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SOUTH AFRICA.

CHAPTER I.

Introduction.

Ir was in April of last year, 1877, that I first formed a plan of paying an immediate visit to South Africa. The idea that I would one day do so had long loomed in the distance before me. Except the South African group I had seen all our great groups of Colonies,5,-among which in my own mind I always include the United States, for to my thinking, our Colonies are the lands in which our cousins, the descendants of our forefathers, are living and still speaking our language. I had become more or less acquainted I may say with all these offshoots from Great Britain, and had written books about them all,-except South Africa. To "do" South Africa had for some years past been on my mind, till at last there was growing on me the consciousness that I was becoming too old for any more such "doing." Then, suddenly, the newspapers became full of the Transvaal Republic. There was a country not indeed belonging to Great Britain but which once had been almost British, a country, with which Britain was much too closely concerned to ignore it,—a country, which had been occupied by British subjects, and established as a Republic under British authority,-now in danger of being reconquered by the native tribes which had once peopled it. In this country, for the existence

of which in its then condition we were in a measure responsible, the white man there would not fight, nor pay taxes, nor make himself conformable to any of these rules by which property and life are made secure. Then we were told that English interference and English interference only could save the country from internecine quarrels between black men and white men. While this was going on I made up my mind that now if ever must I visit South Africa. The question of the Confederation of the States was being mooted at the same time, a Confederation which was to include not only this Republic which was so very much out of elbows, but also another quiet little Republic of which I think that many of us did not know much at home,—but as to which we had lately heard that it was to receive £90,000 out of the revenue of the Mother Country, not in compensation for any acknowledged wrong, but as a general plaster for whatever little scratches the smaller community, namely the Republic of the Orange Free States, might have received in its encounters with the greater majesty of the British Empire. If a tour to South Africa would ever be interesting, it certainly would be so now. Therefore I made up my mind and began to make enquiries as to steamers, cost, mode of travelling, and letters of introduction. It was while I was doing this that the tidings came upon us like a clap of thunder of the great deed done by Sir Theophilus Shepstone. The Transvaal had already been annexed! The thing which we were dreaming of as just possible,-as an awful task which we might perhaps be forced to undertake in the course of some indefinite number of months to come, had already been effected. A sturdy Englishman had walked into the Republic with five and twenty policemen and a Union Jack and had taken possession of it. "Would the inhabitants.

of the Republic like to ask me to take it?" So much enquiry he seems to have made. No; the people by the voice of their parliament declined even to consider so monstrous a proposition. "Then I shall take it without being asked," said Sir Theophilus. And he took it.

That was what had just been done in the Transvaal when my idea of going to South Africa had ripened itself into a resolution. Clearly there was an additional reason for going. Here had been done a very high-handed thing as to which it might be the duty of a Briton travelling with a pen in his hand to make a strong remonstrance. Or again it might be his duty to pat that sturdy Briton on the back,—with pen and ink,—and hold his name up to honour as having been sturdy in a righteous cause. If I had premeditated a journey to South Africa a year or two since, when South Africa was certainly not very much in men's mouths, there was much more to reconcile me to the idea now that Confederation and the Transvaal were in every man's mouth.

But when my enquiries which had at first been general came down to minute details, when I was warned by one South African friend that the time I had chosen for my journey was so altogether wrong that I should be sure to find myself in some improvisioned region between two rivers of which I should be as unable to repass the one as to pass the other, and by another that the means of transit through the country were so rough as to be unfit for any except the very strong, or very slow; when I was assured that the time I had allowed myself was insufficient even to get up to Pretoria and back, I confess that I became alarmed. I shall never forget the portentous shaking of the head of one young man who evidently thought that my friends were neglecting me in that I was allowed to think of such a job of work. Between them

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