'.vvrrrpo A"P MV
>E BENCH AND BAB,
[R JUSTICE OGLE,
W*: WORT OF TKl CAPS
REMINISCENCES OF MY LIFE
THE CAPE BENCH AND BAR.
THE HON. MR. JUSTICE COLE,
RETIRED JUDGE OF THE SUPREME COURT OF THE CAPE COLONY.
J. C. JUTA AND CO.,
CAPE TOWN | POET ELIZABETH
PRINTED BY WILLIAM CLOWES AND SONS, LIMITED,
STAMFORD STREET AND CHARING CROSS.
MES. H. TOWNLEY WEIGHT,
WHO HAS BEEN MY SOLE AMANUENSIS
IN THE WRITING OF THIS WORK, I NOW INSCRIBE IT, WITH
SINCERE AFFECTION AND GRATITUDE.
IN these days when Eeminiscences are dealt forth so
freely to the Public, it may seem presumption on my
part to obtrude my own ; but as the people I have
been dealing with, and the scenes in which they act,
differ so widely from those, for instance, of the late
Mr. Serjeant Ballantyne and of the late Mr. Montague
Williams, Q.C., I venture to hope that I may secure
a few readers not only in this Colony but in
Anacreon says :
" I fain would sound th' Atreides' praise,
To Cadmus too my song would raise,
But that my harp denies its tone
To any theme save Love alone."
As least, so I translate his words. Now I do not
possess a harp, and could not play on it if I did, but
I have some fear that the steel pen which does duty
for it with me may in the following pages have
harped too much on one theme myself. I am sorry
for this, but I cannot help it. But I think it must
be almost impossible to write one's personal reminis-
cences without being egotistical.
Madame de Goncourt tells us that it is difficult to
avoid giving offence when writing personalities, and
VI PEE FACE.
she adds : " Surtout qiuind on a des affaires avec les
gens de la Cour." The French authoress' " gens " and
her " Cour " differ greatly from the people I have
endeavoured to sketch, or the court or courts in
which they mostly play their parts, but her saying
applies to all alike. I have endeavoured, as far as
possible, to avoid offensive personalities, bearing in
mind Othello's injunction to " nothing extenuate or
set down in malice," especially as regards persons
still living. I hope I have offended no one, but if
I should find that I have unwittingly done so,
my repentance will be sincere and my apologies
One word more. The whole of this book, from
first page to last, has been composed without any
reference to diary, memoranda, or note-book I
have none. I have had to rely entirely on my own
memory, but I trust it will be found that I have not
made many mistakes in regard to events, times,
places, or persons.
A. W. C.
NEAR CAPE TOWN.
I. Early Life False Start Called to Bar Benchers
Dickens Thackeray Ouikshank . , 1
II. Joined Cape Bar Bench and Bar as they then were
First Ketainers Circuits Anecdote of Sir
A. Cockburn ...... 7
III. Travelling A Capsize Small-pox Scare Queer
Night Quarters Practical Jokers ... 20
IV. Mr. Justice Cloete Telling a Horse's Age
General Sir A. J. Cloete His Greeting by the
old Duke of Cambridge 29
V. Judge Watermeyer Judge Menzies A Snowy
Outspan A Ticklish Journey through Hex
River Pass ....... 34
VI. Mr. Justice Bell and his Peculiarities ... 41
VII. Terrific Thunderstorm Three days at Roadside Inn
Queenstown Gaol ..... 47
VIII. Three Irish Judges Anecdotes of Judges Fitz-
patrick and Dwyer Attorney-General Griffith . 54
IX. Antagonism of Races Gross Exaggeration Cape
Ladies Cape Servants ..... 62
X. Travelling generally Upset with a Rev. D.D.
A Prayer-Meeting and Harmony . . .68
XI. Libel and Slander Duelling My own Experiences
Fighting a Lady ..... 76
XII. The Law of the Colony and the Law of England . 81
XIII. Climate and Scenery ..... 87
XIV. Our Parliament Sketches in both Houses . . 93
XV. Some Judicial Experiences of my Own and some of
other Judges ...... 101
XVI. My Success at tho Bar The Eules which guided
XVII. Cape Literature, principally Newspaper and
Periodical My own connection with it . .119
XVIH. The Present Condition of the Cape Bench and Bar,
with Sketches from each 127
BEMINISCENCES OF MY LIFE
AND OF THE
CAPE BENCH AND BAB.
Early Life False Start Called to Bar Benchers Dickens
Thackeray Cruikshauk .
WHEN and where I was born can have but little
interest to the reader, but I may state briefly that I
first saw the light in the year 1823, at what was then
a beautiful suburb of London, but which has since
been absorbed into the jaws of the great city, and
spoilt by being covered by pastry-cook architecture
in the shape of stuccoed villas. I was educated
partly at the London University and partly at a
private school, w T here I imbibed a sincere love for
cricket and classics. Of course I attended to my
mathematics also, but they did not gain much of
my affection. "Which is the better mental training ?
I can only reply that I think ferreting out the mean-
ing of a Greek chorus and analysing its language is
quite as good intellectual exercise as solving tough
mathematical problems. " But cui bono ? " asks the
reader "what is the use of your classics?" I
answer, " They are very useful in my profession ;
2 LIFE AND KEMINISCENCES OF JUDGE COLE.
and now in my old age, when my weakness of sight
almost prevents me from reading, I find great pleasure
in recalling favourite passages from the Latin, and
sometimes the Greek poets, and making mental trans-
lations of them into English verse. I doubt whether
conic sections or the differential calculus would afford
me as much consolation."
My first start in life after the education days were
over (are they ever over ?) was to enter the office of
an uncle of mine, a London solicitor of large and
somewhat exclusive practice. He had most of the
colleges of the University of Cambridge as his clients,
and he would have nothing to do with " criminal,"
" bankruptcy," or " insolvent cases." The routine
of an attorney's office, however, did not suit my
taste, and my uncle and I agreed to part company.
It was some time before my future career was
decided on ; but eventually I joined the Middle
Temple to keep my terms for the Bar.
Among my fellow "students" were the late
Charles Dickens and the late William Makepeace
Thackeray. Dickens, although he kept more than
the requisite number of terms, never chose to be
called to the Bar ; but Thackeray, on the contraiy,
after the usual probation, became a barrister-at-law.
On a man's " call-day " it is usual for him to invite
a few of the most intimate of his friends among the
students to dine with him, he providing the wine for
the occasion. Either Thackeray did not know of
this custom, or did not care enough for any of the
students to ask them to join him ; so he sat down
to dinner in the midst of strangers only. Vis-a-vis
to him sat the cheekiest young gentleman I ever
THACKERAY BENCHERS. 3
knew, and whom I have always regarded as the
original of Thackeray's Foker. Thackeray observed
the absence of wine, the usual bottle supplied to
each mess of four being wanting.
" There's no wine," he observed.
"No," replied Foker; "it's your 'call-day,' and
you're expected to provide it."
" Oh, I beg pardon ! " replied Thackeray. " I did
not know that. What wine shall it be ? "
" I should say champagne," suggested Foker; and
in a few minutes two bottles stood on the table.
Foker then tried to draw cut the great man in
conversation; but Thackeray was very reticent except
among his intimate friends, when he was a most
genial and jovial companion. I am afraid Foker
could derive no satisfaction from his meeting except
the honour of having dined with him.
After his admission to the Bar, Thackeray took
chambers in the Temple, but steadfastly refused all
briefs brought to him, having neither the inclination,
nor perhaps the qualification, for practising his pro-
fession. He was quite right ; and it would have been
a great pity if he had wasted in the Law Courts the
splendid qualities which made him, in my opinion,
the greatest of modern novelists.
Amongst the benchers of our Inn were Sir Alexander
Cockburn, the Attorney-General, and Sir Bichard
Bethell, the Solicitor-General : the former was very
popular among the students on account of his well-
known bonhomie, but Bethell was looked at some-
what askance, being justly credited with a sarcastic
and bitter tongue. Cockburn was undoubtedly the
greatest orator of the English Bar. Bethell had no
4 LIFE AND EEMIXISCENCES OF JUDGE COLE.
pretensions to what is commonly called, oratory, but
I never listened to a more lucid or persuasive speaker.
There was also among the benchers a little, old,
hunchbacked Baronet, who was also popular amongst
the students, but from a different cause. The
students had some funny stories to tell about him ;
but, as virginibus puerisque canto (or rather scribo),
I shall refrain from telling any of them. It is suffi-
cient to say that the old gentleman's morals were
not supposed to be quite as strait-laced as those of
his namesake, the tutor of Sandford and Merton.
In due time I was also called to the Bar. As a
matter of course I took chambers, and, equally as a
matter of course, waited in vain for the rush of briefs
which did not come, and had to be contented with
the few driblets that did. So I made a dash for
literature, and my first ' Legend in Verse,' a la
Ingoldsby, was warmly welcomed by the celebrated
publisher, Mr. Bentley, w T ho not only paid me hand-
somely for it, but secured my services as a regular
contributor to his magazine, ' Bentley's Miscellany.'
Later- on he published my ' Cape and the Kaffirs,'
which had a great success, for I never saw a hostile
criticism of it, and many of them were only too
flattering. The book was translated into French,
German, and Dutch, and reprinted in America.
Of course it is now obsolete, and I should be sorry
to pin my faith to all the statements and opinions it
contains. Mr. Bentley was a dear old gentleman,
and had a fund of anecdote about literary men past
and present. I recollect his telling me how Godwin,
the novelist, explained to him his method of framing
a novel. It was first to devise a final catastrophe,
and thence to work back from cause to cause till he
came to the starting-point.
" Very different," said Mr. Bentley, " from Dickens,
who never has a plot at all, and you can see that he
often alters his characters as he goes on from month
But who reads 'Caleb Williams' now? and 'how
many of even educated men have even heard of it ?
Yet it was considered unmatched in Godwin's days.
He was the father of Mrs. Shelley, the author of
' Frankenstein ' and the wife of the great poet.
Later on I wrote a novel called ' Lorimer Little-
good,' which was illustrated by my dear old friend
George Cruikshank, the great artist. As the work
came out in monthly parts, I had each month to pay
a visit to Cruikshank to decide on what should be the
next illustration. I was a little fond of teasing the
old gentleman, telling him that he had never been
so great a caricaturist since he became a teetotaler.
He stoutly denied this, and referred to his cartoon
of ' The Bottle ' in refutation of it. I told him
' The Bottle ' was very clever, but not funny on
the contrary, somewhat ghastly and repulsive, to my
taste. He often wished me to stay and dine with
him ; but, as I had a horror of being obliged to eat
plum-pudding washed down by cold water, I always
Cruikshank had plenty of anecdotes concerning
literary and artistic men, especially Dickens, of
whom he was a profound admirer. It is known
that Dickens never invented a proper name, but
picked each one up from shop-fronts, the London
Directory, and other sources.
6 LIFE AND EEMIXISCEXCES OF JUDGE COLE.
Ono day Cruikshank and Dickens were walking
together, and passed th:: cab-stand which is next to
St. Martin's Church, Trafalgar Square. Two cabbies
were chaffing one another, and one said to the other,
" Oh, don't you corne Oliver Twist over me!" Dickens
exclaimed, "Did you hear that name? What a
name ! " and he pulled out his pocket-book and wrote
it down. I need not say that it became the title name
of one of his greatest works, which was illustrated
by Cruikshank himself. If I recollect, this was the
only complete work of Dickens which Cruikshank
.did illustrate, but he did his work admirably upon it.
Joined Cape Bar Bench and Bar as they then were First
Retainers Circuits Anecdote of Sir A. Cockburn.
I HAVE always agreed with Sir Walter Scott that
literature is a good w r alking-stick but a bad crutch ;
that it is very well as an assistance, but except in the
cas2 of great genius it does not do to rely on it for
one's exclusive support. So hearing at this time from
a brother of mine, then in the Colony, that there was
plenty of room for an advocate in the Supreme Court,
I determined to start for the Capa and try my fortune
there. There were no' steamers on the line in those
days, so I had to travel by a sailing-ship, which made
the passage in sixty days. However, I employed my
time in diligently studying Grotius, Van der Linden,
and other Roman-Dutch law authorities. I arrived in
the Colony in July, 1856, and was immediately after-
wards sworn in and admitted as an advocate of the
I may here state what were the impressions I
formed of the appearance of the three judges who
then occupied the Bench. I am not speaking of
their intellectual qualifications, which were great,
but of their looks only.
The Acting Chief Justice, Mr. Bell, reminded me
of a respectable London butler out of place ; Mr.
Justice Cloete, of a retired general with a dash of the
martinet temper in him ; and Mr. Justice Water-
meyer, of a prosperous English farmer or grazier.
8 LIFE AND EEMINISCENCES OF JUDGE COLE.
The Registrar of the Court was Mr. Thomas Hemy
Bowles, an English barrister, a man of excellent
family and a polished gentleman, though somewhat
eccentric. It is said that a wicked lawyer's clerk
once induced him when he was very busy at other
Court work to sign his own death-warrant, com-
manding the sheriff to hang Thomas Henry Bowles
by the neck till he was dead. The old gentleman
used to reside in a small house in Grave Street, with
no other companion or attendant than a venerable
housekeeper. It is said that he never but once
invited a friend to share his dinner.
The Master of the Court was Mr. Stewart, a man
of ancient Scottish lineage, polished and courteous
like the Registrar, but very reticent, except to a
friend to whom he might take a fancy. I was.
fortunate enough to become one such, and he used
to tell me the most amusing Scotch anecdotes. I
never knew him laugh out loud, but he used to be
convulsed with inward laughter, when his face would
become crimson, making him look, as a friend of
mine described it, like a dissipated old Punch.
The Interpreter was Mr. J. C. B. Serrurier, and an
excellent one he was. He was very sensitive about
the pronunciation of his name, strongly objecting to-
the " Sirringee " which many Dutchmen gave it. "If
my name was the equivalent of ' Locksmith,' I don't
think I should be particular about its pronunciation :
I think I could be content with even ' Chubb.' '
I must not forget the Usher of the Court, who-
used unconsciously to make the most hideous grimaces
while listening to the arguments of counsel, or the
judgments delivered from the Bench ; so that it was
BENCH AND BAR AS THEY THEN WEKE. 9
difficult for one who looked in his direction to keep
from bursting into laughter.
The Bar consisted of Mr. William Porter, the
Attorney-General, the most admirable orator I ever
listened to in the Colony or in England. His face
was handsome, his physique commanding, and his-
voice the most beautifully modulated I ever heard ;
but then I confess I never heard Spurgeon. Next
came Mr. C. J. Brand, afterwards Sir Christoffel, and
the first Speaker of the House of Assembly. He was-
a profoundly read Roman-Dutch lawyer, but never
thoroughly mastered the English language or its
accent, while he pronounced his Latin in true Dutch
style, mercilessly throwing in all the gutterals. A
listener declared that he heard him make seventeen
false quantities in his quotations in an hour. Very
likely. The Continentals do not care so much about
quantities as the English, amongst whom, as Max
O'Rell says, it is equivalent to the commission of a.
crime to make a false one.
Next came Mr. P. J. Denyssen, a good, amiable-
man who was rather proud of his English, which
was really correct enough except for the overrolling
of the letter ' r.' His Latin he pronounced in the style
of the English public schools, having been principally
taught it by a clergyman of the Church of England ;
he was one of the best classics the Cape has ever
known, and used to boast jokingly that he had
had the satisfaction of caning two of the Judges on
the Bench Mr. Justice Denyssen and Mr. Justice
Watermeyer, who had both been his pupils.
Next came Mr. J. H. Brand, afterwards Sir John
Brand, the President of the Orange Free State. He
10 LIFE AND REMINISCENCES OF JUDGE COLE.
was deeply read in Boinan-Dutch law, but profoundly
ignorant of literature in general ; so that I doubt
whether he could have distinguished between a
quotation from Shakespeare arid one from Dickens.
He was somewhat of a peppery temper (I used to call
him "firebrand"), but a really good, kind-hearted man,
and irreproachable in every domestic relation of life.
After him came Mr. E. B. Turner, commonly
called " Dick " by his friends a very jolly fellow, an
Oxford M.A., and a barrister of Lincoln's Inn, but
perhaps with the most infinitesimal knowledge of
law ever possessed by a man professing to practise
at the profession.
I omitted the names of two gentlemen, who were,
however, seniors to all those I have referred to. The
one was Mr. William Hiddingh, still alive in his
eighty-ninth year, but who even in the days to which
I am referring possessed a fortune which made him
independent of practice. The other was a Mr. J. H.
Dreyer, who was really too nervous to practise. I
have seen, when he only had to mention a matter of
costs to the Bench, the paper trembling in his hand
to such an extent as to suggest a humanised sensitive
plant. Alas, all those I have mentioned, with this
one exception, have gone to that "country from
whose bourne no traveller returns " !
I received a few briefs in Cape Town, some of
them, I suppose, only complimentary ; and then I
accepted an invitation and retainers of Mr. G.
Chabaud, a well-known solicitor of Port Elizabeth
and a distant relation of my own, to go to the
Circuit Courts of Port Elizabeth and Grahamstown.
So I took passage by sea to Algoa Bay. I was
succ sssful beyond my expectations at both towns. I
don't recollect that I lost a single case, while I know
that I gained two or three of great importance. I
looked upon my success at the Capo Bar as now
assured ; and I was right, for on my return to Cape
Town the briefs poured in merrily. Perhaps I may
mention here that Acting Chief Justice Mr. Bell was
the presiding judge at the two Circuit Courts. He
was the most wonderful combination of learning and
ignoranc2 I ever knew. I have heard him give
judgments of great learning and research, and I have
known him show ignorance which would shame a
lawyer's clerk of three or four months' standing : thus
in Grahamstown I had to defend the indorser of a
promissory note on the ground that he had received
no proper notice of dishonour.
" Did ye get ye notice ? " said the judge, who was
very Scotch in his accent when he got excited.
" Yes, my lord, but only seven days instead of one
after being dishonoured."
" But ye got ye notice ; so I think I must give
notice against ye."
" Will your Lordship allow this case to be referred
to the Supreme Court ? "
The Judge, contemptuously " Certainly, if ye wish
To the Supreme Court, accordingly, the case
I stated what my defence had been, and the other
two judges looked with some astonishment at Mr.
Bell. A little whispering took place between the
three judges, when Mr. Bell said
" Was this the form in which the case came before
me in Grahamstown ? "
12 LIFE AND REMINISCENCES OF JUDGE COLE.
" Yes, my lord ; if not, the fault must be mine "
by way of soothing him.
Needless to add, the judgment was at once given
in iny client's favour.
On another occasion I rose to re-examine my own
witness. The judge stopped me, saying
"If ye want to put any other questions ye must
do it through the Court."
" Surely, my lord, I have a right to re-examine
my own witness after he has been cross-examined by
the other side ? "
" Where's ye authority for that ? "
My answer was, "I never expected to be called
upon for an authority upon so simple a matter."
" Then ye accept my ruling ? "
" On the contrary, my lord, I protest against it."
The judge twisted about, evidently irritated, and
asked the Registrar to hand him up ' Roscoe on Evi-
dence '-in criminal casss. Having dived his spectacles
into the book, he said
" I see ye 're right ; but ye can't expect me to carry
all the law in my head, and ' protest ' is a strong word
to use to the Bench."
The case then went on. It must, not be supposed
from this that there was enmity between Judge Bell
and myself; on the contrary, we were very good
friends, and I often received very strong compliments
For my next Circuit trip I had received a retainer
from a well-known firm of solicitors in Port Elizabeth,
begging me to come up there some days before the
sitting of the Court in order to master the details of
a fire insurance case in which the amount involved
was 20,000 ; so I determined to try the post-cart.
In those days these carts were totally without
cover or shelter of any kind, being simply a large
box on wheels, with seats back and front a la
dog-cart. Each was drawn by two horses, and
driven almost entirely by coloured men, w T ho divided
their time into lashing their horses into a furious
pace and falling asleep and letting them go as they
wished. I several times had to take. the reins, fearing
a capsize. The roads were abominable, stony, and
broken, and often quite dangerous. There were no
stoppages except to change horses, and no possibility of
getting any sleep, for to have attempted it would have
been to have risked being thrown off and run over.
My original intention was to stop at Swellendam,
a distance of about 144 miles from Cape Town, sleep
there, and wait for the next cart they started three
times a week then on to George, about an equal
distance, sleep there, and wait again for the next
cart, and thence on to Port Elizabeth. But on arriving
at Swellendam I felt so lively, notwithstanding a
rather cold night's drive, that I determined to push
on by the same cart to George ; again, on arriving at
George, I felt well enough to go on without rest to Port
Elizabeth. When I reached that place the landlord
-of the hotel to which I went greeted me with
" Where from, sir? "
" Cape Town," I replied.
" Oh, yes, sir ! But where from last ? "
" Cape Town," I answered again.
"Do you mean to say that you have come right
through without resting ? "
" Certainly ! " I said. " Three days and three
nights with no rest, and very little to eat or drink."
14 LIFE AND REMINISCENCES OF JUDGE COLE.
"Good gracious!" he cried. "The only gentle-
man I have ever known do that was laid up for three
weeks at this hotel from fatigue."
" Now, landlord, give me a good warm bath, and
then a good breakfast, and I may take a nap ; but I
have no intention of being laid up." Nor was I.
The great case for which I was retained w r as a very
interesting one. The plaintiff, a merchant in Port
Elizabeth, had had all the contents of his store de-
stroyed by fire, and claimed altogether .20,000 from
the various offices from which he was insured. The
companies resolved to amalgamate for the purpose of
defence, which was really that the store had not
contained any goods of that value. There was also
an insinuation of arson ; but as it was not pleaded
no evidence could be taken on that matter.
The presiding judge was the new Chief Justice, Sir
William Hodges, then recently arrived from England.
