Chapters XXXI to XXXIX
AFTER STAYING THREE WEEKS AT NASSAU, HARRY SMITH AND HIS WIFE SAIL FOR ENGLAND, AND AFTER A MISERABLE VOYAGE LAND AT LIVERPOOL–HE VISITS LONDON AND WHITTLESEY, AND LEAVES ENGLAND (1829), NOT TO RETURN TILL 1847.
WE sailed in that, to appearance, heavenly climate with a fresh sea-breeze, and as the magnificent Blue Mountains of Jamaica receded, the appearance of an island towering from the sea into the very heavens became as it were a speck on the mighty ocean. On our way to Nassau we passed New Providence–the first land discovered by Columbus, the joyful realization of his anticipations and the fruit of his wonderful perseverance. The transparency of the water in all the harbours of these islands is very singular. At the depth of many fathoms you see your anchor, cable, fish, etc., at the bottom as distinctly as if no water intervened. A sixpence may be discovered at a depth of twenty fathoms.
On arrival at Nassau we found Admiral Fleming away on a cruise. It was supposed he had gone to Halifax. So, there being no chance of a man-of-war, we had to await the arrival of a brig called the Euphemia, which was daily expected, and which would sail again for Liverpool so soon as her cargo was landed and a fresh one shipped.
General Sir Lewis Grant was the Governor, and for three weeks he and his staff put Government House at our command in every way, and did all in their power to render our visit delightful, and to provide my wife with every little amusement the island afforded. The island of Nassau is a coral formation, but many parts of it are exceedingly fertile. The wells, which produce most excellent fresh water, rise and fall with the tide.
On the arrival of the Euphemia our passage was soon arranged, but I could have only half the stern (and only) cabin partitioned off with canvas during the night (the other half being already engaged for two officers of the West Indian Regiments), and a small mate's cabin for my wife's maid. The prospect before my poor wife was miserable enough, and we were afraid that in a three weeks' voyage we should not always have a fair wind, but her buoyant spirits laughed at the ideal distress.
We soon left the hospitable Governor and the happy island of Nassau. Luckily, I put on board ship goats and dry stock of every description, although the captain (a well-spoken, smart-looking young Scotchman, married to a Liverpool woman, on board with him) engaged to find us capitally. Our misery soon began. The ship sailed like a witch, but we were constantly in a terrific storm, with the little cabin battened down, no means of cooking, and but little to cook if we had the means, and we should have been literally starved but for the things I fortunately shipped. We were upwards of thirty days at sea. Our captain assured me he had a timekeeper on board, and so he had, but he knew no more how to use it than I did. We had to lay to for forty-eight hours, during which we shipped a sea which swept the boats, caboose, binnacles, etc., clean off the deck. It was December, and as we approached Liverpool the weather was excessively cold, the sailors were frost-bitten in the hands, and the captain had not a glass of grog on board for them. I was, luckily, able to broach for them a small cask of peculiarly good rum of great antiquity, which I was taking as a present to an old Glasgow friend. In the midst of all these miseries we fortunately fell in with a little Irish smack, which put us into the Bristol Channel, for my skipper knew no more where he was than the ship did, the weather having been very cloudy, no observations taken, and he and his mate execrable navigators. We made the Tuskar Light most accidentally, and then the previously cast-down fellow was all elevation. We got hold soon after of a Liverpool pilot. This was no small relief to me, who, although I said nothing, saw what an ignorant brute we were in the care of. He had neither candles nor oil, and the very binnacle light was supplied from my wax candles. He said he was never before more than three weeks on the voyage, and his store (a pretty misnomer) was laid in only for that period. For the last two days the sailors had no biscuit, and three days more would have exhausted meat, flour, and water. The fellow was a capital seaman on deck, and managed the beautifully-sailing brig most skilfully, and whenever he did get a start of wind, as he termed it, he carried on like a man.
We reached our anchorage in the Mersey long after dark, so beautifully lighted is the approach, and lay at anchor all night in a strong north-east wind, cold enough to cut off our tropical noses. We left our dirty, miserable, exhausted, and stinking brig, and landed as soon as we could the next morning, about five o'clock, in a state of the most abject filth and misery.
We went to the Adelphi Hotel, where in a moment we were surrounded by every luxury and attendance our wealthy country so sumptuously affords. The sudden transition from a state of dire misery into such Elysian Fields is not to be described by me, or forgotten by myself and wife. It was like a miracle. No complaint ever escaped her while on board, but after baths and every imaginable want had been supplied in one of the best of English inns, she then exclaimed, "I hope we may never again experience such a month of wretchedness, misery, and tempest; and if we must, that we may bear it equally well (for it was a heavy task), be equally protected by Divine Providence, and as happily situated after it as at this moment."
The next day I made every inquiry about ships, and found a very fine brig, the Ontario, bound for Calcutta without a passenger. She was to sail in a fortnight. The captain offered to take me, provided the underwriters would allow him to go into Table Bay without an additional premium; and this they assented to, the season of the year being favourable.
My wife stayed at Liverpool, and I started for London, to make a few arrangements for our voyage and to thank Lord Fitzroy Somerset and the Duke. While I was with Lord Fitzroy Somerset, who was delighted to see me, he said, "Hardinge, the Secretary at War, wants to see you." I offered to go, but he said, "No, he will come, he told me, if I would let him know when you are here." That able soldier and Secretary at War and statesman (now Governor-General of India) was soon with us, and made as useful and practical inquiries about barracks, etc., in Jamaica as if he had been there. I then parted with these two of the Duke's staff with a full heart, and went to Downing Street.
The Duke was just appointed First Lord of the Treasury. I found my old friend and brother staff-officer with Sir John Lambert, Greville 88 (as good a fellow as ever breathed), the Duke's private secretary. Greville was delighted to see me, and expected his Grace every moment. He said the Duke as Prime Minister was as light-hearted and as lively as when comparatively idle at Cambray, that no great question seemed to stagger him, and the facility with which all business progressed under his conduct was truly wonderful. Greville added, "I will give you an anecdote. The Duke is very fond of walking from Apsley House to Downing Street, and we go through the Park, from which a small door opens into the Prime Minister's office. We arrive regularly at ten, and the porter is ready to open and close the door. One day we were rather late, and the porter looked like a weary sentry and was moving very slow. The Duke observed this, and in his usual emphatic manner said, 'Greville, look at that careless fellow; I will turn his flank, by G .' The Duke watched his opportunity, slipped in unperceived, and says to the porter, 'Hallo, you sir, a pretty look-out this!' and laughed, and enjoyed the feat, as much as he did when he played the same flank-turning game in war." This little anecdote depicts the character of the man of mind, free, unshackled from thought until the question is brought before him, and then his powerful mind is absorbed in it, and in it solely.
I waited until three, when I was obliged to go, as I was to dine with Sir John Lambert, and leave town for my father's in Cambridgeshire by seven o'clock. I was a few hours with my dear sister, Mrs. Sargant, and then dined in my travelling costume. Dear, warm-hearted Sir John Lambert had all his family to bid me farewell. O what a happy and united family of brothers and sisters! and his own children were perfectly beautiful.
At daylight the next day I was in my native place, Whittlesea. O home, our happy home! how altered! I stayed in the house of my third Waterloo brother, now settled as Captain of the Troop of Cavalry, magistrate, etc.; but I could not remain more than forty-eight hours, when I was again on my road back to London. Here I stayed a few hours with my sister, and then off to Liverpool to join my lonely wife, a total stranger and a foreigner in a great, commercial city!
My baggage, by the kind and civil attention of the Custom-house officers, was transferred from one brig to the other without the usual and laborious ordeal of landing. My new things arrived from London, and in a few days we were summoned to embark. It was daybreak, and the brig was floating in dock ready for the gates to be opened. We were soon on board; I had taken a little shore-boat to row me the few yards across. After paying my outfit, my bill at the inn, passage, insurance of baggage, etc., the last remains of my money was half a crown. "There," says I, "my friend!" "Lord, sir, my fare is only threepence." "Keep it," says I, "and drink the health of a man banished from his native land." The fellow stared at me at first as if looking at a convict. At last, in that manner so peculiarly English, he made up his mind, "He must be a gentleman." "I'll drink to your Honour's health, depend on it, and success attend you wherever you go." My friend and his boat were the farewell to my native land. It was then January, 1829; this is 1844, and I have never been home since.
VOYAGE TO THE CAPE–MILITARY DUTIES AND SPORT, 1829-1834–SIR BENJAMIN D'URBAN SUCCEEDS SIR LOWRY COLE AS GOVERNOR OF THE COLONY.
THE stormy element, as if to atone for the violence with which it treated us on our voyage from Nassau, now behaved most moderately. We had a strong breeze across the Bay of Biscay, but as it was abaft the beam we did not feel it, and our whole passage was one of fine and moderate weather. This was very fortunate, as the brig was so heavily laden, that at the beginning of the voyage her main chains were positively under water. We were well found in everything, and had the whole after-cabin to ourselves. The captain was an able navigator, both nautical and astronomical. He gave me a list of his stock on board, and requested me to manage dinner, etc., saying, "There is, I think, plenty, so that if we live badly you will be to blame; but the brig is deep and no great sailer at any time, so calculate on a three months' passage, to make sure."
The captain was a most excellent and kind-hearted man, a regular British tar. During the war he had been in the Navy, and prided himself on having been the coxswain of Captain Seymour on a frigate whose name I forget. "Lord, Sir," he would say, "he was a proper taut hand, but a real gentleman."
During the whole voyage our captain, who had a studious turn for mathematics and astronomy, was always hard at work, and highly delighted to explain the methods of his nautical calculations. He would exclaim, "Oh! if I had been so lucky as to have had a real education, I think I should have made a mathematician and astronomer." He was a large powerful man, and had a forehead as clear and as prominent as that of Dr. Chalmers.
Our voyage was more fortunate than the captain had anticipated, and in eleven weeks we anchored in Table Bay. I had never been at the Cape before, but I had heard much of it from part of my Corps which touched there years before [March, 1807] on their way to Buenos Ayres, and as I had read every book about it which I could lay my hands on, I was scarcely in a foreign land. As soon as I landed, I found that the Governor, my old and noble General, Sir Lowry Cole, was not at Government House, but residing in the country. I then went to look for my dear old friend John Bell and his noble wife, Lady Catherine. They were in an excellent house of their own, and as rejoiced to see me as I was to see them. John and My Lady would hear of nothing but our putting up with them, Johnny saying, "Harry, you and I and Juana have fared more sparingly together than we will now." The carriage was ordered, and John and I went on board to bring the wife ashore, all delighted at our happy union after an absence of years.
Next day John and I drove out in his buggy to breakfast with the Governor. He and Lady Frances, that noble and accomplished woman, were delighted to see me, but oh, how she was altered! When I first knew her in 1815, a few days after her marriage, she was in the prime of life, a full-blown beautiful woman, and the most interesting I ever knew. As soon, however, as my old recollection of her was somewhat subdued, I found her ladyship everything I had a right to expect, the mother of six beautiful children, whose education she conducted herself, and my gallant General all kindness and hospitality.
He and I had a long walk in the garden, when he said, "I shall appoint you Commandant of the Garrison. You are ex officio, as second in command to me, the senior Member of Council, and, if any accident happened to me, the administration of the government would devolve on you–John Bell, your senior officer, being Colonial Secretary and holding no military position."
No man was ever more happily placed than I was. The quarter in Cape Castle forming the residence of the Governor was excellent, with a little square in the rear with capital stables and out-offices. The garrison consisted of one company of Artillery, the 72nd Highlanders, a magnificent corps, and the 98th, very highly organized, considering the short period they had been raised.
My first object was to visit and reduce the guards, which I soon did very considerably on a representation to the Governor. The next was to do away with guards over convicts working on the road. This could not be effected at once, but such a friend to the soldier as Sir Lowry was, readily received my various representations of the ill effects on discipline of these guards, and, so soon as arrangements could be made, these were also abolished. The next guard to dispose of was one of one sergeant, one corporal, and six privates at the Observatory, four miles from Cape Town, and it was not long before the building, or the stargazers, discovered that their celestial pursuits could be carried on without the aid terrestrial of soldiers.
Some months after my arrival, the Kafirs being on the eve of an outbreak, the Governor, Sir Lowry Cole, went to the frontier. He requested me to remain at Cape Town unless a war began, when I was immediately to join. I frequently had the troops bivouacked, and taught them to cook in camp, piquets, etc., and every other camp duty. On one occasion I had ball cartridges, every company at its target, and I had out two six-pounders with their target. I manœuvered the troops, so moving the targets as to be in their front, and I never saw half so good target practice with muskets before. The men were delighted and emulous beyond measure. The six-pounders, too, made excellent shots, and I had not a single casualty.
About this time that noble fellow, General Lord Dalhousie, arrived on his way out to India as Commander-in-Chief. I gave him a capital sham fight, concluding by storming Fort Amsterdam, at which he was highly amused. I knew his Lordship in America,89 and we then and now had many a laugh at our performances at Vittoria; previously related.
The Kafir war ended in patching up old treaties, and the Governor returned. About this time I acted as Military Secretary and Deputy Adjutant-General, holding the appointments of Deputy Quartermaster-General and Commandant; and ultimately the appointments of Deputy Adjutant-General and Deputy Quartermaster-General were blended, and I held both, being called Deputy Quartermaster-General.
Horses at the Cape are excellent. The breed had been much improved by Lord Charles Somerset, the former Governor, by the importation of some mares and several of the highest-bred English thoroughbred sires. I soon had a most beautiful stud. The sporting butcher Van Reenen had an excellent pack of fox-hounds, which he virtually allowed me to hunt, and many is the capital run we had, but over the most breakneck country that hounds ever crossed–sands covered with the most beautiful variety of the erica, or heath, and barren hills of driftsands. These are dug up by moles literally as big as rabbits. Their ordinary holes on hills and under-excavations no good hunter will fall in, but in their breeding-holes I defy any horse to avoid going heels over head, if his fore-legs come on them, although many old experienced hunters know them and jump over. I had one little horse not fourteen hands, descended from Arabs; he never gave me a fall, and I never failed to bring the brush to his stable when I rode him; but with all other horses I have had some awful falls, particularly after rain, when the sand is saturated with water and very heavy. Falls of this description are far more serious than rolling over our fences at home, where activity enables you to get away from your horse, as he is some seconds or so coming down, but in a mole-hole you fall like a shot, the horse's head first coming to the ground, next yours, and he rolls right over you. When a horse's hind legs go into a breeding-earth the sensation is awful, and how the noble animals escape without breaking their backs remains one of the wonders.
Every shooting-season I made a capital excursion, first to my sporting friend's, Proctor's. He was a retired officer of the 21st Dragoons, a capital sportsman, an excellent farmer, a good judge of a horse, and a better one of how to sell him to those whom he saw he could make money of. He had a family of thirteen children; his wife was a Dutch lady, still good-looking. My wife always accompanied me, as well as my friend Bob Baillie, of the 72nd Regiment, who was subsequently celebrated in the sporting magazines as a rider. We started with an immense waggon, eight horses, every description of commissariat stores, greyhounds, pointers, setters, retrievers, terriers, spaniels, and, under Proctor's guidance, we had capital sport.
The partridge-shooting was nearly as good as grouse-shooting; the bird, called the grey partridge, very much resembled the grouse, and was a noble sporting bird. There is also the red partridge, large, but stupid to shoot. The best sport with them is to ride them down with spaniels. There are several sorts of antelopes, which lie in the bushes and jump up under your feet as hares do. These you shoot with buck-shot. Near Cape Town there is only one sort of antelope "on the look-out" like our fallow deer, grey, very handsome, and fleet, called by the Dutch the rhee-bok. On the frontier and in the interior there are a great variety of this gazing-deer, the most remarkable being the spring-bok, which is exceedingly swift, parti-coloured or pied, and they almost fly from you. They have the power of expanding their long hair on the top of the back, like opening and shutting a fan. The bonte-bok is in very large herds. These you are prohibited to shoot without a special authority from Government, and the number even which you may shoot is limited.
The variety of modes of shooting these antelopes is highly amusing. To shoot the eland, the largest species, as big as a two-year-old heifer, you go full speed in a waggon over ground so rough that, what with the speed, you can hardly hold on and preserve your guns. The animals, hearing all the noise, stop to gaze. The waggon is instantly pulled up, and you fire balls. After such a jolting, he is a steady fellow who fires with any precision.
You have pheasants, too, inmates of very stiff and thorny-bushed ravines; they afford good sport, but you must shoot them dead, or you will never find them. There are also several species of the bustard genus, but near Cape Town only the black and grey khoran, so called. On the frontier you have the ordinary bustard, a noble bird and excellent eating, weighing from 9 to 12 lbs., and a species of great bustard, weighing from 20 to 25 lbs. The latter is eatable, but coarse. These you shoot with balls. On the frontier, too, you have buffaloes, elephants, lions, camelopards, ostriches, etc., so well described by Major Harris that it is impossible to add to his faithful account.
