. 3
( 7)


English women at all but of the enemy of the English. It would appear
from the petition that that enemy considered carefully what notes to
strike to inspire sympathy in their British captors. Surely the British
would not approve of white women, even white women who had aided
and abetted the enemy, being driven through the streets by black men
and sexually taunted. Nevertheless, the deportations continued. The
protection of white womanhood was invoked by the British only when it
suited, such as in justifying the camps and the deportations. White
womanhood, it seems, was not as strong a signi¬er as English woman-
And black womanhood could hardly be said to exist at all. ˜˜Ka¬rs,™™
for Hobhouse and the Boer women she quoted, were always men. Only
occasionally do black women feature in any of Hobhouse™s narratives,
and never are they dangerous to white women. One of Hobhouse™s
correspondents, a Mrs. G, told of how her ˜˜two old Ka¬r servant-girls,
who had been with her for years and years,™™ had su¬ered at the hands of
the same soldiers who had burnt Mrs. G™s house. As Hobhouse told the
Back at Norval™s Pont the little party was separated. The Ka¬rs had to go into
one camp and the white people into another. There was a strict rule against
keeping any servants in the white camp, but they ventured to keep the two little
orphan girls, as they had been brought up in the house and were like their
own . . . Mrs. G thereupon stated her case to the Commandant, saying, ˜˜They
are orphans; I have had them ever since they were babies, and I am bringing
them up as my own.™™ He was very kind, and said he would give her a permit . . .
The only stipulation he made was that they should go back to the Ka¬r camp
at night. (Brunt )
Mrs. G and Hobhouse here present the two versions of white-black
relations in South Africa at the time. In the ¬rst, blacks are hostile to
whites, always waiting their chance to turn the tables on their ˜˜masters,™™
especially sexually. Hobhouse™s reports included many instances of
African men gloating over Boer women in their captivity, often accom-
panied with sexual jokes. Black male sexuality would have been a
powerful threat to the white man, whether Boer or Briton, and Hob-
house knew to exploit it.
In the second version of Boer-African relations presented by anti-war
discourse, Hobhouse cleverly uses standard British ideas about Africans.
One justi¬cation for the war given by the government had been Boer
mistreatment of Africans. British High Commissioner Sir (later Lord)
 Gender, race, and the writing of empire
Alfred Milner had claimed publicly that he aimed to ˜˜secure for the
Natives . . . protection against oppression and wrong,™™ and in Joseph
Chamberlain™s ultimatum that started the war, the Colonial Secretary
had declared that Britain would o¬er ˜˜most favoured nation treatment™™
to Africans in British colonies in South Africa (quoted in Pakenham Boer
War ±°, ±±). By painting a sentimental picture of Boer and African
mutual attachment, Hobhouse was countering common horror stories
about Africans being mistreated by Boers, such as the Daily Mail™s tales
of ˜˜Boer barbarity towards loyal coloured subjects.™™¹⁹
Hobhouse also exploited another popular British idea of what white-
black relations should be: her version of events placed Boer women in
the position in which the British saw themselves “ the benevolent
protector watching over the childlike blacks. To demonstrate a good,
loving relationship between the Boer and the black African, Hobhouse
chose what seemed the least problematic kind of relationship: the bond
between a white woman and two female black servants. Other combina-
tions would involve sexual complications: a Boer woman wanting to stay
with her African male servant while her husband was away on com-
mando would have been improper, and an Afrikaner man showing
a¬ection for an African woman servant would certainly not have been
seen as benign by Hobhouse™s readers. It was the imaginative impossi-
bility of lesbian desire between a Boer woman and an African woman
that made it possible for Hobhouse to use the story of Mrs. G.

  ©  ©  ® ·  °  °     ® ¤   ·   ®
When Hobhouse published her report on the camps, the War Secre-
tary™s immediate appointment of a committee to investigate was a tacit
acknowledgment that there might be reason to be concerned about the
camps. But the jingo newspapers were not about to give in to sentiment
about the Boer women. The Daily Mail, ¬erce in its support for the war,
stressed the bitterness of the Boer women and their anti-British activ-
ities. War correspondent Edgar Wallace (later to become famous for his
mystery and adventure novels and plays) had no fear of o¬ending
women or those who wished to accord them special status:

There have been many occasions since the war started when I have wished
most earnestly that the friends of emancipated womanhood had had their way,
and that the exact status of woman had been made equal to that of man. I have
often wished her all the rights and privileges of her opposite fellow . . . to be
Gender ideology as military policy
honoured for her gallantry “ and shot for her treachery. Especially to be shot
for her treachery.
Women have played a great part in this war, not so much the part of heroine
as of spy . . . We have decided that we do not make war upon women and
children, and if through ill-nature women and children make war on us, we
loftily refuse to acknowledge they are making war.²°
As Lord Ripon wrote to J. A. Spender in the heat of the June debates,
˜˜Verily, the age of chivalry has passed.™™²¹
Wallace and the new Daily Mail saw themselves as representing the
future of British journalism as well as of British social attitudes. If
women were going to demand emancipation, Wallace noted, they were
going to have to take the good with the bad. The woman who made war
was, perhaps, ˜˜ill-nature[d],™™ was going against the nature of woman-
hood. But since she was doing so, men no longer had an obligation to
chivalry. Although in parliament British politicians would not paint a
picture of a cold-blooded ¬erce Boer woman spying for the enemies of
Britain, Alfred Harmsworth™s Daily Mail felt able to. Perhaps the news-
paper felt fewer constraints than the War O¬ce because of its reader-
ship, so di¬erent from that of The Times, where parliamentary speeches
were so thoroughly covered. Perhaps the Daily Mail, which prided itself
on being in touch with the opinion of the ˜˜masses,™™ saw that although
˜˜quality™™ newspaper readers were not prepared to see women as com-
batants in war and patted themselves on the back for Britain™s manly
support of ˜˜deserted™™ women and children, the rest of the nation had no
di¬culty hating Boer women. The Daily Mail and other jingo news-
papers editorialized against the money spent on the camps as money
spent aiding the enemy. The new member for Oldham, a certain
Winston Churchill, in his maiden speech in parliament on ± February
±°±, argued in favor of reduced rations in the concentration camps for
wives and children of Boers who had not surrendered:
No consideration of humanity prevented the German army from throwing its
shells into dwelling houses in Paris and starving the inhabitants of that great city
in order to compel the garrison to surrender. He [Churchill] ventured to think
his Majesty™s Government would not have been justi¬ed in restricting their
commanders in the ¬eld from any methods of warfare which were justi¬ed by
precedent set by European and American generals during the last µ° or °
For Churchill, anything good enough for British generals ought to be
good enough for the British public. But even Brodrick had trouble
swallowing the idea of starvation rations for women and children, and
 Gender, race, and the writing of empire
he changed the policy as soon as it was exposed by Lloyd George.
Clearly, there was disagreement about what was acceptable policy
toward women and children.
While the jingo journals called Boer women spies and complained
about the ˜˜comforts™™ of the concentration camps, campaigners for the
elimination of the camps consistently tried to point out the ideological
discrepancy of the government refusing to name the women as
˜˜prisoners of war™™ while it was nevertheless keeping them con¬ned to
the camps. The Manchester Guardian and the Daily News, two newspapers
that opposed the war, often referred to the camps as ˜˜prison camps.™™
Once the mortality ¬gures from the camps began to come to light in
Britain, the Daily News escalated the terminological battle by labeling the
camps ˜˜death camps.™™ Emily Hobhouse criticized the military and the
jingo papers: ˜˜Their line generally is to speak of ˜refugee™ camps and
make out the people are glad of their protection. It is absolutely false.
They are compelled to come and are wholly prisoners.™™²³
Newspapers writing about farm-burning and the concentration
camps often compared the South African situation to the American
Civil War, in which Generals Sherman and Sheridan aimed to destroy
the morale of the Southerners by destroying the South itself. But while
papers on both sides of the controversy cited the Civil War analogy,
neither mentioned another Civil War parallel: the Boer women and the
women of the Confederacy. Jean Bethke Elshtain™s discussion of the
Confederate women™s inheritance from the mothers of Spartan soldiers
easily ¬ts the Boers (Women and War). Olive Schreiner described the Boer
woman™s role in the ¬rst Anglo-Boer War, of ±±:

The Transvaal War of ±± was largely a woman™s war; it was from the
armchair beside the co¬ee-table that the voice went out for con¬‚ict and no
surrender. Even in the Colony at that time, and at the distance of many
hundreds of miles, Boer women urged sons and husbands to go to the aid of
their northern kindred, while a martial ardour often far exceeding that of the
males seemed to ¬ll them. (Thoughts on South Africa °±)

Although the image of the Spartan mother has always had a place in the
history of military nations, nevertheless these women, whether Spartan,
Confederate, or Boer, had never been treated by military men as
combatants. The concentration camps were a new departure both for
Britain and for Western ideas about women in war.
As the women in the war zone became factors to be taken into
consideration by the military, so did the women at home in Britain.
Gender ideology as military policy
Newspapers re¬‚ected this change; after the concentration camps be-
came news, letters to the editor appearing in The Times, the Daily Mail,
the Daily News, and the Manchester Guardian increasingly came from
women who were writing as women, invoking traditional associations.
The women who wrote to the Daily Mail were furious about the ˜˜pan-
dering™™ to Boer women and children: ˜˜Blencathra™™ noted, ˜˜It is time
for the women of England to speak. Why should the Government be at
the expense of sending out ladies to the concentration camps? . . . Let the
ladies of this commission stay at home and visit the fatherless and the
widow.™™²⁴ British women™s duties were at home, cried the patriotic
letter-writers. Compassion is an appropriate quality in a woman, but an
Englishwoman™s compassion should be directed toward the widows and
orphans of British soldiers, not toward the enemy. Not so, argued the
letter-writers in the ˜˜pro-Boer™™ press. ˜˜An Englishwoman™™ proclaimed
her ˜˜heartache™™ and ˜˜shame™™ in the Manchester Guardian after the release
of Hobhouse™s report,²µ and another noted that the British should ˜˜have
pity on all children, not just those in England.™™²⁶ Compassion was a
female trait and duty, both sides agreed. The signi¬cant di¬erence came
in the way each side explained the appropriate uses of feminine compas-
sion in this national debate. Such arguments in the press among women
about women™s role in the camp controversy reveal the ways traditional
associations with women™s duties could be turned to the advantage of
either side in such a national question as the concentration camps.

