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February 1st. To-day completes the sixteenth week of the siege, and we have had plenty of shell lire to celebrate it; one big shell, I regret to say, bursting on a splinter proof at Cannon Kopje, wrecking it, and killing one man and wounding two others. These splinter proofs were a line of trenches running down towards the town from the kopje, and it had seemed that by no chance could they possibly be struck direct by a shell. In the evening the Boer shell fire again continued till a late hour, and the last explosion that we heard puzzled us a good deal. It subsequently transpired that Major Panzera and Corporal Currie, with three natives, had crept up to the nearest brickkiln, from which the Boers were unfortunately absent, and had blown it up with fifty pounds of dynamite. This will probably keep the Boers away from that locality for a while, as they are not unnaturally very cautious of approaching any place where they suspect the presence of dynamite. A Kimberley native informed us that they stop the natives going home from the Kimberley mines and .ask them if there is dynamite laid down round the town, to which the natives generally reply, "Plenty!" They seem to be having a much better time in Kimberley than we are here, as the natives say we live here like mere cats, whilst they have apparently no big gun to annoy them down there.
2nd. They began shelling later here to-day, so one's morning's ride was uninterrupted, but they are, however, now in full swing again. Sergeant Francis, B. S. A. P., died of wounds received at Cannon Kopje. Our usual shelling.
3rd. We sent off runners north and south. In the morning the enemy devoted his attention to the town. But in the afternoon our seven-pounder and Nordenfeldt, east of Cannon Kopje, commenced firing on the enemy, who were constructing a new trench, considerably in advance of the old position of the big gun on the S.E. heights. Consequently Creaky vigorously assailed them in turn, and the Krupp gun and the one-pound Maxim galloped from McMullen's farm to her assistance. The big gun made very good shooting, but fortunately only one man was hit, and he by a sand-bag hurled up by a shell aimed at the Nordenfeldt. The Nordenfeldt gun detachment consists of two men, Privates Lowe and Mulholland, both of the Railway Volunteers, and these two men have served this gun for months daily, often under a heavy fire directed entirely at them. At the same time our beloved relic of Lord Nelson was engaged on the western front in bombarding the new fort in front of Fort Ayr, being answered on that front and assisted by musketry and rifle fire. The week, as usual, culminated in the customary Saturday evening flare-up all round. The big gun was cleaned and oiled for Sunday, and we thought it was all over till Monday morning. This, however, was not the case. The Boers were unusually jumpy. They treated us to incendiary shells till late, and kept up a heavy musketry fire at fitful intervals during the night. They commenced constructing a new trench in the Brickfields, and can plainly be heard working at it.
4th; Sunday. The usual quiet day. At Fort Ayr, while cleaning the Maxim, it was accidentally discharged, and the Boers promptly answered, so Mr. Greenfield, in charge of the post, strolled out to explain matters, and was met half way by the Boer representatives, who talked to him for a bit, gave him the latest news (presumably untrue), exchanged little harmless chaff, and agreed to swap newspapers for whisky. The newspapers, needless to say, contained flaming accounts of universal Boer victories, which, here, one finds it somewhat hard to credit, and they agreed to furnish similar papers next Sunday. It is curious to see in the advertisement sheets advertisements from manufacturers, stating themselves to be manufacturers to Her Majesty the Queen, to read the London letter, and a column of society chit-chat in a paper published in the capital of our enemy. However, it is an odd world.
5th. Two lots of runners came in from the north this morning. Personally, I received my first communication from home since the siege began, only a wire though. Quite a number of letters came in, but were very unequally distributed. One receiving a dozen, the vast majority none, Hanbury Tracey was exceptionally fortunate, as he received a money-lender's circular and a bill, re-addressed in red ink, from his, orderly room at home, and that was his sole communication. They shelled us as usual, and kept it up late. A wet night, but that did not seem to deter them. Their incendiary shells were, as usual, a failure.
6th. Shelling all day, and firing at night. Two natives were killed and Colonel Hore, commanding Protectorate Regiment, had a narrow escape whilst returning from the Court of Summary Jurisdiction.
