Maritzburg, Friday, Jan. 26.--A day of making up arrears and trying to get straight. But at 4.50 I had to start for Durban on my way to Umzinto. I travelled down with Colonel Hime, who had a carriage reserved. Dined at Inchanga, and reached Durban before 10. Went to the club for a bed, but found they were quite full. I stupidly had not bespoken a bed. So I went on to Canon Johnson's, to see if he could take me in. Fortunately I found his spare room empty, and he took pity on me.
Saturday, Jan. 27.--To-day's paper reports the taking of the top of Spion Kop, and we were all in exultation as to the result of Wednesday's fight. It was too bad to leave us in a fool's paradise for a couple of days. The truth came on Sunday night in a rumour that the position had been given up after all.
I started for Park Rynie, the station for Umzinto, at 9 a.m., reaching there at 12, from there taking a post-cart to Umzinto, about six miles. Two of the Durban curates, Bibby and Jones, were taking holiday, and staying with Mr. Gallagher. So we had a house full.
Umzinto, Sunday, Jan. 28.--Celebration at 7.30. Matins and Confirmation at n. There were four boys and four girls. I was glad I had not put off the Confirmation for another week, as some of these were going back to school, and this was the last Sunday of the holiday, so that they would have missed the service. In the evening I preached again from the Psalm of the evening--"By the waters of Babylon"--on the word-long conflict "Sion in her anguish with Babylon must cope."
Monday, Jan. 29.--The rumour of last night is confirmed by the papers this morning. The top of the mountain was so strongly held by the Boers, that our men had after all to retire, and this after General Lyttelton's Brigade had actually climbed the face of Spion Kop, an almost precipitous mountain, and lost their colonel of the 60th Rifles, and many other officers in the attempt. Poor Colonel Riddell, with whom I had so many talks a few days ago, whose sister (Sister May of the Kilburn Sisters) has just arrived in Maritzburg from Burmah to nurse the other brother who was wounded in Ladysmith. She is at St. Anne's, and is nursing at the hospital. It is a very sad business both because of the loss and the disappointment, and also because of the critical state of Lady-smith. I don't know what is to happen there. I cannot but fear they must be running out of ammunition, at least for the big guns, which only went up at the last moment before the siege began. Now it has all to be begun over again, or else a worse place has to be tackled.
However, fortunately the responsibility of decision does not rest with us. And I have little patience with all the people here, who know so much better than the Generals how it should all be done. As Mrs. Triton's boy, who was confirmed yesterday, is going back to school, she was very anxious that he should make his first communion with her, so we had a celebration at 7.30 this morning, at which both of them and one or two others communicated. After an early luncheon at 11.30, Jones and I started on horseback to ride to the station at Park Rynie. A boy carried my bag. It was very hot, but we took it quietly and reached there in time for the train at 1.20. He rode back and the boy led my pony. A hot railway journey in a rather full carriage, and then I got to Durban at 4.20; had a cup of tea at the club, where I sleep to-night. Then, after reading the papers, I went for the evening meal to Johnson's, and after it went to Evensong, at which I confirmed two people who had for one cause or another missed the regular Confirmation.
Tuesday, Jan. 30.--Matins and breakfast at St.Cyprian's; a morning with letters and papers at the club. At 5.50 I started back again to Maritzburg. Rather a full train, at least as far as Hill Crest. Travelled with Mr. Anderson, M.L.A. for Newcastle.
Wednesday, Jan, 31.--Back to the old routine in Maritzburg. The day taken up with getting straight. There are a great many men in hospital here now, as indeed everywhere; but I have no time yet to begin again the visiting. In the evening I went to see Colonel Johnston, in order to ask him various things--one, whether there is likely to be a hospital ship going to the Cape soon, on which I could act as chaplain, and get a free passage in return, to fetch my wife and boys and my Mother.
Thursday, Feb. 1.--Wet all yesterday and most of to-day again. Dull work of paying bills and other household matters. I shall have a great deal of mending for the ladies when I get back to female society! In the afternoon Mr. Weeks, the new incumbent of St. Paul's, came, and I took him down the town in the rain, and showed him the Legislative Hospital. In the evening we talked Natal controversy un-limitedly, and I gave him documents.
