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Reminiscences of a South African Pioneer   By: (1855-1943)

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First Page:

PIONEER

E text prepared by Charles Klingman

REMINISCENCES OF A SOUTH AFRICAN PIONEER

(1st Series Wanderjahre)

by

WILLIAM CHARLES SCULLY

Author of "By Veldt and Kopje," "Kafir Stories," "The Ridge of the White Waters," "Between Sun and Sand," Etc., Etc.

With 16 Illustrations

T. Fisher Unwin London: Adelphi Terrace Leipsic: Inselstrasse 20

First published in 1913. (All rights reserved.)

"Ignoranti quern portum petat, nullus suus ventus est."

SENECA.

To

ELAINE, GERALD, ERNEST, MIRIAM, LILLA, AND BETTY,

THIS RECORD OF

THEIR FATHER'S EARLY WANDERINGS OVER THE

YET UNVEILED FACE OF SOUTH AFRICA

IS INSCRIBED

FOREWORD

The reminiscences set down in this volume have been published serially in The State of South Africa, in a more or less abridged form, under the title of "Unconventional Reminiscences." They are mainly autobiographical. This has been inevitable; in any narrative based upon personal experience, an attempt to efface oneself would tend to weaken vitality.

Having lived for upwards of forty five years in South Africa usually in parts remote from those settled areas which have attained a measure of civilization and having been a wide wanderer in my early days, it has been my fortune to witness many interesting events and to be brought into contact with many strong men. Occasionally, as in the case of the earlier discoveries of gold and diamonds, I have drifted, a pipkin among pots, close to the centre around which the immediate interests of the country seemed to revolve.

The period mainly dealt with is that magical one when South Africa unnoted and obscure was startled from the simplicity of her bucolic life by the discovery of gold and diamonds. This was, of course, some years before the fountains of her boundless potential wealth had become fully unsealed. I was one of that band of light hearted, haphazard pioneers who, rejoicing in youthful energy and careless of their own interests, unwittingly laid the foundation upon which so many great fortunes have been built.

An ancient myth relates how the god Dionysus decreed that everything touched by Midas, the Phrygian king, should turn into gold, but the effect was so disastrous that Midas begged for a reversal of the decree. The prayer was granted, conditionally upon the afflicted king bathing in the River Pactolus.

South Africa may, in a sense, be paralleled with Midas both as regards the bane of gold and the antidote of bathing but her Pactolus has been one of blood.

Midas again got into trouble by, refusing to adjudge in the matter of musical merit between Pan and Apollo, and this time was punished by having his ears changed into those of an ass.

Our choice lies before us; may we avoid the ass's ears by boldly making a decision. May we evade a worse thing by unhesitatingly giving our award in favor of Apollo.

With this apologia I submit my humble gleanings from fields on which no more the sun will shine, to the indulgent sympathy of readers.

W. C. S.

PORT ELIZABETH, SOUTH AFRICA, January, 1913.

CONTENTS

CHAPTER I

Foreword My father's family "Old Body" Dualla A cruel experiment "Old Body" and the goose Cook and kitchen maid Scull and monkey My mother's family Abbey view The Bock of Cashel Captain Meagher and early chess Sir Dominic Corrigan "Old Mary" and the sugar Naval ambitions Harper Twelvetree and the burial agency

CHAPTER II

Improved health Jimmy Kinsella Veld food I abscond Father Healy on conversion Father O'Dwyer and his whip Confession Construction of a volcano The Fenian outbreak Departure for South Africa The tuneful soldier Chess at sea Madeira A gale The Asia

CHAPTER III

Arrival at Cape Town Port Elizabeth First encounter with big game Grahamstown Severe thunderstorm King William's Town Natives and their ponies Social peculiarities Farming The annual trek Camp life Surf bathing Self sacrificing attitude of Larry O'Toole Capture of an ant bear The coast scenery A moral shock School Chief Toise Rainy seasons Flooded rivers

CHAPTER IV

Trip to the Transkei Tiyo Soga and his family Trip to the seaside The Fynns Wild dogs Start as a sheep farmer My camp burnt out First commercial adventure Chief Sandile Discovery of diamonds Start for Golconda Traveling companions Manslaughter narrowly escaped Old De Beers Life at the Diamond Fields Scarcity of water First case of diamond stealing I nearly discover Kimberley Mine The rush to Colesberg Kopje My first diamond Its loss and my humiliation Kimberley claims dear at 10 Camp life in early days I... Continue reading book >>




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