ORIGIN OF THE ANGLO-BOER WAR REVEALED
The Conspiracy of the 19th Century Unmasked
By C.H. THOMAS
of Belfast Transvaal formerly Orange Free State Burgher
LONDON: HODDER AND STOUGHTON
27 PATERNOSTER ROW MCM
Butler & Tanner The Selwood Printing Works Frome and London
The present book had been intended for publication in South Africa before the end of 1899, with the object of laying bare the wicked and delusive aims of the Afrikaner Bond combination, to which the Anglo-Boer war alone is attributable, and to counteract its disastrous influences so far as then still possible. But until quite lately circumstances had conspired so as to prevent the writer from leaving the Transvaal, and when he at last obtained the required passport to Lourenco Marques he was there denied a permit to visit a colonial port. He therefore sailed for London in order to publish this book without more loss of time. Though too late to serve as a deterrent, the contents may be effective towards showing up the really guilty parties—the instigators and seducers of the deluded Boer nation, and so pave and widen the avenue of peace and of conciliation between Boer and Briton who were duped and victimized alike.
The exposure of the actual culprits and originators should also operate favourably, and in mitigation in behalf of the much less guilty Boers, so as to dispose the victors to the exercise of magnanimous consideration. In exposing the villainy of the Dutch coterie in Holland, the writer is far from impugning the honourable character of that nation, the better part of whom, when once undeceived, will be the first to reprobate and disown those arch-plotters who sacrificed the peace of South Africa for personal and national advantage.
Some other information regarding the Boers and South Africa will be found interspersed in this study, which will be found of use to the uninitiated and to intending emigrants to that sub-continent. As the reader proceeds with the examination of this book it will suggest comparisons and even analogies which may commend themselves as singularly apposite and instructive in relation with the study of the presently budding Eastern question.
NOTE TO SECOND EDITION
The issue of a Second Edition has afforded an opportunity to correct a few linguistic blemishes, but the work has only been very slightly revised.
PAGE NOTICE V
CURSORY HISTORY OF THE BOER NATION 6
PROSPERITY OF BOERS AND POLITICAL RELATIONS WITH ENGLAND UP TO 1881 16
TRANSVAAL HISTORY—SUZERAINTY 21
TREATMENT OF UITLANDERS, FRANCHISE, VENALITY, BRIBERY 25
MONSTER PETITION, JAMESON INCURSION, ARMAMENTS 37
BLOEMFONTEIN CONFERENCE, BOER ULTIMATUM 43
BOER LANGUAGE 52
THE DUTCH COTERIE, ITS SEAT IN HOLLAND 57
AFRIKANER BOND—OUTLINES AND PROGRAMME 62
PACIFIC POLICY OF GREAT BRITAIN 70
PRESS PROPAGANDA—SECRET SERVICE—TRADE RIVALRIES 72
DISLOYALTY OF COLONIAL BOERS 82
PORTUGUESE TERRITORY—TRANSVAAL LOW VELDT—MALARIA—HORSE SICKNESS 89
CLIMATE AND TOPOGRAPHY 95
BOER PREPAREDNESS FOR WAR 108
ALLIANCE OF ORANGE FREE STATE WITH TRANSVAAL—SUZERAINTY SQUABBLE—TRANSVAAL ARMAMENTS PRIOR TO JAMESON RAID 115
THE TRANSVAAL DYNAMITE AND EXPLOSIVES MONOPOLY 122
BOER FIGHTING STRENGTH 124
BOER CONSERVATISM, EDUCATION, DUNDEE DOSSIER, ANTI-ENGLISH PAMPHLET ENTITLED "A HUNDRED YEARS' INJUSTICE" 126
AN OLD FREE STATER'S ADMONITION 137
MODUS VIVENDI SUGGESTED BY OLD FREE STATER 143
MR. CHAMBERLAIN'S POLICY TO AVERT WAR 150
AFRIKANER BOND GUILT IN GRADATIONS 155
BOERS' NATIVE POLICY 167
ENGLAND'S NATIVE AND COLONIAL POLICY 172
OCCULT OPERATIONS AND AGENCIES 178
PHYSIQUE AND HABITS 193
PRESIDENT KRUeGER 207
PEACE ADJUSTMENTS 212
Apart from the progress of the present Anglo-Boer war a world-wide interest has been excited also upon the question of its actual origin. Much disparity of opinion prevails yet as to how it was provoked and upon which side the guilt of it all lay.
English statesmen of noblest character and best discriminating gifts are seen professing opposite convictions; one party earnestly asserting the complete blamelessness of their Government, whilst the other, with equally sincere assurance, denounces the responsible Ministry for having provoked a most unjust war against a totally inoffensive people, whose only fault consisted in asserting its love of freedom, and for thus plunging the entire British nation into blackest guilt deserving universal reprobation, a blot and stigma upon Her Majesty's reign.
