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St. JBunstan's H^ausc
Fetteb Lane, Fleet Stkeet, E.O.












It is curious how repugnant to the mind of the
average womt^n is the mere suggestion of six
thousand miles of sea. Even if she has out-
grown the idea that home necessarily means a
house, whose four walls enclose all the green
years of her youth and the golden years of her
maturity, the more popular corners of Europe
usually afford her sufficient space in which to
revive the atrophied tissues of her mind and
her body. That spiritual phthisis, which only
interminable journeying can cure, is fortu-
nately neither a common nor a contagious
complaint. Those women who do forsake the
joys of the London season and the Rue de la
Paix are, as a rule, dragged into the wilder-


2 Side Lights on South Africa

ness in the company of some man, wliom
work or sport impels towards the few remaining
waste places of the earth. They endure it,
fortified by the reflection that there is only
one bourne from which no traveller returns.
But in the spring |of 1898, after months of
wrestling with a worse devil than Dante ever
met, whose name is Insomnia, I made up my
mind that, for a long time at least, my own
place should know me no more. I wanted
to go to the end of the world, and look over
the edge. I wanted to touch the hands of
strangers, and to feel the wind of the desert in
my face. And three weeks later, in the character
of special correspondent to the Morning Post,
I stepped from the deck of the Union Company's
S.S, "Norman" on to the red dust of Cape
Town dock.

As the boisterous waves of the Atlantic
swell into the glassy waters of the Bay, one
becomes immediately aware of Taljle Mountain,
her flanks green and precipitous, rising abruptly
out of the sea. Drawing nearer to port, the thin
grey rim which is Cape Town intervenes along
the line of sight, and one realises that Table
Mountain dominates this edge of the South just

On the Edge of the South 3

as Fujiyama dominates the coast of Japan. The
morning grows slowly older, and the half trans-
parent vapour fading from the heights reveals
Table Mountain's truncated summit. Unlike
Fujiyama, she does not aspire, for she has no
peak wherewith to pierce the heavens. Over
her flattened top the feet of tourists stray, for
the whole of her thirty-five hundred feet are
accessible to the energetic. No longing for the
" Mother of Fire's " crown of snow appears to
disturb her earth-bound tranquillity ; thus,
although Table Mountain is beautiful, even
majestic, she is not divine ; and I wondered as I
gazed at her mutilated brow whether she was in
any sense typical of the race that lives, moves,
and has its beinoj under her shadow.

Cape Town, as it crouches at the base of
Table Mountain, is not in itself fair to see. It
is in truth all unworthy of the rare beauty of its
site and its surroundings. Possessing neither
definite character nor even the grace of uni-
formity, its streets might be called the feature-
less off'spring of that unholy alliance between the
great goddess Commerce and the Cape Dutch,
out of which few good things have yet come.
His association with trade has utterly destroyed

B 2

4 Side Lights on South Africa

in the Afrikander that artistic sense for which
his ancestors were so distinguished, while it has
developed a degree of avarice and dishonesty
unsurpassed even in a Hebrew money-lender.
Before he had attained that stage of commercial
prosperity which expresses itself in sumptuous
brick and mortar, Cape Town was built — stunted,
straggling, monotonous. In the middle of the
main thoroughfare, called Adderley Street, one
is startled out of this impression by the intru-
sion of two gigantic stone buildings recently
erected, and occupied by the Post Office and the
Standard Bank. These incongruous structures
seem to accentuate the negative character of the
adjacent houses — two keepers, one might say, in
an asylum for architectural idiots. Pursuing
Adderley Street up its gentle ascent, one reaches
a wide square where stands the Jubilee statue of
Her Majesty, and the combined Houses of the
Legislature, a not uncomely building of red
brick and white stone, solid, yet kindly in
expression, and circled by well-kept gardens.
But the town itself gives no hint of the lovely
suburbs that lie beyond it, connected now there-
with by an admirable system of electric trams.
Carlyle, in one of the hero-worship essays,