µ  ®¤ ¦ · 
The women most involved in the public debates about the concentra-
tion camps were Emily Hobhouse and Millicent Fawcett. Hobhouse
was active against the war but sought to portray her work in the camps
as non-political. Fawcett saw herself as a patriot and supported Britain™s
war e¬ort but maintained that she, too, was non-political in her writings
about the camps. Although the women held opposite positions on the
issues of the war and the concentration camps, the reports they pub-
lished about the camps came to virtually identical conclusions about the
conditions in the camps. The language and examples they used upheld
their own positions in the debate, but the reforms they called for were
strikingly similar. Fawcett™s Blue-book was accepted as legitimate by
pro-government newspapers and its recommendations were acted
upon, although it was called a ˜˜whitewash™™ by some of those against the
war. Hobhouse™s earlier report was not acknowledged publicly by the
·° Gender, race, and the writing of empire
government or its supporters in the press, although the War O¬ce took
it seriously enough to appoint the Fawcett Commission in response to it.
Hobhouse often pointed to the thousands of camp deaths that occurred
between the publication of her report and the appearance of Fawcett™s
and noted that had her report not been undermined by the government
and the jingo press when it was ¬rst released, immediate change would
have resulted. She wrote in her memoir that as soon as the report
appeared, ˜˜Instantly, the sentiment of the country was aroused and had
it been allowed its true expression, not only would the camps then and
there have been adequately reformed, but very possibly the war would
also have dwindled in popularity and been ended™™ (van Reenen Hob-
house Letters ±“). As we saw in the previous chapter, Secretary of
State for War St. John Brodrick and Secretary of State for the Colonies
Joseph Chamberlain were also quite concerned about the e¬ect of a
˜˜wobble™™ in public opinion on the issue of the camps.
Concern over the concentration camps became the main focus of
anti-war activism for the period from June ±°± through the end of the
war in May ±°. The government itself directed a large amount of
public attention to the camps from September ±°± until January ±°.
During the publicity campaigns of the pro-Boers and the government
about the camps, the central focus was not government policy in
maintaining the camps but the fate of women and children within them.
The image of these women and children became a rallying point in
Britain “ either Hobhouse™s image of the starving, noble mothers with
their doomed children, or Fawcett™s image of ignorant, sel¬sh mothers
with their neglected children. In both cases, women were seen in Britain
as representing the Boer nation.
Public calls for changes in the camps were calls for action from the
key male players, notably Brodrick and Chamberlain. The eventual
drop in the death rates was attributed by most anti-war factions to Emily
Hobhouse and by the government to the Fawcett Commission. Men
had been blamed for the conditions in the camps, and women were
credited for the reforms, even though the women themselves had no
power to order reforms but could only recommend them to male
o¬cials. What purpose did it serve each side to credit women with the
From the time they became a major public controversy, the camps
were a women™s issue. Initially, they were formed to house surrendered
Boers and their families and were administered much as the male
prisoner-of-war camps were. But when these towns of bell-tents came to
Gender ideology as military policy
be overwhelmingly populated by women and children, women in Brit-
ain began to take a special interest in them. The South Africa Concili-
ation Committee, formed before the outbreak of hostilities as the Stop
the War Committee, propagandized against the war and on behalf of
the Boers™ ˜˜¬ght for freedom.™™ When in the autumn of ±°° women in
the SACC read about the camps, they took the traditionally feminine
step of collecting clothing, blankets, and money for the women and
children in the camps and organized themselves into the separate South
African Women and Children™s Distress Fund. Emily Hobhouse sailed
out to the Cape with the goods and money, to distribute clothing and
food among camp inhabitants and to investigate on behalf of the Fund
the conditions in the camps.
Hobhouse, who had no parents and no husband, was a natural
choice. She had traveled to Minnesota a few years before to engage in
temperance and social work with what she had thought was a Cornish
mining community in the city of Virginia. Both the Minnesota and the
South Africa missions were somewhat larger-than-life versions of the
kind of philanthropy normally associated with upper-class women such
as Hobhouse.
Only when Hobhouse went to South Africa and released her report
on the camps did the camps become a women™s issue in the eyes of the
public. In the months leading up to the publication of her report,
scattered news about the camps had appeared in the newspapers in
Britain, and the camps had been, as we have seen, a topic of correspon-
dence between Kitchener and the War O¬ce, but it was not solely in
terms of women and children that they were discussed. Rather, they had
been portrayed as a military strategy, as had farm-burning. But with
Hobhouse™s report, the terms of the debate changed. The issue was now
one of gender “ of gallant men protecting helpless women and children
or of unmanly men allowing helpless women and children to starve.
Hobhouse helped to set these terms, referring in her report to the
˜˜women™s camps,™™ the ˜˜camps of women and children.™™ Her focus on
the women and children in the camps was natural, given their over-
whelming majority compared to men. But this focus also must be seen as
a political strategy, countering the government™s emphasis on the inhab-
itants as ˜˜refugees™™ of war rather than as victims of a British policy of
interference with non-combatants. Hobhouse saw clearly the public
relations maneuvering about questions of gender.
Joshua Rowntree had reported on his visits to the concentration
camps in the Daily News, owned by fellow Quaker George Cadbury.
· Gender, race, and the writing of empire
Rowntree™s judiciously worded reports contrasted with Emily Hob-
house™s letters home, printed in the Daily News and in the Manchester
Guardian. While both visitors were careful not to blame individual
o¬cers for conditions in the camps,²· Hobhouse told of directly inter-
vening to try to improve squalid conditions. And the Distress Fund was
careful to point out that ˜˜the military authorities have shown themselves
willing to adopt some of the various suggestions which her woman™s wit
has enabled her to put forward on behalf of her su¬ering sisters.™™²⁸ Thus
Hobhouse™s publicity from the very start emphasized her gender.
For Hobhouse, the camp system was a gendered one. The problems
were due largely to ˜˜crass male ignorance, stupidity, helplessness and
muddling,™™ she declared to her aunt, Lady Hobhouse, in her ¬rst month
of visiting the camps. But she seems in those early days to have been
willing to excuse the ˜˜male™™ ignorance as that of sorry little boys: ˜˜I rub
as much salt into the sore places of their minds as I possibly can, because
it is good for them; but I can™t help melting a little when they are very
humble and confess that the whole thing is a grievous and gigantic
blunder and presents an almost insoluble problem, and they don™t know
how to face it.™™²⁹ Hobhouse™s cheerily sadistic image of what is ˜˜good
for™™ the blundering army o¬cials indicates that she saw herself as
having the power to solve the ˜˜insoluble problem™™ for the ˜˜very
humble™™ men. And although she had no policy-making power, Hob-
house was able to e¬ect changes in the camps. But, as the previous
chapter showed, it was only through rubbing salt into their sore places,
through negative publicity back in Britain and abroad, that Hobhouse
was at last able to shame the o¬cials into action.
Once Hobhouse™s report entered the public sphere through news-
paper stories about House of Commons proceedings, hers became the
terms of the public debate. The government countered her approach
head on by appointing its own Ladies™ Commission to investigate
conditions in what it now acknowledged were women and children™s
camps.³° So the public discourse about the camps had gone from one of
military necessity, in which women had no voice, to a new form in
which women had the central place, the main voice. The men in charge
of public representations of the war “ the War O¬ce, the Colonial
O¬ce, the newspaper editors and M.P.s on both sides of the issue of the
war itself “ had been forced to change their strategies and the language
they used in relation to the camps.
Just as Hobhouse criticized men in charge of the camps in gendered
terms, so too she attacked the Ladies™ Commission: ˜˜great and shining
Gender ideology as military policy
lights in the feminine world, they make one rather despair of the ˜new
womanhood™ “ so utterly wanting are they in common sense, sympathy
and equilibrium™™ (van Reenen Hobhouse Letters ). The problem with
Fawcett and her commission, according to Hobhouse, was their inabil-
ity to sympathize with the Boer women in the camps. Fawcett™s advo-
cacy of women™s rights in Britain did not, as Hobhouse noted, lead her
to sympathize with women in South Africa. In fact, the only link Fawcett
made between South Africa and the status of women in Britain was to
equate Boer oppression of Africans with British men™s oppression of
British women.³¹ So, for this su¬ragist, Boer and African women™s
positions were not comparable to British women™s.

