. 1
( 7)


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All of London exploded on the night of ± May ±°°, in the biggest
West End party ever seen. The mix of media manipulation, pa-
triotism, and class, race, and gender politics that produced the
˜˜spontaneous™™ festivities of Mafeking Night begins this analysis of
the cultural politics of late-Victorian imperialism. Paula M. Krebs
examines ˜˜the last of the gentlemen™s wars™™ “ the Boer War of
±“±° “ and the struggles to maintain an imperialist hegemony
in a twentieth-century world, through the war writings of Arthur
Conan Doyle, Olive Schreiner, H. Rider Haggard, and Rudyard
Kipling, as well as contemporary journalism, propaganda, and
other forms of public discourse. Her feminist analysis of such
matters as the sexual honor of the British soldier at war, the deaths
of thousands of women and children in ˜˜concentration camps,™™
and new concepts of race in South Africa marks this book as a
signi¬cant contribution to British imperial studies.

Paula M. Krebs is Associate Professor of English at Wheaton
College, Massachusetts. She is co-editor of The Feminist Teacher
Anthology: Pedagogies and Classroom Strategies (±) and has published
articles in Victorian Studies, History Workshop Journal, and Victorian
Literature and Culture.
©¤§ µ¤© ©® ®©®®-®µ
¬ ©      µ    ® ¤  µ ¬  µ   

©¤§ µ¤© ©® ®©®®-®µ
¬©µ ®¤ µ¬µ

General editor
Gillian Beer, University of Cambridge

Editorial board
Isobel Armstrong, Birkbeck College, London
Terry Eagleton, University of Oxford
Leonore Davido¬, University of Essex
Catherine Gallagher, University of California, Berkeley
D. A. Miller, Columbia University
J. Hillis Miller, University of California, Irvine
Mary Poovey, New York University
Elaine Showalter, Princeton University

Nineteenth-century British literature and culture have been rich
¬elds for interdisciplinary studies. Since the turn of the twentieth
century, scholars and critics have tracked the intersections and
tensions between Victorian literature and the visual arts, politics,
social organization, economic life, technical innovations, scienti¬c
thought “ in short, culture in its broadest sense. In recent years,
theoretical challenges and historiographical shifts have unsettled
the assumptions of previous scholarly syntheses and called into
question the terms of older debates. Whereas the tendency in much
past literary critical interpretation was to use the metaphor of
culture as ˜˜background,™™ feminist, Foucauldian, and other ana-
lyses have employed more dynamic models that raise questions of
power and of circulation. Such developments have reanimated the
This series aims to accommodate and promote the most interest-
ing work being undertaken on the frontiers of the ¬eld of nine-
teenth-century literary studies: work which intersects fruitfully with
other ¬elds of study such as history, or literary theory, or the history
of science. Comparative as well as interdisciplinary approaches are
A complete list of titles published will be found at the end of the
Public Discourse and the Boer War

Wheaton College, Massachusetts
°µ¬©¤   ° ®¤© ¦  µ®©© ¦ ©¤§
The Pitt Building, Trumpington Street, Cambridge, United Kingdom

©¤§ µ®©© °
The Edinburgh Building, Cambridge CB2 2RU, UK
40 West 20th Street, New York, NY 10011-4211, USA
477 Williamstown Road, Port Melbourne, VIC 3207, Australia
Ruiz de Alarcón 13, 28014 Madrid, Spain
Dock House, The Waterfront, Cape Town 8001, South Africa


© Paula M. Krebs 2004

First published in printed format 1999

ISBN 0-511-03316-8 eBook (Adobe Reader)
ISBN 0-521-65322-3 hardback
To my mother, Dorothy M. Krebs, and to the memory of
my father, George F. Krebs, who knew war and
knew not to glamorize it.

Acknowledgments page ix

± The war at home ±
 The concentration camps controversy and the press 
 Gender ideology as military policy “ the camps, continued µµ
 Cannibals or knights “ sexual honor in the propaganda of
Arthur Conan Doyle and W. T. Stead
µ Interpreting South Africa to Britain “ Olive Schreiner, Boers,
and Africans
 The imperial imaginary “ the press, empire, and
the literary ¬gure ±
Works cited


The research for this book was carried out with the generous assistance
of many individuals and institutions. I have for many years bene¬ted
enormously from the resources of the University of London™s Institute of
Commonwealth Studies. I am especially grateful to the Institute for the
Henry Charles Chapman Fellowship, which I held for eight months in
±. The Institute™s seminars on Societies of Southern Africa in the Nineteenth
and Twentieth Centuries and Gender, Commonwealth, and Empire have been
exciting and challenging venues at which to o¬er my own work and
equally important places at which to learn from the work of others.
Wheaton College provided a semester of research leave under the
generous terms of the Hewlett-Mellon Research Award program and an
additional semester of unpaid leave, in addition to the travel funds
necessary for the research to complete this book. The Graduate School
at Indiana University awarded funds for travel to collections, and the
Indiana University Victorian Studies Program funded the important
¬rst year of my research. The Charlotte W. Newcombe Fellowship,
from the Woodrow Wilson Foundation in Princeton, New Jersey, en-
abled me to ¬nish the doctoral dissertation that was the ¬rst stage of this
I would like to thank the Trustees of Indiana University for per-
mission to reprint material that appeared in Victorian Studies and the
Editorial Collective of History Workshop Journal for permission to reprint
material from that publication. For permission to quote from the Joseph
Chamberlain Papers, I thank the University of Birmingham library.
Lord Milner™s correspondence is quoted by permission of the Warden
and Fellows, New College Oxford. For permission to use the cover
illustration, I thank the John Hay Library at Brown University and
Peter Harrington, curator of the Anne S. K. Brown Military Collection.
I am grateful to the librarians at the British Library and the British
Library Newspaper Library at Colindale, the Public Record O¬ce at
xii Acknowledgments
Kew, the University of York™s Centre for Southern African Studies, the
Indiana University library, the library of the London School of Econ-
omics and Political Science, the Bodleian Library at Oxford University,
the National Army Museum, the Madeline Clark Wallace Library at
Wheaton College “ especially Martha Mitchell, the library of the Uni-
versity of London™s School of Oriental and African Studies, David
Doughan and the Fawcett Library, the Royal Commonwealth Society,
and David Blake and his sta¬ at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies.
Tricia Lootens, Carolyn Burdett, Donald Gray, Regenia Gagnier,
Patrick Brantlinger, Paul Zietlow, G. Cleveland Wilhoit, and Susan
Gubar read and commented on chapters of this work, and I have
bene¬ted tremendously from their help. I would also like to thank the
anonymous readers for Victorian Studies and History Workshop Journal, and,
especially, the extremely helpful readers for Cambridge University
Press. Thanks also to my wonderful editor at CUP, Linda Bree. Friends
and colleagues who have heard me present aspects of the argument at
seminars and in lectures and who have provided valuable feedback
include Kate Darien-Smith, Shula Marks, Deborah Gaitskell, Hilary
Sapire, Shaun Milton, Chee Heng Leng, Annie Coombes, Lynda Nead,
Dian Kriz, John Miller, Travis Crosby, and Kathryn Tomasek. I am
extremely grateful as well for the useful advice of Sue Wiseman, Tim
Armstrong, Joe Bristow, Wendy Kolmar, Nicola Bown, Beverly Clark,
Richard Pearce, and Sue Lafky. My undergraduate research assistant,
the late Sam Maltese, helped with the Kipling material; he would have
contributed much to the ¬eld of literary and cultural studies. I o¬er a
sincere thank you to Marilyn Todesco and to my indexer, Jessica
Benjamin. My intellectual debt to Patrick Brantlinger will be obvious in
the pages that follow, and I thank him very much. Tricia Lootens has
been my partner in Victorian Studies for many years “ my best friend,
collaborator, mentor. Claire Buck made this book possible, always
making the time to read and discuss drafts, and always asking the
toughest questions. Her intellectual, practical, and emotional support
have made all the di¬erence.