On the Edge of the South 5

compared all mankind to Saul, the son of Kish,
who went forth to seek his father's asses and in-
stead thei'eof found a kingdom. Just so men have
gone out to that " temple of gold and of gain,"
South Africa, with never an eye for the beauty
that is there. Most of them no doubt fly north-
wards on the wings of material interest, without
staying to explore the beautiful environs of
Cape Town. Yet the Victoria Eoad, which
almost encircles the peninsula, is one of the
most wonderful of the world's highways. As it
curls around the shoulder of Table Mountain
between Sea Point and Hout's Bay it is lovelier
than the famous Corniche, more subtle in colour,
more capricious in outline. One is reminded of
the road between San Sebastian and Zaraus,
whose aspect is however keener, almost sardonic ;
then again, of the coast roads that girdle the
west of Scotland, where nature so often permits
her tears to obscure her beauty. The hills are
Scotch hills, one says, but the foliage with its
flamboyant blossoms suggests the tropics. Then
the sky, a stainless turquoise, and the sea, a
burning sapphire, glowing in the hot winter
sunlight, send the memory wandering back to
the garish shores of the Mediterranean, defaced

6 Side Lights on South Africa

by toy homes for peripatetic human beings,
white-walled, green-shuttered, and to will-o'-the-
wisp casino lamps. Virgin still is the Victoria
Road. As yet the jerry -builder knows her not,
nor the profane tourist. And this, though cause
for joy and peace, is also cause for amazement.
Cape Town is too lethargic to discover that she
has a site close to her squalid self, fit to rear an
enchanted city upon. On an evil day some
mine-weary speculator will look down upon the
Victoria Road as Edmond Blanc looked down
upon the Bay of Monaco, and that ghoul of
modern life, the globe-trotter, will thenceforward
make her his own. In the meantime she is
inviolate and incomparable, with only the
Queen's Hotel at Sea Point, the most comfort-
able hostelry in South Africa, and a couple of
wayside inns to disturb her peace.

There are many other fair scenes near Cape
Town for the eyes that see. Wynberg, a suburb
more adjacent to the town, is a forest inter-
sected with avenues of villas. One end of this
wood adjoins Rondebosch, a lovely district in
which all roads lead to Groote Schuur, where
Cecil Rhodes is king. The new house, erected
on the site of the old Dutch farmhouse that was

On the Edge of the South 7

burnt down a few years ago, is not yet entirely
finished. The architect has enlarged and em-
bellished somewhat the original design, while pre-
serving its early Dutch character. The spiritual
significance of Groote Schuur is a picturesque in-
timacy, solid without being ponderous, simple
without being rude. John of Olden-Barneveldt
would have loved it, and so would those
merchant -politicians of Amsterdam, who live
eternally in the liturgic twilight of Rembrandt's

The style of Groote Schuur is to the pre-
vailing style of Cape Town as pure Dutch to
that corrupted patois called the " taal." Its
white walls and serrated gables gleam through an
avenue of pines. The wood used in the interior
is universally teak, especially selected for Mr.
Rhodes at enormous cost, and on the roof red
tiles replace the old dangerous thatch, where the
fire is supposed to have originated. One enters
through a door that is never shut, into two large
stone-paved vestibules, connecting the stoep
(verandah) at the front of the house with the
wide terrace at the back. To the left lies Mr.
Rhodes's library and smoking-room, small, teak-
panelled, and lined with books, many of which

8 Side Lights on South Africa

are type-written translations of the classics,
bound in scarlet leather. These were fortu-
nately saved from the flames, as also the cabinet
containing the curios found near the ruins at
Zimbabye, in Mashonaland. One of the most
interesting of these is a wooden dish of im-
measurable age, bordered with carved signs of
the Zodiac, and supposed to be a relic of ancient
Phoenician occupation. Lobengula's gun and
his seal, an elephant proper, stand on a table
near an autograph letter of Napoleon and a
signed portrait of Lord Salisbury. The dining-
room covers the ground floor of the left wing, a
lofty room, also panelled in teak, whose long
windows open on the stoep wide enough to shelter
from both sun and shower. The view from it
must be an unending joy. In the foreground
is a series of terraces that mount the grassy
hill, radiant with red salvia and golden with
orange trees. Two giant cedars, standing like
sentinels on the summit, throw a trellis of frail
black branches across the background of the
mountain. It rears its height in dreamy opal-
escence against the sky, which is always here
the bluest of things blue. Such a prospect
might even solace a soul weary of empire-

