IMPRESSIONS OF SOUTH AFRICA
AUTHOR OF "THE HOLY ROMAN EMPIRE," "TRANSCAUCASIA AND ARARAT," "THE AMERICAN COMMONWEALTH," ETC.
With Three Maps.
THIRD EDITION, REVISED THROUGHOUT
WITH A NEW PREFATORY CHAPTER, AND WITH THE TRANSVAAL CONVENTIONS OF 1881 AND 1884
London MACMILLAN AND CO., Limited 1899
All rights reserved
RICHARD CLAY AND SONS, LIMITED, LONDON AND BUNGAY.
First Edition, 8vo. November 1897
Reprinted, November 1897
Second Edition, January 1898
Third Edition, Crown 8vo. November 1899
Reprinted, December 1899
THE COMPANION OF MY JOURNEY
This new edition has been carefully revised throughout, and, as far as possible, brought up to date by noting, in their proper places, the chief events of importance that have occurred since the book first appeared. In the historical chapters, however, and in those which deal with recent politics, no changes have been made save such as were needed for the correction of one or two slight errors of fact, and for the mention of new facts, later in date than the first edition. I have left the statements of my own views exactly as they were first written, even where I thought that the form of a statement might be verbally improved, not only because I still adhere to those views, but also because I desire it to be clearly understood that they were formed and expressed before the events of the last few months, and without any reference to the controversies of the moment.
When the first edition of the book was published (at the end of 1897) there was strong reason to believe as well as to hope that a race conflict in South Africa would be avoided, and that the political problems it presents, acute as they had become early in 1896, would be solved in a peaceable way. To this belief and hope I gave expression in the concluding chapter of the book, indicating "tact, coolness and patience, above all, patience," as the qualities needed to attain that result which all friends of the country must unite in desiring.
Now, however, (October 1899), Britain and her South African Colonies and territories find themselves at war with the South African Republic and the Orange Free State. A new chapter is opened in the history of the country which completely alters the situation, and must necessarily leave things very different from what it found them. Readers of this new edition may reasonably expect to find in it some account of the events which have within the last two years led up to this catastrophe, or at any rate some estimate of that conduct of affairs by the three governments concerned which has brought about a result all three ought to have sought to avert.
There are, however, conclusive reasons against attempting to continue down to the outbreak of the war (October 11th) the historical sketch given in Chapters II to XII. The materials for the historian are still scanty and imperfect, leaving him with data scarcely sufficient for judging the intention and motives with which some things were done. Round the acts and words of the representatives of the three governments concerned, there rages such a storm of controversy, that whoever places a particular construction upon those acts and words must need support his construction by citations from documents and arguments based on those citations. To do this would need a space much larger than I can command. The most serious difficulty, however, is that when events are close to us and excite strong feelings, men distrust the impartiality of a historian even when he does his best to be impartial. I shall not, therefore, attempt to write a history of the last two fateful years, but content myself first, with calling the reader's attention to a few salient facts that have occurred since 1896, and to some aspects of the case which have been little considered in England; and secondly, with describing as clearly and estimating as cautiously as I can, the forces that have worked during those years with such swift and deadly effect.
Some of these facts may be dismissed with a word or two, because they lie outside the present crisis. One is the entrance of the Colony of Natal into the South African Customs Union, an event which created one uniform tariff system for the whole of British and Dutch South Africa except the Transvaal. Another is the extension of the two great lines of railway from the coast into the interior. This extension has given Bulawayo and Matabililand a swift and easy communication with Cape Town, thereby strengthening immensely the hold of Britain upon the interior, and lessening any risk that might be feared of future native risings. It has also opened up a new and quick route from the coast of the Indian Ocean at Beira into the heart of Mashonaland, and brought the construction of a railway from Mashonaland across the Zambesi to Lake Tanganyika within the horizon of practicable enterprises. A scheme of government has been settled for the territories of the British South Africa Company south of the Zambesi (Southern Rhodesia), which is now at work. The prospects of gold mining in that region are believed to have improved, and the increase of gold production in the mines of the Witwatersrand has proved even more rapid than was expected in 1896. An agreement has been concluded between Britain and the German Empire relating to their interests on the coast of the Indian Ocean, which, though its terms have not been disclosed, is generally understood to have removed an obstacle which might have been feared to the acquisition by Britain of such rights at Delagoa Bay as she may be able to obtain from Portugal, and to have withdrawn from the South African Republic any hope that State might have cherished of support from Germany in the event of a breach with Britain.
These events, however, great as is their bearing on the future, are of less present moment than those which have sprung from Dr. Jameson's expedition into the Transvaal in December, 1895, and the internal troubles in that State which caused and accompanied his enterprise. It rekindled race feeling all over South Africa, and has had the most disastrous effects upon every part of the country. To understand these effects it is necessary to understand the state of opinion in the British Colonies and in the two Republics before it took place. Let us examine these communities separately.
In Cape Colony and Natal there was before December, 1895, no hostility at all between the British and the Dutch elements. Political parties in Cape Colony were, in a broad sense, British and Dutch, but the distinction was really based not so much on racial differences as on economic interests. The rural element which desired a protective tariff and laws regulating native labour, was mainly Dutch, the commercial element almost wholly British. Mr. Rhodes, the embodiment of British Imperialism, was Prime Minister through the support of the Dutch element and the Africander Bond. Englishmen and Dutchmen were everywhere in the best social relations. The old blood sympathy of the Dutch element for the Transvaal Boers which had been so strongly manifested in 1881, when the latter were struggling for their independence, had been superseded, or at least thrown into the background, by displeasure at the unneighbourly policy of the Transvaal Government in refusing public employment to Cape Dutchmen as well as to Englishmen, and in throwing obstacles in the way of trade in agricultural products. This displeasure culminated when the Transvaal Government, in the summer of 1895, closed the Drifts (fords) on the Vaal River, to the detriment of imports from the Colony and the Orange Free State.
In the Orange Free State there was, as has been pointed out in Chapter XIX., perfect good feeling and cordial co-operation in all public matters between the Dutch and the English elements. There was also perfect friendliness to Britain, the old grievances of the Diamond Fields dispute (see page 144) and of the arrest of the Free State conquest of Basutoland having been virtually forgotten. Towards the Transvaal there was a political sympathy based partly on kinship, partly on a similarity of republican institutions. But there was also some annoyance at the policy which the Transvaal Government, and especially its Hollander advisers, were pursuing; coupled with a desire to see reforms effected in the Transvaal, and the franchise granted to immigrants on more liberal terms.
Of the Transvaal itself I need say the less, because its condition is fully described in Chapter XXV. There was of course much irritation among the Uitlanders of English and Colonial stock, with an arrogant refusal on the part of the ruling section and the more extreme old-fashioned Boers to admit the claims of these new-comers. But there was also a party among the burghers, important more by the character and ability of its members than by its numbers, yet growing in influence, which desired reform, perceived that the existing state of things could not continue, and was ready to join the Uitlanders in agitating for sweeping changes in the Constitution and in administration.
The events of December, 1895, changed the face of things swiftly and decisively in all these communities.
In Cape Colony Dutch feeling, which as a political force was almost expiring, revived at once. The unexpected attack on the Transvaal evolved an outburst of sympathy for it, in which the faults of its government were forgotten. Mr. Rhodes retired from office. The reconstructed Ministry which succeeded fell in 1898, and a new Ministry supported by the Africander Bond came into power after a general election. Its majority was narrow, and was accused of not fairly representing the country, owing to the nature of the electoral areas. A Redistribution Bill was passed by a species of compromise, and in the elections to the new constituencies which followed the Dutch party slightly increased its majority, and kept its Cabinet (in which, however, men of Dutch blood are a minority) in power. Party feeling, both inside and outside the legislature, became, and has remained, extremely strong on both sides. The English generally have rallied to and acclaim Mr. Rhodes, whose connection with Dr. Jameson's expedition has made him the special object of Dutch hostility. There is, according to the reports which reach England, no longer any moderating third party: all are violent partisans. Nevertheless—and this is a remarkable and most encouraging fact—this violence did not diminish the warmth with which the whole Assembly testified its loyalty and affection towards the Queen on the occasion of the completion of the sixtieth year of her reign in 1897. And the Bond Ministry of Mr. Schreiner proposed and carried by a unanimous vote a grant of L30,000 per annum as a contribution by the Colony to the naval defence of the Empire, leaving the application of this sum to the unfettered discretion of the British Admiralty.
In the Orange Free State the explosion of Dutch sentiment was still stronger. Its first result was seen in the election of a President. In November, 1895, two candidates for the vacant office had come forward, and their chances were deemed to be nearly equal. When the news of the Jameson expedition was received, the chance of the candidate of British stock vanished. Since then, though there was not (so far as I gather) down till the last few weeks any indication of hostility to Britain, much less any social friction within the State, a disposition to draw closer to the threatened sister Republic showed itself at once. This led to the conclusion of a defensive alliance between the Free State and the Transvaal, whereby either bound itself to defend the other, if unjustly attacked. (The Transvaal is believed to have suggested, and the Free State to have refused, a still closer union.) As the Orange Free State had no reason to fear an attack, just or unjust, from any quarter, this was a voluntary undertaking on its part, with no corresponding advantage, of what might prove a dangerous liability, and it furnishes a signal proof of the love of independence which animates this little community.
