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THE JAMESON TRIAL
AFTER the ill-starred battle of Dornkoop resulting in the
defeat and capture of Dr. Jameson and his officers, the prisoners, as has been
stated, were handed over to the British authorities for trial and punishment by
President Kruger, who also demanded heavy indemnity from the English government.
They were detained in prison at Pretoria for four weeks, where their confinement
was made as comfortable as possible; where they were permitted to converse
freely, amuse themselves with various sports and were liberally supplied with
wines and other luxuries, and were then sent back to England. Their comfort was
also scrupulously considered throughout the voyage, Dr. Jameson spending much of
his time in reading and writing. The return was by the way of the Red sea and
the Mediterranean, and the London press was apprised of the state of their
health and other matters of interest when the ship touched at Malta, although
the newspaper correspondents were not permitted to go on board or to communicate
with the men. The same rule was rigidly observed when the vessel anchored at
Portsmouth on Sunday afternoon, February 2d.
On Monday the arrival of Dr. Jameson was eagerly expected, and great crowds assembled around the Bow street police court, which was filled with people who waited there all day. In the evening a police launch went down the river with a detail of officers and met the "Victoria," upon which their passage had been taken; the warrant for [-207-] their arrest was read and Dr. Jameson and his associates were transferred from the ship to the tug Corruna which landed them at the Temple Pier. The men were haggard and exhausted from the long voyage, and were still clad in the brown uniforms and broad-brimmed grey felt hats which they had worn in the battle at Dornkoop; suffering keenly in the damp chill of the February evening after the heat of the South African summer. They arrived at nightfall, and were driven to the Bow street court without delay. No cards of admission had been required on that first evening, and the body of the court room was filled with a miscellaneous audience; upon the bench where he sat much of the time during the subsequent proceedings, was the Duke of Abercorn, the Honorary Chairman of the Chartered Company, with Lady Annaly, Lord and Lady Alington, Lord and Lady Chelsea and others of equal position. At half past six the Public Prosecutor arrived and at seven o'clock Sir John Bridge, the Magistrate, took his seat upon the bench. Dr. Jameson and his twelve associates were immediately ushered into the Court room through the prisoner's door, and they were greeted with ringing cheers and with such enthusiasm that it was some time before order could be restored. The magistrate rebuked this demonstration with great severity, reminding those present that the men who had been so warmly applauded were there to answer for a serious offense, and he threatened to clear the court if it occurred again.
Dr. Jameson and his confederates were then formally charged with having fitted out an expedition in December, 1895, within Her Majesty's dominions, without her permission and marching against a friendly state, the South African Republic.
The defendants gave bond in the sum of fr,ooo for their re-appearance, and the magistrate again reminded them [-208-] that the charge entered against them was a grave one, and they were advised to keep arw~y from public places where their appearance might occasion excitement.
There was such a desire to witness the proceedings, that the authorities were overwhelmed with requests for tickets of admission to the court room, which were somewhat difficult to secure. Mine was obtained through the courtesy of friends at the American Embassy, and I was instructed to present myself at the private entrance of the court at 9:30 o'clock, an unearthly hour in London where the shop shutters have only just been taken down, and the sober-minded part of the population are still at breakfast.
It was the 17th of March, St. Patrick's day, a bright, sunny morning, and along the sidewalks in Wellington street, men and women were selling tinsel ornaments, or sprigs of shamrock for the buttonhole, for which they found many purchasers whose nationality was patent. Three policemen stood guard at the main entrance of the Police court, and another at the gate leading into a wide, flagged court by which the private entrance was to be reached. Here the windows shone with much cleaning, and the bell and door-plate bore evidence of skillful polishing, while the door-step was of snowy whiteness. It was much more like the entrance to a private residence, whose mistress thoroughly understood the art of good housekeeping, than any police court that I had ever seen before.
When I took the seat assigned me, the clock upon the wall showed that it was just half past nine. Policemen were stationed at the doors, or came and went about their business; an artist at a desk made a rapid sketch of the interior of the court room for one of the illustrated papers, and was closely watched by several men who stood at his elbow, and whose close proximity and fixed scrutiny did not seem to disturb him. He remained at his post all day, and having completed his first task busied himself [-209-] with the interesting personages who took part in the proceedings, or were seated with the magistrates upon the bench, none of whom apparently resented being sketched. Then the reporters of the great London news associations began to drop in, and seated themselves around a narrow table much too small and crowded for their needs. A good many of them, as would have happened in the United States, were unmistakably Irish, and wore the distinctive shamrock in the lapel. One lady sat at this table where she took occasional notes in a very small and elegant Russia leather note book, while many of the men who could not be accommodated there, wrote all day very laboriously and inconveniently upon their knees. The "lady journalist," to use the conventional English term, carried a volume of "Jude the Obscure" for mental refreshment when the proceedings of the trial began to pall, or between intervals of conversation with those of the reporters whom she knew.
