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AS HAD been agreed upon, an interval of
seven weeks elapsed before the hearing of the case was resumed. If, as had been
charged, there was a purpose in the repeated remanding of the defendants, the
long delay between the arrival of successive detachments of witnesses, it had
failed; public interest, although notoriously fickle in London, had not abated
in the least; the demand for tickets of admission to the court-room was as great
as ever, and Dr. Jameson was still the center of not always polite observation.
The number of Boers present was considerably augmented by new arrivals, all of
whom had been smartly turned out by London tailors, and with their carnation
boutonnières, might have walked Piccadilly like men to the manner born.
The main work of the day was the identification of dispatches which had already been given the public during the judical proceedings in Pretoria, immediately following the raid. The letters, which were of the most compromising character, had been preserved where any man of ordinary prudence would have at once destroyed them. The cipher had been devised from the ordinary telegraphic and commercial code book, which was as familiar to the Hoer authorities as to the English, and it required very little ingenuity to transcribe the messages. The first witness called was Lieut. Eloff, a grandson of President Kruger. As the young wan took his place upon the stand, modest, reserved, vet perfectly sure of himself, he made a [-249-] very favorable impression. He did not fidget or toss himself about, but stood quiet and attentive and replied in soft, well modulated tones; his English was excellent, almost without accent, and an interpreter was not required. Lieut. Eloff's testimony related to his encounter with the English forces under Jameson's command. He had received important information and had started, in consequence, for Mafeking; he was mounted and had with him nine men whom he left behind when he went, alone, to meet Jameson's column, which he came up with at Swaraatlaagete. He paused a moment at this point to spell the long word for the clerk who was rapidly recording the testimony, and then continued, stating that he was stopped by Scouts and taken to one of Dr. Jameson's officers, who, he was told, was Col. Grey. When questioned a little more minutely Lieut. Eloff admitted to Col. Grey that he had been paroled, but refused to tell how many men he had with him, whereupon Col. Grey said that he would "find out for himself." Dr. Jameson's column had halted and the men dismounted. Eloff's horse was taken from him for a time, a receipt being given him for the animal, and an armed guard was placed over him with the promise that both his arms and his horse should be restored, either in Johannesburg or Pretoria.
Eloff said that when he asked to see Dr. Jameson the request was at first refused and then reconsidered and granted.
"What did you say to Dr. Jameson ?" the examiner asked, to which the young Hoer replied with dignity and certainly with very convincing logic:
"I asked him if he had any right to arrest me, a Transvaal officer, when no war had been declared."
Dr. Jameson, he said, did not reply to this question directly, but replied after a pause:
[-250-] "You shall have your horse back again, but we will keep your arms."
No conditions of any sort were made by Dr. Jameson, but the man who returned the horse informed Lieut. Eloff that he was to remain where he was for two hours after Dr. Jameson's column had resumed the march, and it was about nine o'clock when the last of Jameson's wagons left. At the expiration of the stipulated time, Eloff rode in the direction of Rustenberg, coming up with Commandant Malen at two or three o'clock in the morning. Malen had 300 men with him and went on to Queen's Battery, the mine, a quarter of an hour from Krugersdorp, which he reached about noon on January 1st. Jameson's column arrived between three and four o'clock in the afternoon, and a note was brought the Boer commandant, saying that if any resistance was offered the town would be shelled, and it was asked that the women and children be removed to a place of safety. The message was brought by a man who represented himself to be one of Jameson's prisoners.
"But," added Eloff naively, "he disappeared after that and we did not see him again."
This speech, delivered in a very mild voice, was greeted with laughter which seemed rather surprising to the witness.
In half an hour the first shell was fired'; there were then about 500 Boers upon the ground. The firing continued an hour and a half until it grew dark, Jameson charging the Boer outposts, a few of his men being killed and wounded in the manoeuvre. The Boers then began to fire both from their battery and outposts and drove Jameson back; part of the column they moved toward Randfontheim, and ultimately to Dornkoop where the battle took place. Eloff said that he was not present at the time of the surrender.
