G. Seymour Fort.

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perament, circumstances, and the nature of their
work, neither married, though each in his own
way has done great altruistic service for his
country, and for the generations that are to come.

Although alike in these respects, the nature of
their relationship to their fellow-men was different.
Jameson possessed a natural as well as a trained
power of observation, while Rhodes was com-
paratively unobservant of the individualities of
the men and women with whom he came in
immediate contact. Naturally rather shy and


isolated in habits and mind, Rhodes was very much
devoted to those who worked for him, but was also
somewhat inclined to regard people mechanically in
connection with the circumstances of his work, and
thus to a certain extent separated himself from
their minor and personal interests. It was not
that he lacked sympathy or understanding, but
that his thoughts and work were on so large and
impersonal a scale, that they thrust into the
background his really neighbourly and friendly

Jameson was more easily accessible. In some
subtle way he attracted all sorts and conditions of
men to himself, and seemed to inspire them with an
instantaneous trust and intimacy. Without exactly
telling them he did so, he interested himself in
their personalities, understood their limitations,
and sympathized with their fate. A recent writer
thus describes him :

" He was the most striking personality I met in
South Africa. His manner is irresistible — easy,
courteous, and genial ; and he has a way, when
talking, of including every one present in the con- "
versation, and giving them the impression that
somehow they are contributing an important share.
Other people impressed by their ability, their


' gift of the gab,' their charm of manner, but none
possessed to such a degree the power of making
themselves felt."

Just as some men possess strange powers over
animals, so here and there is one who seems to
have the same unusual influence over his fellows.
Such men have been wont to regard the multitude
as necessary material for the operation of genius ;
but Jameson is alive to every throb of individu-
ality, to every form of aspiration. His is that
large pity and help which real strength always
gives to weakness.

Like other leaders of men, his methods are pecu-
liarly his own. Somewhat brusque and daring in
speech, he is ever ready to seize upon opportunities
for playful moquerie that sometimes half flatters,
but never hurts. Quick as thought he will hit off
a man's weak point, and in the same breath laugh-
ingly and kindly esteem him for it. In a flash he
tempers criticism with a big-hearted, cheery toler-
ance, and is always ready to attribute t( the very
best of intentions " to those with whom he radically
differs in opinion.

But perhaps the strongest bond between Rhodes
and Jameson in their early days was the latter's
keenness and clear grasp of contemporary poli-


tical events. Hard- worked as he had been in
London, he had stepped into even harder pro-
fessional work in Kimberley, and his modest stud
of two hardy veld horses had soon to be increased
by another pair and a pony. Despite, however,
this strain, mental and physical, and his genuine
love for his profession, he was ever an avid student
of affairs. From books, from events, and the daily
burning discussions of the club and the market-
place, he began to learn South African history.
Although brought up as a boy in a Radical, doc-
trinaire atmosphere, and for a long time an ad-
mirer of Gladstone, he shared to the full the sense
of personal humiliation which that statesman
inflicted upon all loyal South African colonists.
He had yet, however, to learn that ignorance,
indifference and the subordination of Imperial
interests to British party budgets, were not the
monopoly of the Liberal party alone, but that for
the next twelve or fourteen years the one certain
feature of home-made Downing Street policy was
to be its uncertainty.

Rhodes, however, was his real educator — the
source of his political knowledge and historical
outlook. Under his influence Jameson learnt to
think Imperially, and to realize that one great


object in acquiring new territory was to secure
fresh markets. Moreover, not only did he gain an
insight into the larger significance of current poli-
tical events, but the whole circumstances of South
African history, past and present, were framed
for him in the setting of his friend's ideas.
He mastered the whole chess-board of South
African politics. The significance of the various
situations, the strength of the various person-
alities, their probable moves and counter-moves,
were all clear to his view. The opinions and con-
victions he thus formed were based upon excep-
tional opportunities for studying history in the
making. His position was a very enviable one,
and perhaps the most interesting and irrespons-
ible of all his many experiences. Knowing inti-
mately Rhodes' motives and methods, he sat, as
it were, behind the scenes, and watched him
moulding events to his will and idea.