In following the course of the arguments which have led to those opposing verdicts, one is impressed with the paucity and the clashing character of the information adduced. The marked reticence on the part of the British Cabinet in regard to its diplomatic proceedings tends further to mystify the inquirer, and leaves the bulk of the British nation in a painful state of suspense without conclusive data for judging whether the war is really justifiable or not.
Nor do the various pamphlets and Press articles furnish sufficient light for exploring the maze and producing an approximate unanimity of conviction.
It is hoped that the succeeding pages will be found to supplement the material so essential for diagnosing those grave questions with some degree of certainty, and to locate the guilt more precisely.
Since my youth I have passed nearly forty years in uninterrupted and intimate intercourse with all classes of Boers, resulting in a sincere attachment to that people, with no small appreciation of its many good traits and character. Besides making myself familiar with the earlier portion of that nation's history, I have had leisure and opportunities to closely follow up its later interesting phases up to the present moment. These presented a more perplexing aspect during the last decade, adding a zest to my endeavours for unravelling them, and happening to be a good deal in the know I felt that I might not remain quiet.
Being anything but anti-Boer, nor an Englishman, but a foreigner, born of continental parents and brought up in Europe, these facts should exempt me from a supposition of bias in exonerating England. It is with real grief that I must record my convictions against the Boer nation as solely and entirely guilty, but with this qualification, that its responsibility is much attenuated by the fact, as I will endeavour to show, that the bulk of that people has been unconsciously decoyed as tools of a gigantic intrigue, a conspiracy which was originated some thirty years ago by an infamous Hollander coterie, and operated since by its product and engine, the now well-known "Afrikaner Bond Association," with its significant motto of "Afrika voor Afrikaners"—its object being no less than the eviction of all that is English from South Africa, and to substitute a federation of all South African States into one free and independent Republic, the affiliation to be with Holland instead, and Dutch the common and official language, other nations, in return for afforded aid, to participate in the trade and other advantages wrested from England.
I only regret that my ability falls so much short for the task of demonstrating all this in an approved style—for doing justice to the subject. Its investigation embraces a wider range of details to serve as evidence than may, upon first thought, be held as relevant; but I believe that a willing study will show their connection as serviceable for arriving at an independent and unhesitating verdict.
A very strong and convincing case is indeed needed for remodelling opinions where there is preconceived Boer partisanship, and where party spirit or else foreign jealousy have already warped judgment and established bias.
It would be no small relief to every honest-minded person, especially in England, to be clear upon the subject that England is free of guilt—equally so to the soldier who is called upon to fight her battles. But other objects of no less importance are in view, viz., to open the eyes of the misguided Boer people to the wicked artifices by which it has been seduced from friendly relations with England into an unjustifiable war, to deter the still wavering portion from joining the ranks of sedition, and, lastly, the grounds for palliation being recognised, to pave the way to an early termination of the war by adjustments which could restore mutual goodwill and respect between the contending parties, and so bring about a speedy return of South African prosperity and progress.
The writer is fully prepared to give data and names of the incidents adduced in this paper in support of their authenticity.
[Footnote 1: Africa for white African citizens.]
CURSORY HISTORY OF THE BOER NATION
The two principal elements of the Boer nation were the settlers of the Dutch trading company at the Cape of Good Hope, sturdy farmers and tradesmen belonging to the proletarian class of Holland, and a subsequent contingent of French Huguenot refugees and their families who joined as colonists soon after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes. I mention below the names still existing which form a large proportion of the present Boer nation of Huguenot descent:—
Billion Blignaut Bisseux Delporte Du prez Du Toit De la Bey Durand Davel De Langue Duvenage Fourie Fouche Grove Hugo Jourdan Lombard Le Roux Roux Lagrange Labuscaque Mare Marais Malan Malraison Maynard Malherbe De Meillon De Marillac Matthee Naude Nortier Rousseau Taillard Theron Terblanche De Villiers Fortier Lindeque Vervier Vercueil Basson Pinard Duvenage Celliers de Clercq Leclercq Devinare
Men of the best French stock, noted for honour, energy and perseverance, rather than recant their Protestant faith, abandoned seigneurial homes, high positions and lucrative callings to carve out fresh careers, and even to become humble farmers wherever they found asylums and tolerance, men who became very valuable accessions to the nations who received them and a correspondingly significant loss to France. To those two main elements were added sparse accessions from other nations at later intervals, and also a strain of aboriginal blood, of which a more or less faint tinge is still discernible in some families, an admixture which many deplore and others consider as most serviceable, supplying a subtle piquancy for perfecting the general stock.
The early Cape Governors aimed at the prompt assimilation of those French people with their own colonists—to make Dutchmen of them. Among other drastic enactments to enforce that object, no other language but Dutch was permitted to be used in public of pain of corporal punishment. Not a few noble Frenchmen were subjected to that indignity for inadvertent breaches of that draconian law, but, as conscientious observers of biblical commands which enjoin subjection to all governmental rule, they willingly submitted and obeyed. Intermarriages with their Dutch fellow-colonists further promoted assimilation into one cohesive community. At the same time the Huguenot faith was transmitted to their descendants, and had a marked influence in sustaining common religious fervour and consistency. They did not look for a reward or compensation for the sacrifices endured, for the sake of faith, by those refugees, though a gracious providence, as the sequel showed, held in store a most ample restitution—magnificent heirlooms for their later descendants, heirlooms which are now unhappily staked in this present war.