[-251-] "Of course you knew they surrendered ?" asked the Magistrate.
"Yes," was the brief reply.
Sir Edward Clarke gave notice that he would not cross-examine the witness but would claim the privilege of recalling him in the future, with others, if it seemed necessary.
After Lieut. Eloff had been excused a small tin box painted yellow and grained in imitation of oak, was produced, with a black box and a large portfolio; the lid of the yellow box was crushed and dinted. Both boxes were identified by Paul Constant Paff, a sallow, fair-haired young man, with a mildness and composure of manner quite equal to that of his compatriot, Lieut. Eloff. The black box was marked with the name of Captain White. Both boxes had been brought in, with various other articles from Jameson's column after the surrender. They had been opened by order of Mr. Woolmaarens, a member of the Transvaal executive council, in the presence of Captain Erasmus and others. The boxes contained books, bank notes and writing material. The statement was corroborated by Albert Reinold Fleischack, of the civil division of the State's Attorney department in Pretoria. His English was not so distinct as that of Lieut. Eloff, but the slender, well-dressed gentleman, dark-haired, dark-eyed and with his straight, symmetrical features, London clothes and gold rimmed eyeglasses, was about as far removed from the Boer of popular fiction as could well be imagined. Walking along Regent street he would not have been in any way conspicuous or remarkable. He promptly identified the boxes with the leather portfolio marked L. S. J., and said that, after the boxes had been examined, their contents had been replaced and they had been closed again; they were then sealed, the portfolio being delivered unsealed by the Inspector-General of Cus-[-252-]toms in whose keeping it had been placed; the seals on the boxes were broken by the Attorney-General.
Fleischack, had been commissioned to secure the signatures of the men who were then prisoners. This he evidently had no difficulty in doing; Dr. Jameson, Sir John Willoughby, the Hon. H. F. White and the Hon. Robert White obligingly writing their full names on a sheet of paper which was produced.
Fleischack also testified to having had an interview with the Hon. R. White concerning a letter from four inhabitants of Johannesburg. This was produced, with various maps and documents, which were also identified. The Hon. Robert White had asked to have his diary and the pay sheets of Dr. Jameson's forces returned to him, desiring the latter, especially, that he might pay the men. The list was accordingly given him, but the diary was retained for official use. And now came that which, for Dr. Jameson, must have been a very trying ordeal-the reading aloud of his letters in the court-room, in the hearing of the judges, counsel and spectators. There are very few private letters that do not suffer under such treatment; statements meant only for the eye of a friend seem to acquire another meaning when they are repeated casually, in the public ear. These letters were read in a distinct voice and in somewhat monotonous tones by the Attorney-General, from large type-written sheets of foolscap, which he held in his hand, the witness listening carefully, following the original text which had been given him. The first letter was not especially important but the interest increased as the reading progressed. Dr. Jameson could not conceal his distress and mortification; at the first word he flushed deeply, even his ears turning a blazing scarlet. But the Attorney-General went on remorselessly, as he was forced by the exigencies of the case to do, [-253-]
"BLOKFONTEIN, Jan. 1.
"DEAR WOLFF: I am taking all necessary store here for both men and horses. Yours,
"L. S. JAMESON."
The next, the witness said had been given him by the Transvaal State's Attorney; he believed that it was also in Dr. Jameson's hand writing. The Attorney-General was of the opinion that it ought to be read, and it was handed to the Magistrate who adjusted his eyeglasses and scanned the bit of paper very carefully, after which it was returned and, with his approval, read in the court. It was as follows:
"Dec. 30, 1895.
"I am in receipt of your protest of above date and have to inform you that I intend to proceed with my original plans, in which I have no hostile intentions against the people of the Transvaal. We are here in reply to an invitation from the principal residents of the Rand to assist them in their demand for justice and the ordinary rights of every citizen of a civilized state.
"L. S. JAMESON."
"To whom was this letter addressed ?" Fleischack was asked.