On the opposite side of the court room was another small table for the reporters of the London newspapers, while behind them, writing on "blocks," which they also held upon their knees, were the representatives presumably of the provincial press. The court room was as tidy as a drawing room, and by no means gloomy. Upon the bench to the right and left of the magistrate, Sir John Bridge, were a number of people who had been permitted to occupy these seats during the trial, the Duke of Abercorn, the Dowager Marchioness of Londonderry, Viscountess Knutsford, Lady Coventry, Lady Rayleigh, Lady Cranborne, Lady Elizabeth Biddulph, Sir F. Dixon-Hartland, M. P., friends of the Magistrate and the defendants. To the left were "the pews," as they were called, and to the right the witness stand; this was a conspicuous object with a fanciful canopy supported by slender brass columns. In the center of the main floor, on a lower level than the [-210-] witness stand, was a space for the table at which the cleric and other officials were seated. Mr. Cavendish, the clerk, rapidly recorded the evidence as it was rendered, and when it was finished, read it aloud, submitting it to the witness for his signature. This was written with a big quill, which seems to be used exclusively in English courts. Although the Magistrate was not to take his seat until eleven o'clock, the spectators who had been able to secure admission were all in their places long before that hour. The audience was strikingly distinguished in manner and appearance, even many who stood in the rear of the benches throughout the day having an air of great refinement and intelligence, very unlike the usual loiterers in ordinary court rooms. As it was only the preliminary hearing for committal, the magistrate and barristers appeared without wig and gown. At eleven o'clock the door in the rear of the bench opened and the magistrate entered and, in obedience to some indistinct command, the clerk, barristers and audience arose and stood until he was seated; it was a recognition of the majesty of the law that seemed to me respectful and dignified.
Opposite the table at which the clerk was seated was another door marked in conspicuous black letters: "For Prisoners Only." When Sir John Bridge had taken his seat this door opened and the defendants filed in; Dr. Leander Starr Jameson, Major Sir John Christopher Willoughby, Col. Raleigh Grey, Major the Hon. R. White, Major John B. Stracey, Major C. H. Villiers, Captain K. J. Kincaid-Smith, Lieut. H. M. Grenfell, Capt. C. P. Foley, Capt. C. L. D. Monroe, Capt. C. F. Lindsell, Capt. E. C. S. Holden, Major the Hon. Charles John Coventry and Capt. Audley Vaughan Gosling. Two rows of chairs had been placed for them outside the bar, upon the main floor, facing the bench, and to these they were conducted by Jailer White, Dr. Jameson at the head of the file and Major, the Hon. [-211-] Charles John Coventry, bringing up the rear. All were bronzed by exposure to the African wind and sun; all were faultlessly dressed, and, with one or two exceptions, their demeanor was composed and well-bred. Dr. Jameson was very grave and he, alone, was somewhat ill at ease. As he entered the court room a dark flush mounted to his forehead, which slowly faded as he walked to his chair and seated himself with great deliberateness. He was a man somewhat below medium height, with a huge head carried a little to one side, showing a remarkable breadth of brow; the eyes were large, dark and sufficiently expressive, when not concealed by the heavy drooping lids that were frequently half, or wholly, closed; the nose was prominent and large and rather symmetrical, the chin and mouth indicated decided firmness; the whole expression and demeanor of the man evinced fearlessness that would be disposed to express itself in deeds rather than words. He, too, was carefully dressed in a dark frock coat and trousers, a spotless, white necktie and pale grey gloves-the conventional morning dress of an English gentleman. He walked with a heavy unelastic tread and a slightly swinging carriage, and sat much of the time obliquely in his chair, one cheek resting upon his elegantly gloved hand; his glance was often cast down or fixed at rare intervals upon his counsel, Sir Edward Clarke; not once during the day, so far as I could observe, did he give more than a passing look at the witnesses upon the stand; to whatever was being drawn out of them he seemed quite indifferent, and, except for that first dull flush, he was equally oblivious of the spectators about him to whom he was a manifest object of interest. Such was the hero of one of the most daring raids in all the annals of border warfare; to all appearance a quiet, modest gentleman, in faultless and fashionable dress, with civilian stamped upon him from head to foot, and who [-2l2-] would have been recognized anywhere as the circumspect, model family physician. He seemed pre-eminently a man to whom healing of wounds was far more congenial and better suited than blood-letting with Maxim guns and Lee-Metford rifles, after the manner which he had so rashly undertaken.
A certain romance was associated with Major Coventry; he had been reported among the dead after the battle of Dornkoop, and a memorial service had been. announced, to be held in the parish church at Croome, the residence of his father, the Earl of Coventry. On the evening preceding this service, the error was corrected and when it was learned that Major Coventry had been wounded, but was still living and would recover, the arrangements were hurriedly altered and a thanksgiving service was held, instead. His parents had received innumerable letters and messages of condolence, and Major Coventry was one of the few who had the doubtful privilege of reading his own obituary notice. He, too, was bronzed and tanned, but on the other hand showed little evidence, either of his wounds or his long journey. He, alone, of the thirteen defendants was disposed to take the situation humorously. And, aside from this facetiousness, which seemed a little ill-timed, he was a typical guardsman, tall, broad-shouldered with a marked military bearing. By some juggle of fate he appeared to have changed places with the mild and unaggressive physician; judging from appearances alone, one would have selected him as the leader, and would have said that Dr. Jameson accompanied the expedition against his sober judgment, solely to minister to the needs of men who might require his professional services. While Dr. Jameson sat indifferent and impassive, Coventry smiled frequently and laughed inaudibly whenever he was especially amused by any portion of the evidence. The fashionable audience was such [-213-] as might have been seen at a morning concert at St. James, or at a private view at the Royal Academy, and was accentuated by the uniformed police, the motley crowd of witnesses who sat behind the defendants - mere lads many of them - who blushed like school-girls when they stooped to kiss the Bible as the oath was administered. The one exception to this shy and embarrassed group was Inspector Brown, a middle-aged soldier, rather grave and stern of countenance. It was very apparent that the witnesses for the defense were nerved up to the highest pitch of excitement; but, nevertheless, they too exhibited perfect self-control and were resolutely on their guard, determined, even while mindful of their oath, that nothing should divert their vigilance or betray them into making statements, if it could be avoided, that should prove damaging to their leader. There was a pronounced esprit du corps among them which they made no effort to conceal. They shook hands cordially when they met, like doughty heroes in a common cause, advised by some officious individual who conspicuously marshalled them to and from their places; as each man was summoned to the witness stand this friend patted him encouragingly - on the shoulder, - gave his hand a furtive grasp, whispered in his ear, and when he was dismissed and rejoined his comrades, openly and heartily congratulated him upon the manner in which he had acquitted himself.