In 1814 a payment of six millions sterling received by the Prince of Orange closed the transfer of the Dutch Cape settlement to Great Britain. Immigration of English settlers followed and the area of the colony soon largely extended. As under the Dutch regime, the practice of slavery had continued until its abolition in 1833 by the ransom payable by the English Government to the owners of slaves. The Boer colonists deeply resented that act, and especially the next to impracticable condition which provided that payments could only be received in England instead of on the spot. Many were cheated of all their emancipation money by their appointed proxies or agents, or else had to submit to exorbitant charges and commissions; a great number voluntarily renounced all in disgust.
By that time the existence had become known of promising tracts of country lying north of the Orange River beyond the confines of the British colonies, and a large number of Boers combined with the intention of establishing an independent community northwards free from British restraint.
The British authorities appeared at that time not to fully realize that that movement was rife with future dangers and complications to their own colonial interests, that it meant the creation of a nucleus of a people openly averse to the English, and who would independently carry out practices in near proximity, especially in dealing with aborigines, which would seriously compromise them and become a standing menace against peaceful expansion and civilization.
It was, on the other hand, anticipated that the movement could only end in disaster, the people being too few to make a successful stand against the numerous hostile Kaffir tribes. The Government, therefore, refrained from preventive measures, and confined its efforts to discouraging the emigration and to reconcile the malcontents. Those efforts, however, proved fruitless; the people held to their project with resolute fearlessness and self-confidence, and were even content to sacrifice their farms and homesteads, their sale being in some cases forbidden by special enactment.
The terms of "Boer" and "Boer nation" do not convey or mean anything disparaging, rather the contrary. Boer simply means farmer, as a rule the proprietor of a farm of about 3,000 to 10,000 acres, who combines stock-breeding with a variety of other farming enterprises as well, according to the soil and locality. As a national designation, the term "Boer" conveys the distinction from the recently arrived Dutchman, who is called "Hollander." Hollanders, again, delight of late to claim the Boer nation as their kith and kin, but prefer to ignore the existence of the French Huguenot factor.
The great "trek," with families and movables, as the emigration movement is called, occurred in 1836; some families started even before, and other contingents followed shortly afterwards. After many vicissitudes and nearly twenty years of wanderings, and a nomadic life attended with untold hardships and dangers, intermittent conflicts with native tribes, and at times also contests with British forces, they were eventually permitted, under treaty with England, to settle down and to constitute the independent Orange Free State and Transvaal Republics. That was in 1854 and 1852 respectively.
But, until then, progress in the British colonies and peaceful relations with the several Kaffir nations had at times been sadly impeded by the aggressive native policy pursued by the Boers after the pattern adopted from the previous Dutch regime, which admitted of slavery, whilst English law had abolished and forbade that practice as contrary to a soundly moral method of civilizing natives and inimical to prosperous and peaceable colonial progress. Broils and wars between Boers and Kaffirs had been almost incessant, and intervals of peace only proved their mutually latent hostility. Besides being occasionally engaged in unavoidable wars with neighbouring tribes themselves, it became frequently incumbent upon the British military authorities to intervene in conflicts induced by the Boers, alternately protecting them against natives and natives against the Boers, and all that at the unnecessary expenditure of much blood and treasure.
The Boer occupation of Natal was found to be wholly prejudicial to British interests on aforesaid accounts, and was, besides, contrary to the express declaration of the Boer emigrants at the time of their exodus from the Cape Colony, which was that their new settlements should be located north of the Orange River. Stepping in to the eastward and claiming part of the littoral constituted a rivalry in conflict with that understanding, and England therefore considered it within her rights to expel the Boers from Natal, and to proceed with the colonization there with British settlers instead. That temporary occupation of Natal had been fraught to the Boers with most stirring episodes—some of the most melancholy description, and others representing records of really unsurpassed heroism, which can but arouse deepest emotions and admiration in any reader of their history. There was the treacherous massacre of Retief and Potgeiter and his party by the Zulu king Dingaan at his military kraal, followed by other wholesale massacres of men, women, and children at Weenen and other Boer camps in Natal. Then came the punitive expedition of 450 Boers, armed with flint-locks only, who utterly defeated Dingaan's most redoubtable impi of 10,000 warriors, and resulted in the complete overthrow of that Zulu monarch.
When that punitive Boer commando was about to start upon its mission it was solemnly vowed to observe a day of national thanksgiving each year if Divine aid were vouchsafed to accomplish the object. That brilliant victory had occurred on the 16th December, 1838, and the day has ever since been religiously observed as had been vowed. The celebrations in the Transvaal take place at Paarden-kraal, near Johannesburg, and some other accessible and central camping grounds, where the burghers with their families congregate in thousands—a sort of feast of tabernacles, lasting three days, undeterred by the most boisterous weather. The declaration of independence fell on that same date at Paarden-kraal in 1879, and it was also in December of the succeeding year that the Boers proved victorious over the British troops in Natal, after which the Transvaal had its independence generously restored by the Gladstone Ministry (subject to treaty 1881).