  ¦  ·     ©   ©  ®
Millicent Fawcett had made up her mind about the necessity for the
camps before she set o¬ for South Africa. In early July she wrote an
article for the Westminster Gazette, critiquing Hobhouse™s report and
asserting that the creation of the camps was ˜˜necessary from a military
point of view.™™ Fawcett said nothing in her article about the camps
being protection for Boer women and children. She was ¬rm in her
assertion that Boer farms had been centers for supplying ˜˜correct
information to the enemy about the movements of the British. No one
blames the Boer women on the farms for this; they have taken an active
part on behalf of their own people in the war, and they glory in the fact.
But no one can take part in war without sharing in its risks, and the
formation of the concentration camps is part of the fortune of war.™™³²
After her meeting with St. John Brodrick for orientation before her
voyage to South Africa, Fawcett recorded in her diary that Brodrick had
said ˜˜it was the ¬rst time in the history of war that anything of the sort
had been attempted “ that one belligerent should make himself respon-
sible for the maintenance of the women and children of the other.™™³³ But
Fawcett never adopted the War O¬ce™s line on the function of the
camps as protection for the Afrikaner families. She maintained only that
they were a military necessity, while Brodrick alternately asserted that
forming the camps was a humanitarian gesture and that it was a military
necessity, never admitting, as Fawcett did, that the women were com-
pelled to remain in the camps as part of the ˜˜fortunes of war™™ because of
their role in the combat.
Fawcett set out on her camps investigation suspicious of anyone who
might be ˜˜pro-Boer™™; she accepted no help from people in South Africa
· Gender, race, and the writing of empire
who had been associated with Hobhouse on her visit. When she met
members of the Ladies Central Committee for Relief of Su¬erers by the
War, she recorded in her diary:
I led o¬ by asking if they were non political but I quickly found they were
intensely pro Boer. They recited various tales of horror . . . I said our commis-
sion was non political . . . Mrs. Purcell said how could our commission be
considered non political if Miss Waterston [a ¬erce anti-Boer] were on it. I
replied of course we all knew that Miss W had strong political views but she was
capable of seeing and advising in matters relating to sanitation, diet, etc without
bringing in political considerations.³⁴

For Fawcett, then, sanitation and diet, both female domestic concerns,
were apolitical. Apparently, Fawcett saw those with ˜˜strong political
views™™ on the other side of the issue, such as Hobhouse, as incapable of
advising in such matters.
Fawcett™s report included numerous accounts of Boer mothers using
folk remedies for their ailing children, remedies that appeared ludicrous
and dangerous to the commission and its supporters. One oft-cited
passage reports a Boer mother covering her child with green paint.
Hobhouse liked to refute that example in her speeches, pointing out that
the ˜˜green paint™™ was only an herbal medicine mixture. In addition, the
report blamed Boer mothers when they refused to let their children be
taken into camp hospitals. Fawcett ranked the causes of camp mortality:
˜˜±. The unsanitary condition of the country caused by the war. .
Causes within control of the camp inhabitants. . Causes within the
control of the administrations™™ (Report on the Concentration Camps ±). It
was to cause number two that the Commission gave the most graphic
evidence, and the jingo press naturally seized upon it.³µ One particular
passage cropped up again and again in speeches, letters, and newspaper
articles aimed at vindicating the British government for the death rates:
Even at the best of times, and especially if anyone is sick in the tent, the Boer
woman has a horror of ventilation; any cranny through which fresh air could
enter is carefully stu¬ed up, and the tent becomes a hot-bed for the breeding of
disease germs.
It is not easy to describe the pestilential atmosphere of these tents, carefully
closed against the entrance of all fresh air. The Saxon word ˜˜stinking™™ is the
only one which is appropriate . . . It is, therefore, no wonder that measles, once
introduced, had raged through the camps and caused many deaths; because
the children are enervated by the foul air their mothers compel them to breathe
and fall more easy victims to disease than would be the case if the tents were
fairly ventilated. (Fawcett Report on the Concentration Camps ±)
Gender ideology as military policy
The Blue-book mixed this kind of mother-blame with pronouncements
about the Boer ˜˜race.™™ Fawcett cited many ˜˜unsanitary habits™™ of the
Boers, including ˜˜the fouling of the ground,™™ a particular bugbear of
hers. ˜˜The inability to see that what may be comparatively harmless on
their farms becomes criminally dangerous in camps is part of the
inadaptability to circumstances which constitutes so marked a charac-
teristic of the people as a race,™™ Fawcett opined (Report on the Concentration
Camps ±).
Her report reveals a woman appalled at the people she™s reporting on,
yet struggling to appear even-handed. When she complains of the Boers
giving inappropriate foods and strange home-made medicines to sick
people, she notes:
This is a di¬culty with which every doctor in England is familiar, and, with
regard to the character of the Boer domestic pharmacopoeia, no doubt parallel
horrors could be found in old-fashioned English family receipt books of ±µ° or
±°° years ago. But whatever parallels can be found, or excuses made, for these
practices, we are bound to take them into account. A large number of deaths in
the concentration camps have been directly or obviously caused by the noxious
compounds given by Boer women to their children. (Report on the Concentration
Camps ±·)
Fawcett acknowledged that ˜˜parallels can be found™™ and ˜˜excuses
made™™ for the habits of the Afrikaner women, but she could not bring
herself to accept any of them. The Boers, to Fawcett, were comparable
with ˜˜old-fashioned™™ English families of ˜˜±µ° or °° years ago.™™ She has
to double-remove these women from the English: Boers are even more
old-fashioned than the average British seventeenth-century family. No
wonder they are not ¬t to govern Britons. But in fact, because it was
frank about the unsatisfactory conditions in the camps at the same time
as it supported the war e¬ort, the Fawcett Commission report, wrote
Mrs. Arthur Lyttleton to Millicent Fawcett, ˜˜has apparently done the
impossible and pleased everyone.™™³⁶
Jingo newspapers gleefully seized on the Blue-book™s anecdotal evi-
dence of Boer ignorance as justifying the concentration camp policy,
despite the overall tone of the report, which was highly critical of camp
operations. The horror stories of Boer mothers took root throughout
Britain, playing into the British stereotype of the Boers as a nation of
ignorant peasants. Newspapers talked of the war being fought to
˜˜civilise the Boer,™™ thus linking the Afrikaner and the African in the
minds of British readers as uncivilized peoples to be raised out of
ignorance by the British.³· An article in The Nineteenth Century focusing on
· Gender, race, and the writing of empire
British women™s emigration to South Africa noted the unsuitability of
marriage between British men and Boer women: ˜˜As a rule the Boer
women of South Africa are devoid of many of the qualities which are
essential to make a British man™s home happy and comfortable. Cleanli-
ness is a virtue too often foreign to the Boer character, and it is not
unfrequently replaced by an ignorance of the laws of hygiene which
produces habits of slovenliness both injurious to health and distasteful to
British ideas (Cecil ˜˜Female Emigration™™ ). The article cited the
Fawcett report as evidence for its claims about Boer women.
The Ladies Commission criticism of the Boers, focusing on the
backwardness of the Boer women and their ˜˜¬lthy habits,™™ had much in
common with the reports of British women sanitary inspectors when
they recounted visits to working-class and poor homes.³⁸ Fawcett, like
Hobhouse, was an upper-class woman. At least part of her inability to
sympathize with the Boer women was class-related. Hobhouse, on the
other hand, sympathized with Boer women based on a class a¬nity she
constructed herself. She tried to present the Boers as a society with their
own class structure, comparable to Britain™s. In the Manchester Guardian
Hobhouse wrote of a Mrs. Pienaar and her family, evicted from their
farm. The British ˜˜took everything away from her “ amongst other
things, ,µ°° sheep and goats, ±µ° horses, and about ±°° head of cattle.™™
This cataloging of wealth ended with the sad pronouncement that
˜˜Once rich, they now have to live on charity.™™³⁹
Hobhouse™s sympathy with upper-class Boer women led her to sym-
pathize with Boer racial hierarchy as well. On her return to South
Africa after the war, Hobhouse™s class pride was outraged, and she
wrote to her aunt, Lady Hobhouse, about the ˜˜poor white™™ problem in
the former republics. She related the story of a particular Boer woman
and her children, who ˜˜sit there face to face with starvation, that terrible
kind which is combined with perfect respectability . . . It is so awful to
people of this good class to say they are in want, or even seem to beg.™™⁴°
Their new poverty sat even harder with the Boers, Hobhouse explained,
because of their contrast with the Africans. ˜˜Recollect these blacks have
recently been armed against them, the Boers have been at their mercy,
and the Ka¬rs are now living in luxury with ¬‚ocks and herds, while the
Boers are in penury around them.™™⁴¹
For all the justi¬cation in England of the necessity for the camps as
protection for white women and children, the War and Colonial O¬ces
felt no need to similarly justify the imprisonment of thousands of
Africans. While white women were in the camps ostensibly for protec-
Gender ideology as military policy
tion from African men, African men, women, and children were in
camps simply because it was a military necessity for the British to put
them there. Districts had to be cleared, so Africans had to be cleared
from them. No further justi¬cation was needed and none was ever
called for, not in Britain or in Europe, despite all the fuss about the
camps for the whites. The writing about the African camps, in govern-
ment reports and in newspapers, merely related information about farm
work and recorded death rates, usually inaccurately. The Guardian did
refer to the camps for Africans in one leader, however: ˜˜There are some
who think the war a glorious thing because the Boer was so cruel to the
Ka¬r,™™ the leader noted, pointing out that ˜˜the Ka¬r is su¬ering pretty
heavily in these camps, but his friends make no objection.™™⁴² Hobhouse
never visited an African camp. Millicent Fawcett recorded in her diary
no narrative about any of the black camps “ only captions on photos of
African camp inmates, such as ˜˜Natives at work. Singing.™™⁴³

