could
have been so much better done by any working man.

Eight years go by and there comes another note, also apparently in
answer to one from myself. It is dated September 3, 1890.

  Your good memory is very kind, and now that you have become so
  famous, highly flattering. I suppose in your judgment our regime
  ought to have improved me off the face of the globe; however here
  I am, by no means dead, and not even, I am sorry to say, in the
  sense of Colossians iii. 3 ["For ye are dead, and your life is hid
  with Christ in God."--H. R. H.]. I should be delighted to see you
  again if you are able to come here; I have often wished to hear of
  our mutual friends. Of you, of course, I have heard, and perused
  somewhat. It seems quite a short time since you were here; it is
  startling to find that we are ten years older. . . . I hope Mrs.
  R. H. not only lives but is well and happy. Please give her my
  kind regards.

                                Always your sincere friend,
                                                  Brother Basil.

Both this letter and the one which remains are written in a somewhat
different handwriting to those already quoted. It is more careful and
less natural.

The last letter, dated September 10, 1891, deals with the death of my
son, of which I had written to Brother Basil. I think, too, that I had
sent him a copy of "Allan Quatermain," which was dedicated to the boy
and, after his death, contained his portrait. Here is the portion of
the letter that is essential.

  You wrote to me when you came back from Africa, so I have had your
  son in mind when I have thought of you. The idea of you as
  paterfamilias seemed very amusing. So now there is an end of
  hopes. Of course your loss is irreparable; even if you had another
  son he would not be the same. Judging from his picture he must
  have been a /very/ nice fellow. I am afraid that in the reality of
  sorrow you have felt the "great breast of Nature" rather too hard
  to give rest. What a curious irony that that introduction should
  have followed that dedication. [The quotation here and the
  subsequent remark referred to the Introduction to "Allan
  Quatermain," in which he laments the death of his only son.--H. R.

  Looking at matters from their point of view I don't regret much
  the death of children. They have been rightly baptised, and they
  are not old enough to stand in crying need of other sacraments. I
  wish my prospects were as bright as your son's. /Vae nobis quia
  peccavimus/. . . .

                                                  Brother Basil.

I pass on to the end of the story, which the following letter tells.

                        Mt. St. Bernard's Abbey: August 6, 1893.

  Dear Sir,--The notice in the papers was unfortunately too true in
  the case of good Fr. Basil. He died in Rome on May 11th.

  For some years he had been suffering from abscesses in different
  parts of the body, which the doctors considered showed a tendency
  to consumption, and they strongly recommended a change of climate.
  Last autumn it was arranged that he should go to Rome for a year
  or so. Unhappily instead of improving he became worse, though not
  seriously so, until the first week in May, when the spine seems to
  have become affected, and on the 8th he was seized with paralysis,
  and died, as I have said, on the 11th, the feast of the Ascension
  of Our Lord.

  From accounts received, his death was most peaceful and happy, he
  being fully conscious and perfectly resigned to the Will of God.

  When he left us he was Sub-Prior; and after being in Rome for a
  short time he was appointed Procurator-General for the whole
  Order. His death has been a great loss to us here and to all the
  Members of the Reformed Cistercian body.

  I am happy thus to testify to the high esteem in which he was
  held; and very numerous have been the letters received, expressing
  deep regret at his death, and the highest regard for him.

            With every good wish,
                        I remain, dear sir,
                             Yours very truly in Christ,
                                                  C. W. Hipwood,
                                                    Abb. O.C.R.

Thus ends the earthly story of my friend Justin Sheil, known in
religion as Brother Basil, between whom and me, different as were our
characters and our walks in life, there existed some curious affinity.
As he himself remarks, it is strange that a man of his pleasure-loving
nature and somewhat sardonic vein of humour should have become a
Trappist monk and been well pleased with his choice. To use his own
words, this is indeed a mystery, one of those mysteries which appear
to suggest that the human heart is much wider than it seems. We see
the point of an iceberg floating on the ocean and are apt to forget
that hidden in its depths is a vast, unsuspected bulk. So it may be
with the nature of man. We perceive its visible portion; we think we
know it; we sum it up and declare that its character is this or that.
Nay, more, we declare it of our own natures wherewith we should be
well acquainted. And yet deep in the ocean of being floats the real
nature, unmeasured, unsuspected, till perhaps, in some cataclysm of
the soul, not all but a new portion of it is revealed, and that which
was familiar is submerged. Is every individuality in truth multiple?
Are reincarnationists right when they assert that only a part of it
becomes active in this world at one time--a part that we think the
whole? Who can tell?

It was a hard and dreadful life that he led, if measured by our
standards, how hard only those who are familiar with the rules of the
Trappists will rightly know. Yet even in these iron bonds his native
ability asserted itself, for just as he died he rose to high office in
the Order while still a young man, though now, after eighteen years of
silence more complete even than that in which he dwelt, probably he is
forgotten. Others pray where he prayed, think what he thought and fast
as he fasted, till, worn out by privation and by the burning fire of
spiritual ardour, they join him in his unrecorded grave. So it has
ever been with spirits like his own. In Egypt I have seen the cells
occupied by anchorites a thousand years before Christ was born. On
Tabir, Mount of the Transfiguration, I have stood in the living tombs
of the hermits who dreamed away their long years, generation after
generation of them, and hollowed the rock of the holy mountain with
their nightly tossings. In Tibet the lean and wasted claw of the
immured, thrust through some hole to grasp the offering of food,
advises the traveller that here, dead and yet breathing, dwells a holy
man who thus seeks to propitiate the unanswering gods. That which was,
still is and shall be while the world endures; not in one religion but
in many.

I make no excuse for the telling of this true tale, because it seems
to me to constitute a human document of great interest. It is not
often that we have the opportunity of coming face to face with this
kind of heart as it reveals itself in the foregoing letters. Besides,
any whom it does not interest can leave it unread.

May my dear friend's prayer be fulfilled: may we meet again in some
other phase of life and there learn the true reason of these matters;
if a common, erring man may hope to associate with a spirit so
purified and--yes, so holy. Peace be with him; but since I for one
cannot believe that he and all mankind are the victims of a ghastly
delusion, or are led forward by mocking marsh-fires of self-evolved
aspirations to be lost in some bottomless gulf of death, I will /not/

To return to my own history. When I reached home everyone was very
glad to see me, especially my mother, but my father did not welcome my
reappearance with whole-hearted enthusiasm. He remarked with great
candour that I should probably become "a waif and a stray," or
possibly--my taste for writing being already known--"a miserable
penny-a-liner." I am sure I do not wonder at his irritation, which,
were I in his place to-day, I should certainly share. He saw that I
had thrown up my billet and he had no faith in the possibilities of
African farming.

All of these things, and others, he told me in the course of a row
which arose over the loss of a gigantic turtle which I had brought
home from the Island of Ascension, where I had visited my brother
John, who at that time was first-lieutenant of H.M.S. /Flora/. The
Island of Ascension, by the way, where they catch these turtles on the
beach and store them in tanks, is a very interesting spot, for there
one sees a part of the world in the making. On the top of a peak is a
green area of soil that I presume owes its origin to the droppings of
sea-birds. Below is bare rock. This area must have been formed within
recent times, say during the last 500,000 years, and in another
million or so of years doubtless it will have spread all over the
island. The processes of nature are distinctly slow.

In some mysterious way my turtle got lost in the London Docks.
Personally I thought the occurrence fortunate, for what would have
been done with the creature if I had succeeded in conveying it safely
to Bradenham Hall still alive and flapping, I cannot conceive. Imagine
the local butcher confronted with a turtle; imagine the domestic cook
and the quantities of soup that would have resulted, if it ever got so
far as soup! I pointed all this out to my father, but he took another
view. He wanted his turtle and said so, often, and alas! it had
vanished in the London Docks. Probably a steward sold it to a City
Company on the sly. A sportive passenger on the ship made a rhyme on
the matter. It began:

  'Tis true, O my Father, from distant lands
  I've come, a bad penny, back on your hands;
  But when once you have tasted this nice green fat,
  You won't care, O my parent, one kipper for that.

The trouble was that he never did "taste that nice green fat."

However, things righted themselves by degrees, as somehow they
generally do when one is young and not afraid to take chances. To
begin with, not long after my arrival in England I did the wisest and
best deed of my life and engaged myself to be married.

The young lady whom I met thirty-two years ago, and who is to-day, God
be thanked, living, and strong enough to have won prizes in a croquet
tournament last week, was named Louisa Margitson, the only surviving
child of Major Margitson of the 19th Regiment and of Ditchingham House
in this county, where we now live. The Margitsons were originally
yeomen in the neighbourhood of North Walsham, crossed with Huguenot
blood--we still hold their property, or some of it. They intermarried
with the respected Norwich family of the name of Beckwith, and also
with a descendant of Dr. Robert Hamilton of Lynn, a distinguished man
in his day, who was a friend of Sir Joshua Reynolds. There still hangs
in this house a portrait of Countess Margaret Georgiana Spencer and
child, by Reynolds, which is said to have been given by him to Dr.
Robert Hamilton, my wife's great-great-grandfather. On her mother's
side she is also directly descended from the great Scottish family of
Hamilton, thus having a double cross of that blood in her veins. Her
parents died in her youth, leaving her the heiress to certain landed
property which would have been valuable had real estate in Norfolk
retained the worth which it had at the time of their death. As things
are we do not get much out of it; indeed I believe that directly and
indirectly I must have expended nearly as much upon the properties as,
up to the present, we have received during our tenure of them. For
instance, fifty years ago the estate produced sufficient to support a
family in something more than comfort. Now its net rentals, although
it is totally unencumbered, about pay for the upkeep of the house and
gardens. I mention these facts because I see it recorded in works of
reference that I married an "heiress," which is an elastic term.

My dear wife was a schoolfellow of my sister Mary, and was staying
with her at Bradenham when we met. After a short acquaintance we
became engaged, and at first all went well enough; subsequently,
however, her guardians--for she was not yet of age--after consenting
to her engagement, reconsidered the matter and wished her to break it
off. I do not altogether blame them, since at the moment my prospects
were not particularly brilliant. As it chanced, however, my wife,
perhaps the most upright and straightforward woman whom I ever knew,
was not one of a nature to play fast and loose in such matters. She
declined, whereupon one of her guardians, who was a lawyer, made her a
ward in Chancery. Well do I remember appearing before Vice-Chancellor
Malins, a kindly old gentleman and man of the world, upon whose gouty
toe I inadvertently trod when shaking hands with him. He soon sifted
the matter out and approved of the engagement, making certain
directions as to settlements, etc. The net result of the whole
business was that, including the cost of the settlements, a very
moderate estate was mulcted in law expenses of a sum of nearly 3000

In after days I and my wife's relations, with most of whom, by the
way, I never had any difference at all, as they were no parties to
these proceedings, became and remained the best of friends. So I wish
to say no more of the matter except that I regret those moneys which
went in quite useless law costs. The end of the business was that
after about a year of these excursions and alarums we were duly
married on August 11, 1880, I being twenty-four and my wife within a
few months of twenty-one, and departed from this house to Norwich in a
carriage drawn by four grey horses with postilions. This is
interesting, as I believe it must have been one of the last occasions
upon which postilions were used for such a purpose in England, except
of course in the case of royal personages. At any rate I have never
seen or heard of them since in this connection, and how we came to
have them I do not quite know. I can see them now in their gay dress
and velvet caps touching up the grey steeds with their short whips. We
made quite a sensation on our thirteen-mile journey to and through
Norwich; but oh! were we not glad when it was all over.

In a letter recently found at Bradenham, headed Ditchingham House,
Bungay, December 21, 1879, and addressed to my brother William, who
was then attached to the British Embassy at Teheran, I find the
following estimate of my future wife's character, and expression of my
feelings towards her.

  Next, my dear Will--/je vais me marier/--to such a brick of a
  girl, Louie Margitson. They are certain to have told you all about
  her in their letters from home, so I will only say that I love her
  sincerely, as I think she does me, and that, unless something
  untoward occurs to dash the cup from my lips, I think we have as
  good a prospect of happiness as most people. She is good and
  sensible and true-hearted, and every day I see her I love and
  respect her more. She is a woman who can be a man's friend as well
  as his lover, and whom I would trust as I would very few. She is
  willing to come to Africa, so we propose returning there shortly,
  i.e. as soon as we can get satisfactorily married. There is
  property concerned, and trustees, who, as I dare say you know, are
  gentry difficult to deal with. They want us to postpone the
  marriage till she comes of age next October, but we don't see the
  force of it in any way. I /want/ to get married next April--
  whether I shall manage or not is another matter. . . .

                Good-bye, old fellow. God bless you.
                                    Your loving brother,
                                               H. Rider Haggard.

In fact, as I have said, we did not succeed in marrying until August
11, 1880.

The circumstance of my marriage gave me pause as to my plan of leading
a farmer's life in South Africa, and as my father and family were very
anxious that I should re-enter the Colonial Service, I made some
attempt to do so. It is, however, one thing to give up a billet and
quite another to get it back again. Had Sir Theophilus Shepstone or
even Sir Owen Lanyon still been in power in the Transvaal, doubtless
there would have been little difficulty. But a new Pharaoh had arisen
in the shape of Sir Garnet Wolseley who knew not Joseph, and probably
wished to keep any available patronage in his own hands. At any rate,
on the matter being referred to him, he replied "that arrangements are
in contemplation which prevent your reinstatement in the office of
Master of the High Court in the Transvaal."

Those "arrangements" were indeed a blessing in disguise, since, had I
been reinstated, we should have had the pleasure, as I have shown, of
going through the siege of Pretoria, and on the Retrocession I should
have been dismissed from my office without compensation, as I believe
happened to the gentleman who succeeded me. It was one of the peculiar
cruelties of that act that Englishmen who had taken service under the
British Government in the Transvaal were treated thus, since, of
course, even if the opportunity had been given, they could scarcely
transfer their allegiance from the Queen to a Boer Republic. But,
after all, they suffered no worse things than scores of British
subjects whose farms were looted, and who in practice were left to
send in their bill to their new Dutch masters--with results that may
be imagined.

When I went home in 1879 Mr. (or, as he afterwards became, Sir
Melmoth) Obsorn entrusted me with the guardianship of his son Jack, a
boy of about sixteen, whom he asked me to send to whatever school I
might select in England. So it comes about that he wrote me a good
many letters, a few of which survive and contain items of interest as
to public affairs in Africa at this period.

Poor Jack Osborn after a course of education in England returned to
South Africa and was appointed to some office in Zululand. There, a
few years later, he died of abscess of the liver.

In a letter dated Pretoria, October 10, 1879, Osborn says:

  I have your letter 23rd August in which you give account of your
  stewardship regarding Jack. Accept my sincere thanks for all you
  have done and the care you took of the boy, who I fear must have
  been a great bother to you. Your father's kind note to me I need
  not tell you how greatly I appreciate, and I will write to him by
  this mail. Jack wrote me several letters since his arrival in
  England. He is loud about all the kindness shown him by you and
  your people, your father especially, whom he seems to swear by.
  . . . Sir Garnet Wolseley is here. He would not take up his abode
  in Government House, but had a house hired for his occupation, and
  is now in Koch's new residence near Melville's, together with his
  staff. I have a very hard time of it just now, having to serve two
  masters who, between us, do not seem to pull together very well.
  Sir Garnet seems to disapprove entirely of Sir Bartle Frere's
  policy with Kaffirs and Boers. . . .

  With regard to your returning to the Colonial Service your father
  is quite right, and I think you should return. The business
  between you and Cochrane could be easily arranged, although I dare
  say to you there seems a difficulty about it. If you start again
  fairly in any other colony but this you are sure to succeed, and I
  strongly advise you to do so--it would simply be following a
  pursuit for which you are eminently suited and abandoning one for
  which you are not. I think I told you that I did the same thing
  some years ago: resigned my appointment in the Service and
  invested in a sugar estate, but soon found that trying to do that
  which I did not understand involved nothing but loss, and by
  advice of a friend I re-entered the Service, tho' in a low grade.
  Well, by steady perseverance and without one-half the advantages
  you have, here I am to-day. Perhaps you will say it is not much
  after all; but if you had to encounter all the uphill work that
  fell to my lot of which you have no conception, and when you are a
  little older, you will be able to appreciate matters as I do.

  I have but little news to send you this time. Two regiments are
  expected here in a few days I believe, so that we will have a lot
  of troops at hand to cope with the Amabull [a slang name for the
  Boers.--H. R. H.] or any other obstreperous bulls who might
  trouble us. Last evening I heard from Middelburg that the Boers
  there are very violent and the Landdrost Scoble was anticipating
  serious results. All these things happening so continually worry
  me a good deal, and I am heartily sick of it all. . . .

                              Ever your affectionate friend,
                                                      M. Osborn.

The next letter is headed Zululand, April 14, 1880.

  My post runner brought me your very welcome letter of 3 February
  yesterday. I was very glad to get it and to hear that all was well
  with you. Before proceeding to business matters I must offer you
  my sincere and hearty congratulations on the prospect of happiness
  before you. Depend upon it you are doing the right thing. A man is
  nothing in this life who has no wife to love or be loved by, and I
  feel certain that you have not erred in your selection and that
  the young lady will prove not only worthy of your affection but a
  great stay and support through life.

  I write this from the heart of Zululand, where I hold the office
  of British Resident. My duties are chiefly to supervise the action
  of the thirteen chiefs to whom the country has been given, their
  government and the way they fulfil the treaty obligations. I am
  entirely on my own responsibility and have to do just as appears
  right to me. And a proper responsibility I find it. Indeed it is
  no joke. I am not hard worked, but my brain is continually on the
  stretch to prevent the wily Zulu getting the better of me. Any
  mistake might cause endless complications. My pay is 1300 pounds,
  and a suitable Residency is to be built at once for me by the
  Government. I correspond only with the High Commissioner direct. I
  had not forgotten you when the appointment was made, but there was
  nothing at all beyond an ordinary clerkship which I could offer
  you, and this was certainly not in your line. There is however a
  good prospect of something worth having turning up in six months
  from this, and then you will hear from me again. Between us I have
  to report /in extenso/ on the whole question connected with
  Zululand and the additional officers required to assist me in
  managing, for the Secretary of State's consideration, but this I
  will do only after I have been three months in the country, and
  to-morrow the first month will expire. I think however you will
  not like it here--too lonely, and you should not come if you could
  get anything else. You can form no idea of my grandness here--in
  the eyes of the chiefs and people I am a great king. They are
  submissive and civil to a degree. Almost every day a fine fat ox
  is presented to me for my dinner that day by some Zulu swell that
  comes to pay his respects, and hundreds come up to my camp daily
  with "Bayete" salutes thundered forth so as to make the hills ring
  again. Most of the chiefs and headmen knew me personally when I
  was a border magistrate, and others by repute, so that I am not
  quite a stranger to them.

  I did not at first feel inclined to take the office when Sir
  Garnet offered it to me, but after four weeks' consideration of
  the pros and cons I concluded to take it. . . . Please convey to
  your father my hearty thanks for his kindness to Jack. I
  appreciate it most sincerely.

                           With love,
                              Ever your affectionate friend,
                                                      M. Osborn.

The last letter is headed British Residency, Zululand, May 15, 1880.
After speaking of an opening in the Colonial Service, which he thinks
I might secure, Osborn says:

  I returned to my headquarters here only last night, having been on
  a strip to meet the Empress at Landmanns Drift, Buffalo River. She
  was very good and kind to me and I saw a great deal of her; indeed
  I was the only one not belonging to her suite who was spoken to at
  all by her. She sent for me twice daily and conversed freely on
  different topics. Brigadier-General Wood, who has charge of her,
  received me with open arms, which slightly surprised me after the
  paper war I carried on with him in Pretoria. He seems to be a very
  good fellow.

  The Empress is still in Zululand visiting the various
  battlefields. She intends to visit the spot where the Prince fell
  on 1st June the day of his death, and will remain about five days
  there to mourn and weep. I feel very sorry for her. She will be in
  Durban in time to sail for England on 26th June. Sir Garnet has
  left us quite suddenly. He is certainly a very great soldier.

  I am still getting on well with my Zulus, who will persist in
  according royal honours to me. About a fortnight ago one single
  deputation waited on me numbering over four thousand men! Their
  shout of "Bayete" (the royal salute) made the hills ring again.
  Every day hundreds come up to salute and to state their grievances
  tribe against tribe. Everywhere quiet and good order prevails,
  which is satisfactory. With kind regards,

                               Your affectionate friend,
                                                      M. Osborn.

After a stormy time in Zululand, Osborn retired from the public
service on a pension. At first his idea was to settle in England, but
ultimately our climate proved too much for him, and he drifted back to
South Africa, where not long afterwards he died. I do not think that
his departure from the world grieved him very much, for in addition to
the loss of his son Jack, my ward, he was called upon to endure other
heavy sorrows. I never quite fathomed his religious views, but I
remember that one night, when I was talking to him on such matters, he
stretched out his arm and clasped a handful from the swarm of white
ants that were flying past us. "What is the difference between us and
these?" he asked with a little laugh, and let them go again. By the
way, I may mention he was the origin of my character Alston in "The
Witch's Head." Dear old "Mali-mat"--that was his Kaffir name, which
means, I believe, "so much money"--shrewd, kindly, honourable, the
truest of friends, the bravest of men, surely you, if any do, belong
to that class which Pope defined as the noblest work of God.

Osborn was a great believer in the virtue of the raw Kaffir. Thus,
when he was magistrate of Newcastle, he did not hesitate to send down
from Newcastle to Maritzburg, two hundred miles away, the total sum of
the hut tax collected in his district--which, if I remember rightly,
amounted to one or two thousand pounds--tied in gold-filled belts
about the middle of some of his native policemen. The fact about the
Kaffirs, and especially the Zulu Kaffirs, is, or was, that those whom
they love and respect may trust them to the death, whereas those whom
they despise or hate cannot lend them sixpence with safety or believe
their word about the smallest matter. Their absolute fidelity to duty
is well exemplified in the following story which Sir Theophilus
Shepstone told me when we were travelling together over the

Once he had occasion in winter-time to send two Zulu messengers over
these mountains with despatches for Maritzburg. They were caught in a
snowstorm without coats, whereon the man who carried the despatch-bag,
feeling the approach of death, handed it to his comrade and bade him
proceed. He himself crept into an ant-bear hole to die. As it
happened, however, the warmth of his body in the hole kept him alive,
and when he woke up in the morning the sun was shining. He emerged
and, following on the road, presently found his companion dead and
stiff. Taking the despatch-bag from the body he proceeded on his
journey, and in due course delivered it in Maritzburg.

Among my letters of this period are two from Judge Kotze. In one of
these, which is dated June 17, 1880, the Judge complains bitterly of
the placing of De Wet, the Recorder of Kimberley, over his head as
Chief Justice, a very harsh step, the reason of which I never quite
understood, as Kotze was undoubtedly an excellent lawyer and an
upright Judge. After some political remarks he says:

  By the by, you speak of seeking employment in the Civil Service
  out here. Abandon the idea and take the following suggestion into
  careful consideration. Why not read for the Bar? You have a
  /splendid/ opening in the Cape Colony or at the Diamond Fields. It
  will take you not more than three years, and by working honestly
  from six to eight hours per day you will have no difficulty in
  turning out a first-rate man in three years. Give it your serious
  attention. You have a certain prospect of a judgeship, and will
  without much difficulty get into the Cape Parliament. Mrs. Haggard
  will be pleased with Grahamstown (which I would recommend in
  preference to Cape Town), and you will have a /fine/ and
  /thoroughly independent/ career before you. . . . Pretoria is no
  longer what it was. The place is unbearable. Everybody at
  loggerheads with Government and his neighbours, and the
  contractors in the meantime making fortunes.

Kotze's advice was sound, and to-day I wish that I had taken it, or
rather sometimes I think I do. What chiefly stood in my way, however,
was my agreement with Cochrane, whom I did not like to desert,
although he generously offered to release me. Also I wished to be up
and doing, and did not like the idea of those three years of
comparative inaction which would have prevented me from earning
anything more till I was twenty-seven. Still I was destined to be
called to the English Bar after all, as I hope to tell in due course.

Here I will end my story during the year and a half or so that I was
absent from South Africa, and pass on to the sad tale of the
Retrocession of the Transvaal.

                             CHAPTER VIII

                        OUR LIFE AT NEWCASTLE

  H. R. H. and wife sail for Natal--Farm near Transvaal--Maritzburg
  --Dinner at Government House--Started for Newcastle--Adventures on
  journey--Hilldrop--Boer revolt--Natal invaded--Majuba and Colley's
  death--Work on farm--Royal Commission--Sir Hercules Robinson
  President--Hilldrop let to Sir Hercules and staff--Birth of H. R.
  H.'s son--President Brand and Sir H. de Villiers--Retrocession of
  Transvaal--Popular indignation--Farming--Return home--Mazooku.

