Victorian London - Publications - Social Investigation/Journalism - A Looker-On in London, by Mary H. Krout, 1899 - Chapter 21 - The Jameson Trial (cont.)

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CHAPTER XXI

THE JAMESON TRIAL - CONTINUED

    THE trial was resumed the following week, the first week in April, and the eviden.ce heard at that time simply corroborated what had been already stated relative to the cutting of telegraph wires, the recruiting, arming and mounting of the Chartered Company's forces.
    There was then an interval of one month, pending the arrival of other witnesses from Cape Colony. Interest had not flagged, and, as before, a fashionable and attentive audience was present. The personelle of the spectators, however, was much changed. The enthusiastic sympathizer, who had been so outspoken in his championship of the reluctant witnesses on the first day, was again present, but was much more subdued and far less officious. Bouwer, Joubert's clerk, relieved of further responsibility was an attentive listener; but many of the swarthy, sunburned South Africans were missing, having returned to the Cape. A tall, muscular young man with waving dark hair and with a tinge of African blood in his veins gave a certain picturesqueness to a group at one of the doors; there were more English officers than before and, these were accompanied by their friends. The Hebrew spectators, ardent and voluble sympathizers with Dr. Jameson, who were supposed to be stock-holders in the Chartered Company, were extremely intrusive. A lady who had been conducted to a seat reserved for her happened to leave it for a moment, when one of them, a fussy and noisy man with a scarlet necktie and a superabundance of [-238-] diamonds, pounced upon it instantly, while the police were occupied elsewhere; he picked up the chair and brandishing the legs in dangerous proximity to the eyes of a row of people seated in a bench along the wall, squeezed it into a corner already crowded and there remained, complacent and  well-satisfied.
    Dr. Jameson had been visiting a number of hospitable country houses during the intervening Easter holidays, and his companions had enjoyed similar relaxation, so that they appeared to be much rested and refreshed. Dr. Jameson's improvement, apparently, was .only physical, for he was as depressed and as melancholy as ever, taking little interest in the progress of the trial and the incidents of the court-room. It was said that he had suffered keenly in his detention in England during the uprising of the natives in Matabeleland, which had followed, as a direct and immediate result of the raid.
    Major General Sir Frederick Carrington had left London early in April, and a number of Dr. Jameson's officers were at the station to see him off, envying him the privilege of going out to the Cape, and expressing a strong desire to accompany his command.
    The curiosity in regard to Dr. Jameson had increased rather than abated, and as he again entered the courtroom a red-faced matron asked excitedly:
    "Which is he? Which is he?" and one of the officials obligingly pointed him out. A fashionably dressed woman pushed her son forward, a lad in an Eton jacket and collar, and approached so near his chair that her frank comments must have been plainly audible. The proceedings were opened by the Attorney-General who stated that but little new evidence had been secured, and after hearing the testimony of the witnesses that had recently arrived he asked another adjournment until June 11th - the earliest  [-239-]  date that could be arranged, since the men subpoenaed could not leave Cape Town until May 20th.
    Sir Edward Clarke objected very strongly to this delay, expressing a hope that the trial might be concluded before the long vacation. Moreover, he thought it time that the prosecution should give the defense some idea of the nature of the evidence which they had obtained. In addition to this, there was a number of the defendants against whom no charges could be sustained and these, he thought, should be discharged. This opinion was delivered with considerable emphasis and was heard by the Attorney- General with unruffled composure. He replied courteously that the prosecution had required but little time to subpoena witnesses, but time must be given after leaving the Cape for their arrival in England. If it was thought proper to discharge certain of the defendants, special application should be made in each case. He had heard nothing in the evidence that would justify him in differentiating the responsibility of the various defendants. Further development might justify such a course, but it could not be urged at that time. He said that he would consider carefully whether he could let the defense know what he would next attempt to prove, as he did not wish to take them by surprise. The Magistrate thereupon agreed to arrange his engagements in the court, so that he might resume hearing the case, when it was most convenient for the counsel.
    The most interesting witness that day was Arthur Maynard Rowland, whose adventure surpassed in boldness, even the daring of Dr. Jameson himself, and whose courage and steadiness of nerve had made him something of a hero upon his return to London. His father was a Congregational clergyman living near London. Rowland was a stalwart, handsome young man, with very little in his manner or appearance to indicate the fearless adventurer [-240-] that he was. He kissed the Bible with a sort of airy nonchalance, and once or twice laughed heartily at some episode which his testimony recalled; he seemed rather proud of the part he bad taken in the raid, and was not in the least reluctant to give an account of it. Like Sergeant White his behavior upon the witness stand was, to say the least, unconventional. At first he stood erect, and then, as the hours wore away, he became more careless and leaned forward, resting his elbows upon the ledge in front of him and supporting his chin with his hands. His escapade was one of the most fool-hardy episodes of the entire Transvaal campaign, undertaken almost single-handed and with the knowledge that failure meant death.