Coursing at the Cape is not good. I pursued it much for the sake of hunting four or five couple of spaniels. Hares there never sit in the open as in Europe, but in low stunted bushes–half rabbits. However, this sort of coursing with the spaniels and greyhounds teaches your horse to become a hunter, and by rushing him after hares, he well learns how to tumble or to avoid tumbles.
In the course of our sporting tour, I used to visit the breeding establishments (then called kraals) of all the great breeders, I think, Melk, Kotze, Proctor, Van Reenen, Van der Byl, etc. Melk has six hundred mares, all running out in unenclosed fields. With such an establishment you would expect that he could show you three or four hundred one, two, and three year olds (for they are all sold by this age). He can never show more than seventy or eighty colts of the year, and the rest of the breeders can show no higher proportion. The thoroughbred mares are invariably in miserable condition, the cock-tails fat and sleek. Many of the mares, etc., are afflicted with a disease from an accumulation of sand in their stomachs and intestines.
It was thought far beneath the dignity of a gentleman at the Cape to ride or drive mares, but seeing that the mares were far finer and larger than the horses, and one-fifth of the price, I bought from Proctor two immense mares, as like English hunters as possible, for £45; a thoroughbred mare, 16 hands high, four years old, for my wife (a beautiful creature which very much delighted Lord Dalhousie); and another thoroughbred mare, 15 1/2. They were the four finest horses in Cape Town. One of the carriage mares ruptured her bladder in the carriage, and died in a few hours. The large thoroughbred got a most tremendous fall out hunting, nearly broke my neck, and was chest-foundered ever afterwards. The other two I sold remarkably well. By some accident I never set up mares in my establishment again, but I was never so elegantly horsed.
What with my military duties and those of Council, I led a far from idle life, and there is an elasticity in the atmosphere at the Cape which conduces to a desire to take violent rides. The sun never heats you. I have ridden I40 miles in thirty hours to go to look at a horse or buy one, or to look at a particular line of country. I have been out shooting in the middle of the summer from daylight to dark, the sun like a furnace, the pummel of the saddle like a red-hot poker, your gun-barrel, after a few rapid shots, so heated you almost fear to reload, then come home at night (or slept out in the fields, if you like) and eaten a right good dinner, not in any way heated, and without either headache or cold. An exposure of this sort to the sun of India would probably cause a roaring fever or death.
This is the sort of life which I and my wife lived from 1829 to the end of 1834, enjoying the greatest kindness and hospitality, and living in happiness and sociability with every one. We had lost our dear kind friends, Sir Lowry and Lady Frances Cole, but he was succeeded as Governor and Commander-in-Chief, early in 1834, by a most amiable man, Sir Benjamin D'Urban, the most educated and accomplished soldier I have ever served with.90
OUTBREAK OF A KAFIR WAR–HARRY SMITH'S HISTORIC RIDE TO GRAHAMSTOWN–ON HIS ARRIVAL HE PROCLAIMS MARTIAL LAW–PROVIDES FOR THE DEFENCE OF THE TOWN–ATTACKS THE KAFIRS AND RESCUES SEVEN MISSIONARIES.91
THE Kafir tribes, which for many months had been greatly agitated and excited, at length burst into the Colony in what was for the moment an irresistible rush, carrying with them fire, sword, devastation, and cold-blooded murder, and spoiling the fertile estates and farms like a mountain avalanche. Such were the reports received from the Civil Commissioners and the Commandant of the troops. His Excellency Sir B. D'Urban determined to dispatch me immediately, with full powers civil and military to adopt whatever measures I found requisite, while he would himself follow as soon as possible. His Excellency told me a sloop of war was ready to take me to Algoa Bay. I, however, preferred riding post, and the horses were laid for me for a seven days' ride, 600 miles. It was needless to start until the horses were on the road, so I had two days 92 to make arrangements, and to ship military stores of every description, ordnance, etc. One half of the 72nd Regiment was to proceed in waggons, the other by sea.
On the night of the 31st December , I dined with Sir B. D'Urban at Cape Town (my own dear little cottage at Rondebosch being four miles off), and after dinner His Excellency and I had a long conversation. I fully ascertained his views and desires, and then made a resolution in my own mind never to swerve from his principles where circumstances admitted of their application. He on his part was most frank, honest, and decided, saying, "You now understand me thoroughly. Rely on my support in every way, and my perfect readiness to bear all the responsibility."
I parted with this noble soldier and able statesman at half-past twelve, drove out to my cottage, and lay down for three hours. I then started with a single Hottentot for a ride of 90 miles the first day [1st January, 1835], the heat raging like a furnace. My orders, warrants, etc., were sewn in my jacket by my own dear wife. From the anxiety and exertion of the previous day's running about Cape Town from store to store, and the little sleep I had had, as I rode the first 25 miles to the first change of horses I was half tired, but I got a cup of tea at the post-house, and never felt fagged again.
I arrived at Caledon at one o'clock, when it was threatening a heavy thunderstorm. I had then 25 miles to ride. The storm came on violently, the rain poured behind me, but I reached my stage, Field Cornet Leroze, by three, perfectly dry.
CAPE TOWN AND TABLE MOUNTAIN.
From a lithograph by Day and Haghe, 1832.
[Opposite p. 370.
The next day I started before daylight, and got to Swellendam to breakfast. I had two heavy, lazy brutes of horses. In Swellendam I wrote letters of instructions to that able fellow the Civil Commissioner, Harry Rivers, and I then started for an additional ride of 70 miles. I found the Buffeljagts river out. My first horse from Swellendam had a 20-miles stage, but through having to go up the river to ford, this noble little four-year-old had 30 miles, which he did, crossing the river too, in two hours and twenty minutes. I was so pleased with him, I wrote to Rivers to buy him and bring him up with the burghers. He bought him for £18 5s. I afterwards rode him very hard for two years, and sold him to Sir George Napier for £50. This day was excessively hot. I reached my stage at three o'clock.
I started the next day for George, with a long ride of 100 miles before me. At the second stage I found no horses and was kept waiting one hour. I got to a Field Cornet's where there was a great assembly of burghers enrolling their names for service, and a great dinner prepared at twelve o'clock, at which I was fool enough to eat, the remainder of my ride to George being rendered thereby a great exertion. Unfortunately, after a ride of 100 miles, I found all the civil authorities and inhabitants prepared to receive me, a ceremony I could readily have dispensed with. I soon got rid of these well-meant attentions, had a hot bath, lay down, and dictated letters to the Civil Commissioner, Mynheer de Bergh, until eleven at night.
I was off before daylight with a tremendous ride before me, over mountains, etc., etc. About halfway I met the mail from Grahamstown, and such a task as I had to open it! Not till I had opened the last bag did I find the packet of letters I wanted from the Commandant and the Civil Commissioner, Grahamstown. Their descriptions of disaster, murders, and devastations were awful; the Commandant talked of the troops being obliged to evacuate Grahamstown. I made comments on all these letters, and resolved to reach Grahamstown in two days. The heat to-day and the exertion of opening the letter-bags were fatiguing. On my arrival at my stage, I got hold of the Field Commandant Rademeyer, and sent on expresses all night to have the horses ready a day before they were ordered, being determined to reach Uitenhage the next night (the fifth from Cape Town),–500 miles.
Off two hours before daylight. One river, so tortuous is its bed, I had to cross seven times. I galloped through, and was as wet for hours as if I had been swimming, with a sun on me like a furnace. About halfway to Uitenhage, the heat was so excessive my horse knocked up, and no belabouring would make him move. About half a mile off I saw a sort of camp, went up, and found a Dutch farmer with his family, herds, flocks, etc., fleeing from the scene of devastation. I told him who I was, where and what I was going for, and asked him to horse me to the next stage, about seven miles. To my astonishment (for nothing can exceed the kindness and hospitality of the Dutch Boers on ordinary occasions), he first started a difficulty, and then positively refused, which soon set my blood boiling. He was holding a nice-looking horse all ready saddled, so I knocked him down, though half as big again as myself, jumped on his horse, and rode off. I then had a large river to cross by ferry, and horses were waiting for me. The Boer came up, and was very civil, making all sorts of apologies, saying until he spoke to the guide who followed me, he did not believe that in that lone condition I could be the officer I represented myself. The passion, the knocking him down, the heat, etc., was very fatiguing, and I reached Uitenhage at five o'clock, having been beating grass-fed post-horses from three in the morning until that hour, and ridden over some very bad and mountainous roads, 140 miles. To my horror, the Civil Commissioner (though a very worthy, good man) had all the town turned out to receive me, and a large dinner-party to refresh me, while I wanted repose. To add to this, a Colonel Cuyler, an officer retired on half-pay, of great experience and abilities on this frontier, waited on me. He was very communicative, of great use to me, but, being as deaf as a beetle, the exertion of calling loud enough for him to hear (although naturally I have a very powerful voice) I cannot describe. I had a wash, went to the great dinner–I dare not eat, quite to the astonishment of my host–soon retired, got hold of his secretary, and lay on my back dictating letters until twelve o'clock, when, fairly exhausted, I fell asleep.
Off again next morning for Grahamstown. If the previous day's work had been excessive, it was short of what I this day encountered from the wretched brutes of knocked-up horses laid for me. About half way I found the country in the wildest state of alarm, herds, flocks, families, etc., fleeing like the Israelites. Everything that moved near a bush was a Kafir. I was forced to have an escort of burghers on tired horses, and oh, such a day's work, until I got within ten miles of Grahamstown! There I found awaiting me a neat clipping little hack of Colonel Somerset's (such as he is celebrated for) and an escort of six Cape Mounted Rifles. I shall never forget the luxury of getting on this little horse, a positive redemption from an abject state of misery and labour. In ten minutes I was perfectly revived, and in forty minutes was close to the barrier of Grahamstown, fresh enough to have fought a general action, after a ride of 600 miles in six days over mountains and execrable roads, on Dutch horses living in the fields without a grain of corn. I performed each day's work at the rate of fourteen miles an hour, and I had not the slightest scratch even on my skin.
If it be taken into consideration that there was no previous training, that I started without sleep almost and after two days' excessive fatigue of mind and body in Cape Town, embarking stores, troops, etc., the little sleep I had on the journey from being obliged to dictate letters and give orders, the excessive heat, the roads, the horses, then it must be admitted a performance of no ordinary exertion for a man who, when it was over, was ready and required to use every energy of mind and body.
On reaching the barricaded streets, I had the greatest difficulty to ride in. I found Colonel Somerset parading the night duties. Consternation was depicted on every countenance I met, on some despair, every man carrying a gun, some pistols and swords too. It would have been ludicrous in any other situation than mine, but people desponding would not have been prepossessed in my favour by my laughing at them, so I refrained, although much disposed to do so. I just took a look at the mode adopted to defend Grahamstown. There were all sorts of works, barricades, etc., some three deep, and such was the consternation, an alarm, in the dark especially, would have set one half of the people shooting the other. I at once observed that this defensive system would never restore the lost confidence, and I resolved, after I had received reports and assumed the command, to proclaim martial law, and act on the initiative in every respect.
I rode to Somerset's, where I was treated en prince. I sent for the Civil Commissioner, Captain Campbell, and from him learned the exact state of the country–that despondency did exist to a fearful extent, originating from the sight of the horrors perpetrated by the remorseless enemy, but any vigorous steps and arbitrary authority boldly exerted would still ensure a rallying-point for all. I said, "Very well; I clearly see my way. At as early an hour as possible to-morrow morning I shall declare martial law, and woe betide the man who is not as obedient as a soldier. Be so good as to prepare the necessary document and copies to be printed for my signature. I will be with you soon after daylight in your office, where I shall take up my abode." I was there according to my appointment, and found everything ready upon this and every other occasion when I required the services of this able public officer. No man was ever better seconded and supported in every way than I was by Captain Campbell. I learnt the number of regular troops to be a little above 700, the civil force under arms 850, then occupying Grahamstown, Fort Beaufort, the connecting post of Hermanus Kraal (the civil force being at the Kat River Settlement, a location of Hottentots, where Captain Armstrong with a troop of Cape Mounted Rifles acted in a civil and military capacity). Fort Willshire had been most shamefully abandoned. I received a report that a body of 200 Burghers of the Graaf Reinet district, under their Civil Commissioner Ryneveld, was approaching. I knew the front of the 72nd Regiment in waggons would reach me in a day or two. I resolved, therefore, as soon as possible to make an inroad into the heart of the enemy's country in one direction, reoccupy Fort Willshire, and thence march to rescue the missionaries who were assembled in one house, "Lonsdale," in Kafirland, and whose safety could not be calculated on for one moment. I then directed the population of Grahamstown, so soon as martial law was proclaimed, to be formed into a Corps of Volunteers, and I would issue them arms. The church in the square in Grahamstown being occupied as a military post and a council chamber, I desired the principal gentlemen to assemble, to name their own officers, etc., and to submit them for my approval, and told them that they and the organization of the corps should be instantly gazetted.
This was in progress, when there were so many speakers and so few actors, the Civil Commissioner recommended me to go to the meeting. I deemed this a good opportunity to display my authority, which I was resolved on doing most arbitrarily on such a momentous occasion.
When I went in, there was a considerable assembly of very respectable-looking men. I asked what was the cause of delay in executing my demands? One gentleman, a leader in what was called the Committee of Safety, which I very soon complimentarily dissolved, stood up and began to enter into argument and discussion. I exclaimed in a voice of thunder, "I am not sent here to argue, but to command. You are now under martial law, and the first gentleman, I care not who he may be, who does not promptly and implicitly obey my command, he shall not even dare to give an opinion; I will try him by a court martial and punish him in five minutes."
This sally most completely established my authority, and I never met with any opposition afterwards; on the contrary, a desire on the part of all to meet my wishes. The corps were formed, officers gazetted. As we issued, and on parade that evening, I gave the command, as was promised, to Captain Sparks of the 49th Regiment, on leave of absence with his family at Grahamstown.
My attention was next turned to the defence of Grahamstown. I found that the officer in command of the 75th Regiment had taken great care of the barracks, distant half a mile or more, but that he was averse to detaching troops to the defence of Grahamstown. This I soon settled, opened all the barricades, established fresh alarm posts, and at once showed the alarmed inhabitants that defence should consist in military resources and military vigilance, and not in being cooped up behind doors, windows, and barricades three deep, from which they would shoot each other. That evening, the first after I assumed the command, the aspect of affairs had changed. Men moved like men, and felt that their safety consisted in energetic obedience.
The next day two hundred Graaf Reinet burghers arrived. I despatched some of them and Colonel Somerset with a force to the rear to improve our communication with Algoa Bay, which was interrupted, and I prepared a force of three hundred men to invade the kraal of the Kafir chief Eno, and, if possible, to seize that double-faced old murderer and breaker of treaties. This command I gave to an old brother Rifleman, Major William Cox, then in the 75th Regiment, a soldier by experience, nature, and courage, the most useful and active officer under my command. I never expected they would seize old Eno–he had a very narrow escape, though–but, as I anticipated, the object of my inroad was completely achieved, and from that moment all the invading Kafirs rapidly withdrew from the Colony. It also showed the Kafirs that the Hottentots would fight against them, which previously they had disbelieved.
A party of the 72nd Regiment having arrived, I immediately reoccupied Fort Willshire.
My next object was to rescue the missionaries from the very heart of Kafirland, where seven of them (I think) with their families expected momentarily to have their throats cut. I again employed my old brother Rifleman, Major Cox, who succeeded to the utmost of my most sanguine expectations and brought off every British subject.
After [leaving] his command at Fort Willshire, and [the missionaries] were in perfect security, he pushed on to Grahamstown to report his success. When he reached the Fish River he found it full, and swam across, leading his horse in his hand, like a gallant fellow as he is. On reaching me, he found that Sir B. D'Urban, the Governor, had arrived; and highly delighted Cox and I were that the last act of mine before resigning the command was one of brilliant success and an achievement of no ordinary enterprise. The Governor was as pleased as we were. This rescue of the missionaries was the best thing I ever did during the war, but one which these holy gentlemen and their Societies never acknowledged as they ought, though always ready to censure. "Charity is a comprehensive word."
The day after the arrival of the Governor he issued a General Order, of which the following is an extract:–
"Frontier of the Cape of Good Hope, 22 Jan. 1835.
"The Commander-in-Chief desires to offer Colonel Smith the expression at once of his unqualified approbation and of his warmest thanks for the important services which he has rendered to the King and to the Colony during the period of his commanding the forces on the Frontier District.
