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Through South Africa His Visit to Rhodesia, the Transvaal, Cape Colony, Natal   By: (1841-1904)

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Through South Africa, by Henry M. Stanley, MP, DCL.



This little volume consists of the letters I wrote from Bulawayo, Johannesburg and Pretoria for the journal South Africa , which is exclusively devoted to matters relating to the region whence it derives its title. Each letter contains the researches of a week. As the public had already a sufficiency of books dealing with the history, geography, politics, raids and revolts, I confined myself to such impressions as one, who since 1867 had been closely connected with equatorial, northern and western Africa, might derive from a first view of the interior of South Africa. Being in no way associated with any political or pecuniary concern relating to the country, it struck me that my open minded, disinterested and fresh impressions might be of some interest to others, who like myself had only a general sympathy with its civilisation and commercial development. And as I had necessarily to qualify myself for appearing in a journal which had for years treated of South African subjects, it involved much personal inquiry and careful consideration of facts communicated to roe, and an impartial weighing of their merits. To this motive, whatever may be the value of what I have written, I am greatly indebted personally; for henceforth I must carry with me for a long time a valuable kind of knowledge concerning the colonies and states I traversed, which no number of books could have given to me.

If, from my point of judgment, I differ in any way from other writers, all I care to urge is, that I have had some experience of my own in several new lands like the South African interior, and I have lived long enough to have seen the effects of what was good and what was bad policy in them. I prefer peaceful relations between England and the Boers of South Africa, if possible; I love what is just, fair, and best to and for both Britons and Boers. I naturally admire large minded enterprise. I pity narrow mindedness, and dislike to see a people refusing to advance, when all the world is so sympathetic and helpfully inclined towards them. These explanations, I think, will enable anyone to understand the spirit of these letters.

A curious thing occurred in connection with my sudden departure for South Africa. In the latter part of September, 1897, I was debating with my family, at a seaside hotel near Dieppe, as to the place we should visit after the adjournment of Parliament in 1898. After discussing the merits of many suggestions, it was finally determined that we should all try South Africa, because it was said to have such a divine climate; the country was, moreover, so interesting politically, and as it loomed so much in public interest it would be worth while to obtain some personal knowledge of South Africans at home. We had scarcely arrived at this conclusion, when the postman brought to us a telegram, which, to our intense surprise, was a request from the Bulawayo Festivities Committee that I would go to Bulawayo to attend the celebration of the arrival of the Great Peninsular Railway at the Capital of Matabele Land. We regarded it as a strange coincidence.

This opportunity to visit Bulawayo I considered rather premature, as towards the end of autumn many engagements crowd upon one, but after another animated family council it was resolved that I should accept the invitation were it only to qualify myself as a pioneer for the ladies.

We left Southampton on the Norman on the 9th October. I found then that there were five other members of the House of Commons on board Messrs. Saunderson, Llewellyn, Hayes Fisher, Peace, and Paullton, and the Duke of Roxburghe representing the House of Lords. Among the passengers there were Boers from Pretoria and Cape Colony, British Uitlanders from Johannesburg, English residents from the Cape and the two Dutch Republics, Afrikander farmers and vine growers, and townspeople, some from the Cape District, others from the Eastern and Western Provinces, and not a few from Kimberley and Natal, besides a few ex Raiders and Reformers... Continue reading book >>

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