National Geographic : 1896 Nov
THE WITWATERSRAND AND Transvaal government was evidently prepared for the invasion. Jameson and his troopers were captured with all their docu ments and even the key to their cipher dispatches. The Johan nesburgers laid down their arms, and most of the reform com mittee were arrested. At their trial, in April, four of the leaders,* including Mr Hammond, pleaded guilty, on advice of counsel, to high treason, and the remainder pleaded guilty to lese majest6,t excepting Mr Curtis, who was detained by illness in Cape Town. His trial was postponed. The leaders were condemned to death on April 28, but the next day their sentence was reduced to fifteen years' imprisonment. The rank and file of the reform committee were given terms of imprisonment ranging from a few months to a couple of years. For some weeks no further miti gation of sentence was announced, and during this interval the government took occasion to publish telegrams and maps cap tured from Jameson's party, showing how deliberate had been the plot to deprive the republic of its independence. Such of the mass of the reformers as signed a petition for mercy were then discharged, on payment of a fine of £2,000 each. Two of them only, both Englishmen, refused to sign any appeal for clemency, and these gentlemen, whose attitude seems to most people a mistaken one, still remain in jail, so far as I am informed. Early in June the leaders also were released, on payment of the heavy fine of £25,000 each. They were given permission to re main in the Transvaal on condition of signing a pledge not to meddle in the affairs of the republic. This Colonel Frank Rhodes refused to do, and he was promptly escorted to the border. Mr Curtis, when sufficiently recovered from a very dangerous illness, presented himself in July for trial, but refused to plead guilty. The government, however, declined to proceed against him under plea of not guilty, evidently because it was loath to reopen the whole disagreeable question. I understand that Mr Curtis has contributed £2,000, the amount his comrades were fined, to the charities of the Transvaal, not caring to take pecuniary advantage of his exceptional position. The surrender of Dr Jameson and his officers to the British * Mr Charles Leonard, one of the five leaders, left the country before the arrest of the reform committee. The other leaders were Messrs George Farrar,Lionel Phillips, and Frank Rhodes. t The prisoners understood that there was an understanding between their counsel and the prosecution that the plea of guilty would be followed by a mild sentence. This arrangement is wholly denied by the prosecution and, according to Reuter, by counsel for the defense. I have not been able to ascertain the origin of the misunderstanding. A trial would have resulted in much ill-feeling, and it is as well that it was avoided.