"The unparalleled rapidity with which he rode from Cape Town to Grahamstown, a distance of 600 miles, accomplishing it in less than six days; his indefatigable and most able exertion from the moment of his arrival to expel the savage enemy from the ground their unexpected and treacherous invasion had gained–to afford protection and support to the inhabitants; to restore confidence and to organize the armed population, and combine the resources of the country–have been beyond all praise, and justly entitle him to the grateful acknowledgments of the Colony and of the Commander-in-Chief." 93
HARRY SMITH CHIEF OF THE STAFF UNDER SIR BENJAMIN D'URBAN–HE MAKES TWO FORAYS INTO THE FISH RIVER BUSH AND ONE INTO THE UMDIZINI BUSH–THE FORCE UNDER SIR B. D'URBAN MARCHES FROM FORT WILLSHIRE TO THE POORTS OF THE BUFFALO, FROM WHENCE HARRY SMITH MAKES ANOTHER FORAY.
MY duty now, although not of so directly responsible a nature, was laborious and active in the extreme in conformity to the General Orders which follow:–
"Colonel Smith will, for the present, resume his duties as Deputy Quartermaster-General and acting Deputy Adjutant-General of the forces, and, in this capacity as Chief of the Staff, will take charge of the organization of a force to be prepared for active operations; for carrying which into effect he is hereby authorized to make requisitions upon the competent departments, and to approve all requisitions and contracts, which approvals will be then sufficient warrant for the corresponding issues and purchases; and he will be so good as to make a daily report of the progress of this service to the Commander-in-Chief."
In the progress of these arduous services, I organized two corps of Hottentots, consisting of every loose vagabond I could lay my hand on, called the 1st and 2nd Battalion Hottentot Infantry. They consisted of four Companies each, 100 men to a Company. It is scarcely to be credited how rapidly these men trained as soldiers. No nation in the world, with the exception of the inhabitants of the South of France, have such a natural turn to become soldiers as the Hottentots.
In the various operations I had carried on, I had never been able to give a command to Lieut.-Colonel Z— of the — Regiment, who had been active and useful under me, but I promised him that, as soon as I possibly could do so, he should have one. I ascertained that a considerable body of Kafirs, cattle, etc., were concentrated in the dense fastnesses of the Fish River bush, from which it was necessary to dislodge them before the advance of the invading force. I laid my plan before Sir Benjamin D'Urban, who fully approved of it, and as I wished, he consented that Colonel Z— should have the command of the troops to effect this service. I sent for the Colonel, and he was delighted. I said, "Now, make your own arrangements. You know the country; you know the desire I have had to give you a command, and I should be sorry if I did not everything in my power to make it agreeable."
All was arranged, and Z— and his expedition marched. I was under no apprehension of its success, and my mind was devoted to the eternal subject of organization of Boers, Hottentots, waggons, etc., when most unexpectedly Colonel Z–returned to headquarters, and I could observe by his manner victory was not the subject. He of course never acknowledged reverse; said he had not sufficient troops, etc., and that to dislodge the savages, as he always termed them, more must be employed. "But," I said, "how came you to leave your command?" "Oh, I thought I could best explain matters myself." "Well," I said, "come to the Commander-in-Chief."
His Excellency received him very coldly, being exceedingly offended at his leaving his troops, especially under the circumstances. When Colonel Z— went, Sir Benjamin D'Urban broke out and said, "G—, he has had a licking, and what the devil made him leave his troops? Smith," says Sir B., "this check must be immediately repaired, and you must go yourself. Take with you what you deem sufficient, and lose no time."
I certainly did not, for that afternoon some more infantry were on the march. In the course of the day Jim Cox came to me from Z—, describing how hurt he was that I had to command. I positively laughed at the idea of such a command adding to anything but my labours, and I said, "Willingly will I go to Sir Benjamin D'Urban and tell him Z— is hurt and in some degree imputes to me the arrangement." The only time Sir Benjamin D'Urban was ever angry with me was on this occasion. "I have decided on what I consider the service demands, and I little expected any remonstrances from you, Smith." I said quietly, "It was only to serve another, sir." "Yes, at the risk of the public service." Z— was furious. He was ordered to rejoin his former command.
So soon as I reached the troops on the banks of the river, I reconnoitred the enemy's position, rendered extraordinarily strong from dense bush, almost impenetrable to any but a creeping Kafir, ravines, mountains, etc. I found it necessary to attack at three points, and disposed of my troops accordingly, giving the command of the right and cavalry division to Colonel Somerset, and the left to Colonel Z—, while I remained with the centre.
The river was up, and prevented me crossing for three days. The heat on its banks was intense. I determined, however, that so soon as the river was practicable, I would attack and that my infantry should penetrate the thickets while the cavalry should intercept the retreat of the enemy and their cattle. The evening before the attack, when I gave Colonel Z— his orders, he said, "Any further orders?" I said, "None." He laughed in a very satirical manner. "Ah, ah, catch a Kafir with infantry." I said, "Yes, Colonel, I intend it, and you shall too." Our success exceeded my most sanguine expectations.
Such was the extent of the country, that a considerable part of it I had not been able to penetrate. I was resolved, therefore, to make a second attempt, which I was not long about.
The evening previous to a long march for the different columns to gain their ground, I received an application from Colonel Z— for permission to return to Grahamstown. I was thunderstruck, but of course said, "Go when you like"; and I had to send Major Gregory, an excellent officer, thirty miles to take the command of Z—'s force, which he reached just in time for it to commence its march. On my second attempt I completely scoured the holds and fastnesses of the Kafirs, namely, "the dense and extensive thorny ravines, etc., of the great Fish River bush," which they had deemed impenetrable, and which in no previous war had they ever been driven from. The Kafirs never again occupied this bush permanently, although a brilliant affair subsequently occurred [9th March] between some Boers under Field Commandant Rademeyer and a large body of them.94 Thus Kafirs were caught by infantry, and we secured a considerable quantity of cattle, upwards of 5000, for which the savage fights desperately. The nature of this bush service requires the most practised light troops, and the advantage I derived from the service of my old comrade Cox is not to be described.
After this I brought my two battalions of Hottentots into play. The enemy in this bush had about thirty renegade Hottentots, many of them runaway servants who had deserted with their masters' double-barrelled fowling-pieces. I never had more difficulty to dislodge a few men in my life, and these fellows caused me a loss of some valuable men.
Sir Benjamin D'Urban was highly gratified with my success, and issued a very complimentary General Order to that effect.95
Soon after this I went to Fort Willshire, to prepare the camp for the rendezvous of the army under Sir Benjamin D'Urban in person, and, the troops being much in want of cattle from the country having been so driven, spoiled, and devastated, I resolved to make an inroad into Kafirland to a dense bush (as it is in this country called) beyond the Umdizini, where I was led to believe a considerable quantity of Kafirs and cattle were collected. The distance from my camp was thirty-five miles, and I had the rapid Keiskamma River to cross. I marched at one o'clock in the morning, with a corps of mounted men, principally composed of the Swellendam Burghers or Yeomanry, under a veteran old Commandant who had made seven Kafir campaigns. My inroad was perfectly successful, and I reached my bivouac at nine the following night, having marched a distance from point to point of 70 miles, exclusive of operations in the bush. I brought with me upwards of 2000 head of fat cattle, which were most acceptable for the consumption of our troops.
In a few days the Commander-in-Chief reached the camp [31 March] at Fort Willshire, and the troops were all ready for the field, and as highly organized as such a mob of armed inhabitants could be. Our train of commissariat waggons, each with twenty oxen in it, was immense. With the headquarters column alone we had 170 occupying about two miles. From the length of these teams, I expected great difficulty with them, and certainly took every pains to regulate and divide them into divisions, departments, etc., appointing a captain over the whole. To my astonishment, so excellent were the bullocks, I never had the slightest trouble, and they could march over any country whatever with the troops.
From Fort Willshire we marched to a position at the foot of what are termed the Poorts of the Buffalo, very high wooded ridges, high up the river of this name, and, as we were obliged to halt there for our left column to get into its line, I requested Sir Benjamin D'Urban to allow me to conduct a patrol into this bush. He consented; and I had the prettiest affair by far of any during the war, and the most like a fight.
I took with me a detachment of the 72nd Highlanders, under Captain Murray, my faithful attendant always; one of the Hottentot Battalions; and my Corps of Mounted Guides, gentlemen of the country and merchants who had traded all over Kafirland and knew the country perfectly. Never was there a more useful body. The Hottentot Battalion had a considerable détour to make, and I wished to occupy a ridge to support and to observe their movement. In attempting this, I was opposed by a considerable body of Kafirs posted on a sort of natural castle of rocks, steep and scarped by nature, and so well did the Kafirs maintain themselves, wounding Murray and several of his men, that I had to turn them ere they were dislodged.96 In the meanwhile, the Hottentot Battalion, hearing the firing and seeing the bush full of cattle, came flying on and drove the Kafirs in every direction, killing many. We captured upwards of four thousand cattle. The care of these cattle and the sending them to the rear were a very laborious and arduous duty.
OVER THE KEI INTO HINTZA'S TERRITORY–WAR DECLARED AGAINST HINTZA–HIS KRAAL BEING DESTROYED THE CHIEF COMES IN, AND AGREES TO THE TERMS OF PEACE–HE REMAINS AS A HOSTAGE WITH THE BRITISH FORCE, WHICH MARCHES BACK TO THE KEI–HARRY SMITH MARCHES UNDER HINTZA'S GUIDANCE INTO HIS TERRITORY TO RECOVER THE STOLEN CATTLE–NEAR THE XABECCA HINTZA TRIES TO ESCAPE, AND IS SHOT.
FROM the Poorts of the Buffalo we marched up to the Kei, the right bank of which was the great chief Hintza's territory. Every overture of a pacific character had been made this chief, but no satisfactory, nor indeed decided, answer could be obtained. It was, in the first instance, ordered that we should cross the river without committing any act of hostility, but our sentries and picquets were to be most watchful and vigilant, our avowed object being to recover the cattle which had been so treacherously stolen out of the colony and driven into Hintza's country, and from which he would undoubtedly take a considerable duty. The troops marched on to the missionary station of Butterworth, close to one of Hintza's great kraals.
The army remained here some days, constantly receiving shuffling messages from Hintza. Here the whole of the Fingoes in Hintza's territories threw themselves on the protection of the Governor. These Fingoes were once a powerful nation, but, being defeated in war, fled to Hintza's territories for protection, which he promised. However, so soon as they were dispersed and powerless, he and his chieftains seized all their cattle, and reduced the whole to the most abject state of slavery. These were the remains of eight powerful nations.97
After a day or two's shuffling, Hintza sent into camp his Prime Minister, Kuba, a sharp wolf-like looking fellow, with the cunning of Satan. I would back him eating beef-steaks against any devil. After the Governor had given Kuba several audiences and patiently heard all he had to urge in extenuation of Hintza's evasive conduct, it was evident he had not the slightest intention of restoring the cattle, or making any reparation for the murder of British subjects early in the war, the destruction of the missionary station at Butterworth, etc. Accordingly, war was formally declared.
At ten o'clock our tents were struck, and the army marched [24 April]. A mounted patrol of three hundred cavalry were given to me, and some Fingoes. I made a most rapid march on another of Hintza's kraals, where his great wife Nomsa frequently resided. I reached it just before dark, and had a smart brush with the enemy and took a lot of cattle. The next morning at daylight I pushed forward to the bed of the Upper Kei, where information led me to believe a considerable quantity of colonial cattle were secreted. I had a tremendous march this day, and the heat on the banks of the river was excessive. At dark this night I had captured 14,000 head of cattle, principally colonial. I ascertained some months afterwards that these were Macomo's booty. The next day I joined the headquarters column to get rid of my cattle and to get some fresh troops.
At daylight the following day I crossed the rocky bed of the T'somo, very deep and rapid, and made a most precipitate march on Hintza's kraal. He was not there, but many of his followers were; his cattle were all driven off. I immediately burnt his kraal–in Kafirland regarded as the possession of his territory–the only kraal I burnt in his country.
The rapidity of these inroads, the extraordinary extent of country traversed by the troops with me, the burning of Hintza's kraal, were viewed by Hintza with the utmost surprise and consternation, and this chief, who had treated with the utmost evasion and contempt all previous overtures, on the day after his kraal was burnt came into our camp with his son and court, a humble suppliant for peace and mercy. A few years before, a detachment of troops under Colonel Somerset had been sent to assist him against his enemies, and saved him from destruction. He therefore rode into our camp in an undaunted manner. (The poor savage always buries the past in oblivion, and regards the present only. He has not the most distant idea of right or wrong as regards his line of conduct. Self-interest is his controlling impulse, and desire stands for law and rectitude.) The Governor, Sir B. D'Urban, recorded on paper, in a clear and strong manner, all the grievances he had to complain of, and the redress which he sought and would have. Hintza, with about fifty followers, was immediately prepared to enter into treaty. Kuba was not with him, but he had another of his councillors, a man of great repute, Umtini. As the interpreter translated the Governor's statement paragraph by paragraph, Hintza acknowledged everything. The demand was made for restitution of cattle stolen and redress for all other grievances. Hintza asked to have till next day to consider it, which was granted.
That night he dined with me, while a bullock was given for a feast to his followers, one of whom acted as butcher. The slaughtering is done with great ceremony, but it is horrible to behold. The ox is thrown on his back. The butcher then makes an incision between the chest and the abdomen, through which protrudes immediately a considerable portion of the omentum. This is cut off for the great man of the party as the most acceptable relish. The butcher then introduces his hand and arm up to the very shoulder into the incision, gets hold of the heart and turns it, the animal giving a terrific roar of excruciating pain which is really appalling. But he is dead in a moment, the circulation being stopped by the twisting of the blood-vessels. By this method of slaying the animal, all the blood is preserved in the meat, which the Kafir thinks adds to its flavour and nutritious power.98
Hintza, Umtini, myself, and the interpreter were together four hours. I was never more astonished than by the ability with which Hintza argued on every point and by the shrewd and cautious opinions expressed by Umtini. The interpreter, Mr. Shepstone,99 a very clever youth of nineteen, was the son of a missionary. He had been born among the Kafirs, and the language was as familiar to him as that of his father. He was the only interpreter we had who could convey your meaning in the Kafir idiom and in conformity to their usages and knowledge of men and things. After all this discussion, Hintza said, "Well, I shall agree tomorrow to the Governor's demands in every respect." He then left me, having eaten enough for seven men. I walked with him to his people, where the protruding omentum of the slaughtered bullock was prepared for him. Curiosity induced me to remain. He ate every bit of this fat fried lightly; there could not have been less than four pounds.
The next day a sort of court was held, and Hintza formally accepted the conditions of peace offered by his Excellency. Peace was therefore proclaimed, and Hintza went through the ceremony of despatching messengers in all directions to collect the quota of cattle he was to furnish, as well as to bring to headquarters the colonial cattle.
On one of my predatory expeditions I had taken a great chief, by name Maquay. My A.D.C., Balfour, seized him and saved his life, and he was a prisoner in our camp, and I had several others. I now released them all, being very glad to get rid of their custody. If ever a savage can feel any sensation approaching to gratitude, this chief Maquay did when I gave him his liberty. He thanked me for his life, while he frankly acknowledged that, under similar circumstances, he should have taken mine.
Hintza's promises were so strong that the army commenced its march [May 2] towards the ford of the Kei, since called Smith's Tower, there to remain until the conditions of the treaty were fulfilled. A deluge of rain detained us some days. In daily expectation of the arrival of the cattle, the army was as well in one camp as another. Hintza remained with us, which gave us every confidence. When pressed to name hostages, he said, "Oh, I shall willingly remain myself." This act of frankness was evidently intended as a cloak, and he meditated his escape. He was frequently asking me leave to ride out to meet his people bringing in cattle. This I usually refused. One fine sunny day he so pressed me that I asked the Governor's permission, saying that I would provide for his security. Sir Benjamin D'Urban said, "Depend on it, he meditates his escape"; for some days over the period stipulated had elapsed, and not an article of the treaty acted on.
I sent with Hintza a well-mounted escort of the Cape Corps under a Lieut. Wade, a smart, active and well-mounted officer. I directed him to examine his pistols in Hintza's presence, and the escort their carbines, and to be most vigilant. Hintza endeavoured to lead him into intricate ground, but Wade was far too sharp a fellow, and said, "Hintza, riding about in this way is all folly. I shall take you back to camp." That very day Hintza's and Boku his brother's people had commenced a general massacre of all the Fingoes near them who, in virtue of the treaty of peace, had wandered from the camp. The Governor, seeing the treachery and the absolute want of all faith, became exceedingly indignant, and threatened to hang Hintza himself, and Kreili his son, and Boku his brother, if an instant cessation of this carnage did not take place. The fellows funked, and immediately sent messengers scampering in every direction.
