Unable to defeat the Boers in 1881, the British have been seething for almost twenty years as South African gold keeps pouring out, an inevitably irresistible temptation. Capitalizing on Uitlander outrage and the "gold bugs'" clamoring, the din has grown as loud as the cannons that now follow. In America we tend to side with the Boers, perceiving them as threatened colonists in an acutely familiar defensive posture. But I cannot ignore the scramble for loot that marks such endeavors--and pardon the wordplay, but I suppose I must "mark" how much I'm sounding like Marx here--heaven forbid anyone should read this; I'd be marked (sorry) as an Anarchist for certain. But as the world seems to shrink--and greed becomes more and more a global enterprise, a Deadly Sin succumbed to by the blood--and the approval--of citizens who will never even glimpse the glitter of Transvaal gold, I am losing all patience--and some large measure of National Pride--as I watch once again Edison pressing war until it flows in thin strips on the screen, as the British advance on the Boer cannon--and the camera is placed behind the latter, so that we see the British advancing upon us, who are always sympathizers in the struggle for freedom, and we are driven back with the Afrikaners.
It is excitingly photographed, so that I can immerse myself in the thrill of the advance, the silent cannon smoking, the retreat continuing behind me. It is, as usual, seductive, and almost makes me admit the British are wrong and the Boers are right. But again that golden gleam catches my eye, and the moment is gone, and only artifice and subterfuge remain.