He was a pleasant, good-natured man, somewhat like
a pork-butcher in appearance, but with no prejudices
except, as a friend wrote from England except
against the letter ' h,' and certainly that prejudice was
very strong. During the progress of our case offers
were made to us from the other side which the judge
kept warning us to consider seriously. At last came
an offer of 10,000. The judge said
" I really think you ought to consult on this
We asked for an adjournment, and after about an
hour's consideration we returned into Court to
announce that we accepted the offer. Judgment
was entered accordingly.
To our great annoyance, we heard afterwards that
the judge had said at an evening party, " I think
they should have stood out for more. If it had been
left to me I think I should have given them 15,000."
This was the more annoying because he had really
all but driven us into accepting the compromise.
But the matter was now past mending.
A somewhat humorous incident occurred during the
trial. Mr. J. H. Brand, for the defendants, had called
as a witness a Mr. Crump, a Grahamstown merchant,
and the following conversation took place :
" You were in the plaintiff's store, I believe, about
two months before the fire occurred ? "
" What did you go there for ? "
" To see the plaintiff, who is an old friend of
" You found him there ? "
" What did you do ? "
" Smoked a cigar with him."
" Did you notice the contents of the store? "
" But you must have seen them."
"I suppose so; but seeing and noticing are two
" Could you form any estimate of the value of the
contents of the store ? "
" Not the remotest in the world ! "
" Then you know nothing at all about the case? "
"Exactly so nothing."
Mr. Brand flopped down in his seat somewhat
irritated. The judge gave the usual nod to the
witness to signify that he might go ; but the latter
16 LIFE AND REMINISCENCES OF JUDGE COLE.
leant forward in the witness-box, and in the blandest
" My lord, am I at liberty to return to Grahams-
iown, as I have been detained here for some days at
.great inconvenience ? "
The Chief Justice said
" Mr. Brand, do you think you will want this
witness any more ? "
" No, my lord," growled the learned counsel.
The witness then, with a polite bow to both Bench
and Bar, left the Court. His coolness was delicious.
Sir William Hodges had not much legal learning,
as I have already said, and on his arrival in the
Colony his ignorance of Roman-Dutch law was com-
plete. In endeavouring to make himself acquainted
with it, his defective scholarship offered an impedi-
ment, as he could not read the Latin authorities with
much facility. But he was a very pleasant companion,
and had been much liked by his brother barristers on
the Western Circuit in England. He had many good
anecdotes to tell, and amongst others was one of Sir
Alexander Cockburn, who was the leader of the Circuit,
and was very fond of Mr. Hodges. As I believe it has
never appeared in print, I shall give it here.
" Hodges," asked Cockburn, " have you ever heard
how I first got into good practice ? " Hodges
" I have heard many stories about it, but I don't
know which is the true one."
" Well, then, I will tell you the correct one.
" Shortly after my call to the Bar, my uncle, the
Baronet, had a heavy Chancery suit connected with
his landed property. He expressed his wish to his
ANECDOTE OF SIE A. COCKBUKX. 17
solicitor that I should hold the junior brief in the
case. ' But,' said the solicitor, ' I believe your nephew
had joined the Common Law Bar ? '
"'Yes,' replied my uncle; 'but surely that does
not prevent him from accepting a brief in a special
case in the Court of Chancery ? ' ' No, it does not,'
replied the solicitor ; and so I got the brief. Although
I was only to be junior in the case, I got up facts
and arguments as if it all rested on me. The day
before the suit was to be heard in the Lord Chan-
cellor's Court I got a letter from my leader, saying
that it was impossible for him to attend the next
day, and urging me to go on by myself. I confess I
was a little bit nervous about this ; however, in the
morning I took my seat in the Court. The suit
being called on, I rose and told the Lord Chancellor
that it was impossible for my leader to be present.
The Chancellor Lord Brougham said, ' Go on
with the case yourself, Mr. Cockburn ; I'm sure you
will do it every justice.' The solicitor urged me to
do the same, and so I complied.
" I began carefully my statement of facts, and then
proceeded to my arguments. The Chancellor at first
listened to me with the greatest attention ; but after a
time I saw him take up sheet after sheet of litter-
paper, evidently conducting a large private corre-
spondence of his own, but I went on all the same.
At the conclusion of my address the Lord Chancellor
paid me some compliments, then shortly summed up
the case, and gave judgment dead against me. This,
you will say, was not very promising.
" But I may tell you that I had once or twice while
addressing the Court noticed a most respectable old
18 LIFE AND REMINISCENCES Ol' JUDGE COLE.
gentleman with powdered hair and wearing tight
pantaloons and Hessian boots. He was sitting on the
bench reserved for the solicitors, and was apparently
wrapped in attention to all my arguments, every
now and then glancing up at the Chancellor.
" A month or two later I went on my first Circuit,
but hardly got a brief to speak of till I reached
St. Ives, in Cornwall. Here some half-dozen briefs
were sent to me all endorsed with the name of the
same solicitor but one, which I did not recognise.
Then I got a request from the solicitor to fix a time for
a consultation. He duly arrived, and, after puzzling
my mind for a minute or so, I recognised in him the
old gentleman I had seen in the Lord Chancellor's
Court. I was very successful with his cases, winning,
I think, nearly every one of them ; and at the con-
clusion of the Circuit he thanked me warmly for my
.attention to them.
" Next Circuit the same thing occurred hardly any
briefs until I again got into Cornwall, where they
poured in as before from the same old gentleman. I
afterwards heard that a friend of his had asked him
why he took such a fancy to me.
" ' My dear sir,' he replied, 'you don't know what
talent that young Cockburn has ! I happened to be
present when he argued, I think, his first case in the
Lord Chancellor's Court. I was greatly pleased ; and
so impressed was the Lord Chancellor that he hardly
ceased from taking notes of the counsel's arguments.'
"He had evidently mistaken the private letters
which the Chancellor was writing for notes of my
speech. However, his mistake stood me in good
stead, for it not only brought me the briefs in
ANECDOTE OF SIR A. COCKBUBN. 19
question, but next Circuit a flood of them from all
parts on our route. I had established my reputa-
Sir Alexander was a man of great frankness. On
one occasion he had a brief in a great trespass case
cennected with some property in Cambridgeshire. A
brother of mine, who was his junior, had carefully
worked up the diagrams and plans of the estate,
and in consultation proceeded to explain them to
"Don't trouble yourself, Mr. Cole," he said; "I
know every inch of the property : I poached over it
many a time when I was at the University."
His splendid oratory told rather against him with
the attorneys, who are apt to fancy that a brilliant
speaker must be but a poor lawyer. So when he was
appointed Chief Justice of England many were the
prophecies that he would be a dead failure on the
Bench ; but he disappointed them all and became,
I think, the greatest English Chief Justice of the
present century ; while his judgment in the famous
arbitration case in Geneva between England and
the United States, and in which he differed from his
colleagues, stamped him as a man of unsurpassed
ability. I think almost every Englishman acknow-
ledges that he was right, and even the Yankees don't
care to discuss the question.
20 LIFE AXD EEMINISCENCES OF JUDGE COLE.
Travelling A Capsize Small-pox Scare Queer Night Quarters
THE usual method of travelling Circuit when I
joined the Bar, and for some years afterwards, was
for each man to have his own cart and horses, the
cart carrying himself and driver, his luggage, and a
certain supply of provisions for the road. The start
was made at sunrise. After two or two-and-a-half
hours' journeying we outspanned for breakfast, knee-
haltering the horses, and letting them graze and get
water. Meantime our servants collected fuel, of
which there was generally plenty about, made a fire,
and set on the kettle to boil, and also on a gridiron
on the ashes cooked some chops, or a dish of eggs
and some toast. When we had breakfasted we
. smoked our cigars. This all took an hour or more,
when we inspanned and started again for about the
same time as in the first instance, when we again
outspanned for lunch. This generally consisted of
cold provisions, potted meats, &c., and a bottle of
Bass. Then we started again until we arrived at
the inn or other place where we were to have dinner
and spend the night. We were generally expected
at this place, and got very decent fare. Next day
we went through the same process, till we reached
the Circuit town for which we were bound. These
journeys were on the whole by no means unpleasant,
TRAVELLING A CAPSIZE. 21
although some of us growled at their monotony and
the slow pace, which seldom exceeded more than six
miles an hour. It was, however, rather an expensive
way of travelling, costing each man ahout two guineas
a day, besides his servants' wages, wear and tear of
cart and harness, and the occasional sickness of his
horses. When this occurred the only thing was to
sell the pair generally for ahout half the price they
had cost you and buy a new pair.
In this way I had once to leave no less than
three pair of horses behind me, and the result
was a big hole in my fees. Sometimes two men
would join in the same cart. I did this once myself,
with my friend Dick Turner, who, however, was
only going part of the Circuit, while I was bound
for the whole. On our journey we had a little
adventure. Leaving Grahamstown for Fort Beau-
fort, Turner, who was driving, struck on a new road
which was being made ; but the workman suddenly
ran forward, crying, " You can't pass the road is
not finished ! "
Turner hurriedly pulled his horses to turn back,
but unfortunately dropped one rein, which caused
the horses to twist back suddenly, upsetting the cart
bottom upwards, and running some yards with it in
that position. Turner and I and the groom were, of
course, thrown out sprawling on the ground.
A good-natured English farmer came running
towards us, asking whether we were hurt. We
assured him that with the exception of a few
scratches we were undamaged. Upon this he put
his hands on his knees, and burst into shouts of
22 LIFE AND BEMINISCENCES OF JUDGE COLE.
" And a couple of lawyers too ! " for he knew us.
He seemed to think it the greatest piece of fun in
the world to see a couple of lawyers capsized. We
then went on our way, the horses, which were
naturally a lively pair, being greatly excited by the
After reaching a certain town Turner left me to
return to Cape Town by post-cart, and I became
coachman for the rest of the journey. It was the
only journey in which I fell in with a severe snow-
storm, which lasted two whole days, and, as I had
foolishly brought no overcoat with me except the
old style of glazed mackintosh, it may be imagined I
was not particularly warm. The storm, went on till
I reached the Oude Berg, on the other side of which
lies Graaf Eeinet, when it began to turn to sleet, and
then to rain, until, descending to the town itself, I
got into perfectly fine weather.
It must be remembered that in those days there was
but one Circuit for the whole Colony, starting from
Cape Town and reaching all the way to Aliwal North,
then the Ultima Thule of the Colony, and thence
turning back through Colesberg, Burghersdorp, &c.,
and thence by the Great Karoo home.
In many parts of the country we got very poor
accommodation, and had to rough it a good deal.
I have often slept for the night in the open air lying
on the sand in the Karoo. But I must confess I
slept soundly. The farmers, as a rule, w r ere very
hospitable. On one occasion, however, we were a
little thrown out in our calculations. I had a cart
and four horses, as my wife was travelling with me.
We were leaving by our usual road from Burghersdorp
SMALL-POX SCARE. 23
on the way to Colesberg. Coming to a certain point
of the road, we were going to take the usual turn to
a farmer's house, which we had been accustomed to
visit, but found it blocked with stones across it.
Thinking that they must have made a new road up
to the house further on, we jogged resignedly along ;
but no such new road was to be found ; we therefore
struck away by another route, making sure of finding
another farmhouse. It became quits dark before we
found any such place ; but after a time we heard the
sound of people talking, evidently Kaffirs. For-
tunately, one of our party was an attorney who
spoke Kaffir as well as English. He called to the
speakers in their native language and asked them
where we were. They told us it was a Mr. - 's
place, but that he and all his family were away
from home, and had removed all the furniture of the
house with them. However, they allowed us to
enter the house, from which even the doors of the
rooms had been removed ; but my wife discovered
one door lying down, and it was unanimously resolved
to make it our table. One of our servants had a
candle, and I proposed that we should tap a bottle of
Bass and use the bottle as a candlestick. Then we
got in the cushions from our carts, overcoats,
wrappers, etc., and we managed to get wood enough
from the Kaffirs, with which we made a fire on the
hearth of what appeared to be the principal sitting-
room. All of us then contributed our stock of pro-
visions, which w r as but a scanty one after all, and
then proceeded to make our supper off them. So
far from being at all put out, my wife enjoyed the
fun of the adventure greatly. The sitting-room was
24 LIFE AND REMINISCENCES OF JUDGE COLE.
assigned to us as our bedroom, and the others
occupied different smaller rooms.
Somehow or another we managed to sleep through
the night pretty well, until, at the very peep of day,
we again started on our journey. It was a lovely
morning, and we enjoyed the very pretty sight of
seeing the springboks start from the ground where
ihey had been sleeping, and after a few bounds in
the air turning round to look at us with curiosity,
for it was a very unfrequented road, and they were
unaccustomed to the sight of such a cavalcade as our
I may here mention that there had been an out-
break of small-pox in the Colony, and that there
were two cases of it in the hospital about a mile out-
side Burghersdorp, from which place we last hailed ;
thus we were looked on by the farmers as dangerous
infected people. This had led to the closing of the
road which we had intended to take, and I believe
also to the bolting of the farmer from the place we had
just quitted. The Boers were terribly afraid of the
disease, and, considering the ravages it had cnce
created in Cape Town, when nearly a third of the
Malay population was swept away by it, one can
hardly be surprised at their nervousness.
We pushed on very hungry, making for a farm
which we were accustomed to visit in order to get
breakfast there. On arriving we saw only one man
a son of the house who looked very frightened,
especially when Mr. Denyssen, one of our party,
who knew him, shook him by the hand. I think lie
looked upon himself then as doomed to the pokkies,
as the Boers cill it. The house, though containing
SMALL-POX SCARE. 25
plenty of inhabitants, was locked up to prevent our
entering it, with the exception of one room, which
had apparently been forgotten, and into this one we
made our entrance.
Mr. Denyssen explained to the farmer that we
wanted breakfast, as we had had but a poor supper
the night before, and were very hungry. But the
man seemed powerless to help us. My wife, who
spoke Cape Dutch very well, took up the matter, and
told the man in tones loud enough to be heard by
the rest of the people in the house that we should not
go away till we had had breakfast. This somewhat
frightened them, and the old lady of the house was
heard exclaiming, " This is shameful fancy taking
one's house like that ! " Then, apparently to a servant,
" Watch until they are all out of the room, and then
lock the door." But we were too smart for that, and
took care that whoever might leave the room there
should be always one left in it. A servant afterwards
made her appearance, keeping, however, a long way
off. My wife called to her, " Get us some break-
fast at once ! We shall not leave the house till we
A conference apparently ensued between the
mistress and maid ; and the latter after a time cried
out, still keeping a long way off, " There's breakfast
ready in the next room," the door of which she had
left open. We got a very fair meal, and were hungry
enough to dispose of it. Then Mr. Denyssen settled
with his friend for the forage and the breakfast, and
we jogged along on our way to Colesberg, only about
two hours distant.
We afterwards heard that the poor man who had
26 LIFE AND REMINISCENCES OF JUDGE COLE.
shaken hands was locked out of the house and
refused admission. But the judge, Mr. Justice
Cloete, arrived in the place the same evening, and,
finding how matters stood, addressed the man, saying,
" I shall order my people to help my horses to the
forage they require ; you may starve me if you like, and
I can sleep in my waggon." Then he harangued the
man about the cruelty, inhumanity, and want of
Christian feeling shown by him and the rest of the
people in the place, and told them that God would
certainly punish them for it.
The old gentleman's eloquence produced its effect,
for one by one the inmates came out of the house
and begged him to forgive them, which after a show
of resistance he did. He got a capital dinner, and
slept comfortably that night.
Before leaving the subject of small-pox, I may
relate how two young scamps took advantage of the
scare for their own amusement. They got a cart
and horses and drove about the country, generally
seeking out remote farm-houses. The farmer, seeing
their approach, would come out of the house holding
up his hands and shouting, " You can't come here
you can't come here ! " In return they cried out,
" But we are doctors come to vaccinate you, and
prevent you from getting the pokkies."
Then the farmer's tone changed.
" Come in then at once ! " which they did ; and in a
short time one arm of every inmate of the house was
bared for the operation. Then the two young fellows
took out a bottle of curdled sour milk, and, dipping
their penknives into it, proceeded to " vaccinate " the
people. Whether they took money for this I cannot
PRACTICAL JOKERS. 27
say, but they certainly got the best eating and
drinking which the farmers could provide for them.
One of these young gentlemen, whom I will call
Mr. S., some time afterwards played another game.
He was in the town or village of George, whether oil
business or otherwise I do not know. A rumour got
abroad that he was a celebrated English barrister
who was having a look at the country before settling
to practise in it. A Dutch farmer whom I remember
very well, hearing this report, went to the hotel where
Mr. S. was staying, and asked to see him. He was
admitted, and then proceeded to tell in Cape Dutch
his complaint about an assault to which he had been
subjected, and for which he wished to bring an action
in the George Circuit Court. It never seems to have
struck him as strange that a newly arrived English
barrister should have a perfect command of the Cape
Dutch, as Mr. S. certainly had. His story was
shortly that, being in the bar of a hotel in the place ,
he got into a quarrel with two other men, who then
attacked him, knocked him about, and tore off one
tail of his coat, for he wore a long-tailed coat in
honour of some festive meeting. Mr. S. kept using
pen and ink while the story went on, and at the end
of it produced a capital sketch for he was a skilful
draughtsman in which he had made a very good
likeness of his client, and a fancy sketch of two other
men in the act of tearing off the coat-tail.
Now he said " I suppose if one of your Cape
advocates had your case he would make a long
speech to the judge describing how things happened ;
but that's not the way we do it in England now. I
hand up this sketch to the judge, and say, ' There,
-28 LIFE AND REMINISCENCES OF JUDGE COLE.
my lord, you can see how it all happened ' it saves
a great deal of time."
" But that's capital ! "
" Well, now remember the Circuit Court sits here
in about a fortnight so don't be too late."
" No, mynheer," said the farmer ; " but how much
have I to pay, mynheer? "
" Oh, " said S., "I won't take any money from
you at present, but you may stand half-a-dozen
champagne if you like."
" Certainly," said the farmer, and the wine was
soon forthcoming. They drank a bottle of it together,
and then the farmer took his departure, Mr. S.
consigning the other five bottles to his travelling-
When the Circuit came on, needless to say, no
Mr. S. was to be found, no one knew whence he came,
nor where he had gone ; so the poor farmer had still
to bewail the loss of his coat-tail and of the money
he had spent on the champagne.
Mr. Justice Cloete Telling a Horse's Age General Sir A. J,
Cloete His Greeting by the old Duke of Cambridge.
MR. JUSTICE CLOETE was a man of remarkable
ability ; he was not only a lawyer of great learning.
but a man of good literary taste, and of course his
command of the Dutch and English languages was
perfect. He was fond of telling anecdotes, and some
of them were very amusing. When at the University
of Leyden, where he took his degree, he had as fellow-
students two twin brothers, so perfectly like one
another in face, figure, voice, and height that even,
their own parents could not distinguish one from the
other. The young fellows took advantage of this
resemblance, and always dressed precisely alike. The
consequence was that if a complaint to the Univer-
sity authorities was made against either of them the
accuser was confronted with two, and asked to point
out which one it was, and this he could not do, and so
both escaped, as it would have been unjust to punish
the innocent and guilty alike.
On one occasion one of the brothers, who had been
unshaved three or four days, entered a barber's shop
and asked to be operated on. The barber at once
1 landed him a seat.
" But," said the young gentleman, " are you sure
you can shave quite clean, so that I shall not have
my beard sticking out again in two or three hours ? "
"Oh, you may be quite sure of that!" said the
barber, laughing, and the shaving took place.
30 LIFE AND EEMIXISCENCES OF JUDGE COLE.
Two or three hours later the other brother came
into the shop with a four days' heard on him.
"Look here, now is this what you call clean
" Good heavens ! " cried the barber, throwing up
his hands. " Is it possible for a man's beard to grow
so fast as that ? "
Of course, he hadn't the least doubt that it was the
man he had shaved three or four hours before.
When first joining the Cape Bar Mr. Cloete received
a brief to defend a man charged with murder; it
looked a very ugly case, and he had little hope of
success ; but, to his surprise, the man was acquitted.
He went home delighted to tell his parents of what
had happened. An old English Colonel, who was
staying in the house, said
"Well, Cloete, I have lived two or three years in
this country, and my belief is that it requires a
devilish good deal of interest to get hanged in it."
Mr. Cloete was for some time the Recorder of
Natal, w T hich was then a Crown Colony dependent
on the Cape, and he was much liked and respected
there. On one occasion he had to preside at the
trial of a man charged with very serious assault.
Among the witnesses called for the Crown were two
a man named Murphy and a woman named Mrs.
McGrath. The evidence of the former w r as very
clear; but the woman confessed that she had been
asleep for a considerable time during which the dis-
turbance had been committed. Summing up the
case to the jury, the judge said
" Murphy's evidence is clear enough ; but I don't
think you can rely much on that of Mrs. McGrath,
because according to her own account she was for
ME. JUSTICE CLOETE. 31
some time in the arms of Morpheus " the god of
" Me lad, me lad," shouted the woman, standing
up in Court, " plaze doon't take away my character
like that ! I never was in Murphy's arms in my life ! "
The judge was somewhat of an irritable temper ;
but a few soft words always smoothed him down,
and, if he showed any irritation with the counsel
whom he thought wandered from the point, he was
always ready to apologise when he found out his
mistake. He once while at the Bar challenged the
late Mr. Justice Menzies dead some years before I
came into the Colony for real or fancied insult ;
but the judge refused the challenge, and Mr. Cloete
had to let his anger quietly cool down.
He w r ould have made a capital soldier, being a man
of great courage, who never shirked any danger which
presented itself while travelling on Circuit. His next
brother, General Sir Josias Cloete, K.C.B., &c., had
joined it in early life. He never married till he was
more than sixty-five years of age, and had two
children by his wife, a son and a daughter. He
lived to see the former a captain in the Artillery,
and his daughter married to a man of good position
in England. He died at the age of ninety-five, " the
father of the British Army."