    Rowland testified that he was a mechanical engineer in Johannesburg, and was a member of a cycling club. He carried out the last dispatch sent to Dr. Jameson by the reform committee, hiding it in the saddle-pin of his machine. He was accompanied by a Boer named Cellier. They were overhauled by the Boers, after they had gone some distance, who, supposing them to be two cyclist~ out for a harmless run, not only let them pass through their lines but commissioned them to carry dispatches to their commandant at the front, which they readily consented to do. They obtained permits to continue on their journey after proceeding to the front, reaching Dr. Jameson in safety, delivered the Johannesburg message, and also informed him as to the purport of the message which they had left with the Boer commandant, and which they had not hesitated to read. In the course of the questioning, Mr. Rowland explained that he had helped to organize the bicycle corps of which he was a member, and had been commissioned to proceed to the Black Reef series of mines and ascertain if there were any armed Boers in that region. When they reached Krugersdorp they came across a number of well-armed Boers, the commandant retreating on [-241-] the road before Dr. Jameson's troops. He was given a pass to deliver to Potgieter, the Boer commandant at the front and furnished a pass. At one of the mines they found a number of natives removing the timbers where an ambuscade was suspected. Near at hand was a company of Boers who had a party of prisoners. Their passes were produced and they were allowed to continue their journey without hindrance. Seven miles from Krugersdorp they came up with Commandant Potgieter and delivered the despatches which they had brought him and then, under the pretext of having had no breakfast, asked permission to go on in search of a hotel.
    "You did not tell them you were carrying dispatches for Dr. Jameson, did you ?" asked Mr. Horace Avory, who was conducting the examination.
    Rowland smiled suggestively but did not reply to this query. There was a burst of laughter, several of the defendants being highly amused; even Sir John Bridge seemed, to appreciate the ingenuousness of the question.
    Rowland stated that the Boers warned them to look out for the British column which was advancing, and he laughed heartily at the recollection of the incident and the court and the spectators again laughed with him. He and his companion reached a hotel fifteen miles from Krugersdorp, rode on from there, telling the Boers whom they met from time to time that they were Potgieter's scouts, a ruse they were able to carry out successfully by means of the passes which had been furnished them. Shortly afterwards they saw Jameson's forces coming over a hill and when they reached the column they asked to be taken to the leader. The dispatches were delivered and read immediately.
    "Who read them ?" Rowland was asked.
    "I think that they were read by an officer who was standing beside Dr. Jameson," was the reply.
    [-242-] "Do you think you could recognize him among the defendants ?" was the next question.
    Rowland who, at this juncture was bending forward in his favorite attitude, with his chin upon his hands, straightened himself, smiled, then replied very guardedly, still smiling:
    "They were very differently dressed when I saw them, which would change their appearance."
    The question of identification was not pressed. Rowland said that he was forced to read the dispatches committed to him in Johannesburg as a matter of self-protection, and was asked to give their substance, but his memory which, up to this point had been remarkable, suddenly failed him. At length, after much assistance from the' prosecution, he recalled that one had .been written by Col. Rhodes and another by George Farrar, two of the men whom the Kruger government subsequently sentenced to death and then pardoned. The dispatches described the situation in Johannesburg and the witness was also able to remember that Dr. Jameson was warned of the ambuscade at the mine, informed that no fight had occurred and that he was told that "they hoped to see him in the evening." In a conversation Dr. Jameson told Rowland that he "intended to go through the Boers."
    He was asked to explain this statement.
    "Well," replied the witness with some hesitation, "he said that he would not fire unless he was fired upon first."
    On their return Rowland and Cellier were again stopped by the Boers who charged them with having communicated with Dr. Jameson and which Rowland said he at once denied.
    When asked to describe the manner in which they were stopped he explained artlessly that the Boers had made them halt "by putting cartridges in their rifles and getting in the way generally.
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This description again appealed to the humor of the court and the spectators and there was another laugh, Major Coventry, especially, enjoying it keenly.
    Rowland and Cellier were arrested in spite of their denial that they had not seen Jameson who had given Rowland a dispatch to carry back, and which he had concealed as before, in the saddle-pin of his bicycle. At the hotel where they were taken, the Boers, as he put it "had a long palaver," as to what should be done with them. They were finally turned over to the men at the mine where they were told that they would be placed under Boer protection against the English. He and Cellier sat out upon the kopje all the afternoon and at half past six in the evening an armed escort started with them back to Krugersdorp. In an attempt to get rid of Dr. Jameson's dispatches he pretended to let his machine run away with him down hill. He had already walked up one hill pushing the machine before him, on the pretext that~ he was tired of riding, when the Boers rode back to him, ordering him .to remount and threatening to shoot him if he disobeyed. When the machine ran away he guided it close tinder the kopje, dismounted and let the air out of the tire; Cellier did the same, and the Boers again discussed the feasibility of shooting them, but at length decided to keep them under guard. Rowland and his companion then volunteered to do ambulance work should their services be required.
    Jameson's column appeared in a little while after this, and the Boers immediately opened fire, which was promptly returned, and it was kept up on both sides all the afternoon. Rowland and Cellier, both being unarmed, took refuge from the bullets in the shaft of the mine and in the evening, while the fight was still going on, the march was continued. When they reached the town they were released on patrol. Cellier went over to Johannesburg [-244.-] on Jan. 3rd and Rowland followed on the 7th and finally escaped, making his way to Pretoria. He was never formally released by the Boers and never learned what became of the bicycle. He made his escape upon a wheel which he managed in some way to secure.
