Images de page
PDF
ePub

soon became apparent that whoever were sent after him must be maintained at the expense of Government. Moreover it could hardly be that Exeter Hall and the philanthropists should desire to encourage polygamy by sending such a flock of wives after the favoured prisoner. Complaint was made to me that only two wives and one man were sent. With them Langalibalele was established in a small house on the sea shore near to Capetown, and there he is now living at an expense of £500 per annum to the Government.

But this unfortunately is not the end. He has still friends in Natal, white friends, who think that not nearly enough has been done for him. A great many more wives ought to be allowed to join him, or the promise made to him will not have been kept. He is languishing for his wives, and all should be sent who would be willing to go. I saw one of them very ill,—dying I was told because of her troubles, and half a dozen others, all of them provided with food gratis, but in great tribulation,

-so it was said,—because of this cruel separation. The Government surely should send him three or four more wives, seeing that to a man who has had seventy less than half a dozen must be almost worse than none. But his friends are not content with asking for this further grace, but think also that the time has come for forgiveness and that Langalibalele should be restored to his own country. He has still fame as a rain-maker and Cetywayo the Zulu King would be delighted to have him in Zulu-land. The prayer is much the same as that which is continually being put forward for the pardon of the Fenians. I myself in such matters am loyal, but, I fear, hard-hearted. I should prefer that Langalibalele should be left to his punishment, thinking that would-be rebels, whether Zulu or Irish, will be best kept quiet by rigid South Africa. 1.

20

adherence to a legal sentence. galibalele as I heard it.

Such is the story of Lan

On my return to Capetown I visited the captured Chieftain at his farm house on the flats five or six miles from the city, having obtained an order to that effect from the office of the Secretary for Native Affairs. I found a stalwart man, represented to be 65 years of age, but looking much younger, in whose appearance one was able to recognise something of the Chieftain. He had with him three wives, a grown-up son, and a nephew; besides a child who has been born to him since he has been in the Cape Colony. The nephew could talk a little English, and acted as interpreter between us.

The prisoner himself was very silent, hardly saying a word in answer to the questions put to him,-except that he should like to see his children in Natal. The two young men were talkative enough, and did not scruple to ask for sixpence each when we departed. I and a friend who was with me extended our liberality to half a crown a piece,-with which they expressed themselves much delighted.

CHAPTER XIX.

Pieter Maritzburg to Newcastle.

WHEN starting from Pieter Maritzburg to Pretoria I have to own that I was not quite at ease as to the work before me. From the moment in which I had first determined to visit the Transvaal, I had been warned as to the hard work of the task. Friends who had been there, one or two in number,-friends who had been in South Africa but not quite as far as the capital of the late Republic, perhaps half a dozen,-and friends very much more numerous who had only heard of the difficulties, combined either in telling me or in letting me understand that they thought that I was,-well-much too old for the journey. And I thought so myself. But then I knew that I could never do it younger. And having once suggested to myself that it would be desirable, I did not like to be frightened out of the undertaking. As far as Pieter Maritzburg all had been easy enough. Journeys by sea are to me very easy, so easy that a fortnight on the ocean is a fortnight at any rate free from care. And my inland journeys had not as yet been long enough to occasion any inconvenience. But the journey now before me, from the capital of Natal to the capital of the Transvaal and thence round by Kimberley, the capital of the Diamond Fields, to Bloemfontein, the capital of the Orange Free State, and back thence across the Cape Colony to Capetown, exceeding 1,500 miles in length, all of which had to be made over

land under very rough circumstances, was awful to me. Mail conveyances ran the whole way, but they ran very roughly, some of them very slowly, generally travelling as I was told, day and night, and not unfrequently ceasing to travel altogether in consequence of rivers which would become unpassable, of mud which would be nearly so, of dying horses,—and sometimes of dying passengers! A terrible picture had been painted. As I got nearer to the scene the features of the picture became more and more visible to me.

One gentleman on board the ship which took me out seemed to think it very doubtful whether I should get on at all, but hospitably recommended me to pass by his house, that I might be sure at least of one quiet night. At Capetown where I first landed a shower of advice fell upon me. And it was here that the awful nature of the enterprise before me first struck my very soul with dismay. There were two schools of advisers, each of which was sternly strenuous in the lessons which it inculcated. The first bade me stick obdurately to the public conveyances. There was no doubt very much against them. The fatigue would be awful, and quite unfitted for a man of my age. I should get no sleep on the journey, and be so jolted that not a bone would be left to me.

And

I could carry almost no luggage. It must be reduced to a minimum, by which a toothbrush and a clean shirt were meant. And these conveyances went but once a week, and it might often be the case that I might not be able to secure a place. But the post conveyances always did go, and I should at any rate be able to make my way on;—if I could live and endure the fatigue.

The other school recommended a special conveyance. The post carts would certainly kill me. They generally did kill any passengers, even in the prime of life, who

stuck to them so long as I would have to do. If I really intended to encounter the horrors of the journey in question I must buy a cart and four horses, and must engage a coloured driver, and start off round the world of South Africa under his protection. But among and within this school of advisers there was a division which complicated the matter still further. Should they be horses or should they be mules;-or, indeed, should they be a train of oxen as one friend proposed to me? Mules would be slow but more hardy than horses. Oxen would be the most hardy, but would be very slow indeed. Horses would be more pleasant but very subject in this country to diseases and death upon the roads. And then where should I buy the equipage,—and at what price, and how should I manage to sell it again,-say at half price? For my friends of the mail cart side of the question had not failed to point out to me that the carriage-and-horses business would be expensive, — entailing an outlay of certainly not less than £250, with the probable necessity of buying many subsidiary horses along the road, and the too probable impossibility of getting anything for my remaining property when my need for its use was at an end.

One friend, very experienced in such matters, assured me that my only plan was to buy the cart in Capetown and carry it with me by ship round the coast to Durban, and to remain there till I could fit myself with horses. And I think that I should have done thus under his instructions, had I not given way to the temptations of procrastination. By going on without a cart I could always leave the ultimate decision between the private and the public conveyance a little longer in abeyance. Thus when I reached Durban I had no idea what I should do in the matter. But finding an excellent public

« PrécédentContinuer »