On first joining the Service he was gazetted to a
crack Hussar regiment, the Colonel-in-Chief of which
was the late Duke of Cambridge, father of the present
one. His Royal Highness once paid his regiment a
visit, and desired that each of his officers should be
presented to him. When it came to the name of
Cornet A. J. Cloete he looked puzzled, and asked
32 LIFE AND REMINISCENCES OF JUDGE COLE.
"What are your Christian names, sir? "
" Abraham Josias," was the reply.
The Duke started, and said
" Then, damme, sir, you must be a Jew ! "
" No, your Royal Highness," was the reply, " I
am a Christian, and a Dutchman of the Cape of
" Oh, I see, I see, I sse ! " repeating his words in
the fashion of his father, George III.
By the way, the Duke had another peculiarity a
habit of thinking aloud. Thus I once heard him at
the church service at the Foundling Hospital when
the clergyman spoke the words, "Let us pray,"
cry out " Quite right ! Let us pray let us pray "
dropping reverently on his knees while he uttered
the words, which must have been heard by at least
half the congregation present.
Amongst his other accomplishments, Mr. Justice
Cloete was a first-rate judge of a horse, and this fact
was recognised by nearly all the farmers of the western
districts of the Colony. On one occasion he had to
cross the Gouritz River, through which the main
road to Riversdale passes. The river was bridgeless,
and at that time full. There was a punt large
enough to convey a few passengers and a vehicle,
but not the horses these had to be driven to swim
the river. On reaching the farther side of the river,
the judge was met by a large number of farmers,
mostly mounted, who had assembled to greet him.
One of them, who, as the judge said, was " Beetje
lekker" or, as we should say, a little bit "on."-
called to him
"Now, Mynheer Cloete, I know you are a capital
TELLING A HOESE'S AGE. 33
judge of a horse. Tell me how old this one is that I
The judge saw at a glance that the horse was too
old to make it of any use to look at his mouth ; so
he walked up to his tail and began separating the
hairs of it, and apparently making mental notes.
Thinking, as he afterwards told me, like Rory
O'More, that there is luck in odd numbers, he said
" Well, I should say that horse is nineteen years
The rider cried
" Alamaclite ! He is exactly nineteen; I bred
Thereupon all the rest crowded round the judge,
asking him " to let them know how he could tell a
horse's age from his tail."
The judge shook his head and said
" No, no that is my secret ! "
So they had to go away unenlightened ; but I
believe there are farmers in that neighbourhood who
to this day declare that Judge Cloete could tell a
horse's age from his tail.
As I happen to have married the niece of the
judge and general par nobile fratrum of whom
I have been speaking, it ma} 7 be thought that I
write with some prejudice in their favour. It may
be so, but I am unconscious of it.
34 LIFE AND REMINISCENCES OF JUDGE COLE.
Judge Watermeyer Judge Menzies A Snowy Outspan A
Ticklish Journey through Hex River Pass.
THE ablest and most learned judge who has occu-
pied the Cape Bench in my time was, I think, Mr.
Justice "Watermeyer. He was not only a deeply
read lawyer but an excellent classic, and had much
literary taste. When I was editor, conjointly with
the late Professor Roderic Noble, of the ' Cape
Monthly Magazine,' he used to send as translations
in English verse the epigrams of Martial, admirably
done. I remember that when he sent in the last
one he wrote : "I think I have now sent you a
translation of every decent epigram that Martial
ever wrote ; the rest, of course, I cannot touch."
He was a man of wonderful self-control ; his
attacks of the gout were fearful. I have seen him
carried into the Court in Grahamstown unable
to put his foot to the ground, and evidently in
torment, yet he sat perfectly quiet, and, though the
writhing of his features often showed the agony he
was suffering, he 'never uttered an angry or im-
patient word, and did a whole day's work without a
complaint. Shakespeare says
" For never yet was there philosopher
That could patiently endure the toothache."
I should have thought it was more difficult still to
JUDGE WATEBMEYEB JUDGE MEXZIES. 35
patiently endure the gout, yet the judge did it. His
judgments were very lucid and logical, and expressed
in the most apt language, which was the more
remarkable because he suffered from a slight im-
pediment of speech, which he did his best to resist
and overcome, and to a great extent succeeded, but
it made his sentences when listened to sound rather
" choppy," if I may so express it ; but when read in
print it was seen how perfect was their construction.
I have said that he was a good classic, and his
brother, Mr. Fred Watermeyer, afterwards a member
and an ornament of the Cape Bar, was equally so.
The brothers used to correspond with one another in
Greek for the sake of practice. I have never known
men except these two, who are not Greeks by birth ,
write letters of that language.
He had a great admiration for a former judge,
Mr. Justice Menzies, whom he considered the great-
est lawyer the Cape ever saw ; but he tells some
funny stories about him.
At a Circuit Court held by him the prisoner was.
asked the usual question, whether he objected to be
tried by any of the jurymen who were then sworn in.
"No, I don't mind being tried by them, but I
don't want to be tried by that little fellow up there "
pointing to Judge Menzies on the bench. There
was a burst of laughter, in which the judge heartily
Entering the Circuit Court on another occasion,
he saw a young advocate seated with a row of books
before him for the purpose of quotation.
" Ye don't mean to say, sir " looking angrily at
36 LIFE AND KEMINISCENCES OF JUDGE COLE.
the barrister " that ye're going to read all those
books to me ? "
Which was hardly encouraging to a young advo-
cate. The truth is, he had a great contempt for
authorities which did not coincide with his own
opinion. A counsel once quoted to him a case
decided in the Queen's Bench in England.
""Well, sir, and if the Court of Queen's Bench
chooses to lay down bad law, am I bound to
He certainly was a very irritable man.
Occasionally, too, he made mistakes like others.
After the decision of an important suit known as the
" Scorey Case," he w r ent to the Chambers of Mr.
William Porter, whom he greatly admired and
"Porter," he said, " I've been thinking over that
' Scorey Case.' Tell me, were such and such facts "
naming them " proved at the trial ? "
" They were certainly not," said Mr. Porter.
" Then what the devil made us give the judgment
I got this anecdote from Mr. Porter himself. The
coolness and apparent insensibility of Mr. Menzies
to the feelings of other people were often manifest.
It is said that he once passed sentence of death on a
murderer ending with the usual words, " And may
the Lord have mercy on your soul ! " Without
hesitating for a moment he went on " Go on with
the next case ! "
He once took the extraordinary step of leaving his
Circuit Court at Colesberg, riding across to the
Orange Biver, crossing the boundary into what is
A SNOWY OUTSPAN. 37
now the Orange Free State, and annexing that
country in the name of Her Majesty and declar-
ing it British territory, which, of course, he had
no more right to do than the meanest of Cape
Judge "Watermeyer was a great admirer also of
Mr. Porter, and the admiration was mutual. Mr.
Porter once wrote of him : " Of so vast ability that
he could have succeeded without industry, and of
so great an industry that he could almost have
succeeded without ability."
He also gave him credit for unconsciousness of his
own merits ; but here I think he w T as mistaken : my
impression always was that the judge and his
brother were both thoroughly conscious of their
talents, though they were never guilty of any
particular display of vanity.
The judge had a good fund of humour and wit ;
but after he had made use of either he had a habit
of appearing to shrink into himself, as if he had for-
feited a little bit of his dignity, which was surely a
The Circuit party were once outspanned on the
top of what might almost be called a mountain, and
the snow was thick upon the ground, making us all
very lively, and Mr. Gustavus Chabaud, who was one
of us, threw off his hat, as he always did when he got
excited, and trudged about in the snow, making me
say, in some verses I wrote on the occasion
"And Mr. Chabaud
Without his chapeau
Running about and enjoying the snow.''
Said Judge Watermeyer to me
38 LIFE AND EEMIXISCEXCES OF JUDGE COLE.
"Why, Cole, this is nix" (snow). A play upon
the Dutch word niets, meaning " nothing."
I have already said that snow is very rare in the
Colony ; but coming home once from the Karroo I
had to make my way up a mountain pass called
Hottentot's Kloof, and the road and the country
around were covered with snow a foot or two deep.
I got out of the cart partly to make it lighter for the
horses and partly to keep myself warm by exercise.
I felt terribly inclined to make some snowballs and
pitch them at my old coachman, who sat doubled up
with cold ; but it struck me that he might think I
had gone mad, and so whip up his horses and gallop
away from me, leaving me in the road entirely alone ;
so discretion prevailed over inclination.
Travelling in company with the same judge and
sharing a cart with Mr. Denyssen, we arrived at the
top of the Hex River heights there was then, of
course, no railway. At this spot a farmer arrived
-,vith a span-team of splendid horses in order to
convey the judge to Worcester, where we were bound,
the judge having formerly been a member of the
House of Assembly for the division of Worcester,
where he was extremely popular. Seeing that there
Tvere more horses than necessary for a judge, we
asked the farmer whether he could not let us have a
pair to put in as leaders to our own cart ; he had no
objection provided we had a driver whom we could
trust, as among the odd horses there was no pair
that had been driven as leaders, nor as wheelers, but
only in the centre of the team, which commonly
enough consists of eight or ten horses. The judge
Jent us his coachman, a Malay, and probably the
A TICKLISH JOURNEY. 39
best driver in the Colony, so the two borrowed
horses were spanned in as our leaders. There was a
wide stretch of level grassy ground there, round
which Hermanns drove the cart by himself, begging
us to be ready at the drift of the river we had to
cross. When he came to us we jumped in and made
for the drift ; but the leaders were so wild that they
swerved from the drift and plunged into the river,
where it was of considerable depth, and where there
were large boulders which threatened to capsize the
cart or smash it. But somehow we got safely across,
and then started up the road, which was scarped out
of the mountain and had a low parapet wall on the
off-side of it. The leaders were still quite mad,
and after a time they jumped clean over the little
parapet wall on to the top of a precipice. Denyssen
sprang out to save his life, and I was about to follow
his example, when the driver cried, " Sit still, Mr.
Cole ! I promise you, you shall not be hurt ! " So I
kept my seat, and by dint of skilful handling of the
reins and of the whip Hermanns actually made the
horses jump back again into the road, shaking and
trembling all over, for they had evidently got
frightened at their own rashness.
After picking up Mr. Denyssen we went forward
again, the leaders still being fidgety and unruly ; but
our coachman managed them so well that long before
we got to Worcester they were as quiet as lambs,
and fit to be excellent leaders in future.
Although Mr. Justice Watermeyer for his family
was of German origin had certainly not a drop of
English blood in his veins, he was a thorough
Englishman in habits and taste. Completely master
40 LIFE AND REMINISCENCES OF JUDGE COLE.
of the languages of Holland and England, he detested
Cape Dutch. I have still in my possession a letter
of his on the subject of education addressed to a
friend in Graaff Reinet, and by the latter handed to
me. In it he writes : " One of the greatest draw-
backs to progress of our colonial youth in learning is
their habit of constantly speaking and thinking in
that no-language, Cape Dutch. It is impossible for
any one to think deeply or to express himself lucidly
in this style. It ought to be repressed as soon as
possible among the boys."
And yet what have we been doing for the last
twenty years ? Petting and cherishing the taal as if
it were something precious and sacred, instead of a
grammarless patois. The result has been a distinctly
retrograde movement in legislation and education
alike. I know there is [a distinguished gentleman
living who has expressed his liking for Cape Dutch,
and has written amusing translations in it from Burns
and other authors ; but I don't believe he can
seriously look upon it as a vehicle for the thoughts,
of intelligent and highly educated men.
Mr. Justice Bell and his Peculiarities.
AMONGST the peculiarities of Mr. Justice Bell was &
habit of taking strong prejudices in favour of or
against certain persons. The prejudices were gene-
rally, I think, unaccountable. Thus he would take
a great fancy^to people whom I should have con-
sidered very unattractive, and on the other hand a
violent dislike to agreeable and intelligent people,
As an instance of the latter, he always showed great
animosity to the late Mr. Buyskes, a Clerk of the
Peace of GraaffReinet. It was the duty of Clerks of
the Peace in those days to prosecute in criminal cases
in the Circuit Courts, each division of the Colony
having such an officer. The practice has long been
abolished, and the conduct of these cases is now
entrusted to barristers only. Mr. Buyskes, to my
mind, used to do his work very fairly ; but I suppose
the judge was not of the same opinion. On one
occasion, during the progress of a case, a witness for
the Crown having given his evidence, Mr. Justice
Bell turned to the prisoner and asked him
" Now, what do you say to that ? "
Of course it was illegal for the judge to ask him
any questions at all. The prisoner muttered some
"Ah, but ye see," said the judge, "the witness
42 LIFE AND REMINISCENCES OF JVDGE COLE.
says so and so. "What have ye got to answer to
Just then he happened to catch sight of Mr.
Buyskes, who was talking smilingly to some friends
" Mr. Clerk of the Peace, I wish you would attend
to what is going on in the Court ! "
" I am attending."
" No, sir, ye are not ! What was I doing? "
" Cross-examining the prisoner, my lord."
The judge threw himself hack in his chair as if he
was shot a trick he always had when taken by
surprise but he made no reply. I suppose it struck
him suddenly that this was. exactly what he had
been doing a thoroughly illegal proceeding.
At another Circuit Court at Graaff Reinet, he sent
a message to Mr. Buyskes to attend him in his
private room during the adjournment. When
Buyskes arrived there the judge addressed him
" I wish, Mr. Buyskes, you would dress with pro-
priety when you come into Court."
Buyskes looked himself all over and was quite
puzzled. He said
" I know, my lord, that according to the regula-
tions I am entitled to wear a barrister's gown when
prosecuting, but I have always thought it a piece of
presumption on the parts of Clerks of the Peace to
assume that costume."
"That's not what I mean, sir," said the judge;
*' but you ought to wear a white tie, and not a black
" I'm very sorry, my lord, but really I don't possess
one ; but I will take care to provide one for the
IVfR. JUSTICE BELL AND HIS PECULIARITIES. 43
occasion of your lordship's next visit here " and he
The same judge dealt with another Clerk of the
Peace in much more humorous fashion. This was
at Worcester, and the gentleman, whose name I
forget, was the last of the Clerks of the Peace.
Wishing, I suppose, to impress the Bench with his
learning, he ventured to quote in the original Latin
a passage from Voet ; but he read it in such style that
the judge at once guessed that he did not understand
the meaning of the words he was citing.
" Give me the English of that," said the judge.
The gentleman hesitated, and looked confused.
" Give me the English of that," repeated the judge.
" I I I beg your lordship's pardon ! I I thought
you understood Latin."
" Oh, no, I don't ! Do you?"
The man was utterly confounded.
"It's a pity," said the judge, "you make yourself
And the poor man sat down utterly abashed.
Judge Bell was a very temperate man, and he told
me that the only thing he liked was an occasional
glass of sweet wine my own special abomination.
He was giving us a dinner at George, and a bottle
of claret was placed on the table ; it was abominably
" corked," and each man as he tasted it at once put
down his glass. The judge, who would not have
known whether the wine was " corked " or not,
looking round the table, said, " Well, as I see,
gentlemen, you don't want any more wine " which
was exactly what we did want, but we wanted it
sound- -" we had better adjourn to the next room for
44 LIFE AND REMINISCENCES OF JUDGE COLE.
coffee." I think if I had been the senior barrister
instead of the junior one I should have explained
the truth of the matter to his lordship.
He presided at a Circuit Court at Queenstown,
where the mayor and town council invited the whole
of us to a dinner. A heavy case of murder prolonged
the sitting of the Court to something like half-past
eight, when we were all able to make an appearance
at table. The judge was terribly fatigued, and asked
one of the waiters to bring him a glass of ale. The
obsequious waiter filled a tumbler and handed it to
him, and he had sent three parts of it down his
throat before he discovered that it was sherry he
was swallowing, and not ale. This made him very
drowsy indeed, and I don't know how he managed
to eat his dinner.
"When his health was proposed by the mayor, he
seemed to me to be sound asleep, but, to my surprise,
he got up and returned thanks in a manner which
showed that he had heard every word that had been
Riding with him once along the Rondebosch road,
I made some remark about Cape sheep, which have
enormously fat tails.
" There's a similar breed in Central India," he
said ; " it's a wise provision of nature."
" To make dripping, I suppose? "
" No, Cole," he said, " of course not, but to preserve
He was quite right, for it is true that these sheep
can live without food or water for a very long time
on their own fat, their tails greatly diminishing
during this mode of existence.
Mil. JUSTICE BELL AND HIS PECULIAEITIES. 45
The judge was really a kind-hearted man, but very
eccentric, and was apt to be rude and overbearing in
his manner and language. This led our Attorney-
General, Mr. Porter, to say to him in full Court that
his manner towards the Bar was felt to be very
offensive. The great reputation and stately manner
of the speaker took him aback.
" I never meant to be offensive," he said.
" No," replied Mr. Porter, " we do not accuse your
lordship of intending to annoy us, but your language
and manner are often found to be irritating and
The judge apologised and the matter ended ; but
he certainly was more guarded in his language in the
The judge was decidedly "hard of hearing," and
this once led to a curious mistake. A prisoner had
been tried before him in Grahamstown, and the jury
returned a verdict of " Guilty."
" The prisoner is discharged," said the judge, to
the surprise of all the Court. But the dock was
opened, and the prisoner made the best of his way
out of Court and out of town. The registrar stood
up and said
" But, my lord, the jury said ' Guilty.' '
" No, no ' Not guilty,' " said the judge. " Gentle-
men, what was your verdict ? "
" Guilty, my lord," was the reply.
" Oh," he replied, " fetch the man back ! "
And immediately three or four policemen might be
seen flying down the High Street in hot pursuit.
But I believe they never captured the runaway.
A prisoner once arraigned before him being
46 LIFE AND REMINISCENCES OF JUDGE COLE.
asked the usual question, "Guilty, or not guilty?
" That's just what you've got to find out."
This so irritated the judge that he told him he
should give him an extra month's imprisonment for
contempt of Court. But was it contempt of Court ?
Did not the man simply express in words what is the
intention of nineteen out of twenty prisoners who
plead " Not guilty " ?
This reminds me of an anecdote concerning Judge
Menzies, told me by the late Sir John Brand, who, I
believe, was present on the occasion it refers to. A
prisoner, who had pleaded " Not guilty," was, after a
short trial, convicted by the jury. Passing a severe
sentence on him, the judge said
" Ye're not only guilty, but ye come here and tell
lies, saying ye are not."
The next prisoner on the roll of trial, hearing these
words, thought he would please the judge, and so,
when called upon to plead, said boldly, " Guilty, my
"Oh, guilty you are, is it?" said the judge.
" And you come here to brag of it, do you? "
And he gave him as severe a sentence as the last
one. It must have been difficult to conciliate such a
judge as that.
Terrific Thunderstorm Three Days at Roadside Inn Queens-
THUNDEKSTORMS and hailstorms, although com-
paratively rare in the Cape peninsula, are frequent,
severe, and dangerous in most other parts of the
Colony. It has been my lot to travel through a few
of them. I was leaving a town two hours later one
morning than the other barristers, having been de-
tained for a consultation. I went along for about
two hours, and then outspanned to feed and rest my
horses, and take a little refreshment myself. Heavy
black clouds hung all round, and it was clear that I
was in for a storm, so I begged my driver to get
ready for a start at once. We had gone a very little
way when there was a brilliant flash of lightning and
a peal of thunder ahead of us. Directly afterwards
came another flash and peal on our right hand, and
in a short time we were in the centre of the most
furious thunderstorm I have ever known. The
lightning was blinding and the thunder deafening,
nor was there the slightest interval between flash
and peal. I expected every moment that we must
be struck, for my cart was almost the only object
above the level of the ground, which was a vast plain,
with not a tree or shrub upon it. I made my coach-
man put the horses to a hard gallop, knowing that a
swiftly-moving vehicle was less liable to be struck
48 LIFE AND EEMINISCEXCES OP JUDGE COLE.
than one standing still or moving slowly. Suddenly
the rain came down in torrents such as I have
never seen before. The road, which was only an
inch or two below the grass surrounding it, was at
once converted into a rivulet, and we ourselves were
speedily wet through to the skin, in spite of all the
overcoats and wrappers we could lay hands on. By
the flashes of lightning we could see before us the
roadside inn to which we were making at least half
or three-quarters of an hour's ride before we could
get there ; but as we approached nearer to it I
noticed that there was a slight interval between the
flash and the peal, which showed rne that the storm
was passing a little away from us. When at last we
reached the house and dashed round the corner to
the front of it, startling some people assembled under
the veranda watching the storm, they seemed to
think we had fallen from the clouds. The inn was
on the banks of the Klaas-Smits Kiver, and below it
was a ford or drift across the stream. I learned that
my friends had crossed this stream about two hours
before, the water being scarcely deep enough to cover
their horses' fetlocks it was now a raging torrent, full
twelve to fifteen feet deep, with a roar rivalling that
of the thunder, and sweeping down with it trunks of
trees, carcasses of oxen and sheep in fact, everything
it came in contact with. It was a grand sight, but
.a very unpleasant one to a traveller.
In the small inn here I was destined to pass nearly
three whole days ; but the people were very attentive,
and did all they could to make me comfortable, and
I had two consolations : first, I found there ' Tom
Cringle's Log,' a book which I had never yet read. It
THREE DAYS AT A EOADSIDE INX. 49
was a godsend, for I had used up all my travelling
stock of literature ; and, secondly, I was joined by
the field cornet, who had come there to meet the
judge. He was an Englishman, a gentleman, and
well educated very unlike the generality of these
officials. Of course we chummed together, talked
together, and made ourselves as happy as we could
On the third day the rain ceased, and the river
seemed to have in a very slight degree subsided ; but
still it was totally impassable. Mr. Ella, the field
cornet, then told me that he knew a drift some miles
lower down the river, which he thought might
perhaps be passable ; so we spanned in our carts and
started for it. When we reached the spot it looked
a little ugly, but not so bad as the drift we had left
behind us. I suddenly noticed some Kaffirs on the
other side coming towards the river. They waded-
through the drift, and came up the bank on our side.
