« VorigeDoorgaan »
the same lines and carried on in the trials and inquests; its illustrations same spirit, it has met with a correspond- minister to the morbid craving of the uning amount of success. Young Folks, a educated for the horrible and the repul. paper which issues from the office of the sive, and its advertisements call for the Weekly Budget, is a paper which occu- intervention of the police. Lord Camppies ground of its own. The leading bell's Act was certainly intended to meet feature is always an instalment of one of such cases as this, and why it is not put those fairy stories of giants, monsters, in force it is difficult to see. The same gallant knights, and lovely ladies, which remark applies to the filthy rags which possess perennial attraction for the are thrust under the eyes of passers by young. Stories of boys' and girls' life, in every crowded thoroughfare in Lonand occasionally short sketches by young don, which, for gross and stupid indereaders of the paper,
cency, have no rivals in the press. Yet mainder of the space, room being found they are permitted to continue unchecked occasionally for criticisms on attempts in their career, and to circulate-in the by the young readers to produce essays, case of one publication at all events-to poems, and tales. A large amount of the extent of about 100,000 a week. space is also given to riddles and puzzles. Against the existence of these wretched
So far the papers for boys are excellent prints must be set the decadence of the in tone and in execution. Those which old school of “ Penny Dreadfuls" — remain to be considered come under a those ill.printed sheets adorned with different category. Our Boys' Journal clumsy and inartistic wood-cuts, which is as unlike anything that a prudent were wont to tell from week to week father would care to place in the hands “ The Horrors of the Haunted Cellar ; of a boy as can well be imagined. The or, Blood and Crime," and similar grisly principal story is one of schoolboy life, stories. A few, however, still exist. A and the instalment in the number before “Life of Calcraft the Hangman" is now me is mainly composed of a sickening in course of issue in penny numbersdescription of a fight in a dormitory. A “number two given away with number second story has for title “ Wild Tom of one. So also is a catchpenny publicaCambridge, and is actually occupied tion bearing the title, "Charles Peace, with a description of the doings of a the Burglar," which affects to give an body-snatcher, with an illustration of this account of the adventures of that notodelectable subject. “The Scapegrace rious criminal, but which really is merely of London," the third story of this a dull and stupid hash up of old stories. paper, is as silly and as vulgar as the It would seem, however, that there is a last-mentioned is improper. The Boys public for this sort of literature, for this of England, the Boys' Standard, the romance'' has been issued from week Boys' World, and the Young Men of to week over a period of more than Great Britain, are equally distinguished eighteen months. Their length is, inby sensationalism and silliness ; the last deed, one of the most striking features of mentioned, which boasts that it “has these productions. The "Mysteries of with one exception the Largest Circula- London," and the “Mysteries of the tion of any Boys' Paper in the world,” Court," which were the representative adding to its literary attractions a lottery specimens of this class of publication, for watches, pictures, books, parrots, extended over several hundreds of numcricket-bats, fishing-rods, boxes of puz- bers. Naturally people who read such zles, a tame monkey, a donkey, and a romances have ceased to take an interest bicycle.
in them since they found that the penny These things are bad enough, but there weeklies gave them three or four times is an even lower depth, and it is an un- as much matter of the same character flattering comment on our boasted civili- for the same price. There are, howzation that the worst papers have the ever, a few survivals : “ Joseph Wilmot; largest circulation. The Illustrated or, The Memoirs of a Man Servant,” by Police News is to be found in every town the late G. W. M. Reynolds ; “ The and village in England. Its chief con- Poor Girl," by Pierce Egan, and one or tents are reports extracted from the daily two other romances of the same type, are papers of proceedings at police courts, still in course of reproduction from week to week, but the circulation is not large. with the more general diffusion of eduOccasionally, too, announcements may cation. So long, however, as education be seen of some new serial story of the is allowed almost as a matter of course Claude Duval type ; and one publisher to exclude culture, we shall find foolish has a rather unenviable notoriety for the people taking pleasure in foolish things. publication of tales of gangs of highway. The demand for these frivolous stories men commanded by “boy captains," to naturally creates the supply. Publishers which sundry ingenuous youths are in- are much the same as other tradesmen debted for their knowledge of the interior —they sell the goods for which their of the City Prison at Holloway. In customers ask. Now and then a firm spite of all this, and of the periodical like that of the brothers Chambers takes objurgations of the sitting alderman a higher view of its calling, and itself when some wretched boy, translating the creates the demand. It were to be poetry of Grub Street into prose, picks wished that other members of the trade the lock of his master's till to buy a would follow so admirable an example, cheap revolver and fancy himself a especially since experience shows that “ dashing highwayman,” there is a great the supply of good literature is by no falling off in the trade in “ Penny means unprofitable. The Leisure Hour, Dreadfuls.” Whether the many objec- for example, is, we believe, the most tionable boys' papers, to which reference profitable of all the publications of the has been made, do not effect quite as Religious Tract Society, and has largely much harm may be open to question, increased in circulation since the admiswhile there can be little doubt that the sion of a more distinctively secular eleweeklies of the London Journal type ment. If some enterprising publisher afford to their readers mental food of would produce as good a magazine, from nearly as unwholesome a character as which the tract-element should be wholly that provided by the bygone romance in expunged, he would probably find that it penny numbers.