On those anniversaries stirring speeches would be made by the elder leading men, rehearsing the events of the nation's history so as to grave them upon the minds of the younger, and to revive the thankful memories of the elder people. It is only in human nature that unsympathetic feelings against the English would intrude upon the thanksgivings on those occasions, especially as it continues yet to be averred that the British authorities had incited the Zulu king Dingaan to those massacres. Nevertheless, except in instances of implacable natures, the predominant sentiments at those gatherings were those of gratitude to the Almighty and good-will towards all men. After the peace of 1881, it used to be publicly recognised that the English were entitled thenceforth to a first place in the nation's friendship, and that the retrocession put a term to all recriminations applying to previous dates.
The sequel has shown that soon afterwards another spirit was allowed to intrude to displace those good and just sentiments, and that without any reason or provocation and despite a persistently loyal and sincere attitude of friendship and confidence observed towards the Boers by the, British Government and the English people in South Africa. As instances may be cited: (1) England's conceding spirit in assenting to a modification of the convention of 1881 and agreeing to that of 1884; (2) genial treatment of the colonial Boers on perfect equality with English colonists, sharing in the privileges of self-government, the Dutch language also raised to equal rights with English; (3) most harmonious relations with the Orange Free State; (4) reduction of transit duties for goods to the Republics to 5 per cent, and later to 3 per cent.; (5) unrestricted privilege for the importations of arms and ammunition to both Republics. In lieu of friendly reciprocity the return began to be rancorous mistrust and revival of hatred.
In the course of our study to account for this sad and unwarrantable change on the part of the Boers we will be following the trail of the serpent and track it right up to its Hollander lair and to its at first unsuspected product, the Afrikaner Bond.
PROSPERITY OF BOERS AND POLITICAL RELATIONS WITH ENGLAND UP TO 1881
A period of about twenty-five years following the establishment of the Orange Free State and Transvaal Republics was marked with much progress and prosperity in the Cape Colonies and Natal, both Republics also having cause to rejoice over similar advancement.
The evil influence which aimed at rending good relations between Boer and English became more apparent after 1881. During the preceding era the two races actually had been in a fair way towards friendly assimilation. Mutual appreciation was further stimulated by the reciprocal benefits arising from trade and economic relations. Intermarriages became more frequent under such friendly intercourse, a respectable Englishman being truly prized in those days as a Boer's son-in-law. The English language also largely advanced in favour and prestige not only among the Cape Colonial and Natal Boers, but also in both Republics, and anti-English sentiments were fast being supplanted by amity and goodwill.
The principal event in the Orange Free State during that period was a three years' exhaustive war with the Basuto nation, which ended in the latter's defeat in 1867. Their chief Moshesh then appealed for British intervention. The Basutos thus came under England's protection, and a peace resulted which has ever since continued, through British prestige and authority as well as good government. The Orange Free State gained a large tract of the territory conquered by that State, but had to renounce the rest.
Then, in about 1870, came the discovery of the diamond-fields, situated on the then still ill-defined western limits of the State. According to a boundary line claimed by Great Britain, those diamond-fields fell outside Free State territory. That State received L90,000 compensation for improvements and expenses incurred during its short occupation of that disputed strip of diamondiferous ground. The diamond-fields at Jagersfontein and Koffyfontein were subsequently discovered and lie deep within the confines of the State. President Brand had proved his sagacity and discretion in concluding the negotiations with England upon the question of the peace with the Basutos and then again in submitting to the boundary delimitations, it being contended even yet that the Orange Free State had the weightier arguments in its favour in both instances.
The people of that Republic proved however to be the ultimate gainers in those adjustments; they did not miss the more solid advantages attending the discovery of the diamond-fields. Believed of the grave responsibility involved in governing a turbulent population of foreign diggers, the geographical position of the Kimberley fields secured to the Free State farmers an almost entire monopoly in the supply of products; trade also flourished apace, all tending to enrich the inhabitants and the State revenue as well.
But the Orange Free State derived a permanent advantage, quite unique and more than compensating the apparent set-back suffered by the loss of the diamond-field territory and by British intervention in the Basuto war matter, in that the method of those procedures saddled England with the responsibility of guaranteeing the internal safety of the State from those hitherto unprotected borders "altogether at her own cost." The Keate award completed the British cordon around the Free State, excepting only in regard to the Transvaal frontier. No need thenceforth for costly military provisions for the protection of the State—it was, as it were, walled and fenced in at British expense, and the State revenue was thus for ever relieved of a very heavy item of expenditure, which could be devoted to the increase of the national wealth instead—a peaceful security accompanied with an intrinsic gain constituting a veritable and permanent heirloom for the people of that State.