The prosecution was conducted by the Attorney-General, Sir Richard Webster, Q. C., M. P., Sir Charles Matthews, Mr. Horace Avory and Mr. Fulton. The counsel for the defense were Sir Edward Clarke, Q. C., M. P., Sir Frank Lockwood, Q. C., M. P., Mr. E. H. Carson, Q. C., M. P., and Mr. C. F. Gill. In addition to this imposing array of eminent men, Mr. Howard Spensley appeared for. Dr. Jameson, the Hon. Alfred Lyttleton for Sir John Wil-[-214-]loughby, Col. H. F. White and Major Robert White; Mr. Roskill for Major Coventry and Captain Gosling; the others also having retained special counsel.
The chief strength of the English bar - a body of the profoundest learning and of the highest professional skill, were thus arrayed upon one side or the other, in one of the greatest political causes that had been appealed to the courts of Great Britain since the days of Warren Hastings. It was what was known as a trial at bar, that is, a trial before a special bench, and it was the third that had occurred within the century.
It was one of the idiosyncrasies of the law which, the world over, abounds in perplexing technicalities - pits for the feet of the unwary and loopholes of escape for the cunning - that there had been some difficulty in ascertaining the precise nature of the offense which had been committed; a deed of such magnitude had not been anticipated in any existing statutes, and, like the secession of our Southern States, no adequate penalty had been found for the unforeseen conspiracy. It was none the loss patent that men holding the Queen's commission had marched with an armed force into the territory of a friendly people; a battle had ensued in which twenty lives had been lost, as nearly as could be ascertained, and the government had been involved not only in costly litigation, but in an international dispute where heavy and justifiable indemnity would be demanded, and which would require many months and, possibly years, finally to adjust.
It was at length decided that the case came properly within this section of the Foreign Enlistment Act which had been adopted in 1870 and was in force throughout British territory in South Africa:
"If any person within the limits of Her Majesty's dominion, without the license of Her Majesty, prepares or fits out a naval or military expedition to proceed against [-215-] the friendly dominion of any friendly state he shall be liable to a fine and to imprisonment not exceeding two years;" any person aiding or abetting such an expedition was liable to the same penalty.
When the defendants were seated and the witnesses were in readiness to be summoned to the witness stand, as they were required, there was a subdued hum of conversation, the general air about the court room being decidedly cheerful and social. Many of the spectators present were known to each other, and exchanged compliments and inquiries as if they were at an "At Home in Belgravia," or visiting between the acts of an opera. The Duke of Abercorn sat at the right of the Magistrate, a man with delicately chiseled features and an expression of marked cleverness, quietly and tastefully dressed with a shamrock in his buttonhole. He listened with the greatest attention for five hours, as became the Chairman of the British South African Company, which was practically almost as much upon trial as Dr. Jameson, and his confederates. There had been no demonstration of any sort, this time, when the defendants appeared, the s-tern rebuke which the Magistrate had administered at the arraignment being doubtless fresh in the minds of those who were present; several women looked at the men steadily and unabashed through opera glasses, a scrutiny which the victims endured unflinchingly. Once or twice, when the testimony took a humorous turn, there was a ripple of laughter in which few of the prisoners, except Major Coventry, joined. This, with a slight stir around the door as telegraph messengers came and went, was instantly silenced by an admonitory "S-s-s-s-h," and the people thus cautioned, obeyed with the prompt obedience of tractable children. As the hours wore on, the defendants showed signs of weariness; Dr. Jameson's head drooped heavily and~ now and then he sighed as he shifted his position. Col. [-216-] Willoughby and Col. White leaned forward, each with. his face in his hands, and, occasionally one of the women on the bench rose and stood a moment, apparently to obtain a better view. The first words uttered were a sharp passage at arms between Sir George Lewis and Sir Edward Clarke. Sir George Lewis turned to the bench and explained to the Magistrate that he had been instructed to - appear on behalf of the South African Company. To this Sir Edward Clarke retorted, as if questioning the statement "Sir George Lewis appears here, as a spectator. It is pleasant to see him, but he has nothing to do with the case." To this the Magistrate replied with great courtesy and forbearance:
"I understand that he is here to watch," and to this Sir George responded politely: "Thank you, Sir John."
The Crown proceeded first, to establish the fact that the raid had been planned and in contemplation for some months, extensive preparations having been made to insure its success. The first witness-called was Sidney George Buck, a mere slip of a lad whose parents lived in Surrey; and nothing could have exceeded his stubborn intention not to utter a single word more than was forcibly extorted by the ordeal of the examination and the cross-examination that followed. As he took his place on the stand he was the embodiment of alertness, and his eye never wandered for a moment; he stood erect and looked his examiner, Mr. Sutton, straight in the face. As often as it was possible he answered simply "yes'' and "no;" occasionally he paused as if weighing consequences, and giving himself time to discover if there were not some means of evading the question propounded, within the limits of his oath to tell "the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth." His replies were uttered in a perfectly distinct tone, as monotonous as the continued repetition of the monosyllable in which they were conveyed. The gist of his evidence [-217-] was that he had joined the Bechuanaland police force in 1895 in which he had been made sergeant, and which had been commanded by Col. Henry White; the force had been divided into troops, A. B. and C., the latter having eight Maxim guns and one twelve-pounder. Captain Stracey was troop commander and they had been ordered to march South. They arrived at Pitsani Potlugo, the first week in December, the other troops following and the artillery bringing up the rear. Before leaving Buluwayo their rifles had been changed, and carbines substituted for these at Potsani. At the latter place he saw Col. White, Sir John Willoughby, Captain Stracey and other officers, all of whom he named, and they remained at Pitsani throughout the month of December. On Sunday, the 28th of December, the troops were drawn up and formed in squares, but he was not present, and a letter from Dr. Jameson was read. The troops marched that evening. He was asked if he knew where they were going.