"To the Commandant of the Marico district, was the reply.
The Attorney-General then turned his attention to the rest of the correspondence, a thick packet, also type-written on sheets of foolscap, which were passed about amongst the counsel for inspection.
"DEAR BOBBY" - the Attorney-General began, then he hesitated and asked:
"Is it Bobby or Robby ?" emphasizing the first syllable of the diminutive. There was an unconscious and wholly [-254-] unintentional irony in the question that sent the blood to Dr. Jameson's forehead again and caused him to shift uneasily in his chair. Fleischack said "Bobby," whereupon the Attorney-General repeated it - "Dear Bobby" and read the letter through.
"KIMBERLY CLUB, KIMBERLY, Nov. 5, 1895.
"DEAR BOBBY-I am writing you that Foley leaves tomorrow to join you in camp. Use him and keep him there. Not intentionally, but idiotically, he has been talking too much, Frank writes me, and that is the reason they have sent him on to me. Holden is here and is doing very good work. He is a capital chap. I have told Foley that, as you must have a man, and as Holden cannot go, he is to take his place. If you cannot do with him send him up with a message to Johnnie. Everything here seems to be going right, especially Gardner Williams' part of it. I go in again to-night and will let you know later.
"L. S. JAMESON.
"Do you know who Gardner Williams was ?" asked the Attorney-General pausing and looking toward the witness.
Fleischack replied that he knew him by reputation, and that he was the manager of the De Beers company at Kimberly.
The next two letters were from Major Willoughby who complained, in this strain, of the vagueness of Dr. Jameson's instructions:
BULUWAYO, Nov. 8, 1895.
"DEAR BOBBY: Kennedy and Dr. Jameson go by this coach to you. The former will look after all the stores, supplies and equipments as they arrive, and I think he may also take up the duties of camp quarter-master. Employ him in any way you think. I cannot get anything out of the doctor as yet except vague and disappointing [-255-] telegrams. In the meantime, the days are slipping by. If you have not got mules or pack saddles don't do so, but get the refusal of them for a week or so, and go easy with the expenditure until you hear from me, or have instructions from the doctor. Your wire of mules, etc., was rather an open one.
"BULUWAYO, Nov. 18, 1895.
"My DEAR BOBBY: Why do you not write and tell me all you are doing? The doctor wires that everything is all right and that he is arranging for an equipment and horses and that we should have 600 men including the Bechuanaland Border Police. It is important not to send any men, horses or equipments now. I wish that I could come down, but he will not let me just yet. Mind you drill the men inside out at outpost, advance guard work, skirmishing, etc. I hope that you are getting on well.
The climax of this interesting correspondence which, taken as a whole, seemed certainly to convey the idea of a premeditated foray, rather than an impulse of patriotic fervor, was from Dr. Jameson. It was greeted with a burst of laughter in which most of the officers joined. To the luckless writer the unavoidable reading must have been a species of torture, and his mortification was again very marked. His face burned painfully and he moved nervously in his chair, once raising his eyes with an expression that was almost appealing. The Attorney-General read the letter slowly and with the utmost distinctness.
"JOHANNESBURG, Nov. 9, 1895.
"DEAR BOBBY: Hope by the time you get this you will have our men in camp; also about 100 from [-256-] Stevens. I shall arrive in about a fortnight or a little longer. The almost certain date will be December 26. From Willoughby's wire there ought to be 150 complete equipments on the way down, and now you had better find out from him when they are likely to arrive. I have wired to Willoughby that he is not to send down any men or anything further, as those people up there have been blabbing, and here, they are still getting letters on the subject; therefore I wired to Willoughby to stop all drilling but to give out all the horses, etc. Willoughby himself must not come down until much later, though I know he does not like it. Now you see the force ought to be about 600. If there are not enough saddles find out if Grey has any reserve; if not, tell Stevens he must get them below. I do not see that you want any more equipment or any horses, but if you require them they would also have to come from Stevens. Of course efficiency and proper equipment are important, but what is much more important, in fact vital, is that suspicion should not be raised in any way. Everything is in perfect order. I am going to the Cape on Friday, and shall be a week before coming to Mafeking, unless some unpleasant blabbing occurs, when we might have to hurry things. Wolff will tell you the rest. L. S. J."