My wife and I with two servants, a Norfolk groom of the name of
Stephen--I forget his surname--who, a little touched up, appears as
Job in my book "She," and a middle-aged woman named Gibbs who had been
my wife's maid before marriage, three dogs, two parrots, and a
"spider" carriage, which was built to my special order in Norwich,
left England somewhere towards the end of 1880. I think that we
reached Natal before Christmas, and were greeted with the news of the
Bronker's Spruit massacre, for I can call it by no other name. In
short, we found that the Transvaal was in open rebellion.

It was indeed a pleasant situation. Newcastle, whither we desired to
proceed, lies very near the Transvaal border, and the question was,
Did I dare to take my wife thither? For some weeks we remained in
Maritzburg, staying part of the time with Sir Theophilus and Lady
Shepstone, and the rest in an hotel. Literally I was at my wits' end
to know what to do. To advance seemed too risky; to remain where we
were was both wearisome and, with our servants, ruinously expensive.

At length my wife, who, I think, take her altogether, is the most
courageous woman I ever met, announced that she would have no more of
it: her house was at Newcastle two hundred miles away, and, Boers or
no Boers, thither she would go. There were rumours that Sir George
Colley, who was then the Governor and Commander-in-Chief of Natal,
intended to attack the passes of the Drakensberg with the few troops
at his disposal. Nobody believed it, since the thing was so obviously
a madness. But I was not so sure. I went to Colonel (afterwards Sir
Charles) Mitchell, the Colonial Secretary, and asked him in confidence
if he knew anything. He replied--Nothing, but that I might be quite
certain that so distinguished a soldier would never act foolishly.

So I bought two good horses--which afterwards died of the sickness--
harnessed them to the "spider," and we started.

I think it was on the night before Colley left Maritzburg to take
personal command of the troops at Newcastle that my wife and I dined
at Government House. If so, this historical dinner took place on
January 9, 1881. I believe that there were thirteen of us at table,
though on this point I am not absolutely clear, of whom three were
ladies--Lady Colley, another lady whose name I forget, and my wife.
The other guests were officers and the members of Colley's staff. The
only name that I can remember is that of young Elwes, who within a
week or two was to die charging the Boer schanzes and shouting
"Floreat Etona!" I sat next to him at table.

My wife reminds me of an absurd little incident that happened at this
dinner. Elwes, I think, was A.D.C. to Colley, and one of his duties--
it used to be mine when I was on the Governor's staff in the same
house--was to write the menus in French. One of the items of fare
recorded by him was /pates de mince/. In a silence such as happens at
dinner-parties, Lady Colley was heard saying from the end of the

"Mr. Elwes, what are /pates de mince/? I never heard of a dish called
/pates de mince/!" whereon everyone turned and looked at Elwes.

"/Pates de mince/, Lady Colley," he stammered presently, his youthful
face covered with blushes, "is the French for mince-pies."

Poor Elwes! He did not hear the last of his /pates de mince/ during
that meal. Thus do farce and tragedy often walk hand in hand.

In a few months' time Lady Colley, the other lady, my wife and I were
the sole survivors of that dinner-party. The other lady died shortly
afterwards. About the year 1888 my wife and I were guests at a dinner
given by the late Anthony Froude. Lady Colley, as she was then, was
another of the guests. Thus we three survivors of that fatal
Government House dinner met again. When Lady Colley recognised us she
burst into tears, and my wife was obliged to stand over her to screen
her grief from observation.

Here are some extracts from a letter written by my wife to my father
from the little town of Estcourt, and dated January 19, 1881--nearly
thirty-one years ago.

  We have at last summoned up courage to start up-country in spite
  of the Boers, the real fact being that we were getting dreadfully
  tired of doing nothing down in Maritzburg, which was besides most
  fearfully hot. We got to our first stage, Howick, last Friday,
  which luckily for us was a very pretty place with a comfortable
  hotel. I say luckily, because we were detained there by the rain
  till Monday. We then started at about 9:30 A.M. for Mooi River (a
  distance of thirty miles), which we did not reach until about 8
  o'clock in the evening. The roads were in a positively fearful
  state: we could only go very carefully at a foot's pace the whole
  way, and even then we got into some very nasty places. I walked a
  good part of the way, in fact we all did, as it was quite as hard
  work hanging on driving as walking. Yesterday we came on here,
  which was not half such a tiring day, as the roads were
  comparatively very good, and we are told that they will be so now
  for the rest of the way, which is a comfort. If we are not
  detained by rain or other mishaps we expect to get to Newcastle
  next Saturday. I quite forgot to tell you that the unhappy Gibbs
  came to sad grief on the way from Maritzburg to Howick, and all on
  account of her devotion to Bob. She was nursing the said spoilt
  animal on her knee when suddenly the carriage went into a hole,
  gave a lurch and nearly sent Bob flying. In her efforts to save
  him out fell Gibbs right between the wheels, but marvellous to
  relate she was not a bit hurt, only bruised her arm a little and
  got a good shaking. . . . At almost every stage we meet fugitives
  from the Transvaal, but they all seem to look upon Newcastle as
  safe. . . . With much love from us both to you all,

                             Your affectionate daughter-in-law,
                                                  M. L. Haggard.

Truly this was an awful journey, especially as my wife was in a state
in which great exertion was undesirable. The roads, as she says, were
terrible, being cut up by the passage of guns and troops. Indeed,
there were no roads--simply, in that wet season, breadths of mud-holes
sometimes a hundred yards wide, of which holes you might take your
choice. It was into one of these that poor Gibbs fell with the beloved
terrier, Bob. Never shall I forget the splash she caused. The
spectacle of an elderly British lady's-maid in that hole still
clasping Bob to her bosom was almost weird. The hind wheels of the
"spider" went over her, grinding her deeper into the mire.

"Good God!" I said to Stephen, "she is done for."

My further remarks were interrupted by a series of piercing yells.

"Lord bless you, sir," answered Stephen, "if she can screech like that
there ain't much the matter."

Nor was there, except mud and Gibbs' voluble views upon South African

A day or two after this we galloped in front of a fearful
thunderstorm, of which the flashes kept striking behind us, and at
last reached shelter just in time. On another day we ploughed through
sodden peat flats, in which our wheels sank to the axles, to the edge
of a river--I forget which river. On the farther bank was the inn. The
night was coming on and the river was in full flood. What could we do?
To get back across those flats was impossible; to sleep in the rain in
the open carriage was impossible; to attempt to cross the flooded
river was very dangerous. My wife, as usual, made up her mind at once.
"Let's try it," she said.

I felt bound to give Gibbs her choice.

"Don't you go a-asking of her, sir," said Stephen, "or we shan't never
do nauthing. If we've got to drown, she may as well drown too."
Stephen, I may observe, lacked affection for Gibbs.

So we "tried it," two brave and brawny Zulus wading into the water
with us, and hanging on to the sides of the "spider" in order to
prevent it from overturning. A transport rider on the bank, who had
warned us against the attempt, shouted valedictory messages: "When you
are all drowned, don't blame me. Remember that I told you so!"

I answered something appropriate to the occasion and my feelings, and
in we went.

The stream was coming down like a mill-race and rising every minute.
Soon the horses were off their legs, but they were plucky beasts and
struck out for the farther shore of the drift. The water ran through
the bottom of the carriage, which began to float, but the brave
Kaffirs hung on, although they were up to their arm-pits and could
scarcely stand. Gibbs wailed softly in the background and clasped Bob
to her breast. There were a few fearful moments of doubt, then, thank
God! the horses got their feet again, and we dragged through, damp but
safe, and slept that night in comfort in the inn.

Such were some of the incidents of that extremely arduous journey. At
length we reached Newcastle safe and sound, and drove out to our house
on the farm Rooipoint, about a mile and a half from the town. This
house, which was named Hilldrop (the Mooifontein of "Jess," where it
is actually described), was and no doubt still is a very pretty place,
built by Osborn for himself when he was Resident Magistrate at
Newcastle. It is backed by a rocky hill, and its broad verandah
commands a wide and charming view. Round about it stood orange trees--
I believe these died after we left--and to the right was a plantation
of black wattles. For a colonial dwelling it was spacious, having a
good drawing-room, and altogether the home was one where English folk
could live in decency and comfort. Moreover our furniture had arrived,
and for the most part had been arranged by the indefatigable Cochrane
--"that man who calls himself Mr. Cochrane," as Gibbs once described
him after some difficulty which interfered with her comfort.

I wish I could remember more of the sayings of Gibbs, for they were
worthy of preservation. Only one returns to my mind, however. It was
after our flight before the thunderstorm, a terrific thunderstorm, I
admit, which had reduced Gibbs to a perfect jelly of terror.

"Don't be so foolish, Gibbs," said my wife, "and make an exhibition of
yourself. Look at me, I'm not frightened."

"No, ma'am, I see you ain't," answered the gasping Gibbs, "and I tell
you straight /I/ don't call it ladylike!"

In short, by contrast with all we had undergone, the place seemed a
perfect haven of rest. This, however, it was not destined to remain
for long. First there were the refugees, some of them people I had
known in the Transvaal, who came with their tales of woe and ruin,
asking for shelter which we were unable to give. Then, to our dismay,
we learned that on the very day of our arrival Colley had moved out to
attack the Nek.

Two days later we heard the sound of firing, and getting back to
Hilldrop I received the following note from Beaumont, the Resident
Magistrate of Newcastle, who was an old friend of mine, now one of the
Natal judges.


  I am sorry to say the troops failed this morning in their attack
  on the "Nek" and had to retire to their waggon laager, after heavy
  loss. We have no further particulars. I do not think that
  Newcastle is in any danger. The signal for alarm in town is a
  bell; but should I think there is any occasion for it I will send
  out a runner to warn you. I wish I could give you a welcome under
  better circumstances, but we must make the best of things. With my
  kindest regards to Mrs. Haggard, upon whom I hope Mrs. Beaumont
  will soon be able to call. . . .

                                                 W. H. Beaumont.

On the following day, January 30, I wrote a letter to my father, which
I have just recovered with the others.

  You will see from the address that we have reached this in safety
  after a rather difficult journey owing to the villainous state of
  the roads. Old Gibbs shot straight out of the carriage twice but
  came to no harm. Louie is well and expressed herself very pleased
  with the place. . . . We have come out in very troublous times.
  When for various reasons we made up our minds to come up-country,
  Newcastle was looked upon as one of the safest places in the
  Colony, owing to the large body of troops concentrated there.
  Nobody dreamed that Sir George Colley could be mad enough to try
  and force the passes with such a handful of men, and I believe he
  was again and again warned of its impossibility. However, the day
  we got here he started, and a few evenings afterwards we heard the
  guns going on the mountains. Next came the intelligence that we
  had met with a crushing repulse. It appears that the Boers beat
  the troops back without difficulty, and from what I can judge it
  will take 5000 men and a great expenditure of life to force their
  position. Nearly all the officers actually engaged were killed,
  including poor young Elwes (Norfolk) whom I sat next to at dinner
  the other night. He was talking to me about you, and said that he
  saw you the other day at Lynn station talking to the barmaid. It
  is all very sad. I do not think that this place is in danger, but
  still these are anxious times for us all. Our men have retreated
  into laager near the top of the mountain, and the Boers are in
  laager on the top. When the reinforcements come there will be a
  fearful engagement and many officers will be picked off. All the
  Boers are in rifle pits behind stone walls. I think they will have
  to send more troops.

  We have got all our things up here safely and have made the place
  quite pretty, but somehow one can take no pleasure in anything
  just now with blood being shed like water all round. Every time
  one sees a Kaffir runner coming to the house one feels anxious
  lest he should be the announcer of some fresh evil. . . . We will
  send you a longer letter in a mail or two, but just now we are
  head over ears in work arranging the house, etc. And now good-bye.
  With best love from us both to all at home,

                Believe me ever
                       Your most affectionate and dutiful son,
                                               H. Rider Haggard.

Such was our house-warming at Hilldrop.

On February 8th about midday once more we heard the guns at work in
the neighbourhood of the hill Scheins Hoogte, about eleven miles from
our farm. The firing was very heavy, that of the field-pieces being
almost unceasing, as was the crash and roll of the rifles. At dusk it
died away. Some Kaffirs came to Hilldrop and told us that a force of
British soldiers were surrounded on a hill in the Ingogo River; that
they were fighting well, but that "their arms were tired." The Kaffirs
added that they would all be killed during the night.

I have told the story of Ingogo in "Cetewayo and his White
Neighbours," and I cannot tell it again; indeed, I have no heart to do
so. It was a miserable and an aimless business, as we heard of it from
the lips of the survivors.

After the Ingogo defeat, when the wounded were left lying on the
ground through the raging African night, the Boers invaded Natal. One
night, in the stillness, I heard the galloping of a vast number of
horses. Some five hundred of the enemy had taken possession of the
next farm to our own, which they looted. The Boers had descended into
Natal, in order to attack the reinforcements. We colonists saw a
chance, a desperate chance it is true, of cutting them off, or at any
rate of inflicting great damager upon them. A number of us congregated
at Newcastle with the idea of forming a volunteer corps. I was very
doubtful whether I ought to join, seeing what were my family
responsibilities. I remember my young wife coming out of the house
into the garden, where some of us were talking over the matter, and
saying, "Don't consider me. Do what you think your duty. I'll take my

Never did I admire any woman more than I did her upon that occasion.
In all the circumstances which in her case included the imminent birth
of a child, I thought and think her conduct in this matter, and indeed
throughout all these troubles, little less than heroic. But of such
stuff is she made.

As it chanced, however, this particular adventure came to nothing. The
authorities got wind of it, and if I recollect right, my friend
Beaumont the Magistrate arrived on the scene with a message from the
Government at Maritzburg or elsewhere to the effect that our proposed
attack on the Boers was forbidden, and that if we insisted on carrying
it out we should be repudiated; that our wounded would be left to lie
where they fell, and that if the Boers chose to shoot any of us whom
they took prisoner no remonstrance would be made, and so forth and so
forth. It was a peculiar errand that he had to perform, but the
British lion was a humble animal in those days; its tail was tucked
very tightly between its legs. Also the authorities were naturally
anxious to prevent the war from spreading to the civil population. So
our proposed /coup/ came to nothing.

Now followed a period of great alarm. We were surrounded by the enemy,
and from hour to hour never knew on whom or where the blow might fall.
Every night at Hilldrop we placed Kaffirs on the surrounding hills
that they might warn us of the approach of the enemy. Well and
faithfully did these men fulfil their duty; indeed, we were kept
advised of all that happened through the Zulu natives dwelling on our
farm. Also my old body-servant, Mazooku, had joined me on my return to
Africa, and with his friends night and day guarded us as a mother
might her child. Night by night, sometimes in our clothes, we slept
with about six horses saddled in the stable, loaded rifles leaning
against the beds, and revolvers beneath our pillows.

Next came a rumour, apparently well substantiated, that the expected
battle between the invading Boers and the reinforcements was actually
to take place on the following day at a drift of the Ingagaan River
upon our own farm, Rooipoint. It was added, probably with truth, that
the main body of the Boers intended to occupy my house and the hill
behind. This was too much, so, abandoning everything except our plate,
we retreated into laager at Newcastle, and there spent several very
uncomfortable days. For some reason that never transpired, however,
the Boers never delivered the expected attack. It was the one military
mistake that they made, for had they done so I believe they would have
cut up the long line of reinforcements, and subsequently have taken
the town of Newcastle without much difficulty. On the contrary, they
withdrew to the Nek as silently and swiftly as they had come.

On February 17th the reinforcements marched safely into Newcastle.
General Wood, however, who I think accompanied them, was sent down-
country by Colley to bring up more reinforcements and to look after
stores, a task which to the lay mind might have been equally well
performed by some subordinate officer. I should add it was said that
by mutual agreement of these two generals no further offensive
movement was to take place until Wood returned again.

If so, that agreement was not kept, since on Sunday, the 27th of
February, I heard the sound of distant guns, which most of the others
attributed to thunder. So certain was I on the point that some of us
rode to the camp to make inquiries. On our way through the town we
learned that messages were pouring down the wires from Mount Prospect,
and found the place full of rumours. At the camp, however, nothing was
known; indeed, several officers to whom we spoke laughed at us. It
would almost seem as though Colley had undertaken his fatal movement
without advising his base.

I cannot tell again the horrible story of Majuba. Afterwards Colonel
Mitchell told me the tale of what was happening at Government House in
Maritzburg. Into the office where I used to sit the messages poured
down from Majuba, reporting its occupation and the events which
followed as they occurred. So to speak, Majuba was in that room. As
each wire arrived it was his duty to take it to Lady Colley in another
part of the house. At length came a pause and then a telegram of two
words: "Colley dead," and then--nothing more.

This message too Colonel Mitchel must take to the chamber where the
wife sat waiting. He said that she would not believe it; also that it
was the most dreadful moment of his life.

In one of the letters published in Butler's Life of Colley, he writes
to his wife that his good luck was so great and so continuous that it
caused him to be afraid. Not in vain was he afraid, for can anything
be more tragic than this man's history! One of Wolseley's darlings,
every advancement, every honour was heaped upon him. At last Fortune
offered to him a soldier's supreme opportunity, and he used it thus!
Had he been content to wait, it was said at the time--and I for one
believe--that the Boers would have melted away. Or, if they did not,
he would soon have found himself at the head of a force that might
have commanded victory. He would have become one of the greatest
generals in the Empire, and the history of South Africa would have
been changed, for it was only defeat that brought about the
Retrocession. But he had theories and he lacked patience. Or perhaps
Destiny drove him on. In only one thing was it kind to him. It did not
leave him living to contemplate his own ruin and the dishonour of his
country. Peace be to him.

Now I will return, not without relief, to my own story, which is best
set out in such letters as have survived. These remain clear and
fixed; about them can gather nothing of the uncertainties or mists of
time and memory.

In one written by my wife to my mother from Hilldrop on March 7, 1881,
she says:

  As you will have seen from the papers, we are not altogether in an
  enviable position. The state of affairs out here is really
  becoming very serious. We are told that the troops now in camp at
  the "Nek" are perfectly panic-stricken by the continual defeats
  they have sustained, and that in the last engagement, when poor
  Sir George Colley lost his life, the officers had the greatest
  difficulty in getting their men to stand. Of course, as everyone
  says, it is not to be wondered at. Three times now have our men
  been sent out in small bodies to face double their numbers and
  have simply been shot down like sheep without being able to make
  any effectual resistance. In spite of the Boers being rebels one
  cannot help admiring the way in which they are conducting this
  affair. Their coolness and pluck are wonderful, and they have not
  made /one/ false move yet. Add to this the fact that they are all
  splendid shots, and you will agree that it is no mean foe with
  whom we have to deal, though this is what our officers and men
  would not at first believe. Hence these sad disasters. Poor Sir
  George Colley has paid dearly for his rashness, but, humanly
  speaking, it was far better for him to die as he did fighting
  bravely at the head of his men than to live with a lost
  reputation. Lost it decidedly would have been, for popular feeling
  was strong against him even before this last affair.

  And now for a few words about ourselves. . . . The farm is pretty
  flourishing. We are now in the middle of haymaking, and the lazy
  Rider is routed out about 6 A.M. every fine morning to go and cut.
  He looks all the better for it, in fact I think we are both in
  better health than when we left England. We have lost another
  ostrich, luckily not a very good one, but the other birds seem to
  be doing nicely and some of them have splendid feathers. . . .

On May 3, 1881, I wrote:

  My dearest Mother,-- . . . I do not know how to thank you all
  enough for the loving interest you have all shown towards us in
  our trouble. We were extremely surprised and, speaking from a
  personal point of view, delighted to get a telegram from Jack [my
  brother who afterwards became Consul at Madagascar, etc.--H. R.
  H.] the other morning announcing his arrival at the Cape. We
  thought he had given up all idea of coming.

  Perhaps you will hardly have been surprised at my letter to my
  father telling him that we are seriously debating clearing out of
  this part of the world. I am sorry to say that every day that has
  elapsed since I wrote has only strengthened my conviction that
  henceforth we can look for no peace or security in South Africa.

  I fear our property will suffer from this business. A little while
  since we could have easily got 3000 pounds for the farm. I don't
  know if we shall be able to do so now. . . . I cannot tell you how
  sorry I shall be if we have to leave this place, as I repeat I
  think is probable. After a two years' struggle we were just
  beginning to do well, and had there been no war I think this would
  have developed into a very thriving concern. Latterly we have been
  clearing at the rate of over 2000 pounds a year. . . .

In a letter to my mother, dated May 4, 1881, my wife says:

  The High Commissioner, to whom we have let the house, is also
  expected, so I fear Jack will arrive to find us in rather a
  muddle. We shall have to live in a kind of picnic fashion, I
  expect for about a fortnight, as our house-room will consist of a
  bedroom and two tents!--one of which we shall convert into a
  kitchen and the other into a room for Jack. Mr. Cochrane and
  George Blomefield [a ward of my father's who had become our
  farming partner.--H. R. H.] are going over to the mill, where they
  will have to get on as best they can. Happily the rains seem to
  have come to an end for this season and we are now having bright
  sunny weather, just the right sort for camping out.

After talking of our losses from the horse-sickness, she adds:

  The mill is now finished and ready to start. They made the first
  trial of it the other day, with rather disastrous results to poor
  George Blomefield. He went up a ladder and meddled with one of the
  safety-valves (the mill not going quite right), whereupon a
  tremendous noise was heard and a rush of steam and water came out.
  All the lookers-on fled for their lives thinking something fearful
  had happened, and Mr. B. in his hurry slipped his foot and came
  down with a crash upon his head, happily however without hurting
  himself at all. I am sure one of them will get blown up in the
  end, and am only glad Rider's talents do not lie in the machinery
  line. . . . I think myself that if we can get a good price for the
  farm and mill it will be wisest to leave this country and try some
  more peaceful colony, and I find that a good many of the Transvaal
  landowners are already on the move.

I still possess the agreement, dated April 6, 1881, under which I let
Hilldrop "for a residence for H.E. Sir Hercules Robinson and staff and
for the use and service of the Royal Commission about to assemble
under H.E.'s presidency" for a period of two weeks certain with an
"option of renewal for a further period to complete the term of one
month," reserving only our own bedroom for my wife's use. No doubt as
thrifty people the offer of 50 pounds a week rent tempted us; also the
domestic event which has been alluded to was not expected to occur
until later. In this, however, we were mistaken, as the next letter

If I remember rightly the Commission occupied the house for about five
weeks, during which time we all got on very well together, and of
course I heard much of what was going on. It was a strange fate which
decreed that the Retrocession of the Transvaal, over which I had
myself hoisted the British flag, should be practically accomplished
beneath my roof.

On May 24, 1881, I write to my father:

  I hope by now you will have received the telegram I despatched
  yesterday telling you of the safe birth of a son . . . a full
  three weeks before the child was expected to arrive.

  I am now most thankful to be able to tell you that both dear Louie
  and her son were doing as well as possible, indeed Louie looks
  little if any the worse. . . .

  Jack got here all right accompanied by Spice (who signalised her
  arrival by fighting the household cat at the top of a tree) about
  a week ago. He is very flourishing, but I fear there is no chance
  of his getting employment in Natal owing to the flood of Transvaal
  officials who have to be provided for somehow. His account of
  Vancouver Island is such as to make us abandon our idea of forming
  a company and going there, so I suppose we must stay on here and
  then come home. The Royal Commission are still in the house. I
  have dined with Sir Hercules once or twice; he is a very pleasant
  old gentleman. We don't at all know what is going to happen here.
  If it is war I only hope it will not be until Louie is well enough
  to travel down country. I don't want to stop here through another
  war. . . . The farm is going fairly. All our oxen that are in
  Government service have knocked up from work, so we have to spend
  about 300 pounds in fresh ones, which is a great pull. However it
  will give us a fine head of draught cattle next year.

About this time I received the following from Sir Bartle Frere:

                                Athenaeum Club, Pall Mall:
                                                  July 20, 1881.

  My dear Haggard,--I am very much obliged to you for your most
  valuable and interesting letter of June 6th, which contains one of
  the best accounts I have read of the present miserable state of
  affairs in the Transvaal. I have done my best to make the truth
  known publicly and privately and have not yet given up hopes that
  the terrible evils of England forsaking her children may be
  averted. But /how/ I hardly see. At present Mr. Gladstone is
  practically supreme in such matters, and his one idea seems to be
  to reverse all that has been done hitherto by his predecessors. I
  shall be very glad if you can find time to let me hear from you
  from time to time, giving your own observations and opinions
  exactly as you do in your letter of June 6th.

  There is a very strong and growing feeling of dissatisfaction with
  the way in which Transvaal affairs have been mismanaged by the
  present Government, and the expression of this dissatisfaction
  would probably have been far stronger had not the Irish Land Bill
  so entirely absorbed public attention and the whole time of
  Parliament. Let me hear also about yourself, what you are doing
  and how you are prospering, and

                             Believe me,
                                      Sincerely yours,
                                                 H. B. E. Frere.

The next letter in order of date that I find is one from Sir
Theophilus Shepstone, headed Pietermaritzburg, June 16, 1881.