He was able to compare the knowledge-
able and persuasive policy of Rhodes in breaking
up the raiding Republics with the expensive and
doctrinaire militarism of Sir Charles Warren's
intentions. This, and Lanyon's tactlessness in the
Transvaal, made Jameson for many years very nerv-
ous of the methods of home-appointed military


officers, especially when acting as political agents.
He could estimate exactly the value of Rhodes'
desperate haste in sending Moffat to Lobengula, and
its effect in forestalling the designs of other rivals.
With a full knowledge of Rhodes' diplomacy in
tempting the Bond party to withhold any support
to Kruger's schemes for blocking the trade routes to
the North, no one knew better how genuine was the
former's regard for the Cape Dutch and his desire
to make both races equally prosperous and happy.

None, moreover, knew better how much Rhodes
had been hampered by Downing Street, and how
much he had been helped by the independent
support of the High Commissioner, Sir Hercules
Robinson. By their united efforts, these two had,
during this period, not only to a large extent re-
stored British prestige, but despite the indifference,
or worse, of their own Government, had won, hands
down, in an International struggle for territory of
the utmost importance. They had, of course, been
subjected to the usual Ministerial vacillations at
home. In 1861, Sir George Grey complained
that within five years of his administration there
had been seven Colonial Ministers, each of whom
held different views upon some important points of
policy in connection with South Africa. Although


Rhodes and Sir Hercules were not put to this
strain, they had to carry out their work under the
inevitable cloud of uncertainty. Support given one
moment was withdrawn the next. Under one
Minister it was a policy of " drift ; " under another,
one of fussy interference. Fortunately, these
two men had to a certain extent taken the
direction of affairs into their own hands — they
knew exactly what they wanted, and fought steadily
side by side to obtain it.

Ever since the recession of the Transvaal after
Majuba, South Africa has been divided into three
camps — that of the violent anti-British, anti-
progressive Dutchmen, under Kruger ; that of
the militant Britisher, who strove for political
supremacy in the interests of progress and federa-
tion, under Rhodes and Jameson ; and, lastly, the
camp of diplomatic Afrikanderists, under Mr. Hof-
meyr. These last aimed at the political ascen-
dency of the Dutch and the development of the
country primarily in the interests of Dutch South
Africans who were willing to remain British
subjects in order to reap the advantage of their
Empire's naval strength and protection.

Uneducated, but trained in all the cunning of
Kaffir statecraft, Kruger's outlook was really con-


fined to the Transvaal. Outside his racialism, he
had no policy for South Africa as a whole, and
steadily refused to co-operate with Rhodes or any
one else in furthering any combined action
amongst the South African States. In his dread
lest the Dutch nationality should be swamped by
the inflowing tide of Britishers he represented the
common fear of all Dutchmen ; but he appealed
to those extremists whose race passion was founded
in ignorance and a limited tribal idea of patriotism.
For the moment circumstances favoured his policy,
but to-day Krugerism is almost extinct.

Rhodes' policy, on the other hand, suffered from
an excess of those qualities that Kruger lacked.
It was too definitely comprehensive and statesman-
like, too definitely patriotic and Imperial, for the
unimaginative and ill-informed party politicians
in England ; and without the whole-hearted sup-
port of his nation his schemes for South African
federation in the interests of Briton and Boer alike
could never succeed. This he never received.
During all the strenuous years of struggle between
Kruger and Rhodes, Mr. Hofmeyr, who is one of
the most remarkable men in South Africa, adopted
a waiting and highly diplomatic course. Most
cleverly he managed at one and the same time


to make both Rhodes and Kruger imagine that
each possessed his sympathy and support. He
is a past master in the art of elusiveness, and
his generalship of the policy of the Bond is
exceedingly clever. But whatever his methods,
his aims are worthy. He represents the passionate
love of Dutchmen and Afrikanders for South
Africa, and their legitimate patriotic desire to
administer the sub-continent in their interests
and in those of their Afrikander children.
Hofmeyrism reigns triumphant to-day and has
come to stay.

During the early and critical years of the Rhodes-
Kruger duel Jameson watched, as it were, the whole
struggle from start to finish, the dangers that had
been averted, and the touch-and-go situations that
had been saved.

