« PrécédentContinuer »
It may be remembered how the news of Langalibalele's rebellion, trial and punishment gradually reached England, how at first we feared that a great rebel had arisen, to conquer whom would require us to put out all our powers, and then how we were moved by the outraged philanthropist to think that a grievous injustice had been done. I cannot but say that in both matters we allowed ourselves to be swayed by exaggerated reports and unwarranted fears and sympathies. Langalibalele did rebel and had to be punished. His trial was no doubt informal and overformal. Too much was made of it. The fault throughout has been that too much has been made of the whole affair. Partisans arose on behalf of the now notorious and very troublesome old Pagan, and philanthropy was outraged. Then came the necessity of doing something to set right an acknowledged wrong. It might be that Langalibalele had had cause for suspicion when he stripped the Queen's Messenger. It might be that the running away was the natural effect of fear, and that the subsequent tragedies had been simply unfortunate. The trial was adjudged to have been conducted with overstrained rigour and the punishment to have been too severe. Therefore it was decided in England that he should be sent back to the mainland from the island, that he should be located in the neighbourhood of Capetown,—and that his tribe should be allowed to join him.
That was promising too much. It was found to be inconvenient to settle a whole tribe of a new race in the Cape Colony. Nor was it apparent that the tribe would wish to move after its Chieftain. Then it was decided that instead of
the tribe the Chieftain's family should follow him with any of his immediate friends who might wish to be transported from Natal. Now Langalibalele had seventy wives and a proportionate offspring. And it 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 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 adherence to a legal sentence. Such is the story of Langalibalele as I heard it.
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.
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 Bloem
fontein, 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 overland 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
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