° ±

The war at home

In the ± Shirley Temple ¬lm of the classic children™s story A Little
Princess, young Sara Crewe rousts all the slumbering residents of Miss
Minchin™s Female Seminary from their beds with the cry of ˜˜Mafeking
is relieved! Mafeking is relieved!™™ Sara patriotically drags her school-
mates and teachers into the wild London street celebrations marking the
end of the Boer War siege that she and the rest of England had been
following in the newspapers for months. This particular scene in the ¬lm
seems a bit odd to those familiar with Frances Hodgson Burnett™s novel
(±°µ), however, because the novel never mentions the Boer War “
Sara™s father is posted in India, not South Africa. But in ±, it was
better to send Captain Crewe to Mafeking. With Britain at war and the
United States weighing its options, fellow-feeling for the British was
important. If a ¬lm was to inspire transatlantic loyalties, to remind
American audiences of the kind of stu¬ those Brits were made of, then
Mafeking Night was a perfect image to use. Mafeking, in the early part
of the century, still meant wartime hope, British pluck, and home-front
patriotism. Using Mafeking Night as its centerpiece, The Little Princess
(the ¬lm™s title) was a kind of Mrs. Miniver for children.
Mafeking Night must have been an irresistible choice for the makers
of The Little Princess “ it had military glory, class-mixing, and rowdiness in
the gaslit streets of nostalgia-laden Victorian London. The scene had
been truly unprecedented.¹ When news of the relief of Mafeking
reached London at :±· p.m. on Friday ± May ±°°, thanks to a
Reuters News Agency telegram, central London exploded. Thousands
danced, drank, kissed, and created general uproar. In what has been
seen as perhaps the premier expression of crude public support of
late-Victorian imperialism, Liverpool, Newcastle, Birmingham, York,
and Glasgow rioted with ¬reworks, brass bands, and blasts on factory
sirens. This celebration of empire was made possible by the new
halfpenny press that spread the daily news to thousands of households
 Gender, race, and the writing of empire
that had never before read a newspaper daily. The most signi¬cant
spontaneous public eruption in London since the ± Trafalgar Square
riots, Mafeking Night could hardly have been more di¬erent in charac-
ter from those protests of unemployment. Economic theorist J. A.
Hobson, and V. I. Lenin, whose Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism
(±±) grew directly from Hobson™s writings, argued that imperialism
distracted the British working classes from their economic problems by
promising payo¬s from afar in imperial trade as well as by replacing
class consciousness with nationalism and pride in the empire. Mafeking
Night has come down to us as a central symbol of such distraction “ the
premier image of late-Victorian mass support for nationalism, patriot-
ism, and imperial capitalism.
This chapter argues that the events of Mafeking Night must be read
di¬erently. The events that led to the ˜˜spontaneous™™ riots of Mafeking
Night show that the celebrations in fact say less about British support for
imperialism than they do about the power of the press to tease the
British public into a frenzy of anticipation and then to release that
tension in a rush of carefully-directed enthusiasm. Mafeking Night
symbolizes what J. A. Hobson saw as the dangerous power of the
popular press in creating imperial sentiment in the service of capitalism.
It is a compilation of the power of some other very important symbols
that were at work in support of imperialism “ symbols of British
masculinity, class structure, and patronage of ˜˜lower races.™™ Each of
these symbols is at work in the making of Mafeking Night, and each
holds some profound contradictions in the period of the Boer War,
which is why Mafeking Night itself is such a highly ambiguous symbol of
Victorian support for imperialism.
Mafeking Night made jingoism safe for the middle classes by blurring
the distinction between jingoism, which had been seen as working-class
over-enthusiasm for the empire, and patriotism, that middle-class virtue
of support for one™s country against foreign opposition. Mafeking Night
defused the threat that had been posed by mass action in London, such
as the bloody Trafalgar Square riots of just fourteen years before. Anne
McClintock points out the fear of the ˜˜crowd™™ in late-Victorian Lon-
don: ˜˜In the last decades of the nineteenth century, the urban crowd
became a recurring fetish for ruling-class fears of social unrest and
underclass militancy. Lurking in the resplendent metropolis, the crowd
embodied a ˜savage™ and dangerous underclass waiting to spring upon
the propertied classes™™ (Imperial Leather ±±“±). The nineteenth-century
study of crowd psychology, which began with examinations of the

The war at home
French Revolution and the Paris Commune, focused on fear, as J. S.
McClelland points out in The Crowd and the Mob (°°). By the publication
of Gustave Le Bon™s book on the crowd (published in English in ± as
The Psychology of Peoples), ˜˜crowd psychology had long been chipping
away at the sense of distance which ordinary, civilized, law-abiding men
had always felt when they looked at crowds™™ (McClelland The Crowd and
the Mob °°), and Le Bon™s elitism encouraged a middle-class fear of
being subsumed into an underclass crowd. Mafeking Night was a mass
action in the streets, but it was neither produced nor controlled by the
working classes. Young Sara Crewe would have been perfectly safe in
the ± and ± May outdoor revels in the West End of London, for they
had nothing at all in common with working-class protests of unemploy-
ment or with the worker unrest that had terri¬ed the ruling classes
earlier in the century. In the newspaper versions of the event, Mafeking
Night was a middle-class party (with some working-class guests). The
date had been set and invitations issued by lower-middle-class media “
the popular press.
In a Victorian Britain where masses in the streets had always meant
strikes and riots, there had been no precedent for large-scale public
celebration “ even the public celebrations of victory over Napoleon had
been relatively small and sedate. But the British people surged into the
twentieth century when they poured into the West End to celebrate the
relief of Mafeking. Newspapers and journals touted the mixed-class
nature of the Mafeking festivities: costermongers mingled with gentle-
men. The rioters were not working-class radicals, threatening the politi-
cal or social order. In the language the press used to describe Mafeking
Night and the following day, they were ˜˜everyone™™ and ˜˜London™™ and
even ˜˜England.™™ They were created as a group by the newspapers, and
this chapter examines the mechanism of their creation and the function
of them as a group representing ˜˜public opinion.™™
After the demise of the eighteenth-century co¬eehouse culture
around which Jurgen Habermas formed his concept of the ˜˜public
sphere,™™ the arena through which governments heard feedback from
elite social groups about public policies, the equivalent forum for public
exchange of ideas became the periodicals “ the reviews and even the
magazines.² But by the end of the Victorian period, the periodicals,
though still prestigious as public forums, were losing their pride of place
in public opinion formation to the newspapers. With the spread of
literacy after the Education Act of ±·° and the emergence of the new
popular press, some political debates, including questions about South
 Gender, race, and the writing of empire
Africa, shifted to the newspapers. As ˜˜public™™ took on new meanings in
the nineteenth century, as new publics were being created that included
women and the lower-middle and working classes, the quality and the
popular press, daily and weekly, became the ˜˜public sphere,™™ and
public discourse of many kinds became important in the creation of
government and even military policy.
The Reform Acts of ± and ±·° had begun to create a new
relationship between the government and the ˜˜public™™ in Britain.
Historians of public opinion, such as J.A.W. Gunn and Dror Wahrman,
recognize the signi¬cance of newspapers in public opinion, even if they
rarely resolve whether the press shapes or re¬‚ects public opinion. But the
eighteenth-century newspaper, and even the ±°s newspaper, was a
qualitatively and quantitatively di¬erent thing from the daily of ±, and
the publics reached by the end-of-century newspapers were very di¬er-
ent indeed from earlier ones. After the establishment of the Daily Mail in
±, as tabloid journalism emerged coincident with the New Imperial-
ism, public opinion about the Boer War became quite directly dependent
on newspapers. With the New Journalism, the newspaper-reading public
was a far wider collection of people in ± than it had been during any
previous British war. But while the popular press thrived on the daily
drama of war reporting from South Africa and bene¬ted in circulation
¬gures and in¬‚uence from the war, the government™s colonial and war
policies bene¬ted just as much from the success of the halfpenny papers,
especially the Daily Mail.
To consider terms such as public discourse, public sphere, and public
opinion as useful analytical tools for an examination of imperial ideol-
ogy, we must ¬rst understand turn-of-the-century creation of ˜˜the
public.™™ As Mary Poovey (˜˜Abortion Question™™), Judith Butler (˜˜Con-
tingent Foundations™™), and other feminist theorists have shown, dis-
courses that presuppose a uni¬ed, universal subject, such as arguments
that rely on a language of ˜˜rights,™™ are implicated in the creation of that
subject. The subject, Poovey argues, is a gendered, mythical construc-
tion that is deemed to have ˜˜personhood™™ based on an inner essence
that must pre-exist it (˜˜Abortion Question™™ °). The creation of the
˜˜public™™ by late-nineteenth-century newspapers and political o¬cials
can be considered similarly to the ways Poovey and Butler consider the
construction of the liberal individual political subject “ the system ends
up constructing the very subject whose existence it thinks it is acknowl-
edging. In the events of Mafeking Night we see the emergence of a
British public that observers had been assuming existed all the while that
The war at home
they were creating it. The newspapers were considering ˜˜what the
public wants™™ while teaching it what to want, and the celebrations of
Mafeking Night served as both evidence that there was one ˜˜public™™ in
ritain and as example of the e¬ectiveness of the press, in consultation
with the military and the Colonial O¬ce, in the creation of that public
out of many separate and distinct publics.