We come now to the Transvaal itself. In that State the burgher party of constitutional reform was at once silenced, and its prospect of usefulness blighted. So, too, the Uitlander agitation was extinguished. The Reform leaders were in prison or in exile. The passionate anti-English feeling, and the dogged refusal to consider reforms, which had characterized the extreme party among the Boers, were intensified. The influence of President Kruger, more than once threatened in the years immediately preceding, was immensely strengthened.
The President and his advisers had a golden opportunity before them of using the credit and power which the failure of the Rising and the Expedition of 1895 had given them. They ought to have seen that magnanimity would also be wisdom. They ought to have set about a reform of the administration and to have proposed a moderate enlargement of the franchise such as would have admitted enough of the new settlers to give them a voice, yet not enough to involve any sudden transfer of legislative or executive power. Whether the sentiment of the Boers generally would have enabled the President to extend the franchise may be doubtful; but he could at any rate have tried to deal with the more flagrant abuses of administration. However, he attempted neither. The abuses remained, and though a Commission reported on some of them, and suggested important reforms, no action was taken. The weak point of the Constitution (as to which see p. 152) was the power which the legislature apparently possessed of interfering with vested rights, and even with pending suits, by a resolution having the force of law. This was a defect due, not to any desire to do wrong, but to the inexperience of those who had originally framed the Constitution, and to the want of legal knowledge and skill among those who had worked it, and was aggravated by the fact that the legislature consisted of one Chamber only, which was naturally led to legislate by way of resolution (besluit) because the process of passing laws in the stricter sense of the term involved a tedious and cumbrous process of bringing them to the knowledge of the people throughout the country. Upon this point there arose a dispute with the Chief Justice which led to the dismissal of that official and one of his colleagues, a dispute which could not be explained here without entering upon technical details. There is no reason to think that the President's action was prompted by any wish to give the legislature the means of wronging individuals, nor has evidence been produced to show that its powers have been in fact (at least to any material extent) so used. The matter cannot be fairly judged without considering the peculiar character of the Transvaal Constitution, for which the President is nowise to blame, and the statements often made in this country that the subjection of the judiciary to the legislature destroys the security of property are much exaggerated, for property has been, in fact, secure. It was, nevertheless, an error not to try to retain a man so much respected as the Chief Justice, and not to fulfil the promise given to Sir Henry de Villiers (who had been invoked as mediator) that the judiciary should be placed in a more assured position.
The idea which seems to have filled the President's mind was that force was the only remedy. The Republic was, he thought, sure to be again attacked from within or from without; and the essential thing was to strengthen its military resources for defence, while retaining political power in the hands of the burghers. Accordingly, the fortifications already begun at Pretoria were pushed on, a strong fort was erected to command Johannesburg, and munitions of war were imported in very large quantities, while the Uitlanders were debarred from possessing arms. Such precautions were natural. Any government which had been nearly overthrown, and expected another attack, would have done the like. But these measures of course incensed the Uitlanders, who saw that another insurrection would have less chance of success than the last, and resented the inferiority implied in disarmament, as Israel resented the similar policy pursued by the Philistine princes. The capitalists also, an important factor by their wealth and by their power of influencing opinion in Europe, were angry and restless, because the prospect of securing reforms which would reduce the cost of working the gold reefs became more remote.
This was the condition of things in the two Republics and the British Colonies when the diplomatic controversy between the Imperial Government and the South African Republic, which had been going on ever since 1895, passed in the early summer of 1899 into a more acute phase. The beginning of that phase coincided, as it so happened, with the expiry of the period during which the leaders of the Johannesburg rising of 1895 had promised to abstain from interference in politics, and the incident out of which it grew was the presentation to the Queen (in March 1899), through the High Commissioner, of a petition from a large number of British residents on the Witwatersrand complaining of the position in which they found themselves. The situation soon became one of great tension, owing to the growing passion of the English in South Africa and the growing suspicion on the part of the Transvaal Boers. But before we speak of the negotiations, let us consider for a moment what was the position of the two parties to the controversy.
The position of the Transvaal Government, although (as will presently appear) it had some measure of legal strength, was, if regarded from the point of view of actual facts, logically indefensible and materially dangerous. It was not, indeed, the fault of that Government that the richest goldfield in the world had been discovered in its territory, nor would it have been possible for the Boers, whatever they might have wished, to prevent the mines from being worked and the miners from streaming in. But the course they took was condemned from the first to failure. They desired to have the benefit of the gold-mines while yet retaining their old ways of life, not seeing that the two things were incompatible. Moreover, they—or rather the President and his advisers—committed the fatal mistake of trying to maintain a government which was at the same time undemocratic and incompetent. If it had been representative of the whole mass of the inhabitants it might have ventured, like the governments of some great American cities, to disregard both purity and efficiency. If, on the other hand, it had been a vigorous and skilful government, giving to the inhabitants the comforts and conveniences of municipal and industrial life at a reasonable charge, the narrow electoral basis on which it rested would have remained little more than a theoretic grievance, and the bulk of the people would have cared nothing for political rights. An exclusive government may be pardoned if it is efficient, an inefficient government if it rests upon the people. But a government which is both inefficient and exclusive incurs a weight of odium under which it must ultimately sink; and this was the kind of government which the Transvaal attempted to maintain. They ought, therefore, to have either extended their franchise or reformed their administration. They would not do the former, lest the new burghers should swamp the old ones, and take the control out of Boer hands. They were unfit to do the latter, because they had neither knowledge nor skill, so that even had private interests not stood in the way, they would have failed to create a proper administration. It was the ignorance, as well as the exclusive spirit of the Transvaal authorities, which made them unwilling to yield any more than they might be forced to yield to the demand for reform.
The position in which Britain stood needs to be examined from two sides, its legal right of interference, and the practical considerations which justified interference in this particular case.
Her legal right rested on three grounds. The first was the Convention of 1884 (printed in the Appendix to this volume), which entitled her to complain of any infraction of the privileges thereby guaranteed to her subjects.
The second was the ordinary right, which every State possesses, to complain, and (if necessary) intervene when its subjects are wronged, and especially when they suffer any disabilities not imposed upon the subjects of other States.
The third right was more difficult to formulate. It rested on the fact that as Britain was the greatest power in South Africa, owning the whole country south of the Zambesi except the two Dutch Republics (for the deserts of German Damaraland and the Portuguese East-coast territories may be practically left out of account), she was interested in preventing any causes of disturbance within the Transvaal which might spread beyond its borders, and become sources of trouble either among natives or among white men. This right was of a vague and indeterminate nature, and could be legitimately used only when it was plain that the sources of trouble did really exist and were becoming dangerous.
Was there not also, it may be asked, the suzerainty of Britain, and if so, did it not justify intervention? I will not discuss the question, much debated by English lawyers, whether the suzerainty over the "Transvaal State," mentioned in the preamble to the Convention of 1881, was preserved over the "South African Republic" by the Convention of 1884, not because I have been unable to reach a conclusion on the subject, but because the point seems to be one of no practical importance. Assuming, for the sake of argument, that there is a suzerainty, it is perfectly clear from an examination of the Conventions and of the negotiations of 1884 that this suzerainty relates solely to foreign relations, and has nothing whatever to do with the internal constitution or government of the Transvaal. The significance of the term—if it be carried over and read into the Convention of 1884—is exhausted by the provision in Article IV of that instrument for the submission of treaties to the British Government. No argument, accordingly, for any right of interference as regards either the political arrangements of the Transvaal or the treatment of foreigners within its borders, can be founded on this real or supposed suzerainty. This view had been too frequently and too clearly expressed by the British Government before 1896, to make it possible for any British official to attempt to put any such construction upon the term; and the matter might therefore have been suffered to drop, since the right to veto treaties was explicit, and did not need to be supported by an appeal to the preamble of 1881. The term, however, though useless to Britain, was galling to the Transvaal, which suspected that it would be made a pretext for infringements upon their independence in internal affairs; and these suspicions were confirmed by the talk of the Uitlander spokesmen in Johannesburg, who were in the habit of appealing to Britain as the Suzerain Power. It has played a most unfortunate part in the whole controversy.
Suzerainty, which is a purely legal, though somewhat vague, conception, has in many minds become confused with the practical supremacy, or rather predominance, of Britain in South Africa, which is a totally different matter. That predominance rests on the fact that Britain commands the resources of a great empire, while the Dutch republics are petty communities of ranchmen. But it does not carry any legal rights of interference, any more than a preponderance of force gives Germany rights against Holland.
As I have referred to the Convention of 1884, it may be well to observe that while continuing to believe that, on a review of the facts as they then stood, the British Government were justified in restoring self-government to the Transvaal in 1881, they seem to me to have erred in conceding the Convention of 1884. Though the Rand goldfields had not then been discovered, Lord Derby ought to have seen that the relations of the Transvaal to the adjoining British territories would be so close that a certain measure of British control over its internal administration might come to be needful. This control, which was indeed but slight, he surrendered in 1884. But the improvidence of the act does not in the least diminish the duty of the country which made the Convention to abide by its terms, or relieve it from the obligation of making out for any subsequent interference a basis of law and fact which the opinion of the world might accept as sufficient.
It has not been sufficiently realised in England that although the Transvaal may properly, in respect of British control over its foreign relations, be described as a semi-dependent State, Britain was under the same obligation to treat it with a strict regard to the recognised principles of international law as if it had been a great power. She had made treaties with it, and those treaties it was her duty to observe. Apart from all moral or sentimental considerations, apart from the fact that Britain had at the Hague Conference been the warm and effective advocate of peaceful methods of settling disputes between nations, it is her truest interest to set an example of fairness, legality and sincerity. No country, not even the greatest, can afford to neglect that reasonable and enlightened opinion of thoughtful men in other countries—not to be confounded with the invective and misrepresentation employed by the press of each nation against the others—which determines the ultimate judgment of the world, and passes into the verdict of history.