  My dear Haggard,--One of the little Schwikkard girls wrote me the
  news of the advent of your son and heir the morning of his birth
  and told me of the well-being of both mother and child, so that
  she prevented any anxiety as far as we are concerned with regard
  to this important event. I congratulate you most heartily and wish
  every prosperity to all concerned in this little life, including
  the little life itself. Fortunately everything that is born in a
  stable is not a horse, or your boy would be either a Boer or a
  Royal Commissioner; the latter he may become, but the former
  never. I suppose you will call him "Joubert" or "Jorissen," but
  "Bok" would make a shorter signature; for shortness I think that I
  should prefer "Juhan" [a great Zulu chieftain.--H. R. H.], and for
  respectability "Cetewayo." [Of course all this was Shepstone's
  playful satire.--H. R. H.]

  I quite agree with you about Sir Hercules Robinson; from the
  little I saw of him I thought him straightforward; I fancy,
  however, that he did not like his job.

  There is nothing to be said about the Transvaal that would have
  the slightest effect just now; the humiliation is determined upon
  and must be endured: natural causes and natural processes are all
  that can now be looked for to bring about amelioration. The next
  thing to look forward to is the effect that this humiliation of
  the British flag will produce at the Cape. The Transvaal rebellion
  was not a Transvaal question; at the next general election in the
  Cape Colony the Dutch element will predominate in their
  Parliament, they will adopt the Dutch as the official language,
  and they will ask England to withdraw, and threaten vaguely if she
  does not. I can see no escape from the logic of facts which she
  has created; she must withdraw; and if from the Cape why not from
  Ireland or Canada or anywhere else?

  I am glad to hear that your farm is going well. I hope you will
  make hay while the sun shines, for I suspect that the troops or
  the greater portion of them will soon be withdrawn. . . . Believe
  me, my dear Haggard,

                                    Yours always sincerely,
                                                   T. Shepstone.

The following extract from a letter written by my late brother John to
my father, which has come into my hands with the others, shows the
date of the departure of the Royal Commission, and what we thought of
that body individually. It is headed Hilldrop, Newcastle, June 3,

  My dear Father,--You will have heard from Rider ere you receive
  this of the birth of his boy, so I will not enlarge on that

  The Royal Commission left this house for the Transvaal yesterday,
  so we left the tents in the garden and took repossession of the
  building. I think most of them were sorry to go, and for many
  things we were sorry to lose them; they were a remarkably nice set
  of men, from Sir Hercules Robinson downwards. . . . I next tackled
  Sir Hercules Robinson [as to an appointment he desired at the
  time.--H. R. H.], and was asked to dinner at Hilldrop with Rider
  and Louisa. The latter did not attend. Among the guests at the
  table were Sir Henry de Villiers and President Brand of the Free

Enclosed in this letter is one from Sir Evelyn Wood to my brother, in
which he states that "I do not myself anticipate remaining Governor of
Natal." His dissent from the report of the Royal Commission will
suggest a reason why.

I do not remember much of President Brand; for some reason he made no
great impression on my mind, but Sir Henry de Villiers I recall very
well indeed, for we rode together and talked a good deal. He was a
quiet man, pleasant and able, but of course Dutch by blood, and
therefore, although he may not have known it himself, naturally in
sympathy with Dutch aims and ambitions. In him the Boers had an
advocate of the best class. Sir Hercules Robinson was a most agreeable
Irish gentleman. Also he was an official, and not of the strongest
sort. As a Royal Commissioner theoretically he was in an independent
position, but he had a notable example before his eyes in the instance
of Sir Bartle Frere of what happened to Colonial Governors who dared
to take a line of their own. Of this Commission Sir Evelyn Wood was
the only really independent member, and he dissented from its most
important findings.

Never shall I forget the scene on the market square of Newcastle--it
must have been about the 21st or 22nd of March--when it became known
that peace had been declared as a corollary of our defeats, and that
the restoration of the Transvaal was practically guaranteed within six
months. Some thousands of people were gathered there, many of them
refugees, among whom were a number of loyal Boers, and with these
soldiers, townsfolk, and natives. I saw strong men weeping like
children, and heard English-born people crying aloud that they were
"b----y Englishmen" no more. Soldiers were raging and cursing, and no
one tried to stop them; natives stood stupefied, staring before them,
their arms folded on their breasts; women wrung their hands.

Then an idea struck the crowd; they made a rude effigy of Mr.
Gladstone and, as was done in most of the other loyal parts of South
Africa, burnt it with contempt and curses. It was a futile and perhaps
a foolish act, but excuses must be made for the ruined and the shamed.
They could not believe their ears, in which still echoed the vehement
declaration of Sir Garnet Wolseley that no Government would dare under
any circumstances to give back the Transvaal, and the statements, in
the House of Lords, by telegram, and in other ways of various members
of the Administration to the same effect.

And now I have done and am glad to have done with the matter of this
great betrayal, the bitterness of which no lapse of time ever can
solace or even alleviate, and will return to its results upon my own

On July 30, 1881, I sent to my father what I suppose was the last
letter that I wrote to him from South Africa. It was in answer to one
from him enclosing a communication from the late Mr. Blake, who was at
that time my lawyer, in which for various reasons, both personal and
connected with our property, they recommended our return to England.

  My dear Father,--I have delayed replying to your kind letter of
  June 22nd in order that I might have time to give it full
  consideration, and also to enable me to try to arrive at some
  satisfactory conclusion as regards the probable course of events
  in this country. I must now tell you that after thoroughly
  thinking the matter over I have made up my mind to return to
  England next month. This will probably seem a somewhat eccentric
  announcement, but my reasons are briefly as follows. First I have
  given due weight to what you and Mr. Blake write to me, and admit
  that there is a great deal in what you say. What brings me back in
  such a hurry however is the state of the country.

  I can only trust that I have arrived at a wise decision. Of course
  you will understand that, under the circumstances, if we are to
  go, the sooner we go the better.

  Cochrane is coming home with us on a trip. I am sorry to say that
  he is suffering from a prolonged attack of dysentery, and I think
  that a rest and a change of air is the only thing that will pull
  him together again. The farm will be left in charge of George and
  Mr. North (our engineer), a very respectable man who has the
  advantage of experience of the country. . . .

I must add a few words about our farming life. Our estate, Rooipoint,
covered something over three thousand acres. At any rate it was a
large property lying between the Newcastle town lands and the Ingagaan
River, in the centre of which rose a great flat-topped hill, the Rooi
or Red Point, that gave it its name. From the very crest of this hill
flowed, and doubtless still flows, a strong and beautiful spring of
water, though why water should appear at the top of a mountain instead
of the bottom is more than I can say. At the foot of this mount we
erected the steam-driven grinding mill which I had bought in England,
our idea being that we should make our fortunes or at any rate do very
well as millers. Whether this anticipation would or would not have
been realised is more than I can tell, as we did not keep the farm
long enough to learn. As a matter of fact, however, it was a risky
business to import expensive machinery into a place that was not
accustomed to machinery, since it involved the employment of an
engineer and long and costly delays if anything went wrong with the
parts of the apparatus.

Still our efforts were by no means confined to this mill. Thus we
started the making of bricks, for which there was a good market in
Newcastle. I used to labour at this business, and very hard work it
was. Our energy, I remember, astonished the neighbourhood so much that
Natal Boers used to ride from quite a distance to see two white
farmers actually working with their own hands. One of the curses of
South Africa is, or used to be, the universal habit of relegating all
manual toil, or as much of it as possible, to Kaffirs, with the result
that it came to be looked upon as a more or less degrading occupation
only fit for black men.[*] Such, however, was the Dutch habit. The
Boer's idea was to sit on the /stoep/ of his house and grow rich by
the natural increase of his flocks and herds, only cultivating
sufficient land to provide his family with mealies and the other
fruits of the earth. This system, it must be admitted, had its merits
in a country where time was of no object and where land was so
plentiful that every son could in due course be accommodated with a
farm of 3000 /morgen/.

[*] From Mr. Dawson's work on South Africa (pp. 269 and 343),
    published in 1925, it seems this trouble still exists.--Ed.

Besides our milling and brick-making we were the first to farm
ostriches in that part of Natal. In my experience the ostrich is an
extremely troublesome bird. To begin with he hunts you and knocks you
down. One of ours gave Cochrane a frightful drubbing, and through a
pair of opera glasses I saw an unfortunate Kaffir barely escape with
his life from its attentions by going to earth in an ant-bear hole
like a hunted jackal. Of course the ostrich could not follow him into
the hole, but it stood sentry at its mouth waiting for him to come out
again. When attacked by an ostrich the only thing to do is to lie down
quite flat. In this position it cannot strike you with its bludgeon-
like foot, nor is its beak adapted to pecking, though it can and does
dance and roll upon you and sit upon your head as though it were an
egg which it wished to hatch.

These birds, so ferocious with human beings, are terribly afraid of
dogs. I think that we lost two of ours through the visitation of
wandering hounds at night that set them running furiously till they
broke their necks in the wire fences. Its own voracity brought another
to its end: for they will pick up pocket-knives or anything that
attracts them. This fowl managed to swallow a huge sharp-pointed bone
which fixed itself across the gullet in such a position that it would
go neither up nor down. There was only one thing to be done--operate.
So we operated, with a razor and without an anaesthetic. I only hope
that such another job may never fall to my lot, for that ostrich was
uncommonly strong and resented our surgical aid. However, we got the
bone out and the creature recovered. Imagine our horror when, a few
weeks later, it appeared with another bone immovably planted in
exactly the same place! This time we left it to fate, by which it was
speedily overtaken.

Besides the ostriches we had a number of draught oxen and some
waggons. Out of these we did very well, as we hired them to Government
for transport purposes, though from these trips they returned
dreadfully footsore and poor. But cattle also had their risks. Thus I
remember our investing several hardly earned hundreds of pounds in a
bunch of trek oxen, which we sent down to the bush-veld to recover. A
month or two later came a message from the man who had taken them in,
to the effect that they were all dead of eating a poisonous herb
called "tulip." We often wondered if "tulip" really accounted for
their disappearance from our ken.

Also we made hay, rather a new departure in that district in our time,
where the cattle were left to get through the winter as best they
could. This hay-making was a profitable business, as the product was
in eager demand at a high price. I remember selling the result of
about a month of my own work for 250 pounds, and never in all my life
have I been prouder of anything than I was of earning that money,
literally with my hands and by the sweat of my brow.

This was the process--one that would make my English steward and
labourers stare. Indeed, when I tell the former of it, he listens
politely but, I am quite sure, in his heart believes that for his
benefit I have wandered into the familiar fields of fiction. We had
imported a hay-cutting machine, I believe one of the first seen in
those parts. Having selected a patch of level veld on which to
operate, and harnessed, I think, three horses to the machine, I would
start out in the dewy morning, at sunrise, with a Kaffir leader. Then
we commenced operations. I sat on that dreadful apparatus and managed
the levers and knives; the Kaffir led the horses. The grass was thick
and plentiful, so thick indeed that it was difficult to see stones and
ant-bear holes. The former must be avoided by sudden and Herculean
efforts, or the knives would be shattered. As for the latter,
occasionally we went into them to the depth of two feet or so, and
then the trouble was to prevent myself from being thrown on to the

Altogether grass-cutting had its dangers, though, as it happened, I
never came to any serious harm. After the hay was once mown the rest
was comparatively simple. We invented a gigantic rake, to which we
attached two mules or horses, and by this means, after it had lain for
a day or so in the sun to dry--for we never attempted to turn it--
dragged the hay into enormous cocks, since the building of a regular
stack was beyond our resources. These cocks we covered with cloths, or
anything we could get, and when they had settled and sweetened by the
generated heat, we sold them to the purchasers, usually commissariat
officers who carted them away. I suppose they were satisfied with the
stuff, as they always came back for more. Or perhaps they could get
nothing else.

Further, we grew mealies or Indian corn, but here the trouble was that
stray cattle and horses would break in at night and eat them.

Such is a rough outline of our various agricultural and other
operations on the Rooipoint farm. Personally they form my pleasantest
recollections of the place, though, were I to start again, I would not
have so many irons in the fire. On the whole we made a good deal of
money, though our outgoings and losses were also heavy. To farm
successfully in Natal requires, or required, much capital and, owing
to the poor quality of the Kaffir labour, incessant personal
supervision. These Kaffirs, however, who were most of them our
tenants, were in many ways our best friends; moreover they afforded us
constant amusement when they were not engaged in driving us mad by
their carelessness.

I remember one of them breaking the best dinner dish and calmly
bringing the pieces to my wife. "I have collected and carried these
fragments to the Inkosikaas (head lady)," he explained with a sweet
smile, "that the Inkosikaas, being clever like all the white people,
may cause them to join themselves together again."

The Inkosikaas surveyed him and them with speechless indignation.
When, however, some of the family silver--I think it was spoons--was
missed and ultimately found in the stable dust-heap, and when the best
new table knives were discovered being used by Mazooku and his friends
to dissect a decaying ox that had died of lung sickness, her
indignation was no longer speechless. Indeed the offenders fled before

Of course these Zulus gave everybody a native name. My wife they
called by a word which meant "a pretty white bead with a pink eye,"
while Gibbs was designated by a descriptive title, /anglice/ "a worn-
out old cow who would have no more calves." I cannot recollect whether
anyone, even Stephen, dared to give to her an un-Bowdlerised rendering
of this not too complimentary appellation. Certainly I avoided doing
so. Poor Gibbs! Her trials in that strange land were many. Still we
brought her safe home to England, where she remained in our service
for a year or two, then left and vanished away as modern domestics do.
I wonder whether she still lives, and if so, where she is spending her
old age!

Before we left Hilldrop we had a great sale of our imported furniture,
of which the catalogue survives to this day. It was a highly
successful sale, since such articles were then rare at Newcastle. Thus
I think a grand piano, which I had bought second-hand for 40 pounds in
England, fetched 200 pounds, and the other things went at
proportionately good prices. Only the "company" got hold of all the
stock of wine which was exposed upon the verandah and therein drank
our healths, whereon the watchful auctioneers knocked it down to the
drinkers at a high price per dozen.

So at last we bade farewell to Hilldrop, which neither of us ever has,
nor I suppose ever will, see again except in dreams. I remember
feeling quite sad as we drove down the dusty track to Newcastle, and
the familiar house, surrounded by its orange trees, grew dim and
vanished from our sight.

There my son had been born; there I had undergone many emotions of a
kind that help to make a man; there I had suffered the highest sort of
shame, shame for my country; there, as I felt, one chapter in my
eventful life had opened and had closed. It was sad to part with the
place, and also to bid good-bye to my Zulu servant Mazooku. The poor
fellow was moved at this parting, and gave me what probably he valued
more than anything he possessed, the kerry that he had carried ever
since he was a man--that same heavy, redwood instrument with which
more than once I have seen him battering the head of some foe. It
hangs in the hall of this house, but where, I wonder, is Mazooku, who
saved my life when I was lost upon the veld? Living, perhaps, in some
kraal, and thinking from time to time of his old master Indanda, of
whose subsequent doings some vague rumours may have reached him. If
so, were I to revisit Africa to-day, I have not the faintest doubt but
that he would reappear. I should go out of my hotel and see a grey-
headed man squatted on the roadside who would arise, lift up his arm,
salute me, and say, "Inkoos Indanda, you are here; I am here, come
back to serve you."

I have seen the thing done. As a young man Sir William Sergeaunt was
in South Africa--I forget how or when--and then had a Zulu servant, a
Mazook. He departed and thirty years later returned. /His/ Mazook
appeared from some kraal, of which he was then the head, and was with
him during all his stay. I saw him there.

Or if my Mazook should be dead, as well he may be, and if there is any
future for us mortals, and if Zulus and white men go to the same place
--as why should they not?--then I am quite certain that when I reach
that shore I shall see a square-faced, dusky figure seated on it, and
hear the words, "Inkoos Indanda, here am I, Mazooku, who once was your
man, waiting to serve you." For such is the nature of the poor
despised Zulu, at any rate towards him whom he may chance to love.

I do not know that I felt anything more in leaving Africa than the
saying of good-bye to this loving, half-wild man. I remember that I
made him some present when we parted--I think it was a cow, but am not

On Wednesday, the 31st of August, from the deck of the /Dunkeld/, we
saw the shores of Natal recede from our sight for ever.

                              CHAPTER IX

  Return to England--Called to Bar--Wrote "Cetewayo and his White
  Neighbours"--Reception of the work--Why H. R. H. took to writing
  fiction--"Dawn"--J. Cordy Jeaffreson--Press notices encouraging
  but sales small at first--"The Witch's Head"--Quiet life at
  Ditchingham--Letters from Shepstone--Life in London--Practice in
  Divorce Court.

On our return to England in the autumn of 1881 we went to stay at
Bradenham for a while and rested after our African adventures. I do
not remember anything that we did there, except that we were at the
Sandringham ball. A note in my wife's diary mentions that the
Princess, afterwards Queen Alexandra, "looked lovely in pearl grey
satin and was the prettiest woman in the room with the exception of
Lady Lonsdale."

Before Christmas we moved to a furnished house at Norwood. Here,
having all my way still to make in the world, I set to work in
earnest. First of all I entered myself at Lincoln's Inn, but found to
my disgust that before I could do so I was expected to pass an
examination in Latin, English History and, I think, Arithmetic. My
Latin I had practically forgotten, and my English History dates were
somewhat to seek. I represented to the Benchers that, after having
filled the office of Master of the High Court of the Transvaal, this
entrance examination was perhaps superfluous, but they were obdurate
on the matter. So I set to work and, with the assistance of a crammer,
in a month learned more Latin than I had done all the time I was at
school; indeed, at the end of a few weeks I could read Caesar fluently
and Virgil not so ill. The end of it was that I passed the examination
at the head of the batch who went up with me, or so I was given to

Another thing that I did was to write my first book, "Cetewayo and his
White Neighbours, or Remarks on Recent Events in Zululand, Natal and
the Transvaal." It contained about two hundred and fifty closely
printed pages in the first of its editions, and represented a great
amount of labour. I was determined that it should be accurate, and to
ensure this I purchased all the Blue-books dealing with the period of
which I was treating, and made precis of them, some of which I still

But it is one thing for an unknown person to write a book of this
character, and quite another for him to persuade anyone to publish it.
I find among my papers a pencil draft of a letter which I sent to many
publishers. It runs:

  I write to inquire if you are inclined to undertake the
  publication of a short work I am now finishing. It is the result
  of some six years' experience in South Africa in official and
  private capacities, and contains amongst other things a private
  history of the annexation of the Transvaal which, as I was on Sir
  T. Shepstone's staff at the time, I am qualified to write.

  The parts of the book, however, which would, I think, ensure the
  sale at the present moment, both here and in the Colonies, are the
  chapters dealing with the proposed grant of responsible government
  to Natal and the question of the reinstatement of Cetewayo. As you
  are no doubt aware, the ex-king will visit England very shortly,
  when I think an opportunely published work on the subject would
  find a ready sale.

  The book is written in as interesting a style as I can command and
  would be published under my own name.

  Awaiting the favour of a reply,
                           I am, etc.

Needless to say the reply always came, but notwithstanding the
tempting bait of "the interesting style," its character may be
guessed. Nobody wished to have anything to do either with Cetewayo or
his white neighbours.

At length I was faced with the alternative of putting the results of
my labours into the fire or of paying for their production in book
form. A letter from Trubner and Co., dated May 18, 1882, informs me
that my MS. will make a volume of three hundred and twenty pages "like
enclosed specimen," and "if you will send us a cheque for the sum of
50 pounds sterling we will undertake to produce an edition of seven
hundred and fifty copies."

I sent the cheque, although at the time I could ill afford it, and in
due course the work appeared. On the whole it was extremely well
received by such papers as chose to review it seriously. Some of these
notices I still possess, favourable and unfavourable. One from the
/Daily News/, which comes under the latter category, dated August 23,
1882, is amusing to read to-day. It is written in the "high sarcastic"
strain. Here is a sentence from it.

  Mr. Haggard distrusts Cetewayo and is shocked at the notion of
  reinstating him on any terms. He is also shocked at the
  "retrocession of the Transvaal" and thinks we have not yet seen
  the end of the troubles in store for us, owing to our neglect to
  persevere in the work of exterminating the Boers, and so forth.
  These views have already been pretty fully set forth--so fully, in
  fact, that the necessity for a further exposition of them at this
  time does not seem very obvious. The freshest, and certainly the
  most amusing thing in Mr. Haggard's book is his solemn warning
  that our policy, which he is pleased to stigmatise as
  "sentimental," may end in alienating the affections of "the
  Colonists," etc.

Here we see the party politics of the day at their best, or rather at
their worst. The late Lord Carnarvon, who, it may be remembered, was
Colonial Secretary during most of the years when I was intimately
connected with South Africa, wrote to me:

"I am glad to find that my view as regards the Transvaal should be
endorsed by one who had such good opportunities of judging as
yourself"; and again:


  Dear Mr. Haggard,--I am very much obliged to you for your
  extremely interesting book on Cetewayo. I have been so engaged
  with the accumulations of eight months' business and with all the
  hundred and one questions which arise on our return to England
  that I have only been able to look at those parts which most
  closely interested me personally from their relation to events in
  which I was myself concerned; but I read these with great
  satisfaction. The English public was so deceived by
  misrepresentations of the annexation of the Transvaal that the
  real history was never understood; and the humiliating surrender
  of it was accepted in partial ignorance at least of the facts. A
  true statement of it is therefore very valuable, and I am grateful
  to anyone who has the courage to say what really did occur. It was
  as needless as it was discreditable; and though the unexpected
  discovery of gold is solving many difficulties, the unworthy
  nature of the cession has done great mischief to all time. I hope
  I may have the opportunity of talking about this to you.

                                Believe me,
                                     Very faithfully yours,

I gladly quote an extract from a letter written by Sir Marshal Clarke
from Basutoland, since it tempers my criticisms of Sir Hercules
Robinson (Lord Rosmead), a gentleman of whom I have the most kindly
personal recollections. He says, referring to this book:

  I don't think you have done quite justice to Sir Hercules
  Robinson. He appears to me to have been the right man for the
  place and for the time. He is not a very popular Governor, but his
  opinions carry great weight here as well as at home; he had a very
  difficult position at first--one of his principal difficulties
  arose from the impossibility of foreseeing how far his views would
  be supported at home--and while he appears to me to have acted
  with unswerving loyalty, his influence has done much to mitigate
  antipathies of races and to maintain our character for fair
  dealing with whites and blacks.

I also received letters from the late Lord Lytton, Lord Randolph
Churchill, and others.

Except for any influence it may have had upon certain leading minds
and organs of opinion, the book at this time proved a total failure.
At this date (1883) an eager public had absorbed one hundred and
fifty-four copies of the work. Say Messrs. Trubner:

  You will no doubt consider the account a most unsatisfactory one,
  as we do, seeing that we are out of pocket to the extent of 82
  pounds 15s., 5d. Against this, of course, we hold the 50 pounds
  advanced by you, but we fear that we are never likely to recover
  the balance, 32 pounds 15s. 5d.

As it happens, however, Messrs. Trubner did in the end recover their
32 pounds. When I became known through other works of a different
character the edition sold out. Perhaps the public bought it thinking
it was a novel; at any rate, I have come across a letter from a
melancholy youth who made that mistake.

Since that time there have been other and cheaper editions, and in
1899, at the time of the Boer War, that part of the book that deals
with the Transvaal was republished at one shilling and sold to the
extent of some thirty thousand copies.

To this day there is a certain demand for the book. That it has
already been extensively used by writers dealing with this epoch of
African affairs in works of reference and elsewhere I have reason to
know, although these have not always acknowledged the source of their
information and judgments.

So it comes about that my only effort as an historian was not made in
vain, although at first it seemed futile and fruitless enough. I may
add that certain prophecies set down in its pages in 1882 have since
that time been remarkably fulfilled.

  If they [i.e. those who direct the destinies of the Empire] do not
  [take certain steps alluded to above] it is now quite within the
  bounds of possibility that they may one day have to face a fresh
  Transvaal rebellion, only on a ten times larger scale.

And again:

  Unless they [i.e. South African problems] are treated with more
  honest intelligence, and on a more settled plan than it has
  hitherto been thought necessary to apply to them, the British
  taxpayer will find that he has by no means heard the last of that
  country and its wars.

Some twenty years after I wrote these words England did have to face a
Transvaal war on a ten times larger scale, and the British taxpayer
did hear that he was called upon to pay a bill of some three hundred
millions sterling. Also about twenty thousand of our countrymen, among
them a young nephew of my own, were summoned to lay down their lives
on the African veld. Such was the cost to the Empire of the reversal
of Sir Theophilus Shepstone's policy in the interests of an English
political party.

Whilst we were at Norwood a little incident occurred which resulted in
my becoming a writer of fiction. At the church which my wife and I
attended we saw sitting near us one Sunday a singularly beautiful and
pure-faced young lady. Afterwards we agreed that this semi-divine
creature--on whom to the best of my knowledge I have never set eyes
again from that day to this--ought to become the heroine of a novel.
So then and there we took paper, and each of us began to write the
said novel. I think that after she had completed two or three folio
sheets my wife ceased from her fictional labours. But, growing
interested, I continued mine, which resulted in the story called

Years afterwards, in 1894 indeed, on the occasion of the issue of one
of the numerous editions of that tale, I inserted the following little

                           AFTER MANY YEARS

                    I dedicate this my first story

                          That Unknown Lady,

                   once seen, but unforgotten, the
                      mould and model of Angela,
                the magic of whose face turned my mind
                       to the making of books.

