BLTC Press Titles


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Tao Te Ching

Lao Tzu, James Legge (trans.)


The Bhagavad Gita

Anonymous


The Fairy Tale of the Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Thomas Carlyle, Rudolf Steiner


Novalis Including Hymns to the Night

Novalis, George MacDonald, Thomas Carlyle


Ian Hamilton's march

by Sir Winston Churchill

Excerpt:

Five months earlier I had passed along this line, hoping to get into Ladysmith before the door was shut, and had been struck by this busy child, who seemed a product of America rather than of Africa. Much had happened in the meantime, not so far from where he lived. But here he was still—the war had not interfered with him, Queenstown was beyond the limit.

At Sterkstroom a line of empty trenches, the Red Cross flag over a hospital, and an extension to the cemetery enclosure filled with brown mounds which the grass had not yet had time to cover, showed that we had crossed the line between peace and war. Passing through Molteno, the last restingplace of the heroic de Montmorency, the train reached Stormberg. Scarcely any traces of the Boer occupation were to be seen; the marks of their encampments behind the ridge where they had laagered —a litter of meat tins, straw, paper, and the like, the grave of Commandant Swanepoole and several nameless heaps, a large stone (in the station-master's possession) with the words engraved on it: 'In memory of the Transvaal commando, Stormberg, December 1899,' and that was all. The floods had abated and receded. This was the only jetsam that remained.

At Stormberg I changed my mind, or, rather—for it comes to the same thing and sounds better—I made it up.

I heard that no immediate advance from Bloemfontein was likely or even possible for a fortnight. Therefore, I said, I will go to Capetown, and shelter for a week at 'The Helot's Rest.' After all, what is the use of a roving commission if one cannot rove at random or caprice?

So to Capetown I went accordingly— seven hundred miles in forty-eight hours of bad trains over sections of the line only newly reopened. But to Capetown I will not take the reader. Indeed, I strongly recommend him to stick to the war and keep his attention at the front, for Capetown at this present time is not an edifying place. Yet, since he may be curious to know some reason for such advice, let me explain.

Capetown, which stands, as some writers have observed, beneath the shadow of Table Mountain, has been—and may be again in times of peace—a pleasant place in which to pursue business or health; but now it is simply a centre of intrigue, scandal, falsehood, and rumour.

The visitor stays at the Mount Nelson Hotel, if he can be so fortunate as to secure a room. At this establishment he finds all .the luxuries of a first-class European hotel without the resulting comfort. There is a good dinner, but it is cold before it reaches him; there is a spacious dining-room, but it is overcrowded; there are clean European waiters, but they are few and far between.

At the hotel, in its garden, or elsewhere in the town, all the world and his wife are residing—particularly the wife.

We used to think, in the Army of Natal, that Lord Roberts's operations in the Free State had been a model of military skill and knowledge, and, in a simple way, we regarded French as one of the first cavalry soldiers of the age.

All this was corrected at Capetown, and I learned with painful disenchantment that 'it' (the said operations) had all been a shameful muddle from beginning to end; that the Field-Marshal had done this and that and the other ' which no man in his senses,' &c., that French was utterly . . . and as for Lord Kitchener, Capetown—let us be just, imported social Capetown—was particularly severe on Lord Kitchener.

It was very perplexing; and besides it seemed that these people ought to know, for they succeeded in making more news in the twenty-four hours than all the correspondents at the front put together. The whole town was overrun with amateur strategists and gossiping women. There were more colonels to the acre than in any place outside the United States, and if the social aspect was unattractive, the political was scarcely more pleasing.


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