Did then the grievances of which the British residents in the Transvaal complained furnish such a basis? These grievances are well known, and will be found mentioned in chapter XXV. They were real and vexatious. It is true that some of them affected not so much British residents as the European shareholders in the great mining companies; true also that the mining industry (as will be seen from the figures on p. 301) was expanding and prospering in spite of them. Furthermore, they were grievances under which, it might be argued, the immigrants had placed themselves by coming with notice of their existence, and from which they might escape by taking a train into the Free State or Natal. And they were grievances which, however annoying, did not render either life or property unsafe, and did not prevent the Johannesburgers from enjoying life and acquiring wealth. Nevertheless, they were such as the British Government was entitled to endeavour to have redressed. Nor could it be denied that the state of irritation and unrest which prevailed on the Witwatersrand, the probability that another rising would take place whenever a chance of success offered, furnished to Britain, interested as she was in the general peace of the country, a ground for firm remonstrance and for urging the removal of all legitimate sources of disaffection, especially as these re-acted on the whole of South Africa. The British authorities at the Cape seem indeed to have thought that the unyielding attitude of the Transvaal Government worked much mischief in the Colony, being taken by the English there as a defiance to the power and influence of Britain, and so embittering their minds.
Among the grievances most in men's mouths was the exclusion of the new-comers from the electoral franchise. It must be clearly distinguished from the other grievances. It was a purely internal affair, in which Britain had no right to intermeddle, either under the Convention of 1884 or under the general right of a state to protect its subjects. Nothing is clearer than that every state may extend or limit the suffrage as it pleases. If a British self-governing colony were to restrict the suffrage to those who had lived fourteen years in the colony, or a state of the American Union were to do the like, neither the Home Government in the one case, nor the Federal Government in the other would have any right to interfere. All therefore that Britain could do was to call the attention of the South African Republic in a friendly way to the harm which the restriction of the franchise was causing, and point out that to enlarge it might remove the risk of a collision over other matters which did fall within the scope of British intervention.
We are therefore, on a review of the whole position, led to conclude that Britain was justified in requiring the Transvaal Government to redress the grievances (other than the limited suffrage) which were complained of. Whether she would be justified in proceeding to enforce by arms compliance with her demand, would of course depend upon several things, upon the extent to which the existence of the grievances could be disproved, upon the spirit in which the Transvaal met the demand, upon the amount of concessions offered or amendment promised. But before the British Government entered on a course which might end in war, if the Transvaal should prove intractable, there were some considerations which it was bound seriously to weigh.
One of these was the time for entering on a controversy. The Jameson invasion was only three years old; and the passions it evoked had not subsided. In it British officers, and troops flying the British flag, if not Britain herself, had been wrongdoers. Suspicions of British good faith were known to pervade the Boer mind, and would give an ominous colour to every demand coming from Britain. The lapse of time might diminish these suspicions, and give to negotiations a better prospect of success. Time, moreover, was likely to work against the existing system of the Transvaal. Bad governments carry the seeds of their own dissolution. The reforming party among the Transvaal burghers would gain strength, and try to throw off the existing regime. The President was an old man, whose retirement from power could not be long delayed; and no successor would be able to hold together as he had done the party of resistance to reform. In the strife of factions that would follow his retirement reform was certain to have a far better chance than it could have had since 1895. In fact, to put it shortly, all the natural forces were working for the Uitlanders, and would either open the way for their admission to a share in power, or else make the task of Britain easier by giving her less united and therefore less formidable antagonists. These considerations counselled a postponement of the attempt to bring matters to a crisis.
In the second place the British Government had to remember the importance of carrying the opinion of the Dutch in Cape Colony, and, as far as possible, even of the Orange Free State, with them in any action they might take. It has been pointed out how before December, 1895, that opinion blamed the Transvaal Government for its unfriendly treatment of the immigrants. The Dutch of both communities had nothing to gain and something to lose by the maladministration of the Transvaal, so that they were nowise disposed to support it in refusing reforms. The only thing that would make them rally to it would be a menace to its independence, regarding which they, and especially the Free State people, were extremely sensitive. Plainly, therefore, unless the colonial Dutch were to be incensed and the Free State men turned to enemies, such a menace was to be avoided.
Finally, the British authorities were bound to make sure, not only that they had an adequate casus belli which they could present to their own people and to the world, but also that the gain to be expected from immediately redressing the grievances of the Uitlander outweighed the permanent evils war would entail. Even where, according to the usage of nations, a just cause for war exists, even where victory in the war may be reckoned on, the harm to be expected may be greater than the fruits of victory. Here the harm was evident. The cost of equipping a large force and transporting it across many thousand miles of sea was the smallest part of the harm. The alienation of more than half the population of Cape Colony, the destruction of a peaceful and prosperous Republic with which Britain had no quarrel, the responsibility for governing the Transvaal when conquered, with its old inhabitants bitterly hostile, these were evils so grave, that the benefits to be secured to the Uitlanders might well seem small in comparison. A nation is, no doubt, bound to protect its subjects. But it could hardly be said that the hardships of this group of subjects, which did not prevent others from flocking into the country, and which were no worse than they had been for some time previously, were such as to forbid the exercise of a little more patience. It was said by the war party among the English in South Africa that patience was being mistaken for weakness, and that the credit of Britain was being lowered all over the world, and even among the peoples of India, by her forbearance towards the Transvaal. Absurd as this notion may appear, it was believed by heated partizans on the spot. But outside Africa, and especially in Europe, the forbearance of one of the four greatest Powers in the world towards a community of seventy thousand people was in no danger of being misunderstood.
Whether the force of these considerations, obvious to every unbiased mind which had some knowledge of South Africa, was fully realized by those who directed British policy, or whether, having realized their force, they nevertheless judged war the better alternative, is a question on which we are still in the dark. It is possible—and some of the language used by the British authorities may appear to suggest this explanation—that they entered on the negotiations which ended in war in the belief that an attitude of menace would suffice to extort submission, and being unable to recede from that attitude, found themselves drawn on to a result which they had neither desired nor contemplated. Be this as it may, the considerations above stated prescribed the use of prudent and (as far as possible) conciliatory methods in their diplomacy, as well as care in selecting a position which would supply a legal justification for war, should war be found the only issue.
This was the more necessary because the Boers were known to be intensely suspicious. Every weak power trying to resist a stronger one must needs take refuge in evasive and dilatory tactics. Such had been, such were sure to be, the tactics of the Boers. But the Boers were also very distrustful of the English Government, believing it to aim at nothing less than the annexation of their country. It may seem strange to Englishmen that the purity of their motives and the disinterestedness of their efforts to spread good government and raise others to their own level should be doubted. But the fact is—and this goes to the root of the matter—that the Boers have regarded the policy of Britain towards them as a policy of violence and duplicity. They recall how Natal was conquered from them in 1842, after they had conquered it from the Zulus; how their country was annexed in 1877, how the promises made at the time of that annexation were broken. They were not appeased by the retrocession of 1881, which they ascribed solely to British fear of a civil war in South Africa. It should moreover be remembered,—and this is a point which few people in England do remember—that they hold the annexation to have been an act of high-handed lawlessness done in time of peace, and have deemed themselves entitled to be replaced in the position their republic held before 1877, under the Sand River Convention of 1852. Since the invasion of December 1895, they have been more suspicious than ever, for they believe the British Government to have had a hand in that attempt, and they think that influential capitalists have been sedulously scheming against them. Their passion for independence is something which we in modern Europe find it hard to realise. It recalls the long struggle of the Swiss for freedom in the fourteenth century, or the fierce tenacity which the Scotch showed in the same age in their resistance to the claim of England to be their "Suzerain Power." This passion was backed by two other sentiments, an exaggerated estimate of their own strength and a reliance on the protecting hand of Providence, fitter for the days of the Maccabees or of Cromwell than for our own time, but which will appear less strange if the perils through which their nation had passed be remembered.
These were the rocks among which the bark of British diplomacy had to be steered. They were, however, rocks above water, so it might be hoped that war could be avoided and some valuable concession secured. To be landed in war would obviously be as great a failure as to secure no concession.
Instead of demanding the removal of the specific grievances whereof the Uitlanders complained, the British Government resolved to endeavour to obtain for them an easier acquisition of the electoral franchise and an ampler representation in the legislature. There was much to be said for this course. It would avoid the tedious and vexatious controversies that must have arisen over the details of the grievances. It would (in the long run) secure reform in the best way, viz., by the action of public spirit and enlightenment within the legislature. It would furnish a basis for union between the immigrants and the friends of good government among the burghers themselves, and so conduce to the future peace of the community. There was, however, one material condition, a condition which might prove to be an objection, affecting the resort to it. Since the electoral franchise was a matter entirely within the competence of the South African Republic, Britain must, if she desired to abide by the principles of international law, confine herself to recommendation and advice. She had no right to demand, no right to insist that her advice should be followed. She could not compel compliance by force, nor even by the threat of using force. In other words, a refusal to enlarge the franchise would not furnish any casus belli.