In response to an inquiry Fleischack explained that Wolff was "a Dr. Wolff of Johannesburg in charge of the stores." He also testified that a telegram dated November 25th had been found in the black box; it was in cipher from Dr. Jameson, Cape Town, to Major White, Mafeking. The cipher had been found - a sheet of paper with cipher words written on it - in a volume of MacNeil's general telegraphic and mining code. The Attorney-General explained that the telegram had been translated thus:
"There are at the British Bechuanaland police stores [-257-] equipments for a number of men, as we have already written you by Dr. Wolff. Remember B. S. A. Company's police, and the B. B. P. we took over are already fully equipped. Send the equipment out quietly to Pitsani. I see there are 147 military saddles. Send them all out with their fittings."
From Robert White to Col. Rhodes, Johannesburg, Dec. 8th, 1895: "Your cable, dated yesterday, received. Hope no delay. Don't alter unless obliged. According to original understanding, all right, therefore any delay would be most injurious."
This concluded the work of the morning, the consideration of other messages relating to horses and ammunition being resumed after luncheon. One from Dr. Jameson to Major White was as follows:
"All men after to-day must be able absolutely to ride. Send no more after Dec. 12th. How many do you expect by then? Date fixed is December 28th."
There was also an order by wire for "salted horses;" these, it was explained, were the only ones that were equal to a 300-mile march. There was in addition to this an order for 200, instead of 100 Lee-Metford rifles at first ordered. A telegram from Dr. Jameson to Robert White to be transmitted to Mr. Stevens, Cape Town, ended the reading for that time.
"Send following message," it ran, "to Frank. Begin, Grave suspicion has been aroused. Surely in your estimation, do you consider that races (sic) is the utmost importance. Prepare. Immense risk of discovery. Under circumstances it will be necessary to act prematurely. Let J. H. Hammond inform weak partners more delay more danger. Dr. Wolff inclined to precipitate rather than delay action."
Tracings were then produced of Troye's map of the Transvaal indicating the roads and streams-another evi[-258-]dence of systematic and careful preparation, which still further discredited the pretense of a spontaneous uprising in defense of the imperiled lives of women and children. There were five of these maps, all of which had been prepared with the utmost accuracy, and they were compared to the original and then passed to the Judge and the counsel as the letters and telegrams had been.
The last testimony of any special consequence was that of Frederick Tossel, which was heard the day after the telegrams and letters had been submitted. Tossel was chief of police for the district of Klerksdorp and Potchesfstroom in the Transvaal Republic. The narrative began in the most interesting and promising manner, but was cut short by Sir Edward Clarke who objected to the witness dilating upon matters which he desired should be stated concisely, and in direct response only to such questions as were asked, and to no others. When Tossel went upon the witness-stand to be sworn he held up the index and middle fingers of his right hand while the oath was administered, as all the Boers witnesses had done. And like them, he, too, was extremely composed and spoke distinctly and with quiet emphasis. He stated that he had been the chief detective of the South African Republic and was stationed at Johannesburg. On Monday, December 30th, he saw unmistakable signs of disturbance. The Solicitor-General, Sir R. Finlay, who was conducting the examination asked:
"Before that day had life and property been in danger?"
Sir Edward Clarke interrupted this query with some curtness, remarking:
"It is always in danger. That is the reason for the existence of a police force."
This provoked a good deal of laughter but it did not embarrass the witness who maintained his self-possession.
[-259-] "Had there been any reason to apprehend disturbances in Johannesburg before that day ?" was the next question, put by the Solicitor-General.
"Not the slightest," was the reply and Tossel's eye was turned upon the double row of defendants, finally fixing itself upon Dr. Jameson who, for once, appeared to be listening with some interest.