It is notable that the position of the Orange Free State, without any other access to the sea-board than from colonial ports, made its status and welfare entirely dependent upon the friendly and loyal good faith of England. Up to the present unhappy war that State enjoyed unaltered the best relations without being ever subjected to even a trace of chicanery from the part of Great Britain.
By what illusion, it may well be asked, could that hitherto friendly people have been deluded to risk all in a disloyal breach with England by joining the Transvaal in a "Bond" issue against her best friend? Towards the Transvaal also had England proved her earnest desire to maintain an intercourse on the basis of sincere amity, desirous only of reciprocity, which indeed could be expected in willing return, seeing that England took upon her own shoulders to provide for the protection and welfare of the entire area of South Africa by sea and land, whilst both Republics freely participated in all the great benefits so derived. These considerations should substantially disprove the wicked aspersion lately made that British policy aimed at the subversion of republican autonomy in those two States. All that Great Britain needed and confidently expected in return for her goodwill was friendly adhesion, and a willing recognition of her paramountcy in matters affecting the common weal of South Africa as a whole, and also such reciprocity and mutual concern in the welfare of all as consistently comport with common interests. How fell and malignant the "influence" which operated a treacherous ingratitude and hostility instead!
The references made to the history of the Transvaal so far reach up to the rehabilitation of its independence and the convention of 1881. Some of the conditions of that treaty, especially the subordinate position imposed by the suzerainty clause, were found to be repugnant to the burghers. Delegates were therefore commissioned to proceed to England in order to get the treaty so altered as to place the State into the status provided by the Sand River convention, which conceded absolute independence. Mr. Jorrison, a violent anti-English Hollander, was the chief adviser of the members of that delegation.
To that the English Ministry could not assent, but sought to meet the wishes of the people by agreeing to certain modifications of the convention of 1881. This was effected with the treaty of 1884. The delegates had specially urged the renunciation of the suzerainty claim, but that claim appears not to have been abandoned, to judge from the absence of such mention in the novated treaty. Had its renunciation been agreed to, as has been since averred, it is quite certain that the delegates would not have been content without the mention in most distinct terms of that, to them, so important point. It may therefore be assumed as a fact that the negotiations did not result in an active suspension of the relations as set forth in the convention of 1881, and that the Transvaal continued in a status of subordinacy to England, but only with a wider range in regard to conditions of autonomy. To most lay minds it therefore appears perfectly clear that the Transvaal delegates had well understood and accepted, and so had also their Government, that the convention of 1884 was de facto a renewal of that of 1881, with the only difference that it provided an enlarged exercise of autonomy, but without in the least abrogating the principles of respective relations, which were left intact, or at least latent.
It has been averred and a strong point made in the theory of repudiating suzerainty or over-lordship that Lord Kimberley had given the assurance that the right of Transvaal autonomy and independence was meant to equal that of the Orange Free State. This need not be contested, as that Minister obviously relied upon a similar observance of staunch adhesion towards England which that State had shown during a period of thirty years previous; the fact that the Transvaal was quite differently situated as to adjoining territory imposed the necessity, if only as a matter of form, to preserve the written conditions of Transvaal vassalage.
Lord Kimberley, in 1889, intimated the readiness of his Government to afford advisory and other co-operation with the Transvaal Government in order to cope with the new element of foreign immigration, resulting from the discovery of the rich gold-fields, and to provide appropriate relations with a new floating population, without materially altering the status of Transvaal authority, or the methods of government then in practice.
The Transvaal Government, however, preferred to ignore that loyal offer, and to be guided by Bond principles instead. That circumstance affords another proof that England did not then see the necessity, as has subsequently been the case, of strengthening her position against Bond aggression by imposing a demand of general franchise for Uitlanders.
One aspect of the prolonged controversy re suzerainty forced upon England would be to denote a lack of honour, which is not of unfrequent occurrence when one party to a contract seeks by cavil and legal quibble to evade compliance with some of its conditions, simply because the written terms appear to afford scope for doing so. But the principal reason of the Transvaal contention proceeded from the project of gaining over some strong foreign ally who would see an obstacle, if not scruples, in joining common cause whilst England's claim of over-lordship remained unshaken. But for that consideration the Transvaal Government inwardly viewed the whole of the treaties as waste paper, since it was not only intended to violate them all, but also to bring about, at an opportune moment, a hostile severance from England. In the meantime, the academic squabble was to serve as a decoy to hide Transvaal identification with any such sinister objects, and to divert attention and suspicion.
TRANSVAAL HISTORY—TREATMENT OF UITLANDERS—FRANCHISE
To resume the cursory history of the Transvaal. Mr. Burger, during his Presidency in the early seventies, went to Europe with the mission of attracting capital to the development and exploitation of gold, etc., then already authentically discovered; also, to provide for the building of a railway connecting with Delagoa Bay. The Transvaal Boers were at that time exceedingly poor, and without a sufficient revenue for properly maintaining the administration. Beyond creating a lively interest, his success was confined to an agreement with a company in Holland for building a section of that railroad, which, however, fell through, because the Transvaal proved ultimately unable to furnish its quota of the necessary funds. The present President fared better. A Dutch company styled "The Nederlandsch Zuid Afrikaansche Spoorweg Maatschappy," abbreviated "Z.A.S.M.," undertook the work and completed it in 1887, from the Portuguese border to Pretoria. The line from Pretoria to the Natal border was soon after built, as also several extensions around the Wit-waters Rand, and that from Pretoria to Pietersburg. The section connecting Delagoa Bay as far as the Transvaal border had previously been completed by McMurdo, and is the subject of the present Berne arbitration.