The same night, Hintza's sort of confidential man, a notorious thief and spy, came to me requesting a private audience. I said, "Let him come in." The sergeant of my escort, who always had his double-barrelled carbine in his hand, made me a sign he would be at hand. I then, alone with the fellow (a copper-coloured half-Hottentot, half-Kafir, a strong athletic fellow), said in Dutch, which he spoke perfectly, "Well, what do you want?" He began to abuse Hintza, saying he was a robber, a traitor to his own people and to us (I saw by the rascal's eye there was mischief in it), and that he wished to serve me. "You scoundrel," I said, "you have been well-treated by Hintza; you now wish to desert him because you think he is in difficulties. I will show you how Englishmen treat runaway servants." I called Japps, and desired him to give the fellow a good flogging and kick him into Hintza's camp. Japps was not long in obeying my orders, and soon came back with a large clasp-knife in his hand. "There," says he, "this fell from under the rascal's arm, and he has confessed Hintza sent him to murder you."100
We moved our camp from the bed of the Kei on the road. The Governor began to think Hintza had no intention whatever of fulfilling his promises, but he did not desire to bring him over the Kei a prisoner, which would have been regarded throughout his country as an insult; he therefore proposed that two of his comrades should remain as hostages. Hintza would only offer two common men. The Governor then said, "Hintza, I shall keep Kreili and Boku." This startled Hintza exceedingly, and he renewed a proposal to me which he had often made, that if I would go with him and take troops, he would himself speedily collect the cattle. After all our marches and exertions, it was as annoying as unsatisfactory to recross the Kei without the redemption of the colonial cattle. I therefore rather urged this proposal on the consideration of his Excellency, who was always of opinion that Hintza was playing false and that his liberty was his sole consideration. "However," his Excellency said, "it is a chance in our favour; you may go with him, but, depend on it, you have undertaken a laborious task."
I prepared, therefore, to march immediately, while the Governor intended to cross over the Fingoes–an operation something resembling the flight of the Israelites out of Egypt–and then to pass the troops. I took with me–
50 Cape Rifles, under an old Peninsular officer, a Captain Ross. 2 Companies 72nd Regiment, under Captain Murray, who had now perfectly recovered from his wound. 3 Companies 1st Battalion Hottentots. 15 of the Corps of Guides. My A.D.C., Balfour, and my worthy friend Major White, the Q.M.G. of the Burgher force. Some commissariat stores of bread, flour, and spirits packed on oxen.
Hintza had been treated by me with every possible kindness, and always affected to acknowledge it. He had been loaded with presents by the Governor, and I candidly admit I had a feeling of kindness towards the chief daily growing upon me, which I could not account for.
We were all soon en route [10 May]. The troops had a very long, steep, and winding road, the ascent from the bed of the Kei to the tableland. Hintza, I, my A.D.C., and interpreter, with my escort of Guides, rode on, dismounted, and sat looking at the troops climbing the ascent. Hintza said to the interpreter, "Ask the Colonel in what position I now stand as regards myself and my subjects." I was very glad he put this question, and in very deliberate terms and in an impressive manner I thus expressed myself through the interpreter: "Hintza, you have lived with me now nine days; you call yourself my son, and you say you are sensible of my kindness. Now, I am responsible to my King and to my Governor for your safe custody. Clearly understand that you have requested that the troops under my command should accompany you to enable you to fulfil the treaty of peace you have entered into. You voluntarily placed yourself in our hands as a hostage; you are, however, to look upon me as having full power over you, and if you attempt to escape, you will assuredly be shot.101 I consider my nation at peace with yours, and I shall not molest your subjects provided they are peaceable. When they bring the cattle according to your command, I shall select the bullocks and return the cows and calves to them."
Hintza replied that he came out to fulfil his treaty of peace, and with no intention to escape, and that the fact of his son's being in our hands was a sufficient guarantee of his sincerity. I replied most emphatically, "Very well, Hintza; act up to this, and I am your friend. Again I tell you, if you attempt to escape, you will be shot."
Notwithstanding these specious professions, that very afternoon my suspicions were aroused. I observed two Kafirs coming towards us with five head of cattle. On seeing us, they stopped, and Hintza, without asking my leave, sent a mounted man to them–as he said, to bring them in; but, in place of that, the messenger and the others went off together. My officer, Mr. Southey of the Corps of Guides, attached much importance to this little circumstance. On closely questioning Hintza, I received from him such evasive replies I began to think there must be some little act of treachery, and I pressed him to define the route which he proposed I should take. I could never get more from him than "We are going right."
I knew any chance of success in my expedition depended on the rapidity of my march, for the Kafirs themselves would drive the surrounding country as we approached. I marched, therefore, till dark, having crossed the Guadan Hills that night. Before daylight the next morning [11 May] I was again en route, and reached the Guanga late in the afternoon. There I bivouacked and my men cooked. Hintza always ate with me, and, with his councillor Umtini, lay near me at night. I kept a very Light Division watch over him. After eating, I said, "Now, Hintza, we are a long way in your country; I must know where you propose to conduct me." He was on this occasion very communicative, and requested that I should march towards the mouth of the Bashee by a route which he would point out and that we should move at midnight. To this request I readily acceded, having observed during the day's march all the cattle to be driven in that direction. At twelve I marched [12 May], keeping a very sharp look-out on Hintza, whose manner I observed to be excited, and continued marching till eight in the morning, when it became necessary to halt and cook.
At breakfast the chief appeared particularly uneasy and evidently annoyed at the vigilance with which I watched him. He observed peevishly, "What have the cattle done that you want them? or why must I see my subjects deprived of them?" I said, "These are odd questions to ask, Hintza. You well know the outrages committed in the Colony by your people; it is in redress of these wrongs I march, and at your own request."
At ten o'clock I again marched. Hintza suddenly became in high spirits, and observed sarcastically, "See how my subjects treat me: they drive the cattle away in spite of me." "Hintza," I said, "I do not want your subjects' cattle; I am sent for the colonial cattle which have been stolen, and which I will have." "Then," said the chief, "allow me to send forward Umtini, my principal councillor, to tell my people I am here, that they must not drive away their cattle, and that the cattle of your own nation will alone be selected." This proposal I immediately agreed to, as it appeared to hold out some chance of success, although I could not divest myself of the opinion that Hintza was meditating some mischief. I particularly enjoined Umtini to return at night, and this he promised faithfully to do.
Umtini quitted the line of march at full speed, accompanied by one of Hintza's attendants, the chief exclaiming, in high spirits, "Now you need not go to the Bashee; you will have more cattle than you can drive on the Xabecca"–a small river which we were rapidly approaching.
On my nearing the stream, it was found that the spoor or track of the cattle branched off in two directions–one to the left, up a high mountain; the other to the right, up a very steep, abrupt, high, and wooded hill upon the banks of the Xabecca.102 The river-bed below was rugged, precipitous, and covered with brushwood. Hintza said, "We must follow the track to our right; the cattle which are gone to the left up the mountain are lost to us." This desire of his I resolved to follow, and crossed the Xabecca accordingly.
It had been remarked that this morning Hintza rode a remarkable fine and powerful horse, which he spared fatigue by leading him up any hill we came across during the march. On the opposite side of the Xabecca the ascent was steep, precipitous, and woody. I was riding at the head of the column, when I heard a rush of horses behind me, and called out to the Corps of Guides, in whose particular charge Hintza was. I then observed the chief and all his followers riding up quickly to me and passing me in the bushes on both sides. The Corps of Guides called my attention to the circumstance, and I exclaimed to Hintza, "Stop!" At this moment the chief, having moved to one side of the track which we were marching on, became entangled among the bushes and was obliged to descend again on to the path before us. I drew a pistol, at which the chief smiled so ingenuously, I nearly felt regret at my suspicions, and I allowed the chief to ride on, preceded by some of the Corps of Guides, his guards, who had pushed forward to intercept him if he attempted to escape.
On reaching the top of this ascent, we found the country perfectly open, and parallel with the rugged and wooded bed of the Xabecca (calculated for the resort, cover, and protection of the Kafir), a considerable tongue of land ran for about two miles and terminated at the bend of the river, where was a Kafir village. On reaching the top, my mind was occupied with the march of the troops up this steep ascent, and I was looking back to observe their appearance, when the chief set off at full speed, passing the Guides in front, towards the village in the distance. Two of the Guides, active fellows, Messrs. Southey and Shaw, set off, exclaiming, "Oh, Colonel, Colonel, look!" My first glance showed me the treachery, and both spurs were dashed into my horse's sides, a noble animal of best English blood. The chief was at least two hundred yards ahead of me, and for half a mile his horse was as fast as mine. It was a capital horse in good condition, given to him some months before by Colonel Somerset. After that distance I found I rapidly neared him, and when within a distance of forty yards I pulled out a pistol. It snapped. I tried a second, with equal ill success. At this moment Hintza's horse gained on me, and I found that in the pursuit I had rushed my horse with such violence I had nearly blown him, and that, if I must take the chief, it was necessary to nurse my horse a little. In about a quarter of a mile I again closed with him. I had no sword on, but I struck him with the butt end of a pistol, which flew out of my hand. He was jobbing at me furiously with his assagai. I rode upon his right to prevent him turning down into the bed of the river, which I supposed (as afterwards it proved) was full of Kafirs in waiting to receive him.
I was now rapidly approaching the Kafir huts, and the blood of my horse gave me great advantage over Hintza. I tried to seize his bridle-reins, but he parried my attempt with his assagai. I prayed him to stop, but he was in a state of frenzy. At this point of desperation, a whisper came into my ear, "Pull him off his horse!" I shall not, nor ever could, forget the peculiarity of this whisper. No time was to be lost. I immediately rode so close to him that his assagai was comparatively harmless, and, seizing him by the collar of his karosse (or tiger-skin cloak), I found I could shake him in his seat. I made a desperate effort by urging my horse to pass his, and I hurled him to the ground.
My horse was naturally of a violent temper, and, from the manner I had spurred him and rushed him about, he became furious. Having now recovered and running on his second wind, I could not pull him up, and he ran away with me to the Kafir village. I expected to feel a hundred assagais at me in a moment, but all the Kafirs had gone down into the river. I dropped the reins on one side, and with both hands hauled his head round. I then spurred him violently and drove him right upon a Kafir hut, by which he nearly fell, and I got him round with his head the right way, viz. back again, and did not spare the spurs.
The Kafir's fall created delay sufficient for the foremost of the Guides, Southey, to approach within gunshot. Southey shot the Kafir Larunu, and as Hintza was running into the bed of the river, called to him to stop. At this moment I was within hailing distance, and I desired Mr. Southey, "Fire, fire at him." He did so from about two hundred yards off. The chief fell, and I pulled up, thinking he was knocked over. He was on his legs again in a moment, and so close to the bush he succeeded in gaining it. I made instant arrangements with the troops to invest as much of the bush as I could, in the hope of intercepting him. In the mean time, however, with the utmost rapidity, Southey and my A.D.C., Lieut. Balfour, 72nd Regiment, pursued him into the bush, the former keeping up, the latter down the stream, when Southey was suddenly startled by an assagai striking the stone or cliff on which he was climbing. Turning quickly round, he perceived a Kafir, his head and uplifted assagai only visible, and so close, he had to recoil to bring up his gun. It was an act like lightning; either the Kafir would send the assagai first, or the shot must fall. Southey was first, and fired and shot the Kafir, whom to his astonishment he found to be the chief.
Southey immediately galloped towards me. There was a cry, "Hintza is taken," at which I was not a little delighted, and I sent the sergeant of my escort, Japps, to bring him to me in a rein or halter, but by no means to treat him roughly. In a few seconds Southey reported the melancholy truth. I say "melancholy" because I had much rather he had been taken, but I thanked Southey for his exertions, and there was no one act I could upbraid myself with as contributing to the chief's attempt to escape after the warning I had given him and the kindness and respect I had treated him with, and after having, merely to please him, marched, as he pretended, to his assistance.
I had the corpse brought up the hill carefully wrapped in the karosse, and laid near the Kafir village with every mark of decency. I had no tools, or I would have buried it. In the distance, with my telescope I saw the confederate Umtini, and observed by his gestures that he was exciting and calling together the Kafirs in all directions by means of messengers running from hill to hill. This is their ordinary method of communication, and it is nearly as rapid as our telegraph.
MARCH ACROSS THE BASHEE TO THE UMTATA AND BACK TO THE BASHEE–DEATH OF MAJOR WHITE–DIFFICULT MARCH FROM THE BASHEE TO REJOIN SIR B. D'URBAN ON THE KEI–ANNEXATION OF THE TERRITORY CALLED THE "PROVINCE OF QUEEN ADELAIDE," AND FOUNDING OF ITS CAPITAL, "KING WILLIAM'S TOWN"–RETURN OF THE GOVERNOR TO GRAHAMSTOWN.
I COLLECTED my troops, and saw many of my officers look somewhat staggered as to what was to come next, considering that they were such a handful of troops in the heart of a country swarming with people who were now our most avowed enemies. Some of Hintza's followers were in my hands. These I despatched to their countrymen, to tell them how Hintza's treachery had cost him his life, and that I should [not?] make war upon them. I called the officers to the front, and some of the influential noncommissioned officers of the Hottentot companies, and told them the Bashee was not far distant. I should march upon it, and cross or otherwise as circumstances demanded, for I had been informed that the bed was full of cattle, principally colonial. I was now without a guide, for on this important point I had naturally depended on Hintza. However, I could distinguish the line of the bed of the Bashee, to which it had been told me by Hintza that the cattle would be driven, and the tracks of cattle all converged in that direction.
Late in the afternoon the waters of the Bashee were discernible and on its further bank a considerable number of cattle. The troops had been marching fourteen hours, but I resolved to push forward with my cavalry, whom I ordered to lead their horses down the precipitous banks of the river. I forded the beautiful and widely flowing stream in an oblique direction, and ascended the rugged and steep banks of the opposite side by a cleft in the rocks, which admitted of only one horseman at a time. After gaining the heights, I immediately pushed forward, and succeeded in capturing 3000 odd fine cattle, but very few colonial ones among them, and had there been an hour's more daylight, I should have taken double the number. Night, however, came on, and I bivouacked my party on the left bank of the Bashee, ground well adapted for the security of the captured cattle. This was the third day since I left the Kei, and the troops had marched 84 miles.
Having observed at dusk that the cattle I could not come up with were driven in the direction of the Umtata, I resolved, as the moonlight was greatly in my favour, to move at three o'clock in the morning [13 May], leaving the jaded horses, weakly men, and captured cattle, with as large a guard as I could afford, in the bivouac. I gave this command to Captain Ross, of the Cape Mounted Rifles, an old and experienced Peninsular officer, with orders to concentrate everything as soon as it was daylight. I told him that he might rely on it the Kafirs would attempt to retake the cattle.
A most gallant officer and dear friend, Major White, the Quartermaster-General to the Burgher force, had accompanied me, and had rendered me great assistance, having also been busily employed each day in adding to the topographical information so much required in this country. He proposed to remain in camp to make sketches, and asked me to give him a guard of one corporal and three men. I desired Captain Ross to give him six, to keep a sharp look-out on this party, and (as I anticipated what did occur) to reinforce it in case of need. I also particularly requested my friend White to go a very short way from the bivouac, and to keep a sharp look-out, for he might rely upon the enemy's showing the utmost activity to retake the cattle and destroy every man remaining behind.
Upon my return to camp, the first report was that Major White and all his party were cut off. On the first alarm by a shot, the old Peninsular officer Ross was broad awake, but his reinforcement only arrived in time to find the body of poor White lying pierced with wounds, and all his papers, double-barrelled gun, etc., borne off, and the party lying murdered near him. In him the Colony lost a man of superior ability and vast utility, a noble-minded public-spirited fellow, formerly a lieutenant in our service, and I a friend I was proud of.
During these disasters in camp, which my foresight had anticipated, I pushed forward, detaching Captain Bailie with sixty excellent men of the Hottentot battalion down the Bashee to a distance, then to bring up his right shoulder and rejoin me on the banks of the Kakke103 River, equidistant between the Bashee and Umtata, where I proposed to halt and cook, if circumstances permitted me. I had no guide, and my movements were conducted by reference to a very defective map. I marched from the mountainous bank of the Bashee through a most beautiful and fertile country, strongly undulating and rich in pasturage, over which was visible the track of vast numbers of cattle. I pushed on with vigour until the bed of the Umtata was perfectly visible, but not a head of cattle was discernible. The whole country had been driven on the alarm and capture of the previous night. The enemy had assembled in vast numbers all around me, but I never could get near him, so wary and so vigilant was he. I succeeded, however, in taking one prisoner, and two Fingoes came in to me. From them I learned what I indeed saw–the cattle of the whole country had been driven, previously and by Hintza's orders, over the Umtata, those I had captured the night before being, as it were, the rear-guard.
From the distance marched, the fatigue of the troops, and the powerful concentration of the immense population all around me, I naturally began to turn my attention to the security of the bivouac I had left behind and the captured cattle. I had previously directed Captain Bailie not to join me, if he found the country I had detached him into excessively difficult to traverse. He was in that case to follow the bed of the Bashee a reasonable distance, and then return straight to the bivouac. My own observation of the country I had marched over confirmed me in thinking it would be impossible for him to join me. I therefore made no halt on account of any such expectation.