Questions of gender and writing about the Boer War arise not from the
positioning of the nations involved as masculine and feminine, as colon-
izer and colonized or subject and other. Oppositions, indeed, are
problematic in the case of a two-sided war for the land of a third party.
Instead, the study of gender in discourse about the Boer War brings up a
more complex set of relationships among male and female Britons,
Boers, and Africans. These relationships are revealed in public and
governmental writings during the war “ newspapers, Blue-books, mili-
tary despatches, and ministry telegrams “ as well as in private corre-
spondence among public ¬gures involved in the war. The writings about
the concentration camps reveal a public controversy that encapsulates
the profound di¬culties over imperialism with which turn-of-the-cen-
tury Britons were wrestling.
It was necessary for men to protect women and children and for the
British to guard the interests of Africans and upgrade the backward
white civilization of South Africa if the imperial relationship of mother
country to colony was to be maintained. But during the Boer War,
especially with the controversy over the concentration camps, these
assumptions were under negotiation by both sides of British public
opinion about the war. Millicent Fawcett, advocate of women™s right to
the same careers as men, saw Boer women as soldiers in their country™s
war just as their men were. But this ostensibly pro-woman interpretation
of Boer women™s lives led Fawcett and those who subscribed to her
version of the war to believe that the deaths in the camps were the fault
· Gender, race, and the writing of empire
of the Boer mothers. Fawcett™s nationalism and the class privilege that
allowed her to see the Boer mothers in camps as ignorant, lower-class
women who, like slum-dwelling English, needed housekeeping lessons
from the middle class, prevented her from letting her feminism chal-
lenge British imperialism. Emily Hobhouse sympathized with Boer
women as women but was unable, as Fawcett was unable, to look at the
conditions of African women in their camps. She exploited the image of
the black man as a sexual threat to white women and so contributed in
her own way to the maintenance of one of the key ideologies working in
support of British imperialism.
The appointment of the Fawcett Commission to investigate the
camps was truly a remarkable move on the part of the War Secretary.
Never before had there been a government commission, o¬cial or
uno¬cial, made up entirely of women, let alone a commission led by a
su¬ragist. The appointment of the commission, and the action taken in
response to its (and, uncredited, Emily Hobhouse™s) recommendations,
testi¬es not only to the changing status of women in public life but also
to the increasing priority of women™s issues in public discourse, especial-
ly the press. The new position of women within the ˜˜public™™ whose
opinion counted with people like Milner was re¬‚ected as well in the new
priority of women™s concerns in the new popular press, from fashion
coverage, to Lady Sarah Wilson™s Mafeking articles, to the coverage of
the concentration camps. No longer was the English woman™s discursive
position in imperialism the one described by Jenny Sharpe “ one of
victim or potential victim of rape. But neither had the Englishwoman
achieved agency, either in defense of her Empire or in opposition to it.
The women players in this debate were dependent on Brodrick, Milner,
and Chamberlain to put into action the reforms they recommended,
having no powers actually to initiate change themselves. The women in
the camps were the women heard from least during the war, of course.
As during the Mutiny the stories of women were less important than the
stories about them, so the concentration camp inhabitants were most
signi¬cant in the versions of them as starving and noble or crude and
foolish. British women are able to take control of some of the public
discussion of this imperial war with the emergence of the concentration
camps issue, but they are able to do it only by seizing control of the
public information about both Afrikaner and African women, thus
e¬ectively silencing those women themselves. The image of the noble
Boer mother with her dying children in the camps came to be an
important one in Afrikaner nationalism later in the twentieth century,
Gender ideology as military policy
and narratives by Boer women were published, some even in English
translations. But no narratives have emerged about the African camps,
not from Hobhouse or Fawcett, and not from the inmates themselves,
who were unlikely to have the literacy skills to produce diaries. The
concentration camp issue demonstrated the growing place of women™s
issues in public discourse about imperialism, but the women whose
discourse mattered were a very limited group still.
° 

Cannibals or knights “ sexual honor in the propaganda of
Arthur Conan Doyle and W. T. Stead

Images of women were manipulated by both sides in the debate over the
Boer War concentration camps, with neither side giving much attention
to the lives of actual women in the camps. The army and the Colonial
O¬ce eventually had to recognize the importance of the women and
children in the camps because the camps™ death rates were re¬‚ecting
badly on men whose duty was to protect women and children. The
public debate surrounding the camps became a debate about gender.
This chapter examines another public debate that involved women but
was controlled by men. The exchange of war propaganda between
Arthur Conan Doyle and W. T. Stead focuses on the sexual honor and
conduct of the British soldier, but women are rarely given voice. The
terms of the debate arise from the phenomenon of Victorian medieval-
ism “ Victorians went so far as to stage jousting matches and tourna-
ments in their nostalgia for a medieval past, ¬ltered through Victorian
sensibilities.¹ The core nostalgic notion of Victorian medievalism, its
central metaphor, was the notion of chivalry as the right conduct of men
toward women. The chivalrous man needed a woman to inspire him,
but codes of chivalry were written for men; chivalry, for the Victorians,
was a male-oriented set of ideas about how to be a good man. Although
the Doyle-Stead debate about masculine sexual honor is couched in the
terms of medievalism, it nevertheless marks the South African War as
the beginning of a twentieth-century sensibility about what could be
expected of men as men. Public opinion about war, and especially about
such matters as the concentration camps, depends on shared ideas
about proper wartime conduct, but ideas about proper wartime conduct
relied on ideals about masculinity “ about proper male conduct.
This chapter examines Doyle™s and Stead™s uses of the Victorian idea
of chivalry, exploring the importance of chivalry as part of a functioning
ideology of the proper conduct of war. A military policy that uses
chivalry as a justi¬cation can have very practical implications for
Cannibals or knights
women™s lives in wartime. Although it regulates male conduct, chivalry
as a working ideology depends on assumptions about relations between
men and women. Even in the homosocial system of war, women or the
idea of women must have an important place. In public discourse about
the concentration camps, white women were described as being vulner-
able to rape by African men, and so chivalry was called into action to
justify the Boer women™s deportation and con¬nement in the camps.
Similarly, in Doyle™s and Stead™s propaganda discussing the conduct of
the war and especially of the soldiers in the war, women appear
primarily as victims or potential victims of rape “ but rape by British
soldiers. The Doyle-Stead debate about the sexual honor of the British
soldier was a public, wartime expression of the contested nature of
gender roles in Britain at the turn of the century. The newspaper and
pamphlet battles over the war reveal the ways that assumptions about
gender and social obligations get worked out in relation to imperial and
military concerns.
The texts on which this study relies are the productions of an anti-
war propagandist, radical journalist W. T. Stead, and a pro-war propa-
gandist, popular ¬ction writer Arthur Conan Doyle. Stead and Doyle
use the notion of chivalry as a key trope for the discussion of the ethics
of the conduct of the war itself, but both men eventually focus speci¬-
cally on one particular type of misconduct in war “ rape by soldiers.
Doyle and Stead™s debate about soldierly sexual honor re¬‚ects, among
other things, British concerns about a military force that was no longer
a professional one but that was, by mid-war, composed largely of
under-trained and un¬t volunteers. What were the moral standards of
such volunteers, far from home and far from the force of British public
opinion? Was a British man in khaki a noble representative of his
nation, carrying British ideals abroad? Or was he simply ˜˜a single man
in barracks,™™ as Kipling wrote? Soldiers had always been seen as sexual
threats. But volunteer soldiers, with less of the discipline of military
training, might be an even bigger problem. Kipling™s returning volun-
teer wondered how he could ever ¬t in again: ˜˜me, that ™ave been what
I™ve been?™™² The soldiers were an unknown quantity, but Doyle and
Stead were participating in an e¬ort to construct the new soldier of the
Empire within a framework that could contain and manage him, for
the people of Britain and for the returning soldiers themselves. Chival-
ry was a useful way of teaching the soldier how to behave and teaching
the British public how to think about the soldier during a war that saw
the recruitment of an entirely di¬erent kind of soldier. Before the Boer
 Gender, race, and the writing of empire
War, o¬cers were gentlemen and footsoldiers were rough-and-ready
types who took the Queen™s shilling for lack of a job, to escape troubles
at home, or for adventure. With the large-scale recruiting necessary
during the Boer War, the middle and lower middle class Volunteer
corps meant that much of the ¬ghting would now be done by non-
career soldiers who had left decent jobs at home. Public ideas about
soldiers needed revising.
Public discourse about the Boer War did not feature a strong rhetori-
cal focus on the home front. The women of Britain were in no danger
and were not especially called upon to encourage their men to join up.
To be sure, Kipling™s ˜˜The Absent-Minded Beggar™™ raised money for
the troops and their families by calling up an image of wives and
children left behind, but there was no overwhelming sense of ˜˜Women
of Britain Say, Go!™™ and no posters of bestial, ravaging Boers. Chivalry™s
place as one of the central ideologies in support of the war, and the
proper conduct of it, had to depend on women, but with the lack of
British women in the war™s rhetoric, the female place in the chivalric
ideology had to be ¬lled by the women on the battle front “ Boer
women. For the anti-war propagandist Stead, Boer women were rape
victims and potential rape victims. For Doyle, who supported the war,
Boer women were, signi¬cantly, not victims of rape; this testi¬ed to the
chivalry and purity of the British soldier. For Stead and for Doyle,
women™s place in the chivalric world of war marked either the uncon-
trollable lust of the British soldier in wartime or the self-controlled lust of
the British soldier in wartime.
In one of the last of the great British penny pamphlet controversies,
W. T. Stead™s propaganda pamphlet Methods of Barbarism and Arthur
Conan Doyle™s reply, The War in South Africa, Its Cause and Conduct, battled
for the hearts and minds of the British in the latter stages of the Boer
War. While Stead™s anti-war propaganda, in Methods of Barbarism as well
as in Shall I Slay My Brother Boer? (One response was called Shall I Kick My
Brother Stead?), and many other publications, tackles many di¬erent
themes, including the concentration camps, farm-burning, and capital-
ist inspiration for the war, Doyle™s rebuttal to Stead takes issue especially
with a single aspect of Stead™s charges “ the assertion that British soldiers
raped Boer women. Doyle™s pamphlet purports to discuss the ˜˜cause
and conduct™™ of the war, but he focuses on the conduct, on questions
not of military policy but of individual behavior. Doyle links military
honor to sexual honor, just as Stead connects military misconduct with
sexual misconduct.
Cannibals or knights
This propaganda debate, with all its class- as well as gender-based
assumptions, reveals the impact on turn-of-the-century imperialism of
ideologies honed in domestic settings. Both Stead and Doyle preached
the virtues of sexual restraint, but for Doyle restraint came from within,
from the British soldier™s sense of honor and chivalry, while for Stead
restraint had to be imposed on the soldier. For both Stead and Doyle,
sexual honor was an English issue at the same time as it was an imperial
one, and concerns about male sexual behavior in the Empire re¬‚ected
concerns about male sexual behavior at home.³ Stead™s anti-war posi-
tion is almost as in¬‚uenced by ideas of chivalry drawn from Victorian
medievalism as Doyle™s pro-war position, and Stead and Doyle™s ¬ght
about the nature of the Victorian soldier appears to have less to do with
their positions on the Boer War than with their relations to turn-of-the-
century notions of masculinity, Darwinism, and social progress.