Here I may as well tell the history of this book. Some of it, or
rather of the first draft of it, I think I wrote at Norwood. Towards
Christmas of 1882 my wife and I made up our minds to return to this
house at Ditchingham, which was standing empty and furnished, while I
pursued my studies at the Bar. Hither we came accordingly a little
while before the birth of my eldest daughter. She was named Angela
after the heroine of my novel, which shows that at this time it must
either have been written or well advanced.

There appear to be three drafts of this work, the first of which
(incomplete) is named "Angela," after the heroine; the second, five
hundred and fifty-four closely written foolscap sheets long(!),
estimated, I observe, upon the title-page to print into about a
thousand pages, called "There Remaineth a Rest"; and the third, bound
MS. (unnamed), four hundred and ninety-three foolscap sheets. The
history of them is briefly as follows. With pain and labour I wrote
the work--five hundred and fifty-four foolscap sheets do take some
labour in the actual matter of calligraphy, without considering the
mental effort. Then I sent the result to sundry publishers--who they
were I entirely forget. Evidently, however, Smith and Elder must have
been one of them, as is shown by the allusion to James Payn in a
letter from the late Mr. Cordy Jeaffreson, which I shall presently

These publishers, or their readers, had no great opinion of "Angela"
or "There Remaineth a Rest," by whichever title it was then called.
After these rebuffs most people would have put that mighty mass of
manuscript into the fire or an upstairs cupboard. But I must have been
a persistent young man thirty years or so ago, and I did not take this
course. On the contrary, I consulted Mr. Trubner, with whom I had
become personally acquainted since the publication of "Cetewayo and
his White Neighbours." Indeed he and I struck up some kind of a
friendship, as is shown by the fact that he gave me his photograph in
a little olive-wood frame, which photograph has stood on a shelf in my
room from that day to this. It is a clever old face which is pictured
there, and he was a clever old man. He used to tell me anecdotes in
his queer, half-German talk about the literary celebrities of bygone
days, and I remember that his description of George Eliot was
extremely epigrammatic and amusing. This, however, I will not repeat.
He was good enough to take some interest in the story, and to suggest
that it should be sent to the late Mr. Cordy Jeaffreson for his
opinion. This was done, and on April 27, 1883, Jeaffreson sent me his
opinion, which is so thorough and able that I will quote from it,
merely omitting his detailed criticism of the work.

                        24 Carlton Road, Maida Vale, N.W.:
                                                 April 27, 1883.

  Dear Sir,--I have read your story deliberately and read it with
  considerable interest, which would of course have been greater had
  I read it in type.

  Payn was not wrong. Your opening chapters have a superabundance of
  action, and several highly dramatic positions, but they lack
  dramatic interest, i.e. the interest that comes from an exhibition
  of the influence of character upon character. Novels being what
  they are just now, it is small praise to say that Angela's love-
  story is better than two-thirds of the stories that are published.
  I could say much more in its favour. Still I urge you not to
  publish it in its present rude form. Indeed, the story has caused
  me to take so much interest in its writer that I could almost
  /entreat/ you not to publish it.

  I take it you are a young man. You are certainly a novice in
  literature: and like most beginners in the really difficult art of
  novel-writing you have plied your pen under the notion that novels
  are dashed off. Inferior novels are so written, but you have the
  making of a good novelist in you, if you are seriously bent on
  being one. It would therefore be ill for you in several ways to
  make your debut with a tale that would do you injustice. I don't
  counsel you to try again with new materials. I advise you to make
  your present essay, what it might be made, a work of art and a
  really good performance.

  You have written it with your /left hand/ without strenuous pains;
  you must rewrite it with your /right hand/, throwing all your
  force into it. If you produce it in its present crude state you
  will do so only to regret in a few weeks you did not burn it. If
  you rewrite it slowly with your right hand--suppressing much,
  expanding much, making every chapter a picture by itself, and
  polishing up every sentence so that each page bears testimony to
  the power of its producer--the story will be the beginning of such
  a literary career as I conceive you to be desirous of running. Get
  the better of the common notion that novels may be dashed off--by
  remembering how often Lord Lytton rewrote "Pelham," thinking over
  every part of it, now compressing and now expanding the narrative,
  before he ventured to give it to the world. Go to the Charles
  Dickens rooms in the S. Kensington Museum and observe the
  erasures, the insertions, the amendments of every paragraph of his
  writing. . . .

Here follows a long and able criticism of the story.

  Having read your MS. I have packed it and will do anything you
  like with it--with the exception of sending it to a publisher in
  its present state. You will succeed in literary enterprise if it
  will be your ambition to do so.

  Your story disposes me to think you have that ambition. It also
  causes me to hope that I may make the author's acquaintance. If
  you call on me when you are in town I shall be delighted to ask
  your pardon for writing to you with such unmannerly frankness and

                     Believe me to be, my dear sir,
                                Yours very sincerely,
                                          John Cordy Jeaffreson.

What an extraordinarily kind heart must have been that of Mr.
Jeaffreson! He was a very busy man, producing as he did works of
fiction and of biography, in addition to his antiquarian labours that
involved the deciphering of thousands of old documents, by means of
all which toil he earned a moderate income. Yet he found time on
behalf of an individual totally unknown to him, or to anybody else in
this country, to labour through several hundred not too legible sheets
of manuscript, and to write a masterly criticism of their contents.
Moreover, for all this trouble he refused to accept any reward.
Certainly it has been my fortune to make acquaintance with much malice
in the world, but on the other hand I have met with signal kindness at
the hands of those engaged in literary pursuits, and of such
kindnesses I can recall no more striking example than this act of Mr.
Jeaffreson, of whom I shall always entertain the most affectionate

Well, I took his advice. From a tiny note on the first page of the
manuscript it would seem that I began to rewrite "Dawn" or "Angela,"
as it was then called, on May 15, 1883, and finished the last of the
four hundred and ninety-three foolscap sheets on September 5th of the
same year. That is, in just under four months, in addition to my legal
studies and other occupations and the time taken in attending in
London to eat my dinners at Lincoln's Inn, I wrote nearly two hundred
thousand words. Nowadays the average length of a novel may be put at
seventy-five thousand words, or even less, though mine are longer. But
in the early eighties, when stories were brought out in three volumes
and readers had more patience than at present, it was otherwise. I
toiled at that book morning, noon, and night, with the result that at
length my eyesight gave out, and I was obliged to finish the writing
of it in a darkened room.

Still I did finish it notwithstanding the pain in my eyes, and then
went to London to see an oculist. To my relief he told me I was not
going blind as I feared, but that the trouble came from the brain
which was overworked. He ordered me complete rest and change, during
which I was not to read anything. So we went for a month to
Switzerland, where we took lodgings. The only occupation that I had
there was to walk, or, when this was not feasible, like a child to
throw a ball against the wall of the room and see how often I could
catch it on the rebound. However, the treatment proved effective.

The book being finished, or nearly finished, and the heroine, Angela,
rescued from the untimely death to which she was consigned in the
first version and happily married to her lover, once more I sought the
assistance of Cordy Jeaffreson, who gave me a letter introducing me to
Mr. Arthur Blackett of the firm of Messrs. Hurst and Blackett. It

  Dear Blackett,--Some months since I read the MS. of a novel of
  which the bearer of these presents, Mr. Rider Haggard of
  Ditchingham House, Bungay, is looking for a publisher. Mr. Haggard
  having distinguished himself in another field of literature, I was
  not surprised to find his first essay in prose fiction a thing of
  no ordinary power. It was a tale of character, pathos, incident,
  and /new ground/: so good that had it been less I should have
  advised him to publish it as it came to me. The goodness of the
  story, however, made me urge him to rewrite it, so that every
  chapter should be in harmony with its best and strongest parts. He
  has acted on my advice, and if the result of his renewed labour
  answers my anticipation, he has produced a work that will make
  your reader rub his hands and say "This will do." . . .

Messrs. Hurst and Blackett wrote to me, and well do I remember the
jubilation with which I read the letter:

  We shall be very happy to undertake the publication of your novel
  on the following terms. To produce the work at our own expense and
  risk. To pay you the sum of 40 pounds on the sale of four hundred
  copies and 30 pounds on the sale of every hundred copies after.
  The title "Angela" has been used before. . . .

Needless to say I accepted the offer with gratitude and promised to
find another title. Three days later the agreement arrived under which
I sold the copyright to Messrs. Hurst and Blackett for a period of one
year only from the date of publication. In their covering letter they
informed me that they only proposed to print five hundred copies in
the three-volume form, leaving me at liberty to make any arrangements
I liked for a cheap edition, if one should be demanded.

About this time, namely just after he had read the MS. of "Angela," I
received the following interesting but undated letter from Mr.

  Dear Sir,--Can't you arrange to dine with us at seven o'clock on
  the 10th of next month? We could talk all round the literary
  question over a cigar in my study after dinner. Could you succeed
  in literature? Certainly up to a certain point: unquestionably up
  to the point you indicate, though you might never earn as much
  money as the two novelists you mention; for in that respect they
  have been singularly fortunate. But you may not hope to succeed in
  a day. You might become famous in a morning; but you may not
  entertain the hope of doing so. You must hope only to succeed by
  degrees,--by steady work, slow advances, and after several
  disappointments. Moderate success in literature is easily
  attainable by a man of energy, culture, and resoluteness who can
  afford to work steadily and play a waiting game. At twenty-one a
  man is necessarily impatient; at twenty-six a man has neither the
  excuse of youth nor the excuse of advancing age for impatience.
  How I envy you for being only twenty-six. I am old enough to be
  your father. I could not have written as good a novel as Angela's
  story when I was twenty-six. I have already perused your
  "Cetewayo." It is a far more difficult thing to interest readers
  in imaginary persons and incidents than to entertain them with
  writing about facts and characters in which they are already
  interested. It was because I saw you really knew your characters
  that I urged you to make the most of them. Do come and see me.

                                  Yours cordially,
                                          John Cordy Jeaffreson.

The following letter from myself to my sister Mary, which she found
and returned to me a few years ago, throws some light upon the above:

                                Ditchingham House: May 5 [1883].

  My dearest Mary,--The enclosed letters may interest you. I
  consider Jeaffreson's very encouraging on the whole, though he is
  inflicting a lot of extra labour on me. However, after I have been
  up for this examination I will go at it, and hope to finish the
  book in from two to three months. I do not altogether agree with
  Mr. Jeaffreson's ideas as to changing the end of the book; indeed
  my own sentiments about it are much the same as those expressed by
  Miss Barber [a schoolfellow of my wife's who was more or less
  living with us at the time. She is a sister of the late Marjorie
  Barber, "Michael Faireless," the well-known author of "The Road-
  Mender," etc., and afterwards married my brother, John G. Haggard,
  R.N.] in the letter that I forward you, because it puts the other
  side of the question very well. I wrote and asked Jeaffreson what
  he meant when he said that I could succeed in literature, and if
  in his opinion I could hope to compete with men like Payn and
  Blackmore, and in the very nice letter that he sent me in answer
  he said that "unquestionably I could succeed to the point I
  indicated." This is of course encouraging, but I am not so sure
  about it.

  I am going to dine with him on the 10th, when I shall try to
  modify his views about changing the end of the book. . . .

To this day I often wonder whether Jeaffreson was right in making me
turn my story inside out and give it a happy ending. My idea was to
present the character of a woman already sweet and excellent in mind
and body, and to show it being perfected by various mortal trials,
till at length all frailties were burnt out of it by the fires of
death. In the second version I continued to carry out this scheme as
well as I could, only the final fires through which the heroine had to
pass were those of marriage to a not very interesting young man. I
have always found young men--and, if they are to fill the position of
heroes, the novel-reader insists that they must be rather young--
somewhat difficult to draw. Young men, at any rate to the male eye,
have a painful similarity to each other, whereas woman is of an
infinite variety and therefore easier to depict. With elderly men,
such as old Allan Quatermain, to take an instance, the case is
different. With these I have had no trouble, perhaps because from my
boyhood my great friends have always been men much older than myself,
if I except the instances of Sheil or Brother Basil, and that other
friend who died, of whom I have already written. Now I am reaping the
sad fruits of this idiosyncrasy, since nearly all of those to whom I
was deeply attached have gone before me, although, thank Heaven! a few
still remain, such as Arthur Cochrane, Andrew Lang, and Charles

My criticism on "Dawn" considered as a whole--that is, so far as I
recollect it, for I have not reread the book for many years--is that
it ought to have been cut up into several stories. However, it has
pleased, and apparently still continues to please, a vast number of
persons, and not long ago I was much amused to see in an article in
/The Times/ that at Pekin--or Hong-Kong--it is one of the favourite
subjects of study among the Chinese students of English literature.
Perhaps an old aunt of mine, who still lives at the age of nearly a
hundred, was right when she declared that the book was too full of
"amateur villains."

However, in due course it appeared in charming type, such as we do not
get in novels nowadays, and three nice volumes bound in green, which I
admire as I write. Certain of the reviews of it still remain pasted in
a book. They were not very many nearly thirty years ago, or perhaps,
as there were no Press-cutting agencies, one did not see them. On the
whole, however, they seem to have been fairly favourable. Since 1883 I
have read hundreds, if not thousands, of reviews of my books, good,
bad, and indifferent, but I can safely say that few if any of them
have pleased me more than that which appeared of "Dawn" in /The

  "Dawn" [said /The Times/] is a novel of merit far above the
  average. From the first page the story arrests the mind and
  arouses the expectation. . . . This is, we repeat, a striking and
  original novel, breathing an elevated if somewhat exaggerated

I wonder who wrote that notice! Be he living, which is scarcely
probable, or dead, I offer him my gratitude. And yet I know not
whether I should be grateful to this kindly critic, since his words,
more than any other circumstances, encouraged me to try another novel.

As regards "Dawn" itself, it was more or less of a failure--of course
I mean at that time, for in after years it became extraordinarily

One of the most appreciative and indeed enthusiastic readers of this
tale at the time was old Mr. Trubner, whose advice had encouraged me
to make the attempt of its writing. Indeed I was told by one of his
relatives that he continued its perusal to within a few hours of his
actual death. Whether he finished it or not I cannot now remember.
Scoffers might say that it finished /him/.

The new novel upon which I embarked ultimately appeared under the
title of "The Witch's Head." Failing to find any magazine that would
undertake it serially, in the end I published it with Messrs. Hurst
and Blackett on practically the same terms as they had offered me for
"Dawn." Although, except for the African part, it is not in my opinion
so good a story as "Dawn," it was extremely well received and within
certain limits very successful. Indeed, some of the reviews were quite
enthusiastic, although, as I may here remark, I was unacquainted with
a single person who made a business of reviewing fiction, or indeed
with anyone connected with the Press. Never did a writer begin less
equipped with friends who were likely to be able to do him a good
turn. All I could do was to cast my fictional bread upon the literary

The notices of "The Witch's Head" naturally delighted me; indeed,
after the lapse of more than a quarter of a century they still make
pleasant reading. Also they caused the book to go quickly out of print
and to be pirated in America. But this success would not tempt my
publishers to reissue it in a cheaper form, a venture that they
thought too risky. I hawked the work about and eventually found some
other publishers--who have long since ceased to publish--who agreed to
bring it and "Dawn" out each in a two-shilling edition, and nobly
promised me one-third of the profits. But in that generous agreement
was a little clause that afterwards nearly proved my ruin. It bound me
to allow this firm to republish any other novel I might write during
the five following years, in the same form and on the same terms. To
such a document as this in my ignorance--there was no Authors' Society
in those days--did I set my hand, with results that shall be told
later. These, however, did not alarm me at the time, if I really
considered them, as, having then passed my final examination for the
Bar without any assistance in the way of coaching, I determined to
abandon the writing of fiction and devote myself entirely to my

Three works had I produced, namely, one history and two long novels.
The history had cost me 50 pounds to publish, and for the two novels I
had received exactly the same sum in all; in short, the net returns
were at that time /nothing/, and this for books that have since sold
by the ten thousand copies, not to mention pirated editions. Thus I
find that, during six months of the present year, 4204 copies of
"Dawn" and 5656 copies of "The Witch's Head" were sold in a cheap
edition, besides others at a higher price, which, as these works were
written about twenty-eight years ago, is not a total to be despised.

To return: had it not been for a curious chance my literary efforts
would have ended with the publication of "The Witch's Head," and
probably by now my labours at the Bar in this or some other land would
almost have obliterated them from my memory. But, as it happened, I
read in one of the weekly papers a notice of Stevenson's "Treasure
Island" so laudatory that I procured and studied that work, and was
impelled by its perusal to try to write a book for boys.

Outside of this matter of my attempts at fiction I have little to add
as to our life at Ditchingham before we migrated to London when I
began to practise at the Bar. We lived very quietly, for we were not
well off, and an estate which used to produce sufficient to support a
country place of the smaller sort and those who dwelt on it, began to
show greatly lessened returns. The bad years were upon us, and rents
fell rapidly; moreover the repairs required were legion. Also, from
one cause, and another, little or nothing came out of the African
property, which shared in the depression that followed on the giving
back of the Transvaal.

Under these circumstances, outside members of my own family our
visitors were few, and in the main we had to rely on ourselves and our
little children for company. I should add that in 1884 another
daughter was born to us, who is now Mrs. Cheyne. She was named
Dorothy, after the heroine of "The Witch's Head," or in full, Sybil
Dorothy Rider. My recollection of this period is that it was rather
lonely, at any rate for me, since my friends were African, and Africa
was far away. However, I worked very hard, as indeed I have done
without intermission since I was a rather idle boy at school, both at
writing and the study of the Law. Between the intervals of work I took
walks with a dear old bulldog I had, named Caesar, who appears in
"Dawn," and a tall Kaffir stick made of the black and white
/umzimbeet/ wood, which I still have, that reminded me of Africa. At
times, too, I got a day's shooting on our own land or elsewhere.

However, I had so many resources in my own mind, and so much more to
do than I could possibly compass, that all these matters troubled me
not at all. I was determined to make a success in the world in one way
or another, and that of a sort which would cause my name to be
remembered for long after I had departed therefrom, and my difficulty
was to discover in which way this could best be done--in short, to
search out the line of least resistance. So I possessed my soul in
patience and worked and worked and worked. Often I wonder what
estimate those who lived about me, and whom I met from time to time,
formed of the studious young man who was understood to have been
somewhere in Africa. I imagine that it was not complimentary, for if I
understood them they did not understand me.

Some pleasures I had, however. My journeys to London to eat my dinners
at Lincoln's Inn were a change. So were the examinations, though these
I faced with fear and trembling, having read up for them entirely by
myself, which I imagine few people do. Occasionally some of my old
African friends came to see me when they were on visits to England.
Thus Sir Theophilus Shepstone came, and with what delight did I
welcome him! Here is an extract from a letter of his, in which he
alludes to his proposed visit, dated from London on May 26, 1883:

  I have only just received your note of the 23rd. I see that you
  sent it to the Colonial Office, but I have not yet been there,
  for I don't think they care much for me, except perhaps a few
  personal friends, and with the same exception the feeling is
  mutual as far as I am concerned. I think I shall make my number
  there about noon on Monday for the purpose of seeing those I care
  for, but for nothing else. I shall be very glad indeed to have a
  look at you again. How is your good wife? I hope well and strong.

Another letter from Sir Theophilus in this year has some allusions of
more general interest, so I will quote most of it:

                      1 Charles Street, London: August 21, 1883.

  My dear Rider,--Your warm-hearted and to me most touching farewell
  letter reached me last night on my return from a few days' rushing
  about the country to say some good-byes.

  I am sure I need not say, although it is pleasant to me to say it,
  that all the affectionate feeling which I know you entertain for
  me fills a warm place in my heart for you and for your dear wife.
  May God bless and prosper you both! Of course no one can tell what
  may happen in the future, or whether this is a permanent or only a
  temporary parting. At the dinner which was given me by the Empire
  Club Sir Robert Herbert spoke of me and of my services in the most
  remarkable language, and said plainly that I was still a young man
  so far as capacity for work went, and that he hoped soon to see me
  discharging some high function, etc. for the good of the country,
  and so on. It appeared as if he spoke from some intention of which
  he had knowledge; but my friend W. Sergeaunt, who sat next to me,
  said that if such a speech had been made by anyone else it would
  have meant a good deal, as it was it meant nothing; perhaps so. Of
  course every day I have in England adds to my consciousness of the
  influence that I could exert if I tried; but what is the use of it
  with such an abject Government as now rules and will for years to
  come, I fear, rule England?

  I am glad that my speech did not wholly disgust you; I had no idea
  that the dinner was to be what it was, still less did I expect
  that reporters would be there, so I congratulated myself when I
  sat down. I shall look forward to the publication of your book
  with a great deal of interest; the trouble is that the real merits
  of a book are not the measure by which it is meted; as crushed
  strawberry is preferred to the beautiful natural colour of the
  fruit because it happens to be the fashion of the season, so with
  books: even they must pander to the taste of the hour whether it
  be good or bad, or they will not be read and therefore not bought.
  I hope, however, that the taste will be good when your book comes
  out; because, if it is, I have no doubt of its success. . . .

                              Always affectionately yours,
                                                   T. Shepstone.

Towards the end of this letter Sir Theophilus says he is sailing in a
few days for South Africa. I do not think that he ever saw the shores
of England again. It is needless to add that Sir William Sergeaunt was
right in his estimate of the value of Sir Robert Herbert's speech. No
further permanent employment was ever offered to him. Indeed, it was
after this date that the persecution of him began, of which I have
already written.

In 1883 Osborn wrote me a letter concerning some imantophyllum[*]
plants that he had collected for me in Zululand, which at this moment,
twenty-eight years afterwards, are blooming in the greenhouse, in the
course of which letter he makes some rather interesting remarks.

[*] One of these plants was still blooming in Sir Rider's bedroom in

                         Zulu Reserve, via Stanger, Natal:
                                                 August 2, 1883.

  . . . The place I am living at now is about a hundred miles south
  of Inhlazaty and is one of the loveliest spots in South Africa. I
  have a very fine forest within half a mile of my house, and a sea
  view a good sixty miles along the coast. My position here as
  supreme chief representing the paramount Power is certainly an
  improvement on the last.

  You will have learnt ere this of Cetewayo's fate. It could not
  have been otherwise: he was bound to come to grief, as from the
  day he set foot in Zululand--since his restoration he has never
  ceased in doing that which he ought not to have done. He proved
  himself to be as bad a character as ever wore a head-ring. It is
  to be hoped that he will do better in the happy hunting-grounds
  whither he betook himself on Saturday, 21 July, through the
  persuasive influence of several gleaming blades and sundry rifle
  bullets. As to myself I am getting thoroughly sick and tired of
  this dark country full of dark deeds of evil and violence. . . . I
  suppose that by this time you will have developed into a full
  blown barrister, and I need not tell you that from my heart I wish
  you every success. You ought to try for an appointment as
  Attorney-General in a colony (Crown), as you have the pull of
  private practice in addition to your official employment in such
  an office.

It is evident that when Sir Melmoth Osborn wrote thus of the death of
Cetewayo as having taken place on July 21, 1883, he was deceived by
some false rumour which had reached the Reserve from Zululand proper.
Cetewayo did not really die until February 8, 1884, and Osborn saw his
corpse before it was quite cold. An account of the circumstances of
his death, which Sir Melmoth told me afterwards he believed to have
been caused by poison, will be found on pp. 28 and 29 of the
Introduction to the 1888 and subsequent editions of my book "Cetewayo
and his White Neighbours."

I think that we left Ditchingham, which at the time I thought I had
let for some years to a gentleman who unhappily died before he took
possession, at the beginning of 1885, about ten years after I began
life in South Africa. Now with a wife and three children I was
practically beginning life again in a small furnished house in West
Kensington at the age of twenty-eight or thereabouts.

I remember, as one does remember trifles, that we drove in a railway
bus from Liverpool Street to the West Kensington house, which
personally I had not seen. We passed down the Embankment, and my
little son, whom I was destined to lose, kneeled upon the seat of the
bus and stared at the Thames, asking many questions.

After my arrival in London I began to attend the Probate and Divorce
Court. Soon I found, however, that if I was to obtain a footing in
that rather close borough, I must do so through a regular gate, and I
entered into an arrangement with Bargrave (now Sir Henry Bargrave)
Deane to work in his chambers. He was a connection of mine, my cousin
Major George Haggard having married his sister. She died young. At
that time her father, the well-known lawyer old Sir James Deane, was
still alive, and I remember acting as his junior in some Divorce Court
case. Bargrave Deane is now one of the judges of the Probate and
Divorce Division.

                              CHAPTER X

                   "KING SOLOMON'S MINES" AND "SHE"

  "King Solomon's Mines"--Andrew Lang--Estimate of Lang's character
  --Anecdotes of Lang--Cassells and "King Solomon's Mines"--Instant
  success--Letters from R. L. S.--Bazett Haggard and R. L. S. in
  Samoa.--The writing of "Jess" and "She"--What I shall be
  remembered by--Fifteen months' work--"She" dedicated to Lang--
  Published by Longmans--Letters about it--The Sherd of Amenartas.

