In South Africa with Buller - Foreword

It is too early, at this date, to record the history of the South African war. We live in an age, however, when interest is ephemeral, and, unless one is content to write for reputation alone, a work must be published during the height of public interest to command success. Thanks to electricity and newspaper enterprise, gifted writers now erect very readable books around the slender fabric of cable despatches. The author who has gathered his material at the risk of life and health, and at great expenditure of energy and money, returns to find his work anticipated by perhaps half a dozen books written by men who have never left the security of their own homes. It is a noteworthy fact that after the Spanish-American war, with perhaps one exception, the most successful books were penned by writers who never were in Cuba. Their works are a comedy of errors from Alpha to Omega, but they were issued when the popular feeling was inflamed with victory, and their accuracy was not questioned. Hence the need of rapid preparation.
   The dust and heat of South Africa do not inspire literary style, and chapters written on horseback, after sixteen hours in the saddle, lack the polish bestowed by writers reclining in comfort and clean linen. I had planned to write a personal story, after the prevailing fashion, but finding that peerless artists were preparing word pictures of the campaign, I concluded that a plain account of the war and its causes, based on personal observation and investigation, would supply a want within my limitations.
   Thanks to prominent Afrikanders, who were exceedingly anxious that I should present their side in the United States, their views and aspirations were freely brought to my notice. But familiarity with the Taal is apt to breed contempt, and though one cannot be blind to the machinations of capitalists and the blunders of imperialists and ultra loyalists, a careful review of facts will lead true Americans, as lovers of universal liberty, to realise that the only hope for South Africa lies in its federation under the almost republican constitution guaranteed by the British flag. Boer, or rather Taal, ideals are in antithesis to liberty and progress. They are founded on hatred of the Anglo Saxon, a hatred based on past injustice but fanned to flame by intriguing foreigners controlling the Transvaal.
   The Orange Free State, founded as a republic by the British Foreign Office, and always on terms of cordiality with Downing Street, was in part induced to take up arms against a traditional friend by the possibilities of Dutch supremacy in South Africa, and the money provided by corrupt concessionaires in the Transvaal subverted the allegiance of thousands of the more ignorant Taal-speaking British subjects by the same idea.
   The misapprehension of British intentions notwithstanding, the Boer raid into the Colonies was unjustifiable aggression; it was, from first to last, a war of conquest and subjugation. The great sympathy that I had for the Boers vanished when I saw their ruthless devastation and method of extending their rule toward Cape Town.
   Patriots seeking to fight an army that may menace their existence do not war on women and children, or force citizens to take up arms against their own country, turning out on the bare veldt those who refuse, looting their homes and crops. I have seen much of revolution. For three years I was a sympathetic witness of the Cubans in their struggle for freedom from Spain’s grip. I would that the ultra Afrikanders could take a lesson from those ignorant but self-sacrificing peasants.
   President Kruger invoked as arbiter the God of Battles, but at 2 pm. today, the British flag was hoisted over Pretoria. There are many indications that the devoted but credulous burghers, who have fought so bravely and suffered so vainly for what they deemed right, will ere long relinquish their apanthropic ideas, and return to their homes to help build up a united South Africa. They have proved the fallacy of the exegesis of their leaders, whose greed and lust of territory has been one of the many causes of the inevitable war; and it rests with British statesmen to form a tactful administration that alone can win their confidence and respect.

George C Musgrave
SS Ethiopa

June 5th 1900

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To Kumass with Scott Under Three Flags in Cuba In South Africa with Buller The Peking Legations Under Four Flags for France Cuba - Land of Opportunity

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