  ¤    °µ ¬© ¦©§ µ
W. T. Stead supported women™s rights. He campaigned against the
Contagious Diseases Acts and in favor of women™s su¬rage. His ±µ
Pall Mall Gazette series on child prostitution in London, ˜˜The Maiden
Tribute of Modern Babylon,™™ included vivid descriptions of the sexual
debaucheries of a class of aristocratic men who preyed on the ˜˜daugh-
ters of the people.™™ These men, styled ˜˜minotaurs™™ by Stead, had so
indulged in sexual excess that for them stimulation could come only
from the rape of young virgins. Judith Walkowitz and others have
discussed the Maiden Tribute™s attitudes toward male sex drives and
Stead™s own satisfactions from playing the part of a sexual predator in
the drama he staged to ˜˜purchase™™ a thirteen-year-old girl. Upper-class
sexuality is unnatural sexuality, for Stead, because it has been corrupted
by excess. Stead™s assessments of male sexuality take a di¬erent form in
his Boer-War propaganda, however, as the sexuality of the working-
class Tommy Atkins becomes the issue, and predatory sexuality be-
comes equated not with aristocratic men but with men in a kind of
primitive, natural state.
Stead was the loudest voice in the pro-Boer movement even if the
work of Leonard Courtney and Frederic Harrison was, in the long run,
more in¬‚uential (Davey The British Pro-Boers ·). Because of Stead™s
public stature as a journalist, he was sure to be read, if not believed. The
Liberal leader Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman thanked Stead for his
˜˜sound rating™™ early in the war, before Campbell-Bannerman declared
 Gender, race, and the writing of empire
himself a ˜˜pro-Boer.™™⁴ South African High Commissioner Alfred Mil-
ner worried when Stead came out strongly against war in South Africa
in August ±. Milner wrote to English South African journalist (and
former Stead protege) Edmund Garrett, ˜˜It is rather a serious matter
that Stead has taken the line he has. Of course he is not the power he
once was “ still he touches a large public™™ (quoted in Davey The British
Pro-Boers ). That public shrank considerably during the Boer War, as
Stead irritated Britons by openly encouraging the Boer forces and by
castigating the British government for prosecuting the war. While other
pro-Boers more quietly lobbied for an end to the war, Stead met
publicly with Boer representatives and cheered them on to victory
(Davey The British Pro-Boers ). The ¬rst issue of his weekly publication,
War Against War in South Africa, printed a translation of the ˜˜War Hymn
of the Boers,™™ ˜˜sung by the Boers in their camps during the Majuba
campaign™™ (Majuba was the scene of the infamous Boer defeat of the
British in the ¬rst Boer War of ±±).µ This kind of slap in the face was
pushing the British public a little too far, and sales of Stead™s mainstream
organ, the Review of Reviews, began to drop dramatically as a result of his
pro-Boer activities.
Stead™s anti-war work was a huge undertaking. War Against War,
sixteen pages of newsprint, came out weekly from ° October ±
until  January ±°° and included regular articles from Stead as well
as transcripts of speeches about war issues, news summaries, articles
reprinted from the dailies, poetry, and much material from foreign
newspapers. Stead wrote many pamphlets and published many more,
selling and distributing them through the Stop the War Committee
and the Review of Reviews o¬ce and o¬ering bulk discounts for mass
War Against War is de¬nitively Stead™s production “ he uses the ¬rst
person in its leaders and in many unsigned articles, and it was he
personally who was both attacked and credited for the views the journal
contained. On the cover of the  November issue, Stead prints a
private letter to him from Olive Schreiner (˜˜Though it is a private letter,
I am sure our correspondent will forgive me for bringing it before my
readers™™). Readers of War Against War were, for Stead, ˜˜my readers.™™
Stead was seen, by himself and by observers on both sides of the war
question, as the patron saint of the anti-war movement. So the strategies
Stead would use in his propaganda to characterize the British soldier
were strategies that had to be met head-on by propagandists on the
other side of the issue.
Cannibals or knights

¤ ¬ ®¤  · 
One of the most important propagandists opposed to Stead was Arthur
Conan Doyle. The creator of Sherlock Holmes is not the ¬rst Victorian
writer we associate with the promotion of the aims of Empire. Rudyard
Kipling and Rider Haggard come to mind more readily, with their
tales of adventure in India and Africa. Although Doyle™s most popular
and most lasting works, the Holmes stories, often contain imperial
details, the stories are not set in the outposts of British civilization.
Holmes is a Londoner, rooted ¬rmly in the metropolis, making occa-
sional excursions to the surrounding countryside. Nor is Doyle™s other
¬ction imperial, unless we count the delightfully comic Brigadier
Etienne Gerard, who served a di¬erent Empire. Doyle™s ¬ction is,
however, often about war, and it is because he is concerned about war
that Doyle becomes an important public ¬gure in support of British
imperialism at the turn of the century. Empire per se did not interest
Doyle, but war was important, with its opportunities to show British
mettle, to demonstrate the manly spirit at its best. So while Doyle
penned as important a contribution to imperial propaganda as Kip-
ling, he did so out of support for his country in wartime rather than out
of a strong commitment to the project of empire. No British literary
¬gure was as engaged with the fate of his country at the turn of the
century as Doyle, who spent months ¬ghting an enteric epidemic in a
¬eld hospital on the battle front and who would be credited with
turning much foreign public opinion around on the question of British
conduct in the war. But rather than support for the policy of imperial-
ism, it was Doyle™s conception of the link between the concepts of
personal honor and national honor that pushed him into the role of
public spokesperson for Britain.
On the occasion of the centenary of Doyle™s birth, Adrian Conan
Doyle, the author™s son, noted the senior Doyle™s frustration at being
known chie¬‚y as the creator of Sherlock Holmes. For Adrian, ˜˜his
creation of Holmes is far overshadowed by that long list of lesser known
yet nobler accomplishments by which he served his country,™™ especially
his writings on military matters and legal and ethical concerns such as
divorce reform and the Congo atrocities (Doyle Centenary ·). For serving
his country through propagandizing on its behalf during the Boer War,
Doyle earned a knighthood. But personal glory was not his object when
he undertook the task. Early in the war Doyle had tried to enlist, at the
age of forty. He explained to his horri¬ed mother that, as he had written
 Gender, race, and the writing of empire
to The Times to suggest the use of mounted infantry, when the govern-
ment called for such a force, ˜˜I was honor-bound, as I had suggested it,
to volunteer. What I feel is that I have perhaps the strongest in¬‚uence
over young men, especially young sporting men, of anyone in England
bar Kipling. That being so, it is really important that I should give them
a lead™™ (quoted in Carr Life of Doyle ±µµ). He was not accepted into the
military, but he was able to reach the ¬ghting by another route. Resur-
recting his dormant quali¬cations as a physician “ he had abandoned
his practice when he became a literary success in the early ±°s “ he
went out to South Africa as senior surgeon of a hospital for British
soldiers funded by a friend, John Langman.