· ® ¤   ° µ ¬ © 
The Boer War marked an important turning point for imperial Britain.
The war, fought by two white armies for control over a land where
whites were far outnumbered by indigenous Africans, pitted the British
Empire against the farmers (the literal translation of ˜˜Boers™™) of Dutch
descent who lived in the two South African republics. In Britain, the
Boers were seen as backward, petty tyrants who sought to exploit British
settlers in the gold-mining districts of the Witwatersrand. When war was
declared in October ±, it was general knowledge in Britain that the
ragged bands (˜˜commandos™™) of untrained Boer soldiers riding ponies
could never mount a credible attack on the British army, and the war
would be over by Christmas. But, as Oscar Wilde had said, wars are
never over by Christmas, and this one dragged on for almost three
years, as British ¬ghting methods, horses, supplies, and health all proved
inadequate to the task. Although few British statesmen came out fully
against the war, by the war™s end the rest of Europe vehemently
denounced the British cause and ¬ghting methods, and con¬‚ict about
the methods employed by the British army resulted in a split in the
already divided Liberal party and in public opinion throughout Britain.
From the newspaper coverage of the war in popular and quality
dailies to the private correspondence of public ¬gures, writings about
the war reveal splits in public opinion and serious new concerns about
British imperialism. Concern about British aims in southern Africa had
been stirred in late ±µ, when entrepreneur Cecil Rhodes™ ally Leander
Starr Jameson had led an abortive raid against the Boer government of
the Transvaal. Jameson had been trying to stir up rebellion among the
˜˜uitlanders,™™ the mostly-British foreigners working in the mining dis-
trict, so Britain could justify annexing the region, and it was easy to
portray the Boer War that came three years later as a government-led
attempt to achieve what Rhodes had been unable to achieve with the
Jameson Raid “ a Transvaal in the political control of the British rather
than the Boer farmers.
 Gender, race, and the writing of empire
In looking at Mafeking Night, this chapter problematizes the concept
of public opinion and its relation to late-Victorian imperialism, examin-
ing the assumptions about, for example, race, gender, evolution, and
economics under which the ideology of imperialism was operating. It all
starts with Mafeking Night “ the celebrations that marked that event
point to the issues that characterized the rest of the war. The Mafeking
Night celebrations have been portrayed as spontaneous, unproblemati-
cally patriotic, and at the same time nationally uncharacteristic. That is,
they were distinctly un-British: Kipling wrote to William Alexander
Fraser shortly after Mafeking Night, ˜˜You™ve seen something that I
never suspected lay in the national character “ the nation letting itself
go.™™³ But that hitherto hidden side of the national character was not as
spontaneously revealed as Kipling implied: Carrie Kipling noted in her
diary on Mafeking Night that it was her husband himself who was
responsible for the celebrations at Rottingdean, where he had roused
the ˜˜inhabitants to celebrate™™ the relief of Mafeking (quoted in Pinney
Letters ±).
The events surrounding the relief of Mafeking prove characteristic of
both the New Imperialism and the New Journalism. The interlocking of
these two developments allowed the Anglo-Boer to be what one soldier
called ˜˜the last of the gentlemen™s wars,™™⁴ with all the gender, race, and
class-based associations inherent in the phrase, but made it also the ¬rst
of the sensation-mongers™ wars. And the sensation journalism that
supported the New Imperialism called into question some of the central
assumptions behind the concept of the British gentleman.
The press had, since the eighteenth century, been seen as an import-
ant in¬‚uence on ˜˜public opinion,™™ as it was de¬ned by government and
opposition. But, with the Reform Acts and the Education Act of ±·°
creating an expanded and more literate electorate, the late-Victorian
press had come to assume an even more signi¬cant role in the determi-
nation of public opinion. Critics such as J. A. Hobson attributed much
power to the press in creating and sustaining mass support for imperial-
ism. But Hobson™s critique of imperialism has a strong anti-working-
class bias: the public he sees as deluded into supporting imperialism is
the workers. Hobson was right to the extent that the new popular press
was not aimed at the constituency thought to make up public opinion
earlier in the century. The Daily Mail, the newspaper Salisbury is
reported to have said was ˜˜written by o¬ce boys for o¬ce boys™™ (quoted
in Ensor England ±), sought a di¬erent public than such venerable
organs as The Times. It was not until the New Journalism that news-
The war at home
papers could be said to reach readers who were not at least upper-
middle class. The penny dailies (and the threepenny Times) aimed at
political in¬‚uence and sought it in the traditional readership of the daily
press. But the new halfpennies, starting with the Daily Mail, sought huge
circulations and the pro¬ts that accompanied them. While ˜˜public
opinion™™ from the early eighteenth-century origin of the term seems to
have meant the opinion of that part of the public that constituted the
electorate, public opinion by the time of the Boer War was not so easily
de¬ned. The new variety in the press paralleled a new variety of publics:
a large, literate electorate and even some of the non-enfranchised “
women. (The Daily Mail ran regular features directed at its female
readers, including ¬ction and fashion articles.) The Mafeking Night
celebrations were the product of the new newspapers™ relationships with
the new British publics they were creating, and the celebrations, while
they would seem to demonstrate ˜˜common sense,™™µ natural support for
imperialism in turn-of-the-century Britain, actually reveal that such
support was carefully manufactured through the press by a careful
manipulation of public opinion(s) to create a very temporary spasm of
The jingoism/patriotism of Mafeking Night helped to rally national
and, indeed, imperial sentiment behind a war that had not been going
well. Because of a series of British setbacks early in the war, it had
become important that something potent emerge to bring Britons
together in support of the con¬‚ict. A symbol would need to evoke
sentiments that could unite Britons, whether or not they supported
Joseph Chamberlain in the Colonial O¬ce, the embattled War O¬ce,
or the war itself. The million-circulation Daily Mail and its allies in the
new popular journalism of the late ±°s handed the British government
the answer: The siege of Mafeking, with its strong, masculine hero in
Colonel Robert Baden-Powell, its plucky British civilians (including the
elegant Lady Sarah Wilson) making the best of a bad lot, and its loyal
African population rallying behind the Union Jack, was a war publicist™s
dream. The popular press beat the drum for Britain, and, while it did
not succeed in converting the nation wholesale into jingoes, it managed
nevertheless to produce in Mafeking Night itself a spectacle of English
enthusiasm for empire that united class with class and provided an
image of imperial solidarity to inspire much-needed support for the war.
By the ± start of the Boer War, imperialism had entered British
public discourse in countless ways; John MacKenzie™s work on propa-
ganda and empire points to the myriad symbols of empire in everyday
 Gender, race, and the writing of empire
life by the turn of the century. Everything from biscuit tins to advertise-
ments to schoolbooks, as Kathryn Castle shows, reminded Britons of
˜˜their™™ empire. Edward Said talks of the place of imperialism in the
works of ˜˜Ruskin, Tennyson, Meredith, Dickens, Arnold, Thackeray,
George Eliot, Carlyle, Mill “ in short, the full roster of signi¬cant
Victorian writers™™ (Culture ±), and of the ways the British imperial
identity a¬ected the world view of such ¬gures as they came to ˜˜identify
themselves with this power™™ (Culture ±·) that was imperialism. Litera-
ture played a signi¬cant part in the development of an imperial imagin-
ary “ images and myths about the empire working in conjunction with
˜˜facts™™ coming from the empire “ that was necessary to sustain British
public support for the economic project of empire.⁶ The ¬nal chapter of
this book takes up the issue of literary ¬gures and their relation to
imperialism during the Boer War. For the purposes of this ¬rst chapter,
however, I would like to examine the ways the average newspaper-
reading public came to ˜˜identify [itself ] with this power™™ of imperial-
ism. Rather than tracing imperial themes in literature, as many excel-
lent recent studies have done, this volume examines assumptions about
British imperialism and what sustained it in public discourse about the
Boer War as well as analyzing the ways various kinds of public discourse
functioned to support and critique that imperialism.

  ¦«© ®§   
Despite or perhaps because of the strategic unimportance of the town,
the siege of Mafeking became a myth almost as soon as the town was
encircled by Boer troops in October ±. The importance of the myth
of Mafeking has been noted, especially in Brian Gardner™s study of
Mafeking: A Victorian Legend. The present chapter seeks to trace the myth™s
origins in the contemporary press treatments of the siege and to exam-
ine the importance of the myth-making function of the popular press
within the New Imperialism of the late nineteenth century. Much
cultural studies work on the ideology of imperialism has underplayed
the importance of newspapers or seen their role in image-making as
relatively straightforward. Anne McClintock, for example, in Imperial
Leather™s insightful analysis of newspaper photographs, advertisements,
and illustrations, devotes almost no attention to the text that surrounded
much of the visual material. When she quotes newspapers, it is as
historical evidence. But even during the Boer War, commentators were
already formulating analyses of the ideological function of the news-