This course having been adopted, the negotiations entered on a new phase with the Conference at Bloemfontein, where President Kruger met the British High Commissioner. Such a direct interchange of views between the leading representatives of two Powers may often be expedient, because it helps the parties to get sooner to close quarters with the substantial points of difference, and so facilitates a compromise. But its utility depends on two conditions. Either the basis of discussion should be arranged beforehand, leaving only minor matters to be adjusted, or else the proceedings should be informal and private. At Bloemfontein neither condition existed. No basis had been previously arranged. The Conference was formal and (although the press were not admitted) virtually public, each party speaking before the world, each watched and acclaimed by its supporters over the country. The eyes of South Africa were fixed on Bloemfontein, so that when the Conference came to its unfruitful end, the two parties were practically further off than before, and their failure to agree accentuated the bitterness both of the Transvaal Boers and of the English party in the Colonies. To the more extreme men among the latter this result was welcome. There was already a war party in the Colony, and voices clamorous for war were heard in the English press. Both then and afterwards every check to the negotiations evoked a burst of joy from organs of opinion at home and in the Cape, whose articles were unfortunately telegraphed to Pretoria. Worse still, the cry of "Avenge Majuba" was frequently heard in the Colonies, and sometimes even in England.
The story of the negotiations which followed during the months of July, August and September, cannot be told fully here, because it is long and intricate, nor summarized, because the fairness of any summary not supported by citations would be disputed. There are, however, some phenomena in the process of drifting towards war which may be concisely noticed.
One of these is that the contending parties were at one moment all but agreed. The Transvaal Government offered to give the suffrage after five years residence (which was what had been asked by the High Commissioner at Bloemfontein) coupled with certain conditions, which had little importance, and were afterwards so explained as to have even less. This was, from their point of view, a great concession, one to which they expected opposition from the more conservative section of their own burghers. The British negotiators, though they have since stated that they meant substantially to accept this proposal, sent a reply whose treatment of the conditions was understood as a refusal, and which appeared to raise further questions; and when the Transvaal went back to a previous offer, which had previously been held to furnish a basis for agreement, the British Government declined to recur to that basis, as being no longer tenable after the later offer. The Boers, who had expected (from informal communications) that the five years offer would be readily accepted, seem to have thought that there was no longer any chance of a settlement, because fresh demands would follow each concession. They ought, however, to have persevered with their five years offer, which they could the more easily have done because they had tacitly dropped the unsustainable claim to be a "sovereign and independent state," and expressed themselves ready to abide by the Convention of 1884. The British Government, on its part, would seem to have thought, when the five years offer was withdrawn because the conditions attached to it were not accepted, that the Boers had been trifling with them, and resolved to exact all they demanded, even though less than all would have represented a diplomatic victory. Thus a conflict was precipitated which a more cautious and tactful policy might have avoided.
The controversy continued through three months to turn on the question of the franchise, nor were any demands for the redress of Uitlander grievances ever formulated and addressed to the Transvaal either under the Convention of 1884 or in respect of the general rights at international law which Britain possessed. When the franchise negotiations came to an impasse, the British Government announced (September 22nd) that their demands and scheme for a "final settlement of the issues created by the policy of the Republic"—a phrase which pointed to something more than the redress of grievances—would be presented to the Republic. These demands, however, never were presented at all. After an interval of seventeen days from the announcement just mentioned, the Transvaal declared war (October 9th and 11th). The terms of their ultimatum were offensive and peremptory, such as no Government could have been expected to listen to. Apart, however, from the language of the ultimatum, a declaration of war must have been looked for. From the middle of July the British Government had been strengthening its garrison in South Africa, and the despatch of one body of troops after another had been proclaimed with much emphasis in the English newspapers. Early in October it was announced that the Reserves would be called out and a powerful force despatched. The Transvaal had meantime been also preparing for war, so that the sending of British troops might well, after the beginning of September, be justified as a necessary precaution, since the forces then in South Africa were inferior in numbers to those the Boers could muster. But when the latter knew that an overwhelming force would soon confront them, and draw round them a net of steel, whence they could not escape, they resolved to seize the only advantage they possessed, the advantage of time, and to smite before their enemy was ready. It was therefore, only in a technical or formal sense that they can be said to have begun the war; for a weak State, which sees its enemy approach with a power that will soon be irresistible, has only two alternatives, to submit or to attack at once. In such a quarrel the responsibility does not necessarily rest with those who strike first. It rests with those whose action has made bloodshed inevitable.
A singular result of the course things took was that war broke out before any legitimate casus belli had arisen. Some one has observed that whereas many wars have been waged to gain subjects, none was ever waged before to get rid of subjects by making it easier for them to pass under another allegiance. The franchise, however, did not constitute a legitimate cause of war, for the British Government always admitted they had no right to demand it. The real cause of war was the menacing language of Britain, coupled with her preparations for war. These led the Boers also to arm, and, as happened with the arming and counter-arming of Prussia and Austria in 1866, when each expected an attack from the other, war inevitably followed. To brandish the sword before a cause for war has been shown not only impairs the prospect of a peaceful settlement, but may give the world ground for believing that war is intended.
By making the concession of the franchise the aim of their efforts, and supporting it by demonstrations which drove their antagonist to arms, the British Government placed themselves before the world in the position of having caused a war without ever formulating a casus belli, and thereby exposed their country to unfavourable comment from other nations. The British negotiators were, it may be said, placed in a dilemma by the distance which separated their army from South Africa, and which obliged them to move troops earlier than they need otherwise have done, even at the risk (which, however, they do not seem to have fully grasped) of precipitating war. But this difficulty might have been avoided in one of two ways. They might have pressed their suggestion for an extension of the franchise in an amicable way, without threats and without moving troops, and have thereby kept matters from coming to a crisis. Or, on the other hand, if they thought that the doggedness of the Transvaal would yield to nothing but threats, they might have formulated demands, not for the franchise, but for the redress of grievances, demands the refusal or evasion of which would constitute a proper cause of war, and have, simultaneously with the presentation of those demands, sent to South Africa a force sufficient at least for the defence of their own territory. The course actually taken missed the advantages of either of these courses. It brought on war before the Colonies were in a due state of defence, and it failed to justify war by showing any cause for it such as the usage of civilized States recognizes.
As Cavour said that any one can govern with a state of siege, so strong Powers dealing with weak ones are prone to think that any kind of diplomacy will do. The British Government, confident in its strength, seems to have overlooked not only the need for taking up a sound legal position, but the importance of retaining the good will of the Colonial Dutch, and of preventing the Orange Free State from taking sides with the Transvaal. This was sure to happen if Britain was, or seemed to be, the aggressor. Now the British Government by the attitude of menace it adopted while discussing the franchise question, which furnished no cause for war, by the importance it seemed to attach to the utterances of the body calling itself the Uitlander Council in Johannesburg (a body which was in the strongest opposition to the Transvaal authorities), as well as by other methods scarcely consistent with diplomatic usage, led both the Transvaal and the Free State to believe that they meant to press matters to extremities, and that much more than the franchise or the removal of certain grievances was involved; in fact, that the independence of the Republic itself was at stake.
They cannot have intended this, and indeed they expressly disclaimed designs on the independence of the Transvaal. Nevertheless the Free State, when it saw negotiations stopped after September 22nd, and an overwhelming British force ordered to South Africa while the proposals foreshadowed in the despatch of September 22nd remained undisclosed, became convinced that Britain meant to crush the Transvaal. Being bound by treaty to support the Transvaal if the latter was unjustly attacked, and holding the conduct of Britain in refusing arbitration and resorting to force without a casus belli to constitute an unjust attack, the Free State Volksraad and burghers, who had done their utmost to avert war, unhesitatingly threw in their lot with the sister Republic. The act was desperate, but it was chivalric. The Free State, hitherto happy, prosperous and peaceful, had nothing to gain and everything to lose. Few of her statesmen can have doubted that Britain must prevail and that their Republic would share the ruin which awaited the Transvaal Dutch. Nevertheless honour and the sense of kinship prevailed. It is to be hoped that the excited language in which the passionate feelings of the Free State have found expression will not prevent Englishmen from recognizing in the conduct of this little community a heroic quality which they would admire if they met it in the annals of ancient Greece.
It has been suggested that the question of responsibility for the war is really a trivial one, because the negotiations were all along, on one side or on both, unreal and delusive, masking the conviction of both parties that they must come to blows at last. It is said that a conflict for supremacy between the English and Dutch races in South Africa was inevitable, and it is even alleged that there was a long-standing conspiracy among the Dutch, as well in the Colonies as in the Republics, to overmaster the British element and oust Britain from the country.
On this hypothesis several observations may be made.
One is that it seems to be an afterthought, intended to excuse the failure of diplomacy to untie the knot. No one who studies the despatches can think that either the Transvaal Government or the British Government regarded war as inevitable when the one made, and the other sent a reply intended to accept, the proposals of August 19th. Nothing is easier than to bring charges of bad faith, but he who peruses these despatches with an impartial mind will find little or nothing to justify any such imputation on either party. Another is, that the allegation that a calamity was inevitable is one so easy to make and so hard to refute that it is constantly employed to close an embarrassing discussion. You cannot argue with a fatalist, any more than with a prophet. Nations whose conscience is clear, statesmen who have foresight and insight, do not throw the blame for their failures upon Destiny. The chieftain in Homer, whose folly has brought disaster, says, "It is not I who am the cause of this: it is Zeus, and Fate, and the Fury that walketh in darkness." "It could not have been helped anyhow," "It was bound to come"—phrases such as these are the last refuge of despairing incompetence.