¤ ¬    °µ ¬© ¦©§µ 
From his ¬rst fame as a writer until his death, Doyle lived in the public
eye, speaking out on many issues of public controversy of the times. He
felt it was his obligation as a public ¬gure to help defend the honor of his
country as well as to make recommendations to its leaders as to what the
best and most honorable courses of action would be. It was during the
Boer War that this newly bestselling author made his ¬rst foray into
public debate. His sense of himself as an important example for young
British men led him to volunteer for active military service during the
con¬‚ict, and his sense of his talents as a writer led him to produce a
propaganda pamphlet in defense of Britain™s conduct during the war.
He suggested, in letters to the War O¬ce and to the newspapers,
innovations in military strategy and equipment “ ri¬‚e ¬re that would be
able to drop into trenches rather than shooting straight over them, metal
helmets and lightweight body armor, and militia drill at home in
England to train an ever-ready defense force. (His suggestions, however,
were not enthusiastically welcomed by the War O¬ce.) He even ran for
parliament in the Khaki Election of ±°°.
War had always interested Doyle, and he had had a brief encounter
with it in ±, when he happened to be in Cairo when war was
declared. ˜˜Egypt had suddenly become the storm centre of the world,
and chance had placed me there at that moment,™™ he wrote later in the
autobiographical Memories and Adventures. ˜˜Clearly I could not remain in
Cairo, but must get up by hook or by crook to the frontier™™ (±“µ). He
was unable to reach the ¬ghting in Egypt, but things were di¬erent a few
years later, when he met up again with many of his military acquaintan-
ces from Egypt, in the thick of the war in South Africa. Even before he
Cannibals or knights
set o¬ for South Africa to work in the Langman Hospital, Doyle was
planning to write a book about the war, and he started collecting
information from his fellow passengers on the voyage to Cape Town.
He published The Great Boer War while the con¬‚ict was still going on,
basing the book on notes from his experiences in South Africa, govern-
ment documents, and voluminous correspondence from soldiers, o¬-
cers, and newspaper correspondents. He collected material from eye-
witnesses he met at the Langman Hospital and on his travels, and he
used his time in South Africa to gather information as e¬ciently as he
could, and as quickly, for he wanted his history to be the ¬rst to appear.
The book, ¬rst published in ±°±, was well received, and sixteen editions
of it were published during the war itself, each with fresh additions and
revisions. His research was extensive, much like the painstaking re-
search he had done for his historical novels. And, indeed, The Great Boer
War is reminiscent of the historical novels, with its stirring descriptions
of battles and individual acts of heroism.
As Sir Nigel Loring, in Doyle™s The White Company and the post-Boer-
War Sir Nigel, was always seeking a worthy opponent, so Doyle continu-
ously constructed the Boers in his military history as competitors worthy
of the noble British. Doyle opens The Great Boer War with a recipe:
Take a community of Dutchmen of the type of those who defended themselves
for ¬fty years against all the power of Spain at a time when Spain was the
greatest power in the world. Intermix with them a strain of those in¬‚exible
French Huguenots who gave up home and fortune and left their country
forever at the time of the revocation of the Edict of Nantes. The product must
obviously be one of the most rugged, virile, unconquerable races ever seen
upon earth. Take this formidable people and train them for seven generations
in constant warfare against savage men and ferocious beasts, in circumstances
under which no weakling could survive, place them so that they acquire
exceptional skill with weapons and in horsemanship, give them a country which
is suited to the tactics of the huntsman, the marksman, and the rider. Then,
¬nally, put a ¬ner temper upon their military qualities by a dour fatalistic Old
Testament religion and an ardent and consuming patriotism. Combine all
these qualities and all these impulses in one individual, and you have the
modern Boer “ the most formidable antagonist who ever crossed the path of
Imperial Britain. (±±)
This enemy bore little relation to the stupid, backward farmer many
Britons had thought they would ¬nd in the South African republics. Of
course, a rude peasant enemy would not have allowed the British a
chance to shine “ they needed a worthy opponent. In addition, how-
ever, Doyle had to account for why the war had not proceeded as
 Gender, race, and the writing of empire
expected. The general feeling in Britain had been in accord with the
lieutenant of the Irish Fusiliers who wrote to his parents in early October
±: ˜˜I don™t think the Boers will have a chance, although I expect
there will be one or two sti¬ little shows here and there . . . I think they
are awful idiots to ¬ght although we are of course very keen that they
should™™ (quoted in Pakenham Boer War ±µ). The war was not over by
Christmas ±, as General Lord Roberts had predicted it would be.
Doyle™s Sir Nigel himself, with his eternal hopes for ˜˜some opportun-
ity for honorable advancement™™ through contest with any ˜˜worthy
gentleman,™™ would have been proud to do battle with The Great Boer
War™s version of Boer leader Piet Joubert. Joubert, Doyle wrote, ˜˜came
from that French Huguenot blood which has strengthened and re¬ned
every race which it has touched, and from it he derived a chivalry and
generosity which made him respected and liked even by his opponents™™
(·°). The enemy were generally ˜˜brave™™ (µ), ˜˜gallant Boers™™ (·, ),
˜˜clever and audacious™™ (). Doyle resisted the tack taken by many war
commentators who dwelt on reported Boer abuses of the white ¬‚ag and
shooting of wounded. For almost every report of a Boer violation, Doyle
described a British one, excusing neither. He wanted an honorable
battle, and he found many occasions to report chivalrous or honorable
behavior by Briton and Boer. In describing the battles at Elandslaagte
and Rietfontein, Doyle reported of Sir George White that ˜˜[i]t is typical
of White™s chivalrous spirit that within ten days he refused to identify
himself with a victory when it was within his right to do so, and he took
the whole responsibility for a disaster at which he was not present™™
(“). Such sel¬‚essness was the mark of an honorable British o¬cer; the
honorable British soldier was perhaps best represented in the following
description of an act of heroism:
The idea of an ambush could not suggest itself. Only one thing could avert an
absolute catastrophe, and that was the appearance of a hero who would accept
certain death in order to warn his comrades. Such a man rode by the wagons “
though, unhappily, in the stress and rush of the moment there is no certainty as
to his name or rank. We only know that one was found brave enough to ¬re his
revolver in the face of certain death. The outburst of ¬ring which answered his
shot was the sequel which saved the column. Not often is it given a man to die so
choice a death as that of this nameless soldier. (Great Boer War µ)
The death of the nameless soldier was the death of the average Briton
doing his duty for his country. Such a soldier had no name in The Great
Boer War but was simply a necessary component of a narrative of
honorable combat. Tommy Atkins had an essential nobility of spirit that
Cannibals or knights
revealed itself in moments such as these. Honor was available to all
soldiers, regardless of class, but the Tommy and the upper-class o¬cer
earned very di¬erent sorts of honor.
After Doyle™s return to London, he remained deeply concerned about
the war. He continued to revise The Great Boer War, interviewing as many
key participants as he could and keeping up with all the details of the
war™s progress. But what disturbed him the most about the war was the
increasingly anti-British tone of the newspapers on the Continent. The
European press was printing more and more accounts of the miscon-
duct of British troops. Doyle recounted in the Cornhill after the war that:
To anyone who knew the easy going British soldier or the character of his
leaders the thing was unspeakably absurd; and yet, as I laid down the paper and
thought the matter over, I could not but admit that these Continental people
were acting under a generous and unsel¬sh motive which was much to their
credit . . . How could they know our case? . . . Nowhere could be found a
statement which covered the whole ground in a simple fashion. Why didn™t
some Briton draw it up? And then, like a bullet through my head, came the
thought, ˜˜Why don™t you draw it up yourself?™™ (˜˜Incursion into Diplomacy™™
Thus began what Doyle called his ˜˜incursion into amateur diplomacy™™
(·). Having already written The Great Boer War, Doyle was in a good
position to draw up a defense of Britain™s part in the war. His defense
was The War in South Africa: Its Cause and Conduct, a book-length pamphlet
which Doyle raised funds to have translated into twenty languages and
distributed for free throughout Europe, the Americas, and north Africa.
The recipients Doyle designated “ the press, ministers, and professors “
were the ones J. A. Hobson would list that very year in Imperialism as the
public ¬gures who wielded the largest in¬‚uence on public opinion on