On the Edee of the South


making. Yet Mr. Rhodes does not keep its
beauties solely for his own enjoyment. He
shares it with the townspeople, who are free to
wander over the grounds at will, and the beasts
of the jungle. A couple of young lions and a
leopard, comfortably caged, overlook the wilder-
ness of flowering sugar bushes, and on the hill-
side buck of all kinds browse. Hard by is an
aviary of gay-plumaged pheasants from many
lands, companioned by a family of English rooks,
who survey their surroundings with an expres-
sion of deep disgust. The ten nightingales
which Mr. Rhodes brought with them last year
refused with one consent to make melody in
these alien woods. He who " thinks in conti-
nents '' could not keep life in a nightingale. As
I watched him mourning disconsolate over the
tenth corpse, the sharp limitation of human
power sent its iron into my soul.

Beautiful, exceedingly, is the estate of about
twelve thousand acres at Somerset West, where
Sir James Sivewright exchanges the maelstrom
of politics for the peace of fruit-farming. To
this corner of the Cape peninsula the earliest
Dutch emigrants, trekking wearily over leagues
of sand, gave the name of the " Hottentot's

lo Side Lights on South Africa

Holland " as they pressed forward to take pos-
session of that fertile paradise. What is not
mountain, nor moor, nor stream, at Lourensford,
is now a vast plantation where fruit trees of
every variety, imported from every country in
the world, are undergoing the process of accli-
matisation. Orange gardens join shrubberies of
hydrangeas and thickets of azaleas that cluster
round the old Dutch homestead, as quaintly
beautiful as a picture of Cuyp or Van Ostade.
In the flower-beds English violets peep out
beneath the whiteness of camellias and the flaming
scarlet of the Cape honeysuckle, and behind
stand the giant camphor trees, full of age and
of memories, watching many masters come and
go and the years and the children blossom and
fade, emblematical of Nature's superb disdain of

Her Majesty's representative is but indif-
ferently housed. The square yet straggling
building in the centre of Cape Town, called
Government House, is comfortable enough, but
could scarcely be less imposing. Its proximity
makes the Governor much more the prey of
every caller than if it were situated in one of the
lovely suburbs. It was suggested some years

On the Edge of the South ii

ago that the old house on the beautiful vine-farm
of Constantia, to which Van der Stell, the first
Governor, retired in 1699, should be converted
into a summer residence for the present Governor.
The proposal being unfavourably received by
the extreme Afrikander party was, however,
abandoned. This opposition, inspired by no
personal antipathy to the Queen's representative,
only furnishes another proof of that racial senti-
ment so strong among the Dutch. In spite of
this, time has certainly confirmed the favourable
impression which Sir Alfred Milner made on all
classes on his arrival at the Cape. He inspires
more confidence than did his immediate prede-
cessors. The English congratulate themselves
upon his intelligence and courage, while even
the Afrikander feels that he will be just and fear
not. If there is no conciliation in his heart,
there is a good deal in his manner, which is
suave, without being the least cordial. The
hand is not of iron, but muscular and supple,
though now the velvet glove is threadbare at
the finger tips. In talking to him I had the
impression of a great capacity for work and of a
mind that is earnest, rather than energetic. The
face is full of deep thought, serene, yet dis-

12 Side Lights on South Africa

illusioned, as in one who is more weary of men
than of things. Nature, one would imagine,
intended Sir Alfred Milner for a scholar. It
remains to be seen whether his reputation as a
diplomatist will survive the grave that South
Africa dug for Sir Bartle Frere, for whose genius
he once expressed to me a profound admiration.