The hypothesis that the Dutch all over South Africa were leagued for the overthrow of British power is so startling that it needs to be supported by wide and weighty evidence. Is such evidence forthcoming? It has not been produced. One who has not been in South Africa since 1895 dare not rely on his own observation to deny the allegation. But neither can Englishmen at home accept the assertions of partisans in South Africa, the extravagance of whose language shows that they have been carried away by party passion.
The probabilities of the case are altogether against the hypothesis, and support the view of a temperate writer in the Edinburgh Review for October, who describes it as "a nightmare." What are these probabilities?
The Dutch in the Cape had been loyal till December 1895, and had indeed been growing more and more loyal during the last fifteen years. The Africander Bond had shaken itself free from the suspicions once entertained of its designs. Its leader, Mr. Hofmeyr, was conspicuously attached to the Imperial connection, and was, indeed, the author of a well-known scheme for an Imperial Customs Union. Even after December, 1895, its indignation at the attack on the Transvaal had not affected the veneration of the Dutch party for the British Crown, so warmly expressed in 1897. In 1898 the Cape Assembly, in which there was a Dutch majority led by a Ministry supported by the Bond, voted unanimously a large annual contribution to Imperial naval defence. Every effort was made by Mr. Hofmeyr and by the Prime Minister of the Cape to induce the Transvaal to make concessions which might avert war. As regards the Free State, its Dutch burghers had been for many years on the best terms with their English fellow-burghers and with the British Government. They had nothing to gain by a racial conflict, and their President, who is understood to have suggested the Bloemfontein Conference, as well as Mr. Fischer, one of their leading statesmen, strove hard to secure peace till immediately before war broke out.
There was, moreover, no prospect of success for an effort to overthrow the power of Britain. The Dutch in the Colony were not fighting men like their Transvaal brethren, and were, except for voting purposes, quite unorganized. Those of the Free State were a mere militia, with no experience of war, and had possessed, at least down to 1895, when I remember to have seen their tiny arsenal, very little in the way of war munitions. The Transvaal Boers were no doubt well armed and good fighters, but there were after all only some twenty or twenty-five thousand of them, a handful to contend against the British Empire. The Transvaal Government was, moreover, from its structure and the capacity of the men who composed it, if not indisposed to indulge in day-dreams, at any rate unfit to prosecute so vast an enterprise.
There seems therefore to be no foundation in any facts which have so far been made public for the belief in this "conspiracy of the Dutch race," or for the inevitableness of the imagined conflict.
The truth would appear to be that the Transvaal people did at one time cherish the hope of extending their Republic over the wide interior. They were stopped on the west in 1884. They were stopped on the north in 1890. They were stopped in their effort to reach the sea in 1894. After that year British territory surrounded them on all sides except where they bordered the Portuguese on the north-east. Many of them, including the President, doubtless cherished the hope of some time regaining a complete independence such as that of the Free State. Some ardent spirits dreamt of a Dutch South African Republic with Pretoria for its future capital; and there were probably a few men of the same visionary type in the Colony and the Free State who talked in the same wild way, especially after the Jameson invasion had stirred Dutch feeling to its depths. But from such dreams and such talk it is a long step to a "conspiracy of the Dutch over all South Africa." The possibility that the Dutch element would some day or other prevail, a possibility to which the slowness of British immigration and the natural growth of the Dutch population gave a certain substance in it down to 1885, was in that year destroyed by the discovery of gold in the Witwatersrand, which brought a new host of English-speaking settlers into South Africa, and assured the numerical and economic preponderance of the English in the progressive and expanding regions of the country. It is also true that the Transvaal Government made military preparations and imported arms on a large scale. They expected a rising even before 1895; and after 1895 they also expected a fresh invasion. But there is not, so far as the public know, any shred of evidence that they contemplated an attack upon Britain. The needs of defence, a defence in which they doubtless counted on the aid of the Free State and of a section of their own Uitlanders, sufficiently explain the accumulation of warlike munitions on which so much stress has been laid.
The conclusion to which an examination of the matter leads is that no evidence whatever has been produced either that there was any such conspiracy as alleged, or that a conflict between Dutch and English was inevitable. Such a conflict might, no doubt, have possibly some day arisen. But it is at least equally probable that it might have been avoided. The Transvaal people were not likely to provoke it, and every year made it less likely that they could do so with any chance of success. The British element was increasing, not only around their State, but within it. The prospect of support from a great European Power had vanished. When their aged President retired from the scene, their old dissensions, held in check only by the fear of Britain, would have reappeared, and their vicious system of government would have fallen to pieces. So far as Britain was concerned, the way to avert a conflict was to have patience. Haste had been her bane in South Africa. It was haste which annexed the Transvaal in 1877, when a few months' delay might have given her the country. It was haste which in 1880 wrecked the plan of South African Confederation. It was haste which brought about that main source of recent troubles, the invasion by the South Africa Company's police in 1895.
In these reflections upon recent events nothing has been said, because nothing could now be profitably said, upon two aspects of the matter—the character and conduct of the persons chiefly concerned, and the subterranean forces which are supposed to have been at work on both sides. These must be left to some future historian, and they will form an interesting chapter in his book. He will have proof positive of many things which can now only be conjectured, and of some things which, though they may be known to a few, ought not to be stated until proof of them can be produced.
It is right, however, even while war is raging, to consider the circumstances that have led to war, so far as these can be discussed from the information which we all possess, because a fair consideration of those circumstances ought to influence the view which Englishmen take of their antagonists, and ought to affect their judgment of the measures proper to be taken when war comes to its end, and arrangements have to be made for the resettlement of the country. Those who have read the historical chapters of this book, and have reflected on the history of other British colonies, and particularly of Canada, will have drawn the moral, which I have sought to enforce in the concluding chapter, that what South Africa most needs is the reconcilement and ultimate fusion of the two white races. Reconcilement and fusion have now, to all appearances, been thrown back into a dim and distant future. That man must be sanguine indeed who expects, as some persons say they do expect, to see the relations of the two races placed on a better footing by a bitter war between them, a war which has many of the incidents of a civil war, and is waged on one side by citizen soldiers. To most observers it seems more likely to sow a crop of dragon's teeth which will produce a harvest, if not of armed men, yet of permanent hatred and disaffection. Nevertheless, even at the darkest moment, men must work with hope for the future, and strive to apply the principles of policy which experience has approved. The first principle which governs the relation of Britain to her self-governing colonies is that she must do all she can to keep them contented and loyal. She cannot hope permanently to retain any which have become disloyal, and the defection of one may be the signal for the loosening of the tie which binds the others. The gift of self-government practically makes the maintenance of the Imperial connection dependent on the will of the colony; and where self-government exists, voting is more powerful than arms. The Transvaal Republic has been often troublesome, but an unfriendly neighbour is less dangerous than a disaffected colony. A wise policy will therefore use with moderation the opportunities which the conclusion of the present war will afford for resettling the political arrangements of the country, remembering that the Dutch and British races have got to live together, looking forward to a time, probably less than a century distant, when the exhaustion of mineral wealth will have made South Africa again a pastoral and agricultural country, and thereby increased the importance, relatively to the town-dwelling English, of that Dutch element which is so deeply rooted in the soil. To reconcile the races by employing all the natural and human forces which make for peace and render the prosperity of each the prosperity of both, and so to pave the way for the ultimate fusion of Dutchman and Englishman in a common Imperial as well as a common Africander patriotism—this should be the aim of every government that seeks to base the world-wide greatness of Britain on the deepest and surest foundations.
October 23rd, 1899.
[Footnote 1: Whatever may be thought as to the much controverted Edgar case, the fact that such special stress has been laid on it, and that few, if any, other cases have been instanced in which crimes against Uitlanders went unpunished, goes to show that life was exposed only to those dangers which threaten it in all new mining communities.]
[Footnote 2: The language of the English newspapers in Cape Colony, and of some in London, did as much to strengthen this belief as the language of the Transvaal papers did to inflame minds there. Seldom has the press done more to destroy the prospects of peace.]
I have to thank Sir Donald Currie and Messrs. A.S. and G.G. Brown for the permission kindly given me to use the maps in the excellent "Guide to South Africa" (published by the Castle Mail Packets Company) in the preparation of the three maps contained in this volume; and I trust that these maps will prove helpful to the reader, for a comprehension of the physical geography of the country is essential to a comprehension of its history.
The friends in South Africa to whom I am indebted for many of the facts I have stated and views I have expressed are too numerous to mention: but I cannot deny myself the pleasure of returning thanks for the genial hospitality and unfailing kindness which I received in every part of the country.
September 13th, 1897.
MAPS AT END OF VOLUME
POLITICAL MAP OF SOUTH AFRICA. OROGRAPHICAL MAP OF SOUTH AFRICA. RAINFALL MAP OF SOUTH AFRICA.