Sir Edward Clarke, for the defense, sharply objected to this, but the witness made a tacit confession that he did know; and that he had been told "by others." They had taken with them one day's rations and reached Malmani at day-break where they were joined by 120 men, all the staff officers being present. The order of march after leaving Malmani was: scouts in front, an advance guard, rear guard, and flanking columns. When asked what this order was called, technically, he replied:
"I do not know."
There were eight Maxims for the column, one seven-pounder and the twelve-pounder. The horses were fed during the halt at Malmani, the feed having been obtained at stores along the road. A limited supply of tinned meats, and the like, was procured for the men, and twenty five miles from Malmani forage was again obtained, with provisions for the troops at a store similar to that at Mal-[-218-]mani. The column had marched incessantly on the 29th halting in the evening. On Tuesday they again marched until sundown. The capture of Captain Eloff of the South African Republic police was the chief incident of Tuesday. The witness was asked if he could recall another incident that occurred about midnight, and he replied quietly:
When he was asked to state what this incident was he replied concisely:
"The Boers fired on us."
The examiner then wanted to know, plainly, if this was the first that he had seen of the Boers and the witness again said : "Yes."
Sir Edward Clarke, keenly intent upon the examination, quickly interposed:
"It was midnight; how could he see them?"
But the lad said that they had not seen them before, and when fired upon, they returned the fire, a speech which moved Major -Coventry to laughter. It also raised sympathetic and deferential laughter in the court which was instantly silenced by the uplifted hand and the official "S-s-sh." On being asked what the Boers did in retaliation the young man said simply:
"They got out of the way as quickly as they could," at which there was more laughter, this also, being at once suppressed. The witness then continued his story, stating that after this encounter with the Boers the troops halted for the night. The march was resumed Wednesday morning and at noon that day-they reached a small hotel about four miles from Krugersdorp; there they found sixty or seventy Boers.
"Were they troopers?" asked the Magistrate.
"Yes, mounted men," was the reply.
On meeting them, the Witness Stated, the columns halted [-219-] and the guns were brought up. He believed that the Boers fired first, and remembered that the fire was returned. When asked,
"What became of the Boers?" he replied with his former conciseness:
At this, Major Coventry again laughed heartily, but his humor was hardly in keeping with the suppressed anxiety which, by this time, disturbed the assumed nonchalance of the witness. A few Boers, it was explained, bad been seen at a mine near Krugersdorp. The mine was shelled for half an hour by the order of Col. White, who had planned to take possession of it and the fire was not returned. When asked if it was a hot fire the witness replied guardedly:
"Yes; pretty warm," and at this Dr. Jameson smiled faintly, for the first time.
At three o'clock in the afternoon the troops dismounted and lay down, making no further effort to approach the mine. The witness himself remained dismounted until sunset, lying down during the firing. Later in the evening the columns drew off and marched in what direction he did not know. His horse was shot, he became separated from the troop and retraced his steps over the hills on foot. In the morning he again heard firing and went in that direction, having walked about all night. On Tuesday morning he found himself in the vicinity of the mines at Johannesburg. The firing ended suddenly; he then changed his dress and having learned of the surrender of Dr. Jameson's forces, he went to Krugersdorp thence to Johannesburg and Cape Colony. This information was not given by the witness in any sort of a connected narrative, but was pieced together from the inquiries put to him by the examiner to whom, whenever it was possible, he answered "yes" or "no;" "I cannot say," "I could not [-220-] say, or "I do not know." But the questions, in themselves, indicated very thorough knowledge of the case on the part of the prosecution. The evidence was not materially varied in the long and minute cross-examination which followed, and which was conducted by Sir Edward Clarke himself, nor did the Attorney-General, Sir Richard Webster's re-examination secure any new facts or any alteration in those already included in the first statement.
The second witness, Philip Leopold Hill, testified that he had seen Dr. Jameson and had heard him say that they were going to Johannesburg to protect the women and children; that they would have the aid of the Cape Mounted Rifles, and the Natal Mounted Police, although he hoped that they would be able to push through without fighting, before the Boers had time to collect. They were promised re-mounts, stores of food and were to be joined by the Bechuanaland Mounted Police. This was stated in a speech which Dr. Jameson delivered to the men and he also read from a letter which he held in his hand at the time. He said that he wanted to reach Johannesburg in forty-eight hours. The witness admitted that the volunteers were "all sorts of people," and said that he, himself, had seen "two sailors and some waiters."
This confession as to the Falstaffian character of Dr. Jameson's forces again disturbed the gravity of the court. The letter which had been seen in Dr. Jameson's possession was identified and was read aloud. It was as follows:
JOHANNESBURG, Dec. 20, 1895.