7th. They commenced shelling early this morning, so far with little damage. There seem regular streaks of luck in this shell fire, and sometimes we strike a very bad one, but it is really marvellous how these huge shells have done comparatively little injury to life here. From what we can gather from other places, it will be about the worst knocked about town in South Africa. The remains of some buildings have been removed and the majority will require re-building. Yesterday, a shell went clean through the smoke box and boiler of a locomotive, and did not explode until striking the ground beyond. One also pitched on the top of an unfortunate native in an engine ashpit and destroyed him. The price of food has naturally risen enormously and will probably rise more. The humble Kaffir, if he possesses a hen which lays regularly, can maintain himself and another. An egg fetches sixpence, and a Kaffir's ration of mealie meal only comes to threepence sterling, consequently the henless Kaffir sponges upon his more wealthy brother.
This afternoon I rode up to Cannon Kopje and arrived simultaneously with a ninety-four pound shell from the contrary direction. We did not, however, hurt each other, and I dismounted and tethered my horse under the best cover available, and to ground with me like a rabbit. They tired one or two more shells at the kopje, doing no harm, and we then strolled up to the look-out post to have a look at our persecutor. It was a lovely evening, and as she was then pointed on the town, one could view her proceedings with the utmost equanimity, speculating mildly as to whether she would pitch her shell on one's own bomb proof or not. The shell, however, burst prematurely, just clear of the muzzle of the gun, and we continued watching the town and the rest of the defences, all of which lie like a panorama from the Cannon Kopje look-out. Creaky was then re-loaded, and with her nose cocked high in the air, was apparently aimed in the direction of the planet Venus. As a matter of fact, however, she was aimed at Fort Ayr, and after the discharge one imagined one could trace the projectile in its flight by the hurtling sound it made; but when by sound it seemed as far as Fort Miller, one could see the strike close by Fort Ayr (which is about four miles from the gun), and yet the noise of the projectile through the air continued for some seconds longer, producing a very curious effect. She re-loaded and was again pointed on the town when slowly she swung her nose round and was pointed on us, a roar of look out from the man on duty, and the crowd of languid spectators was transformed into a body of active men, heading straight for their accustomed shelters, which having attained, they peered carefully at the gun, waiting for the smoke from the muzzle, which would be the signal for their final disappearance. We waited and waited, but she came not, so, deciding that it was the good-night gun, I walked back, accompanied by one of the garrison of the kopje, and ate my dinner at the hotel with the comforting assurance that I had last seen her directed a good mile from the dining-room.
8th. This morning Corporal Currie and his men killed and wounded a few Boer?, coming at dawn to their trenches. The Boers consequently gave us a quiet day, as their obsequies and attendant ceremonies seemed to fill in all their time; but at dark -they commenced a heavy fire of small arms, shell, and vituperation, upon our advanced post, about two hundred and fifty yards from their main trench. They assure the garrison of this post that they intend to make it particularly warm for them, and it is about as warm a corner as one could well select. I rode out in the afternoon to Captain Marsh's post on the western edge of the stadt, we have there driven the Boers out of and occupied Fort Cronje, a mile from the western edge, and seven hundred yards from the nearest Boer fort. This Fort Cronje commands the whole of the valley on the other side of the ridge, under cover of which the Boers used to remove their reliefs and reinforcements to and from Cronje's laager and the western laager. Its capture has largely extended our field for grazing. We had proposed to walk out there, but on consultation we decided not to, as one is under a pretty heavy fire in the open the last part of the journey, and one would see it better and under more favourable circumstances on the Sunday, during the truce. Riding back, I tried a short cut, at a good pace; the Boers, however, were not quite asleep, and began sniping with marvellous ill% success, as I was about to get under cover/ again. To-day we were informed that we must be prepared to hold out for another four months, which we are quite ready to do. The garrison and inhabitants received the intelligence with the utmost equanimity felt no earthly doubt as to the result, merely expressing extreme boredom at the prospect of four months more of such monotonous existence.