The enemy on my march back made some attempts on my rear. The officer, a Lieutenant Bailie, son of the man previously mentioned, a very sharp fellow, laid himself in ambush in the long grass and several times made the Kafirs pay dearly for their temerity.
On approaching my bivouac I saw all was secure, and did not anticipate the extent of the melancholy report I was to receive of the loss of my friend White, as before described. Captain Ross told me that he had been kept on the most vigilant alert all day; that every moment he expected a rush from the immense numbers of Kafirs all round him, and he was very glad to see me back.
Every moment the numbers increased around me, and their daring to approach me indicated great confidence. I was perfectly satisfied that an attempt would be made at night to retake the cattle, and I made my defensive dispositions accordingly, giving the command of the picquet to an active officer on whom I could depend–Captain Lacy of the 72nd Regiment.
Scarcely was it perfectly dark when on came, in the most stealthy manner, a swarm of Kafirs. Their design was anticipated, however, by our vigilance, and the assailants were driven back with great loss. Captain Bailie had not yet returned with his sixty men, and I was very anxious he should do so, although I felt no great apprehensions for his safety, as I heard no firing in his direction, and I was well aware he would not give in without a desperate struggle. However, between eleven and twelve at night I heard him approaching–joyfully, I admit; for he and his men had been marching from three o'clock in the morning, and taking into consideration the previous day's march, I then considered, and I now maintain, that these sixty men marched a greater distance than was ever traversed in the same number of hours by any infantry in the world. I was aware that unless they fell in with cattle they would have nothing to eat, and I had their dinners prepared; the active fellows had eaten nothing from the previous night. Captain Bailie reported to me that he had had various rencontres with parties of the enemy; that after dark he was closely invested, and several bold attempts were made to assagai his men in the very ranks.
Seeing the number of the enemy, their increasing hostility and daring, the difficulty of the road I had to retire by, being obliged to recross the Bashee by a path admitting of only one bullock at a time, it became necessary to make my arrangements with every skill and attention, lest the enemy should retake my capture, the abandonment of which would be contrary to the feelings of most of my party. Accordingly I made the soldiers cook at daylight, and went in among my doubtful troops–the new levies; for in my soldiers of the 72nd Regiment I had every confidence, as they deserved. I found my Hottentots, who are very sharp fellows, perfectly aware of the delicacy of our position, which, indeed, I did not attempt to conceal, as I wished to impress upon them that our safety and the getting away of the cattle depended on their silence and obedience and their never firing a shot without orders. They always called me "father." An old spokesman now said to me in Dutch, "We will do all our father desires, if he will stay near us, and not go galloping about to have his throat cut; for if we lose him we are all lost."
I sent Captain Ross over the river to establish himself on the opposite bank, and I placed parties in the river above and below the ford to keep the Kafirs from driving off the cattle, as they are very expert at this, and a few men could have effected it if once an opening had occurred.
So soon as the enemy saw me under arms and observed my retrograde movement, they disposed of themselves in the most dexterous manner, so as to attack me wherever able, and made frequent feints in one direction so as to attack in another. But so well were my orders obeyed, and so alert was every officer and soldier, fully aware that one error would occasion dire disaster, all these bold attempts were defeated: and I succeeded in crossing the river to the full extent of my most sanguine hopes. When I reached the open country about four miles from the river, the enemy had no cover or ground favourable for molesting me, and I pursued my march uninterrupted, but with great caution and in as compact a body as possible. Three thousand cattle cover a deal of ground, and but for the ability of the Hottentots as drovers I should never have succeeded in bringing them off.
In all my previous service I was never placed in a position requiring more cool determination and skill, and as one viewed the handful of my people compared with the thousands of brawny savages all round us, screeching their war-cry, calling to their cattle, and indicating by gesticulations the pleasure they would have in cutting our throats, the scene was animating to a degree. I continued my march and recrossed the Kei on the 17th May, and rejoined the main body under his Excellency Sir B. D'Urban, having completed a march of 218 miles in seven days and a half, over a rugged and mountainous country, intersected by deep rivers at the bottom of precipitous ravines and rivulets difficult to cross, having had to march for hours without any road at all, bringing with me 3000 captured cattle and 1000 Fingoes, who had flocked to me with their families for protection, and added considerably to my difficulties; and all this effected without the loss of an individual except those whose fatuity, or rather indiscretion, had placed them–so contrary to my caution and my anticipation of danger–within the grasp and power of the undaunted and stealthy savage.
On my reaching Sir Benjamin D'Urban, he gave out–
"21 May, 1835.
"The Commander-in-Chief has again the gratification of recording the military skill and indefatigable activity of Colonel Smith, and the admirable discipline, zeal, and determined spirit of the troops under his orders in the recent expedition beyond the mouth of the Bashee. Upon no former occasion–and there have been many during this campaign where they have well earned praise for their high qualities–have they displayed them in a more eminent degree. They marched in seven days 218 miles; overcame all opposition, notwithstanding that this was obstinately attempted by several thousands of armed and determined savages; crossed and recrossed a large river of very difficult banks, and brought off from the further side three thousand head of cattle which had been plundered from the Colony. They have also achieved a still more important service in the course of this bold and rapid inroad: they have rescued from destruction and safely brought in one thousand of the Fingo race, who from their remote situation had been before unable to join their countrymen now under British protection, and who would inevitably have been sacrificed to the fury of the savages so soon as they should have had leisure to think of them.
"For these services, effected too without loss from the ranks, the Commander-in-Chief returns his thanks to all the troops employed, officers and soldiers, and he especially offers them to Colonel Smith."
The Governor was much depressed at the unfortunate loss of the chief Hintza by his own treachery, not only from the natural feeling of humanity towards the individual, but because he fully anticipated the hold the canting party would take of it in England. Such men, stripping facts of all collateral circumstances, so changed the features of that incident as to twist it into the tortuous shape of their own cunning duplicity. For my own part, I was firmly based in my conscientious rectitude, of which Almighty God alone was Witness and Judge, and anything which man could say I disregarded. I admit, however, that at the moment I did not expect to be called a bloodthirsty murderer in every print in every quarter of our dominions, or to be shamefully abandoned by the Minister of the Colonies,104 whose duty it was in such assaults honestly to have supported and sustained me against the misled voice of the public, and not to have sacrificed me at the shrine of cringing party spirit when I had so faithfully, so zealously, and so energetically saved for him the Colony of the Cape. He remained in office long enough to repent and acknowledge his error. My own rectitude of conscience prevented me ever caring an iota for these miscreants' assaults, and I was ultimately thanked by the minister; although not till I had undergone the ordeal of inquiry by a court of investigation, levelled at me, but assembled on Mr. Southey, by whose hand the chief lost his life (August and Sept., 1836).
The Governor prepared to move into the colony, as soon as he had taken possession of the country on the right bank of the Kei, some years previously wrested from the Hottentots by the Kafirs, and as soon as he had founded the city of King William's Town [24 May] immediately on the left bank of the Buffalo, and established corresponding posts throughout the newly added "Province of Queen Adelaide."
The army marched from its position on the Kei, establishing posts on the line of road towards Grahamstown, and headquarters were established on the 22nd May, on the site of the new city, King William's Town, and remained there till the 11th June, when the Commander-in-Chief returned to Grahamstown.
During this period, with a small force of cavalry and infantry, I made some most rapid and extensive marches throughout the whole of the new province, the object being, in virtue of the proclamation, to compel the Kafirs to return behind the Kei in the spirit of that conquest by which they had some years previously crossed it. A more harassing duty for myself and troops cannot be imagined, although the troops had the best of the fatigue, for after each excursion I took fresh parties.
The day previously to headquarters returning to Grahamstown a General Order was published, of which the following is an extract:–
"The Commander-in-Chief publishes three reports made to him on the 1st, 3rd, and 7th inst. [June, 1835] by Colonel Smith at length, because they are full of valuable instruction for young officers (whose attention, therefore, is earnestly invited to them), setting forth in the clearest and most emphatic manner how such duties should be performed, as well with regard to arrangement of plan, as to activity and energy of execution; and, above all, they furnish a practical illustration of this great military principle, which should be foremost in the mind of every soldier, and which so strikingly characterizes this distinguished officer, 'Nil actum reputans, siquid superesset agendum.'"
After thanking the troops, the Order continues–
"It diminishes the regret of the Commander-in-Chief at quitting this personal command, that he leaves them in charge of Colonel Smith, an officer in whom they must all have the fullest confidence as well on account of those high military qualities which they have witnessed, and which have made him a main cause of the recent successes, as because they know from experience he is a soldier, and will always have a watchful care of all that can contribute to their health, comfort, and convenience.
"Colonel Smith, C.B., is appointed to the command of the District of the Province of Queen Adelaide and all the troops therein, until his Majesty's pleasure be known."
HARRY SMITH LEFT IN COMMAND OF THE NEW "PROVINCE OF QUEEN ADELAIDE" AT KING WILLIAM'S TOWN–DEATH OF LIEUTENANT BAILIE–HARRY SMITH JOINED BY HIS WIFE–FORAYS ON THE KAFIRS–CONCLUSION OF PEACE.
UPON my taking the command, my first object was to provide for the security of the various posts established by his Excellency; to facilitate communication by improving roads, fords, etc.; then to endeavour to compel the Kafirs, in conformity with my instructions, to withdraw beyond the Kei and sue for peace. I endeavoured by every means in my power to assure them that peace was within their reach, and that if hostilities were continued, it would be due to them alone. I most assuredly never allowed the troops one moment's repose from the furtherance of the great object–a peaceful possession of the province wrested from the enemy.
Of the many patrols which I sent out, one consisted of sixty of the 1st Battalion of the Hottentots under Lieutenants Bailie and Biddulph. I had frequently employed Lieutenant Bailie on such duties. His achievements were always to my perfect satisfaction, and I had implicit confidence in his judgment, discretion, and bravery. The evening this patrol went out, I proceeded some distance with it, impressing upon Lieut. Bailie the necessity there was for vigilance. Above all he must never divide his party, as utility and safety consisted in union. With this injunction I left him, and for ever. It will appear that this excellent officer had received some information by which he hoped to effect great service, and he divided his sixty men into two bodies, thirty with himself, and thirty with Biddulph. They were to meet at a given point of rendezvous well known to both. Biddulph reached the rendezvous, but Bailie's party never again appeared. They were cut off to a man. Biddulph, having heard no firing, after waiting for some time, believed Bailie to have returned to my camp. I had so much confidence in this officer's ability, that I was not in the slightest apprehension for his safety, and as to sending out parties in quest of him, I had no clue whatever, for Biddulph could not even give an opinion where he could have proceeded to. Afterwards, on the conclusion of peace, it was ascertained that with his small party he protracted a most gallant and unflinching resistance for four days against many hundreds of the savages, who had hemmed him in in one of the deep woody ravines of the Tabendoda 105 Mountains, a resistance which did not cease till his ammunition was exhausted. It is most extraordinary that, though I sent patrols in various directions. no one ever heard the report even of a musket.
Being thus established "Governor" of a Province, and my dear, faithful, adventurous, and campaigning wife being impatient under her unusual separation, we resolved with mutual gratification that she should start to join me–a distance of nearly 800 miles over a wild country of bad roads, difficult passes, and deep rivers. But what will not woman undertake when actuated by love and duty? Such distances are travelled in large covered or tilted waggons drawn by ten, twelve, fourteen, and even twenty horses according to the road. The roads may be of deep sand, hard, or over mountains; but they are invariably rough. One of the judges' circuit waggons was kindly placed at my wife's disposal, and she, her maid, dogs, and two faithful servants started. Reliefs of horses were collected on the road at the usual stages by authority, my wife paying for the same. She travelled at an average rate of 70 miles a day, receiving, wherever she stopped the night or for refreshment, every attention from the families of the Dutch Boers, most of whom were, or had been, under my command, and with whom I was very popular. She reached Grahamstown much fatigued from the jolting of so unwieldy a thing as a Cape waggon, but no other vehicle can bear the shock caused by the roughness of the mountain roads. On reaching Grahamstown she found it necessary to rest for a day or two, after which the troops of Volunteers spontaneously prayed to be her escort to Fort Willshire, about halfway between Grahamstown and King William's Town, the furthest point to which I could venture to proceed from my command. On the day we were to meet, so punctual were we both that her waggon and my escort appeared on two heights on either side of Fort Willshire at the same instant, and we were again united in gratitude to Almighty God.
The next day we proceeded to the seat of my government, King William's Town, where my dear campaigning wife was again under canvas, surrounded by all the circumstance of war. There was, however, little "pomp" in my posts, every man who strayed a few yards from the cantonment being murdered to a certainty. We only occupied the ground we stood on, and chains of sentries were round us each night, as hundreds of Kafirs were watching every post night and day for the purposes of murder and plunder, and most daring attempts were frequently made to carry off cattle from the very centre of our camp. My tents were near the garden of an old missionary station which had been burnt during the war; and in that garden two Kafirs were shot while attempting to steal my cows.
Close to King William's Town, and somewhat under cover of it, I had a large Fingo encampment. One night the Kafirs in great force made a desperate attempt to destroy them and their camp and carry off their cattle. But the Fingoes, even before the picquet in readiness for the purpose could reach them, not only defended themselves most gallantly, but bravely beat the Kafirs, left them lying dead in their camp, and pursued them until daylight. I shall never forget the screeching, yelling, hooting, Tower of Babel noise made in the dead of night by so many hundred desperate savages fighting with every degree of animosity that bitter hatred and enmity inspire. But so well did the Fingoes conduct themselves, that no further attempt was ever made to molest them.
In all the many forays I made on these determined barbarians, I endeavoured to impress upon them, through the medium of their women, that submission and a desire on their part for peace would be readily listened to, and that they alone would be the culprits if the horrors of war continued. The many forays I ordered are best described in a General Order, of which the following is an extract–
"With reference to the General Order of the 1st July, when the Commander-in-Chief had last the satisfaction of thanking the troops in the Province of Queen Adelaide, he now desires to record his approbation of their continued and gallant and excellent services as reported by Colonel Smith during the latter part of June and the whole of the month of July. These have been hardly and brilliantly achieved, with great loss to the enemy and the capture of 5000 head of cattle. And for these the Commander-in-Chief desires to express to the officers and soldiers his approbation and his thanks, which are especially due to Colonel Smith."
If ever these anecdotes meet the eye of the public, let it bear in mind that although as an united enemy nothing could be so contemptible as the poor athletic barbarians, yet to inflict any punishment upon them the most rapid and gigantic marches were requisite, and every patrol must be conducted on the most vigilant and scientific principles. Most enterprising men were watching every movement, ready to take advantage of inactivity or error. On one occasion a most desperate attempt, boldly planned and executed, was made on a redoubt near the frontier, and only repulsed by the soldiers of the 72nd Regiment hand to hand. On the whole a more harassing duty was rarely undertaken.
My Hottentot levies–the 1st and 2nd Provisional Battalions (not enlisted soldiers)–began to be very tired of the war. The excitement of cattle-hunting no longer existed; and in lieu of it, when I sent them into the bush they encountered an enemy fully as gallant as themselves. After the loss of Lieutenant Bailie's party, too, they became somewhat cowed; and I never sent any of them out without a proportion of our own redcoats. From the various communications I began to receive through the women, it was evident that the Kafirs also were heartily tired of war. In order, therefore, to accelerate peace, I determined to make from Fort Cox (commanded by the gallant officer of that name) a desperate and very extended attempt on the tribes of the great chiefs Macomo and Tyalie, who were in that neighbourhood. I therefore reinforced Major Cox with all the troops I could spare, and sent him very detailed instructions, dwelling particularly on the attainment of my object, peace. Any overture was to be received cordially, but no cessation of hostilities was to be permitted without previous communication with me; which a few hours would effect. This enterprise was so ably conducted by my gallant comrade, and so energetically supported by officers and soldiers, that Macomo sued for peace; and I consented to a provisional cessation of hostilities whilst I communicated with the Governor at Grahamstown.
Sir Benjamin immediately sent out Captain Warden and Major Cox. Both officers were personally known to Macomo and liked by him; and he with his council and Tyalie met them beyond our posts [15 August].106 The basis of the treaty was then communicated to the chiefs, who consented to almost everything, the articles were taken to Grahamstown by Captain Warden, and Major Cox, to my deep regret, sent back the reinforcements I had furnished him with. I was so convinced that the chiefs would not conclude a peace on these terms, that I marched back to Cox the troops (or rather fresh ones), and wrote to the Governor to request that, in the event of Macomo, as I anticipated, demurring to the terms, I might be sent to conclude the peace. The whole turned out as I expected. Macomo, seeing we were willing to make peace, at his second meeting with Cox and Warden [25 August] rose in his demands, and was most violent and even insulting in his conduct. Warden, in conformity to his orders, came to me 30 miles off; and at dusk I was in my saddle, and troops were marching in all directions on certain points around Macomo.