That there is much would pay him exceedingly well. But vice in any of these papers no one will to render it successful it must be dealt contend. On the other hand, few will with purely as a matter of business. No doubt that it is by no means a subject surer way of missing the object in view for agreeable reflection that the only could be devised than that of putting reading indulged in by an enormous pro- such a venture into the forcing-house of portion of the lower middle classes, a philanthropic society. The common consists of nothing better than these ex- sense and the business instincts of pubceedingly foolish and frivolous stories. lishers must provide the remedy for preYet it is hard to devise a remedy for sent evils, and in time there is reason to such a state of things, and in fact no believe that they will do so.—Macmilremedy from without is applicable. It lan's Magazine. can only be hoped that matters will mend
THE BOERS AT HOME.
BY J. J. MUSKETT.
“But one heart beats from Table and religion, and being by perpetual inMountain to the banks of the Limpopo. termarriage all brothers, cousins, or near Such were the words of President Burg- kinsmen-the Boers. ers when addressing a crowd of sympa- It thus happens that when I describe thizers on his way towards the Transvaal one South African village in the far inRepublic. And they were true ; for ex- terior I describe them all, whether built cepting some English settlements, isolat- in the vast Karroo, the Orange Free ed and relatively small, South Africa is State, or the Transvaal. There will be peopled by but one white race, of min- differences in the local surroundings of gled French and Dutch descent, having each, according as they lie amid the in common the same language, habits, sands of Namaqualand, the greener New SERIES.-Vol. XXXIII., No. 6
wastes beyond the Vaal River, or the charged with an annual payment for deserts everywhere else ; but the people church purposes ; and thus, while Euroinhabiting them are the same, and the pean politicians are busy abolishing local institutions are alike. At the pres- tithes and endowments, rising commuent time, when the Transvaal Boers are nities in South Africa are as busily creatin rebellion against us, it may be inter- ing analogous imposts. There is also a esting to know something more respect- rent-charge for water service-an iming the customs, modes of thought, and portant item in a land so desiccated as ways of living of their race than is to be the Cape. Some of these lots, intended met with in the guide-books or in the for building purposes only, are dry and notes of those who have passed a few barren, while others have an hour's right brief weeks in the show places and the to an irrigating stream of water twice busier centres of our South African colo- weekly, and will soon be fruitful garnięs. As a contribution towards this dens. The purchasers are mostly Boers, knowledge I am about to picture a vil- who will build town-houses wherein to lage-for village it is usually called, lodge when they ride in to church, once although the seat of a magistracy and or twice a month, from their distant the capital of a division--which was farms, with a large posse of servants and founded by Boers, is almost entirely in children ; but some are storekeepershabited by them, and which has a local often German Jews-and some artisans, self-government of its own. In a popu- who buy with a view to future trade. A lation of six hundred there are not a small army of brickmakers, bricklayers, dozen Englishmen, nor a dozen other carpenters, and painters makes its appearEuropeans of any kind, although the ance in due time, and retreats again to. Germans rival the English as to num- some more favored spot a few years bers. The place is, therefore, racy of later, when the first fervor of building the soil. Scarce thirty years old, grey- has passed away. A minister sufficiently headed men among its founders can re- young and sufficiently popular receives member the days when they fought with a call. After due delay, sometimes after Bushmen and had adventures with lions. delay deemed very undue and unreasonIts annals are brief. Like many of its able, government appoints a resident congeners it had its origin in the spirit- magistrate, who is also civil commisual needs of a people who profess but sioner, with a suitable staff, including a one form of religion—the Presbyterian clerk, a district surgeon, a jailer, and and that religion the very leaven of some Kafir constables; and the town their lives. Similar “ Church towns,” thus established pursues an existence at as they are called, are still established once useful, uneventful, prosy, and dull. ever and anon. The process is a simple I have spoken of the place as peopled one. Weary of living two days' journey by Boers ; I should rather have said by from a place of worship, the farmers of Boers and their colored retainers, who, a region large as an English county re- as a matter of fact, outnumber their solve to build one in their midst. They masters, and form a servile class as utmemorialize their presbytery and raise terly separate as tradition or social cusfunds. A farm is bought. Now a farm tom make them ; but. who are, means a tract of ten thousand acres, from the contact of many generations, often of more, with a spring upon it. imbued with the same ideas, and who This forms the site and commonage of fatter the superior race by an imitation the future town. A suitable spot is sur- that is simply perfect. But between the veyed and marked out in streets and two there is a gulf which is impassable. squares.