Because of a curious fatalist trait in Jameson's
strenuous temperament, Rhodes' success had made
a deep impression on his mental attitude. It justi-
fied the latter's policy of expediency, demonstrated
the influence of individual will and character in the
making of history, fired Jameson's sense of nation-
ality, and stirred in him the wish to take a part
in Rhodes' work and plans.

In many respects both Rhodes and Jameson were


under the same educative training, and by 1889
both had learnt to look at the British situation in
South Africa from the Boer view of that period,
and both had realized how difficult it was for the
very ignorant racial average Boer to understand
the vacillations of Imperial policy in South Africa.
It was because of these vacillations, and because
the Boer was so supremely ignorant of British
history, or any history but that of South Africa,
that the status of the Britisher in that country was
so very different to that which he occupied in
Europe. There, he represented a nation that
had ever pursued a spirited policy, had fear-
lessly grappled with difficult situations, and by
grim, invincible purpose had stormed victory, even
in the face of desperate odds. For this reason the
Britisher could justly carry his head high, and, if it
so pleased him, exult in insularity to the exclusion
of companionableness. The majority of Boers,
however, especially twenty years ago, knew but
little of British history and cared less. Waterloo*
and Trafalgar — Wellington and Nelson — even if
the names were known to them, were devoid of

* A friend of the writer's was once telling a Boer what the English had done
at Waterloo. "Yes," said the Boer; "but I am talking of the great battle
of Boomplaats, in the Transvaal, where my late father-in-law lost fourteen
oxen and ten sheep."


any significance whatever. In the early days of
Rhodes and Jameson they judged Great Britain
solely from her records in South Africa, a country
to them the alpha and omega of creation. Loving
their land passionately, it passed their imagina-
tion to understand why a great nation claiming
Suzerain rights should refrain from utterly de-
stroying those who both secretly and openly
strove to possess it for themselves. Like the
natives, the Boers respected any obvious mani-
festation of strength, but regarded the abstract
propositions of a higher humanitarianism as strange
forms of weakness for which they had a feeling akin
to contempt. However kindly their feelings to-
wards the individual Britisher, they regarded the
latter as the representative of a nation ever un-
certain and greedy in peace, ever capricious and
inefficient in war ; a nation that under the guise
of philanthropy had liberated their slaves and
had not seen to it that the owners were com-
pensated ; that had sent forth commercialized
hordes to dog the footsteps of the hardy Boer
trekker, to inhabit where he had fought, to reap
where he had sown. Under these circumstances
South Africa has been the one place on this
planet where, owing to the persistent backing and


filling of Great Britain's policy, the Britisher and
loyal colonist have had to hang their heads and
eat the bitter bread of humiliation.

Deep in Rhodes' and Jameson's hearts was the
desire to regain for their fellow-countrymen that
pride of race which elsewhere was their heritage,
and to demonstrate to the contemptuous Boer the
possibility of carrying through a high-spirited
policy with tenacity and success. Both were pro-
foundly sensible of the unnecessary humiliation
to which their fellow-colonists had been subjected,
and of a call to restore to them their place and

In their likeness, as well as in their unlikeness,
the two men were complementary the one to the
other. Rhodes had found an intellect ; a tem-
perament and a capacity for disinterested service
that responded to his views ; and between the
years 1880 and 1889 the friendship had grown
on his side into a perfect confidence and trust,
while with Jameson it had become a source of quiet
but deep-seated enthusiasm. This friendship, born
of mysterious sympathy, devoid of sentiment, un-
expressed and inexpressible, instinct with certainty
and strength, was in reality a silent, unwritten part-
nership which was to alter the map of South Africa,


and to add a great possession to our Empire. More
immediately it resulted in Jameson, when oppor-
tunity offered, volunteering to take upon himself
the burden of carrying out Rhodes' plans and
attempting to translate his ideas into facts.