Dear Sir: The position of matters in this state has become so critical that we are assured that at no distant period there will be a conflict between the government and the Uitlander population. It is scarcely necessary for us to recapitulate what is now a matter of history. Suffice [-221-] it to say that the position of thousands of Englishmen is rapidly becoming intolerable. Not satisfied with making the Uitlander population pay virtually the whole of the revenue of the country, while denying them representation, the policy of the government has been steadily to encroach upon the liberty of the subject and to undermine the security for property to such an extent as to cause a very deep-seated sense of discontent and danger. A foreign corporation of Hollanders is to a considerable extent controlling our destinies and, in conjunction with the Boer leader, endeavoring to cast them in a mold which is wholly foreign to the genius of the people. Every public act betrays the most positive hostility, not only to everything English, but with the neighboring states as well. In short, the internal policy of the government is such as to have raised into antagonism to it, not only practically the whole body of Uitlanders, but a large number of Boers, while its external policy has exasperated the neighboring states, causing the possibility of great danger to the peace and independence of this great republic. Public feeling is in a condition of smouldering discontent; all the petitions of the people have been refused, with a greater or less degree of contempt, and in the debate on the franchise petition signed by nearly forty thousand people, one member challenged the Uitlanders to fight for the rights they asked for, and not a single member spoke against him. Not to go into detail, we may say that the government has called into existence all the elements for armed conflict. The one desire of the people here is for fair play, the maintenance of their independence, and the preservation of those public liberties without which life is not worth living. The government denies these things and violates the national sense of Englishmen at every turn. What we have to consider is, what will be the condition of things here in the event of conflict. Thousands of unarmed men, women [-222-] and children of our race will be at the mercy of well-armed Boers, while property of enormous value will be in the greatest peril. We cannot contemplate the future without the gravest apprehension, and feel that we are justified in taking any steps to prevent the shedding of blood and Insure the protection of our rights. It is under these circumstances that we feel constrained to call upon you to come to our aid, should a disturbance arise here. The circumstances are so extreme that we cannot avoid this step, and we cannot believe but that you, and the men under you, will not fail to come to the rescue of people who will be so situated. We guarantee any expenses that may be reasonably incurred by you in helping us, and ask you to believe nothing but the sternest necessity has prompted this appeal. We are,
JOHN HAYS HAMMOND.
There was some discussion over the propriety of reading this
letter to which Sir Richard Webster finally consented.
But little evidence was brought out in the examination of the remaining witnesses called to the stand that day. Charles Henry Ribson testified that, in their encounter with the Boers, seventeen men had been killed and the survivors who surrendered were taken to Pretoria John William Brown, Inspector of the Police, said that, suspecting Dr. Jameson, he had watched his forces and saw them enter the Transvaal. He then sent a dispatch to the authorities at Mafeking which had involved a ride of fifty miles on horseback to Manbigo, the nearest station as the [-223-] telegraph wires had been cut. This dispatch was identified by the next witness, Ernest Ormonde Butler. Five copies had been made of it. It was as follows: "From the High Commissioner to the President Commissioner, Cape Town, 30th, December, 1895. - It is rumored here that Dr. Jameson has entered the Transvaal with an armed force. Is this so? If so, send official messenger on fast horses, ordering him to return immediately. A copy of this telegram should be sent to the officers with him, and they should be told that this violation of the territory of a friendly state is repudiated by Her Majesty's government, and that they are rendering themselves liable to severe penalties."
The witness had been orderly-room sergeant in the Bechuanaland police. He had also seen a copy of the following letter which had been addressed to Dr. Jameson by the resident Magistrate:
"Sir: I have the honor to enclose a copy of a telegram that I have received from the High Commissioner. I have accordingly to request that you immediately comply with His Excellency's instructions. I am, etc., yours,.
A copy of this telegram was enclosed in letters to Major Coventry, Captain Monroe and Captain Gosling, but the witness was uncertain as to Sir John Willoughby.
The Attorney-General then stated that the evidence of the next witness would be very lengthy and the Judge consented to postpone hearing it until the following week. As the court adjourned, and the defendants drove away in cabs waiting for them at the Bow street entrance of the court, a great crowd was collected along the sidewalk opposite, extending for some distance up and down the street; there were admiring exclamations, but no demon-[-224-]strations were made. The first outburst of popular enthusiasm was over and the public, regaining their common sense, were beginning to take a rational view of the case.
The week following, March 24th, the hearing was resumed as had been decided upon. The scenes enacted in and around the court were a repetition of the first day. The same care was exercised as to the admission of spectators, the same newspaper reporters with their carbon paper and sharpened lead pencils, were present, even the "lady journalist" was in her old place, and, as before, jotted down occasional observations in her little Russia leather note-book.
A youth with a sallow complexion, a huge nose and a sloping forehead, arrayed in the most correct morning dress, had a conspicuous seat with which he was not pleased, and he called one of the polite good-tempered policemen, and taking out his card with an air of great importance ordered the officer "to hand that to the Attorney-General." He also sent a card to the Magistrate, which was passed from hand to hand; after a little delay the policeman returned and said something very indefinite about "a better place afterwards." The young man was observed, subsequently, not occupying a better place, but squeezed in amongst a dozen swarthy Africanders and apparently un-able to extricate himself; he did not return after luncheon. Those who had been invited to sit upon the bench arrived in gay parties; the space at the rear was again packed by men and women who stood throughout the session. The Duke of Abercorn was present and deeply interested as before. The counsel were rather dilatory, and it was a quarter past eleven when the prisoner s door opened through which the defendants entered. Dr. Jameson's demeanor was unchanged, except that he appeared somewhat more weary and dejected than before. He was dressed with the same care, and as he crossed the [-225-] threshold into the court room, once more the focus of inquisitive eyes, he again blushed painfully. He was seriously out of health, and his condition had been aggravated by the smoke and fog of London. Throughout that morning he looked frequently at the witnesses, but during the long examination and cross-examination of Mr. John Thomas White he closed his eyes and appeared to sleep. In its repose the face was troubled and melancholy, and one studied the heavy features in vain, for any trace of the martial spirit that had conceived the rash enterprise, which began so romantically in the Transvaal to terminate prosaically in Bow street and Holloway jail. From time to time throughout the day, -amusing incidents occurred; but so far as he was concerned, they passed unheeded, and Sir John Willoughby, Col. White and Col. Grey, who sat near him, were almost as grave as their leader. Captain Coventry, although it was said he still suffered from the effects of his wound which had so nearly proved fatal, was in his accustomed high good humor, laughing and joking sotto voce, and finding undiminished diversion in his surroundings.