I led one of them up to my cart, raising it as it
would be when the horses were attached to it, and I
measured the water-line marked on his somewhat
scanty clothing against the cart. I found that the
water was deep enough to wash clean through the
foot-board of the vehicle, but hardly deep enough to
carry the horses off their legs ; so I ordered an im-
mediate inspan, got all my luggage piled on to the
seat, on top of which I screwed myself, while my
coachman doffed his nether garments. We then
made for the drift, having great confidence in the
pluck of my little nags. It was ticklish work, for
the river was running very strongly ; but we pushed
through and landed safely on the other bank, when,
50 LIFE AND BEMINISCENCES OF JUDGE COLE.
setting things to rights, we drove on towards Queens-
town, to which placs we were bound for the Circuit
On arriving there I was warmly greeted by my
brother barristers, who told me that a rumour had
"been circulated that I and the judge Sir William
Hodges had both been swept away and drowned.
The Chief Justice turned up in the evening all
right, having crossed at a still lower drift, terribly
frightened, but not a bit hurt.
The day after the Chief Justice's arrival the
Circuit Court was held, and some prisoners were
charged with gaol-breaking. The judge, who had
been to see the prison, which was in a most shameful
condition prisoners huddled together like litters of
young pigs, and the place in such a tumbledown
condition that it required very little ingenuity to
escape from it said
"I certainly am not going to punish men for
getting away from such a wretched hole as that ! "
The result of this remark, and certain comments
of the Press, forced the Government to have the old
building pulled down and a new prison erected, which
I believe is strong, clean, and commodious.
And now for my experience of the worst hailstorm
through which I have had to pass. I was on my way
to the town or village of Riversdale, and when about
five or six miles short of the place I noticed very
heavy black clouds coming up behind us. I told my
driver to push on as fast as he could, as the storm
would soon be upon us. He told me he did not
think it would touch us. He was wrong, for in
about ten minutes heavy lumps of ice came pelting
SEVERE HAILSTORM. 51
from the clouds upon us, threatening every moment
to batter through the tent of the cart.
The horses, of which I had four for my wife was
with me at first reared and seemed inclined to bolt,
but, apparently changing their minds, suddenly
stopped dead short, and, tucking their heads between
their forelegs and screwing their tails between the
hind ones, thus endured the battering they got.
The pieces of ice which fell around it would be
absurd to call hailstones, for they were generally as
large as the palm of one's hand, jagged and trans-
parent. They could not have fallen from a very
great height, or the consequences would have been
more serious than they were. After about half an
hour of this pelting it slackened enough to let us go
forward on our journey. On arriving at Riversdale
we found it a complete scene of desolation. No
single pane of glass in the windows of the houses
facing the storm was left unsmashed. Gardens were
knocked to pieces, young trees split down the centre
as if by an axe, and a friend of mine in the place
had picked up one of the pieces of ice which would
not go into the top of a full-sized tumbler. Many
corrugated roofs had been riddled as if by bullet-
shots, sheep and poultry killed by the hundred, and
the roadways rendered almost impassable by the fall
of ice. There was not a quarter of the quantity of
glass in the place necessary to supply the damage,
and people had to resort to all kinds of contrivances
" to expel the winter's wind."
I am afraid that some of my English readers if I
am fortunate enough to have any will regard my
description as one of those "travellers' tales" which
52 LIFE AND REMINISCENCES OF JUDGE COLE.
no fellow can believe, and yet I have told a true and
unvarnished story. An old friend of mine who had
at that time been Civil Commissioner and Resident
Magistrate of Eiversdale was lately seated in the
same railway carriage as myself, and I heard him
giving an account of this very storm to an acquaint-
" Do you forget that I was in it ? " I asked.
" Oh, of course you were and your wife, too ! I
was coming out to meet you both, but the bursting
of the storm drove me back and forced me to take
refuge in my own house."
This gentleman's narrative entirely corresponded
with that which I have just given.
During all the storm there was no thunder or
lightning. The reader may ask, How can there be
thunder without lightning? I answer, it is quite
I was once travelling in a cart and four with
a medical friend from Colesberg to a farm six or
seven miles distant. The weather was delicious, and
the only signs of anything like a cloud in the heavens
were a few of those white fleecy ones which I believe
scientific men call cirrus. Suddenly a loud peal of
thunder rattled above our heads. There was no
sign of lightning nor any cloud from which it could
have issued. Our horses were greatly frightened r
and but for the skill of the coachman in handling
them they would have run away. On returning to
Colesberg in the afternoon we inquired whether the
thunder had been heard there. "Yes, decidedly;
and no one could make out what it meant."
Dynamite in the Colony was then unknown ; nor
SEVEEE HAILSTORM. 53
were there any kind of blasting or manufacturing
operations going on. I have never been able to
.account for the phenomenon. Judge Cloete, who was
out in the storm I have described, was sitting in the
back part of his travelling-waggon when his horses
ran away with it, making straight across the veld in
the direction of a precipice. He laid his hand on the
handle of the door so as to spring out if necessity
forced him to do so ; but the horses in their fright
suddenly stopped, and he escaped further danger.
His hand, however, was so battered fortunately it
was the left one that he was forced for some days
to wear his arm in a sling. He was then over
seventy years of age, but had never in his life
witnessed such a storm.
I have witnessed many other hailstorms in the
Colony, but nothing like this one. I saw, for instance,
the huge Market Square of Kimberley completely
covered with hailstones each about the size of the
.school-boys' marbles, and perfectly white and opaque.
Jn the Eiversdale storm, on the other hand, the
lumps of ice which fell were, as I have said, jagged
in shape and perfectly transparent. The storms in
the Cape peninsula seldom bring hailstones much
larger than ordinary sugar-plums. I cannot account
lor the difference.
54 LIFE AND REMINISCENCES OF JUDGE COLE.
Three Irish Judges Anecdotes of Judges Fitzpatrick and Dwyer
THEEE have been only three Irishmen who have
been Judges of the Supreme Court in my time.
The first of these was Mr. Justice Fitzpatrick, who
was one of the most pleasant companions and one of
the most genial and witty men I ever knew. I think
I may say he was the only really witty judge we ever
had. I believe he made no pretensions to being
a profound lawyer, but his quickness, keenness of
insight, and knowledge of human nature would have
covered a great many defects if they had existed.
His stories about Ireland were very amusing.
Very many years ago he received the appointment of
Chief Justice of the Gold Coast, and his iron consti-
tution enabled him to withstand the detestable
climate of that country. He used to relate how
friends and companions who accompanied him or
followed him to the country died one by one, leaving
him the sole survivor of the large crew. During his
tenure of this office he had for a time to act as
Governor of the Colony, the actual Governor having
died, or being on leave of absence I forget which.
One day a deputation of Wesleyans waited upon
him to beg him to make them a grant of some Govern-
ment land, which they required for the erection of a.
church. They were headed by a Wesley an minister.
ANECDOTES OF JUDGE FITZPATRICK. 55
This gentleman, thinking, I suppose, to conciliate
Mr. Fitzpatrick, who was a Catholic, said to him
" You see, Governor Fitzpatrick, although I am a
Wesley an you must not suppose that I am a bigot.
I have little doubt that I shall meet some good
Roman Catholics in Heaven."
" That's provided you manage to get there yourself.' "
In telling me the story the judge said
" The coolness of the fellow in assuming that he
and his followers were safe to go to Heaven, while it
was just possible that tw r o or three poor Roman
Catholics might squeeze in through a back gate,
rather irritated me, and made me give the rebuff I
did. However, I gave them the land, so they went
After enduring the Gold Coast climate for some
years, Mr. Fitzpatrick returned to his native country.
Later he was made sole Judge of British Kaffraria,
then a Crown Colony independent of the Cape, having
its own Administrator of Government, its High Court,
its Attorney-General, Registrar of Deeds, &c. Mr..
Fitzpatrick became very popular, as he could hardly
fail to do with his many attractive qualities.
Mr. J , the Attorney-General, once gave a ball
at King William's Town, the capital of th2 Colony,
at which the judge was present. After supper, when
a good deal of champagne had been flowing, a well-
known merchant of the town sidled up to the judge
" Xow, judge, that champagne w r as not bad eh ? "
The judge, who told me that he didn't like to
depreciate his host's wine, simply said
56 LIFE AND REMINISCENCES OF JUDGE COLE.
"Well, now," said the merchant, "I put that in
to J at thirty shillings the dozen."
" Well, then," said the judge, " if I had known
that I be hanged if J should have put it into me ! "
The idea of champagne at thirty shillings a dozen
in a country where the price of importation and
duties would amount to half that sum, makes one
suspect that the wine in question had never seen
On the annexation of Kaffraria to the Cape Colony
Mr. Fitzpatrick was appointed Judge of the Supreme
Court, the latter being assigned to the Court of the
Eastern Districts held in Grahamstown ; and here
also he became a favourite with the people. Some
years later he took his seat on the Bench of the
Supreme Court itself in Cape Town, and there he
remained until the illness by which he was invalided,
and which led to his death, attacked him. I have
already spoken of his geniality, wit, and humour, and
I may add that his hospitality equalled his other
qualities. , I always had the sincerest regard for him,
though in his latter days a scoundrel persuaded him
that I had acted as his enemy, in a matter personally
affecting him, and I fear that he died in that belief.
A more gross and unfounded falsehood than this
statement was never made, and it grieves me to think
that he died with his mind warped against me by
this low fellow, who afterwards died, drunk, outside a
common canteen in an up-country village. The
judge had no truer or firmer friend than myself.
The second of the three Irish judges was Mr.
Justice Dwyer, an M.A. of Trinity College, Dublin,
and at first an Irish barrister, but later on he got an
ANECDOTE OF JUDGE DWYER. 57
ad eundem degree at Lincoln's Inn and joined the
English Bar. He went the Northern Circuit, and
was full of anecdotes about his brother barristers on
it. He had not the wit of Mr. Justice Fitzpatrick,
but he enjoyed fun very much, and occasionally said
humorous things. His first appointment to the
Cape was as a Supreme Court judge, but, like Mr.
Fitzpatrick, assigned to the Court at Graharnstown.
Travelling once on Circuit in the Eastern Districts,
he gave a luncheon party to the Bar and a few other
friends, amongst whom was the late Roman Catholic
Bishop of Grahamstown, Dr. Ricards. It happened
to be a Friday, and the judge, taking his seat at the
head of the table, began carving a cold round of beef,
and first he handed a plate of it to the Bishop, who
quietly passed it on to his neighbours, who were all
Protestants. Then afterwards, beginning to help
himself to the beef, the Bishop said in expostulatory
" Judge, judge do you remember that this is
" Bless my soul, I had quite forgotten it ! " said the
judge, putting aside his plate and applying himself
to salmon, sardines, and something of that kind.
But there was a twinkle about his eye and a slight
smile on his lips which attracted the Bishop's
" Now, judge," said he, " you've got some joke
I should like to know what it is ? "
" Well," replied the judge, " I was thinking that
if we should meet these other fellows in Heaven,
what a couple of fools you and I would look ! "
The Bishop, who loved a joke as well as any one,
58 LIFE AND BEMINISCENCES OF JUDGE COLE.
laughed slightly, but of course assumed an air of
being a little offended at such a profane joke.
I think the judge rather overrated his own abilities
as a lawyer, and he had a quickness of manner
which sometimes made him precipitate ; but he
did his work fairly well. He was a most hospitable
man, and his hospitality was well worth enjoying
by those who can appreciate a glass of good wine,
for his stock was always an excellent one. I w r as
sincerely sorry to lose him when he died, rather
unexpectedly, though he had for some time been
more or less unwell. He was the youngest-looking
man of his age I ever saw, and fond of sport of all
The third Irish judge was Sir Thomas Upington ;
but, as I shall have to speak of him further on, I will
pass him over for the present.
The Colony has had three Irish Attorney-Generals .
The first was Mr. William Porter, a Belfast man, of
whom I have already more than once spoken. He
was a thoroughly learned lawyer, was sufficiently
acquainted with Dutch to use it and quote it, though
he always apologised for his pronunciation of it. He
also knew French well enough to read it and cit2
legal authorities in that language ; but here, again, ho
always excused himself for his bad accent. His
knowledge of Latin was of courss complete, and he
pronounced the vowels in the Continental style,
which is no doubt infinitely more correct than our
own. I have already spoken of his eloquence, which
was truly admirable ; but besides this, he had an
immense capacity for work. As Attorney-General
the whole of the criminal cases of the Colony had to
ATTORNEY-GENERAL GRIFFITH. 59
pass through his hands ; but he performed the work
perfectly, with no other assistance than that of one
chief and one assistant clerk, and it seemed to cost
him no particular effort.
Mr. Denyssen, on the contrary, who acted for
him during Mr. Porter's six months' absence in
Europe, protested to me that the work was killing
him. Of Mr. Porter's almost unbounded munificence
it is almost superfluous to speak to those who had any
knowledge of him. By his will he left 30,000 to-
form a reformatory for young lads who had been
convicted of offences. His private charities were
innumerable, but he concealed them as carefully as.
" He was a man take him for all in all,
We shall not look upon his like again."
The next Irish Attorney-General was Mr. William
Downes Griffith, who succeeded Mr. Porter on the
retirement of the latter on pension. Mr. Griffith
was a totally different man from his predecessor, but
he had a strong character of his own. He was an
M.A. of Trinity College, Dublin, and, besides his.
classical and mathematical attainments, he was a man
of science, his special hobby being chemistry, of
which he had made a particular study as a " special
study," as required by his University. Originally he
was intended for the Irish Bar ; but his destiny was.
afterwards changed, and he was called to the English
Bar in the Inner Temple. He was literally saturated
with law ; but it had not spoilt his classical, literary,
and artistic tastes. He was born in Dublin, and was
a thorough Irishman in the best sense of the word.
To say that he was popular in this Colony would be
<60 LIFE AND REMINISCENCES OF JUDGE COLE.
to pervert the truth. Few men made a greater
number of enemies. I think this was the consequence
partly of his thorough independence of character, and
partly of the somewhat disagreeable manner in which
he occasionally manifested it. But he had a knot of
staunch friends amongst whom I think I may reckon
myself who admired him greatly, and liked him for
the excellent social qualities he possessed.
He had a great dislike for any man whom he con-
sidered a sneak or dishonest. His very soul revolted
against people of that class. He was apt to be a
little hot-tempered he is still alive, but will forgive
me for saying this. He had a great friend in a
barrister named John Cyprian Thompson now, alas !
dead and they used to correspond together in dog-
gerel Latin. I had the privilege of seeing most of the
letters, which were immensely funny. Mr. Thompson
.always addressed Mr. Griffith as " Care Bedaddi,"
declaring that whenever Griffith got excited he always
came out with the word " bedad." Thompson's
letters were often illustrated with perfect little gems
of pen-and-ink comic sketches in the margin.
When it was proposed to introduce a Bill into our
Parliament to establish responsible government, Mr.
Griffith flatly refused to take charge of the Bill,
believing that the Colony was quite unfit for the
proposed change. He therefore obtained leave of
absence for a time. Meantime Mr. Jacobs, who was
the Solicitor-General in Grahamstown, was sent for
to act in his stead. The Bill was carried and respon-
sible government established. Upon this Mr. Griffith
retired altogether on a fairly good pension, which,
however, he has seldom drawn, having shortly after
ATTORNEY-GENERAL GRIFFITH. 61
his retirement from the Colony been appointed by
the Lord Chancellor one of the County Court Judges
in England ; and our Civil Service regulations do not
allow any one who has obtained a Government
appointment in any part of the British Dominions to
draw his Colonial pension as well as his pay, unless,
the latter should in amount be less than the pension,
in which case he is entitled to the difference between
the two. Mr. Griffith is still alive, and nobody
wishes him more sincerely than I do all health and
The third Irish Attorney-General was, and now is,
Sir Thomas Upington. He has been popular in his
office, the duties of which he has performed with the
greatest ability. But I am not going to speak of
him fully at present, as I shall have occasion to do so-
in a future chapter.
When I first commenced practice there was no
Attorney-General for the whole Colony. Now the
office may be said to be divided : there is a Solicitor-
General for the Eastern Districts, having jurisdiction
over them only and stationed at Grahamstown.
There is also a Crown Prosecutor of Griqualand
stationed at Kimberley, his duties and jurisdiction
being confined to the territory of Griqualand. Over
both these offices, however, the Attorney-General
possesses paramount authority, of which, however, he
very seldom takes advantage. The increase of the
population of the Colony makes these three officers
necessary, and gives them plenty of work to occupy
<32 LIFE AND REMINISCENCES OF JUDGE COLE.
Antagonism of Eaces Gross Exaggeration Cape Ladies Cape
A GKEAT deal has been talked and written lately
about the antagonism between the Dutch and Eng-
lish races here the English papers especially seem
to be never tired of the theme. My all but forty-
seven years' experience of this Colony, during which
I have visited nearly every district of it, leads me to
regard all this talk as fallacious. I do not mean
to say that no antagonism exists, but I believe it
to be almost entirely confined to the lowest class of
each nationality. Thus we constantly hear of the
most ignorant class of Dutch Boers talking about
the " verdomde " Englishman ; and, on the other
hand, many of the lower classes of English origin
are apt to express their contempt of " those d d
Dutchmen." No one in the better classes takes any
notice or attaches any importance to this vulgar dis-
like. Among the more cultivated classes of each
race the feeling is next to non-existent. Many of
the better-born of the Colonists of Dutch origin are
as well educated and cultivated as their English
fellow Colonists indeed, a great number of them
have received their education almost entirely in Eng-
land or Scotland. Many of them have pedigrees of
which even Englishmen would be proud ; for it is
not many men who can trace their ancestry to two
ANTAGONISM OF RACES. 63
hundred and fifty years, which some of the Cape
Dutch families do. They have imbibed a -taste for
all English sports and amusements delight in horse-
racing, are skilful at cricket, and can give a very good
account of themselves in the hunting-field or in the
They are generally good speakers, and display their
abilities in this direction in our local Houses of Par-
liament. And then the intermarriage of the two
races is so common that it would be difficult to say
of the Colonist if he has more English or Dutch
blood in his veins.
The ladies of Dutch origin born and bred in this
Colony are, as a rule, cultivated women of good taste,
and, like the men, pursue all the English amuse-
ments suitable to their sex. No more excellent
mothers, I believe, exist. There is no doubt, how-
ever, that occasionally a little soreness exists from
the idea that imported Englishmen are apt to depre-
ciate Cape-born ladies. I can give an instance of this.
Many years ago, when I was editing the ' Cape
Monthly Magazine,' an article appeared in it entitled
" The Flagship Ball." It was in fact an account of
a ball given in Simon's Bay by the Admiral of the
station on board the ship which carried his flag.
The article was very amusing and vivacious, but
contained a few sarcastic remarks on the dress and
manners of a few not by any means all of the
Cape young ladies present. This gave offence in
many quarters, and the author received plenty of
abuse; amongst others, the editor of a Grahams-
town newspaper spoke of the writer as one of those
flippant gentlemen from England who sneer at every-
G4 LIFE AND EEMINISCENCES OF JUDGE COLE.
thing Colonial, and especially at Cape-born ladies,
though, it added, they sometimes don't object to
marry them. This was, of course, intended for my-
self, and alluded to the fact that I had married a lady
of Cape birth. The fun of the thing was that I was
not the writer at all, but the article was the pro-
duction of an English-born young lady, clever and
lively, who had not a single relation or connection of
any kind in the Colony in fact, one of the daughters
of the Admiral himself.
I think a well-born, well-educated girl of Dutch
origin one of the most charming people in the world,
with plenty of sense and perfect self-possession.
Lord Byron thus describes a young English debutante
of his day
" "Tis true your budding miss is very charming,
But shy and awkward at first coming out,
So much alarmed that she is quite alarming,
All gigile, blush, half pertinence, half pout
And glancing at mamma for fear there's harm in
What you, she, it, or they may be about.
The nursery still peeps out in all they utter
And then they always smell of bread-and-butter."
Now, this would be a grossly unfair description of a
well-bred Cape young lady making her first appear-
ance in society. She would exhibit no shyness
nor awkwardness ; would certainly not think of
looking to mamma, but take all the attentions paid
her gracefully ; and, as a matter of course, throw
herself into the enjoyment of the pleasures pre-
pared for her. She generally rides well, dresses well,
and occasionally sings well ; is an adept at lawn-
tennis, and manages a bicycle as well as her English
CAPE LADIES CAPE SERVANTS. 65
sisters. She is far from deficient in education or
general accomplishments. Take her for all in all, she
is a charming, straightforward, energetic specimen
" A simple woman, not too good
For human nature's daily food."
But good enough for that at any rate. It must not
be supposed, however, that there are no exceptions
to the picture I have drawn. On the contrary, I
must confess that I have seen many ill-bred Cape
young ladies, who fancied themselves attractive
when they were only impertinent, and believed in
the admiration of the very men who were laughing
at them in their sleeves.
English and Dutch servants the latter mostly
coloured do not pull very well together. It must
be confessed that the female coloured servant of the
Colony is generally an unpleasant sluggard, doing
her work in a most careless manner, causing her
mistress many a sigh over broken glass and crockery,
and spoiling the dishes she pretends to cook. English
servants, on the other hand, are apt to form a little
too high opinion of themselves, and to demand wages
about double the amount of w r hat they would have
earned at home. Then they are very keen on getting
.married ; so that when a mistress thinks that she
has pretty well trained a girl to suit her ways, she
gets the announcement that Mary Jane is going to
be married. With, of course, a great many excep-
tions, I think that both classes of servants may be
pronounced to be fairly honest, and some are in this
respect beyond praise.
