12th December, 1896
My Dear Mother,
has always been an
understood thing between us that when I went on any trip abroad, I kept
an illustrated diary for your particular diversion. So I have
again this time though I can’t say that I’m very proud of the result. It
is a bit sketchy and incomplete, when you come to look at it. But the
keeping of it has had its good uses for me.
Firstly, because the pleasures of new impressions are
doubled if they are shared with some appreciative friend (and you are
always more than appreciative).
Secondly, because it has served as a kind of short talk
with you every day.
Thirdly, because it has filled up idle moments in which
goodness knows what amount of mischief Satan might not have been finding
for mine idle hands to do
R. S. S. B.-P.
TO THE READER.
THE following pages
contain sketches of two kinds. namely sketches written and sketches
drawn. They were taken on the spot during the recent campaign in Matabeleland
and Mashonaland, and give a representation of such part of the
operations as I myself saw.
They were jotted down but roughly, at odd hours, often when
one was more fit for sleeping than for writing, or in places where
proper drawing materials were not available, I would ask you, therefore,
to look leniently upon their many faults.
The notes, being chiefly extracts from my diary and from
letters written home, naturally teem with the pronoun, "I" which I trust
you will pardon, but it is a fault difficult to avoid under the
circumstances. They deal with a campaign remarkable for the enormous
extent of country over which it was spread, for the varied components
and inadequate numbers of its white forces, and especially for the
difficulties of supply and transport under which it was carried out
points which, I think, were scarcely fully realized at home. The
operations were full of incident and interest, and of lessons to those
who care to learn. Personally, I was particularly lucky in seeing a good
deal of Matabeleland, and something of Mashonaland, as well as in
having a share in the work of organization in the office, and in
afterwards testing its results in the field. Incidentally I came in for
a good taste of the best of all arts, sciences, or sports scouting
For these reasons I have been led to offer these notes to
the public, in case there might be aught of interest in them. The
"thumbnail" sketches claim the one merit of having been done on the
spot, some of them under fire.
Several of the illustrations have also appeared in the
Graphic and Daily Graphic
and are here reproduced through the courtesy of the
proprietors of those journals.
R. S. S. B. P.
Marlborough Barracks, Dublin