The war at home
papers, the music halls, the schools, and the pulpits. An examination of
such contemporary critiques reveals a complicated picture of how
imperialism functioned culturally in turn-of-the-century Britain. J. A.
Hobson, W. T. Stead, Olive Schreiner, and other anti-war writers, as
well as those writing on the other side, recognized popular culture,
including the press, as essential to the war e¬ort. Starting with an
examination of Mafeking Night and then moving to more detailed
analyses of aspects of writing about the South African War, this volume
seeks to shift cultural studies™ approach to the late-Victorian empire. As
McClintock, Preben Kaarsholm, and others have pointed out, late-
Victorian imperialism was not a cultural monolith: support for the
empire coexisted with critiques of aspects of the capitalism that helped
to drive it; working-class jingoism sat uneasily with patriotic Britons
from other classes who might or might not support the war; the rights of
Africans were invoked on the pro- and anti-war sides, with equally vain
results. The complexity of the ideologies of imperialism during the Boer
War is borne out by this study of a range of texts and authors, all of
which were elements in a culture in which empire was assumed and yet
critiqued, was understood and yet always needed to be explained, was
far away and yet appeared at the breakfast table every morning.
During the last decades of Victoria™s reign, as John MacKenzie™s
work has shown, images of empire abounded in advertising, popular
literature and theater, exhibitions, and other cultural spaces. But being
inundated with evidence of empire is not the same as supporting the
economic or political ideal of British imperialism. Such imperial advo-
cates as H. Rider Haggard bemoaned through the ±°s and ±°s the
British public™s lack of interest in its own empire. Occasional periodical
articles addressed imperial issues, but even the Zulu War and the ¬rst
con¬‚ict with the Boers failed to rouse the British from cozy domestic
concerns. The Anglo-Boer War of ±“±°, however, was di¬erent. It
was a long, large-scale war with another white nation, it cost millions of
pounds of public money, and it couldn™t help but catch the interest of
the British public very decisively. The press followed the events of the
war in such detail that Haggard decided by the end of the war to give up
the idea of writing a series of articles on South Africa for the Daily Express
“ people were sick and tired of constantly reading about South Africa,
he said. The key factor in igniting public interest in this imperial con¬‚ict
was the new popular press of the late ±°s, the cheap, sensation-
oriented jingoist reporting and editing that was already known as the
New Journalism. The New Imperialism of the late nineteenth century,
±° Gender, race, and the writing of empire
which included the direct acquisition by the British government of
African land, was generally supported by jingo papers that grew out of
the New Journalism. The New Journalism was able to build that support
by creating a new sense of the Great British Public, and the buildup to
and reporting about Mafeking Night illustrates how it was done.
To begin this exploration of the connections between New Imperial-
ism and New Journalism, we return to the night of ± May ±°° and the
events that led up to it. T. Wemyss Reid, of the Leeds Mercury, wrote a
monthly column in the Nineteenth Century called ˜˜The Newspapers,™™ in
which he kept a daily journal of the signi¬cant stories in the papers and
the public events and trends behind them. Reid was a self-proclaimed
˜˜old journalist™™ and complained regularly about the excesses of the new
popular press. We can trace the factors that led up to Mafeking Night
through Reid™s chronicle of war coverage after the crushing British
defeats of Black Week in December ±. The setbacks of that week,
Reid warned, should:
open the eyes of our Jingo journalists to some of the risks which a great Empire
runs when it enters upon a serious military expedition. Hitherto they have seen
only the picturesque side of war . . . (January ±°°, ±)
Jingo journalists are a new breed during the Boer War, an important
part of the style of the New Journalism. Jingo did not mean patriotic “ all
major British dailies would have considered themselves patriotic, even
the very few who opposed the war. Jingo was, rather, a class-in¬‚ected
concept. The jingo journalist, with screaming headlines and rah-rah
attitude, was the press equivalent of the music hall song-and-dance act,
as compared to the solid Shakespearians of The Times and its fellow
˜˜quality™™ papers. Grumblings about jingoism were coded complaints
about the likes of the Daily Mail™s pandering to the working classes.
Wemyss Reid™s analysis combines resentment of censorship, a prob-
lem throughout the war, with his objections to the popular press: ˜˜the
news, as we know, is very meagre. Either because of the severity of the
censorship, or for some other reason, we have an entire absence of the
brilliant descriptive writing we have been accustomed to get in former
campaigns. The descriptive element is supplied, indeed, by the sub-
editors with their sensational head-lines and in¬‚ammatory placards™™
(January ±°°, ±µ). Reid sees the ˜˜descriptive writing™™ of earlier wars,
the colorful, often poignant sketches of the scene of war as well as the
battles themselves, as being replaced by two-column headlines and
half-truths on placards. This is the doing of the new journalists, for
whom sensation replaces analysis. The Daily Mail was indeed exaggerat-
The war at home
ing every cabled bit of news from South Africa into a headline. The
surest way to attract customers, the Daily Mail™s Alfred Harmsworth
appeared to believe, was to cheer for the British army as if it were a
national football team. According to Reid, knee-jerk jingoism was the
central characteristic of the new approach to journalism. Jingoism was,
of course, one of the most signi¬cant excesses of the Daily Mail, but it was
by no means its only di¬erence from the quality papers. The older, more
respectable newspapers such as The Times, the Daily Telegraph, the Daily
News, or the Manchester Guardian were still, in ±°°, devoting more
attention to parliamentary reporting and political speeches and news
than to human-interest stories, crime, and fashion tips.
We can see through Reid how government censorship combined with
sensationalism to produce the climate for Mafeking. Reid records the
tension around General Buller™s ill-fated e¬ort to capture Spion Kop hill
(the British walked into a trap and su¬ered massive casualties). On ±µ
January ±°°, Reid records in his press diary:
Again we are enduring the heavy strain of suspense. The silence that is
maintained with regard to General Buller™s movements is borne with ill-
concealed impatience by the public, as the ¬‚uctuating crowds which thronged
the portals of the War O¬ce yesterday from morning till late at night proved.
Wild rumours ran through the streets and the clubs. Newsboys shouted hoarse-
ly in all our thoroughfares and squares. We were told of defeat, of victory, of
great battles at that moment raging . . . But when the silence of night fell upon
us, we were still without authentic news. (February ±°°, µ“µ)
Newspapers tried to sell copies by pretending to have news, telling the
public con¬‚icting stories of battles that never happened. But what the
papers were selling was not what Reid could call ˜˜news.™™ He lays out a
contradictory picture of the public: ¬rst the ˜˜public™™ is the ˜˜¬‚uctuating
crowd™™ thronging the War O¬ce, with no indication of class. But then
Reid reveals that there are in fact two kinds of publics in question, those
in ˜˜the streets™™ and those in ˜˜the clubs.™™ We see a map of central
London, its ˜˜thoroughfares and squares,™™ its legitimate public spaces.
Those to whom the newsboys hawked their illegitimate news, the
victims of wild rumor, were ˜˜we.™™ But which was the ˜˜we™™? The people
whose domain was the streets or those who dwelt in the clubs?
Two days later Reid complains about the evening jingo journals.
Although no morning paper had yet joined the Daily Mail in its assault
on the journalistic approach of The Times and others, the evening papers
were closer in kind to the popular appeal of the Harmsworth paper.
Reid resents the new sensation-seeking (and circulation-seeking) of the
± Gender, race, and the writing of empire
evening journals™ war news: ˜˜If only the scandal of the evening news-
papers could be repressed, people would begin to be cheerful again; but
this afternoon these prints have surpassed themselves in sensationalism
and exaggeration™™ (February ±°°, °). Reid now attributes the mood
of the ˜˜people™™ entirely to the New Journalism. He is worried about the
mood of the lower-middle-class readers of such papers. The ˜˜we™™ of his
earlier account no longer includes him. His mood is ¬ne. It™s the
˜˜people™™ who are not cheerful. But Reid will go to great lengths to avoid
directly mentioning the class associations of the papers with which he
quarrels. On ± February, he ¬nds that ˜˜there is much depression
to-day™™ about the siege of Ladysmith (March ±°°, µ), and ˜˜the
general mood to-day is one of depression “ undue depression, it seems to
me™™ (March ±°°, µ). Here the ˜˜general mood™™ de¬nitely excludes
Reid “ public depression is unjusti¬ed, as it will prove to be shortly
thereafter, when Ladysmith is relieved. For Reid, the people who are
the public, whose opinion and mood he records, seem to be the readers
of the sensationalist papers. But that will change with Mafeking.

   ®   ©  ®  ¬  
From the Spion Kop debacle in February until May, the papers were
lacking in any major war news, and other news dominated both the
newspapers and Reid™s column in the Nineteenth Century. On ± May,
Reid records:
Once more the attention of the country is riveted upon the war . . . Much more
engrossing for most people than the question of a possible dissolution is the
prospect of the early relief of Mafeking. The nerves of the public, which now
takes the war so quietly “ possibly, indeed, in the opinion of super¬cial
observers so apathetically “ have got into the ˜˜jumpy™™ state in which they were
before the relief of Ladysmith, and every day a new story that the beleaguered
village has at last been relieved is started and accepted with pathetic eagerness.
When the good news comes at last it seems at least probable that we shall
witness a repetition of the outbreak of joy that greeted the succour of Sir George
White and his brave comrades, and the idea that the calmness which now
distinguishes the public has anything of callous indi¬erence in it will be
e¬ectually dispelled. (June ±°°, ±°“µ)

The public Reid is defending against charges of apathy and ˜˜callous
indi¬erence™™ to the war takes on a di¬erent character when the news of
Mafeking™s relief ¬nally arrives in London. Now, for Reid, the public
has come to include him:
The war at home
[T]o such a night “ or rather such a night and day, for I write at the close of this
memorable Saturday “ none of us can recall a parallel. The news of the relief of
Mafeking came unexpectedly in the end. For two days everybody had been
inquiring almost hourly for the news so eagerly awaited. When it had not
arrived by dinner time yesterday most of us prepared to wait with such patience
as we could command for another night. And then, just as we were reconciling
ourselves to the fact that the ±th of May was not to witness the realization of
the promise made by Lord Roberts, the news came that the promise was most
brilliantly ful¬lled. (June ±°°, ±°“·)
The ˜˜people™™ and the ˜˜public™™ have become ˜˜us™™ and ˜˜we™™ with the
relief of Mafeking by the ± May deadline set by the commander-in-
chief. The resulting huge, leaderless crowd in central London is safe for
the middle class, even includes the middle class. The idea of the jingo
mob that has come down to us is a working-class, ¬‚ag-waving, slogan-
shouting crowd, and Reid con¬rms that in every respect but the most
It was in the thoroughfares of the West End . . . that the most wonderful sight
was seen. Here the streets were blocked by a shouting, singing, cheering
multitude, composed of both sexes and all classes “ a multitude that seemed
literally to have gone mad with joy . . . Every vehicle in the streets and a
majority of the passers-by have borne [¬‚ags] “ it was almost dangerous, indeed,
to be seen without some emblem of the national joy. (June ±°°, ±°·“)
A loud, boisterous multitude gone mad, but one that posed no threat to
the middle class because it included ˜˜all classes.™™ This is, of course, a far
cry from ± in Trafalgar Square; after all, this crowd is happy.
Mafeking Night was an unruly gathering of a size unprecedented in
London. For Reid, however, it is not a mob; it is ˜˜London.™™ And for the
commentators in the daily papers, the crowd represented something
larger still. The Westminster Gazette of ± May declared, under a headline
of ˜˜London Relieved!/The Empire™s Rejoicing/Fervid Cheers for Ma-
feking and ˜B.-P.,™™™ ˜˜That section of London which was not at home
was delirious last night, and to-day is far on the way to proving the
liveliest day ever experienced by the Capital. If for ˜London™ we read not
merely ˜Country,™ but ˜Empire,™ the case is not put too high™™ (). The
enthusiasm of the British press at the relief of Mafeking is perhaps most
concretely demonstrated by the ¬rst-ever use of an across-the-page
headline by a London newspaper, by the Daily Express in its announce-
ment of the end of the siege (Lake British Newspapers ±±±).
Tracing the implications of Mafeking Night illustrates changes in the
concept of public opinion. Wemyss Reid blames the placard-producing
± Gender, race, and the writing of empire
press for creating moods of despair or anticipation in the lead-up to
Mafeking Night, but he does not in turn credit that press for the events
of the night. The rather gullible public that he sees as manipulated by
the popular press throughout the war suddenly disappears for Reid on
Mafeking Night. The crowd becomes one with him in celebrating an
event that transcends gender and class. Even this most virulent anti-
tabloid press critic falls into the mood created by that very press when
the mood represents ˜˜the national joy.™™
How did Wemyss Reid and the rest of London (not to mention cities
throughout the empire) get drawn into the melodrama of the siege of
Mafeking? A siege makes for good long-term drama for a newspaper,
almost as good as serial ¬ction for winning reader loyalty. It takes no
great military mind to follow the details of a siege, and the situation itself
“ dwindling supplies and ammunition, no relief in sight “ inspires
concern. Mafeking was a more interesting siege than the other major
Boer War sieges (Kimberley and Ladysmith) because of its isolated
location, its last-minute relief, and its makeshift defending force. The
tiny frontier town inspired concern in Britain from even before the start
of the siege, so ripe was it for Boer picking. And the Daily Mail, through
stories carried out of town by African runners, kept Mafeking in the
news throughout the siege, updating readers on the occasional sorties
from the town, the food stocks, and the mood of the garrison. The tactics
of the Daily Mail captured the attention of the nation; the newspaper
dramatized the situation of the town by emphasizing the danger that it
might have to surrender and by stressing the inhabitants™ heroic good
cheer and the ingenuity of the garrison™s leader, Baden-Powell.