9th. A runner from the south arrived, informing us of Buller's crossing the Tugela. Comparing this news with the Boer accounts of British defeats with heavy losses on the 24th, south of Tugela, one can only conclude that they must indeed be in a bad plight when they can invent such amazingly circumstantial and appalling lies. However, I hope we are nearing the end of the last act, and " God Save the Queen." They have been quiet to-day, and as far as we know, no funerals to occupy them so hope and trust that they are digesting some bad news; the Kaffir who brought the messages states that the Free Staters have had enough of it, but that Cronje will not allow them to surrender, as they had everything to lose and absolutely nothing to gain; we can well believe it. The Kimberley correspondence is of a chatty description, refers to the weather and papers (which have not arrived), but the gist of the whole is cheerful and consequently welcome, though we should prefer news. Their food supply seems good, which is consoling. But this much is certain, that if we have to hold out another four months, the means of our doing so, in the supply line, is due to the presence of Mr. B. "Weil. I wonder whether it is appreciated, even yet at home, what a stupendous and monumental liar the Boer is. The Kaffir says what he thinks you will like. The Boer, however, says what he knows he likes himself, I hope some day to read a British account of the war. The Boer account would pain me if I believed it.
10th. The enemy remained quiet, at least as regards their big gun, yesterday evening, though the now nightly fusillade began about 8 o'clock. This morning they commenced shelling late, and apparently directed their projectiles at the Mill, which works every night, protected by a traverse, at the south-eastern corner of the town. They only fired two projectiles, one of which struck Mr. J. Dall, Town Councillor, and commander of one of the Town Guard posts, full, blowing him to pieces. His wife, poor woman, who was in the women's laager, where the intelligence was abruptly conveyed by a panic stricken Kaffir woman servant, came up semi-distracted, under the escort of the Rev. W. H. Weekes. It was, of course, impossible that she should see him, and the scene was a very painful one for her friends in their endeavours to be of some comfort to her. Musketry and the discharge of field pieces continued all the afternoon, during which we had an exceedingly heavy thunderstorm which flooded some of the uncompleted and advanced trenches, compelling the evacuation of the one within two hundred yards of the Boer main trench, during which operation one of our men was wounded. The others remained there, and sought the best cover from fire they could in its immediate propinquity. Firing continued all round the outposts, at intervals all night and well into the dawn on Sunday morning. Since we have been warned to be ready for four months more siege, the question of food supplies for natives has become very serious. Two of these unfortunate fugitives were shot last night in their endeavours to elude the vigilance of the cordon all round us. It is not the question of meat so much as the question of grain, which is our difficulty.
11th, Sunday. I was aroused about dawn by musketry fire, and as I heard no more, supposed I had been dreaming, but when starting for my early ride, was told there had been heavy firing to the east. I went to Fort Ayr, from whence the Boer fort seemed ridiculously close, and so on to the Cape Police fort, and from there the Boer sniping station looked within six hundred yards. I was, however, informed that it was a good sixteen hundred yards off. It was a perfectly lovely morning, and had one's horse only felt as fresh as the morning, the ride would have been indeed enjoyable, but the stress of the siege in the way of shortness of provisions has fallen far more severely on the horses than the human beings. From this fort I rode to the B. Squadron horse lines. The horses are not at present a pleasing spectacle, but, owing to our extended grazing ground, I dare say they could still do some work. Sundry of them are killed and turned into billtong for the Kaffirs. Thence along the picturesque bank of the Molopo, through the centre of the stadt to breakfast at Captain Marsh's. This officer, whose squadron has held the stadt since the commencement of the siege, has, from his West Coast experiences, a wonderful knack of dealing with natives, and in a great measure the absolute confidence of the Baralongs in the white garrison may be ascribed to him, they have accordingly constituted him a sort of universal referee in all their local troubles. After breakfast we walked out from the edge of the stadt to the two forts occupied by Sergeant Abrahams and his detachment of natives, within six hundred yards of which are situated the Boer forts, also garrisoned *by natives. Between the opposing forts both sides rambled at their own sweet will. We then went on to Fort Cronje, originally in the occupation of the Boers, and having attained our utmost limits we sat and smoked and looked at the stadt (distant about a mile), and appreciated how Mafeking looked to the Boers from their western outposts. Personally, the northern end of the stadt reminds me of nothing so much as the Curragh Camp when viewed from the Newbridge Road, and, indeed, the veldt all round looked fresh, green, and undulating enough for the Curragh itself. Fort Cronje is enfiladed by the blockhouse north of the Molopo. Eastward from Sergeant Abrahams' fort, and in a circular direction across the railway line towards Cannon Kopje, extend forts occupied by McKenzie's contingent. We thus now have a large and secure grazing ground, the area of which I had not previously appreciated. We strolled back to the stadt and rode back to shop and church. During the morning and afternoon occurred some of those interchanges of courtesy between ourselves and our opponents, which generally do take place on Sunday. Corporal Currie, who during the week spends all his time in endeavouring to slay and not be slain by the Boers, was called over by them to translate a note they had received. They offered him tobacco and small civilities, and patted him on the back saying he was a "freundlish kerel." They also said they were sick of it, and what a waste of time it was not to be ploughing. A somewhat similar conversation was earned on by Mr. Greenfield on the other side. The Dutch, in addition, said they thought it would all be over in a month, that they hadn't got any papers, but would give them to us at the first opportunity, which we understood to mean, when their romancing journalists had sufficiently seasoned the dish of Dutch defeats for Mafeking consumption. The bicycle sports had to be postponed owing to the condition of the track, but there was a cricket match in the morning between Fitzclarence's squadron and the town of Mafeking, which the latter won by nineteen runs, and in the afternoon a concert, where our commanding officer, as usual, distinguished himself by his comic songs and humourous sketches. This talent is well known to his friends, but is certainly not so well known to the British public, who only have had the advantage of viewing him from a serious side; however, we appreciated him quite as much in his lighter capacity, and the concert was a great success. The Beleagured Batchelors' Ball, given by the batchelors of Mafeking, had in consequence of Mr. Dall's death been postponed till to-night. It commenced merrily enough, and had been going on for about an hour when history and the Duchess of Richmond's ball repeated itself. The staff officer arrived warning all officers to fall in. Heavy firing commenced all round, and an attack was anticipated. The galloping Maxim raced across the veldt in the dark from the western outposts to the town, at no time a pleasant journey, and now with the innumerable pitfalls all round it, it was lucky to get there without a smash. The Bechuanaland Rifles and a squadron of the Protectorate Regiment were pushed forwards towards the brickfields, taking the place of the Cape Police who had reinforced the extreme eastern advanced posts. The Boers had put three hundred more men into their advance trench and kept up a heavy fire at intervals all night, as indeed they did at all points. Our men did not fire much.
12th. At dawn this morning I went to Ellis's corner, as heavy firing was going on in that direction. The five-pounder was firing at Currie's post and the Cape Police, from the Boer main trench at under two hundred yards. Their quick firer and one-pound Maxim were also doing so. The big gun seemed anxious to participate, and was elevated several times, but owing to the Boer trench being immediately in the line of fire did not venture to. Things slackened somewhat at half-past six, and I went for a ride round the western side where a few odd shots were being fired, but nothing was going on. About half-past eight the big gun commenced firing at Cannon Kopje, and after half a dozen shots transferred her attentions to the town, mainly bursting in fairly close proximity to this dug-out, but so far no damage to my knowledge. This afternoon I take up my residence at Cannon Kopje for a bit.
12th. When I had finished the last paragraph I left my dug-out and went to lunch, and as I walked to the hotel, heard a single shot, of which I naturally took no notice. An hour afterwards I heard that it had claimed its victim in Captain R. Girdwood, late 3rd Battalion Royal Irish Rifles, assistant com-misariat officer here, who was mortally wounded. To the garrison and all who knew him the blow was severe. Throughout the whole siege he was always laughing and joking, and nothing ever subdued his never-failing cheerfulness: to meet him was a regular tonic if liver or temper were at fault. The duty he did in assisting Captain Ryan to regulate the supplies of food and stores was invaluable, and Colonel Baden-Powell in his general order literally expressed the great regret and sympathy felt for his wife. In the evening I went up to the kopje, and am for a time attached to the B. S. A. P. Prior to my departure they gave us a good doing in the town, both musketry and shell fire.