    "Were you paid for your services?" Mr. Avory asked. "I was paid-that is, the man who holds my power of attorney was paid, Rowland replied.
    Sir Edward Clarke who endeavored to show that a predatory raid had not been planned, the National Union hoping to establish justice by peaceable methods, asked if it was not generally believed that the Boers would attack Johannesburg.
    "It was not shown certainly," was the reply, "but there were a great many rumors."
    "Was there great alarm for the safety of the women and children ?" Sir Edward then asked.
    "Yes, great alarm."
    The witness stated, further, that he read the messages so that in case it became necessary to destroy them he could deliver them verbally. The Boer message was in Dutch and informed Potgieter that the Dutch column would reach the hill in the afternoon. This Rowland communicated to Dr. Jameson. In the re-examination by the Attorney-General, Rowland said that he received his instruction from the committee in Johannesburg December 31st. He also recalled the fact that one of the dispatches to Dr. Jameson "expressed the surprise of the reform committee that Dr. Jameson was coming through."
    Rowland had been upon the stand for more than two hours, replying to the questions which were put to him, with scarcely a pause, and he seemed neither fatigued nor abashed when he was at last excused, and the usual recess was given for luncheon. Tea was served those who desired it in adjacent restaurants, and several ladies who had [-245-] brought their lunch baskets with them remained seated, eating sandwiches and sipping their claret with a relish. The evidence of the afternoon related to the cutting of the telegraph wire, and contracts for horses made with Col. White and Alfred Henry Harbor, a livery stable keeper in Mafeking.
    The first witness was Inspector Fuller of the Cape Mounted Police, who had notified the authorities that Dr. Jameson's forces had started. He was a tall, swarthy man with a heavy black mustache, rather irascible, and his irritability made a fine foil for the unruffled calmness of the Attorney-General. He testified that he had arrived at Mafeking from Vryberg, Sunday, December 29th, and found the column preparing to leave. He had a conversation with Major Coventry and Col. Grey and thereupon ordered Inspector Brown to watch the column. In the evening, learning that the column was falling in, he asked Major White where they were going, but got no satisfactory answer.
    "What did he say?" asked the Attorney-General.
    "I cannot recall it," replied the witness very testily.
    "Can you give the substance of it ?"
    "It is impossible for me to remember, after so long a time," was the reply.
    "But cannot you give some idea - not the exact words," persisted the Attorney-General.
    "I cannot remember it; I do not wish to attempt it," the Inspector said again, adding something under his breath about "such a place as this."
    He admitted one fact, however, that produced a somewhat startling effect. It had been ascertained before this that the telegraph wires had been cut, shutting off communication with Dr. Jameson and the authorities empowered to order his immediate return. An effort had been made to place the blame upon the Boers. Inspector [-246-] Fuller's evidence, reluctantly and haltingly given, conclusively disposed of this theory and showed that, if Dr. Jameson's officers had not been directly responsible, they were at least aware that the wires had been tampered with.
    On Sunday evening prior to the departure of the column the witness had seen Major, the Hon. Robert White, who told him that some of the junior officers did not care to go with the troop, and the Inspector was asked to urge them to consent. Fuller said that he was unwilling because he was still wearing the uniform of the government service. When the column marched away Col. White bade him good-bye and, returning his salute, the Inspector remarked that he would be obliged to report the departure of the column. Col. White replied:
    "You can do as you like; the wires are cut."
    This speech created something of a sensation in the court-room and Col. White, a fine type of the British officer, towering head and shoulders above Dr. Jameson, was nonplussed for an instant and brushed his hand nervously across his face; there was also a little embarrassment in Major Coventry's ever-ready smile. Dr. Jameson alone appeared not to have heard the astonishing statement; he retained his phlegmatic composure and did not raise his down-cast eyes, although some of the officials of the court bent a look of dignified and polite disapproval upon the stalwart Inspector. Fuller's testimony concluded with an account of dispatching a message to Mafeking to send a telegram to Kimberly, which, as had been already stated, involved a roundabout journey of fifty miles upon horseback, and hours of delay.
    When the court adjourned and the people poured out into Wellington street they were horrified by dispatches which had just been received from the Cape; newsboys were calling special editions of the evening papers with [-247-] the latest telegrams announcing that four leaders of the reform committee, Mr. Lionel Phillips, Mr. John Hays Hammond, Mr. Percy Farrar and Col. Rhodes had been condemned to death by the Boers. It caused the utmost consternation; the papers were rapidly bought up and there were shocked and excited comments on the news. The day had been a very exciting one, of itself, within the court; and this last stroke seemed to complete the chapter of sensations that had followed, one upon another, through Rowland's long narrative and the briefer, but not less stirring admissions made by Inspector Fuller. The news undoubtedly fell upon Dr. Jameson, sad and troubled as he was, with crushing effect.