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PERILS OF A MISSIONARY FAMILY IN THE KAFFIR
WAR. From the well-known fact that missionary operations have been carried on for a number of years among the various tribes of South Africa, it has been most erroneously assumed, by parties only partially acquainted with the circumstances, that the Kafsirs and their adherents, who have risen in arms against the British Government, are converts to Christianity. But this is so contrary to the facts of the case, that the Kaffirs, though not the “ irreclaimable savages" they have been sometimes represented to be, still remain, as a nation, in a state of heathenism. In connexion with the Missions established among them by our own and other Societies, individual instances of conversion have occurred, but not in sufficient numbers to make any Impression upon the main body of the people, who are as much addicted to lawless and predatory habits as at any period antecedent to the arrival of the Missionaries.
And in regard to those Hottentots and others, who have left the Mission Stations to join the Kaffirs, it is to be remarked, that nothing short of a searching and impartial investigation on the spot will enable the public to form a correct judgment on the case. This much, however, is certain, that the Missionaries resorted to every available means to confirm the loyalty of their people; and it has been ascertained, on the most satisfactory evidence, that at the principal settlements to which these observations apply,--the Kat River, for example,-the partial defection that took place was not spontaneous, but the result of intimidation and artifice on the part of the Kaffir leaders. It should also be added, that by far the larger number of the Christian Hottentots have either taken no part in the war, or attested their fidelity by rendering active service in the Government levies.
With these preliminary l'emarks, we have now to present the following impressive narrative of the dangers and sufferings encountered by a Missionary family, on their escape, at the outbreak of the war, from Union-Dale, Kaffirland, to another station at Chumie, twenty-two miles distant. The writer, the Rev. Robert Niven, is in connexion with the Mission of the United Presbyterian Church of Scotland; and we feel assured, that the readers of his very interesting narrative cannot fail to be struck with the evidence It affords, that God is indeed a very present and pecullar help to his people in those trying seasons, when every human resource appears to fail. It is, moreover, a significant circumstance, that when this unprotected and distressed family became an easy prey to their savage and brutal assailants, they were, as the facts clearly prove, preserved from the last acts of outrage and murder, by the sort of instinctive respect entertained even by these lawless men for the name and character of a Missionary teacher :
Abridged from the Rev. R. Niven's Narrative, published in the UNITED
PRESBYTERIAN MAGAZINE of November, 1851.
THE INSURGENTS ATTACK THE BRITISH
THE MISSIONARY FAMILY AND THEIR
learn whether he could give me an escort for
Mrs. Niven and family per waggon to King FORCE NEAR THE BOMA PASS.
William's Town. This he promised to do, " I little thought, when I last wrote, that
and it was arranged that Major Bisset should my next would be in such altered circum
share the waggon with us. It was now dusk, stances. On Tuesday, the 24th of December, and the waggon was not returned from the 1850, 600 troops under Colonel M'Kinnon, forest, through some detention, which the chief commissioner and commandant of Kaf.
man I had sent after it could not explain; fraria, marched from Fort-Cox, under his
it was determined, therefore, in a family conExcellency's orders, and unexpectedly as- sultation, that, as the safest alternative, we cended the Keiskamma, past the kraal of the should take off the ladies and children on paramount chief of the Kaffirs, and through horseback to the Chumie, at the earliest next the bush, in which he has been lurking morning, while I myself should return the since outlawel. Near the Boma pass, the following day." chief body-guard attacked the colonel's rear, killed nine of the infantry, and a Dr. Stewart; four baggage horses, laden with 3000
ESCORT QUIT UNION-DALE. rounds of ammunition, fell into the hands of
" In the morning, which was Christmas the insurgents. Five on the British side
we set off at seven A.M., mounted on five were wounded, two of them officers, Major horses. Our party consisted of Mrs. Niven Bisset and Mr. Catty. The Kaffirs lost two and myself, Miss Ogilvie (Mrs. N.'s niece),
our four boys, Robert, Thomas, John, and * At three p.m. of the same day, the troops Walter; Ball, the carpenter, an Englishman, came up near to our station at Union-Dale, lately discharged from the Rifles, and who and prepared to make their camp for the had been employed in fitting up our church; night. A few minutes after, half-a-dozen of Tausi, a native female Christian, sister of the Cape mounted rifles came up to my study Tiyo Sogo, and three native attendants. One door with a letter from Colonel M‘Kinnon, of the boys walked. Ball, the carpenter, led informing me of the attack, suggesting the the horse which Johnny the second-youngest immediate necessity of taking means for the rode; Walter, the youngest, was sented in front safety of myself and family, and expressing of me on the saddle. Tausi was also on foot, a wish to see me at his encampment. I went with the three native attendants, who carried over, accompanied by the chief Vika, saw small bundles of clothes and provisions for the wounded, ascertained from Dr. Fraser
the way. Their assegais (a kind of javeline, what he required for them, which was after- and the chief weapon of war among the Kafwards sent, and talked a little with the com
firs) they left behind them at my desire. mander. He expressed his surprise at the The distance to the Chumie by this route is attack, declared the movement of the troops twenty-two miles, across the head of the was 3 incre demonstration-a march up, and Wolf and Matole rivers (tributaries to the back again next day—and that he so little Keiskamma), and down thence into the basin dreamed of liostile shots, that the muskets
of the Tyume. For the first five miles we of the infantry were not even loaded.