Whether I wrote "King Solomon's Mines" before or after I entered
Bargrave Deane's chambers I cannot now remember, but I think it must
have been before. At any rate I recollect that we brought up from
Ditchingham a certain pedestal writing-desk, which had always been in
the house and has returned thither, for it now stands in my wife's
bedroom, and added it to the somewhat exiguous furniture of our hired
abode. It stood in the dining-room, and on it in the evenings--for my
days were spent in the Temple--I wrote "King Solomon's Mines." I think
the task occupied me about six weeks. When the tale was finished I
hawked it round to sundry publishers, Hurst and Blackett among them,
none of whom if I remember rightly, thought it worth bringing out.

At length, I know not how, the manuscript, which to-day presents a
somewhat battered appearance, reached the late W. E. Henley, who
appears to have brought it to the notice of Mr. Andrew Lang. How I
first came into contact with my friend Andrew Lang--that is, where and
when I met him--I cannot recall. This, however, must have been
subsequent to the following note:

                                1 Marloes Road: March 28 [1883].

  My dear Sir,--Your paper "Bottles" has reached me as London editor
  of /Harper's/. I am much pleased by it, but I am unable to accept
  anything except by permission of the American editor. . . . I am
  glad to take this opportunity of thanking you for the great
  pleasure "The Witch's Head" has given me. I have not read anything
  so good for a long while.

                                          Faithfully yours,
                                                        A. Lang.

What the paper "Bottles" may have been I am not now quite sure. I
think, however, that I can identify it with a short tale which
subsequently appeared in a magazine, perhaps the /Cornhill/, under the
title of "The Blue Curtains." At any rate I have forgotten the
circumstances of the story, and do not know whether a copy of it
remains in my possession.

When Lang's next letter was written--it is only dated "Sunday"--I
gather from its tone that I had made his personal acquaintance. Its
subject is "King Solomon's Mines," and it runs:

  Dear Mr. Rider Haggard,--I have got so far as Sir Henry's duel
  with the king. Seldom have I read a book with so much pleasure: I
  think it perfectly delightful. The question is, what is the best,
  whereby I mean the coiniest, way to publish it? As soon as
  possible I will find out what Harper's /Boy's Magazine/ is able to
  do. I believe that all boys' magazines pay hopelessly badly. There
  is so much invention and imaginative power and knowledge of
  African character in your book that I almost prefer it to
  "Treasure Island."

The rest of the letter deals with possible methods of bringing out the

Lang's next letter on the subject is dated October 3rd, and shows that
by now we were on more or less intimate terms.

  Dear Rider Haggard,--Many thanks for "K.S.M." How grand the map
  is. . . . Abstain from politics; let civilisation die decently as
  die it must, and as we have no fight in us. I don't belong to the
  Voting classes. /Ni Elettori ni Eletti/.

                                         Yours very truly,
                                                        A. Lang.

  P.S.--My people, with whom I have been in Galloway, prefer "Dawn"
  to "The Witch's Head." I don't. "Dawn" is too steep, especially
  Lady Bellamy, and George, and Philip, and the heroine. The
  /writing/ and the sentiment pleased me very much, but I barred the
  /Astral Body/.

Perhaps before I go any further I should try to give some estimate of
Andrew Lang, whose character I have had opportunities of observing
through many years. Take him all in all I think him one of the
sweetest-natured and highest-minded men whom it has ever been my
privilege to know, although a certain obtrusive honesty which will
out, and an indifferent off-handedness of manner, has prevented him
from becoming generally popular. Moreover, he has always been supposed
to be somewhat of a mocker and /farceur/, as is exemplified in his
Press nickname of "Merry Andrew." Yet the truth is that his laughter
is often of the sort that is summoned to the lips to hide tears in the
eyes. This may be seen by attentive students of his poems, and, in
truth, few are more easily or more deeply moved by anything that
appeals to the heart, be it national, or personal.

Of his abilities I speak with some diffidence. On all hands he is
admitted to be perhaps the soundest and ablest critic of his time, but
when it comes to his place as an historian, or as a student and
recorder of matters connected with myth, ritual, and religion, I find
myself incompetent to judge of his real status, which doubtless the
future will decide, though personally I believe it will be a very high
one. On such matters, however, only experts can express opinions of
real value. Lang never claimed to be a creator, and whenever he sets
to work to create, which he has not done of late years, his wide
knowledge and his marvellous memory of everything he has read--and
little worth studying in ancient or modern literature has escaped him
--prove positive stumbling-blocks in his path. I noticed this
particularly when we were evolving "The World's Desire." With that
modesty which so often distinguishes those who have much to be proud
of, he once described himself to me as "A hodman of letters," a
description that may be paralleled by Mrs. Lynn Linton's rather sharp
saying--to myself I believe, although of this I am not sure--that
"Andrew Lang would be the greatest writer in the language if only he
had something to write about." The fact is, of course, that he has
always had too much. Like the amorous Frenchman he has ever been wont
to /eparpiller son coeur/ upon a hundred subjects. I should add that
Mrs. Linton was one of his great admirers. In a letter which she wrote
to me in 1890, and which is before me at this moment, she says, "I
simply /adore/ his work." Again, further on in the same epistle, she
speaks of her "delight in his most exquisite work."

The truth is that Lang is /par excellence/ a /litterateur/ of the
highest sort, perhaps the most literary man in England or America.
When he is not reading he is writing, and he writes more easily than
he talks, at any rate to most people. Also some of his poetry is
wonderfully beautiful. If verses like "The White Pacha," its
companion "Midnight, January 25th, 1886," and "A Dream" are doomed to
die, and with them others as good, I wonder what will live! Again,
what majestic lines are these upon the Odyssey:

  So gladly, from the songs of modern speech
  Men turn, and see the stars, and feel the free
  Shrill wind beyond the close of heavy flowers,
  And through the music of the languid hours,
  They hear like ocean on a western beach
  The surge and thunder of the Odyssey.

Of his extraordinary readiness I need say little, as it is known to
all men. Still, as it may be forgotten when this book is published, if
that ever happens, I will give two instances. Once he called on me; we
were going for a walk together, but I was not ready to start. So he
asked for paper, and in half an hour or so finished a leading article
--I think it was for the /Daily News/--which he sent straight to the
office by a cabman, to appear without the submission of a proof. I
read that article afterwards; it was on some Shakespearian subject
which involved many allusions and much quotation. I believe that it
contained no error.

On another occasion I was travelling with them from St. Andrews to
Edinburgh, and Dr. Boyd, better known as A.K.H.B., was our fellow-
voyager. He was a great conversationalist and talked to Lang almost
without ceasing. Presently Lang took off the tall hat he was wearing,
placed it on his knee, produced paper and pencil, set the paper on the
crown of the hat and began to write like a spiritualist automatist, if
that is the right word, all the time keeping up a flow of argument and
conversation with A.K.H.B. At Edinburgh I saw him post the results,
without rereading, to the editor of the /Saturday Review/. The article
appeared in due course without his seeing a proof, and written in his
usual clear and beautiful style.

Such is the professional man, but of the friend I know not what to
say, save that I reckon it as one of the privileges of my life to be
able to call him by that much-misused name; the tenderest, the purest
and the highest-minded of human creatures, one from whom true goodness
and nobility of soul radiate in every common word and act, though
often half-hidden in a jest, the most perfect of gentlemen--such is
Andrew Lang.

To return to the history of "King Solomon's Mines." Ultimately that
book found its way to Messrs. Cassells, recommended to them, I
believe, by Mr. Henley. Subsequently Henley reproached me with having
taken it out of his hands, and said that he could have got me much
better terms. But I never did take it out of his hands; indeed I never
knew that it was in his hands. If my memory serves me, I heard direct
from Messrs. Cassells informing me that they would publish the book
and asking me to call /re/ the agreement.

At any rate I called and in that great building saw a business-like
editor whose name I never knew. He pointed out that the company was
prepared to offer me an alternative agreement. The first of the two
agreements conveyed the copyright to Messrs. Cassells in return for a
sum of, I think, 100 pounds paid down. The second offered me 50 pounds
on account of royalties, to be calculated "at the rate of ten per
cent. of the published price of the book on all copies sold by them
during the continuance of the copyright, reckoning thirteen copies to
the twelve."

After my previous experiences as an author 100 pounds on the nail had
great attractions. I had no particular belief in the story which I had
thrown off in my leisure hours as a mere /jeu d'esprit/, especially
after its rejection in other quarters. Even Mr. Lang's kind
expressions of opinion carried no conviction to my mind, for I did not
understand all that it meant coming from such a source. I set him down
as an amiable gentleman with a taste for savages and boys' books; it
did not occur to me that he saw such things every day, and that when
he wrote to one who was practically a stranger that he almost
preferred this particular boys' book to "Treasure Island," the
compliment was high and indeed extraordinary. So after a brief moment
of reflection I told the business-like editor that I would sell the
copyright for 100 pounds, and he departed to fetch the agreement.

As it chanced, however, there sat in the corner of the room a quiet
clerk, whom I had never even noticed. When the editor had departed
this unobtrusive gentleman addressed me.

"Mr. Haggard," he said in a warning voice, "if I were you I would take
the other agreement."

Then hearing some noise, once more he became absorbed in his work, and
I understood that the conversation was not to be continued.

Still a moment remained for thought.

"Why the dickens," I reflected to myself, "did he say that to me? He
must have had some reason." The business-like editor re-entered the
room bearing the document in hand.

"I have changed my mind," I said as he presented it to me: "I will not
sell the copyright; I will take the royalty agreement."

Undoubtedly the quiet clerk in the corner, who was acquainted with the
estimate that had been formed of the book by his employers, did me a
very good turn, as did my knowledge of men when I acted so promptly on
his hint.

The royalty that I accepted might have been higher, at any rate after
the sale of a certain number of copies, but it was infinitely better
than the acceptance of a small sum down for the copyright of "King
Solomon's Mines," of which the sale has been very great and at present
shows signs of increase rather than of diminution.

Many years later this gentleman wrote reminding me of the incident and
forwarding a book that he had published.

"King Solomon's Mines," which was produced as a five-shilling book,
proved an instant success. Published about the beginning of October,
on December 9th Messrs. Cassells wrote to me that they had already
sold 5000 copies more or less, a large sale for a boys' book by a
practically unknown man. I wonder how many copies they have sold up to
Christmas 1911! In one form and another the total must run to hundreds
of thousands.

Before the book appeared we had gone down to Norfolk for part of the
long vacation, not to Ditchingham, which was let, but to a farmhouse
at Denton adjoining a farm of our own, where I employed my holiday in
writing "Allan Quatermain," the continuation of "King Solomon's
Mines." One day I chanced to visit the little town of Bungay and there
to see a copy of the /Saturday Review/ which contained a two-column
notice of the latter work. It was written by Lang, although this I did
not know at the time. With delight my eye fell upon such sentences as
"All through the battle piece, 'The Last Stand of the Greys,' Mr.
Haggard, like Scott at Flodden, 'never stoops his wing'"; and "to tell
the truth we would give many novels, say eight hundred (that is about
the yearly harvest), for such a book as 'King Solomon's Mines.'"

By the way, things in this respect have changed since 1885. I believe
that the "yearly harvest" of British novels now numbers nearly three

I went back to the farm that night feeling sure that my book was going
to succeed. A week or so later I received a note from Lang in which he
says: "The /Spectator/ in a 'middle' gives you more praise than /I/
did, and is neither known personally to you, I fancy, nor an amateur
of savages, like me. I hope they will give a review also. . . . I
never read anything in the /Spectator/ before with such pleasure."

One day I took the manuscript of "King Solomon's Mines" to be bound by
Mr. H. Glaisher the bookseller. In the carriage of the Underground
Railway I perceived an old lady engaged in a close, indeed an almost
ferocious study of the map printed at the beginning of the printed
volume which rested on her knees. This was too much for me. Drawing
the original map from my pocket, I placed it on /my/ knee--we were
seated opposite to each other--and began to study it with like
attention. The old lady looked up and saw. She stared first at her map
and then at mine, and stared, and stared. Twice she opened her mouth
to speak, but I suppose was too shy, nor did I, apparently absorbed in
the contemplation of my map, written in blood upon a dirty piece of
torn linen, the shirt-tail of Don Jose de Silvestra, give her the
slightest encouragement. The end of it was that she seemed to come to
the conclusion that that railway carriage in which we were alone
together was no place for her. Suddenly, as we were about to leave a
station, she sprang up and leapt from the train, at which, the
unfolded map still in her hand, she gazed bewildered until it vanished
into the tunnel.

Among the many letters that I received about "King Solomon's Mines,"
perhaps the most interesting that I can find are from Robert Louis
Stevenson. The first of these, undated, as they all are, is written
from Skerryvore, Bournemouth, where he was living at the time. Here I
should state that to my sorrow I never met Stevenson face to face:
always we just missed each other.

  Dear Sir,--Some kind hand has sent me your tale of Solomon's
  Mines; I know not who did this good thing to me; and so I send my
  gratitude to headquarters and the fountainhead. You should be more
  careful; you do quite well enough to take more trouble, and some
  parts of your book are infinitely beneath you. But I find there
  flashes of a fine weird imagination and a fine poetic use and
  command of the savage way of talking: things which both thrilled
  me. The reflections of your hero before the battle are singularly
  fine; the King's song of victory a very noble imitation. But how,
  in the name of literature, could you mistake some lines from
  Scott's "Marmion"--ay, and some of the best--for the slack-sided,
  clerical-cob effusions of the Rev. Ingoldsby? Barham is very good,
  but Walter Scott is vastly better. I am, dear sir,

                                 Your obliged reader,
                                         Robert Louis Stevenson.

Of course I answered Stevenson's letter--by the way, I have not the
least idea who sent him the book--thanking him and pointing out that
he had overlooked the fact that Allan Quatermain's habit of
attributing sundry quotations to the Old Testament and the Ingoldsby
Legends, the only books with which he was familiar, was a literary

Stevenson wrote back, again in an undated letter from Bournemouth and
on a piece of manuscript paper:

  Dear Mr. Haggard,--Well, yes, I have sinned against you; that was
  the part of a bad reader. But it inclines me the more to explain
  my dark saying. As thus:

  You rise in the course of your book to pages of eloquence and
  poetry; and it is quite true that you must rise from something
  lower; and that the beginning must infallibly (?) be pitched low
  and kept quiet. But you began (pardon me the word) slipshod. If
  you are to rise, you must prepare the mind in the quiet parts,
  with at least an accomplished neatness. To this you could easily
  attain. In other words, what you have still to learn is to take
  trouble with those parts which do not excite you.

  Excuse the tone of a damned schoolmaster, and believe me,

                                    Yours truly,
                                         Robert Louis Stevenson.

The next letter, also from Skerryvore, Bournemouth, which, because of
its allusions to "King Solomon's Mines," although undated, must have
been written at this time, is an enigma to me. I have not the faintest
idea to what it refers.

  Dear Mr. Haggard,--Is it not possible to make a gratuitous
  donation /inter vivos/? Could not that be done in a separate
  instrument? I know not if it matters; but if there were any ready
  way of gaining the point, I might adopt it. My law is all to the
  wind; and indeed I never knew but a taste.

  I thank you at least for the remark.

  I come rarely to town, and am usually damned sick when I do. But
  if I can, I'll try to see you. (I know a cousin of yours here by
  the way.)

  What are you about? I am again at a boys' story; but I've been a
  year at it already and may be longer.

                                     Yours very truly,
                                                R. L. Stevenson.

  P.S.--Further reflection on "K.S.M." makes me think you are one
  who gets up steam slowly. In that case, when you have your book
  finished, go back and rewrite the beginning up to the mark.

  My case is the reverse: I always begin well, and often finish
  languidly or hurriedly.

  P.P.S.--How about a deed of partnership?

This "deed of partnership" on the face of it would seem to suggest
some scheme of collaboration. Yet I do not think that this could have
been the case--for the following reason. I remember that my late
brother Bazett, who was afterwards an intimate friend of Stevenson's
in Samoa, told me that someone, I know not who, had written to him
suggesting that he and I should collaborate in a story, and that he
had returned an angry and offensive answer to the suggestion, as I
dare say it was quite natural that he should do. This answer, it
seems, had however weighed upon his mind. At any rate Bazett informed
me that Stevenson on several occasions spoke to him with deep regret
as to his petulant reply. This is all I know, or at any rate all that
I can recollect, of the matter. Yet what else can have been referred
to in the above letter I am at a loss to guess.

Stevenson's remark as to his finishing languidly is interesting, and,
so far as my judgment goes, his romantic work shows its truth. Thus to
my fancy the first part of "Treasure Island" is far and away better
than its end. In an adventure story what is called style, however
brilliant, is not enough: the living interest must be kept up to the
last page; it should increase to the very end. Of course I know that
many of our critics, like those of Alexandria in the first centuries
of our era, think and preach that style is the really important thing,
much more important than the substance of the story. I cannot believe
that they are right. The substance is, as it were, the soul of the
matter; the style is its outward and visible body. I prefer a creation
with a great soul, even if its form is somewhat marred, to one with a
beautifully finished form and very little soul. Of course when the two
are found together, a rare event, there is perfection. Also people
differ in their ideas of what style really is. By it some understand
inverted sentences, unusual words and far-fetched metaphors or
allusions, making up a whole that is difficult to comprehend. Others
hold that the greater the simplicity of the language, the better the
style. I am not an authority, but my own view is that above all things
the written word should be clear and absolutely readable, and that
work which does not fulfil these conditions can scarcely be expected
to endure. It runs a grave risk of passing with the fashion of the
hour. To take a single instance, the Authorised version of the Old
Testament, considered as literature, seems to me to fulfil all the
requisites of good writing, in fact to be style in the truest sense.
Yet the meaning remains perfectly clear, and were those books to cease
to be studied for their religious contents, they would still always be
read as a model of plain and vigorous English.

But to return to Stevenson. Here I will add the last letter save one
that I received from him, though again I do not know to what it
refers, since the enclosure of which he speaks is missing, or at any
rate has not been found at present. Like the others it is undated, but
the allusion to "Nada the Lily" shows that it must have been written
about twenty years ago, at the beginning of 1892.

                              Valima Plantation, Samoan Islands.

  Rider Haggard, Esq.

  Dear Haggard,--In cleaning up the hideous mess which accumulates
  about the man of letters I came on the enclosed sheet. Its
  filthiness will indicate its age. But there is internal evidence
  which to me dates it still further back; and that is the reference
  to your brother Bazett. I now know him well and regard him with
  the most sincere and lively affection and respect. Indeed we are
  companions in arms and have helped each other back and forth in
  some very difficult and some very annoying affairs. This has given
  a wonderful jog to my sense of intimacy with yourself until I have
  a difficulty in remembering that I have never seen you. Two
  remarks and I leave my filthy enclosure to speak for itself.
  First, the equations on the fly-leaf were not in the least
  intended for you--they're pieces of a lesson in the Samoan
  language--and you must kindly regard them as non-existent. Second,
  "Nada the Lily" is A1.

                                Sincerely yours,
                                         Robert Louis Stevenson.

I only wish I could find the "filthy enclosure," or at least remember
with what it had to do.

I have one more allusion to my brother besides the letter which came
to me with "The Man Haggard." It is written on a little triangular bit
of foolscap pinned into the manuscript of "Nada the Lily." I suppose
that Lang must have sent it to me.

"If you see Haggard, tell him we have a great affection for his
brother. Our home rejoices when we see him coming; and that Chaka
mourning for his mother is great."

Here is this last letter pinned into the first of the two
accompanying, parchment-bound volumes, that which is entitled "An
Object of Pity; or, The Man Haggard. A Romance. By Many Competent
Hands. Imprinted at Amsterdam." These volumes were sent to me by
Stevenson in July 1893.

                                  Tivoli Hotel, Apia, Samoa,
                                                     South Paci.

  Dear Rider Haggard,--I send you herewith a couple of small (and,
  so to speak, indecent) volumes in which your brother and I have
  been indulging in the juvenile sport of shying bricks at each
  other. /Honi soit qui mal y pense/, say I. And I hope you will
  say the same. We are a large party, with nothing to do--Lady
  Jersey, my wife, Captain Leigh, your brother and I, and Mrs.
  Strong, my daughter-in-law--and that which we wrote was not
  according to wisdom. I have heard some of yours called in question
  for steepness; here is your revenge.

                                    Yours very truly,
                                         Robert Louis Stevenson.

The companion volume is entitled "Objects of Pity; or, Self and
Company. By a Gentleman of Quality. Imprinted at Amsterdam." It is
corrected throughout in my brother Bazett's handwriting. I should
judge that it went to press without his having the advantage of seeing
proofs. Pinned to the title-page is the following letter to me from

                                     Apia, Samoa: July 17, 1893.

  Dear Rider,--Enclosed letter from R. L. Stevn. speaks for itself.
  He says we all had nothing to do. He is wrong there. /They/ wrote
  the "Object of Pity" on the days I was at work at Comn. I did not
  write my letter till 3 [word illegible] after, when Stevenson
  insisted on having it printed and took it to Sydney and had it
  printed. I was riled at being called "an object of Pity" /rather/,
  so set to and gave them a Roland for their Oliver.

  We have had a very bad time here. I have seen sights of "The
  French Revolution"--heads carried about in the streets with yells
  and shouts--wounded and dead carried along. Also a beastly bloody
  axe which decapitated "young Mataafa" shoved under my nose to
  admire and adore. I told my friend "Safolu" to take his beastly
  thing away and he seemed quite surprised. . . . These books are
  R. L. S.'s gift to you--write him a line. . . .

                                 Your loving brother,
                                              Bazett M. Haggard.

  Stevenson and I are great friends; he is such a good chap, but
  /as/ I say of him in my book.

As regards the volumes themselves, which seem to fetch a great deal of
money when they come on the market, I am only able to say that I have
studied them with great zeal but am unable to make head or tail of
them. Perhaps this is because I do not possess the key to the joke or
understand the local allusions.

I have only one more relic of Stevenson, a very amusing poem which he
wrote to Lang and myself on "The World's Desire," or rather a copy of
it, for I believe that Lang has lost the original. Again I must
express my sorrow that I never saw Stevenson. Evidently he was a
delightful man and as brilliant as he was charming; truly a master of
his craft. "Dr. Jeckell and Mr. Hyde" has always seemed to me one of
the most remarkable things of its sort in the English language.
Longman gave me an early copy of it just after it was issued from the
press, and this I still possess somewhere. I shall never forget the
thrill with which I read the story; in places the horror of it is
enough to cause the hair to rise. His essays, too, are almost
unmatched, at any rate in our time, and next to these I should put
"The Master of Ballantrae." At least such is my individual taste.

About "King Solomon's Mines" I have only this to add. In it I made a
mistake with reference to an eclipse, which brought me into much
trouble with astronomers, and also with numbers of the reading public
who hurried to expose my ignorance. In a subsequent edition I
rectified the mistake, but that produced more trouble, since students
of the work had violent arguments between themselves, each quoting the
versions that they had read, and wrote to me to settle their disputes.
I have always found the movements of the heavenly bodies very ticklish
things to touch. Whatever one says about the moon, for instance, is
pretty sure to be wrong.

I may say this further, that no book that I have written seems to have
conveyed a greater idea of reality. At this moment I hold in my hand
at least a dozen letters sorted from what I call "Unknown
Correspondents," by which I mean communications received from
individuals with whom I have no personal acquaintance. Every one of
the writers of these epistles is anxious to know whether or not the
work is a record of fact. Even the great dealer in precious stones,
Mr. Streeter--I fear I must say the late Mr. Streeter--approached me
on the subject. I believe he actually sent an expedition to look for
King Solomon's Mines, or at any rate talked of doing so. Nor was he so
far out in his reckoning, for since that day they have been discovered
--more or less. At any rate Rhodesia has been discovered, which is a
land full of gems and gold, the same land, I believe, as that whence
King Solomon did actually draw his wealth. Also Queen Sheba's Breasts
have been found, or something very like to them, and traces of the
great road that I describe. Doubtless I heard faint rumours of these
things during my sojourn in Africa, having made it my habit through
life to keep my ears open; but at the best they were /very/ faint. The
remainder I imagined, and imagination has often proved to be the
precursor of the truth. The mines of Kukuana land, /alias/ Rhodesia,
are destined to produce much more treasure than ever Solomon or the
Phoenicians won out of them. Who built the vast Zimbabwe and other
temples or fortresses? Some ridiculous scientist has alleged within
the last few years that these were reared by the Portuguese at the
time that those very Portuguese were talking of them as the work of
the devil or of ancient magicians in an unknown age. The thing is
absurd. Those edifices are the relics of a lost civilisation which
worshipped the Nature gods. Who they were, what they were, we do not
and perhaps never shall know. Andrew Lang has stated the whole problem
much better than I can ever hope to do, in a poem he once wrote at my
request for a paper in which I was interested. I do not think that
those verses have ever been republished, so I will quote two of

[*] Republished in /The Poetical Words of Andrew Lang/, vol. iii, p.
    42 (1923), under the title of "Zimbabwe."--Ed.