Lots are sold on some great The whitest half-caste would not preauction day, after a series of religious sume to seat himself in the presence of services. The bidding is enthusiatic, the Boer, nor the poorest Boer demean and fancy prices are realized. With the cimself by marrying the prettiest halfsum thus raised, in the present instance haste. Neither do they worship together something over £20,000, a church, par- in the same churches ; nor are they sonage, and school-house are erected, buried in the same cemeteries. In one and the foundation of a good endowment case only that I can now recall, that of fund is started. Each lot or erf is a Kafir of special and exemplary piety,
did a Boer congregation follow a negro living creature can cross them. Along to his grave.
This was, however, dug these rivers in the warmer low-lying disin an open common, and the funeral tricts stand thousands of mimosa trees ; proceeded from an outhouse.
leafy sometimes, when rain falls and the Of similar ancestry, and often of near right season has come ; but bare otherkindred to the Boers, but of better edu- wise, and with innumerable thorns as cation and relatively better birth, are the long as bodkins and sharp as skewers. Africanders who hail from Capetown Then, again, you come to patches of and the western districts, and who form ground, an acre in size or more, smooth the professional classes, the leading and bald through lack of vegetation, merchants, and the gentry of the colo- nothing growing in the saline clay ; a nial born. Some, descendants of the soil absolutely waterproof, and used for Huguenots, bear the proudest surnames roofs of houses and leaking dams accordof old France, and some count early ingly. The roads are tracks across the governors and half-forgotten judges country, made by wheels of passing among their forefathers. Such men will wagons, but patched and improved by show you ancient seals engraven with the contractors, good, indifferent, or their coats of arms, and tell quaint bad-mostly the latter-employed by the legends of the Landrost or physician, the divisional councils. As it seldom rains, major or the chaplain, who owned it in these roads are very tolerable after all, the days when the colony was young: save where deep rivers have to be True, every white man born in civilized crossed or where picturesque scenery has South Africa claims to be an Africander, made the engineering difficult. Followbut in the more restricted sense of the ing a highway like this, we come, say, word it applies especially to the older in the summer, when the leaves are green, colonists of the better classes. Some of upon the village I would speak of. these are found among the leading spirits Tired with neutral tints and the perpetof every township, often among leading ual waste, the eye lights gladly upon a officials. Dutch is the language spoken gardened hamlet lying four-square on the in their households and the Boers re- barren plain. There are many fruit gard them with an affection and respect trees, interspersed with willows and an which in the very nature of things could occasional cypress, which half conceal scarcely be accorded to the English set- low, one-storied houses, and a steepled tler, who comes among them a stranger church, white and stiff, of meeting-house and a foreigner at best.
