| Our Island Story|
|by H. E. Marshall|
|A child's history of England from earliest legendary times delightfully retold. Beginning with the stories of Albion and Brutus, it relates all the interesting legends and hero tales in which the history of England abounds through the end of the reign of Queen Victoria. Ages 9-12 |
VICTORIA—BOER AND BRITON
 IN the days when Cromwell was ruling Britain with his iron
hand, a few stern-faced, silent men sailed out from Holland
and landed in South Africa. There they made their home, and
there they grew rich and prospered.
In the reign of George III., while Napoleon was conquering
all Europe, British soldiers landed in Africa and took
possession of Cape Town. Later still, when Napoleon had
fallen, the Cape of Good Hope became a British possession by
treaty with Holland. Soon thousands of British settled
there, and slowly but surely the colony grew.
So side by side these two races, Dutch and British, spread
and prospered. But they could not live together in peace. It
seemed as if in all the wide veldt there was not room for
I cannot tell you here of all the quarrels and dispeace; of
how the different colonies called Orange Free State,
Transvaal, Natal, and Cape Colony arose; of how the
Transvaal at one time owned British rule and at another did
not; of how Britain fought and suffered until at last the
long years of unrest and trouble ended in the great Boer
War;—I cannot tell you of all this, for it would take too
long, and much of it would not seem interesting to you. I
will not talk much either about the Boer War, for the tears it
caused are hardly dry; the graves it made are hardly green.
 All through this book I have tried to give you reasons for
the wars of which I have told, and, although now that we
have come to our own time it becomes more difficult, I will
give you one reason for the Boer War, which you may
From the very beginning of our story you have seen how
Britons have fought for freedom, and how step by step they
have won it, until at last Britons live under just laws and
have themselves the power to make these laws. For it is now
acknowledged that the Briton who pays taxes has the right to
help to frame the laws under which he lives. You remember
how America was lost because King George III. tried to force
the Americans to pay taxes, although they had not the right
to choose and send members to Parliament.
Now the Transvaal was a republic, and the government was in
the hands of the Boers, as the South African Dutch had come
to be called. Yet in some vague way the Boers owned the
Queen of Britain as over-lord. Those who lived in the
Transvaal were chiefly Boer farmers, but gold was discovered
in the country and then many other people went there hoping
to make a great deal of money. Many of these people were
British, and although the Boers were not glad to see them,
and wished they would keep away from the land which they
considered their very own, these British helped to make the
Boer country rich. They paid heavy taxes, but they were
called Uitlanders, which means, "outlanders"
or "strangers." They were harshly
treated in many ways, they were not
allowed to vote for members of Parliament, and so had no
voice in making the laws under which they had to live.
You have heard how Britons for centuries had fought for this
very freedom which was now denied them in
 South Africa, and
you can imagine how hard it was for Britons to bear what
seemed to them so great an injustice. This is only one
reason why the Boers and Britons could not live in peace
together, but it is one which you can understand. The Boers,
too, had their troubles and their grievances, and, when war
came, they fought as patriots fight for their country.
The British in South Africa appealed at last to the
mother-country for help. The mother-country gave help, and
in October 1899 A.D. war broke out.
It was a dreadful war, and lasted for two years and a half.
We have not yet forgotten the days of sick suspense
during the long months when Ladysmith and
"brave little Mafeking" were besieged;
nor the gloom which fell upon us as we read of disaster and
defeat; nor the cheers and sobs which greeted the news
of the relief of Ladysmith and then of Mafeking.
But in the darkest hour one thing became certain.
The little island was
not fighting alone. The Empire of Greater Britain was no
mere name. From all sides, from New Zealand, Australia,
Canada, from every province of Greater Britain, from every
land over which the Union Jack floats, came offers of help.
Britain was fighting, not for herself, but for her colony,
and right or wrong, her colonies stood by her, side by side,
and shoulder to shoulder.
At length the dark days passed, and
the whisper of peace was heard. It was a whisper which
grew louder until it was plainly heard.
The Boer leaders gathered at a place called Vereeniging to
talk together over the terms of peace. Vereeniging means
"union," so it seemed a good place at which to have the
meeting. The Boers were treated as the guests of the
British, who prepared a camp for them and did everything for
their comfort, but as they were led to the
 camp, through the
British lines, the Boers were blindfolded and guarded by
soldiers of the Black Watch. This was done because the Boers
might not have agreed to make peace, and then the knowledge
they had gained of the British camp would have helped them
The Boer leaders were blindfolded and guarded by soldiers of the Black Watch.
The meeting lasted about ten days, but at last, on Sunday,
June 1, 1902 A.D., the good news reached London. Peace was
"Here, where my fresh-turned furrows run,
And the deep soil glistens red,
I will repair the wrong that was done
To the living and the dead.
Here where the senseless bullet fell,
And the barren shrapnel burst,
I will plant a tree, I will dig a well,
Against the heat and the thirst.
"Here, in a large and sunlit land,
Where no wrong bites to the bone,
I will lay my hand in my neighbour's hand,
And together we will atone
For the set folly and the red breach
And the black waste of it all,
Giving and taking counsel each
Over the cattle-kraal.
"Here, in the waves and the troughs of the plains
Where the healing stillness lies,
And the vast, benignant sky restrains
And the long days make wise—
Bless to our use the rain and the sun
And the blind seed in its bed,
That we may repair the wrong that was done
To the living and the dead!"
The south of Africa is now entirely a British colony, and we hope that
soon it will be as loyal, as happy, and as prosperous as
any other British colony.
 Queen Victoria reigned for sixty-three years, which is
longer than any other British sovereign has ever reigned.
When she had been on the throne fifty years, great
rejoicings were held.
On the 21st of June, the anniversary of the day upon which
she ascended the throne, the streets and houses were
everywhere decorated, and bonfires and fire-works blazed.
This year was called the Jubilee Year.
Ten years later Victoria was still upon the throne, and
again the people rejoiced. The whole air was filled with
shouts and cheers as the white-haired lady, who was Queen of
half the world, drove through the streets of London on her
way to St. Paul's Cathedral, there to thank God for her
great and glorious reign. This was called the Diamond
Three years later, while the dark war cloud still hung over
the land, the news was flashed through all the great empire,
"The Queen is dead." At the close of a dull winter's day,
the sad toll of muffled bells rang out the message to every
town and village; and from east to west, wherever the flag
of red, white, and blue floats, hearts were sad.
"May children of our children say,
She wrought her people lasting good;
"Her court was pure; her life serene;
God gave her peace; her land reposed;
A thousand claims to reverence closed
In her as Mother, Wife, and Queen;
"And statesmen at her council met
Who knew the seasons when to take
Occasion by the hand, and make
The bounds of freedom wider yet
"By shaping some august decree,
Which kept her throne unshaken still,
Broad-based upon her people's will,
And compass'd by the inviolate sea."
"God of our fathers, known of old,
Lord of our far-flung battle-line,
Beneath whose awful Hand we hold
Dominion over palm and pine—
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget!
"The tumult and the shouting dies;
The captains and the kings depart;
Still stands Thine ancient sacrifice,
An humble and a contrite heart.
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget!"
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