The contract conferred to the Dutch Company a monopoly, and most advantageous financial terms as well. By that time great strides had been made in the development of the Transvaal gold-fields, especially at the Wit-waters Rand (Johannesburg); and immigration on a large scale from all parts of the world had set in, and was constantly increasing with vast amounts of investments in mercantile and other enterprises, as well as in mining industries. At first, equitable laws governed burghers and Uitlanders alike, administered by an independent judiciary. All desirable security was afforded for person and property, with confidence in the safety of investments, and great general prosperity kept pace with ever-increasing activities and enterprise.
It was a great satisfaction to Uitlanders that the peace of 1881, and the reinstatement of Transvaal independence, had restored harmony between Boer and English, and that a policy was being followed to preclude friction between the respective Governments. Those facts largely stimulated investments and enhanced confidence. By 1887 the alien population had already exceeded 100,000, and the capital investments L200,000,000 sterling, and the desire so ardently entertained by the people of the land, for twenty years back, was gratified at last. The burghers shared in the prosperity to a very large degree, and in lieu of former poverty, competence and wealth became the rule, and many of them became exceedingly rich. It was not unusual to hear Boers expressing undisguised gratitude, not merely for the natural gold deposits, but specially also that people had come to prospect and to invest capital, without which the wealth of the land would have remained unexploited and lain fallow. Harmony and cordiality were the proper outcome between foreigners and Boers. The influx of capital and of immigrants continued to increase, but not so the happy conditions. These were gradually getting marred by a spirit of variance, no one seemed to know how. The study of this paper will reveal it. The variance between Boers and Uitlanders began to be specially discernible from 1887 and had been increasing like a blight ever since. This was noticeably coincident with the numerous arrivals of educated Hollanders employed for the railways and the Government administration.
In the earlier period of the Transvaal Republic, one year's residence was first held sufficient for acquiring full franchise or burgher rights and voting qualifications. The condition was successively raised to two, three, and five years; but in 1890 laws were passed which required fourteen years' probation, with conditions which virtually brought the term to twenty-one years, and even then left the acquisition of full franchise to the caprice of field-cornets and higher officials. Englishmen and their descendants were at one time totally and for ever excluded and disqualified just merely because of their nationality whilst Hollanders were admitted in very large numbers without having to pass any probation at all or only comparatively short terms. The English language became a target for hostility and as good as proscribed; impracticable and ludicrous attempts even were made to exclude its use in Johannesburg, where hardly any Uitlander understood Dutch, whilst every Boer official was well versed in English: market and auction sales were to be conducted only in Dutch; bills of fare at hotels and restaurants were also to be in full-fledged Dutch only—and all this, it must be remembered, some years before the Jameson incursion took place.
The judiciary, which, according to the "Grondwet" (Constitution), was the highest legal authority, was by one stroke of enactment rendered subservient and subordinate to the First Volksraad. The then Chief Justice (Kotzee) was ignominiously deposed for honourably contending against the grave departure from right and justice in subverting the sacred prerogative due to the highest tribunal, which Boer and Uitlander alike relied upon for independent justice.
A new system of education was next introduced which admitted only High Dutch as the medium of instruction in public schools. As only Hollander children could benefit by such tuition, and whereas those of other immigrants could not understand that language, the effect was that parents of English and other nationalities had to combine in establishing private schools or else to employ private teachers at their own expense—whilst paying, in the way of taxation, for Hollander public schools as well. That oppressive system was subsequently somewhat modified in a manner which admitted the English language as a medium for a portion of the school hours, the proportion so accorded being larger in Johannesburg and other such wholly English-speaking centres than in other parts of the State; but the amelioration did not take place until after much irritation and expense had been occasioned, nor did it meet the case of hardship more than half-way. I may here place the remark that the public educational department is conducted without stint of expenditure in providing from Holland the amplest and best school equipments and highly salaried Dutch professors and teachers.
Irritating class legislation began to be systematically resorted to, to the prejudice of Uitlanders (the majority of whom, it will be borne in mind, were English), which painfully pointed to a fixed determination on the part of the Boers to lord it over them as a totally inferior class, allowing them no representation, and to treat them, in fact, just as a conquered people placed under tribute and proper only to be dominated and exploited.
Boers could walk or ride about armed to the teeth, whilst Uitlanders were forbidden to possess arms under penalty of confiscation and other punishments (except sporting-guns under special permit). The like irritations became rampant by 1890 already.