13th. To sleep in the open and live on the heights in fine weather is undoubtedly an improvement on the town, at any rate for a short time; though one is away from headquarters and the latest garrison gossip, one's view of proceedings is universal and uninterrupted, unless one happens to be the recipient of Boer favours. The bomb proof gives ample cover and a dining-room, for the rest one lives in the open which, in this perfect weather, unless the sun be unduly hot, is charming, and though washing arrangements be scanty, the air is better and the view far less circumscribed than in the town some two thousand yards away. Last night wild musketry fire went on all night, and incendiary Boer shells provided the kopje contingent with fireworks gratis, and only succeeded in setting one house on fire, which was quickly extinguished. Poor Girdwood died this afternoon and was buried this evening.
14th, Valentine's Day. I rode into the town and having transacted my business, and had a pleasant ride round the western outposts, returned just in time to elude their first shells. They are messing about their works as usual, but what they are doing we cannot quite make out. They have, however, withdrawn their marquees from their gun at McMullan's farm. The homely Dutch families generally play about the gun (the Asp on the Cocktrice's den—N.B. the Cocktrice's business end directed on us), and when family life is most in evidence in the gun's vicinity they generally fire on the town, as it does not amuse the dear things to fire at a small mark where they may possibly do no damage, whilst they think thev cannot well miss everybody in the town. The fair ladies frequently fire the gun themselves and dandle their babies on high to look on at the prospective slaughter of English women and children. Charming race! I think even Sheridan could scarcely find a Dutch woman " an excuse for a glass," or, indeed, an excuse for anything else. However, if their menkind had as much pluck as they possess venom, Mafeking would not now be flying the Union Jack, but the Vierkleur of bilious hue. This is plentiful in the vicinity, but has not, and will not, desecrate the township, and I trust the new issue may serve as a model for the ribbon of our Transvaal medal. Sundown: Creaky dismantled. Are they sick of it at last?
15th. As dawn broke a crowd of us went up to the lookout post, to look for our dear departed, and when we failed to find her we accepted our loss with due philosophy. I rode over to Fort Ayr to see Mr. Greenfield, who is isolated for a month in this post. He must, when not engaged in rallies with the Boers, find it very dull, for he accepted with avidity the offer of my diary of the siege to read. He had, however, found Creaky in front of his position and about five miles due west of the town; what she proposes to do here time will show, but our end is pretty safe from her. Later I received a telephone message to say how pleased he was with the account of the fight of November 31st. This blunder, in my diary, is a legacy from my late typewriter. His last batch of copy (which was the last straw that gave the correspondent the " hump ") dated the 12th, though irritating, was rather amusing, I have now transferred my favours elsewhere. The gun has commenced bombarding the stadt and women's laager.
16th. I rode up to Major Godley's and had the "31st of November" cast in my teeth once more (since corrected). The big gun fired twenty-eight shots at the stadt and women's laager. From Cannon Kopje there is twenty-three-and-a-half seconds between the smoke from her muzzle and the report, which makes her a matter of nine thousand yards away, and about the same from the centre of the town which she cannot now properly reach, and to strike which at all, she is elevated apparently at right angles. She devoted several shells to McKenzie's western shelter trenches, doing no harm, however. Her change of position must have been another deliberate atrocity on the part of the Boers, for which I trust their Commander will be strictly called to account. There can be no immediate effect expected on the defences or ultimate resistance of Mafeking by the deliberate bombardment of women and children, black or white. And he who sows the storm may reap the whirlwind, for the blacks neither forget nor forgive, and this is one more, and by no means the least, tally in a long score. Now, as regards the position of the Baralongs and our other native residents.