66 LIFE AND EEMINISCENCES OF JUDGE COLE.
Men-servants in the Colony are of two classes-
coloured and white. Of the coloured there are
several different races Kaffirs, Hottentots, Basutos,
Malays, and others. They are almost the sole
agricultural labourers in the Colony, and this is
easily accounted for. An Englishman would never
consent to sit all day in the broiling sun to herd
sheep or cattle, nor would he be equal to cope with
ordinary agricultural labour in such a climate as
ours. The wages, too, are infinitely less in the
case of the coloured man than would satisfy an
Englishman. A few of these coloured races make
very fair cooks and house-servants generally, while
the Malays are renow r ned as coachmen, and can
handle a team of eight or ten horses as easily as an
English driver would manage his four-in-hand.
Strangers are generally surprised at the skill ex-
hibited by these Malay coachmen. English male
servants are not often found, except in the houses of
the richer classes, as family coachmen or grooms.
Like many other countries, the Cape often cries out
about its want of good servants ; but from all I read
and hear, the complaints are just as loud on the sub-
ject in England. Altogether, I fancy it is not so
very much worse off in this respect than the Mother
Country. I may add that many of the coloured
people, especially the Malays, make excellent arti-
ficers, brick and stone masons, carpenters, wheel-
wrights, &c. ; while some are profitably engaged in
trade on their own account. They are all very fond
of holidays, especially the Malays, who take Friday
as their so-called Sabbath, Saturday, which is a half-
holiday all over the country, Sunday as a matter of
course, and Monday, which they generally appro-
RACE ANTAGONISM IN THE TRANSVAAL. 67
priate to picnics and other amusements. Altogether
it may be said that it is seldom that a Malay man
works more than four days out of the seven.
It must bo. borne in mind that what I have said
with regard to the supposed antagonism between the
Dutch and English races has nothing whatever to
do with other States and Colonies in South Africa,
and especially they could not apply to the people of
the Transvaal Republic : there race hatred has been
cultivated to an extreme extent. This is accounted
for by the petting and fondling with which the
Government of the Republic has treated the Boers
and the Hollanders there, making these people fancy
that they are not only lords of the soil, but the only
persons fit to govern the country, and to treat the
English inhabitants of the same State, whose capital
and industry have made the country rich and pros-
perous, and who pay about three-fourths of the
taxes, as quite unentitled to take any part in the
Government not even so far as to have a vote for
the members of the Legislature.
This condition of affairs cannot last long ; the
Dutchmen are overbearing and insolent, the English-
men savagely indignant. Either matters will have
to be arranged and that very shortly by firmness
on the part of the British Government, and a little
sensible concession on the part of the Republic,
or they will produce a state of war and bloodshed
horrible to contemplate. For these results we are
indebted first to Mr. Gladstone, and secondly to
Corn Paul Kruger probably the two most wrong-
headed and perverse-minded men the present century
"68 LIFE AND REMINISCENCES OF JUDGE COLE.
Travelling generally Upset with a Rev. D.D. A Prayer-
Meeting and Harmony.
IN the early part of this volume I spoke of the
manner in which Cape barristers travel on Circuit.
I may now make a few remarks on travelling in
general in the Colony. Away from lines of railway,
which are unfortunately very limited in comparison
with the huge extent of our country, journeying is
usually done either by waggon or Cape cart. Both
these vehicles have of late years been frequently
described, so that I need not trouble my readers with
any fresh account of them. I may say, however,
that I think the Cape cart a wonderful vehicle. It
is on two wheels, and has only two, or sometimes
three, seats or benches, and yet it is quite a common
sight, especially on Saint Monday, to see eight, ten,
or even tw r elve people crammed into one on the
road between Cape Town and Kalk Bay. They are
chiefly Malays, bound to a picnic or some other
excursion. They are very happy; but Malays as a
rule do not make much noise over their enjoyments,
being, like other Moslems, rather reserved in tone.
They do, however, indulge in songs ; and I pity the
people who hear them, for Malay music is a thing of
itself, and I hope it will remain so.
A Cape cart is an admirable travelling vehicle,
light, strong, and going easily over the broken roads,
TRAVELLING GENEEALLY. 09
which are somewhat plentiful in the Colony. It is
astonishing what a quantity of baggage and provisions
you can pack into them, which, like the proverbial
carpet-bag, is never full.
I have also spoken of post-carts in the country.
On one occasion, having been detained in Cape Town
by a domestic event for about a month after my
brother barristers had started on Circuit, I determined
to join them by taking rather out-of-the-way routes.
First, I took the post-cart to Beaufort West ; there,
after a halt for breakfast and changing horses, I
started again in the same cart ; but this time I had
two fellow-passengers, one of them a Rev. D.D.
of the Dutch Reformed Church, who took his seat
by my side at the back of the cart, and we started in
the usual post-cart style that is, at full gallop. The
reverend Doctor got rather nervous.
"I hope, Mr. Cole," he said, "this man won't
" It is as likely as not," I said, " for he is as drunk
as a fiddler; I noticed it just as we were starting.
But, Doctor," I said, laughing, "if he does capsize
us, I hope it will be on your side, so that I may have
something soft to fall on." The Doctor was very
plump indeed, and I then rather slender.
I had scarcely said the words before the man drove
against an ant-hill by the roadside, and upset the
cart completely bottom upwards. I did fall on the
Doctor, and heard his grunt as I did so. We had
some little difficulty in extricating our legs from the
mass of letter-bags and luggage with which the cart
had been loaded. When we got upon our legs the
Doctor said to me
70 LIFE AND REMINISCENCES OF JUDGE COLE.
" Mr. Cole, I don't intend to go on any further in
this cart do you ? "
I answered, " Certainly not," and I suggested that
one of us should go back to Beaufort West, only
about two. miles away, and hire a cart, while the
other should remain in charge of the luggage by the
roadside. I volunteered to go myself ; but the Doctor
would not allow me, as he said he knew the place
better than I did, and would ba able more readily to
find a cart ; so I sat down on our impedimenta waiting
for the Doctor's return. He arrived shortly in a cart,
into which we placed our luggage and ourselves, and
drove back to the village. Here, after an hour or
so, I managed to purchase a cart and pair, paying,
of course, at least half as much again as they
were worth. Then the Doctor and I side by side
made a fresh start.
Late in the aftsrnoon we were mot by another
reverend gentleman, a cousin and namesake of my
friend ; all three of us then went on our way to a
farmhouse where the other two were expected, and
where we were to pass the night. Nothing could
exceed the cordiality with which we were received,
for the hospitality was equally extended to myself as
the others. We had a dinner or, rather, supper
the table being loaded with turkeys and poultry of
all kinds, to say nothing of sweet dishes, of which the
housewife seemed to be proud. After supper we had
what is called a prayer-meeting, the services being,
of course, in the Dutch language, which I scarcely
understood sufficiently to follow all that was said.
Then, again, there was a great singing of hymns, in
which the voices were more powerful than the music
A PIlAYEll-MEETING AND HAliMOXY. 71
chasta. The little old grandmother of the family,
who sat at a small table by herself at the corner of
the room, was especially loud and shrill. After all
this was over we were shown into a bedroom which
we had to share. There were two beds in it, and the
clergymen insisted on my taking one of them while
they shared the other. At early daybreak we started
again, our kind hosts refusing to accept a penny
from either of us either for food or forage.
Going along the road my friend the reverend Doctor
asked me whether I had ever been at one of these
prayer-meetings before. I replied that I had not.
"And may I ask what you thought of it?" he
" Well, Doctor, perhaps you might be annoyed if
I told you."
" Oh no there's no fear of that ! "
" Well, to tell you the truth, Doctor, I was thinking
how the cherubs and seraphs would be scared when
the old lady took her voice aloft and let free amongst
The Doctor tried to look grave, but hardly suc-
ceeded, for he burst out laughing.
At a certain village further on, whither they were
bound, I parted with my two friends and went on
alone. I had to make particular inquiries about the
cross-road I was to take and the accommodation I
was to find for the night. I received full directions,
and was told that at about sundown I should come
upon a large farmhouse on a property belonging to
a Mr. Van de Merwe, and called " Zeekoe Vley."
The Van der Merwes, I was told, were better educated
and more civilized than the generality of Dutch
72 LIFE AND REMINISCENCES OF JUDGE COLE.
farmers, but that " they hated the sight of an
Englishman." I took very little notice of this, as I
had so often heard the same words spoken and yet
found the people to whom they were applied kind
and hospitable. I knew also that the farmers gene-
rally liked advocates, and are especially civil to them
probably thinking they may require their assistance
some day, as they are somewhat inclined to litigation.
At sundown I reached a large house, which I
recognised from the description I had received of it
as Mr. Van de Merwe's. A fine, tall young fellow
was walking up and down the street. Pulling up, I
got down, and, raising my hat, I asked him, in the
best Dutch I could command, whether I might out-
span there. The young man at once gave me per-
mission, asking me who I was. I told him I was
"Oh ! " he said, "I know Mynheer's name well,
although I have never seen him before."
I asked if I could get some forage, and was told,
" Certainly ; " and whether I could stay there for the
night, and was again answered, " Certainly." He
then called to one of his men to come and assist my
servant in taking out the horses and leading them to-
the stable. He then asked me to come into the
house, and as soon as we had entered he apologised
to me for the absence of his father, who he said was
away on a journey, and for his mother, who was.
sick, while his only sister was attending on her.
We sat down, and I began airing my bad Dutch ,
until at last I wondered to myself whether I could
find anything further to say in that language.
Suddenly a bright idea struck me.
COLONIAL HOSPITALITY. T3-
" Perhaps," I said in my own tongue, " Mynheer
" Oh, yes," he replied, " I speak English speaking
it just as well as I can. I was brought up at an
English school at Uitenhage, and I received all my
education in that language."
" Then why on earth didn't you tell me that
before?" I exclaimed.
" Well, I wished to see how you would get on."
The fact is he had been " pulling my leg " all the
while; but I was so pleased at the process being
concluded that I made no complaints. We then
had a chat together, and struck up quite a friendship.
After a time he conducted me to the dining-room,
where we had an excellent supper ; and I sent to my
cart for a bottle of Bass and one of sherry, and with
these and some cigars I had with me we passed the
evening pleasantly enough.
I told him a number of stories, some of which
might have been rather stale in Cape Town, but
were new to him living in such an out-of-the-way
place. He enjoyed them heartily, and contributed a
few of his own about neighbours and various mishaps
at shooting, hunting, &c. Then he led me to-
my bedroom, where, on one of the big soft feather
beds for which the Dutch farm-houses are famous,
I slept as soundly as I ever did in my life. At peep
of day I got up, and found my friend already risen
with a cup of excellent coffee ready for me, my cart
inspanned ready for a start. He had also entrusted
some provisions to my servant for the road. Before
parting I asked him what I owed him, and the reply
was, " Nothing."
74 LIFE AND EEMINISCENCES OF JUDGE COLE.
" But," I said, " surely for the forage," because
I knew that most farmers, while refusing to accept
any money in return for the food and lodging they
give you, accept payment for the forage you have
had ; and they are quite right, for forage is part of
their stock-in-trade, part of the produce of their
farm in fact, by the sale of which they live. But
my friend persistently refused to take a penny, saying
that he had never enjoyed an evening in his life as
yesterday, and expressing his earnest wish that I
should come back to him some day. But his place
was so far out of the way of our Circuit route that
I never saw it or him again ; but I have never for-
gotten the cordial reception I had from one who
formed part of the family that " hated the very sight
of an Englishman."
I was once travelling with my wife on our road
to Graaff Eeinet, having with us a newly-married
young lady to whom my wife had given a seat in
the cart. In the evening we drew up at a house
where we were expected the house was the property
of Mr. Lotz, one of the richest men in the district,
owning thousands of acres of land, on one border of
which rose a mountain to which his name had been
given Lotzberg. Our host came out and greeted
us most cordially, conducting us and the rest of the
Circuit party into the house, which was a large well-
built one with polished teak floors, window-sashes,
and doors, and furnished in quite European fashion.
Having shown the bachelor portion of the party
to a room destined for their occupation that night,
he led my wife and Mrs. E. to whom we had
been introduced and myself into a fine large room
A COMICAL SITUATION. 75
containing a couple of handsome four-post brass
bedsteads with lace curtains and hangings.
" This," he said, " is for Mr. and Mrs. Cole and
Whereat the little lady raised her eyes in astonish-
ment ; which, however, was vastly increased by my
wife, who was very fond of fun, who with a hurried
glance towards me said
" Oh, thank you, Mr. Lotz that will be very
comfortable ! " and, turning to Mrs. E., she went on
" You see, you can have that bedstead to yourself,
and we will take this one, and my husband can
undress behind the curtains, and so it will be all
The poor little woman looked positively aghast
to think an English lady should sanction such a
dreadful arrangement. I believe she felt inclined
to rush out of the house and hide herself in the
I suppose I need scarcely tell my readers that after
we had all had a good supper and it became time to
go to rest, I followed the bachelors into their room,
leaving the two ladies in possession of the other one
with the brass badsteads. When our host heard
this in the morning he was thoroughly surprised,
and could not conceive what fault we could find in
the arrangements he had made for us. Saying, I
daresay, to himself, "What queer notions some of
these English have ! " But his farewell to us was
as kindly and cordial as had been his reception to
us the previous evening.
76 LIFE AND REMINISCENCES OF JUDGE COLE.
Libel and Slander Duelling My own Experiences Fighting a
ACTIONS for libel or slander are far from being un-
common in this country. They are brought not only
in the Supreme and Circuit, but they are brought also
in the Magistrates' Court. I am sorry to say that very
often the words complained of are spoken by a woman ,
and her husband has to pay the penalty. These suits
are very expensive when brought in the higher Courts,
for there is generally a great conflict of evidence in
them, and the damages given are sometimes what is
called " exemplary." But a great many of these
actions are settled by apologies, and some of the
apologies are so degradingly mean that it seems
impossible they could be signed by people having the
slightest trace of manliness in them. It is no un-
usual thing to find one of them couched in somewhat
such terms as these :
" I hereby confess that the words I uttered reflect-
ing on the character of Mr. B. are totally without
foundation ; that I know nothing whatever against
him, but believe him to be a most honourable gentle-
man. I confess myself to be a wicked liar, and I
thank Mr. B. for letting me off with this apology,
which I have authorised him to publish in such
newspapers as he may select."
Such productions as these almost make us wish for
the return of the old days of duelling, when a man
who slandered another put his own life in danger.
But no, I am glad that duelling has died out in this
Colony as completely as it has done in England, being
killed there mostly by ridicule.
On the European continent the practice still pre-
vails. In France they are generally mere farces.
Two men cross rapiers, and one pinks the other
slightly in the arm, inflicting a wound which scarcely
requires more than a bit of sticking-plaster to heal it,
and then they are satisfied. It is strange that the
most quick-witted and sensitive nation in Europe
shouM fail to see the ludicrous light in which these
duels place their citizens. In Germany duels are
often savage and sometimes brutal, and much the
same is the case in Russia. The Italians seldom
fight duels, the rule being for the injured man to
stick a stiletto into the back of his traducer a con-
venient plan, saving much time and trouble.
I myself have never fought a duel or been challenged
to do so, but I have had two somewhat different ex-
periences connected with them. The first was in
Port Elizabeth, when I was a very young man. One
of my greatest friends there was a Lieutenant D ,
commanding a detachment of the 27th Eegiment,
quartered in the town. A young gentleman whom I
will call B - greatly cultivated D 's society,
seldom failing to call on him daily. He was an
amiable youth, but very feather-headed, and D
was very fond of teasing. One day he went to D 's
hotel, and going upstairs into his room began -
" "Well, D , old fellow, how are you to-day ? "
78 LIFE AND KEMINISCENCES OF JUDGE COLE.
D assumed a look of blank amazement, saying
" And pray sir, who are you ? "
" Oh, come, old fellow, don't play the fool like
that ! " said E .
D , still preserving his gravity, rang the bell,
and a waiter appeared.
. "Waiter," said D , "pray, who is this gentle-
man ? Can you tell me ? "
The waiter, who had so constantly seen them
together, put on a broad grin.
" Oh, well," said E , in a rage, " if you mean to
insult me you shall hear from me ! " and he stalked
out of the room and out of the house.
An hour or so later a gentleman, who announced
himself as a friend of E 's, called upon D ,
and said he was commissioned by his friend to demand
satisfaction for the insult D - had put upon him.
" Oh, it's a challenge, ";said D . " I must refer
you to my friend Mr. Cole do you know him ? "
He did know me, and shortly afterwards called
upon me. After a little talk we arranged our plans,
and a meeting was fixed to take place next morning
in a valley close to Port Elizabeth.
At the appointed hour the two principals and the
two seconds appeared upon the ground. AVe the
seconds handed to each opponent a formidable look-
ing duelling-pistol, which we had carefully loaded
with blank cartridge only. The proper distance was
measured off, the two antagonists were set facing each
other, and at the given signal both fired. D , who
was in the secret, fell flat on the ground as if mortally
wounded ; while E , throwing down his pistol,
cried " Heavens, I have killed my dearest friend! "
MY OWN EXPEEIENCES. 79
and rushed to D -'s prostrate form. D , putting
his thumb to his nose and extending his fingers,
took " a sight " at K , who was so enraged at this
that he wanted to insist on a genuine duel a outrance ;
but we seconds interfered, and after a little palaver
persuaded him to accept the whole affair as a practical
joke from beginning to end ; and then the four of us
returned to Port Elizabeth and cracked a bottle of
champagne over the event.
My second experience bid first to be a more serious
one. A group of young barristers and students were
chatting together in Inner Temple Lane. Among
the barristers was a Mr. D y S r, and one
E - G . S - in the course of the talk said
something which was considered very insulting to
G -, and, having said the words, walked away to
" He has insulted me ! " cried G - in a rage.
" Challenge him challenge him ! " cried some of
the young fellows.
" Be jabers, I will then ! Cole, will you act for me?"
I, who in those days dearly loved fun and mis-
chief, walked down to S 's chambers, found him
there, and stated my errand. S - was inclined
to treat the affair with ridicule ; but I assured him
the matter was serious.
" Why, you know," said S , " if I accepted the
challenge your friend would never fight."
" Then, by Jove, " I added hotly, " I give you my
word of honour I will fight for him ! "
S looked grave, and I began again to point out to
him that his language had really been insulting, and
in the end induced him to authorise me to convey
80 LIFE AND REMINISCENCES OF JUDGE COLE.
his apologies to G . I am not imputing cowardice
to S , for I daresay he was greatly influenced by the
reflection that it would be somewhat ridiculous to
" go out " on such a trumpery affair.
General Cloete, whom I have mentioned in a
former chapter, did actually fight a duel in the
outskirts of Cape Town, where he then held the
office of Colonel Commandant. He had made some
remarks reflecting on the effeminate voice and appear-
ance of Dr. Barry, then principal medical officer of
the troops in garrison, and the Doctor at once chal-
lenged him to mortal combat. The meeting took
place on the Flats, near Cape Town, and shots were
exchanged, but without effect. The seconds then
intervened, and insisted that there should be no more
fighting. The parties were induced to shake hands,
and all returned together to Cape Town.
It was fortunate for the Colonel that he did not
hit his antagonist, for after death it was discovered
that Dr. Barry was a woman who had successfully
disguised her sex all her life. She had passed the
London hospitals, taken high degrees and medical
diplomas, joined the forces as army surgeon, and in
that capacity gained great reputation and fame for
ability. It is said that only one man in the world
knew the secret of her sex, and he, of course, never
divulged it. This was Lord Charles Somerset, then
Governor of the Cape Colony.
The Law of the Colony and the Law of England.
IT is scarcely necessary to tell even my English
readers that the law of the Cape of Good Hope is
the Roman-Dutch that is, the law of Holland based
principally on the Roman. I am not going to write
a disquisition on it ; it would not interest non-
professionals, while those with legal knowledge
would probably refer to the proverb about the grand-
mother and her eggs. But I may say that I greatly
admire it, and believe that no other system is better
capable of rendering justice between man and man.
As a matter of course we have borrowed consider-
ably from the law of England, especially in criminal
and mercantile cases. It must be remembered that
the latest commentators on the Roman-Dutch law,
as taken over in this country Van der Linden and
Van der Keessel wrote no later than the commence-
ment of the present century. At that time by the
criminal law of Holland, like that of England, men
were hanged for stealing a single sheep, or less
matters than that, while some punishments were
cruel in the extreme. The various reforms in the
English Criminal Code have been effected from time
to time almost, I might say, to the present day. The
Roman-Dutch law has long been superseded in
82 LIFE AND KEMINISCEXCES OF JUDGE COLE.
Holland by the Code Napoleon, and consequently
has remained unchanged. The criminal law as now
administered in this Colony is almost identical with
that of England. In mercantile cases, too, it has been
necessary to move forward with the times, for to
quote decisions of one hundred years ago in com-
mercial transactions would be palpably absurd, ex-
cept so far as such decisions laid down certain broad
principles which could not be lost sight of.
The law is administered in the Colony, first, by
the Supreme Court and its two branches, Grahams-
town and Kimberley.
Secondly, by the Circuit Courts, which are held
twice a year in each district of the country, and these
Courts have within the district in which they are
held the same power as the Supreme Court.
Thirdly, there are the Magistrates' Courts, one
being established in every division of the Colony.