The alien population were at first too much occupied with their prosperous vocations to combine in the way of protesting against such prevailing usage. The Press was, however, eventually employed, and the Government was approached with respectful petitions praying for redress of the most glaring causes of discontent; but those were invariably either disdainfully rejected or ignored, or, if some matter was relieved, other more exasperating enactments were defiantly substituted. They were cynically told that they had come to their (the Boer's) country unasked, and were at liberty, and in fact invited, to leave it if the laws did not please them. This was said, well knowing that to leave would involve too great sacrifices of homes and investments. The Uitlanders could not, however, be brought to the belief that the Government of a conscientious people could persist in dealing with them as if a previous design had existed—first to inveigle them and their capital into their midst, with the object of goading and despoiling them afterwards. The course of petitioning and respectful remonstrances was therefore persevered in, but all to no purpose. Indignation and resentment were the natural result of those failures. There appeared no alternative but to submit or else to abandon all and leave the country.
It is true that numerous Uitlanders acquired competences, and some were amassing fortunes, but such prizes were comparatively few. The majority just managed, with varying success, to reap a reasonable return for their outlays and energies, or only to live more or less comfortably. The fashion of luxurious and unthrifty living, so prevalent among the "nouveaux riches" and the section who vied with them, impressed the Boers with the notion that all were getting rich, and that soon there would be nothing left for them in the race. In their Hollander Press they were reminded that the gold, in reality belonging to them, was rapidly being exhausted, and the wealth appropriated by aliens, whose hewers of wood and drawers of water they would finally become. All this galled them to the heart, and the Government readily lent itself to proceedings intended to balance conditions in favour of their burghers, as the process was described. I will adduce a few instances. As is well known, it is only burghers and some privileged Hollanders who are employed in Government service, from President down to policeman. There are very few exceptions to this rule, which also applies to the nominations of jurymen, who are well paid too. The salaries of all, especially in the higher grades, had been largely augmented; the President receiving L8,000 per year, and so on downwards.
For Government supplies and public works the tenders of burghers only, and perhaps of some privileged persons, are accepted. In many instances the tenderers are without any pretence of ability for the performance of the contract, but are nevertheless accepted, performing only a sub rosa role. One such instance occurred some years ago when a burgher who did not possess L100—a simple farmer and a kind of "slim" speculator—received by Volksraad vote the contract for building a certain railway. The price included a very large margin to be distributed in places of interest—as douceurs of L1,000 to L5,000 each, and L10,000 for the pro forma contractor and his Volksraad confederates; all those sums were paid out by the firm for whom the contract was actually taken up.
Similarly in contracts for road making, repairing, and making streets, etc., etc. On one occasion a rather highly placed official obtained a contract for repairing certain streets in Pretoria for L60,000. The work being worth L20,000 at most, the difference went to be shared by the several official participants.
One of the first instances of glaring peculation occurred about fifteen years ago in relation with the Selati railway contract obtained by Baron Oppenheim. The procedure was publicly stigmatized as bribery. It had transpired that nearly all the Volksraad's members had received gifts in cash and values ranging each from L50 to L1,000 prior to voting the contract, but what was paid after voting did not become public at the time of exposure.
The acceptance of those gifts was ultimately admitted, in the face of evidence adduced in a certain law case; denial became, in fact, impossible. The plea of exoneration was that those gifts had been freely accepted without pledging the vote. The President publicly exculpated the honourable members, expressing his conviction that none of them could have meant to prejudice the State in their votes for the contract; and as there had been no pledge on their part, the donor had actually incurred the risk of missing his object. From that time the practice of obtaining and selling concessions or of sinecures and other lucrative advantages grew quite into a trade; and receiving douceurs became a hankering passion from highest to lowest, but happily with not a few exceptions where the official's honour was above being priced.
There was nothing shocking in all this venality to the bulk of the Johannesburg speculator class and others of that category. The rest assessed official morality at a depreciated value, but hoped the blemishes might be purged out with other and graver causes for discontent, if Uitlanders, were only granted some effective representation in public matters. That appeared to be the only constitutional remedy. But this continued to be resentfully refused, even in matters which partook of purely domestic interest, such as education, municipal privileges, etc. The latter were opposed upon the specious argument that such extended rights would constitute an imperium in imperio, and thus a condition incompatible with the safety and the conservation of complete control.
In the usual intercourse with burghers and officials a great deal of exasperating and even humiliating experiences had often to be endured, Uitlanders being treated as an inferior class, with scarcely veiled and often with arrogant assumption of superiority.
I witnessed a field cornet enjoying free and courteous hospitality at a Uitlander's house, while being entertained by his host and others in the vernacular Dutch, peremptorily object to the conversation in English in which the lady of the house happened to be engaged with another guest at the further end of the table. His remark was to the effect "that he could not tolerate English being spoken within his hearing"; this was in about 1888.
No wonder that under such conditions and ungenial usage Englishmen and other Uitlanders were put in a resentful mood, and many of them bethought themselves of methods other than constitutional to improve their position.