PREFATORY CHAPTER vii
NOTE (1897) xlv
AREA AND POPULATION OF THE SEVERAL COLONIES, REPUBLICS AND TERRITORIES IN SOUTH AFRICA lv
DATES OF SOME IMPORTANT EVENTS IN THE HISTORY OF SOUTH AFRICA lvii
THE COAST STRIP AND THE GREAT PLATEAU 4 MOUNTAIN-RANGES 6 CLIMATE 8 THE ABSENCE OF RIVERS 9
TEMPERATURE 12 DRYNESS OF THE AIR 13 MALARIAL FEVERS 13
WILD ANIMALS AND THEIR FATE
ORIGINAL ABUNDANCE OF WILD CREATURES 17 THEIR EXTINCTION: THE LION, ELEPHANT, AND RHINOCEROS 18 RECENT ATTEMPTS AT PROTECTION 22
CHARACTER OF THE SOUTH AFRICAN FLORA 24 NATIVE AND IMPORTED TREES 26 CHANGES MADE BY MAN IN THE LANDSCAPE 32
PHYSICAL ASPECTS OF THE VARIOUS POLITICAL DIVISIONS OF THE COUNTRY
CAPE COLONY 33 NATAL 35 GERMAN AND PORTUGUESE AFRICA 36 THE ORANGE FREE STATE AND THE SOUTH AFRICAN REPUBLIC 38 BECHUANALAND AND THE TERRITORIES OF THE BRITISH SOUTH AFRICA COMPANY 40
NATURE AND HISTORY
INFLUENCE OF PHYSICAL CONDITIONS ON THE SAVAGE RACES 44 SLOW PROGRESS OF EARLY EUROPEAN SETTLEMENT 45 LATER EXPLORATIONS ALONG THE INTERIOR PLATEAU 47
ASPECTS OF SCENERY
DRYNESS AND MONOTONY OF SOUTH AFRICAN LANDSCAPE 50 STRIKING PIECES OF SCENERY: BASUTOLAND, MANICALAND 51 PECULIAR CHARM OF SOUTH AFRICA: COLOUR AND SOLITUDE 53 INFLUENCE OF SCENERY ON CHARACTER 57
THE NATIVES: HOTTENTOTS, BUSHMEN, AND KAFIRS
THE ABORIGINES: BUSHMEN AND HOTTENTOTS 63 THE BANTU OR KAFIR TRIBES 67
OUT OF THE DARKNESS—ZIMBABWYE
ANCIENT WALLS IN MATABILILAND AND MASHONALAND 70 DHLODHLO: CHIPADZI'S GRAVE 71 THE GREAT ZIMBABWYE 75 THEORIES AS TO THE BUILDERS OF THE ANCIENT WALLS 78
THE KAFIRS: HISTORY AND INSTITUTIONS
THE KAFIRS BEFORE THEIR STRUGGLES WITH THE EUROPEANS 83 CAREERS OF DINGISWAYO AND TSHAKA 84 RESULTS OF THE ZULU CONQUESTS 85 KAFIR INSTITUTIONS 87 WAR, RELIGION, SORCERY 89 STAGNATION AND CRUELTY OF PRIMITIVE KAFIR LIFE 93
THE EUROPEANS IN SOUTH AFRICA TILL 1854
THE PORTUGUESE AT SOFALA 99 THE DUTCH AT THE CAPE: THE FRENCH HUGUENOTS 102 THE AFRICANDER TYPE OF LIFE AND CHARACTER 104 DISAFFECTION OF THE DUTCH SETTLERS 108 BRITISH OCCUPATION OF THE CAPE 109 FEATURES OF BRITISH ADMINISTRATION 110 BOER DISCONTENT AND ITS CAUSES 112 THE GREAT TREK OF 1836 115 ADVENTURES OF THE EMIGRANT BOERS 117 THE BOERS AND THE BRITISH IN NATAL 119 THE BOERS IN THE INTERIOR: BEGINNINGS OF THE TWO DUTCH REPUBLICS 122 BRITISH ADVANCE: THE ORANGE RIVER SOVEREIGNTY 129 THE SAND RIVER CONVENTION OF 1852: INDEPENDENCE OF THE TRANSVAAL BOERS 130 THE BLOEMFONTEIN CONVENTION OF 1854: INDEPENDENCE OF THE ORANGE FREE STATE 132
THE EUROPEANS IN SOUTH AFRICA, 1854-95
PROGRESS OF CAPE COLONY: MATERIAL AND POLITICAL 134 GRANT OF RESPONSIBLE GOVERNMENT IN 1872 139 KAFIR WARS: CAUSES OF THEIR FREQUENT RECURRENCE 139 RENEWED BRITISH ADVANCE: BASUTOLAND 140 THE DELAGOA BAY ARBITRATION 146 FIRST SCHEME OF SOUTH AFRICAN CONFEDERATION 148 THE ZULU WAR OF 1879 149 FORMATION OF THE TRANSVAAL REPUBLIC 151 ANNEXATION OF THE TRANSVAAL 154 REVOLT OF THE TRANSVAAL: ITS INDEPENDENCE RESTORED 160 BOERS AND BRITISH IN BECHUANALAND 165 THE CONVENTIONS OF 1884 AND 1894: SWAZILAND 168 GERMAN OCCUPATION OF DAMARALAND 169 THE BRITISH SOUTH AFRICA COMPANY; ACQUISITION OF MASHONALAND AND MATABILILAND 170 RECENT HISTORY OF THE TRANSVAAL: THE RISING OF 1895 174
A JOURNEY THROUGH SOUTH AFRICA
TRAVELLING AND COMMUNICATIONS
COMMUNICATIONS ALONG THE COAST 179 LINES OF RAILROAD 180 TRAVELLING BY OX-WAGGON 182
FROM CAPE TOWN TO BULAWAYO
THE VOYAGE TO THE CAPE 188 CAPE TOWN AND ITS ENVIRONS 190 THE JOURNEY INLAND: SCENERY OF THE KARROO 193 KIMBERLEY AND ITS DIAMOND-FIELDS 196 NORTHWARD THROUGH BECHUANALAND 201 KHAMA: HIS TOWN AND HIS PEOPLE 207 MANGWE AND THE MATOPPO HILLS 212
MATABILILAND AND MASHONALAND
BULAWAYO AND LO BENGULA 216 THE NATIVES: CAUSES OF THE RISING OF 1896 223 THE NATIVE LABOUR QUESTION 224 DHLODHLO: SCENERY OF THE HILL-COUNTRY 227 GWELO AND THE TRACK TO FORT VICTORIA 232 RUINS OF GREAT ZIMBABWYE 234 FORT SALISBURY 240
FROM FORT SALISBURY TO THE SEA—MANICALAND AND THE PORTUGUESE TERRITORIES
SCENERY OF EASTERN MASHONALAND 242 ANTIQUITIES AT THE LEZAPI RIVER 245 AMONG THE MOUNTAINS: FALLS OF THE OUDZI RIVER 250 MTALI AND THE PORTUGUESE BORDER 251 CHIMOYO AND THE EASTERN SLOPE 257 DESCENT OF THE PUNGWE RIVER TO BEIRA 261
RESOURCES AND FUTURE OF MATABILILAND AND MASHONALAND
GENERAL FEATURES OF THE BRITISH SOUTH AFRICA COMPANY'S TERRITORIES 268 HEALTH, WEALTH, AND PEACE 269 FORM OF GOVERNMENT RECENTLY ESTABLISHED 277 RESULTS OF BRITISH EXTENSION IN THE NORTH 279
THROUGH NATAL TO THE TRANSVAAL
DELAGOA BAY 281 DURBAN AND PIETERMARITZBURG 283 THE GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS OF NATAL 284 LAING'S NEK AND MAJUBA HILL 291 THE WITWATERSRAND AND ITS GOLD-FIELDS 296 JOHANNESBURG AND PRETORIA 304
THE ORANGE FREE STATE
BLOEMFONTEIN 313 CONSTITUTION AND POLITICS OF THE FREE STATE 315
BASUTOLAND: THE SWITZERLAND OF SOUTH AFRICA
ACROSS THE FREE STATE TO THE CALEDON RIVER 319 THE MISSIONARIES AND THE CHIEFS: LEROTHODI 322 THE ASCENT OF MOUNT MACHACHA 325 THABA BOSIYO AND ITS HISTORY 330 CONDITION AND PROSPECTS OF THE BASUTO NATION 336
SOME SOUTH AFRICAN QUESTIONS
BLACKS AND WHITES
RELATIVE NUMBERS AND INFLUENCE OF EACH 345 SOCIAL CONDITION AND HABITS OF THE BLACKS 350 AVERSION OF THE WHITES FOR THE BLACKS 353 CIVIL AND LEGAL RIGHTS OF THE BLACKS 355 WHAT THE FUTURE OF THE BLACKS IS LIKELY TO BE 365
INFLUENCE OF RELIGIOUS IDEAS ON VARIOUS RACES 370 HOW THE NATIVES RECEIVE THE MISSIONARIES 371 SLOW PROGRESS OF MISSION WORK 373 WHAT MAY BE HOPED FOR 377
SOCIAL CHARACTERISTICS OF THE BRITISH COLONIES
THE DUTCH AND THE ENGLISH: THE DUTCH LANGUAGE 379 PLACIDITY OF SOUTH AFRICAN LIFE 383 LITERATURE, JOURNALISM, EDUCATION 386 THE CHURCHES 389
POLITICS IN THE BRITISH COLONIES
THE FRAME OF COLONIAL GOVERNMENT 392 ABSENCE OF SOME FAMILIAR POLITICAL ISSUES 396 REAL ISSUES: RACE AND COLOUR QUESTIONS 399 GENERAL CHARACTER OF CAPE POLITICS 400
THE POLITICAL SITUATION IN THE TRANSVAAL IN 1895
THE OLD BOERS AND THE NEW IMMIGRANTS 405 CONSTITUTION AND GOVERNMENT OF THE REPUBLIC 409 UITLANDER DISCONTENT: THE NATIONAL REFORM UNION 413 THE CAPITALISTS: PREPARATIONS FOR A REVOLUTION 416 PRESIDENT KRUGER AND HIS POLICY 420 THE CHANCES FOR THE MOVEMENT: CAUSES OF ITS FAILURE 424
MATERIAL RESOURCES: TILLAGE AND PASTURE 433 MINERALS: THE GOLD-FIELDS AND THEIR DURATION 437 WILL MANUFACTURES BE DEVELOPED? 442 SOUTH AFRICA AS A MARKET FOR GOODS 446 FUTURE POPULATION: ITS INCREASE AND CHARACTER 447
REFLECTIONS AND FORECASTS
SOURCES OF THE TROUBLES OF SOUTH AFRICA 453 THE FRICTION OF DUTCH AND ENGLISH: AND ITS CAUSES 454 BRITISH POLICY IN ITS EARLIER AND LATER PHASES 458 FUTURE RELATIONS OF THE EUROPEAN AND NATIVE RACES 463 INTERNATIONAL POSITION OF SOUTH AFRICA 467 THE FUTURE RELATIONS OF BOERS AND ENGLISHMEN 469 PROSPECTS OF SOUTH AFRICAN CONFEDERATION 472 SOUTH AFRICA AND BRITAIN 474
THE TRANSVAAL CONVENTION OF 1881 479 THE TRANSVAAL CONVENTION OF 1884 488
AREA AND POPULATION OF THE SEVERAL COLONIES, REPUBLICS AND TERRITORIES IN SOUTH AFRICA
_____________ POPULATION IN 1891. AREA IN SQUARE MILES. _______ European. Coloured. Total. _______ ___ ___ ___ _British_ Cape Colony (including Walfish Bay) 277,000 382,198 1,383,762 1,765,960 Basutoland 10,293 578 218,624 219,202 Bechuanaland (Protectorate) 200,000(?) 800(?) 200,000(?) - Natal 20,461 46,788 497,125 543,913 Zululand 12,500(?) 1,100 179,270(?) 180,370 Tongaland (British) 2,000(?) none 20,000(?) - Territories of British South Africa Company, south of the Zabesi (Matabililand and Mashonaland) 142,000 7,000(?) unknown - (1899) _____ ___ ___ ___ ___ _Independent_ South African Republic (Transvaal) 119,139 245,397(?) 622,500(?) 867,897 Swaziland (dependent on South African Republic) 8,500 900(?) 55,000(?) - Orange Free State 48,326 77,716 129,787 207,503 _______ ___ ___ ___ Portuguese East Africa 300,000(?) 10,000(?) 3,100,000(?) - German South West 2,025 Africa 320,000(?) (1896) 200,000(?) - _______ ___ ___ ___
DATES OF SOME IMPORTANT EVENTS IN THE HISTORY OF SOUTH AFRICA