˜ ˜ . - °. ™™
Although the halfpennies led the way in dramatizing Mafeking™s plight,
the qualities were not slow to pick up on the tactics of their lesser
brethren. Press historian Stephen Koss cites The Times editors writing to
their war correspondent Leo Amery, encouraging him to focus on
individuals rather than on ˜˜abstract theories™™ (Koss Rise and Fall ±).
The focus on personality came directly from the popular press: Moberly
Bell wrote to Amery, ˜˜whatever your Harmsworths and Pearsons don™t
know they do know the public™™ (quoted in Koss Rise and Fall ±). The
Victorian cult of personality had moved into the press by the turn of the
century, and the military version of the focus on individuals at the
expense of issues, already in place by Gordon™s death,· shifted into high
The war at home
gear in the Boer War. In the early days of the war, the Daily Mail ran
regular features on the o¬cers it predicted would be important, includ-
ing Baden-Powell.⁸ In his work on the empire, John MacKenzie con-
nects military hero-worship to late-Victorian racial ideology, and we
can trace that connection through an examination of the Boer War™s
biggest hero. MacKenzie notes that:
Concepts of race were closely related in popular literature to the imperative of
con¬‚ict between cultures, and the evidence of superiority it provided. Colonial
heroes became the prime exemplars of a master people, and this enhanced their
position in the military cult of personality. Their fame enabled them to exert
great in¬‚uence in leading service and conscription associations and youth
organisations, in travelling extensively on speaking visits to schools or in public
lectures in civic halls, as well as participating in ceremonial throughout the
country. (Propaganda and Empire ·)
Of course the foremost Victorian military ¬gure to lead a youth organiz-
ation was the founder of the Scouts. Throughout the siege of Mafeking,
Baden-Powell had grown larger and larger in British public estimation,
holding o¬ the besiegers who so outnumbered his makeshift assembly of
troops. ˜˜The Wolf That Does Not Sleep™™ managed to keep the town
inhabitants alive with the scarce food available, mounted occasional
sneak attacks on the besiegers, and performed in town entertainments
designed to keep spirits up. He represented British pluck at its pluckiest.
The creation of the public image of Baden-Powell was a group e¬ort by
the Victorian press, but it was solidi¬ed by the Daily Mail and its special
Mafeking correspondent Lady Sarah Wilson.
At the start of the war, Lady Sarah, the athletic, adventurous sister of
the late Lord Randolph Churchill and wife of a captain in the Royal
Horse Guards who joined Baden-Powell™s troops at Mafeking, had
taken refuge at the farm of an English friend near Vryburg, down the
rail line. Cha¬ng at her inactivity, she sent by carrier pigeon to Baden-
Powell with an o¬er to spy on the Boers; unfortunately, the Boers shot
the pigeon down, discovered the o¬er, and imprisoned her at the farm.
She decided to get to Mafeking, and, knowing that one of the Daily Mail
reporters had been captured by the Boers and sent to Pretoria, she
o¬ered to serve as Mafeking correspondent for that paper. She
managed to persuade her guards to take her to the general commanding
the siege, who o¬ered to exchange her for a Boer prisoner in Mafeking.⁹
Sarah Wilson™s letters and telegrams to the Daily Mail from Mafeking
focused on the everyday life of the siege “ food shortages, boredom,
details of the bombardment. But it was her descriptions of Baden-Powell
± Gender, race, and the writing of empire
himself that the Daily Mail played up most. ˜˜The Two B.-P.™s/Sketched
from Life by Lady Sarah Wilson™™ (° April ±°°, ), for example, was a
long article about the conditions of the siege, only the last third of which
discussed Baden-Powell, despite its headline.
The detail about Baden-Powell provided by Lady Sarah supplement-
ed the feature stories on his record that the Daily Mail had put together.
In its leading articles, too, the paper located hopes for Mafeking, and
indeed for the war, in Baden-Powell. On  March ±°°, for example,
the paper™s leader opined that:
The repulse “ for such we fear it must be accounted “ of Colonel Plumer™s
column near Lobatsi, followed, as it has been, by a retreat to Crocodile Pools,
would be an incident of in¬nitesimal importance in the great campaign now
proceeding, were it not the case that upon it may hinge the fate of gallant little
Mafeking . . . The British public do not consider its surrender from the military
standpoint. They remember the protracted, the heroic defence which the tiny
garrison has made under that splendid o¬cer Colonel Baden-Powell, and they
hope and believe that the place will yet be snatched from its Boer besiegers at
the eleventh hour.
It is strange to re¬‚ect how a man whose very name six months ago was
almost unknown to the British public has now secured the con¬dence of the
whole Empire, so that it ¬rmly believes that no situation, however desperate,
will prove too much for his resourcefulness and courage. But for our implicit
trust in Colonel Baden-Powell, our hopes for Mafeking™s safety would be
indeed feeble . . . (˜˜Devoted Mafeking™™ )
But it was the details provided by Sarah Wilson that gave the hero a
personality for the readers. Lady Sarah had access to a Baden-Powell
whom few other correspondents could have known; in her bomb-proof
shelter she had a direct telephone to the colonel™s headquarters, and her
sex and class standing meant that her quarters were the site of the most
civilized of social gatherings of o¬cers in Mafeking, including the ±
Christmas dinner for Baden-Powell and his sta¬. Wilson™s description of
˜˜the two B.-P.™s™™ fed into the public™s growing sense of Baden-Powell as
an extraordinary person as well as military leader:
At ¬ve o™clock we had a most successful concert, when really great talent was
displayed, considering we are in a besieged town; but Colonel Baden-Powell on
the stage is simply inimitable; in his quite extempore sketches he held the hall
entranced or convulsed with laughter, and no one would have thought he had
another idea in his mind beyond the nonsense he was talking. He certainly, by
so thoroughly amusing them, put everyone on good terms with themselves.
A few hours afterwards there was an alarm of a night attack: ¬ring suddenly
commenced all round the town “ a most unusual occurrence on a Sunday
night, and the bullets rattled freely all over the roofs.
The war at home
There was the same man, under a totally di¬erent aspect. One who was with
him told me he could not help marveling at the change.
Quiet, composed, and far-seeing, in a second he had anticipated every
contingency and laid his plans . . . ()

Her praise of the Colonel™s stage antics only serves as a contrast to
highlight his composure and level-headedness as a military leader.
Wilson does not actually describe what Baden-Powell does on stage “
the point is how his sketches ˜˜put everyone on good terms with them-
selves,™™ that is, kept people from what he himself referred to as ˜˜grous-
MacKenzie™s assertion that Victorian military hero-worship was con-
nected to racial ideology is useful in an analysis of Baden-Powell™s
Mafeking publicity, but in a di¬erent way than MacKenzie would seem
to suggest. Baden-Powell™s superiority was not evidence of the ˜˜impera-
tive of con¬‚ict between cultures™™ of black and white, since the Boer War
was a war between white nations. His success was evidence of the
superiority of the British over the Boer ˜˜race™™ rather than over Africans.
But his public position as strategic genius did depend on his racial
position in relation to Africans as well “ Baden-Powell had to keep white
people fed and relatively happy and keep loyal Africans alive on a very
limited supply of food. Lady Sarah™s articles as well as those of other
siege correspondents had the ticklish job of portraying as humanitarian
a leader who decreed an entirely unequal distribution of rations be-
tween whites and blacks that resulted in starvation of Africans while
whites were still allotted meat to eat.