The first witness that day was Francis William Penzera, fresh from the hands of a Bond street tailor, with a gardenia in his buttonhole. He was a major in the Bechuanaland Border Police, an Engineer and Superintendent of Public Works in Bechuanaland and the British Protectorate north of Bechuanaland to the Matabele border. He kissed the Bible when it was presented to him with much grace and dignity, very different from the awkward dive at the book which was made by the next witness. His testimony related chiefly to the topography of the country, and his readiness to make extended explanations was very different from the reticence of the witnesses who had preceded him. His evidence involved a tedious examination of maps on the part of the counsel, [-226-] and at intervals he was interrupted by the clerk, Mr. Cavendish, who asked him to spell difficult South African names like "Rametlhabama Spruit." He complied with the request and spelled name after name without a moment's hesitation-a rather remarkable feat, considering their length and their abounding consonants. In addition to this he displayed, not only a thorough knowledge of the country, but of the natives. He stated emphatically that the subsidy granted the projected railway to Bulywayo by the Chartered Company had been withdrawn, and he was unable to say when the line would be completed.
Another witness, a man named Canning, was recalled to testify as to the amount of ammunition which Dr. Jameson's forces had left when they surrendered, which he said was "about one--fourth." This was emphatically denied, half audibly, by one of the Chartered Company's partisans who sat quite near me.
"That's a mistake!" he exclaimed, "We did not have an ounce. When asked by Sir Edward Clarke if he, Canning himself, had any ammunition left he replied with considerable temper: "No."
John Thomas White, whose evidence consumed the remainder of the morning, was tall and spare, bronzed like his comrades. His manner, however, was very different; and where they had stood erect and composed, he twisted from side to side, leaning forward over the edge of the witness stand and then catching the supports in either hand and leaning backwards, as if he were going through some sort of gymnastic exercise, for the expansion of his chest. The Magistrate watched his gyrations with a somewhat puzzled expression, and one expected momentarily to hear him request the young man to stand still; but that probably would have been a breach of official decorum, and the gymnastics continued for two or three hours-until the witness was dismissed.
[-227-] His story was by far the most dramatic that had been related, by any of the preceding witnesses, and this, like the rest was secured piece-meal, bit by bit, sentence by sentence. Sergeant White was a no less important person than the messenger who had been sent out to order Jameson to desist from carrying out the contemplated raid. He described, in a very straightforward manner, scenes and events in the Transvaal after the expedition had been set on foot - the deserted stores where they obtained seemingly abundant supplies for themselves and forage for their horses; the armed Boers whom he met and by whom he was stopped and disarmed. He first explained how he was approached with inducements to leave the Bechuanaland Mounted Police and join the Chartered Company's forces. From this portion of the evidence, an impression was left upon the mind of those present that the officers holding commissions in the British army had encouraged vigorous recruiting, inducing White and others to leave the troops in which they had enlisted and to which they properly belonged, to join the forces organized for the raid. Sergeant White said upon this point that Major Coventry, Captain Gosling and others had offered him promotion if he would come over to them, but he had declined.
"Are you married or single?" he was asked.
"Married," he replied; then he added with unconscious naiveté, "I told Captain Gosling that I was a married man and could not afford to knock about in those irregular corps."
This blunt estimate of Dr. Jameson's troops was greeted with a roar of laughter; even the Magistrate smiled and Coventry was convulsed. The only persons who failed to appreciate its humor were Dr. Jameson and his sober-visaged associates on the front row of chairs.
A division was finally made, the witness explained,[-228-] when order was restored, and men like himself who refused to join the Chartered Company's troops, were transferred to what was called F Troop. This was ordered to parade at half past eight o'clock in the evening of December 29th. They were then marched between two hundred and three hundred yards from the main body by Major Coventry. Sergeant White made another statement which produced a subdued sensation. The destination of the expedition had been kept secret, and two or three of the men who had been asked to volunteer inquired:
"Are you going to fight for the Queen?"
Col. Grey replied:
"No; we are going to fight for the supremacy of the British flag in South Africa."
This astounding speech was followed by a pause, in which there was silence and even Coventry's eye fell - the first seriousness that he had displayed. The statement that the real purpose of the expedition was not generally known, was repeated; their orders were to proceed to Johannesburg, which they were told they must reach in fifty hours-orders that were given by Major Coventry. All the men who were willing to go were ordered to ride out to the front. As he and several others remained behind, Col. Grey came up and said:
"What is the matter with you men? Why don't you come?"
And when they were told that they were to fight, not for the Queen, but for the supremacy of the British flag in South Africa, twelve or fifteen men went over. The column commanded by Col. White, Major Coventry, Captain Gosling and Captain Monroe, finally left at ten o'clock in the evening of December 29th. About thirty officers and men who declined to go remained in the camp.