saw only women. The men had disappeared "I returned immediately, and assisted with the cattle. This we ascribed to the by several soldiers who came over to the dread of retaliation by the troops, for the atstation for the purpose, set about the mak- tack of the preceding day, which had occur. ing of stretchers for the wounded, after red in their neighbourhood. which I visited the encampment again to as- " Our conviction that the excitement was certain the colonel's route next day, and to local, gathered strength from 'seeing the
ASSAULTED AND PLUNDERED BY ARMED
kraals along the Wolf River all occupied, and stab my petrified attendant. Nkneye fled. their separate herds of cattle grazing quietly Yedwa, another, on remonstrating, was puras heretofore. On gaining the ridge dipping sued down into the river, where I thought his into the Matole, our favourable impressions life was to atone for his fidelity, but his call were strengthened by seeing the whole valley for mercy prevailed. Before his assailant reat peace, and the cattle in various directions turned to where I was standing, his companaround the kraals. I remarked the circum ions fell to plunder, some running to the stance to Nkenye, one of Vika's men, who was horses, and others seizing saddles; and, now, with us. He coincided, but added, “I have assisted by half-grown lads, others rushed just heard the “ klaba umkosi,” the war-cry, under the bush where Mrs. Niven and Miss passed from kraal to kraal, and I saw the Ogilvie were sitting with the four boys, and it men assembling, but they have dispersed seemed as if they would make quick work again.' Thus, my suspicions were as quickly with every one and everything. (See Engravallayed as they had been excited. We slowly ing, page 21.) The children screamed, and descended the long and difficult steep down plunged into the darkest of the thicket. The to the Matole River, where we off-saddled. ladies were composed, and resisted, not withThe ladies set about preparing a refreshment, out effect, the pillage going on around them. for it was now noon. Some girls drove up I was, meanwhile, soothing the assaulted, rala few goats they were herding, and drew off lying the children, and, assisted nobly by some milk, for which they were well pleased Tausi, Soga's daughter, I was endeavouring to get sixpence and some pieces of bread.” to secure the horses. Failing in that, I be
sought the use of one horse for Mrs. Niven, KAFFIRS.
and followed them, protesting against such I had made a distribution of the saddles unheard of behaviour toward a missionary. and saddle-cloths under a shady thicket, and Tausi, in return for her efforts on our behalf, seated Mrs. Niven and her niece, with the was stripped of her head-dress. Nothing children, resting myself a few minutes beside daunted, she crossed the river after the misthem. I got up and walked out a short dis creants. This emboldened two of my at. tance to ascertain if the horses were not get tendants to follow, and plead for the return ting out of sight among the bushes. My of Vika's son's horse, which had been lent attention was arrested by the advance of me by the owner. I was about to cross the armed men to the number of a dozen, all river to join Tausi in her pleadings, when an with assegais. They stood on the path that unmistakeable attempt on poor Ball's life, crosses the river, and sharply questioned which I assisted in resisting, convinced me of Nkenye about us. I did not know any of the extreme danger of our situation, and them. Nkenye's indirect replies to their turned me back. Nkenye said, “It is of no questions indicated fear, and excited my sus use to go;' and Yedwa added, “You will be picion that he perceived they were unfriendly. killed.' These two now ran off, preceded I more than once attempted to draw the at by our third attendant; and as they scamtention of the principal interrogator to my pered off, they dropped a word to Tausi in a self for satisfactory explanations as to who low voice, . The teacher will be killed, the we were, and our object, assured that this rest of you will escape.' I knew not this at alone was necessary to enlist the friendship the time, and called the fugitive to return, of the party, as I had often done in many a and not forsake us.