At the outbreak of the war, the Boers flooded the town with all the refugee Kaffirs from Johannesburg and other parts of the Transvaal, who happened to be in our vicinity, hoping either on the capture of the town, which they confidently anticipated, to secure a good labour market, or, in the event of an unexpectedly protracted resistance, to exercise through these additional mouths, a severe pressure on our food supplies, and thus indirectly on our length of defence. They carefully, however, first robbed them of all their money. Now, picking a Kaffir's pocket, or wherever he may carry his money, ranks about as high in the code of honour, as stealing coppers from a blind man's plate. I am not sure whether it is a transgression ot the Law of Nations, but as by the time this diary is read the Boer will not be, as lie certainly never ought to have been, a nation, it is of small moment, but the act of robbery distinctly took place. The Baralongs were assured by both sides that the war was between two white races, and that they had no cause to interfere. We went even further, and refused to allow them to assist us. However, when the Baralong had seen his cattle raided, his kraals burnt, and himself bombarded, he, somewhat of a rhetorician, but lacking perhaps in the logical capacity for distinguishing between " a military operation " and "an act of war," decided that the Boers' application of the former to his property was good enough excuse for him to indulge in the latter to prevent a further application, he accordingly, in his childlike manner, invited the Boers to enter his stadt, and shot several of them when they tried to. Recently, too, the Boers made overtures to secure the Baralong assistance, and the Chief, Wessels, said he must think it over; after long deliberation he declined. It was probably in order to punish them for this lack of readiness to support them, that the Boers so slated the stadt. However this may be, the Baralongs and other natives have loyally and consistently supported us, and deserve ample compensation for the hardships, privations, and losses which they have sustained. All day the Boers have been making feeble attempts on McKenzie's outpost; and at night, seated at the kopje, one could see a circle of fire running all round the outposts. On the eastern side, our Maxim in the brickfields, our seven-pounder and their five-pounder and many rifles were flashing in the darkness; in the distance Fort Ayr was warmly engaged, while to support McKenzie in our immediate proximity, the armoured train was creaking and groaning up the grass-grown line. And nothing perhaps brings home our isolation so much, as to see the rails overgrown with grass, and reflect that this is a main line to England. Owing to the custom of the Boer of elevating the muzzle of his rifle over the parapet and firing in the air, bullets were whistling and falling all round us on the kopje all night, which, as we were a mile from, and two hundred feet higher than, the trench they were firing at, argued poor marksmanship on their part. However, we were all fairly safe, and the Boer presumably quite so, and as he made plenty of noise I suppose everybody was satisfied.
17th. Very little firing till the evening, and then usual performance.
18th, Sunday. Our usual quiet day. The bank now opens for business on Sundays. As the Kaffirs, in common with other natives, persist in burying their specie, it is very literally locked up, and to restore the circulation of silver we have a paper issue for small sums. Indeed, we are now a very self-contained community, we have our bank, our ordnance factory, our police, and flourish under a beneficent and remote autocracy. As regards the ordnance, the factory was started for the manufacture of shells for our seven-pounders, for shot, brass and iron, for our antique cannon, and for the adaptation of five-pounder shells (left here by Dr. Jameson) to our seven-pounders by the addition of enlarged driving bands; these have all proved a complete success, and too much praise cannot be given to Connely and Cloughlan of the Locomotive Department, who have organized and ran the aforesaid factory. As great a triumph has been the manufacture of powder, and invention of fuses by Lieutenant Daniel, B. S. A.P., and Glamorgan Artillery Militia, and thus we are rendered secure against our ammunition running short; a gun is also being manufactured, and will shortly be used. This factory is of long standing, but prior to this the authorities have not allowed us to allude to its existence.
19th. Went out to try and shoot plover, which form an acceptable addition to our rations, as we have now come down to horseflesh and six ounces of bread per day. Fairly quiet day. Strolling down to town in the evening, I assumed that their snipers were too much occupied with our people in the brickfields to bother about me. They were not, however, and were unpleasantly attentive.
20th. Be-transferred my residence to the town, the firing is heavier down here through the day, and also, indeed, the night, but here we are under cover.
21st. Gun did not fire more than two or three shots, but at night there was very heavy firing along the brickfield front, they shot some of the working party, and also headed some of the natives going towards Kanya. The Boers made a half-hearted sort of attempt to turn our men out of the advanced trench, but utterly failed. The question of feeding the natives has been solved by the establishment of a soup kitchen, the component parts of the stock may be varied, but the result is eminently nutritious.
Gun changed back near to old position east of town, they elevated and depressed her several times, but did not fire. As the bells rung, however, the moral effect was exactly the same, possibly also the physical. Sergeant-Major Looney, A. S. C., was reduced to the ranks and five years penal servitude awarded to him for selling Government stores. Private Miller, Protectorate Regiment, tampering with a loaded ninety -four-pound shell, was blown to pieces. This form of lunacy is apparently ineradicable. We anticipate an attack to-morrow, as it is the Orange Free State Independence Day. I wonder if the Free State still exists: the following letter apropos of this from the leader of the opposition in the Free State before the war is, I think, interesting:—
Blomfontein, September, 1899.