Once having set his hand to the plough, he never
turned back ; he served Rhodes with a loyalty
that was almost in excess ; a loyalty that subordi-
nated every personal ambition and interest, that
scorned danger or discomfort, that welcomed every
responsibility and undertaking, however forlorn ;
that spared no energy of brain or body, that even
in the blackest moment of trial neither knew nor
tolerated defeat. Intensely human himself, he
brought to his work methods akin to genius in
the handling of men and situations ; and eventu-
ally all sorts and conditions of men have come to
recognize the sway of his fascinating personality,
of his too persuasive, too persistent will.

Fame is divinely unjust to individuals. History
has. no place for the average successes of average
men, but reserves her pages for the excesses and
failures — for the triumphs or defeats of those Over-
men who compel events into larger and unexpected
channels, and bring about denouements that startle
the complacent and unexpectant world. Jameson


has stamped his name upon the Empire's records,
not only because of his ability or excess of loyalty,
but also by reason of a special quality of leader-
ship, and by his temperamental aptitude for deli-
berately preferring the risk. Among the makers
of history in South Africa during the past twenty
years — Presidents, High Commissioners, states-
men, warriors and politicians — he stands con-
spicuous and apart. Not even Rhodes can dwarf
his individuality. In the slight, compact figure,
unconscious pose, inscrutable but quite ordinary
thoughtful expression, there is no indication of
desperate adventures heroically adventured, of
forlorn hopes triumphantly assailed, of great vic-
tories and catastrophic defeats impassively accepted,
of wealth, power and recognition unconcernedly set
aside, of the fiery vehemence of speech that ever
belied an unusual kindness in action and thought.
Unselfish for himself, but selfish for the fulfilment
of Rhodes' ideas, loyal to his friends, but utili-
zing them for his work, at once sympathetic and
ruthless, at once personal and impersonal, he has
always been more loved than feared, and thus has
attained a position that distinguishes him from
other men.

His career divides itself into three periods, and


the different qualities displayed in each have a
curious hereditary significance. During the first,
which lasted till he was thirty-five years old, he
was an eminently successful physician, interested
in his profession, a popular and unobtrusive citizen,
a mere observer of public events. Overworked
in London, he had, in 1878, relinquished his house
surgeonship of University College Hospital to
take up a partnership in Kimberley.

Here he quickly took the lead in his profession
and created for himself a very definite popularity,
especially amongst the cosmopolitan digger com-
munities, until in 1889 he volunteered to go to
Bulawayo on a dangerous and important mission
for Rhodes.

Backed up by Mr. Beit and Jameson, Rhodes had
held on grimly to the clause in the Diamond Mines
Amalgamation agreement, which enabled De Beers to
help to finance and to share in the development of the
Chartered Company's territory. This accomplished,
Rhodes had to recruit and arrange for a pioneer
expedition on a very big scale, and, above all, he
had to obtain from Lobengula permission to enter
the conceded territories. During this time he
and Jameson shared a small iron-roofed cottage,
and together at early dawn would ride through the


waggon-packed market-place, redolent of cattle,
natives and merchandise — away into the wind-
swept veld, their thoughts ever northward, and
their talk ever of the great scheme of occupation
which hovered, as it were, on the brink of actuality.
Small wonder is it, therefore, that Jameson felt
irresistibly impelled to this mysterious, adventurous
north ; that in the grip of a glowing enthusiasm his
pulses beat high, his whole being surged for action
— and he became a brand ready for the burning.

Up to the late autumn of 1889, no serious
hitch had occurred, and the sky was blue, when
suddenly one afternoon Rhodes received a telegram
from his agent at Bulawayo to the effect that his
life had been threatened, and that he had fled to
Palpapye, killing two horses under him. This was
a serious blow to Rhodes' prestige with Lobengula,
and threatened the whole future of the Chartered
Company. From the Club he went to his house
opposite, and, as was his wont when troubled,
began walking up and down the verandah. Pre-
sently Jameson came along ; Rhodes handed him
the telegram in silence. Jameson asked one or
two questions, and then said, " I will go, and