  ©® § (   ) ¦ © ® 
We can see an example of the public image problem with which the
Daily Mail was wrestling in the ±° April ±°° coverage of the Mafeking
siege. The Mail™s e¬orts to create drama about Mafeking resulted in
some fancy footwork. Headlines that day read ˜˜Lady Sarah Wilson Says
˜Failure Quite Possible™ . . . Famished Mafeking/Rumours about the
Southern Relief Column/Plumer™s Advance Causes No Relaxation/
The Garrison Aware His Failure Is Possible,™™ and readers were invited
to picture the worst fate for the gallant garrison. At the same time, the
town had to be shown as doing its best: Lady Sarah™s story pointed out
that ˜˜Although the white population here is on a very restricted diet,
every measure has been taken to alleviate distress, the numerous soup
kitchens being able to feed all applicants™™ (µ). Lady Sarah and the other
± Gender, race, and the writing of empire
Daily Mail correspondent consistently discuss the food troubles of whites
and blacks in Mafeking separately, making clear that the Africans were
worse o¬. How would it be possible to show Baden-Powell as humani-
tarian and as a good provider for his besieged dependents, black and
white, while making clear that white people were not being asked to
waste away on the same rations as Africans were? Lady Sarah follows up
her mention of the whites™ ˜˜restricted diet™™ by saying, ˜˜No native need
starve if he will but walk a short distance to the soup kitchen in his
particular district.™™ There is no mention in even the most dismal of the
Daily Mail correspondents™ Mafeking reports of the possibility of white
people actually starving. The inference is that the garrison would be
forced to surrender if Baden-Powell™s loaves-and-¬shes act gave out
before help arrived. But Africans are often referred to in terms of
starving: they are forced to try to escape from Mafeking to look for food,
or they starve in Mafeking ˜˜needlessly,™™ by refusing to eat horse¬‚esh
because it is against their custom.
Barolong inhabitants of Ma¬keng, the ˜˜native stadt™™ included by
Baden-Powell within the borders of Mafeking for purposes of the siege,
were sold food along with whites and were allotted rations as well, once
rationing began in March. But, as Sol Plaatje, then a court translator at
Mafeking and later a founder of the South African Native National
Congress, explains, food stores were closed to the refugee populations of
Africans, ˜˜the blackish races of this continent “ mostly Zulus and
Zambesians,™™ in February, and these populations had to make do on
what they could scrounge until the establishment of the soup kitchens in
April. The understanding was that the refugees would leave Mafeking
and cease to be a drain on the town™s stores, although Plaatje points out
that many of them remained, begged, and starved (Mafeking Diary
±“µ). Plaatje™s version of the feeding of Africans during the siege is
not nearly as critical as the versions in other books about the siege. The
Times correspondent, Angus Hamilton, was scathing about British pol-
icy towards the Africans in the siege. He pointed out that Africans were
driven by hunger out of Mafeking, trekking to the camp of Colonel
Plumer, who had been stocked up to feed the refugees: ˜˜The natives
here, who are already so reduced that they are dying from sheer
inanition, having successfully accomplished the journey, which is one of
ninety miles, may feed to their hearts™ content “ provided that they are
able to pay for the rations which are so generously distributed to them™™
(Siege ). Hamilton criticized Baden-Powell as well, for charging Afri-
cans for the horsemeat soup served out in the Mafeking soup kitchens.
The war at home
˜˜[T]here can be no doubt that the drastic principles of economy which
Colonel Baden-Powell has been practicing in these later days are op-
posed to and altogether at variance with the dignity of the liberalism
which we profess,™™ () he wrote on  March in the diary he later
published as The Siege of Mafeking. Edward Ross, a Mafeking resident
whose siege diary was published by Brian Willan in ±°, recorded on
 March that ˜˜[t]he lower class of natives are beginning to su¬er the
pangs of starvation very severely,™™ then on ±° March, ˜˜It does seem
rather hard that we can go and buy food-stu¬s whilst the natives are in
such straights (sic) to keep body and soul together™™ (Diary ±·). The
residents of Mafeking, in their reply to Baden-Powell™s report on the
siege submitted in March of ±°, noted among their complaints that
Baden-Powell™s Commissariat Department made ˜˜sales at a pro¬t to
starving natives™™ (±). Even B.-P.™s defenders, such as Pall Mall Gazette
correspondent J. Emerson Neilly, described in detail the ˜˜black spectres
and living skeletons™™(Besieged ·) that the Africans had become by
March “ those who were still alive. ˜˜Probably hundreds died from
starvation or the diseases that always accompany famine,™™ wrote Neilly
(Besieged with B.-P. ·). But he complained about ˜˜grousing™™ critics in
the town who would ˜˜have the Colonel kill our very few ill-fed beeves
and give them to the blacks and allow them to have a daily share of the
white rations.™™ If such a policy had been carried out, declared Neilly,
˜˜we would either have died of starvation in the works [the forti¬cations]
or surrendered and been marched as prisoners of war to Pretoria™™
(Besieged ±). Clearly the ˜˜we™™ in his analysis meant the white inhabit-
ants of Mafeking.
The very thought of the white inhabitants of Mafeking being
marched to Pretoria was enough to chill the blood, Neilly assumes. And,
indeed, it was just that spectacle that Baden-Powell was working so hard
to prevent. To that end, he exploited the African population of Mafek-
ing in di¬erent ways throughout the siege. He employed Africans
extensively in building the defense works for the town and, with his
famous ˜˜Cape Boys™™ and ˜˜Black Watch,™™ as troops as well. Baden-
Powell was quite judicious in his use of news about Africans in his
accounts of the siege. For example, the Westminster Gazette of  May ±°°,
under the headline ˜˜Incidents at Mafeking/Cheerful Report from
Baden-Powell,™™ included a Baden-Powell despatch:
Party of thirteen native women tried to get away on night of ±µth. Enemy
opened ¬re on them; killed nine, wounded two, who got back and reported. I
wrote to Snyman pointing out that he shelled native stadt, which is full of
° Gender, race, and the writing of empire
women and children; and that when they were trying to escape from Mafeking
by day Boers ¬‚ogged and sent them back, and that they by night shot them
down, pretending to mistake them for night attacks. He has not replied,
proportion of killed and wounded above speaking for itself. (·)
This despatch comes from the man whose policy was to starve Africans
into escaping from Mafeking through the Boer lines.
Mentions of Africans in Mafeking despatches and news stories fall
into two categories, the ¬rst of which is exempli¬ed by Baden-Powell™s
despatch: blame African hardships on the Boers (even Sol Plaatje
blames African refugee starvation on the Boers rather than on Baden-
Powell). This reinforces British notions of Boer inhumanity toward
Africans, the pro-war argument of the ˜˜negrophilists.™™ The other cat-
egory into which mentions of Africans fall is praise of the loyalty of the
Cape Boys and the Black Watch, the Africans who fought in defense of
the town. But this category was played up more by the war correspon-
dents than by Baden-Powell, who consistently denied credit to the
¬ghting Africans in his e¬orts to keep public perception of the war as a
˜˜white man™s war.™™ Africans as loyal subjects of the Queen and Africans
as victims of the cruel Boers “ these were the possibilities in British
public versions of the siege. Brian Willan points out that Baden-Powell
prevented the town newspaper from printing the true account of the
role of the Barolong in fending o¬ the ¬nal assault of the Boers (Sol Plaatje
). Not until the publication of Plaatje™s diary in ±· did a version of
the siege emerge in which Africans were portrayed as economic and
social beings with families, homes, and relationships, money troubles,
and job concerns.
Baden-Powell survived the public relations problems inherent in his
situation to become the symbol not only for Mafeking but for British
pluck in general and for the war e¬ort as a whole. Headline writers of all
kinds of papers could count on their readers knowing who ˜˜B.-P.™™ was
(after the siege, Baden-Powell told of a letter addressed simply to ˜˜B.-P.™™
that was delivered to him by the Royal Mail). And the celebrations of
the relief, as the Illustrated London News made clear, were celebrations of
[T]he heart of the public manifestly went out to the extraordinarily skilful and
resourceful commander, who for seven long and anxious months held Mafek-
ing against the Boer besiegers. ˜˜B.-P.™™ richly deserved every word of praise
bestowed upon him . . . Colonel Robert Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell™s
gallant defense of Mafeking won for him the warmest admiration of the Queen
and the whole Empire. He has worked nobly, and eminently deserves promo-
The war at home
tion to the rank of Major-General. As the War in South Africa progressed, the
calm, heroic ¬gure of the ever vigilant and patient defender of Mafeking
became the chief centre of interest. The thoroughness with which he threw
himself with characteristic versatility into the entertainments got up to distract
the attention of the beleaguered townsfolk from the belt of iron that environed
them, and vied with the liveliest in song and dance, was of a piece with his
devotion to his exacting military duties. (˜˜War Reviewed™™ ).