The jurisdiction of these last is naturally restricted
both in criminal and civil cases. In the higher
Courts criminal cases are tried before a judge and a
jury of nine men, whose verdict, as in England, must
be unanimous. In civil cases trial by jury in the
Supreme Court may take place if the parties to the
suit so desire, but it is very rarely that a jury is
I have said that we have borrowed considerably
from the law of England, and I think that the latter
might with advantage borrow from our law in certain
cases, say, for instance, lunacy and divorce. The
English process in the former is very prolix, and I am
afraid sometimes slightly muddles the judges ; while
in the latter the relief of the dissolution of the mar-
LAW OF THE COLONY AND ENGLAND. 83
riagc is granted only for the cause of infidelity ; we
have a second cause, namely, " malicious desertion,"
which to me seems as good a cause as the other.
But I must not discuss this subject, lest I should
call down the thunders of the Church upon my
The magistrates of the Colony are as a body well-
educated and highly conscientious. Some of them
have had legal training, or have applied themselves
assiduously to the study of the law, and, of course,
these make the most efficient magistrates. The
others, having little or no training in the law, have
to trust mainly to their own common sense, which,
however, is by no means a safe guide, for A.'s
common sense may lead him to quite a different con-
clusion that B.'s might do. That they all desire to
do justice to the best of their ability is to my mind
clear. They make mistakes now and then, but
seldom very serious ones, and there are compara-
tively few appeals from their judgments.
I shall give two or three instances more or less
amusing of some of their decisions : the first shows
great quickness and knowledge of human nature on
the magistrate's part,
A loafing sot was charged before him for about
the twentieth time for being drunk and incapable.
The case was quickly proved, and the magistrate
told the prisoner that he must give him one month's
hard labour, at which the man looked almost pleased.
But, said the magistrate, turning to the gaoler, " take
care that this man is well scrubbed from head to foot
with soap-and-water every day that he remains in
gaol." The prisoner's face betrayed the utmost con-
84 LIFE AND REMINISCENCES OF JUDGE COLE.
sternation. At the end of the month, when he was
released, he made his way as quickly as possible out
of the village and district, and was never seen in
The next instance shows curious ignorance on
the part of a certain occupant of the magisterial
bench. The case was tried before him, in the course
of which the agent for the plaintiff quoted a passage
from Van der Linden. It so happened that the:
name of the Dutch Reformed Minister of the place
was Van der Lingen.
Says the magistrate
" I know Mr. Van der Lingen very well ; he is a
very good man and a very good minister, but he has
nothing to say in this Court."
He had evidently never heard of the great Dutch
The third instance is of a very different kind to
the other two. Very many years ago an old gentle-
man was made magistrate of Simon's Town. A suit,
was brought in his Court in which the plaintiff sued
for the restoration of a horse, which he said was his
property, but was unlawfully detained by the defen-
dant. At the trial the plaintiff produced a crowd of
witnesses, who all swore that they knew the horse
quite well, and that it was certainly the property of
The defendant, on the other hand, produced an
equally large crowd of witnesses, who swore point-
blank that they also knew the horse, and it clearly
belonged to the defendant. It was, in short, a case
of conflict of evidence, through which a practised
advocate might have found it difficult to have made
LAW OF THE COLONY AND ENGLAND. 85
his way. The magistrate looked puzzled ; then,
addressing the plaintiff, said
" You don't know a bit whether the horse is yours
And then to the defendant
" And you don't know whether the horse is yours,
either, and you come here and want me to find out
which of you it belongs to. I tell you what it is
I'll see you both d d first ! "
The clerk of the Court discreetly entered this on
the roll as absolution from the instance, each party
paying his own costs ; and this was really about
what the magistrate meant ; but he was an old sailor,
and expressed his judgment in somewhat uncon-
A few more words with regard to our magistrates.
Nearly every one of them is also Civil Commissioner
of his district, his principal duties being to collect
its revenues mostly quit-rents and to issue stamps,
receive transfer dues, and so forth. He is also
expected to make himself thoroughly acquainted, not
only with the boundaries of his own division, but of
those of most of the farms within it ; and he is Presi-
dent of the Divisional Council, and he has charge of
It will be seen that these duties have no natural
connection with those of a magistrate, and a man
may be a very good officer in one capacity and any-
thing but a good one in the other. Considering that
the magistrates are selected from all branches of the
Civil Service, one can imagine a custom-house or
post-office clerk making a capital Civil Commissioner,
but, from never having opened a law-book, a very
86 LIFE AND EEMINISCENCES OF JUDGE COLE.
poor magistrate. It has always seemed to me that
the two offices should be kept distinct, as is the case
with the division of the Cape and that of Griqualand
West. Some attempts have been made within the
last three or four years to establish examinations in
law among Civil servants, the successful candidates
being supposed to have a preferable claim to be
appointed to vacant magistracies. However, these
examinations are, to use a well-worn phrase, "a,
step in the right direction."
Climate and Scenery.
XOT very long ago one of the most distinguished
members of our House of Assembly spoke of our
" unequalled climate." With all deference to the
honourable gentleman, I must say that this is
nonsense. The Colony has not one climate only,
but at least four or five different ones. To begin
with, there is the climate of the Cape peninsula, as
we call that part of the Colony beginning with the
shores of Table Mountain and ending at Cape Point,
which is the Cape of Good Hope proper. A somewhat
distinguished visitor from England lately eulogised
the beautiful and varied scenery of this part of the
Colony, but said he thought the climate detestable.
Without going so far as this, I may say that I think
it is anything but an agreeable one. The winters,
are cold and damp, with downfalls of rain lasting
often four, five, or six days together, with an interval
now and then of a wretched drizzle, making one's
body feel, as Mr. Mantalini says, "a dem'd moist
unpleasant one," with a variety now and then in the
shape of thunderstorms. The gales that set into
Table Bay at this season used, before the completion
of the breakwater, to play havoc with the shipping.
In summer we have our far-famed south-easters, than
which it is difficult to imagine a more disagreeable
wind. It whirls up clouds of dust and sand, blows
88 LIFE AND REMINISCENCES OF JUDGE COLE.
down young trees and sometimes old ones, unroofs a
few houses, and renders it difficult for even strong
and active people to keep their legs, while in the
meantime they are being choked. It makes Table
Bay a sheet of white foam, and vessels can rarely
anchor or leave it while its fury lasts, and it often
does last for many days together. AVhen it ceases
the heat is generally intense, and of that moist kind
which is generally more oppressive than heat of a
It must not be supposed that I mean to say we
have no really fine weather ; indeed, we have some of
ths most beautiful weather in the world, and this
for a time makes us forget south-easters in the one
season and rain-storms in the other. I have said
nothing about spring or autumn, because they hardly
exist except in name generally we plunge headlong
from winter into summer, and from summer into
winter. The early summer has generally some cold,
and the early winter some hot, days. As a curious
specimen of weather, I may refer to the last summer
(1895), when we had to use house-fires to within two
days of Christmas Day, which would be about the
same thing as using them up to the 22nd of June.
Then there is the climate of the coast-line country,
extending along the shores of the Indian Ocean as
far as East London. The climate of this line of
country is somewhat similar to that of the Cape
peninsula, but is less subject to sudden and violent
changes. It is also occasionally afflicted with
droughts, which seldom affect us, and enjoys a great
many more thunderstorms than we do. Beyond East
London and the Transkei comes Pondoland, of which
CLIMATE AND SCENERY. 89
I know nothing personally ; but an excellent autho-
rity, Mr. E. W. Murray, Junr., who has lived a great
deal in it, says that, taking the climate all the year
round, it is the most delicious one he has ever
Then we have the great Karroo a vast tract of
sun-baked clay, with scarcely any vegetation beyond
a little stunted bush, generally not more than a foot
high. It is difficult to imagine a drier climate than
this. I have been on farms in the Karroo where not
a drop of rain has fallen for two whole consecutive
years. This gives it the reputation of being very
beneficial to invalids suffering from pulmonic com-
plaints ; and I believe it is so, but that scarcely
makes it a pleasant climate for healthy people to live
in. The winters are generally cold and the summers
occasionally desperately hot, and yet the soil of this
barren tract, with plenty of water supplied to it,
becomes one of the most fertile in the world. I have
often visited a farm in the Karroo called " Zout-
kloof," which has an unfailing spring of water upon
it, and I have never seen finer figs or potatoes,
besides many other kinds of fruit and vegetables,
than are grown in the garden of this place. I may
add that attempts have of late been made to raise
water to the surface of the soil by means of artesian
wells, and many of these attempts have proved very
successful. If the success should continue over great
tracts of land, the appearance of the country would
become w T holly changed and the climate vastly im-
Then there is Griqualand West, which is, strictly
speaking, a part of the Karroo country, but the
90 LIFE AND REMINISCENCES OF JUDGE COLE.
climate very different. In winter the nights and early
mornings are frequently frosty, and pools of water
covered with thin ice ; during the greater portion of
the day the air is deliciously fresh, cool, and bracing,
so that merely to breathe it seems to make life worth
living. There is. something approaching to spring
and autumn there, but of very short duration. The
summer is very hot, but perfectly dry heat, making
it by no means oppressive, as you would anticipate
from the thermometer. I have sat on the Bench of
the High Court for two or three consecutive days
with the thermometer from 100 to 107 in the shade,
and yet I have suffered less inconvenience than I
have experienced with the thermometer only a little
over 80. The ugliest part of the summer is the
prevalence of dust-storms ; they beat even our south-
easters in force, breaking down trees, lifting roofs off
houses, and depositing them where they were never
intended to be, and making it almost impossible to
leave your house while they continue. Fortunately
they are generally of only short duration say two
hours or so, and mostly followed by thunderstorms
and heavy rain. In the early days of the Diamond
Fields there was a great deal of what was called
" camp fever" ; but with the magnificent supply of
water which the town of Kimberley now has, the
better-constructed dwellings, and the cleanlier habits
of life, I look upon Kimberley as a healthy town at
all events, I spent about four or five years there
without an hour's illness.
I have already spoken of the Great Karroo and its
climate, but it is beaten in regard to this by Nama-
qualand a waterless land, as its name implies.
CLIMATE AND SCENERY. 91
Droughts are so long and so frequent in that country
that, as is the case at this moment, they spread
famine and distress through the land. At the same
time a part of this country is rich in minerals, espe-
cially in copper, the mines of which are pretty well
known everywhere, and, I may add, is fortunate in
being well represented in Parliament.
But I have, so far, omitted another tract of country,
namely the uplands of Albany, Queenstown, and other
districts. These have a very good climate, reversing
the order of things in the Cape peninsula ; they get
nearly all their rain in summer principally by thunder-
storms, while the winters are cold, dry, and bracing ;
and they are justly considered very healthy districts.
Now I leave my readers to judge whether I was
not correct in saying that the Cape has not one
climate, but about half-a-dozen. If I were asked
which I consider the best, and which the worst,
I am afraid I should have to put that of the Cape
peninsula very low on the list, and that of Griqua-
land West very high if not the highest on it. But
to compare any one of them with those of the Canary
Islands, the Azores, and parts of the Riviera in
Europe, would to my mind be absurd.
I wish to say a few words only about Cape
scenery. While it has some which is squalid and
dreary in the extreme, it has much that is most
beautiful and even grand. The late Lord Carnarvon
on his visit to the Colony said that he had hardly
seen anything in Europe more grand and beautiful at
the same time than the scenery of the Hex River
Mountains. Then we have some famous mountain
passes, all more or less grand, such as Bain's Kloof,
92 LIFE AND REMINISCENCES OF JUDGE COLE.
Mitchell's Pass, Montague Pass, The Kat Berg, Van
Staaden's Heights, the forests of the Knysna and
Plettenberg's Bay, the lovely slopes of Lower Albany
with its smiling valleys and grassy stretches down to
the Kowie River, which is really an arm of the sea,
navigable by steam-launches as far as about nine or
ten miles from the mouth, the windings of the river,
thickly wooded on both sides, being most picturesque ;
British Kaffraria, pronounced by some visitors to have
the most lovely scenery in South Africa ; and last, but
certainly not least, is our own Cape peninsula, whose
scenery from simple prettiness to absolute grandeur,
through every intervening variety of beauty, is
scarcely to be surpassed in the world.
Our Parliament Sketches in both Houses.
THIS Colony has produced but one real statesman
one, however, of such a foremost class as to make him
renowned not only in Europe, but I may say through-
out the whole civilized w T orld. No need to name him.
But if none of our public men have not quite attained
to the rank of statesmen, many of them have been
To begin with, I will take the late Mr. Saul Solomon,
who, labouring under terrible physical disadvantages-
for he was but a small dwarf and crippled made
himself, as a friend of mine termed him, a little
martello tower of strength in the House of Assembly.
He spoke with great fluency, but naturally in a
somewhat shrill voice, and he seemed never to be at
a loss for the word he wanted. He took a large grasp
of most of the subjects which came before the Legis-
lature, and had an eminently practical way of dealing
with them. Like most of us, he had his " fads,"
such as the voluntary principle in religious establish-
ments, which he advocated as if the fate of the
powers depended on it, and his love for the Cape
law of inheritance happily now repealed ; and I
should think it must have been repealed to his own
satisfaction, for he was a bachelor when he fought
for its maintenance, but when somewhat advanced
\M LIFE AND REMINISCENCES OF JUDGE COLE.
in years he took unto himself a wife and had a family,
and it must have been a satisfaction to him to know
that he could distribute his property among them as
Then there was Mr. (afterwards Sir John) Molteno,
a man of handsome and commanding presence, with
a strong, pleasant voice, but, alas ! it was not quite
pleasant it always appeared to be forced and un-
natural. He, too, had command of plenty of words,
and used them with force and effect. His one great
political object appeared to be to enforce the intro-
duction of responsible government into the Colony,
and for this he fought incessantly. The late Mr.
Justice Fitzpatrick once said to me, " I went yester-
day to the House of Assembly to hear Molteno speak.
I wanted to find out the secret of his success, and I
think I have done so. He has no imagination, and
is therefore quite unable to illustrate his arguments
by tropes and metaphors ; even his arguments are not
strong, and he has no tact ; but when he gets hold of
an idea he treats it like a big nail, and hammers it
until by continued thumping he has driven it into
the wood right up to the head." I do not think a
better sketch could be made of the honourable gentle-
man. He was certainly neither a statesman nor an
orator, and yet by perseverance and force of character
he was enabled to carry his pet scheme and to secure
to himself a large and faithful following. He began
life a poor man, and, after being farmer, merchant,
wool-washer, and land speculator, he realized a very
large fortune, to be distributed among a very large
family. He was three times married and had children
by each wife.
OUR PARLIAMENT. 95
Next I may select the Honourable J. X. Merriman,
M.L.A., still in the prime of life and in the full
vigour of his mental forces. He is a somewhat
stately-looking person with an admirable and flexible
voice, and although very fluent his utterance is so
distinct that he gives the reporters no trouble. He
is an excellent debater I should say second to none
in the House. He is said to be erratic ; but this
probably means that he is always ready to tackle any
subject that presents itself, and treats it from his own
point* of view, which occasionally differs from the
views of the party for which he is supposed to act.
He has great powers of sarcasm, and knows how to
use them when the occasion demands it. I think I
should be disposed to rank him as almost the most
distinguished member of the Cape Parliament. But
I know he dislikes flattery, so my eulogy must cease.
I have written it, however, the more cordially because
I have always suspected the honourable gentleman of
disliking me personally why, I do not know and
cannot guess. Perhaps it is another case of "Dr.
Then there is our present Premier, Sir Gordon
Sprigg. Let me start by saying that I know him to
be a very hard-working Minister, and I believe him
to be a thoroughly conscientious one, and if I point
out some of what I consider his defects it must not
be supposed I do so to make a feeling of animosity.
He is a fluent speaker we are all fluent speakers in
this country but his voice is somewhat harsh and
grating. He nearly always treats the subject very
practically, and displays a great amount of firmness
and determination. He is accused of a prejudice
96 LIFE AND EEMINISCENCES OF JUDGE COLE.
against our Dutch fellow-Colonists; but I hardly think
the accusation is a fair one, though he is no doubt
often greatly annoyed at the ignorance and prejudice
displayed by many of them, even some who have
seats in Parliament, and he gave strong expression
to this feeling some time ago in reference to the
opposition raised against the Scab Act. He never
shirks details, being, in my opinion, a little too fond
of them dealing with matters which might well be
left to people with a less exalted position in the
service. Thus, some time ago he issued certain regu-
lations requiring every man in the Civil Service from
one end of the Colony to the other, and whatever his
position might be, to be in his office every morning
by 8.30 A.M. a fairly early hour for breakfast, one
would think thus compelling men who live in the
suburbs to rise by lamplight in winter and take
breakfast at 7.30 A.M. a pleasant hour on a cold,
rainy, dark morning! Then he fixed the exact
time to be allowed to each man for his lunch. Now
it would be curious to read Mr. Punch's comments
on such regulations issued by Mr. Gladstone, Lord
Bosebery, or Lord Salisbury. It seems to me that
the Premier might have gone a little farther, and
specified the exact kinds of viands and liquors to be
consumed by each man at his lunch according to his
rank in the service. But this perhaps might have
got him into hot w r ater, and I believe he prefers
putting hot water into himself. He is a stout Free
Trader, as he always boasts, though he dallied a little
last Session with Protection in regard to the impor-
tation of bread stuffs and fresh wheat. He has since
declared himself firmly resolved to give no protection
SKETCHES IN BOTH HOUSES. 97
to bread stuffs, but I think he is silent about meat,
reminding one of the negro sailor at the helm on
board his ship. " Hard a port," shouts the captain.
''Hard a port it is, sah," answers Sambo; "little
'tarboard same time, sah, eh."
The Hon. Mr. Sauer was, until the other day,
the leader of the so-called Opposition ; but he has
recently been dethroned or has resigned, and his
successor, as far as I know, has not yet been chosen.
His friends pronounce him the most perfect debater
in the House of Assembly, and I shall not dispute
their verdict, though I may /say that the tones of his
voice and his address generally seem to me some-
thing approaching the pompous. That he works
hard and devours Blue Books as assiduously as any
man in Parliament cannot be disputed : thus he is
always ready to take part in any discussion, though
the subject may often lie somewhat out of the line of
his experience or learning. He was one of the three
ministers who broke away from Mr. Rhodes' first
Administration. I have some doubts if he will ever
be asked to join another one.
The Hon. Mr. Innes is also a shining light in our
Legislature. Of his ability and general intelligence
there can be no doubt. His oratory is not much to
my taste, he is a rapid speaker ; but his sentences are
somewhat jumpy and wanting in "finish," as Mr.
Disraeli said of Sir AVilliam Harcourt's humour.
He is a thorough- going South African patriot but
not a bondsman. His legal acquirements are very
great, and his practice as an advocate consequently
very large. Altogether, considering that he received
his entire education, both scholastic and professional,
98 LIFE AND BEHINISCEXCES OF JUDGE COLE.
in this country, he is certainly a remarkable man,
and one of whom the Cape Colony is justly proud.
The Hon. Mr. Schreiner, lately Attorney-General,
is a man of great learning and great ability. His
readiness to deal with any subject " he is as quick
as lightning," said a friend of mine gives him great
force and influence in the House of Assembly. He
took high degrees at Cambridge, and whether we
regard him as a scholar, a lawyer, or a politician, he
is a man in a thousand.
Sir James Sivewright is a man whom I greatly
admire. If he is not quite a statesman he makes a
nearer approach to the character than any other
man, with the exception of our one great statesman.
At all events, if he is not a statesman he is a thorough
diplomatist, and is the only Cape Colonist who can
deal effectively with Oom Paul, whom he is able to
smooth down and lead almost as he pleases. The
energy and ability he brings to bear on every subject
with which he deals stamp him as a born minister.
He is equal to the duties of any office in the Cabinet.
An admirable, fluent speaker, with a strong Scotch
accent, which, when he gets excited, becomes power-
ful enough to transport you veritably to the Land o'
Cakes ; he has certainly no match in the present
After these few selections from the House of
Assembly it might be supposed that I should have
something to say about the Legislative Council.
But with the exception of the President, there is
hardly a member of it who has made much stir, or
indeed attempted to make one in politics. But there
are one or two sturdy model legislators in it. Take,
SKETCHES IN BOTH HOUSES. 99
for instance, the Hon. W. Ross, a straightforward,
honest, and plain-spoken man, never hesitating to
call a spade by its real name, and quite careless as to
what posing critics may say. of him. He speaks as
earnestly as he thinks.
Then there is the Hon. Mr. Faure, a Cabinet
Minister, not only a conscientious man devoted to
his duties, but one of finished urbanity and courteous
manner; yet he knows how to administer a snub
when he pleases, which comes all the more forcibly
from so unpretentious a man.
Perhaps it may be thought that I ought here to
give some account of my OW T II political career, for I
have at different times represented four separate
divisions of the Colony in our Parliament, namely,
those of the Cape, Albert, King Williams Town, and
Colesberg. I did my duty to the best of my ability
in the House of Assembly, taking part in many
debates and making a number of speeches, some
of which were extravagantly praised, and others
perhaps more justly roundly abused. Neither
favourable nor hostile criticism moved me much ; but
I must frankly confess I was never able to throw
myself heart and soul into Cape politics ; I could
never attach myself to any particular party, probably
being unable to understand the principles which
guided it, and thus I was never a strong partisan.
" In moderation placing all my glory,
While Tories called me Whig, and Whigs a Tory."
Let no one suppose that in writing thus I mean
to depreciate the pursuit of politics either in the
mother country or here, or that I for a moment agree
100 LIFE AND REMINISCENCES OF JUDGE COLE.
with that very dogmatic old gentleman, Dr. Samuel
Johnson, who declared politics to be the last refuge
of a scoundrel. On the contrary, I believe that many
of the legislators in this country and at home are
actuated by the highest motives, desirous of pro-
moting the welfare and prosperity of the land they
live in. If I have been unable to follow or imitate
them I can only cry meet culpa, mea culpa.
( 101 )
Some Judicial Experiences of my Own and some of other Judges.