Saturday, Feb. 3.--I don't know whether you would rather have a clean and uninteresting diary, or a dirty and interesting one. But this week it is not interesting enough to need a second copy for the Cape. Saturday was a busy day with letters for the English mail, and in the middle of the morning I had to go down to the town to do a lot of errands. This evening I went into Government House, after dinner, as I have seen so little of His Excellency lately. I took my sketch--merely a pencil outline--of the position as seen from Spearman's Hill, which interested him and the two officers who are staying there, one of the colonels of the Royal Fusiliers who has been injured by a fall, and the other a new acting A.D.C.
Sunday, Feb. 4.--Early service at 8, at St. Anne's Chapel, as the Garrison Church is at present used as a hospital, I have written to suggest that as long as it is so used they should pay us £150 a year, as a compensation for the loss of offertories, as I have pledged them to support the chaplain, and pay the interest on a loan from Dr. Sutherland. At 11 I attended St. Saviour's, where Mr. Clark preached. In the afternoon I had a quiet read at Archbishop Benson's Life. I have just got to the Chancellorship at Lincoln. In the evening I preached at St. Luke's.
After morning service I went to the Assembly Hospital to see if Field was there, but found he was not. Then I went up to the top of the camp to the office--a very hot walk; from them I found that he was in one of the barrack-room wards in Fort Napier. I soon found him. His wound was a slight one--in the elbow. It does not seem to have touched the bone. These Mauser bullets make wonderfully clean wounds, so I should hope he would soon be all right again. He is not in bed. At the same time I am very sorry he is not in the Assembly Hospital, where they send most of the Volunteers and Irregulars. Unfortunately there is not room for all, and he happens to be one of the unlucky ones who had got taken on arrival to the Camp Hospital. He was wounded quite early in the engagement on Spion Kop, in the early morning, and lay for six hours before he got help. He did not, therefore, know much about the affair, and could not tell me what I wanted to find out.
Monday, Feb. 5.--In the afternoon I went to see Field again, and took a big basket full of grapes from our garden for him and his wardmates. I could not actually give them to him, as there are so many fever and dysentery cases in the ward that some of them might have got hold of the grapes and I might have got into trouble, so I put them into the nurse's room. She was absent at the moment.
Tuesday, Feb. 6.--Really nothing to relate. f Life is a most dull affair down here, and no news comes through, though we are persuaded that the fight is going on at this moment. I am much drawn towards that beautiful hill above the Tugela, "From the safe, glad rear to the dreadful van." But you need not fear; I am not going at present, and I have offered myself to Richmond for next Sunday. I was going there the Sunday I was called off to Frere. The English mail came in yesterday, and to-day I have a letter from Yarde-Buller, the A.D.C.
Wednesday, Feb. 7.--A ride with Major Heath in the afternoon on one of his ponies is the only variety to-day. We rode out towards Ashburton.
The news from the front to-day is a shade more hopeful. They seem to have taken one part of the Boer position opposite Potgieter's Drift, but will they be able to hold it? The same telegram speaks of a nasty cross-fire, which I much fear may be a preparation for news that they had after all to evacuate the position.
Thursday, Feb. 8.--No more news all day to-day; rather ominous, I fear. If there were good news we should have had it sooner. However, we have to be patient. I also get no news. I have had no letter from Cecil for ever so long. January 19th, I believe, was my last. I cannot think what has happened to her and Mother that they do not write. They seem further away than England. At least, I hear less often. I went for a hard bicycle ride this afternoon by way of exercise. Late at night, when Heath came back from his office, he told me that there was a very ominous sign. He had received a telegram from "Headquarters Camp, Springfield Bridge." It seemed that it could mean nothing else than that they had to retire entirely from the Tugela and Spearman's Hill. If this were so it meant a terrible disaster, as the last we heard was that they were not only across the Tugela, but actually on the hills which are the Boer position. If they had fallen back so far as Springfield they must have been badly beaten, and then one hardly dared to think out what they must have lost, probably all the naval guns which could not be removed in a moment, and possibly a lot of the troops on the north side of the river. The result was that I had a bad night, continually going over and over in my sleep all possible motives they could have for falling back to Springfield, outside that of necessity.
Friday, Feb. 9.--Major Heath and I both in very low spirits this morning. He, too, had had a bad night with the same reflections as my own. However, after breakfast he came back from his office on purpose to tell me that he felt ten years younger in consequence of a telegram from Major Morgan, still dated Spearman's Hill, showing that position was not vacated. The mystery of the address of the Headquarters Camp still remains unsolved.