Gothic and with iron roof. Beyond this Our village lies alone in the wilder- line of herbage is the business quarter ; ness, a long day's journey from its near- red brick houses mostly, and bare earthy est neighbor. A broad fringe of moun- reddish streets. And farther off, with tains passed, and the whole interior of sufficient space for wind between it and the colony and the country far beyond the town's nobility, a negro location of its borders forms one great desert of beehive huts, backed by a quarry on a stones and dull red soil, with small hard hillside and a tomb-like structure which bushes grey or brown, scattered scantily forms the powder magazine. The vilabout it. Here and there rise ugly hills lage is flanked by a white-walled graveor ugly mountains, black or russet as yard, and the water-furrow leading from the case may be. This country is par- the distant river may be noted by a narcelled out into farms larger than English row line of verdure. It is overlooked by parishes, varying, as they do, from six a well-marked eminence, whose lichened thousand to twenty thousand acres of boulders are a rusty brown, and whose land. Each farm has its one spring of top is dominated by a flagstaff. water where the homestead lies, and, if We enter this oasis, whose vegetation the spring be strong enough, a garden is due to constant irrigation, and see and cultivated land which it irrigates. lines of well-kept streets, bordered with There are rivers so dry that 'no drop of quince hedges bending beneath a wealth moisture can be found within their beds, of large yellow fruit, and with water and yet so large that the bridging them courses on either side. The streams are is expensive to the point of prohibition ; intermittent, for every drop of water is so deep and rapid when it rains that no meted out to the gardens, each plot of
ground having its special hour, day and stands his chance, and the ruffian comes night, alternately ; unalterable as the off scot free, or thereabouts. Fublic laws of the Medes and the Persians. In business is transacted in the English lanthe dry allotments sold for building guage, and the sworn translator is a purposes reside the half dozen English- necessary functionary at every sitting of men and the half-dozen Germans who the court. This is one of the events of do the business of the place. There are the week, and, next to services and stores, not much to look at, with ploughs prayer-meetings, the favorite resort of and agricultural machinery standing on dilettante Boers, who sit patiently the stoep, or pavement, outside them, through long-winded investigations, and and with everything that Boer humanity find, in the dull but living scenes enactcan require to be sold within. Great ed in this humble forum, a faint reflecbales of wool are piled up in a shed tion, though they know it not, of exciteadjacent, and skins of divers kinds of ments yielded by the drama, The resi. cattle, salted and stretched, lie drying dent magistrate, who is often of Afrion the ground. Somewhat ambitiously cander and sometimes of Boer descent, planned, this portion of the town is but is mostly popular and may even share a partially built upon, unsightly gaps divided empire with the Predikant of the separate many of the best houses, and adjoining church. In the majority of some erections stand distant and soli- cases the district surgeon is a young tary, dreary sentinels that mark the Cape doctor or a German, and not undirection of future improvements. Here frequently a Jew. The very frequent is the court-house, one-storied like its transfer of property arising from the old neighbors, in whose inner chamber the Roman-Dutch law of inheritance, which resident magistrate and his clerk peruse divides estates among the children at the much periodical literature, newspapers death of either parent, has given rise to included, and dream of higher salaries a race of inferior lawyers known as “enand less exacting duties. In the audi- rolled agents,” whose one and sometimes ence chamber or court-room, a bare only qualification is the preliminary paywhitewashed basilica indeed, sits, amid ment of ten pounds sterling to the Govpiles of newspapers, the chief constable, ernment. Some of these agents are reconjuring up, in his turn, visions of less spectable Africanders of good family and work and better pay. On the stoep, education, but local satirists have made which is a kind of terrace, paved, but themselves merry at the early struggles very unpretending, before each house, and the ultimate success of less eligible in policeman's clothing, spic and span, pretenders. Conceive our land flooded reposes a Kafir constable, tall, stalwart, with quasi solicitors of this description ! and handsome in his way, but exercised, Still, as a matter of fact, they do get so far as his easier philosophy will per- through their work somehow, live like mit, with speculations anent the less gentlemen, as the saying is, and often tardy accumulation of the wages he de- end as moneyed men, or consummate an lights in hoarding, and the amelioration insolvency which is as good almost as a of hardships generally. Far be it from fortune. me to hint that the even tenor of official I have said but little of the Boers life is never varied by stormier passages. themselves. Let us visit one of the Sometimes there are taxes to be collect- many homesteads in the gardens. The ed ; sometimes thefts or breaches of the white-walled house, although but onepeace to be investigated ; now and then storied, is well elevated, and its roof is a murder ; and once a month accounts iron. Outside shutters of a pleasant are made up, and all kinds of salaries green flank the two windows, and the paid, when the hapless officials groan door betwen them is green and panelled. beneath the extra work, and, greatly There is, indeed, some pretence to archiworried, reduce to order a chaos of ledg- tecture, and the whole is well kept and ers, abstracts, vouchers, and reports. substantial. The stoep is high and apThe administration of justice under proached by steps.
The watercourse English rule is much the same in South beneath it is masoned out with solid Africa as it is everywhere else. The stone and bridged with the same matethief has a bad time of it, the murderer rial. Leafy trees of divers sorts shade