A.D. Bartholomew Diaz discovers the Cape of Good Hope 1486 Vasco da Gama explores the East Coast of Africa 1497-8 The Dutch appear in the South African Seas 1595 First Dutch settlement in Table Bay 1652 Arrival of French Huguenot settlers 1689 Beginning of the Exploration of the Interior 1700 First Kafir War 1779 First British occupation of the Cape 1795-1803 Second British occupation of the Cape 1806 Cession of Cape Colony to Britain 1814 Conquests of Tshaka, the Zulu King 1812-1828 Arrival of a body of British settlers 1820 First British settlement in Natal 1824 English made the official language in Cape Colony 1825-1828 Equal Rights ordinance in favour of the Natives 1828 Emancipation of the Slaves 1834 Sixth Kafir War 1834 Emigration of the discontented Boers (the Great Trek) 1836-7 Conquest of Matabililand by Mosilikatze 1837 The emigrant Boers occupy Natal 1838 British occupation and annexation of Natal 1843 Two native "buffer States" created in the interior 1843 Seventh Kafir War; province of British Kaffraria created 1847 Orange River Sovereignty created 1848 Recognition of the Independence of the Transvaal Boers (Sand River Convention) 1852 Recognition of the Independence of the Orange River Boers (Bloemfontein Convention) 1854 Representative Government established in Cape Colony 1854 Establishment of a Constitution for the South African Republic 1855-1858 Proclamation of a Protectorate over Basutoland 1868 Discovery of diamonds on the Lower Vaal River 1869 British occupation and annexation of Griqualand West 1871 Responsible Government granted to Cape Colony 1872 Delagoa Bay arbitration 1872-1875 British annexation of the Transvaal 1877 War with Cetewayo and conquest of Zululand 1879 Retrocession of the Transvaal 1881 Annexation of Southern and Protectorate over Northern Bechuanaland 1884-1885 German occupation of Damaraland 1884 Convention of London with the Transvaal Republic 1884 Discovery of the Witwatersrand gold field 1885 Foundation of the British South Africa Company 1889 Conquest of Matabililand by the Company 1893 Responsible Government granted to Natal 1893 Protectorate declared over the Tonga Chiefs 1894 Rising at Johannesburg and expedition of Dr. Jameson from Pitsani 1895 Outbreak of war between Britain and the two Dutch Republics Oct. 1899
In the latter part of the year 1895 I travelled across South Africa from Cape Town to Fort Salisbury in Mashonaland, passing through Bechuanaland and Matibililand. From Fort Salisbury, which is only two hundred miles from the Zambesi, I returned through Manicaland and the Portuguese territories to Beira on the Indian Ocean, sailed thence to Delagoa Bay and Durban, traversed Natal, and visited the Transvaal, the Orange Free State, Basutoland, and the eastern province Cape Colony. The country had long possessed a great interest for me, and that interest was increased by studying on the spot its physical character as well as the peculiar economic and industrial conditions which have made it unlike the other newly settled countries of the world. Seeing these things and talking with the leading men in every part of the country, I began to comprehend many things that had previously been obscure to me, and saw how the political troubles of the land were connected with the life which nature imposed on the people. Immediately after my return to Europe, fresh political troubles broke out, and events occurred in the Transvaal which fixed the eyes of the whole world upon South Africa. I had not travelled with the view of writing a book; but the interest which the events just mentioned have aroused, and which is likely to be sustained for a good while to come, leads me to believe that the impressions of a traveller who has visited other new countries may be useful to those who desire to know what South Africa is really like, and why it makes a noise and stir in the world disproportionate to its small population.
I have called the book "Impressions" lest it should be supposed that I have attempted to present a complete and minute account of the country. For this a long residence and a large volume would be required. It is the salient features that I wish to describe. These, after all, are what most readers desire to know: these are what the traveller of a few weeks or months can give, and can give all the better because the details have not become so familiar to him as to obscure the broad outlines.
Instead of narrating my journey, and weaving into the narrative observations on the country and people, I have tried to arrange the materials collected in a way better fitted to present to the reader in their natural connection the facts he will desire to have. Those facts would seem to be the following: (1) the physical character of the country, and the aspects of its scenery; (2) the characteristics of the native races that inhabit it; (3) the history of the natives and of the European settlers, that is to say the chief events which have made the people what they now are; (4) the present condition of the several divisions of the country, and the aspects of life in it; (5) the economic resources of the country, and the characteristic features of its society and its politics.
These I have tried to set forth in the order above indicated. The first seven chapters contain a very brief account of the physical structure and climate, since these are the conditions which have chiefly determined the economic progress of the country and the lines of European migration, together with remarks on the wild animals, the vegetation, and the scenery. Next follows a sketch of the three aboriginal races, and an outline of the history of the whites since their first arrival, four centuries ago. The earlier events are lightly touched on, while those which have brought about the present political situation are more fully related. In the third part of the book, asking the reader to accompany me on the long journey from Cape Town to the Zambesi Valley and back again, I have given in four chapters a description of the far interior as one sees it passing from barbarism to civilization—its scenery, the prospects of its material development, the life which its new settlers lead. These regions, being the part of the country most lately brought under European administration, seem to deserve a fuller treatment than the older and better-known regions. Three other chapters give a more summary account of Natal, of the Transvaal gold-fields, of that model republic the Orange Free State, and of Basutoland, a native state under British protection which possesses many features of peculiar interest. In the fourth and last division of the book several questions of a more general character are dealt with which could not conveniently be brought into either the historical or the descriptive parts. I have selected for discussion those topics which are of most permanent importance and as to which the reader is most likely to be curious. Among them are the condition of the natives, and their relations to the white people; the aspects of social and political life; the situation of affairs in the Transvaal in 1895, and the causes which brought about the Reform rising and the expedition of Dr. Jameson; and finally, the economic prospects of the country, and the political future of its colonies and republics.
In these concluding chapters, as well as in the historical sketch, my aim has been to set forth and explain facts rather than to pass judgments upon the character and conduct of individuals. Whoever desires to help others to a fair view of current events must try not only to be impartial, but also to avoid expressing opinions when the grounds for those opinions cannot be fully stated; and where controversy is raging round the events to be described, no judgment passed on individual actors could fail to be deemed partial by one set of partizans or by the other. Feeling sure that the present problems will take some time to solve, I have sought to write what those who desire to understand the country may find useful even after the next few years have passed. And, so far from wishing to champion any view or to throw any fresh logs on the fire of controversy that has been blazing for the last few years, I am convinced that the thing now most needed in the interests of South Africa is to let controversies die out, to endeavour to forget the causes of irritation, and to look at the actual facts of the case in a purely practical spirit.