  Into the darkness whence they came,
  They passed--their country knoweth none,
  They and their gods without a name
  Partake the same oblivion.
  Their work they did, their work is done,
  Whose gold, it may be, shone like fire,
  About the brows of Solomon,
  And in the House of God's Desire.

  The pestilence, the desert spear,
  Smote them: they passed with none to tell
  The names of them that laboured here:
  Stark walls and crumbling crucible,
  Straight gates, and graves, and ruined well,
  Abide, dumb monuments of old.
  We know, but that men fought and fell,
  Like us--like us--for love of gold.

A girls' school, or some members of it, evidently weary of the society
of their own sex, wrote congratulating me with great earnestness
because I had in "King Solomon's Mines" produced a thrilling book
"without a heroine."

Truly in those days my industry was great. While on my summer holiday
in 1885 I wrote "Allan Quatermain," the sequel to "King Solomon's
Mines," from the first word to the last, although it did not appear
until about a couple of years later, after it had run through
/Longman's Magazine/. On what exact dates I began and finished the
story I do not know, though possibly these are entered on the
manuscript, of which I made a present to my friend Charles Longman.[*]

[*] These dates are not entered on the MS.--Ed.

On my return to town in the late autumn I began a novel of a very
different style, which was afterwards published under the name of
"Jess." The manuscript of "Jess" does not state the date of its
commencement, but at the end appears the date of December 31, 1885,
showing that it was finished on that day. This book I wrote for the
most part in the chambers, at 1 Elm Court, that I shared with Mr.
Kerr, the son of Commissioner Kerr, upon an old teak table with a
leather top. This table, which I bought of a second-hand dealer, had
evidently begun life in some ship where the cabins were low, for it
was so short in the legs that, until they were heightened in some way,
it used to make my back ache to write at it; also it has all the
solidity common to ship's furniture. Now it is used for trimming lamps
in the basement of Ditchingham House.

Whenever I was not engaged in Court, where I hung about a great deal,
and even for a while reported Divorce and Probate cases for /The
Times/ on behalf of that journal's regular reporter, an old barrister
name Kelly, when he was absent on a holiday, I sat at this table in
the dingy room at 1 Elm Court and toiled at "Jess." Sometimes this was
no easy task, since young barristers of my acquaintance, with time
upon their hands, would enter and scoff at my literary labours. In the
evening I placed what I had written in a kind of American cloth music-
roll, which either my wife or Miss Barber made for me, and carried it
home to West Kensington, so that I might continue my work after
dinner. In fact, there were two of these rolls. The first of them I
lost on my homeward way, I know not how or where. It contained about a
dozen foolscap sheets of closely written manuscript of one of the most
important parts of the book, that which, amongst other things,
describes the character of Frank Muller and how, after he had
attempted the murder of Neal and Jess in the Vaal River, he galloped
away pursued by his own terrors. I remember that I was much distressed
at this loss, thinking that what I had written was the best thing I
had ever done. I waited awhile, hoping that the address written within
the case might bring it back to me. But it never did. So I rewrote the
missing sheets from memory, which has never been my strong point. I
wonder whether they are better or worse than those that departed!

So soon as "Jess," of which I will speak more hereafter, was finished,
or rather about a month later, I began another tale which the world
knows as "She." The exact date of its commencement is uncertain, for
it has been obliterated by a clip that fastened the manuscript
together, and all that remains is "Feb./86." At the end, however, is
inscribed "Finished 18 March 1886." Therefore, even supposing that it
was begun upon the 1st February, which would mean that I had allowed
myself a month's rest after finishing "Jess," the whole romance was
completed in a little over six weeks. Moreover, it was never
rewritten, and the manuscript carries but few corrections. The fact is
that it was written at white heat, almost without rest, and that is
the best way to compose.

I remember that when I sat down to the task my ideas as to its
development were of the vaguest. The only clear notion that I had in
my head was that of an immortal woman inspired by an immortal love.
All the rest shaped itself round this figure. And it came--it came
faster than my poor aching hand could set it down.

Well do I recall taking the completed manuscript to the office of my
literary agent, Mr. A. P. Watt, and throwing it on the table with the
remark: "There is what I shall be remembered by." Well do I recall
also visiting Mr. Watt at his office, which then was at 2 Paternoster
Square, and finding him out. As the business was urgent, and I did not
wish to have to return, I sat down at his table, asked for some
foolscap, and in the hour or two that I had to wait wrote the scene of
the destruction of She in the Fire of Life. This, however, was of
course a little while--it may have been a few days--before I delivered
the manuscript.

It would seem, therefore, that between January 1885 and March 18,
1886, with my own hand, and unassisted by any secretary, I wrote "King
Solomon's Mines," "Allan Quatermain," "Jess," and "She." Also I
followed my profession, spending many hours of each day studying in
chambers, or in Court, where I had some devilling practice, carried on
my usual correspondence, and attended to the affairs of a man with a
young family and a certain landed estate.

A little later on the work grew even harder, for to it was added the
toil of an enormous correspondence hurled at me by every kind of
person from all over the earth. If I may judge by those which remain
marked with a letter A for "answered," I seem to have done my best to
reply to all these scribes, hundreds of them, even down to the
autograph-hunter, a task which must have taken up a good part of every
day, and this in addition to all my other work. No wonder that my
health began to give out at last, goaded as I was at that period of my
life by constant and venomous attacks.

When "She" was in proof for serial publication in the /Graphic/ I
showed it to Andrew Lang. He writes to me on July 12, 1886:

  I have pretty nearly finished "She." I really must congratulate
  you; I think it is one of the most astonishing romances I ever
  read. The more impossible it is, the better you do it, till it
  seems like a story from the literature of another planet. I can't
  give a better account of the extraordinary impression it makes
  upon me; as to the Public I never can speak.

Then he makes some criticisms of the style, the comic element and the
horrors, and ends with a P.S. "I know I shan't sleep."

On the 25th of the same month Lang writes again:

  I have just finished "She," previously I skipped a bit to get to
  the end. I certainly still think it the most extraordinary romance
  I ever read, and that's why I want you to be very careful with the
  proofs, before it goes out in a volume. . . . I nearly cried over
  Ayesha's end. But how did she come to Kor? There is a difficulty
  about Leo. He is not made a very interesting person. Probably he
  was only a fine animal. Anyhow that can't be helped now and never
  could perhaps. I dare say Kallikrates was no better. But some of
  the chaff in awful situations lets one down too suddenly. I'd take
  other fellows' advice about it, in some of the marked places. I
  hope they find She in Thibet, and all die together. [They did,
  practically, twenty years later, see "Ayesha."--H. R. H.] By
  George, I'd have gone into the fire and chucked in She too,
  perhaps it would have picked her up again.

In another letter he says:

  It is awfully good of you to think of putting my name in "She" and
  I consider it a great distinction. The only thing is that, if you
  do, I shan't be able to review it, except with my name signed
  thereto and my honest confession. Probably I could do that in the
  /Academy/. It is rather curious (plagiarism on your side again)
  that I was going to ask you to let me dedicate my little volume of
  tales, "That Missionary," etc. to you.

I may say here that Lang did review "She" in the /Academy/ over his
own name, but, I am almost sure, nowhere else, although I believe he
was accused of having written a dozen or more notices of this work,
and that he did dedicate "In the Wrong Paradise" to me in very
charming language.

Having run through the /Graphic/, where it attracted a good deal of
attention, "She" appeared as a six-shilling volume, I think the first
or one of the first novels that was published in that form, some time
in December 1886. It was brought out by Messrs. Longmans and very well
got up, the elaborate sherd compounded by my sister-in-law, then Miss
Barber, and myself being reproduced in two plates at the beginning of
the volume. The illustrations by Messrs. Greiffenhagen and Kerr were,
however, added afterwards. By the way, the reproduction of this sherd
was shown as being from a genuine antique to Mr. (afterwards Sir John)
Evans, who of course was a great expert on such matters. For a long
while he peered at it through his eyeglasses and at last put it down,
remarking, "All I can say is that it might /possibly/ have been
forged"--which I consider great testimony to the excellency of the
sherd, which now reposes in a cupboard upstairs.[*]

[*] It is now in Norwich Museum with the original MSS. of many of Sir
    Rider's tales.--Ed.

The title "She," if I remember aright, was taken from a certain rag
doll, so named, which a nurse at Bradenham used to bring out of some
dark recess in order to terrify those of my brothers and sisters who
were in her charge.

"She" proved a great and immediate success, and I received many
letters, of which I will quote one from Sir Walter Besant, and one
from Mr. (now Sir Edmund) Gosse.

                            12 Gayton Crescent, Hampstead:
                                                January 2, 1887.

  My dear Haggard,--While I am under the spell of "Ayesha," which I
  have only just finished, I must write to congratulate you upon a
  work which most certainly puts you at the head--a long away ahead
  --of all contemporary imaginative writers. If fiction is best
  cultivated in the field of pure invention then you are certainly
  the first of modern novelists. "Solomon's Mines" is left far
  behind. It is not only the central conception that is so splendid
  in its audacity, but it is your logical and pitiless working out
  of the whole thing in its inevitable details that strikes me with

  I do not know what the critics will say about it. Probably they
  will not read more than they can help and then let you off with a
  few general expressions. If the critic is a woman she will put
  down this book with the remark that it is impossible--almost all
  women have this feeling towards the marvellous.

  Whatever else you do, you will have "She" always behind you for
  purposes of odious comparison. And whatever critics say the book
  is bound to be a magnificent success. Also it will produce a crop
  of imitators. And all the little conventional story-tellers will
  be jogged out of their grooves--until they find new ones. . . .

                                  Yours very sincerely,
                                                  Walter Besant.

Certainly Besant was quite right when he said that I should always
have "She" behind me "for purposes of odious comparison." I always
have. Quite a large proportion of my critics during many years have
mentioned in the course of their reviews of various works from my pen
that the one under consideration is not another "She," or words to
that effect. As though a man's brain could harbour a host of "Shes"!
Such literary polygamy is not possible. Only one love of this kind is
given to him.

The second letter that I will quote from is from a friend who I am
glad to say still lives, Mr. Edmund Gosse, the distinguished author
and man of letters.[*]

[*] Now Sir Edmund Gosse, C.B.

                           29 Delamere Terrace: January 8, 1887.

  My dear Mr. Rider Haggard,--I feel constrained to write again to
  you about "She" before the impression the book has made upon my
  mind in any degree wears off. In construction I think you have
  been successful to a very marvellous degree. The quality of the
  invention increases as you go on, and the latest chapters are the
  best. Indeed it does not appear to me that I have ever been
  thrilled and terrified by any literature as I have by pp. 271-306
  of "She." It is simply unsurpassable.

  All through the book there are points which I have noted for the
  highest praise, the three white fingers on Ustane's hair, the
  dream about the skeletons, the meeting of the Living and the Dead,
  the Statue of Truth--these are only a few of the really marvellous
  things that the book contains. I was a great admirer and, as you
  know, a warm welcomer of "King Solomon's Mines," but I confess
  that exceedingly picturesque and ingenious book did not prepare me
  for "She"; and I do not know what to say, of hope or fear, about
  any future book of adventure of yours. I don't know what is to be
  imagined beyond the death of Ayesha.

  Accept again my thanks for the gift of your book, which I put
  among my treasures, and now the expression of my sincere and
  cordial admiration.

                                       Yours most truly,
                                                   Edmund Gosse.

  P.S.--May I say, without impertinence, I think the /style/ strikes
  me as a vast improvement upon that of "K.S.M."?

To turn to something humorous--I find the following in the handwriting
of the late Rev. W. J. Loftie, headed "SHE" in large letters.

  Are you acquainted with the story of the lady who wrote poetry?
  She had begun an epic--

   "Man was made innocent and good, but he"--

  when a visitor called. She left the paper on the table: the
  visitor came in, waited a little and departed. When she returned
  she found the couplet completed:

   "Man was made innocent and good, but he--
    Would doubtless have continued so--but SHE!"

Well, "She" came out and was a great success. On March 15th Charles
Longman wrote to me in Egypt:

  I am glad to tell you that "She" keeps on selling capitally. We
  have printed 25,000 already, and have ordered another 5000, and I
  do not think we shall have many left when the printers deliver
  them. . . . Last week we sold over 1000 copies!

This was a large number as books sold in those days, when people were
not accustomed to buying novels in one volume, having been in the
habit of borrowing them from the library in three. Moreover, from that
day to this the sale of "She" has never ceased, whilst in America it
was pirated by the hundred thousand.

All the reviews of it were not good; indeed some of them attacked it
strongly. Others, were enthusiastic. /The Times/ (a review in /The
Times/ then, before the days of Literary Supplements, if good, was
very valuable) spoke extremely well of it. /The Times/ reviewer,
however, criticises the Greek upon the sherd. Had he known that it was
the work of Dr. Holden, one of the best Greek scholars of the day, he
might have preferred to leave it unquestioned. Here is the doctor's
letter on the subject, written from the Athenaeum in March 1886.

  Dear Haggard,--Your task is not quite so big as one of the labours
  of Hercules, but by no means easy without further data. Do you
  want the Greek to be such as to deceive the learned world into
  thinking that it is no forgery, but a genuine bit of antiquity? If
  so, the /style/ will have to be taken into account: it won't do to
  imitate Herodotus, though it is just the bit suitable for his
  style, because of the date B.C. 200.

  Anyhow, I am just going down to Harrow to examine the Sixth Form
  for Scholarships, and shall be fully occupied there for a
  fortnight. I hope therefore you are not in any particular hurry:
  if so, I must return you your MS., which I cannot do justice to
  without some further consideration of the subject.

                                     Yours sincerely,
                                                   H. A. Holden.

That my old master did consider it very thoroughly I know for a fact.
I remember his telling me that he would have liked to be able to give
six months to study before he ventured on this particular piece of
Greek. I said that with all his great learning this was surely

"My dear boy," he answered, "I have been soaking myself in the
classics for over forty years, and I am just beginning to learn how
little I know about them!"

In the same way the black-letter, mediaeval Latin inscription and the
old English translation thereof, etc., were the work of my late
friend, Dr. Raven, who was a very great authority on monkish Latin and
mediaeval English.

Twenty years later, the time that I had always meant to elapse, I
wrote a sequel under the title of "Ayesha, or The Return of She." Of
course, although successful in a way, it was more or less pooh-poohed
and neglected on the principle that sequels must always be of no

Of the scores of letters which I received about "She" from
correspondents personally unknown to me, the following is perhaps one
of the most curious. It is written from the Electric-Technical Factory
of Messrs. Ganz and Co., Budapest.

  Dear Sir,--In explanation of the following lines please to learn
  that during the course of the last few weeks, we, whose signatures
  you will find adjoined, have had the pleasure of reading your
  celebrated novel, "She."

  Despite our various tastes, characters and nationalities we have,
  one and all, taken a most lively interest in your story.

  It appears that each of us found in it a something which appealed
  to his sympathies; to one the ethnographical and topographical
  descriptions may have given satisfaction; to another the
  frequently occurring remembrances of athletic sports; in a third,
  perhaps, sweet memories of bygone classical studies have been

  The last time we dined in company it was decided that we should
  proffer to you, in humble acknowledgment of our respect and
  thanks, our united most hearty good wishes for your happiness,
  contentment and general well-being, with the hope that you may be
  spared to enrich your fellow-creatures and coming generations with
  the fair products of your fertile mind.

  We beg you, dear sir, to believe us,

                    Yours faithfully,

               A. Damek,           Crawford,           C. Horstek,
                 German;             Scotchman;          Englishman;

               S. Jordan,          E. Poesetzlin,      L. Stark,
                 Frenchman;          Swiss;              Hungarian;

                     Electrical Engineers.

This, I think, was a very satisfactory letter for an author to

                              CHAPTER XI


  Leave for Egypt--Reincarnation--Boulak Museum--Excavations--
  Removal of mummies--Nofertari--Adventure in tomb--Mr. Brownrigg's
  danger on Pyramid--Cyprus--Article on "Fiction"--"Jess"--Home by
  long sea--"Cleopatra"--"Colonel Quaritch, V.C."--Press attacks--
  Publishing arrangements--Lang's advice--"Cleopatra" dedicated to
  H. R. H.'s mother--Her death--Savile Club--Thomas Hardy--H. R. H.
  weary of writing novels--Lang's encouragement--Allan Quatermain
  and Umslopogaas--Winston Churchill's approval--Letters from W. E.
  Henley--"Maiwa's Revenge"--"Beatrice"--Collaboration with Lang in
  "The World's Desire"--Letters from Lang--"The Song of the Bow."

After "She" had been fairly launched, and the proofs of "Jess" passed
for press, I started, in January 1887, on a journey to Egypt. From a
boy ancient Egypt had fascinated me, and I had read everything
concerning it on which I could lay hands. Now I was possessed by a
great desire to see it for myself, and to write a romance on the
subject of "Cleopatra," a sufficiently ambitious project.

A friend of mine who is a mystic of the first water amused me very
much not long ago by forwarding to me a list of my previous
incarnations, or rather of three of them, which had been revealed to
him in some mysterious way. Two of these were Egyptian, one as a noble
in the time of Pepi II who lived somewhere about 4000 B.C., and the
second as one of the minor Pharaohs. In the third, according to him, I
was a Norseman of the seventh century, who was one of the first to
sail to the Nile, whence he returned but to die in sight of his old
home. After that, saith the prophet, I slumbered for twelve hundred
years until my present life.

I cannot say that I have been converted to my friend's perfectly
sincere beliefs, since the reincarnation business seems to me to be
quite insusceptible of proof. If it could be proved, how much more
interesting it would make our lives. But that, I think, will never
happen, even if it be true that we return again to these glimpses of
the moon, which, like everything else, is possible.

Still it is a fact that some men have a strong affinity for certain
lands and periods of history, which, of course, may be explained by
the circumstance that their direct ancestors dwelt in those lands and
at those periods. Thus I love the Norse people of the saga and pre-
saga times. But then I have good reason to believe that my forefathers
were Danes. I am, however, unable to trace any Egyptian ancestor--if
such existed at all it is too long ago.

However these things may be, with the old Norse and the old Egyptians
I am at home. I can enter into their thoughts and feelings; I can even
understand their theologies. I have a respect for Thor and Odin, I
venerate Isis, and always feel inclined to bow to the moon!

Whatever the reason, I seem to myself to understand the Norse folk of
anywhere about 800 A.D. and the Egyptians from Menes down to the
Ptolemaic period, much better than I understand the people of the age
in which I live. They are more familiar to me. They interest me much
more. For instance, I positively loathe the Georgian period, about
which I can never even bring myself to read. On the other hand, I have
the greatest sympathy with savages, Zulus for instance, with whom I
always got on extremely well. Perhaps my mystical friend has left a
savage incarnation out of his list.

For these reasons I know well that I could never be a success as a
modern novelist. I can see the whole thing; it goes on under my eyes,
and as a magistrate and in other ways I am continually in touch with
it. I could write of it also if I could bring myself to the task. I
would undertake to produce a naturalistic novel that would sell--why
should I not do so with my experience? But the subject bores me too
much. The naturalism I would not mind, but if it is to be truthful it
is impossible and, to say the least, unedifying. The petty social
conditions are what bore me. I know this is not right; but it is a
failing in myself, since under all conditions human nature is the same
and the true artist should be able to present it with equal power. But
we are as we are made. Even the great Shakespeare, I observe, sought
distant scenes and far-off events for his tragedies, seeking, I
presume, to escape the trammels of his time.

To return from this dissertation. I went to Egypt seeking knowledge
and a holiday. The knowledge I acquired, or some of it, for when the
mind is open and desirous, it absorbs things as a dry sponge does
water. I had an introduction to Brugsch Bey, who was then, I think,
the head of the Boulak Museum. He took me round that heavenly place.
He showed me the mummies of Seti, Rameses, and the rest, and oh! with
what veneration did I look upon them. He told me, trembling with
emotion, of the discovery, then recent, of the great Deir-el-Behari
/cache/ of Pharaohs and their treasures. He said when he got to the
bottom of that well and entered the long passage where for tens of
centuries had slept the mighty dead, huddled together there to save
them from the wicked hands of robbers or enemies, and by the light of
torches had read a few of the names upon the coffins, that he nearly
fainted with joy, as well he might. Also he described to me how, when
the royal bodies were borne from this resting-place and shipped for
conveyance to Cairo, there to find a new tomb in the glass cases of a
museum, the fellaheen women ran along the banks wailing because their
ancient kings were being taken from among them. They cast dust upon
their hair, still dressed in a hundred plaits, as was that of those
far-off mothers of theirs who had wailed when these Pharaohs were
borne with solemn pomp to the homes they called eternal. Poor kings!
who dreamed not of the glass cases of the Cairo Museum, and the gibes
of tourists who find the awful majesty of their whithered brows a
matter for jest and smiles. Often I wonder how we dare to meddle with
these hallowed relics, especially now in my age. Then I did not think
so much of it; indeed I have taken a hand at the business myself.

On that same visit I saw the excavation of some very early burials in
the shadow of the pyramids of Ghizeh, so early that the process of
mummification was not then practised. The skeletons lay upon their
sides in the pre-natal position. The learned gentleman in charge of
the excavation read to me the inscription in the little ante-chamber
of one of these tombs.

If I remember right, it ran as follows: "Here A. B. [I forget the name
of the deceased], priest of the Pyramid of Khufu, sleeps in Osiris
awaiting the resurrection. He passed all his long life in
righteousness and peace."

That, at any rate, was the sense of it, and I bethought me that such
an epitaph would have been equally fitting to, let us say, the dean of
a cathedral in the present century. Well, perhaps a day will come when
Westminster Abbey and our other sacred burying-places will be
ransacked in like manner, and the relics of /our/ kings and great ones
exposed in the museum of some race unknown of a different faith to
ours. I may add that in Egypt even an identity of faith does not
protect the dead, since the Christian bishops, down to those of the
eighth or ninth century, have been disinterred, for I have seen many
of their broidered vestments in public and private collections. The
idea seems to be that if only you have been dead long enough your
bones are fair prey. All of which is to me a great argument in favour
of cremation.

Still it must be remembered that it is from Egyptian tombs that we
have dug the history of Egypt, which now is better and more certainly
known than that of the Middle Ages. Were it not for the burial customs
of the old inhabitants of Khem, and their system of the preservation
of mortal remains that these might await the resurrection of the body
in which they were such firm believers, we should be almost ignorant
of the lives of that great people. Only ought not the thing to stop
somewhere? For my part I should like to see the bodies of the
Pharaohs, after they had been reproduced in wax, reverently laid in
the chambers and passages of the Great Pyramids and there sealed up
for ever, in such a fashion that no future thief could break in and

Dr. Budge told me of a certain tomb which he and his guide were the
first to enter since it had been closed, I think about 4000 years
before. He said that it was absolutely perfect. There lay the coffin
of the lady, there stood the funeral jars of offering, there on the
breast was a fan of which the ostrich plumes were turned to feathers
of dust. There, too, in the sand of the floor were the footprints of
those who had borne the corpse to burial. Those footprints always
impressed me very much.

In considering such matters the reader should remember that nothing in
the world was so sacred to the old Egyptian as were his corpse and his
tomb. In the tomb slept the body, but according to his immemorial
faith it did not sleep alone, for with it, watching it eternally, was
the Ka or Double, and to it from time to time came the Spirit. This Ka
or Double had, so he believed, great powers, and could even wreak
vengeance on the disturber of the grave or the thief of the corpse.

From Cairo I proceeded up the Nile, inspecting all the temples and the
tombs of the kings at Thebes, to my mind, and so far as my experience
goes, the most wondrous tombs of all the world. So, too, thought the
tourists of twenty centuries or more ago, for there are the writings
on the walls recording their admiration and salutations to the ghosts
of the dead; and so, too, in all probability will think the tourists
of two thousand years hence, for the world can never reproduce such
vast and mysterious burying-places, any more than it can reproduce the

About eighteen years later I revisited these tombs and found them much
easier of access and illuminated with electric light. Somehow in these
new conditions they did not produce quite the same effect upon me.
When first I was there I remember struggling down one of them--I think
it was that of the great Seti--lit by dim torches, and I remember also
the millions of bats that must be beaten away. I can see them now,
those bats, weaving endless figures in the torchlight, dancers in a
ghostly dance. Indeed, afterwards I incarnated them all in the great
bat that was a spirit which haunted the pyramid where Cleopatra and
her lover, Harmachis, sought the treasure of the Pharaoh, Men-kau-ra.
When next I stood in that place I do not recall any bats; I suppose
that the electric light had scared them away.

However on that second visit, with Mr. Carter, at that time a
superintendent of antiquities for this part of Egypt, my companions
and I were the first white men, except the discoverer, a Greek
gentleman, to enter the burying-place of Nofertari, the favourite or,
at least, the head wife of Rameses II. There on the walls were her
pictures fresh as the day they were painted. There she sat playing
chess with her royal husband or communing with the gods. But it is too
long to describe. The tomb had been plundered in ancient days,
probably a couple of thousand years ago. Just before the plunderers
entered a flood of water had rushed down it, for when they came the
washed paint was still wet, and I could see the prints of their
fingers as they supported themselves on the slope of the incline.