It was in vain. Not critical case. I was rudely told to keep quiet, knowing what next to do, I saw a mounted and not interrupt the examination of Nkenye. Kaffir descending the hill by the road we I did so, and soon perceived our perilous situ came, calling to the plunderers (who were all ation, when the person I had been addressing now mounted on our horses, and standing in bawled out to the quaking Nkenye, poising debate with some of their neighbours) to wait an assegai for a dart at him, "Why are you till he came up. I made up to him, begged helping the enemy? This is a white man, him to use his influence with them, and to and you are our enemy in helping him against restore the horses. He reprobated their conour nation. With this, he made a feint to duct toward a teacher, and crossed over to
NEW AND ALARMING INCIDENTS.
them. I followed. He remonstrated with front of us, and the other equally so, to the them; bat in vain. I then asked him to es- district from which we came. Our explancort us to the Chumie. At that moment one ations, unless corroborated by theirs, would passed with my faithful horse, Shamrock, and have had little effect with suspicious stranMrs. Niven's saddle. This excited me to gers, now thirsting for white men's blood; make one effort more to get this animal for but they succeeded in enlisting the favour of my poor wife, whom I could not suppose able one or two persons in these savage companies, to walk ten miles over rugged mountainous by their knowledge of them and their relaground, filled with infuriated rebels. The tions. Without their support, it is not diffiman seemed half inclined to yield. Indeed, cult to perceive what our fate must have been all along there was a hesitancy betrayed in particularly Ball's and mine. At this junctheir wildest sallies of fury, showing a want ture two men came up unarmed, driving of confidence in their condict, and embolden- four head of cattle. One of them I knew, and ing me to expostulate with them, by appeal- both consented, for a blanket each, to accoming to their reason, conscience, and humanity. pany us to our destination. We once more I pleaded with him, he dragging on the horse, faced the hill, and after many a weary step, and at last he said, ' Come, and we will talk and occasional rest, we all felt thankful to of the matter to that man,' pointing to one see that there was only a short grassy slope before him, who had my horse. I soon saw between us and the summit." that neither of them would part with their prey, and left them. Returning to the per- Scarcely bad we breathed this relieving son who had come up on horseback, I saw prospect, when a strong side-look of Mqonka him leaving. I renewed my entreaties that (one of our new escort), drew my eye in the be yould take us on to the station. Bulane same direction, and I saw two mounted per(for that I now learned was his name, a coun. sons, with assegais, bearing down on us from sellor of Tyali's tribe on the Chumie), ob- a height to the right. To save about £50 in jected that he had no time; but added, " These money in my pocket, I handed it to Mrs. Nimen will,' pointing to two or three who ven, who was more likely to escape rudeness seemed his own people. I made up to them, and plunder. They were now up with us and thanked them. They had by this time and I saw they were two of the first party two saddles, books of Tiyo's, and sundry ar- and were riding two of our horses. They ticles which escaped the former pillagers, and being the two who seemed half inclined at which I thought they were carrying for us. the bottom of the hill to give us back the So far relieved, I said, ' Come, men, let us horses, I fancied they might now restore them, go.' One of them carrying my saddle, beck- having gratified their curiosity by surveying oned me to him. I went, and to my surprise the noble expanse of country stretching out he pulled off my neckcloth, rifled my coat from the Tyume. Little did I then know pockets, and with the assistance of another, what sights of savage triumph over the sacked was now pulling to get off my coat. I re- and blazing military villages before us had sisted, supplicated, and got off,--surprised to fanned the flame of their vengeance. I begfind my fancied escort were animated with a ged the first kindly to favour my wife with ruder spirit of assault than the party from the use of Shamrock to the station, as I knew whom we had just escaped.
not how she could reach on foot, and pro" Xayimpi now came up with several armed mised to give him back there. With a scowl, men. They listened without emotion to all he said in Dutch, 'Sta stil.'