As recent biographical studies of Lord Baden-Powell have noted, the
commanding o¬cer at Mafeking had some control of the events on the
scene and worked the siege to his own advantage.¹° Indeed, ˜˜[b]oth
Baden-Powell™s critics and his supporters seem to agree that he ex-
pected, desired, and sought to provoke a siege™™ in the ¬rst place, for
reasons of military strategy.¹¹ Certainly the founder of the Scouts move-
ment made his reputation through the siege. The celebrations of the
relief of Mafeking were certainly brought about by the ˜˜instruments of
popular education™™ cited by J. A. Hobson “ especially the press “ but it is
important not to ignore the role of the military itself in fashioning its
own public image.
B.-P. seemed singlehandedly to have united the classes in London.
The Illustrated London News emphasizes the class-mixing atmosphere of
the celebrations, citing ˜˜a vast crowd of butchers sweeping down Picca-
dilly, all in their blue smocks, many of them with stencil portraits of B-P
painted on their backs™™ and ˜˜a huge procession headed by the Kensin-
gton Art Students in white smocks, dragging a triumphal car sur-
mounted by a ¬ne bust of the hero of Mafeking, beneath which was a
massive model of the British Lion.™™¹²
The Illustrated London News joined the Nineteenth Century and the daily
newspapers in advertising the cross-class nature of the Mafeking joy.
Just as Wemyss Reid had discussed ˜˜all classes™™ celebrating Mafeking™s
relief, the ILN pointed out, ˜˜Elderly City gentlemen, usually severe of
aspect, seemed to have forgotten all about their dignity, and stood on
the pavements tootling benignly with costers from Ratcli¬e Highway.™™¹³
Was it the ˜˜tootling™™ that was beneath the gentlemen™s dignity or the
fact that they stood on the pavements with costers? With the exception
of the undigni¬ed elderly City gents above, in the ILN™s illustrations and
the descriptions of the celebrations, the classes seem to party separately.
The butchers have their group, the Kensington art students theirs.
Social class was rarely emphasized in the coverage of the siege itself
(as opposed to the celebrations of the relief ), but the predominant image
of the Boers as ignorant, backward peasants was often reinforced by
 Gender, race, and the writing of empire
stories about the siege. On one occasion, reported the regular Daily Mail
Mafeking correspondent, British soldiers played a concertina to lure the
simple Boers out of hiding, then picked them o¬.¹⁴ The story was picked
up by the Westminster Gazette that evening as an example of the humorous
side of the siege. War stories rarely emphasized class unless the o¬cer
involved was noble. The anomalous position of Lady Sarah Wilson did
attract some notice, but the real issues of class that arise from Mafeking
come from the home-front celebrations. Mafeking Night marks the
emergence of the benign entity of the middle-class mob: the New
Imperialism and the New Journalism had together managed to trans-
form the street mob from a violent working-class threat into a cheery
middle-class (or, perhaps, classless) party and to transform jingoism
from a vulgar working-class sport into a respectable middle-class (or,
perhaps, classless) enthusiasm.

 . .    ®™   © © ± µ
Mafeking Night is the prime example of the late-Victorian press™s role in
creating a climate of public support for imperialism. But not all Victor-
ian press critics succumbed to uncritical enthusiasm about Mafeking
and imperialism. The Boer War writing of J. A. Hobson, whose theories
of imperialism in¬‚uenced Lenin and historians throughout this century,
provides the terms in which some of the most important challenges to
jingoism were framed during the war. Although Hobson™s economic
critiques of imperialism are the basis for his reputation with imperial
historians “ he is often cited as the originator of the economic theory of
imperialism “ Hobson was equally insightful about the cultural factors
in imperialism, and this section will treat Hobson as a cultural critic of
the late-Victorian empire. Hobson™s theory of imperialism grew out of
his experience as a journalist in the Boer War, and the signi¬cance of
that experience has been ignored or underplayed by historians. John
Allett, in New Liberalism: The Political Economy of J.A. Hobson, denies the
importance of Hobson™s South African experience to his theorizing
about imperialism (, ±±). Although Allett is correct in saying that
Hobson™s interest in imperialism predated the Boer War, it was the Boer
War that led Hobson fully to formulate his theory of imperialism.
Bernard Porter, in Critics of Empire, takes pains to show that Hobson
developed his economic theory of imperialism based on Britain™s China
experience. Nevertheless, for an exploration of Hobson™s insights into
the cultural conditions necessary to sustain imperialism, we must look to
The war at home
the Boer War “ the place where Hobson learned ¬rst-hand about
culture and imperialism and the necessity of ideological control for
imperial hegemony. Mafeking Night is the event from which to begin an
examination of the Boer War and the British public, and Hobson™s The
Psychology of Jingoism is certainly the context in which such an event must
initially be seen. The key to Hobson™s analysis of the causes and
operations of imperialism is his examination, in Imperialism: A Study
(±°), The Psychology of Jingoism (±°±), and The War in South Africa: Its
Causes and E¬ects (±°°), of the newspaper press and its role in popular
Going to South Africa had not been Hobson™s idea. By the summer of
±, C. P. Scott, editor of the Manchester Guardian, knew he™d better get
somebody over to South Africa soon. War was brewing between Briton
and Boer, and Scott didn™t want to have to rely on news agency reports
for information from the Cape. Leonard T. Hobhouse, then a leader
writer for Scott, recommended that the newspaper send Hobson as a
special correspondent, based on Hobson™s ± article about imperial-
ism in the Contemporary Review. Scott agreed, and Hobson sailed for
South Africa in July. Through the late summer and early autumn, he
traversed the Cape Colony and the Boer Republics, interviewing Eng-
lish and Dutch South Africans, investigating the growing discontent of
the largely British ˜˜Uitlanders™™ in the mining district of the Witwater-
srand. Hobson was still in South Africa at the collapse of negotiations
between the British and the Boers, which culminated in the Boer
ultimatum of  October, which demanded that Britain agree to arbitra-
tion, remove its troops from the Transvaal borders, withdraw its new
reinforcements from South Africa, and not land any more troops
(Pakenham Boer War ±°).
Robin Winks, who calls Hobson the ˜˜most important critic of im-
perial expansion from an economic viewpoint™™ (Historiography ), points
out that Hobson has remained the central ¬gure with whom theorists of
imperialism must engage, chie¬‚y because he did not con¬ne his analysis
of imperialism to economic factors. Before Hobson™s analysis of British
imperialism, few people had attempted critical examinations of the
phenomenon in its political, economic, and social dimensions. To be
sure, imperialism had not been without its critics in the nineteenth
century: Richard Cobden and John Bright, for example, maintained
that British imperialism was a bad idea because it was a ¬nancial and
military burden. But Hobson™s analysis in Imperialism cut to the heart of
the imperialist impulse itself, laying bare the interplay of economic and
 Gender, race, and the writing of empire
ideological factors that went into producing an imperial state. Neverthe-
less, Hobson™s Guardian articles, and his collection of them and his
articles from the Speaker in The War in South Africa: Its Causes and E¬ects,
re¬‚ect his early, rather sloppy analysis of the South African situation.
The Guardian series, which was titled ˜˜The Truth about the Transvaal,™™
tried to expose the economic machinations behind the drive for war in
South Africa; but, as Stephen Koss (The Pro-Boers) and others have
pointed out, these early pieces reek of anti-Semitism, blaming ˜˜a small
group of international ¬nanciers, chie¬‚y German in origin and Jewish in
race™™ for the war push, despite a half-hearted prefatory disclaimer that
he did not want to seem ˜˜to appeal to the ignominious passion of
Judenhetze™™ (War ±). Hobson could not see that he himself was
succumbing to ˜˜Judenhetze,™™ even as he analyzed the ˜˜moral and
ethical™™ factors that went into the creation of imperialism.¹µ
Hobson™s Guardian articles were key sources of information to anti-
war activists early in the con¬‚ict, and he remained an important voice
during the course of the war. In The War in South Africa, published shortly
after the outbreak of the war, Hobson examines the maneuverings of
capitalists in the conduct of imperialism, but he also emphasizes the
importance of ˜˜popular passion™™ (War °) for maintaining a war e¬ort
on the home front. He sees that neither government policy nor the
initiative of capitalists alone could bring about or sustain a war such as
the Boer War. Both of those forces would need the support of public
opinion. And public opinion, Hobson asserts, is formed through a
complex process involving the press, popular entertainment, the
church, education, and other cultural factors. Hobson™s analysis of the
importance of the press in stirring public opinion about the war is
divided between a strong focus on the press in South Africa and its e¬ect
on war sentiment there and attention to the press back in England. One
of the most signi¬cant points he makes in analyzing the maintenance of
a culture of imperialism in Britain is his revelation of the ways British
dailies depended on the gold mining interests for their South African
news: the South African pro-British press was inextricably tied to Rand
capitalists, and the London dailies depended absolutely on war cable-
grams from those same South African organs. Both The Psychology of
Jingoism and The War in South Africa include extensive detail about the
ownership of various South African newspapers “ the leading interests
of mine-owners Rhodes, Eckstein, and Barnato in the Cape Argus, Johan-
nesburg Star, Bulawayo Chronicle, Rhodesia Herald, and African Review, for
example (War °·).
The war at home
In The War in South Africa Hobson develops his concept of the ˜˜char-
tered press™™ as the central agent in ˜˜the interplay of political and
economic motives in Imperialism™™ (Confessions °). Pro-Boer outcry
against the press, Hobson notes, had been focusing on the ˜˜less repu-
table organs,™™ the sensation-mongering of the Yellow Press in its e¬orts,
for example, to stir up people to disrupt anti-war meetings. But after his
South African experience for the Guardian, Hobson saw that the danger
came not from the halfpennies but from the quality press, whose South
African coverage was, for the most part, under the control of the mining
companies. These capitalist-controlled newspapers, he explains,
reached all the way to London in their e¬orts to stir up anti-Boer

What I am describing is nothing else than an elaborate factory of misrepresen-
tations for the purpose of stimulating British action. To those unacquainted
with the mechanism it may seem incredible that with modern means of
communication it has been possible to poison the conscience and intelligence of
England. But when it is understood that the great London press receives its
information almost exclusively from the o¬ces of the kept press of South
Africa, the mystery is solved. (War ±)

Hobson avoids blaming the London press directly for its one-sided
coverage of the war: Fleet Street was manipulated by the English-
language press in South Africa.
˜˜One of the chief general cable services, widely used by the most
important London newspapers, was fed from Johannesburg by a promi-
nent member of the Executive of the South African League [an anti-
Boer English South African group],™™ Hobson explained:

The London ˜˜Liberal™™ paper whose perversion from the true path of Liberal-
ism has in¬‚icted the heaviest blow upon the cause of truth and honesty in
England [the Daily News], was fully and constantly inspired by the editor of the
Cape Times [controlled by Rutherford Harris, director of the Chartered Com-
pany], upon which o¬ce, I am informed, no fewer than three other important
London dailies relied for their Cape Town intelligence. The Cape Times and the
Argus [Rhodes, Eckstein and Barnato-controlled] o¬ces also supplied two great
general channels of cable information to the English press. (War ±·)

Over and over again in The War in South Africa and The Psychology of
Jingoism, Hobson expresses his disappointment with the London press,
Liberal and Conservative, for allowing itself to be thus manipulated by
the Rand capitalists. ˜˜For practical purposes,™™ he laments, ˜˜there no
 Gender, race, and the writing of empire
longer exists a free press in England, a¬ording full security for adequate
discussion of the vital issues of politics™™ (Psychology ±±). Hobson™s Liberal
politics led him to believe that a ˜˜free press™™ would necessarily check
abuses of power in a democracy. The problem with the London press,
he asserts, is that its sources in South Africa are not ˜˜independent™™ and
so ˜˜the authority they exercised™™ is not ˜˜legitimate™™ (Psychology ±°). Not
that the pro-Boer side should be the only one presented; both sides
should be presented to the British public, who would then be able to
make an informed decision about the merits of the war. Neither news-
papers nor magazines would print ˜˜pro-Boer™™ articles: ˜˜Even the gen-
ius of Olive Schreiner could not get a hearing for what she most cared to
say in any important English magazine,™™ and Messrs. Smith and Son,
booksellers, when asked ˜˜But surely you keep books dealing with both
sides of the South African question?™™ had replied, ˜˜there is only one side
for us “ that of our country™™ (Psychology ±±“±).

  ¤  ® · - °©  © 
The Psychology of Jingoism, also contemporary with the publication of
Hobson™s Boer War book and the composition of Imperialism, examines
in more detail than was possible in his newspaper articles the psycho-
logical and cultural factors involved in creating a public ideology of
imperialism. Based largely upon Gustave Le Bon™s study of crowd
psychology, The Psychology of Jingoism explores in depth the in¬‚uence of
the pulpit, the music hall, and, most importantly, the press in forming a
climate of public opinion favorable to war. Hobson saw The Psychology of
Jingoism as ˜˜an analysis of the modern war-spirit™™ and said that the work
˜˜dwelt upon the mixture of national arrogance and folly at the disposal
of the imperialists and business men who were the working partners in
the preparation and production of modern wars™™ (Confessions “).
While The War in South Africa approached the particulars of the Boer War
with the eye of a journalist, concerned with the speci¬cs on the spot,
such as the role of the Boer police in the Witwatersrand or the analysis of
the parts played by speci¬c South African politicians, The Psychology of
Jingoism took a more general approach, treating the war as a case study
in crowd identity-formation and blind obedience to the prevailing
sentiment of the day.
The public, according to Hobson, formed its views from music-hall
ballads and the testimony of friends of friends, but, most importantly,
from the opinions o¬ered in the newspapers, which were controlled by
The war at home
capitalists and the Chamberlain interests in government. Hobson saw
public opinion at the turn of the century as a qualitatively new phenom-
enon, as ˜˜a community of thought, language, and action which was
hitherto unknown™™ (Psychology ±). This new tendency to form commu-
nity opinion was, as he saw it, inseparable from the new (in nineteenth-
century Britain) tendency to mass behavior such as the Mafeking riots.
And both the mass opinion-formation and the rioting, Hobson con-
tended, were prompted by the press: ˜˜What the orator does for his
audience the press has done for the nation,™™ Hobson argued in The
Psychology of Jingoism: ˜˜The British nation became a great crowd, and
exposed its crowd-mind to the suggestions of the press™™ (±, ±). Hob-
son™s assessment includes all of British society in its indictment, from
working-class men, to members of upper-class men™s clubs, to middle-
class women, and his analysis of crowd conduct relies on conceptions of
crowd behavior as ˜˜savage,™™ carrying an undercurrent of fear of the
As Richard Price notes, the phenomenon of ma¬cking made certain
middle-class social commentators, including Hobson, very nervous.
Another contemporary analyst of the emergence of jingoism, C. F. G.
Masterman, feared that the working class had ˜˜crept into daylight . . . it
is straightening itself and learning to gambol with heavy and grotesque
antics in the sunshine™™ (quoted in Price An Imperial War ±). The
working classes were living in towns that, according to Hobson, bred
nervousness and susceptibility to ideas like jingoism. Hobson™s jingo
crowd is certainly a working-class crowd:

A large population, singularly destitute of intellectual curiosity, and with a low
valuation for things of the mind, has during the last few decades been instructed
in the art of reading printed words, without acquiring an adequate supply of
information or any training in the reasoning faculties such as would enable
them to give a proper value to the words they read. A huge press has come into
being for the purpose of supplying to this uneducated people . . . statements,
true or false, designed to give passing satisfaction to . . . some lust of animalism.
(Psychology “±°)

Hobson™s analysis of jingoism vacillates between blaming the ˜˜lust of
animalism™™ of the working classes and blaming the naive middle classes
for believing everything they™re told. In the above passage, his fear of the
mob is palpable, and his contempt obvious, but it is capitalists (and
especially Jews) who are to be blamed, he argues, for the mass jingo
hysteria of Mafeking.
 Gender, race, and the writing of empire
In Imperialism, Hobson extended beyond South Africa his analysis of
the power of the press and of other noneconomic factors, such as
religion, in shaping public opinion in favor of imperialism. Hobson saw
that the ˜˜verbal armoury of Imperialism™™ was as important as any
physical armory (°·). In Imperialism he revealed how the British govern-
ment released information about the war to the public through the
press. He cited, for example, the ˜˜shifts of detailed mendacity and
curious invention™™ necessary for the British government to be able to
convince the public ¬rst that the Boers were so tiny a nation that it was
ridiculously insolent of them to start a war with ˜˜the greatest Empire of
the world™™ and simultaneously that ˜˜we were contending with a Power
as large, numerically, as ourselves,™™ when it came time to rejoice over a
victory. Hobson pointed to:
how the numbers alternately and automatically expanded and contracted
according as it was sought to impress upon the nation the necessity of voting
large supplies of troops and money, or else to represent the war as ˜nearly over™
and having lapsed into a tri¬‚ing guerrilla struggle. (Imperialism ±°)

Hobson went on to examine the workings of the ˜˜small, able, and
well-organized groups in a nation™™ who ˜˜secure the active co-operation
of statesmen and of political cliques,™™ and who appeal to the ˜˜conserva-
tive instincts of members of the possessing classes, whose vested interest
and class dominance are best preserved by diverting the currents of
political energy from domestic on to foreign politics™™ (Imperialism ±).
These power elites work most e¬ectively on the public mind, Hobson
explained, through ˜˜the four chief instruments of popular education™™ “
the church, the press, the schools and colleges, and the political machine
(Imperialism ±).
As Hobson pointed out, the domination of the imperial idea in
Britain arose not simply from the ruling class persuading the working
class of the importance of imperialism and of the Boer War for the
nation. Rather, the South African mine-owners and British government
o¬cials such as Colonial Secretary Joseph Chamberlain and South
African High Commissioner Alfred Milner were able to achieve hegem-
ony over the rest of Britain, including the ˜˜educated classes™™ who
should, Hobson pointed out, have known better. ˜˜Our educated classes
are usually scornful of the man who believes everything he reads in the
newspapers,™™ said Hobson. ˜˜Yet the majority of these cultured persons
have submitted their intelligence to the dominion of popular prejudice
and passion as subserviently as the man in the street, whom they
The war at home
despise™™ (Psychology ±). The reason why the man in the street and the
cultured person have surrendered to the ˜˜strange amalgam of race
feeling, animal pugnacity, rapacity, and sporting zest, which they dig-
nify by the name of patriotism™™ is plain. People ˜˜allow their minds to be
swayed by the unanimity of the British testimony from South Africa, as
presented by this press and by the politicians who have got their
information from the same factory of falsehood™™ (Psychology ±, ). Iain
Smith points out the signi¬cance of Hobson™s analysis of the role of the
South African press in swinging public opinion in Britain in favor of
war, noting as well that recent research has shown how important the
mine-owners in ±“ felt the role of English newspapers in the
Transvaal to be (). But the primary signi¬cance of Hobson™s work on
the war remains his legacy in asserting the importance of such ideologi-
cal factors as the press, the churches, and the schools in creating and
maintaining public support for a government policy. He recognized
˜˜psychology™™ as essential to jingoism and jingoism as essential to capi-

®  · ©  °   © ¬©   , ®  ·   µ® ¬ © , ® · °µ  ¬©  
The nation, patriotic or not, celebrated the relief of Mafeking because it
had been prompted to do so. Even such critics of the press as Wemyss
Reid, who reviewed the newspapers every day, were persuaded that the
relief of Mafeking was important for the war and that the celebrations of
that relief were a spontaneous outpouring of patriotism rather than an
orchestrated public event in service of what Hobson called a capitalist-
inspired war. The events of Mafeking Night serve as an especially
e¬ective case study in which to examine both the role of the press in the
formation of public opinion about imperialism and the role of the press
in the formation of the concept of public opinion itself. Mafeking Night
marks the powerful beginning of the New Journalism at the same time
as it marks the beginning of the end of the New Imperialism. The
coincidence of these occasions arises from the nature of the South
African War. J. A. Hobson argued that public support is necessary for
the New Imperialism; but that support seems to have become necessary

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