Will the federal union of the South African
States, which Sir Bartle Frere was sent out to
promote by every possible means, come to pass
in the life of the present Governor ? At the
moment of writing, in the full tide of war, it
seems farther off than ever ; for only the form
without the spirit of unity may be bought with
blood. The chronic condition of unrest in the
Transvaal has greatly tended to intensify race
resentment in the Cape Colony. But events in
South African history tread closely each upon
the heels of the last, and in the course of ten
years the aspect of affairs will be other than it
is to-day. With a few notable exceptions, the
selection of those men who have represented the
Queen in South Africa has been singularly
unfortunate, and to this cause many of the
mistakes which have characterised the dealings
of the British Government with the colonists

On the Edge of the South


may be attributed. It is not very long since
Sir Alfred Milner entered upon tbe difficult task
of allaying these smouldering antagonisms, and
the fact that he has brought not peace, but a
sword, should not be laid to his charge. There
are malign influences which are beyond the
control of any Governor, however tactful and






( 14 )



I RECALL with a feeling of gratitude the hos-
pitable Strangers' Gallery in the House of
Assembly, for most of the days I spent in Cape
Town were passed there. It compares favour-
ably with the pen at St. Stephen's into which
women who desire to follow a political debate
are packed behind a wire fence, presumably lest
their too evident charms should distract the
attention of honourable Members. In the Cape
Parliament, however, the constant and obvious
presence of ladies did not seem to disturb the
feverish debate on the Redistribution Bill
brought in by Sir Gordon Sprigg's Ministry,
immediately after my arrival in Cape Town.

Those who can remember the ebullition of
popular sentiment evoked by the English
Reform Bills of 1831 and 1867, will realise
what the effect of an analogous measure must
have been in a country where three races dwell

Politics at the Cape 15

together in a precarious amity which may at
any moment be fanned into hostility by the
breath of national or party spirit.

The Bill for the better Representation of the
People proved to be the swan-song of Sir Gordon
Sprigg's Ministry, although it was carried to a
second reading by a majority of seven, after a
protracted and acrimonious opposition. Briefly
stated, the object of the Bill was to add eighteen
new members to the seventy-nine which, inclu-
sive of the Speaker, then constituted the House
of Assembly. It must be remembered that there
are in the Cape Colony three distinct, and to an
extent contending interests — those of the farmer,
the miner, and the merchant. The mining in-
dustry, being strictly local, stands somewhat
apart and is represented by Kimberley and
Namaqualand. It is the rural and the urban
vote which actually divide the House, and it
is this divergence of interest, stimulated into an
acute antipathy by party feeling, which makes
the Treasury bench so thorny and uncertain a
seat. A redistribution of seats was, however,
repeatedly demanded l)y politicians of every
opinion. In the days when the Afrikander
Bond and the Progressive party lay down

1 6 Side Lights on South Africa

together like the millennial lion and lamb,
the former association constantly supported the
demand for a readjusted representation. Since
the first Cape Parliament was constituted, in
1853, the population of the large towns has
enormously increased ; in the case of Cape
Town, for instance, to the extent of over one
hundred per cent. Yet the capital, with its
50,000 inhabitants, only returned four members
in a House of seventy-nine. The seaports,
with their increased and increasing wealth and
number of inhabitants, were in the same case.
Having regard to the accepted principle of
enfranchisement on the basis of population,
wealth and area, this state of things was neither
just nor satisfactory. It should also be borne
in mind that in the Cape Colony the interests
of the small remote townships and the country
are practically identical. On such important
questions as native policy and education there
is no sharp division of opinion. Further, while
the population of the country districts is almost
stationary, that of the towns will continue to
enlarge, so that each year the balance of repre-
sentation must be more obviously in favour of
the former. Nevertheless Sir Gordon Sprigg's

Politics at the Cape 17

party was not destined to enjoy for long its
doubtful triumph of seven, for, two days after
its test measure was carried to its second
reading, the Government was defeated by four
votes on a motion of No Confidence. So, before
the end of June, 1899, the shutters went up at
the House of Assembly, and each member went
back to his constituents to give an account of
his stewardship.