Altogether apart from its recent troubles, South Africa is an interesting, and indeed fascinating subject of study. There are, of course, some things which one cannot expect to find in it. There has not yet been time to evolve institutions either novel or specially instructive, nor to produce new types of character (save that of the Transvaal Boer) or new forms of social life. There are no ancient buildings, except a few prehistoric ruins; nor have any schools of architecture or painting or literature been as yet developed. But besides the aspects of nature, often weird and sometimes beautiful, there are the savage races, whose usages and superstitions open a wide field for research, and the phenomena of whose contact with the whites raise some grave and gloomy problems. There are the relations of the two European races—races which ought long ago to have been happily blended into one, but which have been kept apart by a train of untoward events and administrative errors. Few of the newer countries have had a more peculiar or more chequered history; and this history needs to be studied with a constant regard to the physical conditions that have moulded it. Coming down to our own time, nowhere are the struggles of the past seen to be more closely intertwined with the troubles of the present; nor does even Irish history furnish a better illustration of the effect of sentiment upon practical politics. Few events of recent times have presented more dramatic situations, and raised more curious and intricate issues of political and international morality, than those which have lately been set before us by the discovery of the Transvaal gold-fields and the rush of nineteenth-century miners and speculators into a pastoral population which retains the ideas and habits of the seventeenth-century. Still more fascinating are the problems of the future. One can as yet do little more than guess at them; but the world now moves so fast, and has grown so small, and sees nearly every part of itself so closely bound by ties of commerce or politics to every other part, that it is impossible to meditate on any great and new country without seeking to interpret its tendencies by the experience of other countries, and to conjecture the role it will be called on to play in the world-drama of the centuries to come. I have sought, therefore, not only to make South Africa real to those who do not know it, and to give them the materials for understanding what passes there and following its fortunes with intelligence, but also to convey an impression of the kind of interest it awakens. It is still new: and one sees still in a fluid state the substance that will soon crystallize into new forms. One speculates on the result which these mingled forces, these ethnic habits and historical traditions, and economic conditions, will work out. And reflecting on all these things, one feels sure that a country with so commanding a position, and which has compressed so much history into the last eighty years of its life, will hold a conspicuous place in that southern hemisphere which has in our own times entered into the political and industrial life of the civilized world.
To understand the material resources and economic conditions of South Africa, and, indeed, to understand the history of the country and the political problems which it now presents, one must first know something of its physical structure. The subject may seem dry, and those readers who do not care for it may skip this chapter. But it need not be uninteresting, and it is certainly not uninstructive. For myself, I can say that not only South African history, but also the prospects of South African industry and trade, were dark matters to me till I had got, by travelling through the country, an idea of those natural features of the southern part of the continent which have so largely governed the course of events and have stamped themselves so deeply upon the habits of the people. Some notion of these features I must now try to convey. Fortunately, they are simple, for nature has worked in Africa, as in America, upon larger and broader lines than she has done in Europe. The reader will do well to keep a map beside him, and refer constantly to it, for descriptions without a map avail little.
Africa south of the Zambesi River consists, speaking broadly, of three regions. There is a strip of lowland lying along the coast of the Indian Ocean, all the way round from Cape Town, past Durban and Delagoa Bay and Beira, till you reach the mouth of the Zambesi. On the south, between Cape Town and Durban, this strip is often very narrow, for in many places the hills come, as they do at Cape Town, right down to the sea. But beyond Durban, as one follows the coast along to the north-east, the level strip widens. At Delagoa Bay it is some fifteen or twenty miles wide; at Beira it is sixty or eighty miles wide, so that the hills behind cannot be seen from the coast; and farther north it is still wider. This low strip is in many places wet and swampy, and, being swampy, is from Durban northward malarious and unhealthful in the highest degree. Its unhealthfulness is a factor of prime importance in what may be called the general scheme of the country, and has had, as we shall presently see, the most important historical consequences.
Behind the low coast strip rise the hills whose slopes constitute the second region. They rise in most places rather gradually, and they seldom (except in Manicaland, to be hereafter described) present striking forms. The neighbourhood of Cape Town is almost the only place where high mountains come close to the shore—the only place, therefore, except the harbour of St. John's far to the east, where there is anything that can be called grand coast scenery. As one travels inland the hills become constantly higher, till at a distance of thirty or forty miles from the sea they have reached an average height of from 3000 to 4000 feet, and sixty miles from 5000 to 6000 feet. These hills, intersected by valleys which grow narrower and have steeper sides the farther inland one goes, are the spurs or outer declivity of a long range of mountains which runs all the way from Cape Town to the Zambesi Valley, a distance of sixteen hundred miles, and is now usually called by geographers (for it has really no general name) the Drakensberg or Quathlamba Range. Their height varies from 3000 to 7000 feet, some of the highest lying not far to the north-east of Cape Town. In one region, however, several summits reach to 11,000 feet. This is Basutoland, the country that lies at the corner where Cape Colony, Natal, and the Orange Free State meet. It is a region remarkable in several respects, for its scenery as well as for its history, and for the condition of the native race that inhabits it, and I shall have to give some account of it in a later chapter. These mountains of Basutoland are the loftiest in Africa south of Kilimandjaro, and keep snow on their summits for several months in the year.
Behind the Quathlamba Range the country spreads out to the north and west in a vast tableland, sometimes flat, sometimes undulating, sometimes intersected by ridges of rocky hills. This is the third region. Its average height above the sea varies from 3000 to 5000 feet, and the hills reach in places nearly 6000. Thus the Quathlamba Range may be regarded as being really the edge of the tableland, and when in travelling up from the coast one reaches the water-shed, or "divide" (an American term which South Africans have adopted), one finds that on the farther or northerly side there is very little descent. The peaks which when seen from the slopes towards the coast looked high and steep are on this inner side insignificant, because they rise so little above the general level of the plateau. This plateau runs away inland to the west and north-west, and occupies seven-eighths of the surface of South Africa. It dips gently on the north to the valley of the Zambesi; but on the west spreads out over the Kalahari Desert and the scarcely less arid wastes of Damaraland, maintaining (except along the lower course of the Orange River) an altitude of from 3000 to 4000 feet above the sea, until within a comparatively short distance of the Atlantic Ocean.
The physical structure of the country is thus extremely simple. There is only one considerable mountain-chain, with a vast table-land filling the interior behind it, and a rough, hilly country lying between the mountains and the low belt which borders on the Indian Ocean. Let the reader suppose himself to be a traveller wishing to cross the continent from east to west. Starting from a port, say Delagoa Bay or Beira, on the Portuguese coast, the traveller will in a few hours, by either of the railways which run westward from those ports, traverse the low strip which divides them from the hill-country. To ascend the valleys and cross the water-shed of the great Quathlamba Range on to the plateau takes a little longer, yet no great time. Then, once upon the plateau, the traveller may proceed steadily to the west for more than a thousand miles over an enormous stretch of high but nearly level land, meeting no considerable eminence and crossing no perceptible water-shed till he comes within sight of the waves of the Atlantic. Or if he turns to the north-west he will pass over an undulating country, diversified only by low hills, till he dips slowly into the flat and swampy ground which surrounds Lake Ngami, itself rather a huge swamp than a lake, and descends very gradually from that level to the banks of the Zambesi, in the neighbourhood of the great Victoria Falls. In fact, this great plateau is South Africa, and all the rest of the country along the sea-margin a mere appendage to it. But so large a part of the plateau is, as we shall see presently, condemned by its dryness to remain sterile and very thinly peopled, that the interior has not that preponderating importance which its immense area might seem to give it.
It is not worth while to describe the minor ridges,—though some of them, especially in Cape Colony, are abrupt and high enough to be called Mountains,—for none has any great importance as affecting either material or historical conditions. The longest are those which run parallel to the dreary and almost uninhabited west coast, and form the terraces by which the great plateau sinks down to the margin of the Atlantic. Neither can I touch on the geology, except to observe that a great part of the plateau, especially in the northern part and towards the north-east end of the Quathlamba Range, consists of granite or gneiss, and is believed to be of very great antiquity, i.e., to have stood, as it now stands, high above the level of the sea from a very remote period of the earth's history. The rocks of the Karroo region are more recent. Nowhere in South Africa has any area of modern volcanic action, much less any active volcano, been discovered. More ancient eruptive rocks, such as greenstones and porphyries, are of frequent occurrence, and are often spread out in level sheets above the sedimentary beds of the Karroo and of the Basutoland and Free State ranges.
Finally, it must be noted that the coast has extremely few harbours. From Cape Town eastward and north-eastward there is no sheltered deep-water haven till one reaches that of Durban, itself troubled by a bar, and from Durban to the Zambesi no good ports save Delagoa Bay and Beira. On the other side of the continent, Saldanha Bay, twenty miles north of Cape Town, is an excellent harbour. After that the Atlantic coast shows none for a thousand miles.
So much for the surface and configuration of the country. Now let us come to the climate, which is a not less important element in making South Africa what it is.
The heat is, of course, great, though less great than a traveller from North Africa or India expects to find in such a latitude. Owing to the vast mass of water in the southern hemisphere, that hemisphere is cooler in the same latitude than is the northern. Cape Town, in latitude 34 deg. S., has a colder winter and not so hot a summer as Gibraltar and Aleppo, in latitude 36 deg. N. Still the summer temperature is high even at Durban, in latitude 30 deg. S., while the northern part of the Transvaal Republic, and all the territories of the British South Africa Company, including Matabililand and Mashonaland, lie within the tropic of Capricorn, that is to say, correspond in latitude to Nubia and the central provinces of India between Bombay and Calcutta.