On the afternoon of December 30th Sergeant White was [-229-] ordered to go to the orderly room where he found Captain Walford, Adjutant of the Bechuanaland Border Police and Mr. Newton, Commissioner for the Protectorate. He was asked by the Commissioner if he would carry a dispatch to Col. Grey in the Transvaal, making the journey unarmed, but wearing the uniform of the Bechuanaland Border Police. He consented to go if given a pass. He was asked by the examiner if he could recall the wording of the pass and he replied:
"Yes," it said: "To all whom it may concern: this is to pass Sergeant White, of the Bechuanaland Border Police, who is carrying dispatches from the High Commissioner to Dr. Jameson."
He went to the hotel in Mafeking where a packet was given him; it was tied up in waterproof. and there was no address on the cover. He was told to give this into the hands of "the Colonel" - not Dr. Jameson. He was left to infer that Col. White was meant; his name was not mentioned, and he was ordered to "reach the column at any cost and not to spare his horse." He left Mafeking between 2 and 2.30 o'clock on Monday afternoon, December 30th, the road having been designated, the distance from Mafeking to the Transvaal border being about twelve miles. After crossing the border he was stopped by ten armed Boers who took him to the house of Field Cornet Low at Molofo where the dispatches were taken from him; after some indecision they were given back and he was finally allowed to proceed under an armed escort. They rode all night passing two armed men, with two Kaffirs mounted on horses branded "C. C." They obtained food and forage for their horses at two deserted stores, then rode a distance of eighty miles and came up with the column the next morning, still under escort. The packet which contained five letters was given to Cal. Grey who ordered him to turn them over to Col. Willoughby and [-230-] he in turn sent the messenger with them to Dr. Jameson. Dr. Jameson also refused to receive them and sent White back to CoI. Willboughby who, he said, was in command. The letters were finally delivered amongst the officers, and he was told to wait an hour for an answer. Notwithstanding the fact that the letters had been read, the column mounted at noon and proceeded on its march to Johannesburg. They had 300 fresh horses and he was asked to take the tired horses, some 290 branded "C. C.," back to Mafeking, and six Cape boys were promised him by Col. Grey to help look after them. Before they started, half an hour after the column had left, twenty armed Boers rode up and posted a guard around the kraal where the horses were collected. Sergeant White started back to Mafeking, still unarmed, and three hours after sunset met a Boer officer with 300 men who had come from Rustenburg, taken possession of the stores and were pursuing Jameson's column. They had captured the Kaffirs whom he had met with the mounted police, the night before.
John Frank Jones was called at this point in the narrative to identify the signature of Dr. Jameson that had been affixed to a letter, which, however, he had not written.
The cross-examination was conducted by Sir Edward Clarke and, contrasted with the somewhat brusque and direct method of the Attorney-General, his manner was suavity itself. He was a stout man, rather short of stature, with strong irregular features and thin lips which, in repose were tightly compressed. In the cross-examination Sergeant White was not quite so definite as he had been at first respecting the horses, which he had been asked to take back to Mafeking; he thought of the entire number perhaps one-third were fresh.
"You did not examine them closely," the Magistrate asked in his mild voice.
[-231-] "I did not examine them carefully, but I should think that one-third were fresh."
Aside from this slight and unimportant discrepancy, the story which Sir Edward Clarke drew from the witness was the same that had been told the Attorney-General.
When he had finished the court took a short recess for luncheon, and rather a singular thing occurred. Throughout the morning it had been difficult to either see or hear the witnesses from the seat which I occupied, the view being obstructed by those who were standing. At last I also rose, when a tall, fair-haired young man, neatly though not fastidiously dressed, sitting on one of the front benches, rose also, and begged me to take his seat, which I hesitated to do. He politely insisted, and I then sat down while he stepped into the place I had vacated. When the court convened, after the recess, I apologized for having deprived him of his place and he replied:
"O you were quite welcome to it." Then he removed his hat and continued to talk, with a certain diffidence, for several minutes. Presently the name of Barend Daniel Bouwer was called and the young man rose and walked to the witness stand.
Another man, rather untidy and much embarassed, took his place in a vacant space between the witness stand and the counsel. This proved to be the interpreter and the whole of Mr. Bouwer's testimony was given in Dutch and was translated by this interpreter. When chatting with me his English seemed so perfect, both in accent and in fluency, that I could not have supposed he was other than an educated Englishman. The young Boer's manner was modest and pleasing; there was nothing to indicate that rudeness and coarseness which certain chroniclers have attributed to his race; his bearing was that of an intelligent and well-bred man. He spoke in tones so low that it was almost impossible to hear him, and, although [-232-] his speech was perfectly unintelligible, the Attorney-General felt impelled at last to ask him "if he could not speak louder".
The Dutch vernacular, from the lips of the interpreter, was very harsh and guttural and much interspersed with English. When he asked the witness if he went east or west he said:
"Oost or west?"
Bouwer testified that he was a clerk in the office of General Joubert, Commander-in-chief of the forces of the South African Republic. He knew Sir Jacobus de Wet, the British representative at Pretoria. On December 31st, he had received orders to look up two Africanders to take a dispatch to Dr. Jameson; he was asked to define the term "Africander."
"It is a Dutch resident who is entitled to vote," he replied, in his native tongue, which was put into English by the interpreter. He found one, he said, but could not find two.
"What!" exclaimed Sir Edward Clarke with the suavest irony, "You could not find two?"
Bouwer colored with embarrassment at the laughter which this occasioned among the friends of the Chartered Company, and in which the Judge and the Duke of Abercorn and a few of the defendants also joined. Presently Bouwer resumed his story and said that he was ordered to go to Sir Jacobus de Wet and was informed that he was the man to carry a letter which was given him. He was told to place it in Dr. Jameson's hands and although the British representative did not know where Jameson was, Bouwer was told to ride in the direction of Rustenburg; nothing was said about Krugersdorp. Bouwer was accordingly given the letter and shortly after noon accompanied by the one Africander who had been detailed to accompany him, rode in the direction of Rustenburg as he [-233-] was ordered. He was asked where he came up with Jameson's forces and, through the medium of the treble- voiced interpreter, replied:
"Close to the spot called Van Nit Hooriswinkle Spruit, or Van Nit Hooriswinkel."