As an impartial observer I could not, how-
ever, escape the conviction that the bitter oppo-
sition to Sir Gordon Sprigg's Redistribution
Bill did not spring exclusively from the fear,
genuine as it undoubtedly was in some cases,
that the agricultural community would suffer
thereby. And this conviction has been justified
by the fact that about six months later Mr.
Schreiner, at the head of a Bond Ministry,
brought forward and passed a similar measure.
It differed from the original Bill only in the
manner in which the eighteen new members
were distributed among the constituencies ; for
the additional representation then granted to
the towns was more than counterbalanced by
the formation of new electoral divisions, in
which the country vote predominated to an


1 8 Side Lights on South Africa

extent which made the return of Bond candidates
practically a foregone conclusion.
"• • It became fairly obvious during the debate
of June 1898, that if the Right Honourable
member for Barkly West had not tacitly de-
clared himself in support of the measure, the
then Opposition would never have resorted to
the extreme expedient of trying to oust the
Government by a motion of No Confidence.
The direct personal attack which I heard Mr.
Schreiner make upon Mr. Rhodes during his
criticism of the Government policy, exposed the
underlying reason of the Bond's aversion at that
moment to increased representation. They
dreaded lest it should extend the ever-widening
area of Mr. Rhodes's influence, for it had become
apparent more than a year ago that he was still,
as in the early nineties, the strongest political
force in South Africa.

It was idle to imagine that his potentiality
of mental and material resource could be
neutralised for any length of time. His return
to virtual, if not to actual, power, has of course
been accelerated by the absence of any man even
remotely capable of taking his place. There is
in Mr. Cecil Rhodes, as in all great leaders, a

Politics at the Cape 19

certain elemental invincibility which appeals as
much to the imagination as to the intelligence.
To assume that the average elector, or indeed
the average member of Parliament, records his
vote according- to the dictates of what Kant
called " pure reason " is to assume too much.
The real touchstone of his allegiance or of his
disloyalty is the personal equation, complicated,
no doubt, by motives of self-interest. Thus
that statesman will see brave days in whom is
incarnated the dramatic, the heroic idea. Those
who want to eat their cake and have it, and
those who have no cake at all — two-thirds, that
is, of the human race — will be on his side
inevitably, for the spoil's sake, if for no other
motive. Peradventure it may be the winning
side before mediocrity comes shambling down
the slopes of Pisgah. Such reflections at least
serve to strengthen the hands of a man of
Destiny. But those who are not for him will
be against him very persistently — ^just such
a band of reactionaries as are against Mr.

For the belief that peace and goodwill
towards Englishmen reigns throughout Cape
Colony, so industriously promulgated in England

c 2

20 Side Ligfhts on South Africa


by a section of the Radical party, is the merest
fiction. The most powerful political association
in South Africa, the Afrikander Bond, has not
abated one jot or tittle of its animosity towards
Mr. Rhodes's policy, and its presiding genius,
Mr. Hofmeyr, has strained every nerve to secure
the defeat of the Progressive party both at the
polls and in the House of Assembly. Ever
since that fatal December dawn at Krugersdorp,
whose memory is still greener than we would
have it to be, Mr. Hofmeyr's influence has been
exerted rather to stimulate than to quench that
racial bitterness which may yet work the ruin
of South Africa, although he may have abstained
through motives of expediency from encouraging
his compatriots in the Transvaal to let loose the
dogs of war.

This is not to accuse the Afrikander com-
munity at large of disloyalty to the Queen ;
many of them are cordial supporters of Great
Britain as the Paramount Power. But the
Afrikander Bond is a concentration of that
rancour born three years ago, and if its little
finger is not stronger than its father's loins, it
is not the fault of Mr. Hofmeyr. He recruits
his followers from the quintessentially Dutch

Politics at the Cape 21

party, which is opposed to progress in any
direction, and drills them into a solid phalanx
of organised prejudice. Why has the Pro-
gressive party at the Cape lost two general
elections in the space of a few months? The
reason, to any one who knows South Africa of
to-day, is not far to seek. The Progressive
party is weakest just where the Bond is
strongest, and no one realises this more pro-
foundly than Mr. Ehodes himself. To say that
the oro;anisation of the former is defective is to

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