THE life of the Cape judge is a peculiar one when
compared with a judge in England. Occasionally,
but not very often, he has very little to do ; but at
other times he is so overwhelmed with work that
it is difficult for him to get through it. This is
especially the case with the Criminal Sessions and
with Circuits generally. The interpretation takes up
a great deal of time in Court : thus, supposing a
prisoner to be a Hottentot, who understands no
language but Cape Dutch, a Kafir witness is called
who understands scarcely a word of any tongue but
his own, then the interpreter understands Kafir and
Dutch, but not English ; he has to interpret from
Kafir into Dutch, while another interpreter has to
interpret from Dutch to English, so that the judge
may make his notes of what is said. All this is
very wearisome, especially as there is no authorised
shorthand writer to save the judge's time by taking
down the evidence, and afterwards turning it into
the usual long hand. It would be a great saving of
time, labour, and expense for the longer a Circuit
Court lasts the greater expense to the country if a
Government shorthand writer were appointed to each
Then the interpretation is often very unsatisfactory,
102 LIFE AND REMINISCENCES OF JUDGE COLE.
if not so much in taking the evidence as in giving
the judge's summing-up to the jury. Many of them
break down over this test, and Mr. Justice Cloete
once performed the extraordinary feat of first address-
ing a jury and it was a long address in English,
and afterwards recommencing translating all that he
had said in Dutch. I was told by one who heard it,
and was better able to judge of it than myself, that
the translation was simply perfect. The late Mr.
Serrurier, in the Supreme Court, when there were
Dutchmen on the jury, used to make them sit at one
end of the jury box next to which he stood and rattle
them off the judge's address as he went on, without
the slightest interruption. But such men are not to
be met with in Circuit towns. The present inter-
preter of the Supreme Court is a most accomplished
gentleman, being the master of at least three or four
languages, and he is quite capable of doing as his
predecessors did ; but then his services are available
on the Western Circuit only, the other two Circuits
having to depend on such interpreters as may from
such and such a time turn up. I took the Northern
Circuit three times and never had the same interpreter
The status of a judge is very highly appreciated in
this country, and I doubt whether the occupants of
the Bench are treated with greater respect anywhere
else than they meet with on all sides in this country.
This may be partly owing to the fact that by the
Charter of Justice their rank is fixed above that of all
other Colonists after the Governor and the General
commanding the forces. But I think there are other
causes at work. Their half-yearly visit to every town
CIRCUIT DINNERS. 103
in which the Circuit Court is held is eagerly looked
forward to by the inhabitants of the places, and on
their arrival there are received with as much rever-
ence as a Royal prince would be at home. It is
customary for the Circuit Judge to give a dinner-
party in each Circuit town, to which are invited the
magistrate, the sheriff, the district surgeon, clergy-
men of the English and Dutch Churches, some other
officials, and as many members of the Bar as the
table will accommodate.
These dinners are greatly enjoyed, bringing the
inhabitants of remote places in contact with those
freshly from the capital. Naturally the success of
the entertainments depends considerably on the judge
himself and his possession of bonhomie. I have
been present at some judges' dinners which seemed
to cast a wet blanket over everybody present, owing
to the want of geniality on the part of the host,
and I have known others of the liveliest description,
where the jests circulated as freely as the dishes and
the wine. The clergymen of both churches, to do
them justice, often contribute greatly to the success
of the feast, being men of intelligence and learning.
At a dinner given by myself where the fun was going
on well, a barrister at the bottom of the table cried
out to me
"Judge, they are beginning to talk religion up
" Good gracious ! " I exclaimed, " are we already
so drunk as that ? "
At which there was a laugh ; but, seriously, I have
often observed the tendency of people, who have had
more wine than they are accustomed, to fall into
104 LIFE AND REMINISCENCES OF JUDGE COLE.
theological discussions. I may say, however, that I
have never known anything like excess to prevail at
the Circuit dinners.
When a judge travels in this country a whole
carriage of five compartments is assigned to him, for
the conveyance of himself, his registrar, his servants,
and his baggage, and no one is allowed to enter the
sacred precincts of this carriage except the judicial
party and such friends as the judge may choose to
invite. When he travels by road away from the
line of railway he is provided with a large travelling
spring waggon drawn by eight horses, and which
carries his servants, his luggage, and his travelling
stock of provisions, wines, &c. It is customary on
his approaching a Circuit town for him to be met
by a party of Mounted Volunteers or Cape Mounted
Police, to escort him into town, making quite an
imposing cavalcade. I forgot to mention that for
the judge's own use is provided either a Cape cart
or, better still, an American spider carriage drawn by
four horses. Like other travellers he has of course
to outspan for breakfast and luncheon, and to enjoy
those meals in the open air.
On one occasion a judge whose equipages were
outspanned, and who was very fond of a little
pedestrianism, set off to walk by himself towards the
town to which he was bound, telling his people to
follow him when they were ready. On his road he
was met by a file of Cape Mounted Police with a
sergeant at their head, who cried out to him
" I say, old fellow, where is the judge ? "
" Oh, you'll find his waggons at the outspan
AMUSING MISTAKE. 105
" All right, we'll have a drink, old chap," producing
a flask from his pocket.
" No, thank you," said the judge.
" Oh, come, old chap, don't say no."
" But I really must refuse," said the judge.
" Well, then you are a jolly old muff, that's all."
When the sergeant reached the outspan place the
equipages were just about ready to start.
" Where's the judge ? " asked the sergeant of the
" Why, you must have met him on foot," answered
" No, we didn't," replied the sergeant.
" Why there is only one road, and he went off on
The sergeant looked a little grave and asked how
the judge was dressed. The butler gave an accurate
but perhaps not a very flattering description of his
master's travelling costume.
" Hulloa ! " cries the sergeant, " was that the
judge ? By jove, and I called him a jolly old muff !
What shall I do now ? "
" Oh, don't trouble yourself," said the butler ; " the
judge is very good-natured, and he won't take any
notice of your mistake."
Nor did he, for when the party overtook him on
the road the sergeant drew up his men on salute
point and the judge returned the salute before enter-
ing his carriage without giving any other recognition
of the sergeant or his men.
Another curious incident occurred with regard to
the same judge. He was in a Circuit town and was
returning home to his lodgings from a very early
106 LIFE AND REMINISCENCES OF JUDGE COLE.
morning walk, when he went into a chemist's shop
and asked for a bottle of soda water.
" All right, old gentleman," said the smart youth
behind the counter; " I see what it is hot coppers,
eh ? "
" It's nothing of the kind, I'm Mr. Justice -
" Oh, lor ! " cries the assistant. " I beg pardon,
my Lord ; I didn't know your Lordship. I beg
" Oh, never mind," said the judge, " there's no
harm done," and, paying for his soda water, walked
Now this judge was not only a very learned one
but as amiable and good-tempered a man as could
be found. It seemed impossible that he could ever
have known what anger was. But he w r as certainly
not of commanding aspect, and this probably accounts
for the two mistakes I have chronicled.
I may here relate two curious incidents in my own
judicial career. I was one day going down to my
chambers, and had very nearly reached them, when
I was accosted by an Irishwoman.
" Plaise, me Lard, may I spake to you ? "
" Certainly, what is it ? "
" Ye see, me Lard, my husband has been behaving
very badly to me, and yesterday he took to baiting
me, and I want you to give me a divorce from him."
" Yes, but when where ? "
"At wunst, me Lard."
" What here, where we are ? "
" Af it plaise ye, me Lard, yes."
I told her that I had no power to do that and she
must bring an action against her husband and have
it properly tried in Court. I asked her if she knew
IRISH LOYALTY. 107
any respectable attorney in town, but she did not, so
I told her to go and see my clerk and he would
advise her where to go to. She was grateful but
looked a little disappointed at the law's delays,
evidently thinking it rather hard that she couldn't
get a divorce in the street without her husband
knowing anything about it.
The other incident occurred while travelling on
Circuit. When we came to Carlisle Bridge, in the
division of Albany, where there is a toll-bar, the toll-
keeper came up to my carriage he was an Irishman
" I don't think I can ask ye Lardship for any toll.''
"Why not?" I asked.
" Well, ye see, me Lard, ye're riding in one of the
Queen's carriages " it had the Royal arms on the
panel " and the Queen pays no tolls."
I told him that that w r as perfectly true in England,
but the judges on Circuit had always paid tolls, and
that while the half-crown might be of some service
to him, I did not think the Cape Government would
miss it. He took the toll but looked rather disturbed
in his conscience at doing so. I wonder what Mr.
Weller senior would have said of such a pikeman.
This recalls to me a story which I fear may be a
" chestnut," but I shall risk repeating it.
Sir Walter Scott and an Irish gentleman were
having a little friendly controversy concerning the
loyalty of their respective countrymen. The dis-
cussion went on well enough, and neither party
seemed to give it up, when the Irishman said
" Now look at this as a specimen of Irish loyalty.
108 LIFE AND REMINISCENCES OF JUDGE COLE.
When the King George IV. was over in Ireland
lately he passed with his retinue through a certain
turnpike gate, nobody, of course, thinking of stopping
him, the toll-keeper himself waving his cap over
his head and shouting, Hurrah for the King ; but
the worthy Pat on the other side of the road noticed
this, and as soon as the cavalcade had passed he
went up to the toll-man and said
" ' What for didn't ye git ye toll ? '
" 'Sure,' said the man, 'I couldn't ask the King
to pay me.'
" ' And de ye think,' says Pat, ' that I'd let his
Majesty be beholden to the likes of ye for his toll.
No ; there's your money,' " pulling some silver from
Sir Walter Scott, laughing, said
" Well, I give it up now. I confess I don't believe
any countryman of my own would ever think of
offering to pay the King's toll for him."
( 109 )
My Success at the Bar The Rules which guided me.
SOME strange scenes have occurred in my practice at
the Cape Bar, perhaps more in criminal than in civil
cases. I had once to defend a prisoner charged with
uttering base coin ; he pleaded not guilty, and a jury
having been called, the Registrar pointed to them
and put the usual question to the prisoner
" Do you object to being tried by any of these
gentlemen ? "
" I do," he answered.
" Which of them ?"
" I object to the whole lot of them."
I suggested, "Perhaps you object to being tried
" I do, sar."
But as we couldn't accommodate him in that
respect the case had to go on. The coins, which
were pretended half-crowns, were produced, evidently
made of pewter and a shockingly bad imitation of
any coin in the world. I suggested that the attempt
to pass must have been a practical joke, as it was
impossible that anybody could be deceived by such
things. But it appeared that the prisoner and an-
other man used to go late in the evening to some
shop hardly lighted at all by a dip candle, and,
selecting some article worth about a penny, would
hand over one of these imitations and get the
110 LIFE AND REMINISCENCES OF JUDGE. COLE.
change for it, and in this manner several tradesmen
were victimised, so the prisoner was very properly
My success in the defence of criminal cases was
great, and occasionally surprised myself ; but I had
laid down three rules for my own guidance from
which I never departed.
The first was, never to import myself into the case
that is to say, never to press my own personal
opinions on it to the jury. It always appeared to me
to be a degradation to the profession for a barrister
to use such sentences as " I firmly believe so and so,"
though I am aware this has been done by a few
men in England distinguished for their advocacy in
The second was, never to bully a witness in cross-
examination, if it was possible to avoid it. I always
preferred the suaviter in modo, endeavouring to get
on friendly terms with the witness, and apparently
accepting the truth of what he said until I had led
him on to the pit-fall I had laid for him, and into
which he ignominiously flopped. I have bullied a
witness when I knew him to be a shameless scoundrel.
On one occasion a witness whom I was pressing very
hard fainted twice, or pretended to faint, during the
cross-examination, and had to be carried out of
Court. When he presented himself in the box a
third time I declined to ask him a single further
question, telling the judge that the answers I had
already elicited and the witness' demeanour in the
box were quite sufficient for the support of my case.
The late Baron Huddlestone prided himself greatly
on his cross-examining powers, but he one day met
AN AWKWARD WITNESS. Ill
his match in a witness on Circuit. This was a horse-
dealer in Cheltenham, named Jacobs. Mr. Huddle-
stone knew all about him, and often expressed his
wish to get that fellow into the box, when he thought
he would turn him inside out. The opportunity at
last occurred, and in a case which Mr. Huddlestone
was defending a horse-dealing case Jacobs was
called by the plaintiff as a witness. When the time
for cross-examination occurred, Mr. Huddlestone
stood up and, looking hard at the witness, said
" Now then, Jacobs."
" Now then, Huddlestone," says the witness.
Mr. Huddlestone was terribly taken back by sur-
prise. The idea of addressing him, the great shining
light on his Circuit, and married to the daughter of a
Duke, in such an insolent manner was too much for
him. He looked up at the judge and the judge
turning to the witness said
" You must treat the learned counsel with proper
Begging your Lordship's pardon," said the witness,
" look here, the counsel addresses me in the most
familiar terms, and calls- me Jacobs, as if I had no
right to a handle to my name ; I'm sure your Lordship
would never have treated me in that style."
Mr. Huddlestone was here about to interfere when
Jacobs, waving his hand to him, said
" "Wait a minute, Mr. Huddlestone, I'm talking to
a gentleman now ; when I have done with him I shall
be ready for you.'''
The examination then went on.
" Well, then, Mr. Jacobs," said Huddlestone.
" Well, then, Mr. Huddlestone," said Jacobs.
112 LIFE AND REMINISCENCES OF JUDGE COLE.
But the witness was terribly astute and foiled Mr.
Huddlestone at every point, so that he threw himself
into his seat saying
" I can do nothing with this witness, my Lord."
" No," said Jacobs, sotto voce, but loud enough to
be heard by the Court, " I never thought you would."
The third principle to which I always adhered
was to watch carefully the countenances of the jury-
men whom I was addressing, so as to see whether
they were agreeing or disagreeing with me. Occa-
sionally I would see five or six apparently approving
of what I said, and the rest three or four looking
quite unconvinced ; for the benefit of these last I
would recapitulate some of my arguments with fresh
illustrations, till I could see by their looks that they
were coming round to my views. Of course this
could not always be done, and I could see two or
three determined not to be convinced ; then there was
nothing for it but to make up one's mind to an
Again, the race of the jurymen influenced me. I
should not think of addressing a Boer jury in the
same style as an English one. With a mixed jury
your arguments had also to be mixed. I made a
few allowances for the peculiar views which I knew
would be taken by the men of different race.
At Queenstown once I had to defend an English-
man charged with flogging his Kafir servant most
unmercifully. The jury were all Englishmen born,
and I knew my men, therefore one great point I
made was this
" Do you Englishmen think which is more likely
that a Kafir you know the people pretty well -
AN IMPORTANT CASE. 113
should come here and lie, or that an Englishman,
your own countryman, should commit the atrocities
imputed to him ? "
This is, of course, a mere outline of what I used ;
but I could see by the faces of the jury that I had hit
the right nail on the head. Notwithstanding a severe
summing up by the judge against the prisoner, he
was acquitted triumphantly without the jury having
even left the box to consult.
The next day, meeting the judge, he said
"That was a very good idea of yours, Cole; but,
after all, which lied ? Was it the Kafir? "
"Well," I replied, "the jury seemed to think so;
and, you see, we can't go behind the verdict cf the
jury. He laughed and said
" Of course not ; and you knew how to deal with
a jury of John Bulls."
One of the most important cases I was ever engaged
in was that of a rich Dutch farmer in the Beaufort
West district, who was charged with the wilful
murder of his Kafir servant boy, whom I had to
defend. The case excited the utmost interest, as the
man was not only wealthy himself, but had a large
number of rich and influential relatives. The case
lasted from nine o'clock in the morning till past ten
o'clock at night, with about two half-hour intervals
for refreshment. Thus I may say we actually worked
for full twelve hours, when a verdict of " Not guilty "
was returned by the jury, and I impute this greatly
to the ignorance of the judge, the jury, and myself on
one point. The evidence showed that the accused
had violently and brutally thrashed the deceased boy
with a sjambok, and it was said that death was the
114 LIFE AND BEMINISCENCES OF JUDGE COLE.
result of the beating. At a post-mortem examination
it was found that -there was a fig entirely undigested
in the stomach of the lad. I asked the district
surgeon how long a fig took to digest? and his
answer was " fifteen to twenty minutes " ; while it
was proved that the death had not occurred till at
least an hour and a half after the beating. I then
put it to the jury that the boy after the beating must
have been well enough to go to the orchard, which
was a little distance from the house, and get this fig
found undigested. The judge, in summing up to the
jury, strongly impressed on them this argument of
mine, which he considered most important, the result
being, as I have said, an acquittal of the prisoner. It
will be seen by what I have said, of which I have given
the merest sketch of the arguments on the occasion,
I never placed reliance on one shot only. The
cheers of the audience on hearing the verdict were
tremendous, and I narrowly escaped being carried
out of Court on the shoulders of enthusiastic Boers.
Next morning in the street I fell in with the
district surgeon himself, who said
"You did that very well, Mr. Cole; but I suppose
you know the explanation about the fig? "
" I give you my word of honour I do not, if you
mean there is some explanation which disposes of
my argument, for I never intentionally mislead a
" Well, then, I'll tell you," he said. " The frightful
beating the boy received would completely suspend
all powers of digestion, and thus the fig which was
found in the boy was probably one that he had just
stolen, and for which he received the beating."
THE WRONG MAN. 115
I told him I was shocked, as I was sure the judge
would be, that the ignorance of both of us should
have so influenced the jury.
"But," I added, "why did you not give us this
information in Court ? "
" Well, I never was asked any question to which
that would have been an answer," he said.
Which was true ; but it struck me that he might
easily have given the information at the time when I
asked him the question as to how long the fig took
to digest? But then the prisoner had, as I said
before, many rich and influential friends and relatives
in and about Beaufort West, and a district surgeon
must live chiefly on the fees of his patients, for the
Government pay is too small for the purpose.
I have one incident to relate of entirely different
character to the last. Jan, a Hottentot prisoner,
was charged at the Worcester Circuit Court with a
malicious and violent assault on somebody. The
indictment was read by the Eegistrar, and then
translated into Dutch, being the prisoner's own
language. When he had heard it to the end, Jan
"No, baas, I don't know anything about that;
I'm the boy that stole Mr. Jones's pony."
There was of course a good deal of laughter they
had brought up the wrong Jan, so he was temporarily
removed from the dock, and the other Jan took his
place. But the best of it was that, when the first
Jan was again put in the dock, and properly indicted
for stealing Mr. Jones's pony, he boldly pleaded " Not
guilty." And he managed to get off; my argument
in his favour being that, when he said " I am the
i i 2
116 LIFE AND REMINISCENCES OF JUDGE COLE.
boy taat stole Mr. Jones's pony," ho only meant " I
.am tli2 boy charged with stealing Mr. Jones's pony."
One of the strangest successes I ever had when,
indeed, I was even sorry to succeed was brought
about by what I may call an accident. It was at
a Middelburg Circuit Court. The day before the
sitting of the Court I received a note from the judge
Watermeyer saying that there were two bushmen
in gaol charged with murder, and the case appeared
to him a most atrocious one. He didn't supposo
that anything could be done with the prisoners, but
he did not like to try a man for his life without
giving him the advantage of a counsel's assistancs ;
would I, therefore, kinlly take the cisa? Of course
I assented ; but, after reading the preliminary exami-
nations, I saw before me nothing but a most hope-
less task. I went down to the gaol and saw the men,
who were two hideous little bushmen. I asked the
interpreter to tell them that they must make up their
minds to be hanged. They had a look of stoical
indifference, as these people always have in matters
of life and death. Then I asked them to give me the
indictments with which they had been served, and
they handed them to me. Turning them over I
made a discovery, which, however, I did not choose
to communicate to the prisoners. Next day the
case was called on, and the men placed in the dock.
The Registrar stood up to read the indictment, but I
stopped him, and said -
" My Lord, thes3 men have never been served with
a notice of trial."
" Oh, yes, they have," cried Mr. Barry, who was
th3 prosecuting counsel. " I'll call the sheriff to
prove the service."
A LEGAL MISTAKE. 117
" Oh, yes," I said, " that's all right, and I hold the
two copies of the indictment with which they were
served in my hand. The law requires that notice of
trial on the back of an indictment shall be signed
either by the Attorney-general or his clerk, cr the
clerk to the magistrate of the town in which the
Circuit Court is to be held. The notices in this case
have never been served at all " holding them up.
" Oh, well," said Mr. Barry, " that can be remedied
at once ; I'll get the clerk to sign the notices now."
I laughed, and said
" No, that won't do at all. I'll leave the matter to
"Mr. Barry," said the judge, "it is quits clear
that the law is peremptory, and that notices of trial
must be signed by either of the three officers men-
tioned by Mr. Cole before they are served; therefore
I must postpone this case to the next Circuit Court
" Oh, no," I said, " begging your Lordship's par-
don, the law requires that every prisoner committed
for trial at any Circuit Court, shall be brought to
trial before the next sitting of that Court before his
committal. The trial may be postponed on cause
shown to the next Circuit Court, but at that second
Circuit Court, if he is not brought to trial, he is
entitled to his release, and cannot be re-arrested on
the same charge. This is the second sitting of the
Court in regard to these prisoners, and they have not
been brought to trial."
Mr. Barry continued that they had been brought to
trial, as they were then in the dock ; but, as I pointed
out, the judge had already ruled they were not legally
118 LIFE AND REMINISCENCES OF JUDGE COLE.
brought to trial, and therefore I applied for their
The judge looked very grave indeed, and said
" Mr. Cole, I will not say whether I agree with
you or not, but this is really too serious a matter for
me to decide sitting here by myself, so I must reserve
the peint to be argued in the Supreme Court, the
prisoners to remain in custody until the question has
Of course I made no objections, and shortly after-
wards the case was heard before the full Bench in
Cape Town, then consisting of four judges, when it
was unanimously decided that my contention was
right, and an order was made for the prisoners to
be released. I very much doubt if they ever knew
why they were released.