"There was ordinary crime in Johannesburg," the witness added, after a moment's pause. "But with that," he continued, "the police force was able to cope. At that time they succeeded in making several important arrests, and crimes were unusually few."
Here Sir Edward Clarke again interposed pointing out that "none of the defendants had been in Johannesburg on that day."
The defendants, with the exception of Dr. Jameson, smiled broadly at this assertion, and the witness was requested to confine his replies to the questions asked by the Solicitor-General. He had evidently come into the court brimming with information and prepared to tell a very edifying story; but, thus cautioned, he condensed his statement to the mere fact that armed men had been seen going about the streets of Johannesburg, December 30th. There was other evidence which showed that stores had been erected at various points in the Transvaal and were well stocked with provisions and spirits. Five additional telegrams, three addressed to Dr. Jameson's brother, S. W. Jameson, were read after Tossel's testimony was concluded, which related to men and ammunition.
"Dr. Wolff, Johannesburg, Dec. 18, to Bobby White, Pitsani :-Would suggest that you at once instruct Major Raleigh Grey forward as soon as possible 200,000 surplus ammunition to Gardner F. Williams. There is not likely to be postponement."
"S. W. Jameson, Johannesburg, Dec. 26, to Jameson, [-260-] Pitsani :- It is absolutely necessary to postpone flotation through unforeseen circumstances altogether unexpected, and until we have C. J. Rhodes' absolute pledge that authority of Imperial government will not be insisted on. Charles Leonard left last night to interview C. J. Rhodes. We will endeavor to meet your wishes as regards December, but you must not move until you have received instructions so please confirm."
"Jameson, Pitsani, Dec 27, to S. W. Jameson, Johannesburg :-Dr. Wolff will understand the distant cutting. British Bechuanaland police have already gone forward; guarantee already given; therefore let W. H. Hammond telegraph instantly all right."
"Hays, Johannesburg, Dec. 27, to Jameson, Pitsani:- Wire just received. Experts report decidedly adverse. I absolutely condemn further developments at present."
"Starr (i. e. Jameson) Pitsani, Dec. 28, to Wolff:- Meet me as arranged before you leave, nine Tuesday night which will enable us to decide which is best destination. Make Advocate W. A. Leonard speak. Make cutting tonight without fail. Have great faith in J. H. Hammond, A. L. Lawley and miners with Lee-Metford rifle."
This concluded the hearing of the documents submitted in evidence.
The proclamation of the Foreign Enlistments Act in force at the Cape was submitted by the Solicitor-General, with a copy of the Order in Council assenting to the act, given by the Queen. The Solicitor-General stated that there were many other official documents relating to the territory, a list of which with copies of those of which he might not have duplicates, would be furnished the counsel for the defense. Sir Edward Clarke expressed a wish to see them as soon as possible that he might satisfy himself particularly as to whether the requirement in the Foreign En-[-261-]listments Act, under which the proceedings had been instituted, had been fulfilled, and he gave notice that he would deal with this question when the court convened again on Monday. The Attorney-General announced that all the evidence which the Crown would submit had now been offered and when Sir Edward Clarke had cross- examined some of the witnesses whom he desired to question further, he would indicate the course he intended to pursue. Sir Edward replied that he would designate the witnesses required and called attention to the third clause of the Enlistments Act which it was shown came into operation in British possessions only upon the day of the proclamation of the act by the Governor thereof; this point, he gave notice, he would especially consider. The Attorney-General replied to the effect that "it would assist his learned friend to find in the bundle that had been given him a copy of the proclamation act dated Nov. 11, 1895. It had also been published in the Cape of Good Hope Gazette, Nov. 12, the following day. Sir Edward Clarke replied that he was under the impression that this was not the question, which related instead, to the existence of a proclamation legalizing the Foreign Enlistments Act in the territory. Thereupon he was once more informed by the Attorney-General that a document had been furnished him which fully covered this point.