Wednesday, Feb. 14.--Diary, as you see, in arrear. Nothing very interesting to record. All seems dull after the front.
On Saturday last I went to Richmond by the 3.35 train. It was a very hot day, and the train was uncomfortably full, and ladies would get into the smoking carriage, so I did not enjoy the journey which takes three hours to do twenty-five miles. Mr. Cooper and Mr. Ward met me, and I stayed, as in former visits, with the Coopers. On Sunday I preached and took the morning service, the magistrate, Mr. Waller, reading the lessons. In the afternoon I called on the Howdens, and preached again at night, Mr. Ward taking the service. In the morning he had been holding service at Byrne. There were good congregations, though here as elsewhere many of the men are away fighting. On Monday I stayed the morning at Richmond, and came home by the train at 3.15, reaching Maritzburg soon after 5.30. As I came in by the back door I found a gentleman coming in by the front. It was Mr. Dent, a prominent London surgeon, who came with a letter of introduction to me from Professor Bryce. Major Heath was there, and we had tea and a long and very interesting talk about Bryce and the Alpine Club, of which this gentleman is a distinguished member, and about the strange things that Mauser bullets do, and, of course, about the war. A very hot night. A good thing Mother is not here. By the way, don't ask me to do impossibilities. On the one hand, you ask me not to bring the Mother up here till it is cool, and on the other, you want her back punctually in six months. She shall be returned as soon as ever it is possible, but I don't suppose at the present rate she will be here till well on into March, and she must have time to turn round. It is not the war but the heat that prevents my bringing her up sooner.
Went to Durban by the evening train. Travelled with young Garrard, whom I had met up at Spearman's Hill, in charge of the Colt gun with Lord Dundonald. He is now coming down wounded. We reached Durban at 9.30, and I went to the club, where I had bespoken a bed. It was very hot.
Durban, Thursday, Feb. 15.--Went to St. Cyprian's for matins at 7.30, and after breakfast with Johnson went to the Castle Office to find out when the Kinfauns Castle was expected. At first they told me they had no word of her, and could only suppose she had not left East London and would not be here to-day, which would have been very aggravating. However, they asked me to come again at 11, which I did, and then found that she was on her way all right, and would be up about 1. The tug was to start at 12. So I had to go off at once to the Point to catch it, as I proposed to go outside the bar. I had a good deal of waiting at the Point as usual, but at last, about 12.30, we started out. There was very little bar, though a certain swell outside. The Kinfauns came in sight just as we rounded the Bluff, but it was another half hour before she had come to anchor, and we could board her. I found Mr. Brooke Lambert, but not either of the two other clergy whom I had hoped to meet, Mr. Murphy, late chaplain to the Archbishop of Armagh, and a Mr. Fisher of whom Canon Booth had told me. We had luncheon on board, and then we started back in the tug. From the Point, where he left an agent to disentangle all his luggage, we took the tram up the town and went to Pass's, who had kindly offered to put Lambert up. He is living just behind the club. Lambert dined with me at the club. Fass and his companion, Leuchars, were dining on board the hospital ship Nubia.
Friday, Feb. 16.--Breakfasted with Fass, and then Brooke Lambert and I went by the 9 a.m. train to Umkomaas. I wanted him to see some of the coast scenery, and that is quite the prettiest line. We got there at 11.30, and walked on the beach and then made tea in the Etna. It was difficult, however, as I found the spirit had leaked, and we had to make a fire of sticks, and there was a wind and the sticks would not burn evenly, first flaring up and then dying down, and the smoke got into one's eyes and made them smart. However, at last the consummation was attained and we had our luncheon, consisting of sandwiches, biscuits, tea, and bananas. Then we returned by the 2 train, and got back in time for a cup of tea at the club and a read of the papers. Then Fass and Leuchars and Lambert all came to dinner with me at the club.
Saturday, Feb. 17.--Returned to Maritzburg by the train starting at 10.5, but broke the journey for a couple of hours at Kranz Kloof. It was just as much as we could do comfortably to walk to the gorge and get back again in time for the new train which leaves Durban at 12.15. It was a choice between doing this and trusting to getting our luncheon in the train, or taking our luncheon with us to picnic and then having to wait for the evening train, not reaching Maritzburg till 10; and this was rather too much of a good thing, so we just walked to the Kloof and then back and made tea in the train. I found a friendly station-master at Gillett's whose wife gave me some milk, so we were well off and we reached Maritzburg at 5.25.