I stood acwe said, and refused to give us any protection cordingly. He beckoned to Mqonka, and or assistance in getting out of this sequest- asked. Who is this person? is he a teacher?' ered Matole glen, now a den of thieves. Most On being told that I was, and learning my providentially, Mankosi, a Kaffir, who had
name and place of labour, he alighted, and joined us at the Wolf River, going to Chumie, came up to me, drawing one of his assegais, kept by us when the other three natives fled
so far as I recollect, and said 'Strip;' and to for their lives. He calmly seconded Tausi make his desigu intelligible, pulled off a stripe on our behalf-the one well known to all in of cloth I had tied around my waist to abate
a pain I felt in my side on climbing the hill. carrying a stand of assegais. He stood and His companion made quicker work with poor spoke civilly, heard our case, and as he exBall's hat and upper dress. I repelled the pressed surprise at the treatment his countryruffian when he put in his hand to undo my men had given to a teacher and his family, I clothes, and said, “It must not be that a asked him to go back with us and see us past teacher shall be made to walk naked.' the excited warriors below. He consented, • Empty your pockets, then,' he said; and rather, yielded in a kind of hesitating absent feeling them outside, he added, there is manner, which I did not take much notice of money, is it not?' 'Yes,' I replied. Give at the time, though I clearly understood it it me, then,' he said; which I did, presenting afterwards. Conversing as we descended, I him with a purse containing one pound in was struck with Tausi's manner. She was silver. “There is something more,' he said, walking on my right, and this new guide
I feel something hard. It was my watch. beyond her, on the same line. Suddenly she I thrust my hand down into my pocket to clung to me, grasping my arm, and whispered, convince him there was no more money, as
'I am suspicious of this person. He intends I thought. A tinkling was heard, which he mischief.' I was so unsuspecting of evil as noticed, and I anticipated him by producing not to apprehend anything personal to myself two shillings, which must have dropped out of in her warning; but supposing it to refer to my purse. He then let me off, and made for herself, I feared he might have been indicat. Ball, who I really thought could not now ing some indecency, and told her quietly not escape death. We gathered round him, with to be afraid, I would protect her. Again, she ejaculations to Him who is a refuge to the clenched my arm, and whispered, 'Take care, distressed, and with struggles, cries, and im- he will do harm.' Thereupon, I saw the portunities, seconded latterly by the two men
assassin's hand drawn, armed with an assegai, who had promised to escort us to the aiming at me across Tausi's person! She Chumie, we succeeded in extricating him, sprung towards him, at the same time laying with thic loss of his hat and jacket. I should hold of his extended arm, and calling out, not omit to state, that my escape from de- 'Musa,''Dont.' I stood and reproved him. nudation, or something worse, was materially He stammered out something about handling owing to female tact. Robert, on seeing the his instrument thoughtlessly, as one does in Kaffir attempting to strip me, ran off with walking with an assegai in his hand. This most plaintive cries, which affected one of the only made bis design the more obvious. He women who had carried up Walter, and she replaced the weapon, when desired, among upbraided the man for his rudeness, pointing the others in his left hand, and we proceeded. to the child, and he desisted whenever lie At a convenient point, I halted, thanked him looked round and saw the boy's distress. Mrs. for his convoy; and reminding him of his Niven hastened after her child. He turned hesitation at first about coming with us, said, when called back; but his mother, rged we would not ask him to proceed further. onward by a new suspicion about me, rushed Taken aback, he turned, nevertheless helping past him down the rocky face of the hill, himself to the most seizable things he saw; heedless of any, till I overtook her, and balt- and we passed on, with the blended emotions ing, we again collected, and supporting Mrs. of gratitude to God, and to the heroic Tansi, Niven, began to descend.”
for another escape.”
ALTERNATE NOPES AND FEARS. “ What a dismal spectacle met our eye in “Proceeding now alone with our faithful every direction! The country desolate--the Mankosi, we came nearer and nearer to the kraals deserted—Woburn and Johannesberg straggling bands which were exultingly resmoking ruins; and, not lenst appalling! turning from the total destruction of the dark naked figures were seen leaving both military villages and their inhabitants. Pass places, many of whom we were sure to through their ominous lines we must. Some encounter, impelled by the wildest passion. seemed, at the distance of miles, to be benring A little further down one of them met us, a toward us. We looked in vain for thicket or young man habited in a policeman's coat, and gully or crag to hide in. Miles and miles of
A TREACHEROUS FRIEND.