On my arrival at Fort Cox, I sent a summons to Macomo to meet me with his chiefs in front of my picquet, describing to him the position of my troops, and pointing out that the line of his retreat over the Kei, previously left open for him, was now intercepted. I added that if he was not with me in two hours after the receipt of my message, I would sweep him and all his host off the face of the earth. This bold menace had the desired effect, and he speedily met me.
I went out [6 September] with only Cox, Warden, and my A. D. C., to show I did not anticipate treachery, although I had some able support hard by. On meeting me, Macomo was in a state of terrible agitation, as was his brother Tyalie. The spot was near the place called the grave of their father, the great chief Gaika. I therefore, in their own mode of incantation, invoked Gaika to our council, for whom they had profound respect and veneration, and then most abruptly demanded a repetition of his dying injunction to his sons Macomo and Tyalie, which was to remain in peace and amity with the English and never make war upon them. I would not allow the chiefs to have an opinion, much less to give one, saying, "You made war in the most brutal and unjust manner upon our colony, without observing your own and our unvaried custom of declaring war, but burning, murdering, and spoiling all you approached. Beaten in war, you sue for peace, and peace is granted to you. On a second meeting called to ratify it, you rise in your demands. You are insolent and overbearing to two officers for whom you profess respect and esteem. Now I read the only terms and conditions on which I make peace with you. Unless you accept them after the several days you have had to deliberate on them–for they are the very same articles you previously accepted without any reserve–you shall return to your people. I give you half an hour to reach them, after which I will instantly attack you, and never cease until you are all destroyed. I am here to command, not to listen." ("Listen" is a most impressive expression in the Kafir language and habit. It means everything.)
This decided mode of dealing with these treacherous savages, with whom self-will alone is law, astonished them, and they all agreed to the former treaty. Tyalie, an ignorant fellow, began to talk, but I shut his mouth in a voice of thunder, and threatened to make peace with the others and exclude him, which settled his presumption. The whole body–chiefs and council–then formally ratified the treaty, and all accompanied me to Fort Cox, where I regaled them with all in my power. I told them they should soon see the difference in me between a friend and an enemy; that as I had waged vigorous war on them, so would I teach them by every kindness to become men and shake off their barbarism.
The Governor came to Fort Willshire, halfway between Fort Cox and Grahamstown, to meet the chiefs [dates of meetings, 11 and 17 September]. The tribes had become, in consequence of the war, somewhat unruly, and I do believe that at the moment the chiefs, with every desire, had not the power to restrain many lawless and predatory acts of their followers, pending the final arrangement of the new order of things.
On the conclusion of the treaty of peace, a deputation was sent to Kreili and his mother, Nomsa. Kreili was now the great chief in place of his father Hintza. If a Kafir has any heart, this youth Kreili showed one on all after-occasions to me, for my kindness to him when he was in our camp with his father. I ever found him docile and reasonable, and ever had paramount authority with him.
HARRY SMITH'S ATTEMPTS AT CIVILIZING THE KAFIRS–THE CHIEFS MADE BRITISH MAGISTRATES–A CENSUS TAKEN–A POLICE FORCE ESTABLISHED–A GREAT MEETING OF CHIEFS–WITCHCRAFT FORBIDDEN–A CHIEF PUNISHED FOR DISOBEDIENCE–A REBELLIOUS CHIEF AWED INTO SUBMISSION–AGRICULTURE AND COMMERCE INTRODUCED–NAKEDNESS DISCOUNTENANCED–BURIAL OF THE DEAD ENCOURAGED–BUYING OF WIVES CHECKED–HOPES OF A GENERAL CONVERSION TO CHRISTIANITY.
DURING the assembly of the chiefs and their great men at Fort Willshire, I had many and long conferences with them. They had become British subjects at their own request, and now each chief was appointed a magistrate in his own tribe and district, with orders to look up to me and report to me as the Governor of the Province. To introduce a new order of things diametrically opposed to their former habits required much consideration; and the success of the undertaking depended on the gradual introduction of innovation and change. I joyfully and enthusiastically entered upon the task of rescuing from barbarism thousands of our fellow-creatures endowed by nature with excellent understanding and powers of reasoning as regards the present; for there was only one man among them–Umhala, the chief of the T'slambie tribe–who had an idea of the result of measures, or futurity. I saw that innovations must be so introduced as to render them agreeable, not obnoxious, and that anything acquired by conciliatory and palatable means was an important point gained. I requested each chief to give me one of his most able councillors, and several messengers on whom he could depend, to accompany me to King William's Town, now the "Great Kraal" or seat of government, that we might freely communicate, or, in their expression, "that they might have my ear." This they all cheerfully assented to. The Governor returned to Grahamstown [25 Sept.], I to my "Great Kraal" with my new court, and the chiefs to their tribes.
By this arrangement much of the territory, indeed almost the whole, between the Kei and the Keiskamma was restored to the previous occupants. But the labour and difficulty I had to prevent locations on the tracts of country reserved for military purposes and sites of towns is not to be described. Frequently I have been compelled to resort to very harsh measures; but I never would admit of any arrangement bordering on a compromise. I started on the principle of Yes and No, Right and Wrong. I was ever inflexible, and I ever strove most energetically to establish that faith in my word and uncompromising justice which aided me beyond anything to effect what I ultimately did. I closed the door to all appeal or reference to events which occurred prior to the conclusion of peace. In their own words, "the old kraal was shut," never to be reopened. It was fortunate for me that I adopted this policy, for no records of the Court of Chancery embraced more retrospect than my new subjects were disposed to. They were all by nature subtle and acute lawyers. The councillor given me by Macomo was an old man of great ability; Lords Bacon, Thurlow, and Eldon were not more acquainted with our laws than was this old fellow with the laws of his people. He had been Gaika's Prime Minister and Lord Chancellor, and was attached to the English. With this old fellow I spent six hours a day for several successive days, until I made myself thoroughly acquainted with their laws and rights of person. Although these closely resembled the law of Moses given in Leviticus, and, if correctly administered, were excellent, I soon discovered that might was right, that the damnable forgery of sorcery and witchcraft was the primum mobile of oppression and extortion, and that under the cloak of punishment for this offence there was committed oppression of so barbarous and tyrannical a kind as it was hardly to be conceived that beings endowed with reason could perpetrate on each other. The following sketch will give some idea of what commonly takes place.
In Kafirland the witch-doctors and the rain-makers are in the confidence of their respective chiefs. Whenever any individual renders himself obnoxious to the chief or any of his family or influential men, he is accused of bewitching either the chief, his wife, or child, or cattle, or any other thing, but no one is ever considered capable of this sort of sorcery but a man rich in goods, viz. cattle.
A witch-dance is then called, special care being taken to summon the individual upon whom it is intended to affix the crime. An old hag, perfectly naked, comes forth; the assembled people dance round her in a circle; she is, in their expression, to "smell out" the person who has bewitched the supposed sufferers. After a variety of gesticulations, this hag approaches the individual already named by the chief, and literally smells him, proclaiming him the culprit. If he is very rich, the chief and his pagate, or councillors, are satisfied with "eating him up" (the native expression for having all one's property confiscated under an accusation of witchcraft); if not so, or if he is very obnoxious, they have various punishments, such as putting him at once to death by a species of hanging, or rather strangulating by a leather thong, throwing the poor wretch on the ground upon his back, tethering his arms apart above his head, his legs apart and fully extended, then bringing large quantities of large black ants,107 throwing them upon him, and leaving him exposed until the pain and anguish of the stings put an end to his existence; burning the body all over with large flat stones (the poor wretch on whose account I punished Umhala so severely 108 had thirty large places burned on his person); taking the accused to the edge of a particular precipice and hurling him down; and several other methods. No individual, man, woman, or child, is safe. The witch-doctors are in the confidence of the chief, as much as the Inquisitors are in that of the Pope, and no more arbitrary oppression is exercised on earth than by these Kafir chiefs and witch-doctors.
I soon saw that the witch-doctors and rain-makers, i.e. fellows who professed and were believed to be capable of bringing down rain in time of drought, would be my formidable opponents in introducing a new order of things, as their supposed power, if I succeeded, must ultimately be annihilated.
Having thus made myself acquainted with the laws of the barbarous people whom I was to govern and lead on to become civilized beings and British subjects, I was in a position to begin proceedings. At my suggestion, the Governor appointed magistrates to each tribe, consisting principally of officers of the army. With Macomo and Tyalie and the widow Suta, and with the heir-apparent Sandilli, Gaika's young son, I had Captain Stretch; with Dushani's tribe, the widow Nonibe,109 and her son, I had Captain Southey; with Umhala and the T'slambie tribes, Captain Rawstorne.
The missionaries all came back to their respective missions, and with the magistrates, the missionaries, and other aid afforded by the kind attention paid by Sir Benjamin D'Urban to all my wants, I proceeded to take a nominal census of the whole male population arrived at puberty, with the number of their women, children, etc. At first the Kafirs were much opposed to this, but through the aid of my councillor Ganya, the common sense of which they have a great share, and my patient explanation of the utility of the measure, I succeeded. I found I had upwards of 100,000 barbarians to reclaim who had no knowledge of right or wrong beyond arbitary power, desire, and self-will. To attach the people to the new order of things was of vast importance; to lessen the power of the chiefs equally so; but this had to be gradual, for if I removed the hereditary restraint of the chiefs, I should open the gates to an anarchy which I might not be able to quell.
A fortunate circumstance occurred, which enabled me to make gigantic steps. The Kafirs have a barbarous festival, when all the maidens are compelled to attend to undergo a sort of "Rape of the Sabines." These maidens, during the festival, are appropriated by the chiefs to themselves and their followers, and then sent back to their families. Old Ganya, who came to tell me this, said, "Now you have an opportunity, by preventing this brutal custom, to restrain the lawlessness of the chiefs, and to win the hearts of their subjects." He added that there were many fathers of families in camp, who had come to appeal to me for protection. I immediately gave them an audience,110 as I invariably did every one who desired to see me. I acquired great ascendancy by first ascertaining through the interpreter the grounds on which they had come, and when they were ushered into the presence, exclaiming, "Ah, you want so and so!" The poor wretches were much astonished at this, believing that I had the power to divine their thoughts; and I frequently saved myself from listening to a string of lies very plausibly linked together.
I also established with every magistrate a police of Kafirs, and I had a considerable number with me, to apprehend delinquents and culprits and summon the heads of the kraals. These police carried with them from the magistrate a long stick with a brass knob. This is a custom of their own. Fakoo has a cat's tail on his wands of office. At headquarters I had a very long stick with a large knob, which was always held by my Gold Stick when I was in council, or upon trials, cases of appeal, mandates, issuing proclamations, etc. And when I seized the stick, held it myself, and gave a decisive order, that was formal and irrevocable. For when once I had decided, no power could induce me to swerve from that decision.
When the police were out, if they were treated with contumely, and the head of a kraal refused obedience or compliance, this stick was stuck in his cattle-kraal, and he was obliged to bring it himself to the authority whence it emanated; while so long as it remained in the kraal, the proprietor was under the ban of the Empire, excommunicated, or outlawed. The fear they had of this wand was literally magical. I never had to use military aid in support of my police but once, and then I did so, more as a display of the rapidity with which I could turn out troops and rush them to the spot than from any absolute necessity. Such was the respect for these policemen, that the neighbours of a delinquent would voluntarily turn out in their support, and I always rewarded such support by a present of cattle from my treasury (formed from fines levied for offences).
Having now begun to have some weight and influence among the whole of the tribes, and having taught the people to look up to me rather than to their own chiefs, I had next to re-establish the power of the chiefs as derived from myself. I therefore, with the sanction of the Governor, resolved on a great meeting on the 7th January of all the chiefs, their relatives, councillors, rain-makers, and as many as chose to attend. I had previously prepared English clothes for Macomo, Tyalie, Umhala, and some others, with a medal, which was to be the emblem of their magisterial power. Some thousands assembled in a most orderly and obedient manner. I had taken very good care to strengthen my force at headquarters, for I made it an axiom never to place myself in such a situation with these volatile savages as not to be able to enforce obedience to my commands like lightning.
I gave them a sort of epitome of their own history, especially of the Kafir wars. I dwelt particularly on their cruelty and treachery in the late war, and reminded them that they had voluntarily proposed to become British subjects. I then administered the oath of allegiance to all the chiefs in the name of their respective peoples. Two councillors from Kreili (the new Hintza and Great Father) whom I had invited to the meeting, proposed that they should take the oath of allegiance too, which of course I could not accept, all the inhabitants beyond the Kei being independent. It is a curious fact that after this meeting had been held, and the messengers from Kreili had disseminated throughout the tribe the improved state of things under my rule, Kreili himself and many of his influential men were most anxious to become British subjects, and I received many deputations to that effect.
To return, however, to my meeting. I described the duties of the magistrates, British and native, and the necessity of the people's obedience, and declared that, while no one should be "eaten up"111 or any way punished except for robbery, etc., I should oblige them to be obedient to the laws and the jurisdiction of their respective magistrates.112
After this meeting, my system began to work with the greatest facility, and the rain-makers, who had most scrupulously kept aloof from me, began to pay me visits, particularly the chief of that department of deceit. I received these first visitors with great ease and ceremony of reception, made them all presents, and dismissed them without any discussion of their power and respectability. At the great meeting I had prohibited every branch of witchcraft, so that the rain-makers, being fully aware that the axe was laid to the root of their power, thought it as well to worship the rising sun and court me. Knowing that the presents would bring back the great rain-maker, and induce the little rain-makers to come to me, I was prepared, on the visit of the great one, to prove to him the fallacy and deceit by which he led the people to believe that he possessed a power which he knew he did not.
One day when the great rain-maker was in my camp, and many others, as well as an unusually large number of Kafirs, I assembled them all for the avowed purpose of hearing a disputation between the "Great Chief" or "Father," as they invariably called me, and the rain-makers. My first question to them was, "So you can make rain, can you?" I never saw in men's countenances more caution. I said, "Speak out, speak freely to your Father." The great rain-maker said he could. I then showed him one by one all the articles on my writing-table, knives, scissors, etc., my clothes, my hat, boots, etc., etc., asking, "Can you make this?" "No." "Do you know how. it is made?" "No." Having explained everything and how it was made through the medium of my invaluable interpreter, Mr. Shepstone, I then called for a tumbler of water. I showed all the people the water, and asked the rainmakers if what was in the glass was of the same quality as the water or rain they invoked. All agreed "Yes." Their anxiety was intense. I then threw down the water on the dry ground, which immediately absorbed it, and desired the rain-makers to put it again in the tumbler. They were aghast, and said, "We cannot." In a voice of thunder, I said, "Put the rain again in this glass, I say." I then turned to the spectators. "Now you see how these impostors have deceived you. Now listen to the 'Word.'" (This is the phrase they use in giving orders and decisions on all points of law and in trials.) I took my wand of office, planted it violently before me, and said, "Any man of my children hereafter who believes in witchcraft, or that any but God the Great Spirit can make rain, I will 'eat him up.'" I then left the meeting and the rain-makers thunderstruck and confounded.
On principle, however, I never directly contradicted or prohibited their customs, or left them without hope or a friend; so in about two hours I sent for the great rain-maker and two or three others,–clever, acute fellows all, and I said, "Your Father has now proved to the people that you are impostors, but as you have been taught to fancy that you possess a power you have not, I must provide another and an honest livelihood for you, and I shall expect you to assist me in administering the new and true laws." I then made each presents, giving them so many bullocks apiece–a stock-in-trade. These fellows were many of them of great use to me afterwards. By the line of conduct I had pursued, I had carried them with me instead of rendering them my secret and bitter enemies.
In Umhala's tribe, I heard of an awful case of his "eating up" a man for witchcraft, and afterwards cruelly burning him with red-hot stones. The poor wretch, so soon as he could move, came to me and showed me the cicatrized wounds all over his body–how he had lived was a wonder. I kept him closely concealed. I sent for Umhala and his English magistrate and council to come to me immediately. This Umhala was a man of superior intellect, and the only one who could judge cause and effect, and future results. He never quailed in the slightest, as all others did, under my most violent animadversions. He gave me more trouble to render obedient than all the other chiefs. Still, he respected me, and I him; and he afterwards showed more real and permanent affection for me than the others.
Upon his arrival, he did all in his power to find out what I wanted him for, and he apprehended the real cause. So soon as he and all his people were assembled in my courthouse, I went in with my wand behind, borne by my great councillor Ganya. Umhala then saw something was coming. I came to the point at once, as was my custom.
"Umhala, did I not give the word–no more witchcraft?" He boldly answered, "You did." "Then how dare you, Umhala, one of my magistrates sworn to be obedient to my law, infringe the Word?" He stoutly denied it. I then brought in the poor afflicted sufferer, and roared out, "Umhala, devil, liar, villain, you dare to deceive me. Deny now what I accuse you of." He then confessed all, and began to palliate his conduct. To this I would not listen, but seized my wand to give the Word. "Hear you, Umhala! you have eaten a man up. Give back every head of his cattle, and ten head of your own for having eaten him up. And you forfeit ten head more to me, the Great Chief, for my government." He was perfectly unmoved, but I saw that he intended to do no such thing. I then deprived him of his medal of office, and said, "Now go and obey my orders," and I desired the English magistrate to report in two days that he had done so. He had 30 miles to return to his kraal.