"There is also," he added, "the annexation of British Bechuanaland to Cape Colony with the provision that the laws of Cape Colony should apply to British Bechuanaland."
To this statement Sir Edward replied warningly:
"Then I may say at once, that if the documents stop there I shall submit that there is no jurisdiction and that the statute has not been complied with." The court then adjourned until Monday, June 16th, when the hearing for committal terminated.
[-262-] The trial had ceased to attract spectators in the street and the men arrived in cabs, driving up to the door of the police court comparatively unobserved. The day was excessively hot, for London, and the Magistrate, barristers, defendants and onlookers appeared to be rather languid and oppressed by the temperature. The doors into the corridor were left ajar and, but for a stray breeze that stole through now and then, it must have been extremely uncomfortable, the swarthy Africanders being the only persons who appeared not to notice the heat. The ladies on the bench and in the body of the court room were arrayed in summer muslins and lace-trimmed hats and bonnets; they fanned themselves energetically, chatting and dividing their attention between the defendants and a surreptitious study of the fashions in the conspicuous examples about them.
As the Attorney-General had given notice, the evidence for the Crown had all been submitted and no other witnesses were to be examined by the prosecution. Sir Edward Clarke also deferred the cross-examination which he had said he would conduct, so that the business for that day lay between the Attorney-General and himself. In a concise manner Sir Richard Webster stated that the point of objection which would be raised by the counsel for the defense was the validity of the jurisdiction of the court in connection with proclamation of the Foreign Enlistments Act in British Bechuanaland. He was led to believe that this point would not be argued by Sir Edward Clarke but that he would present it in the form of opinions deduced from official documents in his possession, to which he would call attention. ·The proclamation of the Foreign Enlistment Act in Cape Colony, which was dated Sept. 28, 1870, was already in evidence. The point to be argued rested upon the annexation of British Bechuanaland to Cape Colony, which, according to an act of the Cape Par-[-263-]liament occurred Oct. 3, 1895, and from which date all laws and enactments were in force throughout the annexed territory. By the proclamation of the act, the laws of Cape Colony became the laws of Bechuanaland. After making this explanation the attorney said that he would hand into the court copies of the proclamation relating to all territories mentioned thus far in the investigation and these were accordingly turned over to Sir John Bridge, the Magistrate. Sir Edward Clarke replied to the effect that the Attorney-General, as he had promised, had supplied him with a full list of the documents upon which the Crown would base its argument; he said further, that he would not at that moment argue the point which he proposed to raise which was of serious importance and must be considered in the higher tribunal which would deal with the case. Mafeking and Pitsani-Potlugo, had been mentioned as starting points of the expedition, and the question concerning them was very different. He admitted that Mafeking was a part of British Bechuanaland and proclamations issued in September, 1885, might have made it a legal part of British possessions; the real question involved, however, was whether the proclamation of Nov. 16, 1895, annexing Bechuanaland to Cape Colony operated as a proclamation of the Foreign Enlistment Act in respect to British Bechuanaland. With the latter construction of the act the proceedings against the defendants would be a violation of the act. The question turned upon the effect of the proclamation which brought into force the act for the annexation of British Bechuanaland to Cape Colony. He was cognizant of the fact that at the date upon which the act went into effect, many incidents recounted in the evidence had taken place at Mafeking and it applied to those defendants who had started to Mafek ing and to the preparations which they had there cornpleted. With regard to those who had started from Pit-[-264-]sani-Potlugo, the point with which the Crown would have to deal, was that it had never been a part of the British dominions but lay within the Bechuanaland protectorate, and without the area known as British Bechuanaland annexed to Cape Colony. It would be held that nothing occurred at Pitsani which could be construed as a violation of the Enlistments Act, which was in force only in British territory. It was stated, finally, that it would be convenient to include this argument in the notes of the case, but in view of the gravity of the questions to be considered