Charles Mettam, Esq., Box 23.
Krugersdorp. Dear Mr. Mettam,
Your letter of the 30th inst. is to hand, and affords a by no means solitary instance of the one sided and high-handed treatment former Free State Burghers have to undergo at the hands of our so-called brethren in the South African Republic, yet in spite of all this the political union or alliance -was put through our Raad, and should hostilities break out, we shall have to be belligerants and be involved in all the horrors of war and have to lose our independence, and for what? As a just reward for the folly of allowing a spurious sentiment to override common sense. So it is, however—and under the circumstances, as you have lost your Free State burgher rights you could not claim protection here. The only way I see for you—as you hold to your birthright staters—is to bring your position to the notice of the British resident, and ask him to advise you how you are to act. With kindest regards to Mrs. Mettam and yourself.
J. G. Fraser.
P.S.—I think a great many of our people are being educated by this crisis to the accuracy of the policy which I placed before them at the last election, and have since always advocated.
J. G. P.
Her Majesty's Agency,
Pretoria, September 11th, 1899.
I beg to acknowledge receipt of your letter and enclosure (herewith returned) of the 7th instant, and regret that it is not in my power to discuss the matter to which you refer by letter. I should, however, recommend you, if you should be in Johannesburg, to see the British Vice-Consul there, who will no doubt give you such advice as may be possible under the circumstances.
I am, Sir,
Your obedient servant,
Mr. C. Mettam,
P. O. Box 23,
Krugersdorp. Certified true copy.
E. H. Cecil Maj,
C. S. O.
23rd. They commenced shelling cattle and northern end of the town. As the inhabitants have not been shelled severely for ten days, they seem more concerned in running to see where the shell pitches, than in taking cover as they have been strictly warned to do. Steady rain has commenced, depressing the big gun and the Boers.
24th. Rain continuing, gun and owners still depressed. No news received for ten days and great universal anxiety felt for anticipated decisive intelligence.
25th, Sunday. No heavy shelling yesterday, but firing all night and this morning. Cape Boys in advanced trenches, and Boers, engaged in an argument as to their respective mothers and other female relatives' merits and demerits. The arguments for and against having rapidly degenerated to assertions, shooting began, but as it was merely a personal quarrel no one else interfered, and, indeed, white flags from both sides met within a quarter of a mile of the firing, which continued all day. Our Sunday concert was a great success, and the day being fine was most enjoyable. It is curious what different people buy at the stores, the Europeans buying mainly the necessities of life, while the Kaffir, who has plenty of money, but is only allowed to purchase a limited amount of meal, browses off Pate de Foie Gras, and other similar comestibles. In the afternoon I went to inspect our new gun. She reflects the greatest credit on her builders, the finish and turn-out being quite dandy. She's a smooth bore 5*5, and carries a round shell; we ought to have good fun from her.
26th. Runners in this morning, news very meagre. Her Majesty's telegram received, which gave intense satisfaction, but we have been anxiously anticipating decisive intelligence. The Kaffirs report that the Boers are few round here, but will not abandon .The prosecution of the siege; on our side we cannot afford a serious sortie, as a reverse might mean the fall of Mafeking, which is not desirable or in the least probable. The Boers began shell-fire at dawn this morning, and continued it at intervals all day. This was the most rapid fire we have had, and the continuous clanging of bells might have induced a stranger to suppose that we were indulging in some popular celebration. They particularly favoured our end of the town. In the evening we tried our new gun on Game Tree fort at about 2300 yards, she was a great success, and her range was apparently only limited by eyesight.
27th. Being Majuba Day we expected an attack, so I went up to Cannon Kopje before dawn. What attacking there was was in the brickfields and was done by us, but after a fitful splutter of musketry for an hour things quieted down. I went up to Fort Ayr but nothing was doing, and with the exception of musketry fire and a few small shells, it was a quiet day. The Boers blew up the line about two miles north of the town.