According to my custom, I sent the "news" all over Kafirland immediately. I sent out a Court Circular daily. I had no secrets. This they much admired. There never were such newsmongers. Their greeting is "Indaba" ("the news"). The mode adopted to give the news was by so many messengers running out at night-time in different directions, waving their cloaks or karosses. The whole country is strongly undulating, and there are always a number of fellows on the look-out. My messenger called out the news. Others took it up, and so it passed from hill to hill by a sort of telegraph; and every day I could communicate information throughout the whole province in a few hours. This open procedure was of vast importance.
The hour arrived when the news of Umhala's obedience should be received by me. The report came that Umhala had not obeyed my order nor did Captain Rawstorne think he would. This letter was brought me by two Kafir messengers. I had held two troops of cavalry ready to march to reinforce the post of Fort Wellington at Umhala's kraal. I sounded the assembly, and in five minutes they were on the march. When I ordered Rawstorne to "eat up" the chief, a thing never done before in Kafirland, my old councillor Ganya asked me in consternation what orders I had given, and when I told him, he said, "Then war is again over the land." For in old times such an act as seizing any of the cattle of a chief was regarded as a formal declaration of war. I roared out, "Either obedience or war. I will be Chief; and Umhala shall see it, and every chief and man in Kafirland." I seized all Umhala's cattle, and I desired the magistrate cautiously to count every head, to give him a regular receipt, and send a copy to me. The cattle were to be guarded by Umhala's own people. I saw that now was my time to establish or lose my power throughout my government. For this Umhala was much looked up to throughout Kafirland, and regarded as the boldest warrior, having distinguished himself by many daring acts in the war.
The news was sent out, and I immediately summoned to my "Court" Macomo, Tyalie, Suta, and Gazela, a chief of whom I must speak hereafter. I knew that this would so intimidate all parties that there would be no danger of a war. Scarcely was Umhala's cattle seized than he sent in succession the most penitent messages, promising to obey my orders and never transgress again. I would not "listen," but desired Umhala to come to me, and meet the chiefs for whom I had sent. He boldly, though penitently, came, as did all the chiefs I had sent for.
I then had a council, told everything that had occurred, and asked if Umhala merited what I, the Great Chief, had done to him, being one of the magistrates who had sworn allegiance and obedience. There was a mutter of assent. I had previously instructed Ganya to watch my eye and to speak in mitigation of punishment. I said, "Now, Umhala, you see how insignificant you are, unless obedient, and how powerful I am. I will be obeyed, and I will 'eat up' every chief who dares disobey me or sanction witchcraft. Here is your medal of magistrate, which I place under my foot."
The crowd were perfectly petrified, and looked at old Ganya, who stood up and made a most eloquent speech. (Some of the Kafirs speak beautifully.) He dwelt on their own desire to be British subjects and my exertions for them; and then turned most judiciously to Macomo and Tyalie. "Now, sons of my old chief, whose councillor I was, the great Gaika, speak to our Chief for Umhala; and I hope he will 'listen.'" Macomo instantly stood up, and spoke capitally and to the purpose. Umhala sat unmoved, until I said, "Now, Umhala, all depends on you. Can I 'listen' or not?" He spoke modestly, but powerfully. I made a merit of forgiving him, put his medal again on his neck, ordered his cattle to be restored the moment he had returned the cattle of the burnt man and paid the fines; and I immediately sent off the news throughout the province. Umhala returned, received all his cattle, and reported to me that he had got every head back, and had paid his fines and restored the cattle to the sufferer.
This decision and determination established most effectively my absolute power. I was fully prepared for some underhand work on the part of the chiefs, and it was speedily started through the instrumentality of Macomo; but the people whom I protected were with me, and nothing occurred which I was not informed of immediately.
Macomo had driven his cattle to graze over the Keiskamma contrary to treaty and my orders, whereupon I strongly desired that he would never do it again. This offended the gentleman, a restless, turbulent, uncontrollable spirit, and he sent to all the other chiefs to say that if they would join, he would strive for independence. At all the courts this message was received most contemptuously. Tyalie turned the messenger from his kraal; Suta and young Sandilli were indignant and would not "listen"; Umhala listened, but his council opposed the measure, and a subordinate chief of Umhala's, a noble little fellow, Gazela, stood up and spoke out like a man. "You, Umhala, and all know how I fought during the war, and never was for giving in until I saw we had no chance of success. Macomo made peace. He has received more kindness than all of us put together. He is now false, and wants to make us break the word given to our Great Chief," etc.
All this I knew in a few hours. I sent for Macomo, received him as usual, and said, "I have a fable to tell you." They are very fond of speaking in parables themselves. I then recounted a tale, viz. myself and himself. I never saw a creature in such a state of agitation. "Now," I said, "if you were the Great Chief, what would you do?" He threw himself at my feet, bathed in tears. "Ah, Macomo," I said, "if I were only to say the Word, your people would no longer know you." Oh, how Ganya did abuse him! "Ah, cry," he said; "your tears can't wash away your sins. You caused the last war, disregarding the dying words of Gaika. You are now treated with every kindness, yet treachery and that same restlessness which has plunged the Colony and Kafirland in blood, still guide you!" I said, "Rise, Macomo, and go. I will not touch my stick and give the Word for two hours. I must cool. Englishmen are generous, but they must be just to all. I must consider for two hours how my actions may be guided, but for the good of all my children, go."
He never had such a lesson. I sent for him and forgave him, with a full assurance that on the next offence I would eat him up and banish him over the Kei. I sent off the news, and my authority was ever after perfectly undisputed.
I now began to turn my attention to teaching them cultivation and the use of money. In the former I had but little difficulty compared with what I anticipated, although previously their fields had been cultivated by their women in a miserable manner. I gave them Hottentots to teach them, and I had soon several chiefs with ploughs and good yokes of oxen. The chief Gazela, a man of great use to me, and with more idea of honesty than any one, had also a commercial turn. I proved to him that it was by the use of money that we became a great people, and could make everything and do everything, and I made him perfectly understand our banking system–which I could induce no other Kafir to attend to. Gazela sold me some bullocks for the Commissary. Afterwards he let out horses to people travelling at so much a day, and he induced others to sell me cattle; this I considered the greatest step towards civilization.
The missionaries had all returned to me, and were excellent good men, doing all in their power. The chief Tyalie, in the English clothes I had given him, attended divine service every Sunday, and the missionaries had a considerable degree of moral influence; but as to spiritual instruction or conversion, few indeed were the converts. Macomo knew more theology than many Christians, but was still a perfect heathen. Had I remained long enough, as cultivation and sale progressed, I would have built churches, and by feasts and slaughtering cattle have induced all influential men to attend; I would have had schools, and, by educating the children, would have reared a generation of Christians, but to convert the aged barbarian was a hopeless task.
The world does not produce a more beautiful race of blacks than these Kafirs, both men and women; their figures and eyes are beautiful beyond conception, and they have the gait of princes. It was one of my great endeavours to make them regard appearing naked as a grievous sin, now that they were British subjects; and no one was ever permitted in my camp, much less in my presence, but dressed in his karosse. This karosse is the skin of a bullock, but beautifully dressed so as to be pliant and soft, and then ornamented by fur, beads, buttons, etc. The head-dresses of the chiefs' wives are really beautiful. No creatures on earth are more the votaries of fashion than these Kafirs. In Grahamstown I could procure no beads and buttons of the mode of the day, but great quantities exceedingly cheap, which the Kafirs would not buy because they were out of fashion. I therefore bought up the whole. I had always about me some of the rejected buttons and of the blue beads that had been once their delight, and I found fault with every button that was not of my shape and every bead that was not of my colour. The discarded buttons and the blue beads were soon established as the haut ton of fashion.
My wife, who took equal interest in the reform of these poor barbarians with myself, was always surrounded by numbers of the chiefs' wives and hangers-on, particularly the queens Suta and Nonibe (the former was Gaika's widow, the latter Dushani's, and both had sons in their minority). She taught many of them needlework, and was for hours daily explaining to them right and wrong, and making them little presents, so that she became so popular she could do anything with them.
The Kafirs have a horror of burying their dead, or even touching them. They will carry out a dying creature from their kraal, mother or father, wife or brother, and leave him exposed to wild beasts and vultures for days, if nature does not sink in the mean time. I not only prohibited this, but I had three or four Kafirs who died in my camp regularly buried. (Many came to me to be cured of diseases.) In each case I made my Kafir messengers dig the grave, and I, with my interpreter, read the funeral service over the dead. Then the news was sent over the land–the Great Chief does it, and whenever any one came and told me he had buried his deceased relative (I took care to prove it, though), I gave him a bullock, and sent the news over the land.
The Levitical law as to uncleanness is fully in force among the Kafirs, and they practise circumcision, but not until the age of puberty. It is a great ceremony, after which the youths are able to marry, provided they have enough cattle to buy a wife from the father. (A plurality of wives is tolerated. Macomo had eleven, all very handsome women.) This buying of wives is the great source of all robbery and inroads into the Colony. I just began to prohibit it gradually by making the parents of the bride and bridegroom contribute to the establishment of the newly married pair, and myself giving a present.
I directed the magistrates to decide all cases of law themselves, but when they were in any doubt, to send me, for my approval, the parties and the opinion or decision proposed to be given. This strengthened their power and also mine, for whatever I once decided on, I never revoked, and admitted of no appeal or renewal of the subject.
Having thus gained an ascendancy over these people never attempted before, my mind was dwelling on the great and important subject of their conversion to Christianity, and many is the conference I had with the missionaries upon the subject. Of ultimately effecting a general conversion I never despaired, but I was convinced it could only be through the educating of the youth and at the same time introducing habits of industry and rational amusement. The Kafirs, like the Hottentots, are great lovers of music and have remarkably good ears. I have been wonderfully amused at observing the effect the playing of our bands had on many who had never heard them before. Some would laugh immoderately, some cry, some stand riveted to the spot, others in a sort of vibrating convulsion, others would dance and sing, all were animated and excited beyond measure. When poor Hintza heard the bagpipes of the 72nd, he closed his ears with his hands and said, "This is to make people cry.113 I like the bugles and trumpets. When I hear them I feel like a man." Thus with the aid of music I should have made some advance towards Christian conversion.
LORD GLENELG ORDERS THE ABANDONMENT OF THE PROVINCE OF QUEEN ADELAIDE, AND APPOINTS CAPTAIN STOCKENSTROM TO SUCCEED HARRY SMITH ON THE FRONTIER–GRIEF OF THE KAFIRS AT THE CHANGE–JOURNEY OF HARRY SMITH AND HIS WIFE TO CAPE TOWN–HE IS EXONERATED BY LORD GLENELG, AND RECEIVES TESTIMONIALS FOR HIS SERVICES TO THE COLONY–LEAVES CAPE TOWN JUNE, 1840, ON BEING APPOINTED ADJUTANT-GENERAL OF THE QUEEN'S ARMY IN INDIA.
IN the midst, however, of all I had effected, and all my visions of what I could effect, the most crooked policy ever invented by the most wicked Machiavellians blasted all my hopes for the benefit of the 100,000 barbarians committed to my rule, and the bright prospect of peace and tranquillity for the Colony (for the frontier inhabitants began to be in a state of security which was security indeed).
The Minister for the Colonies, Lord Glenelg, an excellent, worthy, and able man, but led by a vile party, under the cloak of sanctity and philanthropy, directed the Province of Queen Adelaide to be restored to barbarism, the allegiance the Kafirs had sworn to to be shaken off, and the full plenitude of their barbarity re-established. It is grievous to reflect that any well-disposed individual like Lord Glenelg, believing he was doing good, and under the influence and guidance of others, should have thus blasted the bright prospects of such rapidly progressing civilization.
But so it was. I was removed from the administration of affairs and my command, and replaced by a man114 violently obnoxious to Kafirs and colonists. Owing to the view Lord Glenelg had taken and the ton given, I was upbraided with every act of violence and oppression the curse of war can impose, and branded as the murderer of Hintza throughout the newspapers of the world. Every act of the murderous Kafirs during the war was regarded as a just retaliation for previous wrong; everything the colonists said or did or suffered, treated with contempt, and they themselves believed to be the cause of their own misfortunes. While our country's treasury and private contributions were open to the sufferers of the world from the temperate regions of Portugal to the snows of Poland, the ears of the public were deaf to the cries of the widows and orphans in the once happy and rapidly thriving province of Albany, although its settlers had been induced to come from England and there lay out their capital, were good subjects, loyal and true, and regularly paid their taxes, and therefore had a right to expect protection from the Government. All rule and just and good government was banished under the influence of the philanthropic party, who, by perversion of facts, evidently desire to lead others (this Colony certainly) to the devil for God's sake.
Do not let it be supposed that a man with a conscience so clear as mine, with a head and heart so bent on exertion for the benefit of others, tamely submitted to the opprobrium so cruelly, so unjustly heaped upon him–I, who, while regarded by the world as a monster stained with innocent blood, who had waged war contrary to the tolerated rules and precedents of warfare (which is a scourge in its mildest and most modified shape), was at the moment regarded by those I was accused of oppressing as their "Father," "their Great Chief," in whom they implicitly confided and believed contrary to the strong prejudices of previous habit. No, I wrote a letter to the Minister explanatory of every procedure–I opened his eyes–and I received from him the atonement contained in the extracts following:–
Extract from a dispatch of Lord Glenelg to His Excellency Sir B. D'Urban, dated May 1st, 1837.
"IV.–I perform a duty highly agreeable to me in declaring that Col. Smith is entitled to the grateful acknowledgments of His Majesty's Government, not only for his Military Services, but for his zealous, humane, and enlightened administration of the Civil Government of the province placed under his charge, and of the adjacent district. I am especially indebted to him for the very valuable suggestions which he afforded to Lt. Governor Stockenstrom, who, I have no doubt, will gladly avail himself of advice founded on so much observation and experience.
Extract from a dispatch of the Right Honourable Lord Glenelg to his Excellency Major-General George F. Napier, Governor of the Cape of Good Hope. Dated 13th November, 1837.
"But I cannot close this communication without adverting to the high gratification with which I have read the testimony contained in the voluminous papers before me to the conduct of Col. Smith. That officer's name is never mentioned but to his honour either by the Governor or the Lt Governor; and in the superintendence of the Province of Adelaide under circumstances of the most trying nature, he appears to have been distinguished alike by the energy with which he maintained the public tranquillity, and the kindness of heart which won for him the affectionate gratitude of all classes of the people.
"(Signed) JOHN BELL,
"Secretary to Government."
But although this palliated his error towards me, it in no manner re-established me in the eyes of the world at large, and Lord Glenelg was bound, as a man of honour, to have instigated Majesty to have conferred upon me some mark of distinction, which should have at once proclaimed my merit and the injury His Lordship's misconception had done me. The Colony and the Horse Guards, however, took a far different [view] of my merits and services, which I must relate hereafter.
To return to my children. So soon as the Kafirs heard of this change, the general exclamation was, "Ah, it is ever thus with the English, always changing towards us. We were never before so happy; never so protected; never saw such an improvement amongst us; our chiefs will eat us up as before." The chiefs again feared their people. Lamentation and grief throughout the land were excessive. Hundreds of men and women were around my house and tent, lamenting and praying me not to abandon them, and, as far as their knowledge went, invoking the protection of the Great Spirit, to preserve me and my wife to govern and instruct them.
I will candidly admit, I grieved too, for although at the outset, as I took stock of my enthusiasm, I was often led into a belief that my hopes would prove illusive, the consummation of my most sanguine desires had now been effected; daily I saw improvement progressing, not only by rapid strides, but on such a broad and firm path as to ensure its permanency and induce the conviction that ten years would have brought the Gospel of Christ and all the blessings of civilization among the thousands of benighted barbarians around me.
It now became my duty, and one which I trust I executed with every zeal, to do all I could to render the change palatable to the Kafirs and to disabuse them of their bad opinion of my successor.
The odium with which they regarded him I believe I much mitigated. To himself I wrote so soon as he arrived at Grahamstown, laying before him the exact state of the frontier district, and recommending him to convoke a general meeting of all the chiefs and their councillors at King William's Town, to explain to them the new order of things. I said that I would call such a meeting for any day he would name, and I was of opinion that it would have a better effect were I present than otherwise.
