Vol 3 Section 0340

290                                                                        1899

even if he had raped the entire family, including the male members. The trouble with most punishments is that they go far beyond “fitting the crime.” I do not know of any really light punishment but death; & by a curious absence of cold common sense we put that one at the top.

Next, as to that South African battle. It isn’t I that make the mistake—it is the school history I quote from. It is a text-book down there, & was not written by a Boer, but by a Briton.

Cecil Rhodes. …


It was Rhodes who slew the Boers who fell in it; & he slew the Britons, too, but they were consenting parties. Rhodes was chief of a friendly State when he perpetrated that prodigious outrage. If you should tell me you would have done the same thing in Rhodes’s place, I shouldn’t say I didn’t believe you, but I wouldn’t, all the same.

No, a man’s deeds must be separated & judged apart. No doubt the Court respected Eugene Aram’s learning, & eloquence, & the valuable service he had rendered by his industries in his vocation; but it didn’t allow these things to offset the murder. That Court would have hanged Rhodes, sure. …

I am gradually hatching out maxims—mainly absurd ones, I guess—with the intent to publish, one of these years. I made one, a minute ago, and enclose it—text for it, to wit: Reading the S. African news here in bed, I said to myself, there’s going to be a war, & then what?—for England is more in the wrong than is the Transvaal. And so, thinking along, I arrived at this: when a collision comes, in this world, a man is sure to stop reasoning, & swing to the side of his own people in the quarrel; for politics come from a man’s heart, hardly ever from his head—perhaps never. And so, when the fight begins down there I must soon expect to find myself unable to discover virtue in a Boer. This human race is always thinking it thinks: it is a superstition, it really never does anything but feel—& translate its emotions into something which it mistakes for thought


Notes: Forbes was a member of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, and the author of The Road from Simla to Shipki in Chinese Thibet and various other minor routes: With a few hints for travelers, with map (1893). Valentine Baker, aka Baker Pasha (1827-1887), British soldier arrested in 1875 on the charge of indecent assault on a young woman in a railroad car. He offered no defense, and was fined and imprisoned for a year, then cashiered out of the service. Two years later he entered the Turkish army in the war against Russia. Afterwards he directed the Egyptian police force and when the war in Sudan broke out he accompanied the British troops to El Teb, where the force was wiped out, though he managed to escape and returned to El Teb with another force, where he was wounded. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle used elements of the events that led to Baker’s imprisonment and cashiering from the British Army in his Sherlock Holmes’ short story, “The Adventure of the Bruce Partington Plans.”

The Second Boer War 1899-1902, unlike the first Boer War 1880-1, was long and bloody with great numbers of British troops against the Boer republics, Transvaal and the Orange Free State. British victory established these colonies as part of the Union of South Africa. Many were alarmed by the level of bloodshed, the use by the British of concentration camps, and the suffering of civilians.

Eugene Aram (1704-1759), English philologist, executed for killing his wife’s lover. He was celebrated by Thomas Hood in his ballad, The Dream of Eugene Aram, and by Bulwer Lytton in his romance of Eugene Aram. See Gribben 431 for Sam’s 1871 read and opinion of Eugene Aram.

Sam also wrote (with insertions and cancellations by Livy) to nephew Samuel E. Moffett.

I’m sorry you didn’t tell McClure to advertise the compliments—family as be pleased—they were good ones, & favored with judgement & dignity. (canceled by OLC) As I remember the cable, it said: “McClure’s compliments—see letter.” That is the impression that is left with me, but I don’t swear to the wording. I ought to have cabled & inquired, but I was absorbed in work, & whenever that is the case I can’t get a grip on an outside idea. …

I wish you would send the Forum article. Tear it out & send it as a letter—that is the sure way.

No—I’m afraid we shan’t sail for home till midwinter or spring—can’t tell. Depends on Jean. She mustn’t stop the gymnastic treatment till the disease is eradicated. She began here on the 11th July, & has vastly improved.

SLC used mourning border for most letters from Susy’s death on, then from Livy’s death on.