take back with me." Rhodes said, " But

when can you start ? " Jameson replied, " By


the post-cart to-morrow morning at four." He

The brilliance of Rhodes' lucky star had now
revealed itself. In Sir Hercules Robinson he had
found a statesman of ripened colonial experience,
who perhaps more than any other official in the
Empire was qualified both by temperament and
education to tutor his rising genius, to further
his political policy at the Cape, and to effectively
sympathize in his large ambitions in the north.
The calm official wisdom, the clear view, and un-
failing support of this imperial-minded High Com-
missioner had been of incalculable help in securing
the dominancy of Cape Colony and building the
foundations of his plans. In Jameson speeding
northwards Rhodes had placed at his service a
fiery energy, an intrepid pertinacity, together with
a subtle strength for leading the strong. A com-
bination of qualities rare indeed, but essential for
confronting a brutal barbarism, for controlling
scarcely controllable adventurers, and for im-
planting civilization on the vast and untameable
veld. With the support of Sir Hercules, Rhodes
had checked Kruger ; while with the onslaught of
Jameson, he was to overthrow Lobengula and his
sanguinary militarism. Two such psychological


friendships come but seldom to the sons of men,
and without them Rhodes' genius might have
been doomed to sterility.

From this time Jameson definitely abandoned his
profession and entered into the second period of
his career, which lasted till 1896. This included
two risky expeditions to Lobengula ; his march into
Mashonaland, and occupation of the country ;
his exploring trip to discover a route to Beira ;
his journey to Gungunhama, the paramount chief
of Gazaland ; his capture by the Portuguese ; his
two years' official administratorship of the occupied
territories ; his civilian-military victories over the
Matabele ; his efforts as a revolutionist ; the Raid
in December, 1895 ; his trial and subsequent im-
prisonment in Holloway. Unfitted as he was by
his previous training for experience of this sort,
his immediate adaptation to a pioneer life may
possibly have been due to the Norse blood that
flowed in his veins. The hardships and adven-
tures that confronted him seemed, as it were, the
very breath of his nostrils. The Viking spirit that
lurked in his temperament was aroused, and a new
aspect of the man revealed itself. Instinctively
he became the recognized leader of those adven-
turous Elizabethan spirits who made themselves


masters of the vast Hinterland — who overthrew
the ferocious Matabele — who madly, desperately
hurled themselves against Kruger and his Boers.
He pioneered these important territories in the
spirit of Drake, and administered them in the spirit
of Clive. He stood for law and order amidst scat-
tered communities with inadequate machinery for
their control. Cut off from communication with
the outer world, he was, as chief magistrate, their
ruler and judge, with the issue of life and death in
his hands. He had to take upon himself the duties
of trained officialdom, to create a civil service, to
organize departments, and under exceptional diffi-
culties to endeavour to obtain a balance between
revenue and expenditure. Yet more, as Rhodes'
representative, and, so to say, father of the people,
he had to minimize difficulties, to inspire the faint-
hearted with energy, to encourage the renewed
efforts of those whose brave endeavours had been
defeated by sickness or circumstances ; to give sym-
pathetic access to everyone, and to assist the
worthy and unworthy alike in every possible way.
It is not, however, the purpose of this chapter
to enter further upon the incidents and adventures
of these years. During this period South Africa
was the centre of international jealousies and racial



distrust ; and in the midst of these turbulent forces
Jameson was himself a leading turbulent factor.
His loyal, fiery spirit drove him into conflict with
the various personalities and situations that lay
in the path of Rhodes' plans, and up to the Raid
nothing had withstood the spell of his persuasive-
ness or the force of his attack.

His energy was marvellous, and the bare records
of his journeyings amazing. Space in South Africa
remorselessly consumes the time and vital energy
of those who seek to encompass it. The expanses
of the veld are heart-breaking, and a light Cape
cart, with six mules, can at best not exceed an
average of forty miles a day. Between 1889 and
1895 Jameson travelled hundreds of miles on foot,
thousands on horseback, and many thousands
in Cape carts. In journeyings, in hardships and
imprisonments, and in the romance of his ad-
venturous leadership he ranks with the famous
administrators of British and French history.

The vicissitudes of his fortune during this period
are extraordinary. In 1888 a physician in Kim-
berley ; in 189 1 the administrator of a territory
almost as vast as Europe. Created an induna of

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Online LibraryG. Seymour FortDr. Jameson → online text (page 2 of 18)