"You had best get that right," said the Attorney-General, and not unreasonably, addressing the clerk of the court; "Have you got it, Mr. Cavendish?"
Mr. Cavendish, who sat at his desk behind the rail which separated the officials of the court from the audience, wrote rapidly for a moment, then critically inspected his work, after which, with something of an air of relief, he replied in the affirmative. This caused another laugh at which the witness and the interpreter smiled deprecatingly. The humor of the incident, failed, as usual, to amuse Dr. Jameson.
Van Nit Hooriswinkle Spruit, Bouwer explained, after Mr. Cavendish had finished dotting his "i's" and crossing his "t's," was eighteen miles northwest from Krugersdorp. When he reached the column they had halted; he, the witness, was unarmed and dressed in civilian's clothes. He asked a sentry where Dr. Jameson was and was told that he was in camp. He was allowed to proceed and met an officer whom he could not identify among the defendants, who asked his name, and was then taken to Dr. Jameson's house.
"Is that gentleman sitting at the end of the row Dr. Jameson?" asked the Attorney-General.
Bouwer leaned forward an instant, looked down at Dr. Jameson, who turned his face toward the witness that he might be more readily identified.
Then Bouwer replied: "Yes."
"What did you say to him?" he was asked.
"I said," replied Bouwer, "I have a letter for you from Sir Jacobus de Wet, and he explained that he spoke Eng-[-234-]lish. At the request of the Attorney-General he repeated the statement in English, just as he had made it to Dr. Jameson, and he did this so readily and intelligibly that the Magistrate remarked in rather a surprised tone:
"You speak English very well."
Bouwer smiled at the compliment, but continued to give his testimony in Dutch.
"Dr. Jameson read the letter," he went on, "and said he would give me a letter to take back."
It was written while Bouwer went out to look after his horse and given him when he returned. He had no further conversation with Dr. Jameson, and rode away accompanied by the Africander, who was afterwards discovered by a number of men whom they met, and who would not allow them to proceed. Bouwer went back, and this occurrence was reported to Dr. Jameson, who at once mounted his horse and rode with the witness to the place where he had been detained. Jameson told him that he thought he had been stopped by Col. White, and added:
"If Col. White will not let you go on you will have to go with the troops to Johannesburg." The Africander objected to this, and said that it was not right for the Chartered Company's forces to stop the messengers on their return; that Col. White had no right either to stop them or keep them prisoners.
At the request of Sir Richard Webster, Col. White rose, tall and broad chested, a man thirty years of age or more, of distinctly military bearing; he was at once identified by Bouwer and sat down again.
"Dr. Jameson spoke to Col. White, Bouwer continued, looking steadily at the defendant, then identifying him.
The Attorney-General next produced a document and asked Bouwer if Col. White had given it to him.
"No sir," he replied without hesitation, "It was given me by Sir John Willoughby. "
[-235-] Col. Willoughby was asked to rise for identification, as Col. White had done-a slight, swarthy man, much less soldierly, and rather more embarrassed than Ccl. White had been. Captain Grenfell also rose and was identified as the man who had been with Col. Willoughby at the time Bouwer met him.
The document proved to be a pass which had been given Bouwer and the Africander to enable them to go through Dr. Jameson's lines and it had been signed by Sir John Willoughby. The Attorney-General turned to the Magistrate, after Bouwer had identified the pass, and said that he had in his hand, also, a letter which Dr. Jameson had commissioned Bouwer to carry.
"I will read it Sir John," he said, and permission being given, did so. It had been delivered to Sir Jacobus de Wet by Bouwer in Pretoria, and was as follows:
"Jan. I, 1896. To Sir Jacobus de Wet, Her Majesty's Agent at Pretoria:
"Dear Sir: I am in receipt of the message you sent from His Excellency the High Commissioner, and beg to reply, for His Excellency's information that I shall, of course, obey his instructions. I have a very large force both of men and horses to feed, and as I have finished all my supplies in the rear I must perforce go either to Johannesburg or Krugersdorp this morning for this purpose. At the same time, I must acknowledge that I am anxious to fulfill my promise on the petition of the principal inhabitants of the Rand to come to the aid of my fellow-men in their extremity. I have molested no one, and have-explained to all Dutchmen and all I have met that the above is my sole object, and that I then desire to at once return to the Protectorate. I am, Yours faithfully,
"L. S. JAMESON.!"
[-236-] After some debate between the counsel for the Crown and for
the defendants, it was directed to finish that day the examination of those
witnesses who had arrived, after which a lengthy adjournment would be ordered
until others could be summoned from South Africa.
With one or two exceptions the story had been related, in reality, by the prosecution; the witnesses merely confirming the statements of the counsel and concurring in a recital of successive events. There was, however, nothing that so much as suggested the bullying of a witness, and no display of autocratic authority on the part of the Magistrate. The eminent men employed on either side were as courteous as they were learned, and there was a marked disposition to get at the truth and to deal impartially with both the defendants and those who had been summoned to appear against them. There was no impatience, no hurry; sufficient time was given for the thorough investigation of any point that appeared confused or doubtful; those who were diffident and embarrassed were treated with a consideration that speedily restored their self-confidence, and there ~vas no great elation over any advantage gained by either side. The entire proceedings forced one to feel the profoundest respect and admiration for the decency and dignity of an English court.