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Of the surviving letters which I sent home at this period of my life several deal with my appointment to the office of Master and Registrar of the Transvaal High Court, and others with public affairs. From these I quote some extracts.

Dear Sir, — I have read your story deliberately and read it with considerable interest, which would of course have been greater had I read it in type.

Whenever I was not engaged in Court, where I hung about a great deal, and even for a while reported Divorce and Probate cases for The Times on behalf of that journal’s regular reporter, an old barrister name Kelly, when he was absent on a holiday, I sat at this table in the dingy room at 1 Elm Court and toiled at Jess.” Sometimes this was no easy task, since young barristers of my acquaintance, with time upon their hands, would enter and scoff at my literary labours. In the evening I placed what I had written in a kind of American cloth music-roll, which either my wife or Miss Barber made for me, and carried it home to West Kensington, so that I might continue my work after dinner. In fact, there were two of these rolls. The first of them I lost on my homeward way, I know not how or where. It contained about a dozen foolscap sheets of closely written manuscript of one of the most important parts of the book, that which, amongst other things, describes the character of Frank Muller and how, after he had attempted the murder of Neal and Jess in the Vaal River, he galloped away pursued by his own terrors. I remember that I was much distressed at this loss, thinking that what I had written was the best thing I had ever done. I waited awhile, hoping that the address written within the case might bring it back to me. But it never did. So I rewrote the missing sheets from memory, which has never been my strong point. I wonder whether they are better or worse than those that departed!

Henry Rider Haggard was born on June 22, 1856, and died on May 14, 1925. The present work covers the first fifty-six years of his life, commencing with his earliest recollections and ending on September 25, 1912. On that day he wrote to me: I have just written the last word of ‘The Days of My Life,’ and thankful I am to have done with that book. Whenever I can find time and opportunity I wish to add ‘A Note on Religion,’ which, when done, if ever, I will send to you.” This note” he sent me on January 24, 1913. By his wish the entire MS. was sealed up and put away in Messrs. Longman’s safe, and was seen no more till after his death, when it was opened by me in the presence of one of his executors.

Notwithstanding his hot temper, foibles and tricks of manner, there was something about him that made him extraordinarily popular, not only as I have said in his household but in the outside world. Thus I remember that once the Liberals (needless to say he was the strongest of Conservatives) offered not to contest the division if he would consent to represent it. This, however, with all the burden of his large family on his back he could not afford to do. It is a pity, for I am sure that his strong personality, backed as it was by remarkable shrewdness, would have made him a great figure in the House of Commons and one who would have been long remembered.

John Cordy Jeaffreson.

The remainder of my life in Natal, that is as secretary to the Governor — for I returned to that country afterwards in another capacity — can be summed up in few words. I copied despatches, received guests, and did my other duties, probably not as well as I might have done. But in connection with these I cannot think of much that is worth setting down.

Me go to South Africa to lecture!” he answered. Why, going from London to Upp” — Longman’s place in Hertfordshire — knocks me up.”


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