There is one characteristic of the Boer which the most casual observer cannot fail to notice. It is his entire indifference to personal appearance. He likes to see his vrouw gorgeous in all the colours of the rainbow (pink and green being the favourites), and he doesn’t mind if the material costs a little over ninepence a yard; but he evinces no desire to discard the suit he has himself worn for three or four years without a change. So long as it holds together, he is content to wear it, and he does not in the least mind what other people may say about it. It may be supposed that this applies exclusively to the poorer classes, but I can assure my readers that I have known it to be the case with scores of men who could well afford to wear a brand-new suit every day of the week and every month of the year. And what does this characteristic indicate? It indicates the man. He has no desire to advance beyond what he is—what his forefathers were. The latter manufactured their own clothing; they made their own shoes, and, had they been presented with a cast-off suit belonging to the Prince of Wales, they could not possibly have appreciated it, and they certainly would never have thought of wearing it. The Boer does not care to dress respectably; he prefers to finger the coin and sit down and watch the increase in his stock. He would have everything converted into stock, because that is his great ambition.
Another thing—he lacks taste. His clothes never by any chance fit him (in the eyes of more refined people), and his boots are always three sizes too large; but then he thinks he is getting more for his money. If he must needs buy boots, he takes care that he invests his money in quantity, not quality, or style.
The Boer would like to lay hands on the man who invented ploughs. Not that he has any aversion to ploughs as ploughs; he merely objects to the labour involved by the introduction of these implements into the market. He sees some sense in an ox, a sheep, a goat, and a horse. Put these animals on a bit of green veldt, and they do the rest themselves; they thrive and multiply, and enhance the position of their owner. But a plough! It means that he requires to take off his coat and stop doing nothing. The Boer would like to argue that if God had meant the soil to be disturbed by ploughs and such like, He would not have left the solution of this problem in the hands of mere inventors: He would have ordained a means whereby the soil would have of itself turned over once a year at springtime.