he would not submit any formal argument in that court. The Attorney-General objected to Sir Edward Clarke's geographical assertions and disputed the proposition that Pitsani was not a part of the British possessions. He also said, that he did not desire to argue the point at that time, but, as counsel for the prosecution, would state that he meant to ask what should be done in the case. When the fifteen defendants first arrived in England neither he nor the counsel for the defense had any facts or materials that would enable them to discriminate between their respective cases. The story gathered from papers submitted to them since, was, that all the defendants had taken part in the expedition and had been captured by the Transvaal forces. They had been sent home that whatever might be deemed the right course should be pursued in their prosecution; until during the past week he had been in no position to draw any distinction between degrees of responsibility attached to the defendants. He had been of the opinion that those responsible for the fitting out the expedition, and inducing persons to join it, were the persons who should be prosecuted, and he would show at once that there was a line to be drawn between them. The entire force captured was 500 men, and if merely joining the expedition would be sufficient grounds for prosecution, it would be impossible for the Crown to [-265-] differentiate between the leaders, subordinate officers and troopers. With the assistance of Mr. Rawlinson, who had obtained valuable evidence in the Transvaal, representing Her Majesty's government, he was able to present to the court the line of demarcation to be drawn, and would ask the committal of six of the defendants, upon evidence of their being prominently engaged in the scheme, the preparation and the fitting out of the expedition, and inducing others to join it, for the present, whatever the court might decide subsequently, must be regarded as unlawful. These six principals were Dr. Leander Starr Jameson, Major Sir John Willoughby, Col. the Hon. Frederick White, Col. Raleigh Grey, Major the Hon. Robert White and Major the Hon. Charles John Coventry. As these names were pronounced there was a suppressed excitement which, however, did not approach a marked demonstration. Dr. Jameson's ready blush asserted itself and, as he had done once or twice before during the prosecution, he changed his position somewhat nervously; Coventry was unabashed, but the remaining four were not perceptibly impressed by what he seemed to consider the humor of the situation. Those whose fate was yet in abeyance listened with the rest and with an apparent determination to betray no surprise, whatever the decision of the Attorney-General might be. After the murmur which followed the announcement of the six names had subsided, the Attorney- General declared that he would be personally responsible for whatever might result, as he, individually, had selected the defendants to be held for trial, his decision being prompted by the very serious nature of the evidence against them. For their subordinates there was evidence to show that they had taken part in the expedition, but there was nothing that would justify him in asking the court to hold that they had been engaged in the preparation of the expedition, or had done more than obey the or-[-266-]ders of their leaders at the last moment. He did not wish to minimize the responsibility that rested upon men and officers of Her Majesty's army who took part in such an expedition as this; but he felt bound to draw a distinction, as it was his duty to prosecute those who, if he might use the expression, were really responsible; not those who were simply led, possibly by their folly, want of judgment or impetuosity, to participate in it. He, therefore, asked the court to commit the six first named, but did not ask the committal of the remaining nine. There was another murmur at this announcement, the defendants with the exception of Dr. Jameson, smiling as before - the liberated nine, with rather rueful countenances, as if they were not willing to desert the others whose fate they preferred to share. Dr. Jameson, alone, gave no sign that he had heard the Attorney-General's decision. He sat in his accustomed attitude, with averted eyes, supporting his cheek upon his hand; he seemed to suffer, notwithstanding his assumed indifference, and drops of perspiration stood out upon his forehead.
There was an instant's hum of whispered comment, which the Boers present heard with an indifference which matched that of the English themselves; if they were dissatisfied and disappointed they were too reticent and too respectful to the court to betray any feeling. This had been their attitude from the first. The only hint as to their sentiments was shown by the manner in which they kept together, sitting or standing in groups by themselves.