 ©¬  
Chivalry came back into fashion in Victorian Britain on a wave of
revived interest in things medieval. While this Victorian medievalism
might seem to be an essentially conservative ideology, a harkening back
to less troublesome (because less democratic) times, in fact medievalism
had an appeal for social critics across the political spectrum. The
socialism of Ruskin and Morris was no less nostalgic about the days of
chivalry than the backward-looking vision that in ± prompted the
Earl of Eglinton to produce the rain-soaked Eglinton Tournament,
° Gender, race, and the writing of empire
featuring jousting and other knightly displays, at a cost upwards of
£°,°°°. By the time of the Boer War, chivalry had its satirizers, but it
was still an operative ideology, and the pro-feminist W. T. Stead was
able to make as e¬ective use of the notion of chivalry as did the
anti-su¬ragist Arthur Conan Doyle.
As Mark Girouard™s lavish The Return to Camelot illustrates, the revival
of ˜˜the code of medieval chivalry, and the knights, castles, armour,
heraldry, art and literature that it produced™™ (±±) started in Britain in
the late eighteenth century and held until World War I. Medieval castles
went up on country estates, rich men collected armor and held tourna-
ments, and, of course, the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood painted
Galahad, Lancelot, and Guinevere. But artists, aristocracy, and country
gentry were not alone in the craze for the courtly. Victorians were
searching for something deeper than a facade of the heroic. They
wanted an alternative to the materialist values that were accompanying
industrialization (Girouard Return ±±). Carlyle, in his opposition to
Mammon-worship, called for a ˜˜Chivalry of Work,™™ which would make
the aristocracy into a real governing class, would build the character of
manufacturers until they were worthy ˜˜Captains of Industry.™™ John
Stuart Mill, too, wanted heroes “ but not Carlyle™s kind. In ± Mill
wrote of his resentment of the popular novels of the time, which ˜˜teach
nothing but (what is already too soon learnt from actual life) lessons of
worldliness, with at most the huckstering virtues which conduce to
getting on in the world.™™ Instead, Mill longed for the ˜˜old romances,
whether of chivalry or of faery,™™ which had ˜˜¬lled the youthful imagin-
ation with pictures of heroic men, and of what are at least as wanted,
heroic women™™ (quoted in Houghton Victorian Frame of Mind ±“±·).
The chivalrous gentleman who was the hallmark of Victorian and
Edwardian Britain had been, Girouard explains, ˜˜deliberately created™™
(Return °). In a century that saw the class struggle of Chartism, calls for
extension of voting rights and universal education, it seemed necessary
to many to recreate a medieval, aristocratic ruling class. No longer
would England be ruled on the middle-class basis of capitalism and
private property. ˜˜The aim of the chivalric tradition was to produce a
ruling class which deserved to rule because it possessed the moral
qualities necessary to rulers,™™ Girouard notes (Return ±).
Although much of the revival of chivalry and its values was for-
mulated by the upper classes for the greater glory of the upper classes,
the ideology had its implications for the workers, too. A new chivalric
Britain would contain a working class bound by a¬ection and loyalty to
Cannibals or knights
its betters, rather than banded together to ¬ght for its own interests. This
class relation appears in uniform in Doyle™s Boer War writings “ Doyle
was concerned with the relationship between the gentlemanly British
o¬cer and Tommy Atkins, who was distinctly not a gentleman. Doyle™s
defense of British honor was not simply a defense of the English
gentleman, the o¬cer who was responsible for whether his troops
followed the rules of war, but was also a defense of the honor of the
soldier in camp. As chivalric codes would come to apply to working class
boys through such groups as Baden-Powell™s Boy Scouts, Doyle de-
clared the British Tommy chivalrous, the upholder of the honor of his
To understand Doyle™s outrage at aspersions on the sexual honor of
the British soldier it is useful to understand Doyle™s personal relationship
to the concept of chivalry. Doyle himself had been brought up to value
the ancient ideals of chivalry and family honor, thanks to his mother, the
formidable Mary Doyle, who had trained him as a child to be keenly
conscious of his noble heritage “ she traced the family back as far as the
Doyle is often eulogized for not divorcing his tubercular wife, Mary
Louise (˜˜Touie™™), in favor of the younger woman, Jean Leckie, with
whom he had fallen passionately in love. His maintenance of a ˜˜Pla-
tonic™™ relationship with Leckie for ten years until his wife™s death was
thought by friends to be tremendously admirable. Adrian Conan Doyle
and subsequent biographers cite J. M. Barrie™s tribute as representative:
˜˜There can never have been a more honorable man than Arthur Conan
Doyle™™ (quoted in Ja¬e Arthur Conan Doyle ±). The honor in question was
clearly sexual honor “ self-restraint. Doyle and Leckie, who married a
year after Touie™s death, wrote to each other every day for the last ten
years of Doyle™s ¬rst marriage and saw each other whenever they could.
During all that time, we are told, neither Touie nor the Doyle children,
Mary and Kingsley, were aware of the relationship. For Doyle™s sister
Connie and brother-in-law E. W. Hornung, the relationship with
Leckie was wrong, despite the fact that Doyle, as Jacqueline Ja¬e puts it,
˜˜conducted this a¬air in a manner he felt was consistent with his
position as a married man™™ (Arthur Conan Doyle ±). According to John
Dickson Carr, Hornung told Doyle, ˜˜It seems to me you attach too
much importance to whether these relations are Platonic or not. I can™t
see that it makes much di¬erence. What is the di¬erence?™™ to which
Doyle replied, ˜˜Only the di¬erence between innocence and guilt™™ (Life
of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle ±°). An honorable man would not sleep with
 Gender, race, and the writing of empire
one woman when he was married to another. An honorable man had
desires, certainly, but he did not allow them to overcome his morals.
Doyle™s clinging to the notion of sexual purity as part of a chivalric
code is a holdover from earlier Victorians™ reinterpretation of the
Middle Ages to ¬t an image the Victorians were creating of themselves.
Girouard notes that sexual purity was grafted onto chivalry only with
Tennyson™s Idylls of the King and the ˜˜Muscular Christianity™™ of Charles
Kingsley and Thomas Hughes (Tom Brown™s Schooldays) (Return ±).
Medieval chivalry, while it included the concept of ˜˜courtly love,™™ an
unconsummated love between a knight and an unattainable lady, did
not stress chastity as much as did the Renaissance and Victorian
versions of the Middle Ages.
By the mid-nineteenth century, women had become increasingly
important to the ideals of Victorian chivalry. In ±µ Ruskin declared,
in ˜˜Of Queen™s Gardens,™™ ˜˜The ¬rst and necessary impulse of every
true knight and knightly heart is this of blind service to its lady™™⁶ (±°).
And this ˜˜impulse,™™ for Doyle and for other proponents of chivalric
ideals, was extended beyond one™s lady to all women. It did not matter if
the woman was physically unattractive (Doyle once struck his son for
referring to a woman as ˜˜ugly™™) or of a lower class. We may look at Sir
Nigel Loring™s instructions to his squires in Doyle™s historical novel The
White Company for an only slightly tongue-in-cheek version of the code:
˜˜But what have we here? A very fair and courtly maiden, or I mistake.™™
It was indeed a tall and buxom country lass, with a basket of spinach leaves
upon her head, and a great slab of bacon tucked under one arm . . .
˜˜Fear not, fair damsel,™™ said Sir Nigel, ˜˜but tell me if perchance a poor and
most unworthy knight can in any wise be of service to you . . .™™
˜˜Lawk no, kind sir,™™ she answered, clutching her bacon the tighter, as
though some design upon it might be hid under this knightly o¬er. ˜˜I be the
milking wench o™ fairmer Arnold, and he be as kind a maister as heart could
˜˜It is well,™™ said he . . . ˜˜I would have you bear in mind,™™ he continued to his
squires, ˜˜that gentle courtesy is not, as is the base use of so many false knights,
to be shown only to maidens of high degree, for there is no woman so humble
that a true knight may not listen to her tale of wrong.™™ (±·)
For Doyle, reverence for women was a crucial part of the honor of the
British gentleman and of the British soldier, whether gentleman by rank
or not. But by the turn of the century women were agitating for the right
to higher education, to be admitted into the professions, and to vote.
The desire to be revered was not at the top of the New Woman™s
agenda. And women™s rights activists did stretch Doyle™s reverence
Cannibals or knights
beyond its limits. Although gentle courtesy was due to women of every
class, once she had stepped outside the behavior required in the gentle-
man™s code of honor, a woman might no longer expect respect from a
gentleman. Doyle had no qualms about maligning the militant su¬ra-
gettes. John Dickson Carr explains that ˜˜it was not a matter of political
principle. What he disliked was their behaviour. He considered it
grotesque, a reversal of roles™™ (Life ·). Revering women was part of
being a Victorian gentleman, but women had an obligation to be
worthy of reverence. Doyle suggested to the press on his ±± American
tour that the su¬ragettes were likely to be lynched, calling them ˜˜wild
women™™ (Carr Life µ). His ferocity against the su¬ragettes became
legend, and he argued against the vote for women: ˜˜When a man comes
home from his day™s work, I don™t think he wants a politician sitting
opposite him at the ¬reside™™ (Carr Life ±°).
But Doyle™s attitudes towards women were not that simple “ not if we
take into account his ¬ction. Who could forget Irene Adler, the woman
who defeated Sherlock Holmes and so became, to him, simply ˜˜the
woman™™? Doyle™s ¬ction includes another female character who be-
comes ˜˜the woman™™ for the story™s hero: in ˜˜The Doctors of Hoyland,™™
from Doyle™s collection of medical stories called Round the Red Lamp, Dr.
Verrinder Smith, the new physician who has moved into Dr. James
Ripley™s town, turns out to be a woman. Ripley is hostile: ˜˜Not that he
feared competition, but he objected to this lowering of his ideal of
womanhood™™ (°). After all, he had noted in the medical directory that
Dr. Smith had been trained at Edinburgh, Paris, Berlin, and Vienna,
and ˜˜[a] man, of course, could come through such an ordeal with all his
purity, but it was nothing short of shameless in a woman™™ (°). Ripley is
proved wrong, for Smith has not been, as he predicts, ˜˜unsexed™™ by her
education and achievements. After the humiliation of having his own
medical article corrected by her, and after losing all his patients to her,
he comes eventually to renounce his bad attitudes and behavior when
Smith attends him in an emergency and sees him through his convales-
cence. He proposes marriage, but Dr. Smith gently refuses him, for she
intends to devote her life entirely to science. After all, as she tells Ripley,
˜˜There are many women with a capacity for marriage, but few with a
taste for biology™™ (˜˜Doctors™™ ±). Ripley remains sad and single for the
rest of his life, and Smith goes o¬ to a research career at the Paris
Physiological Laboratory, as, it turns out, she had always intended.
Doyle does not stint in creating his woman doctor “ she is a better
researcher and a better physician than her male counterpart. And, while
 Gender, race, and the writing of empire
Ripley is certainly prejudiced, he never doubts that women are capable of
being doctors. The prejudice he must overcome is slightly di¬erent:
Ripley learns that a true woman is capable of maintaining her purity
and her femininity in the face of a medical education. But neither the
narrator nor Ripley quarrels with Smith™s assertion that, for a talented
woman, marriage is incompatible with a career. The story features a
professional woman, but she is no New Woman: she is gentle, kind, and
feminine. Nevertheless, she emasculates; men can o¬er her nothing she
needs, and she must remain unattainable. How can you be chivalrous to
a woman who has won more research awards than you? Dr. Verrinder
Smith cannot represent the future for women; she is very productive,
but she cannot, or will not, reproduce.