One of my tomb explorations in 1887 nearly proved my last adventure.
Opposite Assouan some great caverns had just been discovered. Into one
of these I crept through a little hole, for the sand was almost up to
the top of the doorway. I found it full of hundreds of dead, or at
least there seemed to be hundreds, most of which had evidently been
buried without coffins, for they were but skeletons, although mixed up
with them was the mummy of a lady and the fragments of her painted
mummy case. As I contemplated these gruesome remains in the dim light
I began to wonder how it came about that there were so many of them.
Then I recollected that about the time of Christ the town, which is
now Assouan, had been almost depopulated by a fearful plague, and it
occurred to me that doubtless at this time these old burying-places
had been reopened and filled up with the victims of the scourge--also
that the germ of plague is said to be very long-lived! Incautiously I
shouted to my companions who were outside that I was coming out, and
set to work to crawl along the hole which led to the doorway. But the
echoes of my voice reverberating in that place had caused the sand to
begin to pour down between the cracks of the masonry from above, so
that the weight of it, falling upon my back, pinned me fast. In a
flash I realised that in another few seconds I too should be buried.
Gathering all my strength I made a desperate effort and succeeded in
reaching the mouth of the hole just before it was too late, for my
friends had wandered off to some distance and were quite unaware of my

One of these, a young fellow named Brownrigg, had a worse because a
more prolonged experience. He, I and a lady were contemplating the
second Pyramid, when suddenly he announced that he was going to climb
up it as far as the granite cap which still remains for something over
a hundred feet at the top.

As he was a splendid athlete, with a very good head, this did not
surprise us. Up he went while we sat and watched him, till he came to
the cap, which at that time only eight or nine white people had ever
ascended, of course with the help of guides. To our astonishment here
we suddenly saw him take off his boots. The next thing we saw was
Brownrigg climbing up the polished granite of the cap. Up he went from
crack to crack till at last he reached the top in safety, and there
proceeded to execute a war dance of triumph. Then after a rest he
began to descend.

I noticed from the desert, some hundreds of feet below, that although
he commenced his descent with face outwards, which is the right
method, presently he turned so that it was against the sloping
pyramid. Then I began to grow frightened. When he had done about
thirty or forty feet of the descent I saw him stretch down his
stockinged foot seeking some cranny, and draw it up again--because he
could not reach the cranny without falling backwards. Twice or thrice
he did this, and then remained quite still upon the cap with
outstretched arms like one crucified. Evidently he could move neither
up nor down.

While I stared, horrified--we three were quite alone in the place--a
white-robed Arab rushed past me. He was the Sheik of the Pyramids,
which without a word he began to climb with the furious activity of a
frightened cat. Up he went over the lower and easy part onto the cap,
which seemed to present no difficulties to him, for he knew exactly
where to set his toes and had the head of an eagle or a mountain goat.
Now he was just underneath Brownrigg and saying something to him. And
now from that great height came a still small voice.

"If you touch me I'll knock you down!" said the voice.

Yes, crucified there upon this awful cap he declared in true British
fashion that he would knock his saviour down.

I shut my eyes, and when I looked again the sheik had got Brownrigg's
foot down into the crack below, how I never discovered. Well, the rest
of the sickening descent was accomplished in safety, thanks to that
splendid sheik. In a few more minutes a very pale and shaking
Brownrigg was gasping on the sand beside us, while the Arab, streaming
with perspiration, danced round and objurgated him and us in his
native tongue until he was appeased with large baksheesh. Brownrigg,
who will never be nearer to a dreadful death than he was that day,
told me afterwards that, strong as his head was, he found it
impossible to attempt the descent face outwards, since the thickness
of the cap hid the sides of the pyramid from his sight, so that all he
saw beneath him was some three hundred feet of empty space. Therefore
he turned and soon found himself quite helpless, since he could
neither find any foothold beneath him, nor could he reascend. Had not
the watchful Arab seen him and his case, in another few minutes he
must have fallen and been dashed to pieces at our feet. The memory of
that scene still makes my back feel cold and my flesh creep. I have
tried to reproduce it in "Ayesha," where Holly falls from the rock to
the ice-covered river far beneath.

From Egypt I sailed to Cyprus in a tub of a ship, where a rat had its
nest behind my bunk. It was my first visit to that delightful and
romantic isle, over which all the civilisations have poured in turn,
wave by wave, till at length came the Turk, beneath whose foot "the
grass does not grow," and, by the special mercy of Providence, after
the Turk the English.

Here I was the guest of my old chief, Sir Henry Bulwer, who at that
time was High Commissioner for the island.

From Government House at Nicosia I made various delightful expeditions
in the company of Mrs. Caldwell, Sir Henry Bulwer's sister, and her
daughters. For instance we visited Famagusta, that marvellous
mediaeval, walled town, built and fortified by the Venetians, that the
Turks took after a terrible siege, for the details of which I will
refer the reader to my book, "A Winter Pilgrimage," written many years
later after a second visit to Cyprus.

In 1887, strange as it may seem, the debris of this siege were still
very much in evidence. Thus after about three centuries the balls
fired by the Turkish cannon lay all over the place. I hold one of them
in my hand as I write, slightly pit-marked by the passage of time, or
more probably by flaws in the casting.

Here in this beautiful island of Venus I trusted, before turning to my
tasks again, to have a little real holiday after a good many years of
very hard work. But, as it happened, holidays have never been for me.
At the age of nineteen, to say nothing of the preliminary toils of
education, I began to labour, and at the age of fifty-six I still find
myself labouring with the firm and, so far as I can judge, well-
grounded prospect that I shall continue to labour on public and
private business till health and intelligence fail me, or, as I hope,
death overtakes me while these still remain.

Here I must go back a little. In the winter of 1886, as I remember
very much against my own will, I was worried into writing an article
about "Fiction" for the /Contemporary Review/.

It is almost needless for me to say that for a young writer who had
suddenly come into some kind of fame to spring a dissertation of this
kind upon the literary world over his own name was very little short
of madness. Such views must necessarily make him enemies, secret or
declared, by the hundred. There are two bits of advice which I will
offer to the youthful author of the future. Never preach about your
trade, and, above all, never criticise other practitioners of that
trade, however profoundly you may disagree with them. Heaven knows
there are critics enough without /your/ taking a hand in the business.
Do your work as well as you can and leave other people to do theirs,
and the public to judge between them. Secondly, unless you are
absolutely driven to it, as of course may happen sometimes, never
enter into a controversy with a newspaper.

To return: this unfortunate article about "Fiction" made me plenty of
enemies, and the mere fact of my remarkable success made me plenty
more. Through no fault of mine, also, these foes found a very able
leader in the person of Mr. Stead, who at that time was the editor of
the /Pall Mall Gazette/. I should say, however, that of late years Mr.
Stead has quite changed his attitude towards me and has indeed become
very complimentary, both with reference to my literary and to my
public work. For my part, too, I have long ago forgiven his
onslaughts, as I can honestly say I have forgiven everybody else for
every harm that they have done, or tried to do me.

To go back to "Jess." Being somewhat piqued by the frequent
descriptions of myself as "a mere writer of romances and boys' books,"
I determined to try my hand at another novel (if one comes to think of
it "Dawn" and "The Witch's Head" were novels, but these had been
obliterated by "King Solomon's Mines"). So after I had finished "Allan
Quatermain" I set to as I have already described, and wrote "Jess."

It is a gloomy story and painful to an Englishman, so gloomy and
painful that Lang could scarcely read it, having a nature susceptible
as a sensitive plant. I feel this myself, for except when I went
through it some fifteen years ago to correct it for a new illustrated
edition, I too have never reread it, and I think that I never mean to
do so. The thing is a living record of our shame in South Africa,
written by one by whom it was endured. And therefore it lives, for it
is a bit of history put into tangible and human shape. At any rate,
the other day the publishers kindly sent me a copy of the twenty-
seventh edition of the work, which of course has been circulated in
countless numbers in a cheap form. I believe that in South Africa they
think highly of "Jess"; even the Boers of the new generation read it.
I remember that when some of their trenches were stormed in the last
war, the special correspondents reported that the only book found in
them was "Jess."

I returned to England by long sea, avoiding the train journey across
Europe. This I undertook when I went out in order to study the
Egyptian collections at the Louvre and Turin. As it happened I never
saw that at Turin. When I arrived there, purposing to spend an
afternoon at the museum, my cabman drove me to a distant circus, and
when at length I did reach the said museum, it was to find that on
this particular day it was closed.

On my arrival in England what between success and attacks I found
myself quite a celebrity, one whose name was in everybody's mouth. I
made money; for instance I sold "Cleopatra" for a large sum in cash,
and also "Colonel Quaritch, V.C.," a tale of English country life
which Longman liked--it was dedicated to him--and Lang hated it so
much that I think he called it the worst book that ever was written.
Or perhaps it was someone else who favoured it with that description.
Some of this money I lost, for really I had not time to look after it,
and the investments suggested by kind friends connected with the City
were apt to prove disappointing. Some of it I spent in paying off back
debts and mortgages on our property, and in doing up this house which
it sadly needed, as well as countless farm buildings, and a proportion
was absorbed by our personal expenditure. For instance we moved into a
larger house in Radcliffe Square and there entertained a little,
though not to any great extent, for we never were extravagant. Also I
became what is called famous, which in practice means that people are
glad to ask you out to dinner, and when you enter a room everyone
turns to look at you. Also it means that bores of the most appalling
description write to you from all over the earth, and expect answers.

Therefore, although I had the affection of my old friends and made one
or two new ones, such as Charles Longman, with whom, to my great good
fortune, I began to grow intimate about this time, it came about that
I was much envied and not a little hated by many who made my life
bitter with constant attacks in the Press, which, being somewhat
sensitive by nature, I was foolish enough to feel. Indeed there came a
time when for a good many years I would read no reviews of my books,
unless chance thrust them under my eyes. Therefore of those years
there are few literary records.

In addition to much worry, my work at this time was truly
overwhelming. The unfortunate agreement to which I have already
alluded, entered into with the firm in which I believe Mr. Maxwell,
the late husband of Miss Braddon, was a partner, had been abrogated
without a lawsuit, through the admirable efforts of my friend and
agent, Mr. A. P. Watt. But this was done at a price, and that price
was that I should write them two stories, which in addition to my
other and more serious work of course cost me time and labour. The
tales that I wrote for them were called respectively "Mr. Meeson's
Will" and "Allan's Wife." Ultimately, after various "business
complications," in the course of which I lost some money that was due
for royalties, together with "Dawn" and "The Witch's Head," they
passed into the hands of Messrs. Longmans.

Then I began "Cleopatra" on May 27, 1887, and, as the MS. records,
finished it on August 2nd of the same year. In order to do this I fled
from London to Ditchingham, because in town there were so many
distractions and calls upon my time that I could not get on with my
work. I remember my disgust when on arrival there an invitation to be
present in Westminster Abbey on the occasion of the Jubilee of Queen
Victoria was forwarded too late for me to be able to avail myself of
it. Although I do not greatly care for such pomp and circumstance,
that was a ceremony which I should have liked to see.

Charles Longman thought very highly indeed of "Cleopatra." Also, he
backed his opinion by buying the copyright of the book for a large sum
of money.

By the way, unluckily for myself, I also sold "Jess" outright and
/not/ for a large sum. Messrs. Smith, Elder, however, behaved
extremely well to me, for when the novel proved such a great success
they sent me a second cheque of a like amount as that they had given
for the copyright, a thing which perhaps few publishers would have
done. Moreover, a dozen years or so later, they offered to give me
back a half interest in the book if I would write them another work.
This I was very anxious to do, as both for sentimental and business
reasons I should much have liked to regain a part proprietorship in
"Jess." But when I wrote to Charles Longman on the subject he begged
me to abandon the idea, and as I could not hurt the feelings of such
an old and valued friend, I did so, with many sighs.

I should explain that at the time I published only with the Longmans.
Afterwards to my great sorrow I was obliged to abandon this
arrangement, for the reason that I found it impossible to place works
serially unless I could give the book rights as well. For a while I
got over this difficulty, or rather Messrs. Watt, my agents, did, by
selling serial rights to the two great illustrated papers. But in
course of time, I suppose as they began to feel the pressure of the
competition of the new sixpenny magazines, they gave up publishing
serials, or at any rate paying much for them. So I had to go to those
who would run the serial if, and only if, they were given the book
rights also.

Lang did not think quite so highly of "Cleopatra" as Longman, at any
rate at first, as the following letter shows:

  You will loathe me for the advice, but if I were you I'd put
  "Cleopatra" away for as long as possible, and then read it as a
  member of the public. You will find, I think, that between
  chapters 3 and 8 it is too long, too full of antiquarian detail,
  and too slow in movement to carry the general public with it. I am
  pretty certain of this. The style is very well kept up, but it is
  not an advantage for a story to be told in an archaic style (this
  of course is unavoidable). For that reason I would condense a good
  deal and it could be done. You'll find /that/ when you come fresh
  to it again. The topic is horribly difficult: there is a kind of
  living life in the modern Introduction which must of the rest
  wants, as far as I have gone. I see pretty clearly where and how
  the condensing could be done. You don't want a reader's interest
  to fall asleep, and now it would in places. I am writing with
  perfect frankness because, of course, I want it to be A1 in its
  /genre/--a dreadfully difficult /genre/ it is. As far as I have
  read I have made a few verbal notes where the style occasionally
  is not consistent. But the main thing is, at any expense, to hurry
  on more--to give the impression of solemnity, but at more speed,
  and with much fewer strokes. I know you hate altering, so it is /a
  prendre ou a laisser/, this long screed of opinion. Of course I
  see it is a book you have written for yourself. But the B.P. must
  also be thought of.

In a second letter, written about the same time, he says:

  I gave all my morning to "Cleopatra" and return her. After Chapter
  8 /she'll do/! I have marked a good many minutiae of style, or
  expression. In a few places, a judicious shortening of moral
  reflections by Harmachis would give him more point to my mind.
  Unluckily neither Harmachis nor Cleopatra is sympathetic. Can't be
  helped. I think even more than before that you should lighten the
  ship by greatly shortening between chapters 3 and 8. I can
  estimate this, because to-day I read slick on rapidly and was
  interested all the way. In the earlier part my attention flagged
  over all the preparation, and many a traveller would not have
  persevered. I like Antony, but don't feel that that inexplicable
  person has had /full/ justice done him. The inevitably archaic
  style will not make it more popular, but that can't possibly be
  helped. As a whole I think the manner is very well kept up. I
  venture to suggest some alterations where modern words come in out
  of tune.

  Screw it a little tighter, and I think it is undeniably an
  artistic piece of work. The imagination kindles up after the
  killing of Paulus. Before, it is not always up to your level of
  wakefulness and energy. At least that's my impression. What an
  awful piece of romance the end is! I like Charmion to turn on him
  for his bullying the queen. The absence of any business for the
  other girl, Iras, strikes me as rather a pity. I'd like, if you
  don't mind, to read over the early part with you as I feel a good
  deal turns on adding energy to that, and on condensing. The
  Menkara bit is A1, and Cyprus is good--did you take the wreck from
  the Odyssey at all? I don't see who they can say you stole your
  plot from. They'll say the parts from Plutarch are from
  Shakespeare, probably they never read Plutarch!

I do not know whether I cut out much from the chapters which Lang
though too long. Probably not, since I have always been a very bad
hand at making alterations in what I have once put down, unless indeed
I rewrite the entire work. Moreover, at any rate in my books, this
cutting out of passages resembles the pulling of bricks from a built
wall, since it will be found that every or nearly every passage, even
if it is of a reflective character, is developed or alluded to in some
portion of what follows. The pulling out of bricks may or may not
improve the appearance of the wall, but it certainly decreases its

In the Author's Note at the commencement of "Cleopatra" I see that I
wrote the following passage, evidently having Lang's criticism in

  Unfortunately it is scarcely possible to write a book of this
  nature and period without introducing a certain amount of
  illustrative matter, for by no other means can the long dead past
  be made to live again before the reader's eyes with all its
  accessories of faded pomp and forgotten mystery. For such students
  as seek a story only, and are not interested in the Faith,
  ceremonies, or customs of the Mother of Religion and Civilisation,
  ancient Egypt, it is, however, respectfully suggested that they
  should exercise the art of skipping and open this tale at its
  second book.

I dedicated "Cleopatra" to my mother, because I thought it the best
book I had written or was likely to write, although since then I have
modified that opinion in favour or one or two that came after it. The
following letter from her was written not long before her death, and
was, I think, the last I ever received from her.

                                       Bradenham: June 29, 1889.

  My dearest Rider,--I have only a few minutes to write and thank
  you for your charming gift, but I must not let the week pass over
  without my doing so. I think it is got up as well as possible, and
  the Dedication is most successfully accomplished, which must be as
  gratifying to you as to me. I have not thoroughly looked at the
  illustrations, but see that they are very much more to be liked
  than those of the /Illustrated News/. Thank you greatly for your
  excellent work, my dear son. It certainly redounds greatly to you,
  dearest Rider, whatever the critics may say, and I have no doubt
  they will do their worst. But I think posterity will do justice to
  your production. I will write no more as I cannot easily add to

                         Your ever most affectionate Mother,
                                                   Ella Haggard.

There is also a letter from my father in which he says that my mother
opened and looked at the book "not without tears." Whether she ever
read it herself I do not know, for by this time her sight was failing

A few months later I stood at her death-bed and received her last
blessing. But of that long-drawn out and very sad scene, even after
the lapse of two-and-twenty years, I cannot bear to write.

"Cleopatra" ran serially through the /Illustrated London News/ before
its appearance in book form. It is a work that has found many friends,
but my recollection is that, as my mother foresaw, it was a good deal
attacked by the critics who were angry that, after Shakespeare's play,
I should dare to write of Cleopatra. However, I have not kept any of
the notices; indeed I think I saw but few. Of professional critics
already I began to feel a certain repletion. Little do these gentlemen
know the harm that they do sometimes. A story comes into my mind in
illustration of this truth. One day, years later, I was in the little
writing-room of the Savile Club, that on the first floor with fern-
cases in the windows where one may not smoke. At least, so things were
when I ceased to be a member. Presently Thomas Hardy entered and took
up one of the leading weekly papers in which was a long review of his
last novel. He read it, then came to me--there were no others in the
room--and pointed out a certain passage.

"There's a nice thing to say about a man!" he exclaimed. "Well, I'll
never write another novel."

And he never did. This happened quite fifteen years ago. By the way,
the Savile was a very pleasant club in the late 'eighties. There was a
certain table in the corner, near the window, where a little band of
us were wont to lunch on Saturdays: Lang, Gosse, Besant, A. Ross,
Loftie, Stevenson (the cousin of the writer), Eustace Balfour, and
some others. Of this company the most are dead, though I believe Gosse
still lunches there. He must feel himself to be a kind of monument
erected over many graves. The last time that I visited the club there
was not a soul in the place whom I knew. So feeling lonely and over-
oppressed by sundry memories, I sent in my resignation of membership.
But often as I walk down Piccadilly I look at that table through the
window and think of many things, and especially of the genial talk of
Walter Besant, whose funeral I attended now so long ago. Surely he was
one of the best and kindest-hearted gentlemen that ever wrote a book.
Long may his memory remain green in the annals of literature for which
he did so much.

I think that about this time I must have become rather sickened of the
novel-writing trade and despondent as regards my own powers. This I
conclude from an undated and unaddressed note which I find among
Lang's letters of the period. It runs:

  Dear Haggard,--If you jack up Literature, I shall jack up Reading.
  /Of course/ I know the stuff is the thing, but the ideal thing
  would be the perfection of stuff and the perfection of style, and
  we don't often get that; except from Henry Fielding. Yes, I
  believe in "Jess"; but you can't expect me to be in love with
  /all/ your women, the heart devoted to Ayesha has no room for
  more. Probably I think more highly of your books than you do, and
  I was infinitely more anxious for your success than for my own,
  which is not an excitement to me. But Lord love you, it would be
  log-rollery to say that in a review.

                                                    Yours ever,
                                                           A. L.

I have not the faintest idea of the genesis of this note. I presume,
however, that Lang had aimed some of his barbed shafts at me, probably
in conversation, and that I had written to him petulantly. Anyhow his
answer is most kind and nice.

The next letter in the bunch, dated May 9th (year missing), says:

  I am much grieved by the death of Umslopogaas. I have written his
  epitaph in Greek and in English verses. [N.B.--These fine verses
  now appear upon the title-page of "Allan Quatermain." I remember
  Mrs. Lang telling me that "Andrew had wasted an entire day in
  their composition."]

"Allan Quatermain," after running through /Longmans' Magazine/, came
out about the end of June 1887. Charles Longman, in a letter dated
June 20th, writes:

  You have broken the record--at least so I am told. We have
  subscribed over 10,000 copies of "Quatermain" in London, which
  they say is more than has ever been subscribed of a 6/- novel
  before. . . . We printed 20,000 of "Quatermain," as you know and
  we are now ordering paper in readiness for another lot.

This tale proved, and has remained, a general favourite, the Zulu in
it, old Umslopogaas, being a very popular character with all classes
of readers, and especially among boys.

Here is a letter from one who was a boy then, but has since become a
very famous man, namely Mr. Winston Churchill, in which he expresses
his critical opinion of the work. To this I append a letter from his
aunt, Lady Leslie, whom I used to know well, in which she expresses
her critical opinion of Mr. Winston Churchill in his youth. I am sorry
to say that I cannot remember whether the meeting she was trying to
arrange did or did not take place.

                                         46 Grosvenor Square, W.

  Dear Mr. Haggard,--Thank you so much for sending me "Allan
  Quatermain," it was so good of you. I like "A. Q." better than
  "King Solomon's Mines"; it is more amusing.

  I hope you will write a great many more books.

                                I remain,
                                     Yours truly,
                                           Winston S. Churchill.

                                   11 Stratford Place, W.
                                              February 11, 1888.

  Dear Mr. Haggard,--The little boy Winston came here yesterday
  morning, not having been in London on Sunday, and beseeching me to
  take him to see you before he returns to school at the end of the
  month. I don't wish to bore so busy a man as yourself, but will
  you, when you have time, please tell me, shall I bring him on
  Wednesday next, when Mrs. Haggard said she would be at home? Or do
  you prefer settling to come here some afternoon when I could have
  the boy to meet you? He really is a very interesting being, though
  temporarily /uppish/ from the restraining parental hand being in

                                    Yours very truly,
                                               Constance Leslie.

By one of the saddest of all coincidences, if such things are pure
coincidence, "Allan Quatermain" opens with a description of the death
of Quatermain's only son. I dedicated it to /my/ only son, and shortly
afterwards that fate overtook him also!

I find letters from Lang imploring me not to kill Allan Quatermain.
But when he wrote Allan had already been killed, and how could the end
of the story be altered? Besides his day was done and his tale told.
But he left others behind him.

Before finally leaving the subject of "Cleopatra" I will quote a
couple of letters that I received from W. E. Henley. I should here
mention that I was well acquainted with this able and interesting man,
some of whose poems will, I think, survive in our literature.

I remember once driving to the British Museum with him and Lang, or it
may have been Gosse, or both of them, in a four-wheeled cab, to see
some Japanese prints that were on show. On the way I told him that
personally I admired statuary, and especially Greek statuary, much
more than I did pictorial art. He was greatly astonished.

"I think it wonderful," he said, "that you being what you are, and
your work what it is, you should prefer form to colour."

It seemed curious to him that a man who wrote romances should have
other sides to his nature. He was extremely fond of war and fighting,
witness his Ode to the Sword, and at the club would insist upon my
telling him stories by the yard about the Zulus and their blood-
thirsty battles and customs. With it all he was very domestic, and
much attached to his "placens uxor" and the little girl whom, most
unhappily, he lost. The last note I ever received from him, written
some years after our acquaintance had practically ceased, was on this
sad subject.

The first of the three letters which I am going to quote is not on the
subject of "Cleopatra" but in answer to one of mine expressing my
admiration of his volume of verses. As it is, however, the earliest in
date it shall have preference.

                                                   June 9, 1888.

  My dear Haggard,--I found yours at the Club last night. I /do/
  care for your approbation very much; for I do not think I should
  have it if my verses hadn't a kind of basis of life.

  Lang hates 'em, I believe; and I shall tell him of your note with
  pride and glee.

  For myself I prefer the "Life and Death" lot. But the /In
  Hospital/ sets forth a special experience and is, of course, of
  particular interest.

                                     Always yours sincerely,
                                                        W. E. H.

The next letter is written from 11 Howard Place, Edinburgh, July 20,

  My dear Haggard,--I got a week at Windermere and took "Cleopatra"
  with me. I was alone, and I found her very good company.

  You were terribly handicapped by the inevitable comparison; but
  you came off better (to be frank) than I'd expected you would. The
  /invention/ throughout is admirable--is good enough, indeed, to
  carry off the archaeology and the archaical style, though they are
  both large orders.

