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A Woman's Part in a Revolution

A Woman's Part in a Revolution

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The Project Gutenberg eBook, A Woman's Part in a Revolution, by Natalie Harris Hammond

Title: A Woman's Part in a Revolution

Author: Natalie Harris Hammond

Release Date: February 19, 2005 [eBook #15109]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1

***START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK A WOMAN'S PART IN A REVOLUTION***



E-text prepared by Michael Ciesielski, Jeannie Howse,
and the Project Gutenberg Online Distributed Proofreading Team
(http://www.pgdp.net)









A WOMAN'S PART IN

A REVOLUTION

BY

MRS. JOHN HAYS HAMMOND











Longmans, Green, And Co.
39 Paternoster Row London
New York And Bombay
1897




PREFACE


To the American Public, whose sympathy was my chief support through days of bitter trial, this book is gratefully dedicated. My personal experience forms the subject of my story. The causes of the Revolt in Johannesburg, and the ensuing political questions, are but lightly touched upon, in deference to the silence enforced upon my husband as one of the terms of his liberation by the Boer Government.

Natalie Hammond.

Boughton: Bickley, Kent.
February, 1897.







A WOMAN'S PART IN A REVOLUTION



I hope I may be able to tell the truth always, and to see it aright according to the eyes which God Almighty gives me.—Thackeray.

I.


Totsey the terrier lay blinking in the hot African sun, while Cecilia Rhodes, the house kitten, languished in a cigar box wrapped about with twine to represent bars of iron. Above her meek face was a large label marked 'African Lion.' Her captor, my young son Jack, was out again among the flower-beds in quest of other big game, armed with my riding-crop. The canvas awnings flapped gently in the cool breeze. Every now and then a fan-like arm of one of the large Madeira chairs would catch the impetus and go speeding down the wide red-tiled verandah. I looked up from the little garment which I was making, upon this quiet picture. It was the last restful moment I was to know for many long months—such months of suffering and agonised apprehension as God in His mercy sends to few women.

David, my husband's black coachman, drove rapidly through the gate, and, coming up to me, handed me a letter. It was from his master and briefly written. Jameson had crossed the Border; Johannesburg was filled with strange people, and he thought it wise for me to move with our family and servants into town. Rooms had been secured for us at Heath's Hotel, and he would meet us that night at dinner. This summons was not entirely unexpected. For many months the political kettle had been simmering. Johannesburg had grown tired of sending petitions in to the Government to be answered by promises which were never redeemed. An appalling death-rate of fifty-six in each thousand, directly traceable to lack of proper sanitation, resulting from bad government, spurred the general discontent, and a number of representative citizens, unwilling longer to wait upon gods and Government, finding all attempts to obtain redress of their grievances by constitutional means ineffectual, determined to enforce their demands for right by arms if necessary. As arms for the Uitlander under the law of the Transvaal could only be obtained by a permit, guns and ammunition were smuggled into the country, hidden away in oil tanks and coal cars.

My husband had vast interests in his charge; many million pounds sterling had been invested at his instance in the mining industry of the country, and, actuated by a sense of duty and responsibility to those who had confided in him, he felt in honour bound to take an active part in the movement, for the protection and preservation of the property placed under his control.

My leaving for the Cape, in case affairs should assume a dangerous phase, was frequently discussed between us, but I could not make up my mind to leave my husband, feeling that the separation would be more trying than if I remained, even should a conflict be forced upon us. In addition to my wish to be with him, I knew that many of his staff had their wives and children in Johannesburg, and would be unable to send them away, and for me, the wife of their chief, 'to bundle to the rear' would subject my husband, as well as myself, to harsh, and not unjust, criticism.

The Leonard Manifesto was published December 26th, setting forth the demands of the Uitlander.

'We want,' it reads:

'1. The establishment of this Republic as a true Republic.

'2. A Grondwet or constitution which shall be framed by competent persons selected by representatives of the whole people, and framed on lines laid down by them; a constitution which shall be safeguarded against hasty alteration.

'3. An equitable Franchise law and fair representation.

'4. Equality of the Dutch and English languages.

'5. Responsibility to the Legislature of the heads of the great departments.

'6. Removal of religious disabilities.

'7. Independence of the Courts of Justice, with adequate and secured remuneration of the judges.

'8. Liberal and comprehensive education.

'9. An efficient Civil Service, with adequate provision for pay and pension.

'10. Free Trade in South African products.'

It was further planned to hold another meeting of the 'National Union,' and afterward make a last demand upon the Government to redress our wrongs.

Arrangement meanwhile was made with Dr. Jameson, who was encamped on the western border of the Republic with a body of the Chartered Company's troops. In case of a disturbance he was to come to the aid of Johannesburg with at least a thousand men and 1,500 guns. It was also distinctly understood between him and the five gentlemen who were the recognised leaders of the movement, that he should not start until he had received instructions to do so directly from them.

I gathered my household about me, explained the situation, and gave the servants their choice, whether they would go into town or remain in the house. The four white servants decided to remain, but the native boys begged leave to depart under various pretexts. One to get his missis from Pretoria because he was afraid the Boers might kill her. Another to tell his mother in Natal that he was all right. Another frankly said, that as the white men were going to fight among themselves, this was no place for Kaffirs.

I arranged to leave Mr. Hammond's secretary in charge of the house. We hastily packed up a few of our most precious belongings, and left, to take possession of four tiny rooms at the hotel in town. With a full heart I looked back at my pretty home. The afternoon shadows were beginning to lengthen; I saw the broad verandah, the long easy chairs suggestive of rest; my books on the sill of the low bedroom window; the quiet flower garden, sweet with old-fashioned posies associated with peace and thrift. We were going to—What?







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