 ¤  ®¤  ©¬  
Chivalry has a di¬erent place in the life and writings of Stead than it
does in Doyle. The author of ˜˜The Maiden Tribute of Modern Baby-
lon™™ was certainly motivated by a desire to protect women from the foul
conduct of men. But chivalry extended beyond British borders for
Stead. He was a driving force in organizing the ± Hague Conven-
tion, at which the major European powers agreed to rules of warfare.
His anti-Boer War publications emphasize the importance of following
the Hague Convention and other, unspeci¬ed, rules of civilized combat.
His journalism valorizes the Boers for their generous conduct in battle
and with their British prisoners, holding them up as superior in chivalry
to the British despite being backward, dirty farmers.
In War Against War in South Africa, Stead declares, ˜˜We can make war
like cannibals or make war like Knights™™ (±±). Fighting a war on
chivalrous principles, he believed, brought greater honor to the coun-
tries at odds. The alternative to chivalry for Stead is not simply dis-
honorable ¬ghting but ˜˜cannibal™™ ¬ghting “ primitive, unrestrained
warfare. War releases the primitive in man™s nature, and ˜˜[t]he progress
of civilisation is attested by the extent to which mankind is able to
restrain the aboriginal savage who is let loose by a declaration of war
within that continually narrowing limit™™ (WAW ±±). The primitive man
is concealed inside the civilized man, unleashed when man is given
permission to kill. The argument is based on a Darwinian notion of
progress toward civilization, moving away from the savage primitive.
The issue of chivalry in Stead relies on notions of class di¬erence. J. A.
Hobson saw the masses as misled by the press and the music halls, as
Cannibals or knights
prey to passions whipped up for political ends. The primitive was on the
surface in the working classes, who were, for all their franchise and new
literacy, not yet to be trusted, not yet civilized. For Stead as for Hobson,
the problem was that public-opinion-shapers in middle-class Britain
were not doing their duty. When one newspaper reported uncritically
an anecdote about a British Lancer refusing mercy to a surrendering
Boer because ˜˜You didn™t show us any mercy at Majuba,™™ Stead is
furious. How can it be, he asks, that:
because we were fairly beaten by brave men in a stand-up ¬ght we now deem it
right to slay a disarmed enemy who goes down on his knees and begs for mercy!
This is not civilized War. It is sheer butchery . . . Yet our Press and our parsons
have not a word to say . . . It is perhaps as well that they should be silent. For
they have been the cause of this recrudescence of aboriginal savagery. The
newspapers have fanned the ¬‚ames of race hatred, they have fed the ¬re of
In this sentiment Stead resembles Hobson and other crowd-theorists,
blaming middle-class ¬gures of in¬‚uence for not doing their job in
guiding in the right direction the easily-in¬‚uenced, in this case the
soldier rather than the jingo crowd at home. Like Hobson, Stead blames
the newspapers for stirring up nationalism. Stead castigates the press
and clergy for permitting, or even encouraging, the British soldier™s
degeneration into ˜˜aboriginal savagery.™™ The soldier is at risk of a slide
into the savage from the moment he is permitted to kill, and it is only the
force of middle-class public opinion that can restrain him.
Although both Stead and Doyle are concerned with national honor,
for Stead, the nation and the soldier are two di¬erent entities. A British
public that would not object to the prosecution of an unjust war was a
disgrace: ˜˜The degradation of the national character follows naturally
from the national apostasy,™™ he asserted, when the British public failed
to respond to charges of atrocities among British soldiers.⁸ For Stead,
the Boer War was an unjust war that brought out the worst in the British
troops and the British public.
Stead asserts that public opinion in Britain should be a strong enough
force to rein in the excesses of the military in South Africa, who under
royal commission perform unspeakable acts: ˜˜When we read of similar
deeds to those which are now being perpetrated in our name in the
South African Republics, as having occurred centuries since, we marvel
that the contemporaries of such events, men humane, enlightened, and
Christian, were not able to exercise any e¬ective restraint upon the
savagery of their soldiery™™ (WAW ), he writes. Soldiers who act in
 Gender, race, and the writing of empire
barbaric ways are not necessarily representative of their contemporaries
at home, who might be ˜˜humane, enlightened, and Christian,™™ but not
strong enough to speak out. But while the army need not represent the
national character, its savagery arises from the natural man. So is the
true Englishman a more disciplined, restrained version of the English
soldier? The horror of the atrocities of the British soldiers, according to
Stead, is that they are carried out with the sanction of the British public:
For to-day the nation at home witnesses every morning and evening, in the
camera obscura of its daily press, the whole hellish panorama that is unrolled in
South Africa. The work of devastation is carried on before our eyes. We see the
smoke of the burning farmstead; we hear the cries of the terri¬ed children, and
sometimes in the darkness we hear the sobbing of the outraged woman in the
midst of her orphaned children, and we know that before another sunset British
troops carrying the King™s commission, armed and equipped with supplies
voted by our representatives, will be steadily adding more items of horror to the
ghastly total which stands to our debit in South Africa. (War )
The goal of such bombast can only be to shame readers into action, as
patriotic Englishmen or women, to stop such evils being carried out in
their name. Thus Stead, who entertained and encouraged his country™s
enemies during the war, was nevertheless truly English-identi¬ed and
public-spirited as an Englishman. It was because he expected so much of
his country, he would argue, that he held it to such high standards and
refused to sanction what he saw as its betrayals of true British values.
If progress demanded moving from the primitive to the civilized, for
Stead that progress is best exempli¬ed by the state of man, in the
gendered sense of the word. Man is naturally, at his most basic, ˜˜primi-
tive™™ level, a killer. And it is up to the laws of civilization to curb, tame,
and repress that instinct to kill. But civilization and its forces, such as
legislation and public opinion, cannot, or dare not, completely eradicate
men™s capacity or inclination to kill. That capacity is necessary for
warfare. So the more civilized a nation becomes, the more necessary are
laws and customs for civilized warfare: these regulations are the ˜˜contin-
ually narrowing limit™™ on the natural brutality of men.
In The Truth about the War, a pamphlet published in ±°°, Stead notes,
˜˜Not even the worst enemies of the Boers allege that any Outlander
women have su¬ered outrage at their hands™™ (±). Stead charges neither
Boer nor British with rape at this stage in the war. But he does associate
the British with rape:
Within the last few years the Turks and their Kurdish allies have massacred
more Armenians than all the Outlanders who are claiming the franchise in the
Cannibals or knights
Transvaal. In the same period, Armenian women more than twice or thrice the
number of the whole female population in the Transvaal have been subjected
to the last extremity of bestial outrage at the hands of savages whose lust was
whetted by fanaticism. These wretches were our proteges in a far more real
sense than is the Outlander who wanders to the Rand to make his fortune.
(Truth ±“±)
British soldiers are rapists by proxy “ their proteges do the dirty work for
them in Armenia, including wholesale rape. Turks and Kurds are
savages who live by their urges, without the restraints that are necessary
on men released to kill. Here Stead makes the connection between
killing and rape “ when men are released from the restraints of civiliza-
tion and told that they may kill, the natural outcome (at least in the case
of ˜˜fanaticism™™) also includes rape.
In his December ±°° pamphlet How Not to Make Peace, Stead is happy
to recount Lord Roberts™ assessment of the conduct of his troops:
˜˜exemplary.™™ Stead cites Roberts™ accounts of women and children who
had been warned to fear the British troops “ they soon came to see that
˜˜they had nothing to fear from the ˜man in khaki.™™™ The pamphlet
quotes a letter from an anonymous British o¬cer who goes into great
detail about the British soldier™s lapse into ˜˜moral degeneracy™™ during
the war, but rape is not one of the charges laid against Tommy Atkins.
Instead the letter says that ˜˜[g]eneral conventions, customs of civilized
war, respect for women, tenderness to children, which were the com-
mon phrases in England, are treated as foolish cant™™ (). The ˜˜O¬cer
in the Field™™ asserts that ˜˜one of the causes which has lent to this
recklessness is the isolation of the theatre of war, and the entire absence
of any public opinion™™ (). The o¬cer charges that the second-most
evil of the British army in South Africa (after the destruction of prop-
erty!) is the ˜˜deliberate exposure of women and children to horrors
worse than those of the battle-¬eld,™™ that is, ˜˜the passions and lusts of
the natives™™ (µ°). Stead™s pamphlet also quotes General Buller™s declar-
ation that there had been no cases of rape involving British soldiers (·±).
In criticizing the troops™ conduct in South Africa, Stead notes that he is
not concerned to vilify individual soldiers: ˜˜What I attacked was not the
individual soldier, but the policy which he was compelled to carry out™™
(µ). ˜˜I also admit,™™ he says,
and am very glad to do so, on ¬rst-hand evidence of o¬cers in command of
General Buller™s army, that there has been a gratifying and unprecedented
absence of outrage of women on the part of British soldiers. But that crime I
never laid to their charge. What I complained of was that the policy of
 Gender, race, and the writing of empire
denudation and devastation led naturally, not to the forcible violation of
women, but to their degradation by famine. ()
This was a charge to which Arthur Conan Doyle would respond quite
strongly when Stead reiterated it in Methods of Barbarism. In his response,
Doyle con¬‚ated the charge of rape with that of reducing women to
degradation (prostitution) by robbing and starving them. For a man
with the chivalric values professed by Doyle, the charges might indeed
seem equal. But Stead had been careful to distinguish between the two
charges, disavowing any desire to call the British soldier a rapist but
noting that ˜˜surely it is not necessary at this time of day to ask what the
result must be if you deprive a woman of all means of subsistence and
place her penniless and friendless in the midst of a military camp. It is
not outrage by force, but degradation by famine™™ (“). Rape as a
violent crime, a ˜˜recrudescence of aboriginal savagery,™™ perhaps, was
di¬erent than a man asking a woman for sex in return for money, food,
or shelter, Stead asserts. But it would be hard to say that he was
declaring men™s behavior in either situation ˜˜unnatural.™™
In How Not to Make Peace, Stead reminds his readers of Josephine
Butler™s struggles to repeal the Contagious Diseases Acts, asking if, after
that long struggle,
it is too much to ask us to believe that the whole of the British troops in the
Transvaal have been converted into an army of St. Josephs? For making the
suggestion that it was possible for British soldiers to lead a celibate life of chastity,
Mrs. Butler was ridiculed in every military club in London, and yet, when we
have a hundred thousand men liberated from all the restraints of public opinion,
let loose to burn and destroy in an enemy™s country, is it rational to believe that
the Dutch women can escape untouched from such proximity? ()
But then he retreats to racism to save himself from having to make such
charges against British soldiers, resorting, again, to rape by proxy as a
charge against Britain:
But, for the sake of argument, I am willing to admit that every British soldier in
the Republics leads a life of virginal purity. The crowning horror and worst
outrage of all was not the violation of Dutch women by English soldiers, but the
exposure of these unfortunate white women to the loathly horror of compulsory
intercourse with the Ka¬rs. That this has taken place repeatedly is proved by
the executions of Ka¬rs, which have been ordered in punishment of this crime;
but, although we may shoot the Ka¬r for outraging a white woman, the
inexpiable outrage remains. ()
By charging the African man with rape, Stead again avoids discussing
British male sexuality as potentially violent. Charges of rape against
Cannibals or knights
Africans allow rape a status as a violent crime. Stead replaces the rape
charge against British soldiers with, as we saw above, a charge of the
creation of poverty-induced prostitution “ British soldiers force women
to choose to have sex with them.
Neither Stead nor Doyle allows any place for reciprocated desire in
South Africa “ that a British soldier and a Boer woman (let alone an
African woman) might have consensual sex. Arthur Hales, war corre-
spondent for the Daily News before its purchase by pro-Boers mid-war,
sketched a picture of a young Boer woman who was unlike either the
monster usually seen in the British daily press or the victim portrayed in
anti-war propaganda. Hales, much respected for his detailed, evocative
reporting from South Africa, constructs himself as a man™s man, per-
haps not unlike a soldier. He is captivated by the youngest daughter of a
Boer family:
[T]he fourth had a face like a young preacher™s ¬rst public prayer. A face that
many a man would risk his life for. So much of my whole career has been
passed amidst the rougher and more rugged scenes of life that a description of
dainty womanhood comes awkwardly from me. But I have read so much about
the ugliness and clumsiness of the Boer women in British journals that I should
like to try and describe this daughter of the veldt, although only a farmer™s
daughter. I do not know if she was short or tall, but her cheek could have
nestled comfortably on the shoulder of a fairly tall man.⁹
Her hands were the kind of hands that could ˜˜help a husband back to
paths of rectitude when all the world had damned him past redemp-
tion.™™ This is not a woman who appears in either Stead or Doyle™s
writing on the war “ it is a Victorian woman with whom an English man


. 3
( 7)