28th. We have got our news at last, and though the shell fire is very much heavier than usual the population is wandering about with a bland smile on its face and a comfortable contempt for the Boer nation at large, only tempered by the fear that the military success over Boer armies in the field may be discounted greatly if the British people allow themselves to be hoodwinked by the most unscrupulous, self - interested' politicians who ever led a country to its ruin, but who have unfortunately sown seeds which may sprout again and to which there is only one successful treatment, that of force majeure, followed by pax Brittanica, to be upheld again whenever necessary by the aforesaid force majeure, which is the only argument that South Africa, black or white, in its present condition can understand. Generosity would be wasted, kindness treated with ill-concealed contempt, and blood and treasure cast away, whilst race hatred would again be rampant, were the Dutch to be once more in a position to struggle for supreme control. It is a strong man armed who keeps South Africa, let that man be British.
The Boers are determined to keep us amused, and do not approve of the Free Press; they have just now blown the newspaper office, by our dug-out, to pieces, and arc trying to silence our mild manifestations of joy by particularly heavy shell fire. This afternoon we tried our new gun again on the veldt, with bursting charges in the shells, and the results were eminently satisfactory; they afforded a certain amount of interest to the garrison of Game Tree fort, who, as the gun was pointed almost at right angles to them, bobbed somewhat unnecessarily to each discharge. The explosion of the shell might well have puzzled them for it was exactly like the discharge of another gun. It is a shame to he cooped up here in such weather, " where all around is beautiful and only Boers are vile," and if they had any sense of decency or humour they would give us one good fight to finish, as it is we hang on in trenches into which they cannot possibly come, they hang on in opposing trenches into which we cannot afford to go, exchanges of shots go on all day, varied by shell fire on their part, which is becoming monotonous, and the dullest, deadest level of warfare has been effectually attained. To-day we had our little joke; a dummy truck was placed on the line about two miles south of the town, some snipers fired a few shots from it and then abandoned it, they were, however, successful in drawing the fire from the quick-firer Krupp and one-pound Maxim at Jackal Tree with occasional shots from the big gun; they made execrable shooting, but killed some cattle and a horse or two in a remote portion of the veldt, and unfortunately killed the Sergeant-Major of the Black Watch, a fine Zulu over six feet four inches: a one-pound Maxim hit him clean in the head. Yesterday, too, Trooper Elkirigton, a particularly smart, good-looking fellow in the Cape Police, was struck in the face by a five-pound shell, and his nose and eyes destroyed; he still lives, poor fellow. Apropos of Zulus, there is a mad Zulu in the town who, when the frenzy seizes him, strips, and indulges in a war dance in front of the Boers; how many thousand rounds of ammunition they have fired at him it would be hard to say, but one day for certain they fired a five nine-pounder Krupp at him, the only result being that he assegaied the spot were each shell fell. My own personal experience of him was aggravating. One day having selected a secluded spot with good cover from which to snipe, and thinking myself exceedingly well concealed, I was much annoyed by the inordinate amount of bullets which came my way, and whilst waiting till they stopped a bit, happened to look round and discovered that my friend, stark naked, was dancing about a hundred yards in rear of me, when he had finished he put on his clothes and went home. He is still alive, and dancing when inclined. Mr. Whales, who has edited The Mafeking Mail and brought out daily editions throughout the siege, had an extraordinary escape yesterday. A 94 lb. shell came into his office and exploded whilst he was talking to two other men, wrecking the place, but providentially only slightly scratching one man. As he emerged from the debris much shaken, his first remark was, " That the slip would not be issued to-night." This is the second shell through the office, and though the setting up operations are carried on in a bomb proof, he has consistently carried on his editorial avocations regardless of the heaviest fire. This practice T am glad to say he proposes to discontinue in a measure, and work more or less underground, for, as he truly says, "The third shell may hit me." Really this does look as if it were the beginning of the end, and as if this somewhat isolated outpost of the Empire were going to get its communications with civilization restored. It has been an experience, and though certainly not a very pleasant one, I do not think the survivors can but have profited by it. I rather fancy, however, that it will take a singularly astute foeman ever to involve any of them in a .siege again j it is, however, Colonel Vyvyan's second experience in South Africa, as he was once before shut up in Etchowe.