With the fine courtesy, which, without a single exception had characterized the entire proceedings, from the manner of the learned counsel toward each other and toward the witnesses, to the gentleness and dignity of the Magistrate himself, Sir Edward Clarke replied that he desired to recognize the way in which the Attorney-General had fulfilled the promise he had made to him, in the earlier [-267-] stages of the proceedings, that he would endeavor to discriminate in the case of the defendants originally submitted, if the facts, which were ascertained in material submitted to him, justified it. With regard to the six gentlemen held for trial, he recognized that there were statements in the evidence which prevented his learned friend, at that moment, from saying that he had no case against them. He did not propose, at that time, to comment upon the question of committal based upon the evidence which had compelled his learned friend to ask for committal in the case of some of the defendants. Although at that time he had been unable to pursue any other course, he still hoped that, when the case was concluded, the action in regard to the nine who had been released might be somewhat further extended. The desire was to bring to justice those who really were responsible for the expedition whose history and circumstances had been inquired into. He spoke upon personal instructions torn Dr. Jameson himself, which he hoped Sir Richard Webster would realize when he came to examine the evidence, that it was Dr. Jameson's responsibility alone which was to be found in the matter.
When this statement was made, which was somewhat theatrical in intent and effect, Dr. Jameson looked up quickly and searchingly at his counsel and then turned away. The strange and inexplicable magnetism of his personality, marked at all times, had never been more pronounced than at that moment. His confederates did not smile, but glanced at him with an expression of sympathy and admiration, which seemed to imply that if other expeditions were contemplated he might count upon them to follow him again to the bitter end. The women on the bench also looked their admiration; the only persons apparently unimpressed were the Magistrate, the counsel for the Crown, the Africanders and a small and unimportant [-268-] minority who had not been able to participate in the general hero-worship, the outburst of sentimental enthusiasm; or to forget the gravity of Dr. Jameson's offense and the air of meretricious romance that had invested it from the first, in the unthinking public mind. Sir Edward Clarke, who may not have been conscious that he carried his audience with him, still continued to concentrate the responsibility upon the shoulders of Mr. Cecil Rhodes' luckless scapegoat. "He (Dr. Jameson) was the administrator under the charter of the British South Africa company," he said, "and under the orders in council which gave that company power to have an armed company under his control and authority. He desires me to say here, that all who acted with him, acted under his control and dictum and if there was any breach of law committed by those who planned and organized the expedition that breach of law was committed by him; so far as the others were concerned, any violation of the law committed by them was only in loyal obedience to orders which they thought they had a right to obey."
This constituted a really effective rhetorical climax which, in a modern melodrama, would have carried the gallery off its feet. There was another audible murmur of approval, which was suppressed only by a timely warning from the clerk, but it was with some effort that the more emotional and demonstrative remained silent. When Sir Edward Clarke had finished and sat down, Sir John Bridge concurred in the opinion of the Attorney-General and said that the distinction made seemed right and proper. The nine gentlemen mentioned were to be discharged. When soldiers under orders committed illegal acts, they were not answerable for those acts. Therefore to pursue a prosecution where there could be no real punishment would be an idle and improper thing to do. His first duty, therefore, and it was a pleasant one, was to dis[-269-]charge the nine defendants, John B. Stracey, C. H. Villiers, K. J. Kincaid Smith, H. M. Grenfell, C. P. Foley, C. L. D. Monroe, C. F. Lindsell, E. C. S. Holden and Audrey Gosling.
The applause could no longer be restrained and broke out, with moderation, it must be acknowledged, and with only a brief disturbance of the excellent order that had been maintained. It was speedily checked by the Magistrate who remarked ominously:
" Wait till it is all finished."
He then resumed: "I must next charge Leander Starr Jameson, John Christopher Willoughby, Henry Frederick White, Raleigh Grey, Robert White, Charles John Coventry." They were thereupon informed that they would be permitted in the ordinary way, to make any statement in reference to the charge brought against them. There was a pause and the kindly glance of the Magistrate rested upon them, but all were apparently satisfied, - and none were disposed to demur at the decision of the court. These proceedings had occupied less than an hour and there was an adjournment until four o'clock, in order that the six defendants held might procure bail which was fixed in the sum of £3,000; £2,000 personal ball and £1,000 security, as the English law required. This was furnished without delay, all the formalities having been complied with when the court reconvened in the afternoon, and the trial for committal came to an end.