With a Show Through Southern Africa

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With a Show Through Southern Africa was a two-volume account of his travels in South Africa written by an Irish-born elocutionist, performer and journalist, Charles Du Val. It was published in 1882 by Tinsley Brothers, 8 Catherine Street, Strand. Various other spellings of his name are sometimes used, including Charles Du-Val and Charles Duval.

In his Preface, Du Val wrote:

“I may add that, certainly among some circles of society in Great Britain, the most impenetrable haziness appears to exist respecting South Africa -- geographically, historically, and socially; another inducement to me to add that very mild rays of light these pages are capable of shedding upon the local atmosphere of fog to with which many stay-at-home people seem to be occasionally surrounded.

“I have personally met, since my return, with individuals who were perfectly astonished I had never seen or heard of some particular relation or friend who, they informed me, was at ‘the Cape;’ against whom I must perforce have jostled in the street, according to their ideas: and when further conversation disclosed the fact that its subject resided in some out-of-the-way village in the Orange Free State or on the borders of the Transvaal, great was their astonishment to be told that his or her residence was hundreds of miles away from everywhere.

“This general want of knowledge respecting South Africa is all the more remarkable, as having been the theatre of so many wars, and an activity of two remarkable ones, if it be true that war is the great modern teacher or geography it might fairly have been expected that its characteristics would be more fully and generally understood at home, I have met with many instances to prove the exception to this particular rule.

“My personal reminiscences of the late war in the Transvaal bear upon a particular position from which, although the capital and seat of Government, scarcely any news filtered through to the outer world during its investment, owing to the excellence of the Boer scouting, and the charmed circle of their ‘wacht’ (watch).

“When at last -- the war over -- communications did open, public attention was engrossed by of the settlement, and little seem to become known of one of the most singular of beleaguerments, repeat with incident and remarkable in its peculiarities; which facts must be my excuse for devoting so much space to its description.

“If the perusal of these pages will disabuse the minds of individual persons I have met of some peculiarly mixed as well as fixed ideas they entertain, respecting South Africa, and convince them that the Cape Colony is not in the Transvaal; that the Boers are not black and species of Kaffir (sic); that Zululand is not adjoining Cape Town; that Isandhwlana has no connection with Laing’s Nek; that Joubert is not responsible for the death of the Prince Imperial; and the Lord Chelmsford is in no way to blame for the reverse at Majuba Hill -- I shall feel I have not written in vain.”


1882. With a Show Through Southern Africa and Personal Reminiscences of the Transvaal War (Volume 1 & 2) by Charles du Val: Tinsley Brothers, 8 Catherine Street, Strand.


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