  And in Charmion you have given us, I think, your best creation; or
  if not that, a creation fit to rank with Umslopogaas and the King
  in "Solomon's Mines." And you know that I mean a good deal when I
  say that.

  I am glad to have read the book, and glad to have it by me to read
  again. It has plenty of faults, but it has an abundance of promise
  and some excellent--some really excellent--achievement. There is
  never a sign of exhaustion, but on the contrary no end of proof
  that you have scarce got into your stride.

                            Always yours,
                                                        W. E. H.

The third letter is evidently in answer to one of mine. It is headed:
/The Scots Observer: A Record and Review/, 2 Thistle Street,
Edinburgh, July 26, 1889:

  My dear Haggard,--It is pleasant to know that I have paid a very
  little of my debt. I think the /Romance and Fame/ in the current
  /S.O./ will not displease you. The writer is a strange, old,
  brilliant creature whom I have found here, and whose opinion is
  worth having. Meanwhile, you may put down the attacks partly to
  envy (for you can't deny that you've had a dam good innings) and
  partly to the inevitable reaction--for I don't know that your
  admirers have praised you in quite the right way. And you need
  bother yourself no more about them. Why should you? You are bound
  to win, and you need not care three straws for anything they say.
  You need only do your best, and leave the rest to time.

  That I believe to be the right philosophy of things. And so

                                              Ever yours,
                                                        W. E. H.

  Archer has just writ the loveliest review of my second edition;
  and the /P.M.G./, after accepting and printing, declines to
  publish! So you see----!

After "Cleopatra" was finished I undertook various things. One was a
tale called "Nesta Amor," which was never published, although I
finished it. Indeed I agree with Lang that it was not worth publishing
in its existing form, though it might have been, perhaps, if
rewritten, which I have never found time to do. Another was a romance
of Helen, to be written jointly with Lang, which, after many
vicissitudes and adventures, ultimately materialised as "The World's
Desire." Also I conceived the idea of writing a saga, but determined
that before I attempted this, I would visit Iceland and study the
local colouring on the spot.

I remember that I was a good deal sneered at for my habit of actually
investigating the countries where the events had happened about which
I intended to write. Literature, I was told, should be independent of
such base actualities. I do not at all agree with those critics. If a
man wishes to produce a really good romance dealing with some past
epoch, the best thing he can do is to see the land in which the folk
lived of whom he means to tell, and, as it were, to soak himself in
the surroundings that were their surroundings. So he may hope to catch
some of the atmosphere which doubtless they took from their native
earth and skies. Then, if he possesses any, imagination may do the
rest. Who could write a saga who had not visited Iceland, or an
Egyptian novel who did not know Egypt--I mean one worth reading?

Also I wrote a very successful little African story called "Maiwa's
Revenge" and my novel "Beatrice," which I think one of the best bits
of work I ever did. Here is Charles Longman on "Beatrice," no doubt
after he had read the MS. His letters are dated August 2 and August 4,

  I was very much interested in "Beatrice." It is of course a
  terrible tragedy--unrelieved in its gloom which increases from
  start to finish. Still there is no denying its power. . . .

From the letter of August 4th:

  I think, too, that "Beatrice" is your best piece of purely modern,
  nineteenth century work. I believe I like you best among the caves
  of old Kor, or looking back over King Solomon's great road to the
  old civilisations dead two thousand years ago. But it is a great
  thing to have several strings and not always harp on the same. And
  there is the same feeling in all your books--that of a power or
  Fate or whatever it is behind man controlling his actions and
  driving him blindly forward. All ages have felt it and have tried
  to explain it in their own way. But what the facts may be--we may
  know some day. . . .

  We are thinking of beginning to set the type of "Quaritch, V.C."
  on Sept. 1st. You will give us your finally corrected sheets, I
  suppose. We have sold 20,000 copies of "Maiwa" on day of

But of "Beatrice" more later; let us return to "The World's Desire,"
"The Song of the Bow" as it was called at first.

Roughly the history of this tale, which I like as well as any with
which I have had to do, is that Lang and I discussed it. Then I wrote
a part of it, which part he altered or rewrote. Next in his casual
manner he lost the whole MS. for a year or so; then it was
unexpectedly found, and encouraged thereby I went on and wrote the

The MS. in its final form I have, bound up, and with it a very
interesting preface or rather postscript by Lang which was never
published, eight sheets long; also notes of his as to the scheme of
the story and the originals of his verses, some of which I drafted in
prose. The MS. contains fifty-three sheets at the beginning written or
re-written by Lang, and about 130 sheets in my writing, together with
various addenda. The best history of the thing is to extracted from
Lang's letters, from which I make some quotations.

The first of these that I can find is dated from an hotel in Paris on
March 8th, probably 1888.

  It occurs to me that you had better read the Helen of Euripides in
  a prose crib. There's a bad one. I have forgotten the play, all
  but half a dozen lines, but it is about Helen in Egypt and may
  suggest something. The name "The Wanderer" is already taken by one
  of Lord Lytton's poems. I had thought of "A Priestess of Isis."

The next is from Florence on March 25th:

  Just had your letter on the Jews. Do you think it worth while, if
  it won't run easily? You have so much on hand, and I am afraid
  you will tire out your invention. The idea of Odysseus and Helen
  is a good one, but don't thrash a willing and perhaps weary

Then comes one from Marloes Road--he is back again in England now--
without the slightest indication of a date.

  Odysseus calls himself /Eperitus/, as a by-name, in Od. 24. Or

  Helen should be a priestess in Egypt, say of Pasht.

  You won't want much help from /me/. All the local colour is in the

After this I believe that I worked away at the story, of which I did a
good deal, and sent it to Lang, who promptly lost it so completely and
for so long a time that, not having the heart to recommence the book,
the idea of writing it was abandoned. It appears that he thrust the
MS. into a folio volume, which was replaced among his numerous books,
where it might have remained for generations had he not chanced to
need to consult that particular work again.

  I've found your lost MS.! I don't think it is a likely thing,
  style /too/ Egyptian and all too unfamiliar to B.P.

Then under date of October 11th:

  I only had time for a glance at the lost MS. Now I have read it.
  There are jolly things in it--the chess, and the incantation, and
  the ship; /but/ I fear it is too remote for this people. It isn't
  my idea how to do it (not that that matters), for I'd have begun
  with Odysseus in a plague-stricken Ithaca and have got on to
  Egypt. And I've had written in modern English. However, as it
  stands, I don't care quite for the way the Wanderer is introduced.
  He comes rather perfunctorily and abruptly on the scene to my
  feeling. It is a subject that wants such a lot of thinking out. It
  would be jolly if one had more time in this world of ours. Also,
  if the public had, for after "Cleopatra" they would not rise at
  Egyptological romance for a long time. I can't help regretting my
  veteran Odysseus--I don't think he would have been too "grey-
  eyed." If we really collaborated, as we proposed originally, I'd
  begin with him; bring him in your way to Egypt, introduce him to
  the old cove who'd tell him about Hatasu (as in yours) and then
  let things evolve, but keep all the English modern, except in
  highly-wrought passages, incantations, etc. I dare say it would
  make a funny mixture.

  Just fancy a total stranger writing to ask me for Matthew Arnold's
  autograph. Wot next!

  Oct. 17th. Having nothing to do this afternoon I did a lot of
  Ulysses. I brought him home from the people who never saw salt in
  a boat of Dreams, and I made him find nobody alive in Ithaca, a
  pyre of ashes in the front garden and a charred bone with
  Penelope's bracelet on it! But the /bow/ was at home. If you can
  make it alive (it's as dead as mutton), the "local colour" is all
  right. Then I'd work in your bit, where the Sidonians nobble him,
  and add local colour.

  Nov. 2nd. I have done a little more. Taken Od. into the darkness
  and given him a song, but I think he had been reading Swinburne
  when he wrote it.

The next letter is undated:

  Certainly the bow must /sing/, but I don't think /words/.

As readers of the book will know, the bow was ultimately made to sing
in words. I suggested to Lang that such words might be arranged to
imitate the hiss of arrows and the humming of the string. The result
was his "Song of the Bow," which I think a wonderfully musical poem.

  Nov. 27th. The typewritten "Song of the Bow" has come. The
  Prologue I wrote is better out. It is very odd to see how your
  part (though not your /chef d'oeuvre/) is readable, and how mine--
  isn't. Tell Longman the "Bow" is a Toxophilite piece.

The chaff about the Bow being a Toxophilite piece refers to Charles
Longman's fondness for archery.

  Jan 1st, 1889. /Splendid/ idea, no two people seeing Helen the
  same. So Meriamun might see her /right/ in her vision, and never
  see her /so/ again, till she finds her with Odysseus. Indeed this
  is clearly what happens; take the case of Mary Stuart: no two
  portraits alike--or Cleopatra. I bar the bogles rather. They'd
  need to be very shadowy at least. If you have them, they should
  simply make room for him.

  But the shifting beauty is really poetical to my mind.

Here is one more letter dated June 27th, or part of it, which well
exemplifies Lang's habit of depreciating his own work:

  I have been turning over "The World's Desire," and the more I turn
  the more I dislike the idea of serial publication. It is
  emphatically a book for educated people only, and would lower your
  vogue with newspaper readers if it were syndicated, to an extent
  beyond what the price the papers pay would make up for. I am about
  as sure as possible of this: it is a good deal my confounded
  /style/, which is more or less pretty, but infernally slow and

Ultimately "The World's Desire" was published serially in the /New
Review/. It appeared in book form in 1890, and I hope to speak of it
again when I come to that date.

                             CHAPTER XII


  To Iceland on the /Copeland/--William Morris--Njal Saga--Golden
  Falls--Bergthorsknoll--Salmon and trout fishing--/Copeland/ again
  --Cargo of ponies--Gale--Off Thurso--Fog--Wrecked in Pentland
  Firth--Escaped to Stroma Island--Subsequently to Wick.

On June 14, 1888, in the company of a friend, Mr. A. G. Ross, I sailed
from Leith on my long contemplated visit to Iceland. The steamer was
called the /Copeland/, a trading vessel of about 1000 tons. What she
carried on our outward voyages I do not know, but her return cargoes
consisted alternately of emigrants to America, of whom, if I remember
right, four or five hundred were packed in her hold, and of Iceland
ponies. On her last voyage she had brought emigrants, so this time it
was to be the turn of the ponies. Poor /Copeland/! As I shall tell in
due course, she was doomed never to see Leith again.

Before I started for Iceland I called upon the late Mr. William
Morris, some of whose poetry I admire as much as any that has been
written in our time. Also I find his archaic and other-world kind of
romances very pleasant and restful to read. It was the only time that
I ever saw Morris, and the visit made an impression on me. My
recollection is of a fair-haired man with a large head and very
pleasant manners. As will be remembered, he was a great Socialist and
lived up to it--to a certain extent. Thus there was no cloth on the
tea-table, but that table itself was one of the most beautiful bits of
old oak furniture that I ever saw. The cups, I think, had no saucers
to them, but certainly they were very fine china. No servant came into
the room, but then ladies, most artistically arrayed, handed the bread
and butter. The walls were severely plain, but on them hung priceless
tapestries and pictures by Rosetti and others. I remember that when I
departed I rather wished that Fate had made me a Socialist also.

Mr. Morris, who had visited Iceland many years before, kindly gave me
some letters of introduction, and as a result of one of these we
engaged a certain Thorgrimmer Gudmunson as a guide. In winter time Mr.
Gudmunson was a schoolmaster, but in summer he escorted travellers
about the island, and did so very satisfactorily. Two days later
Gudmunson appeared with a cortege of thin, shaggy ponies, which were
to carry us and our belongings. Here I will quote a home letter,
written in pencil, from Thingvellir.

  We rode about ten hours to get here, over such a country,
  desolate, dreary, set round with mountains flecked with snow. At
  last, about ten o'clock at night, we came to Thingvellir Lake,
  and then passed down All Man's Drift to this most historic spot. I
  only wish you were familiar with the Njal Saga, for then you would
  understand the interest, the more than interest, with which I look
  upon it. Every sod, every rock, every square foot of Axe River, is
  eloquent of the deeds and deaths of great men. Where are they all
  now? The raven croaks over where they /were/, the whimbrel's wild
  note echoes against the mountains, and that is the only answer

  We have slept in a couple of rooms attached to the Parsonage. Our
  bedroom window opens on to the Three Man's Graveyard. They still
  bury in it. To-night we are going to sleep in a church, and
  beastly cold it will be I expect. This is an interesting but God-
  forgotten country. How the dickens its inhabitants keep life and
  soul together is a mystery to me, for there is scarcely anything
  to eat in it and their houses are the merest wooden shanties, ill-
  fitted to keep out the cold, which even now is intense at night.
  We hope to get back to Rejkjavik in about eleven days, having
  visited Hecla, the Geysers, Njal's country, etc. Then we are going
  to a farm where we have taken some salmon fishing for three weeks.
  We hope to return by the boat leaving the 3rd of August, so if all
  goes well I count to be home about the 10th.

Here is a brief description from my diary of the Golden Falls, which
served me as a model for those down which Eric comes in my saga.

  Reached Golden Falls at 12:30. A most splendid sight. The yellow
  river, after tumbling down a cliff, bends a little to the right
  and leaps in two mighty waterfalls, across which a rainbow
  streams, into a chasm a hundred feet deep, leaving a bare space of
  cliff between. From the deep of this chasm the spray boils up like
  steam, a glorious thing to see. . . . Passed Three Corner Ridge
  where Gunnar was attacked, and suddenly came on a very fine view
  of the Njal country, a flat and fertile expanse of land stretching
  away as far as the eye can reach. Nothing to eat since breakfast.
  Spent comfortable night at the priest's house. Had arctic tern's
  eggs and "skier" for breakfast. Then sent pack ponies to Bergthors
  Knoll and rode to Lithend. I am writing this on the site of
  Gunnar's hall, which I can distinctly trace. The hall looked out
  over the great Markallflajot plain, now nothing but a waste eaten
  up of the waters. To the north is a large glacier-mountain--the
  hall was built on the side of a hill--and to the left of the house
  is the fissure into which the dog Sam was decoyed and killed. The
  lark now sings over where Gunnar fought and fell, betrayed by

  7 P.M.: Bergthorsknoll. Arrived here after a long ride over a
  desolate grassy flat. The site of Njal's hall is now for the most
  part covered with hovels. It faces sou'west, partly on to the
  plain and partly on to a river. To the left of the house is the
  hollow where the burners tied up their horses as described in the
  saga. In front appears the fierce outline of the Westman Islands.

  29th: Dug last night and found various relics of the burning. The
  floor of the hall seems to have been sprinkled with black sand
  (see the saga), but we had not the luck of the American who, when
  he dug, discovered a gold ring.

On the whole we enjoyed our fishing very much, and I killed a good
number of salmon, though, because of the drought, not so many as I
ought to have done. Also there were multitudes of trout. The trout
stream ran out of a gloomy lake surrounded by high mountains. The
Icelanders vowed that there were no trout in this lake. However we
procured an old boat so leaky that we could only row a little way from
land and back again before she filled. Ross, who had been an oar at
College, rowed, while I managed the two trolling rods. Before we had
gone a few yards they were both of them bent almost double. Never
before or since did I have such fishing. To what size the trout ran in
that lake I had no idea, for the biggest ones invariably tore the
hooks off the Phantoms and brass "devils," or smashed the tackle, but
we caught many up to about four pounds in weight. Indeed, the sport
was so easy that one grew weary of it. Very charming it was also to
stand alone in the blue light at midnight by the banks, or in the
water of the wide and brawling salmon river, casting for and sometimes
hooking the king of fish. Never shall I forget the impression it
produced upon me. The mighty black mountains, the solitude, the song
of the river, and the whistling flight of the wild duck--by which the
silence alone was broken--and, over all, that low unearthly light just
strong enough to show my fly upon the water and the boiling rises of
the salmon. It is an experience which I am glad to have known.

At Rejkjavik, for some reason that I have forgotten, we caught not the
Danish mail steamer as we had expected, but our old friend the
/Copeland/, now laden with hundreds of ponies, among them that named
Hecla, which I had bought near the volcano, and I think another which
I had also bought. We went aboard the night of the 19th with General
Bevan-Edwards and some other passengers, and I recall observing with
some anxiety the ship's agent as he rowed round the bows of the
vessel, apparently inspecting her draught--also with some anxiety.

I imagine that she had too many ponies in her holds. However, off we
steamed, and soon the coast of Iceland vanished behind us. It is a
country to which I was very sorry to bid farewell, though I think one
only to be appreciated (if we leave fishermen out of the question) by
those who have made a study of the sagas. I know not what may now be
the case, but at that time these were few indeed. I believe that the
enterprising American who found, or was said to have found, a gold
ring amid the ashes of Njal's hall, was the only foreigner who had
journeyed to that spot for some years before my visit. I wonder how
many have been there since that time, and whether proper precautions
are taken to-day in order to preserve these most interesting
historical relics of an unique and bygone age.

This is not the place to enter into the subject, so I will only say
that outside of the Bible and Homer there exists, perhaps, no
literature more truly interesting than that of the Icelandic sagas.
Also they have this merit: in the main they are records of actual
facts. Holding them in hand I have examined the places that they
describe, and therefore to this I can testify. Those men and women
lived; they did the things that are recorded, or most of them, and for
the reasons that remain to us. Of course certain circumstances have
been added, namely those which deal with the supernatural.

The entries in my diary for the first five days of that disastrous
voyage are brief and emphatic.

  20th: At sea. Bad weather. 21st: Gale. 22nd: Worse gale. 23rd:
  Worse gale still. Lay to. 24th: Tried to go about four o'clock.
  Strained the ship so much that we had to lay to again.

Indeed, with a single exception, that of a voyage I made many years
later in the P. & O. /Macedonia/, the weather was the most terrible
that I have ever experienced at sea. Moreover, in our small vessel
there is no doubt that we were in some peril of foundering. The
terrific seas swept her continually, and, in order to keep the
hundreds of ponies alive. it was necessary that the hatches should
remain open, since otherwise they would have been stifled. Had any
accident occurred to bring the ship broadside on, such as the breaking
of the steering gear, it would seem that we must have filled and sunk
at once. As it was we were greatly knocked about, and a good many of
the poor ponies died from the cold of the water that washed over them.

At last the weather moderated, and about ten A.M. on the 25th we
arrived off Thurso in a dead calm. Here we should have stayed because
of the fog, but this the captain could not do, as owing to the
prolongation of the voyage the ponies were starving. So he took the
risk and pushed on. About 11:30 I was on deck, when suddenly the dense
mist seemed to roll up in front of us, like the drop-scene at a
theatre, and there appeared immediately ahead black cliffs and all
about us rocks on which the breakers broke and the water boiled, as it
can do after a great gale in the Pentland Firth when the tide is
running I know not how many knots an hour. There was a cry: the
engines were reversed, but the current and that terrible tide caught
the /Copeland/ and dragged her forward. Then came the sickening
sensation that will be familiar to anyone who has been aboard a vessel
when she struck upon rocks. Scrape, quiver!--scrape, quiver! and we
were fast. Or rather our forepart was fast, for the stern still
floated in deep water.

Almost immediately the firemen rushed up from the engine-room, which
had begun to flood, though I suppose that the water did not reach the
boilers at first or they would have exploded.

Orders were given to get out the boats, and it was attempted with the
strangest results. My belief is that those boats had never been in the
water since the day the ship was built. Some of them went down by the
stern with their bows hanging in the air; some of them went down by
the bows with their stern hanging in the air, or would not move. Also
in certain instances the plugs could not be found. Not one of them was
got into the water: at any rate at that time.

Understanding that the position was serious I went to my cabin, packed
what things I could, then called the steward and made him bring me a
bottle of beer, as I did not know when I should get another. He, such
is the force of habit, wanted me to sign a chit for the same, but I
declined. Whilst I was drinking the beer I felt the vessel slip back
several feet; it was a most unpleasant sensation, one moreover that
suggested to me that I might be better on deck. Thither I went, to
find my fellow passengers gathered in an anxious group staring at each
other. Presently I observed a large boat appear from the island and
lie to at a good distance from the ship, which she did not seem to
dare to approach because of the surrounding rocks.

We consulted. It was evident that we should never get off in our own
boats, so this one from the island seemed our only chance. I went to
the captain on the bridge and asked if we might hail it.

"Aye, Mr. Haggard," answered the distracted man, "/do anything you can
to save your lives/."

Then I understood how imminent was our peril. I returned and hailed.

"Can you take us off?"

My voice being very powerful I managed to make the boatmen hear me.
They shouted back that they dared not approach the ship.

"Have a try," I suggested, and in the end those brave fellows did try
and succeeded, knowing the tide and the current and where each rock
was hidden beneath the surface. They got aboard us, somewhere forward,
or one of them did. Presently he came running aft, a big blue-eyed man
whose great beard seemed to bristle with terror.

"For God's sake get out of this," he roared in his strange dialect,
"ye've five feet of water in your hold and sixty fathom under your
stern! Ye'll slip off the rock and sink!"

We did not need a second invitation, but when we were all, or almost
all of us in the boat, it was suddenly remembered that an Icelandic
woman occupied one of the cabins. She had entered that cabin at
Rejkjavik, and never having been seen since, was not unnaturally
overlooked. Well, she was fetched, and came quite composed and smiling
down the ladder. The poor soul was not in the least aware that
anything out of the way had happened and imagined that this was the
proper way to leave the ship.

Then came another anxious time, for the question was whether we could
avoid a certain rock over which the surf was boiling. Providentially
those skilled men did avoid it, and soon we stood upon the rocky
shores of Stroma, which personally I thought a very pleasant place.
Had we overset there was no chance that we could have lived a minute
in that racing, seething tide.

By this time people on the island had seen what was happening and were
running towards us. The first to arrive was a gentleman in a rusty
black coat and a tall hat, a schoolmaster I believe. Somehow he had
learned my identity, or perhaps he recognised me from a photograph. At
any rate he came up, bowed politely, took off the tall hat with a
flourish, and said, in the best Scotch, "The author of 'She' I
believe? I am verra glad to meet you."

For eight or ten hours we sat upon that rock. The tide which was high
or ebbing when we struck went down, the /Copeland/ broke her back; of
a sudden under the fearful strain of her wire rigging her mast turned
grey because of the splinters driven outward by the pressure. Rescuers
got aboard of her and saved many of the ponies, though many more were
drowned, including poor Hecla, which I had bought upon the slopes of
that volcano. Others were thrown or swam out of the hold and maimed.
One of the saddest things I remember in connection with this shipwreck
was the sight of a poor animal with a swinging leg, standing upon a
point of rock until the tide rose and drowned it. Many of these ponies
swam ashore--being Icelanders they were accustomed to the water--and
probably they, or rather their descendants, now populate the Orkneys.
What would have happened to us if our cargo on this occasion had been
emigrants instead of ponies I cannot say. Doubtless there must have
been a terrible panic and much loss of life. As it was our escape may
be accounted a marvel. A peak of rock penetrated our bottom and by
that peak we hung, as the fisherman had said, with sixty fathom of
deep water under our stern. When I was drinking the beer, and felt the
ship slip, it was just a question whether she would vanish entirely or
be held. In fact, she was held owing to one of her principals, if that
is the term, catching on the point of rock.

As it chanced our adventures were not quite finished. Late in the
afternoon, after some difficulty, we hired a boat to take us to the
mainland. By this time the tide had risen again, and our course lay
under the stern of the wrecked /Copeland/. Ross was steering the boat
since no one else was available. We passed under the steamer's stern
and noticed that she was lifting very much on the in-coming tide. Just
as we had cleared it a man appeared upon the deck, screaming to be
taken off. We discovered afterwards that he was some petty officer who
in his fear had broken into the spirit room and been overwhelmed with
drink. A swift decision must be taken. It was not expected that the
/Copeland/ would hang upon her rock through another tide. Must he be
saved or must he be left? We made up our minds in the sense that most
Englishmen would do. Going about, we retraced our way under that
perilous stern and came to the companion ladder. There stood the man,
and while we lay under the vast bulk of the lifting ship, he began to
uncoil an endless rope, which he explained to us from above, with a
drunken amiability, it was his duty to salve.

The tide boiled by us, the hull of the /Copeland/ lifted and settled,
lifted and settled, making a surge of water about us. We wondered from
moment to moment whether she would not come off the point that held
her, and crush us into the deep. The drunken brute above continued to
uncoil his eternal rope, which after all proved to be fastened to
something at its other end. At length we could bear it no more. I and,
I think, others rose and addressed that second mate, or whatever he
may have been, in language which I hope will not be recorded in
another place. We told him that either he might come down into the
boat, or that he might stop where he was and drown. Then a glimmer of
intelligence awoke in his troubled brain. He descended, and we rowed
him ashore.

Once more we started under the stern of the /Copeland/, and in due
course gained the mainland after a rough passage in an open boat. From
wherever we landed we travelled in carts to Wick, where we slept at
some inn. I remember that I did not sleep very well. During the
shipwreck and its imminent dangers my nerves were not stirred, but
afterwards of a sudden they gave out. I realised that I had been very
near to death; also all that word means. For some days I did not
recover my balance.


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