Mr. Lambert was much impressed by the Kranz Kloof. The weather was very hot, and we had a long walk, but he stood it very well.
Pietermaritzburg, Sunday, Feb. 18.--Lambert preached at St. Peter's at u. The Governor was there and the church was very full. In the afternoon we walked over to Government House to call. We had tea there and a nice chat. I went on to St. Saviour's for evening service and Lambert stayed at home. I had an off day as far as sermons were concerned.
Monday, Feb. 19.--I heard last night that the Dean was very ill and he wished me to come and celebrate for him this morning, which I did at 9 a.m. He was very weak, and though the doctor does not take a very grave view of the case, the Dean himself does. His son had come in by the morning train to see him and join in the service. The day was uneventful. I took Lambert round and showed him some of the hospitals and the Garrison Church. The English mail came in at night--always a joy.
Tuesday, Feb. 20.--Early service at the Cathedral, and then got caught in the rain and had to come home and change. In the afternoon we walked to the Legislative Hospital, and then to the College Hospital through the Park. At the former I asked for Field, but he could not be found, and they supposed he must have gone out. He is going out to-morrow and will then be an out-patient. I left word with the nurses to ask him to come to see me, but as I have begun to think of going to Cape Town next week I may miss him. In the evening we went to dinner at Government House--all three of us--Lambert, Heath, and I. The General was there and Sir Samuel Scott, M.P., who has come out in his yacht and is going up to the front, but only as a spectator. I sat on the Governor's right hand, with a gunner officer next me who had just arrived from India to replace the guns lost at Colenso, but he himself was not at present wanted at the front. We are altogether beginning to cheer up. Roberts says he has almost surrounded Cronje after relieving Kimberley, and Duller is getting behind the Boers at Colenso, so that they are evacuating their trenches. Some of Hart's Brigade is already crossing the Tugela at Colenso. This is the result of taking Hlangani or Hlang-wani, or Hlangwini, as it is variably called. I have been very busy writing for the Magazine all day. I am beginning to repent of having decided to start for the Cape, as I should so much like to go back to the front so as to be able to enter Ladysmith with the troops if they get there, which seems likely to be the case very soon now.
Wednesday, Feb. 21.--Went to early service, and called to ask after the Dean on the way back. In the afternoon Lambert and I went out to the Botanical Gardens--he walked, and as I had several things to do in the town first, I bicycled and met him there. If I go on Monday it will be by my old friend the Scot, and Lambert will probably go at the same time by the Kaiser up the East Coast.
Thursday, Feb. 22.--Lambert and I started at 8.45 for Howick. He is much pleased with the scenery--a very satisfactory visitor to show round. We took the invaluable tea bag and some sandwiches and some bananas and biscuits. It is a steep climb, but Lambert managed it well. We had a thoroughly good picnic. Then we climbed again and took the wagonette back to Howick station. Reached Maritzburg at 5 without adventure. Not much news to-day, though we hear there is fighting going on. They have sent me the copies of Good Words which contain my article cut up into two. It is rather absurd publishing it three years after it was written without a word of explanation.
Saturday, Feb. 24.--Woke with head bad again and could do little towards sermon. Wrote my mail letters, such as were not written already, but little else. Slept again in the afternoon. To-night I had my Indian Confirmation which ought to have been last Sunday afternoon. It had been a wet day, and as the roads were too bad to bicycle, I rickshawed. Fortunately the head got better towards evening. We had a nice service: I hope the work is good, but it is very hard to tell. These Indians are funny people with lots of faction among themselves--very spiteful against each other. There were about six men and five women confirmed. Clark was there as well as the Indian priest, Joseph. Brooke Lambert left at 8.50 this morning, as he had one or two people to see in Durban.
Sunday, Feb. 25.--Preached at St. Saviour's at 11 and celebrated. A large congregation. I have preached so seldom lately that I really think there are a certain number who want me to preach. In the afternoon I had to go to Durban in order to catch the boat to-morrow. I do not like having to travel on Sunday, but I could not help it, having this Confirmation last night and sermon this morning. Heath kindly came to see me off. I found Mr. Dent going by the same train and the same boat, which I was very glad of. We dined at Inchanga, and reached Durban about 9.45. I went to the club and had a bed there.