My successor was a sensible man, and at once saw the advantage of the arrangement I proposed, felt my attention and readiness to assist him, and named a day. I convoked a meeting accordingly, and desired Kreili, the great chief, to send a deputation. I had been in the habit of communicating constantly with Kreili and the more distant chiefs, Fakoo, Vadana, etc., and sending them all the news, thereby establishing myself the Great Chief. I took the usual precaution to reinforce my post, for when I told old Ganya that I should leave on the day following the meeting, he exclaimed, "Then we shall have a row!" A meeting, similar to the one I had convoked on the 7th January, was accordingly held, and in a long explanation I delivered over the government to my successor. Nothing could be more orderly than the conduct of the people, and the expression of their regret. My successor then explained to them their new position. Tyalie, always a forward fellow, spoke to him in the most insolent manner; but I gave him such a dressing, reminding him his bullocks were fat (meaning that he was rich) under me, thus, if I only said the word, I could "eat" him "up" in a moment.
I shall never forget that afternoon; never were my feelings or those of my wife more excited. Our house and tents were surrounded by hundreds; every chief and every one of the chiefs' wives took off some of their various ornaments and put them upon me and her; some wept aloud, others lay on the ground groaning; and the man whom I had visited more than others with the weight of power, Umhala, showed more real feeling then, and even to this day often sends me messages of friendship and regard; while Gazela and a fine young chief by name Seyolo, who had defended the rocks on the heights of the Poorts of the Buffalo, declared life was no longer worth having. The way the women shed tears around my wife was piteous to behold. Barbarian emotion when over-excited is uncontrollable, and nothing could exceed this demonstration.
The next morning I and my wife and staff departed from King William's Town, the seat of my labour in war and peace, and although every demonstration of feeling was suppressed, I now admit my heart was full. I had laboured day and night, God alone knows how I had laboured, and to be so unkindly treated by the Minister of my country was galling to a soldier whose good name is his only hope in the world. 'Tis true, a rectitude of conscience sustained me which nothing could shake, but human nature is weak enough to desire others should think well of you, while inwardly and mentally you exclaim, "God is my Judge." I was attended by my successor and by the officers. The soldiers whom I had given such gigantic marches turned out to cheer and bid me farewell, while thousands of Kafirs followed me and my wife, yelling as if in despair.
The parting with my old councillor Ganya and some others, as well as my Kafir messengers at Fort Willshire, cannot be described. Ganya, poor old fellow, came to me in a state of abject poverty, although a man of great influence throughout Kafirland. I enriched him most deservedly, for his assistance to me was invaluable and his attachment to me faithful, while the most educated and upright man could never more zealously feel or desire the welfare of his country and countrymen.
This barbarian was a most extraordinary character. He died a few months later, as he told me he knew he should, having lost his Father, his friend and benefactor. My messengers were very peculiar fellows, too; they were all selected by the chiefs themselves, men, therefore, of their own interest. In a country where writing is not known, all communications, treaties, rules, laws, etc., are given viva voce and by message, and these fellows were brought up from infancy in that department. Their power of memory is not to be believed. I had one man from Macomo, by name Mani, a handsome fellow who had been shot through both thighs in the war. My interpreter would read a long list of orders, etc., addressed to Macomo of eighteen to twenty paragraphs. He would then say, "Mani, do you understand all?" He would occasionally ask for some explanation; then he would go to Macomo, 34 miles off. If the chief did not detain him, he would be back with me after doing 68 miles in 28 hours, apparently not in the least fatigued, and bring me an answer or comment on each paragraph in the order written down with a correctness not to be credited. I declare I have been frequently thunderstruck.
There is a curious law in Kafirland which shows how human nature in a state of barbarism provides for its own wants. "The secret and confidential" of our diplomatic and military correspondence is with messengers provided for in this manner: it is death for any one entrusted with a communication to divulge its purport to any one but the chief of whose tribe he is a member. Thus if Mani was entrusted with a message from me to Macomo, it was as safe in his company as possible. If Tyalie had met him and demanded its purport, he would have died ere he divulged it. All messengers would give me the purport of their messages from one chief to the other if I demanded, being the Great Chief. Thus, while secrecy is provided for, the supreme authority reserves to himself the power of discovering plots and conspiracies. Poor Mani! I see him now at my feet weeping. I do believe that poor barbarian would have been cut to pieces limb by limb without a groan if it would have served me, and many others would have done the same. To this day I remember with gratitude their attachment. It was like that of the most faithful dog, with this difference–reason told them we parted for ever.
Upon nearing Grahamstown, the whole of the inhabitants turned out to meet me, presented me with an address, begged me to name a day agreeable to me for a public dinner, and if there was any consolation to the feelings in the sympathy of those whom I had so served in need, whose trade I had again so brightly re-established, I had a full measure of it.
I accepted the dinner as an opportunity of thanking the inhabitants for their assistance, obedience, and desire to meet my wishes, and telling them, as they regarded me, to render that obedience and respect to my successor which loyal subjects were bound to render to any one their King had placed to rule over them.
We accomplished our journey from Grahamstown to Cape Town, I riding, my wife again in a waggon. On this occasion, I had bought a very nice light one, and had it fitted up with swing seats, etc., so that she travelled in comparative luxury. All Grahamstown turned out to take leave of me, and I could not fail to remark the difference between my entrance into the beleaguered town and my quitting it, flourishing in trade and prosperity.
At every town upon my road down dinners were given me in the Town Hall, and every Boer, or Dutch farmer, came to see me. I never had to deal with fellows who were more docile, if you took them in the right way, viz. by kindness, by interesting yourself in their welfare, and by an inflexible adherence to "Yes" and "No."
Our journey down was delightful, through a country full of large and small game, and many is the gallop I had after ostriches, which require a fleet and right good-bottomed horse to ride down.
As I approached Cape Town, my many friends came out in shoals to meet us, and I was received in the metropolis of the Cape by every public demonstration of affection–ever so gratifying to the soldier who has worked hard to serve his country–from the noble Governor, Sir Benjamin D'Urban, to the mendicant.
I may, without any degree of mock modesty, say I worked hard, and assert that from the period I left Cape Town, the 1st January, 1835, to 18th October, 1836 (22 months), no man ever rode more miles, made more night marches or such long ones, or wrote more letters than I did. My correspondence was immense from the number of posts, and having to carry on a war over a vast extent of thinly populated country, and in peace to defend a frontier of 140 miles.
Soon after my arrival at Cape Town, a despatch was received from Lord Glenelg, which was highly complimentary to me.115
A public meeting having been convened under the sanction of the Government, this communication was made to me:–
"At a meeting of the inhabitants of Cape Town and its vicinity, held in the Commercial Room on the 18th September, 1837, the Honble Hamilton Ross in the chair, it was resolved–
"That as the zealous, humane, and enlightened administration of Colonel Smith, during the time he commanded on the frontier, merits the gratitude and thanks of the colonists at large, the following gentlemen, as a mark of their esteem, have concluded to invite him to a public dinner."
Of course I accepted the compliment, which afforded me a good opportunity publicly to record my procedure, my gratitude to many distinguished individuals and to the colony at large, my regret at the system established among the Kafirs having been abolished, and my everlasting feelings of respect and veneration for the Governor, Sir Benjamin D'Urban, whose instrument alone I was, and whose support and approbation of all I did or proposed enabled me to effect all I had done; and, lastly, though I was far from being a man addicted to view things darkly, my foreboding, based on a knowledge of every circumstance on the frontier and the conflicting interests of the colonists and Kafirs, that chaos would again be re-established.
Unfortunately, my prediction has been but too truly verified. Such was the disgust of hundreds of valuable members of the Dutch population and wealthy farmers, they emigrated in masses and seized the country of the Zoolus, and have been a thorn in the government of the Cape until lately, when matters have been adjusted and Port Natal added to the British possessions.
Had my system been persisted in, and the order of things so firmly planted and rapidly growing into maturity been allowed to continue, not a Boer would have migrated. I am proud to say I had as much influence over the Boers as over the Kafirs, and by a kind and persuasive manner in expostulation, had they meditated such a step, I could at once have deterred them.
The whole colony being desirous of substantially exhibiting their gratitude towards me, subscriptions were opened for the purpose of presenting me with plate in demonstration thereof. Although each subscription was limited to half a guinea, £500 was very speedily subscribed.
Upon the articles of plate is this inscription:
"Presented to Colonel Henry George Wakelyn Smith, C.B., by his numerous friends at the Cape of Good Hope, as a token of their admiration of his distinguished military and civil services in that colony and in Kaffraria, 1835-6. Palmam qui meruit ferat!"
The two Hottentot battalions, officers and men, had previously set this example, and by their 800 men a magnificent candelabra was presented to me, like the other plate, manufactured by one of the first workmen in London.
This substantial mark of their consideration bore the inscription:
"Presented to Colonel Harry George Smith, C.B., as a testimonial of respect for his distinguished military services during the late Kafir War, and the consummate skill and benevolence subsequently displayed in the civil administration of the conquered province of Queen Adelaide, which so eminently contributed to the peace and security of the colony and the amelioration of the condition of the barbarian thus brought within the pale of civilization."
The plate presented by the zealous officers is inscribed:
"Presented by the officers of the Cape of Good Hope Provisional Infantry to Colonel Henry George Wakelyn Smith, in testimony of their high sense of the eminent services rendered to the colony by his skill, gallantry, and unwearied activity in the field against the Kafirs in the year 1835, and by his subsequent, able, humane, and zealous exertions for the promoting the civilization of the native tribes as the best means of establishing with them a secure and lasting peace."
Lord Hill being desirous to mark his approbation and that of my Sovereign for the services above recorded, was kind enough to appoint me to the responsible, important, and elevated post of Adjutant-General to H.M.'s Forces in India; and in the very ship which brought the newspaper gazette of my appointment did I embark for my new destination, the ship waiting from Saturday until Thursday for me. [June, 1840.]
Little was the time thus afforded for me to prepare for embarcation, but a soldier must be ever ready, and my wife's cheerful exertion soon prepared everything, although our hearts were full at leaving so many valuable, dear, and faithful friends and a country in which we had spent eleven years of happiness and some excitement, and ever received as much kindness and hospitality as the most sanguine could desire.
So short was the time that my friends in Cape Town who were desirous to pay me some mark of their respect could do no more than present me on the morning of my embarcation with the following address:–
"To COL. H. G. SMITH, C.B., etc.
"We, the undersigned inhabitants of Cape Town, do ourselves the pleasure of offering you our sincere congratulations on your recent appointment to serve in a country which can, better than this Colony, reward its brave and zealous defenders. But, cordial as our wishes are for your welfare and advancement, we deeply regret that the very circumstances which open brighter prospects to you must terminate your residence amongst us, and deprive this Colony of the services of one, whose well-known and long-tried courage and abilities have been once more tested in the performance of most difficult and important duties within our own observation.
"The few years which have elapsed since the most brilliant of your services to this Colony were achieved have not dimmed our recollection of them, and on quitting our shores be assured you leave a name behind you which will never be forgotten by the present, and will be made known to, and remembered by, succeeding generations of the Cape Colonists.
"The suddenness of your departure prevents very many from joining in this expression of our feelings towards you; but to whatever quarter of the world your well-earned promotion may lead you, South Africa will learn with deep interest the history of your future career, and rejoice in the tidings of your prosperity.
"We have, etc."
To which I replied–
"Cape Castle, 4th June, 1840.
"I thank you most cordially for your congratulations on the mark of distinction which Her Majesty has been pleased to confer upon me, by appointing me Adjutant-General to the Queen's troops in India.
"On my return from the frontiers, you received me with warm congratulations–the services of which you were thus pleased, in a manner so gratifying to me, to express your approbation were of recent occurrence–but the feelings expressed by you in the address with which you have this day honoured me, prove that the recollection and appreciation of a soldier's services may outlive the excitement produced at the moment by success, and I pray you to believe that the recollection of the feelings so warmly and kindly expressed will never cease to dwell in my memory, and will be matter of exultation to me in whatever clime or quarter of the globe it may be my lot to serve.
"During a residence of eleven years, I have met with invariable kindness from all classes in the Colony–I may say, from the community at large; and although I cannot but feel that an honour of no ordinary class has been conferred upon me by Her Majesty, yet I say from my heart that I now quit your shores with deep regret.
I have the honour to be, Gentlemen,
"Your most obedient, humble servant,
"H. G. SMITH, Colonel."
And the Governor of the Cape, Sir George Napier,116 issued the following General Order:–
"Headquarters, Cape Town, 1st June, 1840.
"In consequence of the promotion of Colonel Smith to be Adjutant-General to the Army in India, the Commander-in-Chief takes this opportunity to express his high approbation of that officer's services during his residence in this Colony, and he feels confident the officers and soldiers of this command will be highly gratified by so distinguished a mark of Her Majesty's favour and approbation being bestowed on an officer of such long and gallant services in nearly every part of Her Majesty's Dominions.
"As one of his companions, and as an old Comrade in Arms, the Major-General offers Colonel Smith his warmest congratulations and best wishes for his health and happiness.
"The Orders of the Garrison of Cape Town, and of the guards and sentries, etc., as established by Colonel Smith, C.B., are to be considered as Standing Orders for this Garrison, and will be strictly observed accordingly."
However gratified we were by this distinguished mark of Her Majesty's approbation, we left the Cape of Good Hope as if we were leaving for ever our native land, and in that patriotic expression "My native land, good night" is comprised all the most feeling heart of man can participate in.
Ah, Cape of Good Hope, notwithstanding your terrific south-easters in the summer, your dreadful north-westers in the winter, your burning sun, your awful sands, I and my wife will ever remember you with an affection yielding alone to that of the "Land of our Sires!"
88 Algernon Frederick Greville (1798-1864), younger brother of the author of the Greville Memoirs (see p. 216), after being present as an ensign at Quatre Bras and Waterloo, served as aide-de-camp during the occupation of France, first to Sir John Lambert and afterwards to the Duke of Wellington. When the Duke became Commander-in-Chief, January, 1827, Greville became his private secretary and continued so during the Duke's premiership.
89 See pp. 340 and 97, 98.
90 For an interesting memorandum on the diet and treatment of military prisoners, submitted by Harry Smith to Sir B. D'Urban in 1834, see Appendix III.
91 With this and the four following chapters, compare Appendix II.
92 This disposes of part of H. Cloete's dramatic story, which, however, should be compared (Great Boer Trek, pp. 78, 79).
93 The following characteristic story of Harry Smith about this time is told by Mr. H. A. Bryden in Temple Bar, April, 1902. "In the Kafir War, when irregular troops were much employed, odd scenes occasionally happened. A corps of Grahamstown Volunteers was drawn up and paraded before Colonel Smith, then Chief of the Staff. As he passed down the ranks, one of the men touched his hat. 'None of your d–d politeness in the ranks, sir,' was the response."
94 Cp. for this incident, and the whole history of the war, Sir J. E. Alexander's Narrative of a Voyage, etc. London, 1837.
95 Given by Alexander, vol. ii. p. 14.
96 Writing of this to his wife, on the 7th April, he says, "Well, yesterday, alma mia, was the anniversary of that which led to our blessed union, and, after my check at the natural fortress, which, by Jupiter, was very strong–inaccessible, in short–I thought to myself, 'Well, this day so and so many years ago, I had a good licking in Badajos breaches, and the old Duke tried something else.' So the blood rushed into my heart again as gay as ever. 'By G—d, I'll have them out yet.' I had no information but my spyglass, and I made a détour, and was lucky in hitting off the plan to approach."
97 Alexander, vol. ii. p. 99.
98 The slaying of the ox on this occasion is also described by Alexander, vol. ii. p. 132.
99 Afterwards Sir Theophilus Shepstone.
100 Alexander, vol. ii. p. 147.
101 The same speech is quoted by Alexander, vol. ii. p. 160.
102 Alexander gives the river as Gnabacka. Schmidt's map (1876) gives it as Xnabeccana and Gnabecca.
104 Lord Glenelg.
105 Alexander says "the Intabakandoda range" (vol. ii. p. 248).
106 For Warden's report of the conference, see Alexander, vol. ii. p. 335.
107 These ants are most venomous–creep into the eyes, ears, etc. and cause a pain which no creature was ever known to bear without lamentation; in all other punishments not even a sigh escapes them.–H. G. S.
108 See p. 441.
109 Alexander, vol. ii. p. 222: "Nonubé, the mother of the young
Siwana of the T'Slambies, . . . is the great widow of Dushani."
110 The author seems inadvertently to have omitted the rest of this particular story.
111 See p. 433.
112 See Appendix V.
113 So Alexander, vol. ii. pp. 134, 135: "A Highland piper was ordered to play for Hintza's amusement. Hintza was asked what he thought of the music. He answered, that some of it reminded him of his children at home and made him cry, and that he supposed that the instrument had been invented by us out of regard for the General [Sir B. D'Urban], to imitate his crying when he was a little boy, and to remind him of the crying of his children."
114 Captain Andries Stockenstrom, afterwards Sir A. Stockenstrom, Bart. Lord Glenelg's dispatch was dated 26th Dec. 1835.
115 Given above, p. 454.
116 He succeeded Sir B. D'Urban, 22 Jan. 1838.