I was chaffed a little by some of my friends, who
told me I ought to be ashamed of letting two blood-
thirsty murderers loose upon society. My reply was,
" that as far as this Colony was concerned, .they might
be sure that the prisoners would clear out of it as
quickly as possible, and give it a very wide berth in
the future, besides which," I added, " I had saved the
Colony some two or three hundred pounds, as it would
have cost quite that to hamg the little brutes."
( 119 )
Cape Literature, principally Newspaper and Periodical My own
connection with it.
WHEN the caccethes scribendi has once seized a man
it seldom leaves him ; it was therefore very unlikely
that it should desert me, who had for some time at
home depended chiefly on my pen for a livelihood..
My contributions, however, to the literature of the
Colony were chiefly fugitive pieces, and I suppose not
of much importance. Indeed, a writer in the Cape
Times who lately enumerated the different South
African writers, omitted my name altogether, pro-
bably considering myself and my productions beneath
I was for some few years an editor of the Cape
Monthly Magazine,* and almost regularly contributed
an article to each number. I also, from time to time,
wrote leading articles for different newspapers. The
only collective work I ever published in the Cape was
the " Three Idylls of a Prince," written on the occasion
of the Duke of Edinburgh's (the Prince Alfred's) first
visit to the Cape. Sir George Grey took a great
fancy to my verses, and begged me to reprint them,
as they had only appeared in a newspaper, and he
also asked me to have a few handsomely bound pre-
sentation copies made, as he wished to send some
home to certain members of the Royal family. This
was done, and I had the gratification some months
* Published by J. C. Juta & Co.
120 LIFE AND REMINISCENCES OF JUDGE COLE.
later of being assured by Sir George that Her Majesty
and the Princess Eoyal had been heartily amused by
reading my nonsense verses. On the occasion of the
Duke of Edinburgh's second visit to the Cape, I wrote
" The People's Ball," meaning the ball given to him by
the people of Cape Town, and " The Elephant Hunt,"
commemorating the killing of an elephant in the
Knysna forest by the Prince and some of his friends.
Mr. Justice Fitzpatrick once read this last at a
public entertainment in Grahamstown, and created
great amusement by the extraordinary manner in
which he pronounced the single Dutch line in it.
To the Cape Monthly Magazine I also contributed
*' The Flight of the Amakosa," a propos of the escape
of some Kafir prisoners from the gaol of the Amster-
dam Battery; and the "Shank End Shindy," com-
memorative of a meeting held in Cape Town to
condemn the proceeding of the Parliament, then
sitting for the first and last time in Grahamstown.
All these were a la Ingoldsby. There may be some
others which escape my memory at the moment.
I had almost forgotten, by the way, my " Lay of
the Post Cart," which was taken over, I think, by
almost every newspaper in the Colony, and has been
quoted quite recently in a work written in or on
When I came to the Colony in 1856 there were
three newspapers published in Cape Town, and an
advertising sheet which was distributed gratis, and
depended for profit only on the advertisements it
contained. The three newspapers were the Com-
mercial Advertiser, The Mail, and the Zuid Afrikaan,
which was published one-half in English and the
MI!. JOHN FAIRBAIRN. 121
other half in Dutch ; the former two were in English
only. None of these were published more than three
times a week a daily paper being then unknown in
the Colony. The Commercial Advertiser was edited
by the late Mr. John Fairbairn, the father of the
present Clerk of the Legislative Council. Its leading
articles were adrniiable, for Mr. Fairbairn was a
scholar, and a man of extensive information and
great literary ability. It is said that he was once
offered a permanent position on the staff of the
London Times, but, fortunately for the Colony, he
declined the offer, and remained to delight and
enlighten the people of Cape Town. He had a seat
in the House of Assembly in the first Cape Parlia-
ment, and was put forward as a candidate for the
Speakership ; but the House wanted a lawyer in the
chair, and, consequently, chose Mr. C. J. (afterwards
Sir Christoffel) Brand. It was well that the matter
was so settled, for the House got a fairly good
Speaker in Mr. Brand, though he was by no means
the genius his friends declared him to be, and was
certainly not as able a Speaker as his successor, Sir
David Tennant. On the other hand, Mr. Fairbairn
was left free to use his pen in the cause of freedom
and progress, which he never failed to advocate.
Indeed, it may be said that it is to him the Colony
was indebted for a free and independent press. He
died when I had been only a few years in the Colony,
and I was never on very intimate terms with him,
but I knew him well enough to admire and respect
him, and to value his scholarship. I was pleased to
find that his favourite Latin poet, like my own, was
Horace, of whom he onca said, " he is not only a
122 LIFE AND REMINISCENCES OF JUDGE COLE.
complete man of the world, but such a gentleman,"
which was a very good description of the asthmatic
The Commercial Advertiser subsequently passed
into other hands, but it ceased to have the influence
which it possessed when under the guidance of Mr.
The Mail, which had been edited by Mr. Charles
Cowen still alive, I believe, and I hope as vigorous
and energetic as ever subsequently passed into
other hands, and ceased to exist, or rather became
amalgamated with another paper, which took the
name of the South African Advertiser and Mail, and
was for some time edited by Mr. John Noble, the
talented Clerk of the House of Assembly.
. The Zuid Afrikaan is still extant, and as lively
In January, 1857, the first daily paper published
in the Colony appeared under the title of the Cape
Argus, and I contributed to its first number. Messrs.
B. H. Darnell and K. W. Murray, senior, were its
proprietors, Mr. Darnell principally writing the
leading articles, and Mr. Murray performing the
difficult task of collecting news and generally getting
up the paper. In those days Cape Town was but
a small place, and one can hardly imagine how a
paper could be filled with readable matter when there
were no telegraphs, inland posts only running three
times a week or less, and the monthly mail steamers
from England occupying thirty to thirty-five days on
each voyage. But Mr. Murray was always a man of
ready resources, and made his paper a great improve-
ment on any that had preceded it. As a " leader "
CAPE NEWSPAPERS. 123
writer Mr. Darnell has had only one worthy suc-
cessor, for his pen was graphic, caustic, and full of
energy and determination ; his language being always
apt and well chosen. He was perhaps the most out-
spoken man I have ever met with, apparently totally
indifferent to praise or censure. He, too, had a seat
in the House of Assembly ; he was a slow and some-
what laboured speaker, and may almost be said to
have a tendency to hesitation over his words, but he
said keen and stinging things, as for example
" David said in his haste that ' all men are liars ; '
if he had lived in this Colony he would have said it
at his leisure."
" Of course, the honourable member excepts him-
self," said somebody.
" No, I don't," was the reply. " I have lived here
long enough to be acclimatised."
After a time the partnership between Messrs.
Darnell and Murray was dissolved, Mr. Darnell taking
up farming at the Knysna, and Mr. Murray going
to Grahamstown, where he established a new paper
called the Eastern Star. Meanwhile the Cape
Argus had passed into the hands of Mr. Saul Solomon,
when its political character became entirely changed,
and the principal editor was the late Professor
Roderic Noble, and subsequently Mr. T. E.
Fuller. It remained the property of Mr. Solomon's
firm until taken over by Mr. F. J. Dormer, who
eventually transferred it to the " Argus Printing
Company," of which he was the founder and manag-
ing director. It is now edited by a Mr. Powell,
whose leading articles I seldom omit to read, because
they are not only well written, but honest and
124 LIFE AND KEMINISCENCES 'OF JUDGE COLE.
straightforward, leaving no doubt on the reader's
mind of what the writer means.
The Cape Times is the latest addition to the daily
press of Cape Town, although it is already several
years old. It has a circulation vastly exceeding any
that could have been dreamt of in my early days
in the Colony. This, I think, may be attributed
especially to two causes first, to the untiring energy
of Mr. Murray, junior, in keeping up the supply of
news ; and secondly and mainly, to the admirable
leading articles written by Mr. F. Y. St. Leger.
He was the worthy successor to Mr. Darnell that I
spoke of, and perhaps even more skilful and polished
in his writings than his predecessor. Though still
continuing the proprietor of the Cape Times, Mr.
St. Leger has recently resigned the editorship,
taking no active part in the management. Plorant
Cape Town has possessed and still possesses a
few other periodicals, but they are mostly of a
sectarian kind, and fitted for those who like to dis-
cuss sacred subjects in newspapers. But as I have
no sympathy with them, I make a point of never
reading their papers.
It would, of course, be impossible for me to give
an outline sketch of the many newspapers published
throughout the Colony, some of them in the larger
towns being of a high standard, and directed by
men of learning and talent ; only a very few of
them are published daily. The Western province
of the Colony, however, is still terribly deficient in
this branch of literature, for Dutch farmers, who
compose the majority of its population, care little
LEADER WRITING. 125
for news not immediately and personally affecting
them, and nothing at all for literature in general.
We have no " Cape Magazine," nor does anything
of the kind worthy of mention exist in the Colony,
with the exception of a Roman Catholic Magazine,
which can never fail to be interesting as long as it
is under the guidance of the Rev. Dr. Kolbe, and
can boast of such a contributor as the Eev. Dr.
McCarthy. There is also a Law Journal, very wel-
come to the legal profession, and under the able
editorship of Mr. C. H. van Zyl a lawyer whose
legal learning can scarcely be surpassed by any
barrister in the country.
P.S. In the above enumeration of Cape daily
papers I accidentally omitted the name of the
Standard, which was started many years ago under
the auspices of Mr. T. B. Bay ley, and edited by Mr.
William Foster. Its principal object w T as to make
a determined opposition against the introduction of
Responsible Government. It had a very fair success
for some years, but after the death of Mr. Bayley
the funds, I fancy, fell low, and the public support
not being sufficient for its maintenance, it suddenly
collapsed, to the great grief of some gentlemen who
had invested capital in it. Besides which, when
Responsible Government had been actually intro-
duced, it had scarcely a raison d'etre. Perhaps I
may mention a curious little incident connecting me
\vith the paper. A case of great importance had
been decided in the Supreme Court, and on the day
when the report of it appeared, Mr. Foster called
upon me at my chambers, and asked me whether I
would write a leader on the subject for his paper,
126 LIFE AND KEMINISCENCES OF JUDGE COLE.
as he knew no man so well able to deal with it.
I consented to do so, and, just as he was leaving my
room, Mr. Fuller entered it. He also came to ask
rne to write a leader on the same subject for his
paper. Not wishing him to suspect my connection
with the other paper, I after a little hesitation con-
sented. I therefore set to work and wrote two
leading articles, one for each of the two papers, both
coming to the same conclusion on the matter, but
treating it from entirely different points of view.
Next morning the two rival journals appeared, each
with mine as its principal leader, and in the course
of the day each of the editors called upon me,
thanking me for what I had done, and each of them
declaring that he thought the article in his paper
very superior to that of the other. If I did not
laugh outright it showed my command over my
( 127 )
The Present Condition of the Cape Bench and Bar, with Sketches
IN discussing the present state of the Cape Bench,
I naturally commence with the Chief Justice Sir
Henry de Villiers, who has just been created Privy
Councillor. He is really a very remarkable man,
for he is not only a profound lawyer and able
politician, but he possesses great taste in literature
and art. He has, of course, a perfect command of
the English, Dutch, and Latin languages, and this
knowledge adds greatly to his efficiency as judge.
His judgments are always learned, without being
in any degree pedantic, and are couched in such apt
language as to make them perfectly comprehensible
to professional men and lay men alike. I do not
think he has ever given offence to any one, for his
tact and courtesy are perfect. That he is the ablest
Chief Justice the Colony has ever seen I firmly
believe ; at all events, his two immediate predecessors
could not compare with him. As President of the
Legislative Council he maintains the dignity of his
position without any ostentation, and his influence
over its members is so great that almost a mere hint
of his is sometimes sufficient to decide the fate of a
measure. He started in life without any advantages
of fortune ; but his quiet energy and determination
were sufficient to overcome any obstacles. He was
128 LIFE AND REMINISCENCES OF JUDGE COLE.
called to the Bar of the Inner Temple, and coming
out here to practiss, made his mark from the com-
mencement, and he was only thirty-two years of age
when he became Chief Justica of the Colony, having
previously been Attorney-General. I take to myself
some credit for having prophesied his success from
the very first, and when he was raisad to his present
position, I received a letter from Ireland, from my
old friend Mr. William Porter, in which he said :
" I often think how you foretold DJ Villiers' success,
and possibly I was not quite so sanguine as yourself,
but even you, I think, could hardly have expected
him to attain to his present position at so early an
age." Of course not, because I could not have
foreseen the current of events which led to his being
first Attorney-General and then Chief Justice. Every
one will approve of the bestowal of the last new
honour upon him.
By his side as first Puisne Judge sits Mr. Justice
Buchanan, a clear-headed, well-read lawyer his
Reports would alone prove that and one of the
most amiable of men. On his elevation to the Bench
I wrote to a friend : "In some of the schools in this
Colony a prize is given to the best-liked boy; if a
prize were to be given to the best-liked barrister of
the Supreme Court, it would be awarded by acclama-
tion to Buchanan."
The other Puisne Judge sitting in the Supreme
Court is Mr. Justice Maasdorp, who has made his
way to his present position by ability and industry,
and he, too, is a very much-liked man.
The Judge President of the Court of the Eastern
Districts is Sir Jacob Barry one of the most hard-
A COUKAGEOUS JUDGE. 129
working, conscientious judges I have ever known. He
is also a man of great personal courage, which is no
mean gift to a South African judge. I have seen
him when at the Bar drive a pair of horses through
the foaming drift of a river, he sitting up to his
waist in water, and when a very slight swerving of
the horses might have carried him, them, and the
vehicle he was driving to almost certain destruction.
He was the only coachman, professional or other-
wise, who dared to face that drift on that occasion.
He was for some time Eecorder of Griqualand West
when that territory was separate from the Cape of
Good Hope, and had its own High Court and its one
judge. While occupying that position he was sud-
denly called upon to act as Administrator of the
Government of that Province. Something very like
an armed rebellion broke out in Kimberley, but he
was equal to the occasion, and, by dint of pluck,
quickness, and determination, he succeeded in quell-
ing it without bloodshed, and in an incredibly short
time. For this and other services he received his
knighthood, and no honour was ever better deserved.
.On his right hand in Court sits Mr. Justice Jones,
a most indefatigable judge and a graduate of Cam-
bridge, being, I think, the first Cape Colonist upon
whom the University bestowed the degree of LL.M.,
which I believe he has since exchanged for the
higher one of LL.D. At all events he ought to
have had it.
On the left of the Judge President sits Mr. Justice
Solomon, a man whose judgments are admired for
their clearness and logic, and who, in the gravity of
his appearance, is every inch a judge. Indeed, though
130 LIFE AND REMINISCENCES OF JUDGE COLE.
comparatively a young man, he looks and is as
wise as if he was seventy.
The High Court of Griqualand is presided over by
Mr. Justice Laurence. It would be really difficult
to speak in too high terms of this gentleman's ability.
At Cambridge he took almost every degree espe-
cially in law that the University could confer on
him, including the Chancellor's Gold Medal. He is
equally at home in classics and mathematics, and
has acted as examiner in each at the Cape University.
His judgments are profound and elaborate perhaps
a little too elaborate sometimes and are greatly
respected by the profession for the learning and
research they display. He is a man of literary tastes,
too, and if Kimberley does not owe to him its public
library it is at least indebted to him for the condition
in which it at present exists, second in the Colony
only, I think, to that of Cape Town. His annual
addresses, as chairman of the committee, are always
anticipated with pleasure, and he exercises great dis-
crimination and taste in the selection of books of
every description as far as the funds at his command
will permit him. He has one great defect he is an
The judge on his right hand is Mr. Justice Hopley,
formerly a pupil of my own, and I am proud to have
had anything to do with the training of so acute and
able a lawyer. He is the handsomest man on the
Bench I hope the other judges will not be offended
at this but as, with one exception, they are all
married, it cannot injure their prospects.
On the left of the Judge President sits Mr. Justice
Lange, only recently raised to the Bench. He for
A SKETCH OF THE BAR. 131
some time held the office of Prosecutor in the Special
I. D. B. Court, and his learning and experience will
be of great value to the Bench. He is the prince
of good fellows, and cannot have an enemy in the
I may remark as a curious fact that neither of the
three judges sitting in the Supreme Court has taken
a University degree, while each of the other six of
the Eastern Districts and Griqualand benches is a
graduate of the University of Cambridge.
In attempting a sketch of the Bar as it now exists,
I shall be obliged to select only a few of its members
as examples. To begin with, there is the Attorney-
General, Sir Thomas Upington. He occupied a seat
on the Bench of the Supreme Court for some two or
more years, but he suddenly resigned that position
in order to become, for the third or fourth time,
Attorney-General of the Colony. I fancy that the
somewhat placid monotony of judicial life jarred
upon him, for, as Byron says, " quiet to quick bosoms
is a hell," and if ever a man possessed a quick
bosom, it is my friend Sir. Thomas Upington. But
be the cause what it may, he has returned to the
arena of politics and law, ready to take his part in
the contests of both. As a lawyer, his reputation is
of the highest ; as an advocate, his quickness of
apprehension, command of language, and skill in
dealing with witnesses, make him, I think, unrivalled
here. He is ready for anything, from prosecuting
criminals and arguing points of law to fighting rebels,
as he did on the northern border a few years ago,
exposing himself to perils by flood and field which
might have taxed the strongest constitution, while
132 LIFE AND REMINISCENCES OF JUDGE COLE.
he is somewhat fragile. But, after all, I think it is
pluck, rather than bodily strength, that pulls a man
through in such affairs. As a politician he has also
had a very high reputation ; he is perhaps the one
orator the Colony possesses. As a debater he takes
almost the highest position, his only rival being Mr.
Merriman, and a contest between them is worth
witnessing ; both are skilful, and both are courteous,
using their rapiers with the address and politeness of
practised fencers, never giving a foul thrust or for-
getting the gentlemanly politician. They have one
point in common at all events they both hate music,
and this ought to make them " fit for treasons,
stratagems and spoils " ; but as I have never seen
either of them manifest any inclination in that
direction, I suppose I must consider that Shakespeare
for once is wrong. I omitted to mention that Sir
Thomas has also been Premier of this Colony.
As I have already in another chapter spoken of Mr.
J. Bose-Innes, Q.C., and Mr. W. P. Shreiner, Q.C.,
there is no need for me to mention them here.
Then there is the Hon. H. H. Juta, Q.C., who
was for a time Attorney-General of the Colony,
and has now been elected the new Speaker of the
House of Assembly. If an imposing appearance, a
clear and distinct voice, unfailing courtesy to men of
all parties, complete command of temper, and a wide
acquaintance with the law and practice of Parlia-
ment, can fit him for the office, he ought to make,
as I believe he will, an excellent Speaker. I sup-
pose, however, he will have to resign his practice
at the Bar, partially or entirely. This will be a
pecuniary loss to him ; but, fortunately, in his case
PEOMINENT COUNSEL. 133
not of much consequence. He has written an
admirable translation of Grotius' " Introduction " ;
a difficult task, the original being written as a late
judge told me in somewhat crabbed old Dutch.
Mr. Benjamin deserves mention as a man with
excellent practice, and becoming a great authority in
mercantile cases, especially on the law of sales, thus
emulating his great namesake in England, now
Mr. Searle, Q.C., has more than once had the
honour of being legal adviser to the High Commis-
sioner of the Colony, and he sat for some time as
Judge in the Eastern Districts Court during the
absence of one of the occupants of the Bench. As
lawyer and advocate he has deservedly gained a high
Mr. T. L. Graham is distinguished for his success
in criminal defences, and has had probably a larger
number of rascals among his clients than any other
man of his standing at the Bar. His general practice
is also good and well deserved.
Mr. Shiel has made his mark, and will, I think,
make a still stronger one in the future. He has
delivered law lectures, which are highly praised by
those who have attended them.
Turning to the Court of the Eastern Districts,
there is the Solicitor-General, Mr. Maasdorp, a
brother of the Judge ; Mr. Lardner Burke, a genial
and much-liked practitioner ; Mr. Tainplin, the
tallest man in the profession, and equally at home in
law, politics, or as Major commanding his Grahams-
town Volunteers; and there is Mr. H. F. Blaine,
134 LIFE AND REMINISCENCES OF JUDGE COLE.
whose success in the Court in which he practises
and the Circuit to which he is attached, should have
entitled him I think long ere this to be made a
Then, looking to the High Court of Griqualand,
there is Mr. Richard Solomon, Q.C., a man of whose
merits it is difficult to speak too highly. He is a
wrangler of Cambridge, and took a great many other
honours at his University. No better lawyer exists.
He is especially fluent in speech for I believe he can
cram more words into a minute than any other man
I ever knew but his words are always well worth
listening to, for they are learned and logical. He
has more than once had the offer of a judgeship, but
his practice is too good to let him accept one. As a
gentleman as well as a lawyer he is highly valued by
all who know him.
Practising at the same Bar is Mr. Ward, who has
much distinguished himself, and is daily rising in
favour with the profession and the public.
And now I have to beg the forgiveness of those
members of the three Bars whose names I have
passed over, assuring them that I have done so, not
from any want of appreciation of their merits, but
from want of space.
On the whole, then, I think that the Colony
has reason to be. proud of its Bench and its Bar.
As regards the Bench, no whisper of corruption,
favouritism, or want of the highest sense of justice
has ever been heard against any one of the judges.
They have maintained the high character and
prestige which have made the Bench of England the
model one of the whole world. And the Bar also, in
the person of every one of its members, has shown
the fearless independence, the earnestness, and the
sense of justice and duty which raise them to the
level of their brethren in the profession at home.
And with these words I now bid farewell to Bench
and Bar alike and to my readers.
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