Identification was resorted to with the Imperial League, a political organization called into being in the Cape Colony to stem Boer assertiveness there and to restrain Bond aspirations. It was also seriously mooted to obtain the good offices of Great Britain as an influence for intervention and remonstrance.
It was not that the Transvaal Government was unaware of its duty and responsibility to remove causes which produced discontent and resentment among by far the larger section of the people under its rule. It seemed rather that the Uitlanders were provoked with systematic intention.
[Footnote 2: The Berne award has, as is well known, since been given.]
[Footnote 3: The Ermelo-Machadodorp branch.]
[Footnote 4: These very details were since made public in the Belgian Law courts in the recent cause celebre of "The Government of the South African Republic versus Baron Oppenheim."]
MONSTER PETITION—JAMESON INCURSION—ARMAMENTS
It was at this stage in May, 1894, that a monster petition with some 25,000 signatures was presented to the Volksraad, setting forth the entire position, and praying for a commission to be appointed to examine the merits of the Uitlander complaints, and to frame a programme of reforms, the interests of the mining community needing such in a most urgent degree, not only for the sake of its own prosperity, but for the welfare of the entire State. A commission was indeed appointed, who reported in favour of the petitioners, and suggested a series of reforms; but the final Volksraad vote resulted in an angry rejection of the petition and denunciation of its organizers.
As on the occasion of previous memorials, some few abuses were redressed, but those benefits were made worse than nugatory by enactments in other directions of a still more galling nature. The petitioners found themselves snubbed and in the position of humiliating defeat.
Treatment of Coloured British Subjects
A glaring instance of oppression practised by the Transvaal Government was its cruel treatment of coloured British subjects who had been admitted into the State. Among these figured some thousands of educated Asiatic traders, including numerous cultured Indian and Parsee merchants with large stakes in the State and well-appointed residences, people whose very religion exacted the most scrupulous cleanliness and who had all proved themselves obedient and law-abiding. These were classed under one rubric with the vastly inferior coolie labourer, with Kaffirs and Hottentots, and actually compelled to abandon their stores and residences to reside in one common ghetto upon the outskirts of the towns, a measure which entailed great losses apart from the gratuitous humiliation—to many it involved ruin and in fact meant their expulsion.
It will be remembered that some years before already the English Government had felt it incumbent to advocate the cause of coloured British subjects and to remonstrate against their ill-usage. The matter was ultimately submitted to arbitration at Bloemfontein, under the umpireship of Sir Henry de Villiers, whose award, contrary to expectation, was adverse to the coloured people. Here was indeed a unique occasion for the Transvaal Government to exercise geniality upon a point sorely felt by the British Government; but the very contrary course was adopted under the aegis of that notorious award, and upon the untenable plea that sanitation and regard to public health necessitated that measure of segregation.
Despite the fact that no royalty was yet exacted upon the gold output, probably to please French, American, and German investors, there seemed to exist a veiled hostility against the representatives of mining capitalists, as if the Government regretted to have allowed the exploitation of the mines to fall into private hands and would welcome an opportunity to take them under State control altogether.
The Uitlander Press vented public sentiment and denounced the Government attitude in unmistakable terms; there were besides some angry public demonstrations. It was an alarming time of impending crisis, rife with signs of open revolt; the Government looking calmly on awaiting developments. It was then that the President's since famous saying was pronounced, viz., "that the tortoise must first be allowed to put out its head before it could be struck off, and that he was ready for any emergency."
The situation had a truly anomalous aspect. More discoveries of gold and even of diamonds followed apace, and the scope for mining, commercial and industrial enterprises expanded to an incalculable magnitude. All that was needed was a stable and good Government to encourage the needful investments. A most tantalizing picture indeed, based upon undeniably well-grounded facts.
As it was, the situation was one of alarm for capital already invested—a stake then of over 300 millions sterling in a country where more than half of the population were in almost open revolt against a Government commanding very large repressive forces, and resolved to maintain its stand.
British intervention appeared to be the only means of salvation to restore security, and to give a fillip to the brilliant prospects of the country, for the good of the burgher estate as well as for the sake of Uitlanders.
As the Government continued deaf and obdurate to representations, other means were sought for. No wonder the Uitlanders longed for a change, not by any means with the object of altering the style of Republican status, but to get the Augean stable of misgovernment cleansed, to escape oppressive and rapacious Boer domination.
The farcical failure of Dr. Jameson was the outcome of those endeavours. The unspeakable cowardice of his Johannesburg confederates was the chief feature of that puny attempt. Laurels, like those gained by Lord Peterborough, Warren Hastings, or Lord Clive, were not decreed to that ill-advised emulator.
Nothing could have been more propitious than that very Jameson incursion to fan race hatred and to advance the projects of the Afrikaner Bond—"Afrika voor de Afrikaners," for, whilst no one acquainted with the facts can for a moment doubt the guilt of the Transvaal Government for having systematically provoked that attempt at revolution, "Bond" propaganda and paid journalism had a rare chance to set up the theory that annexation on behalf of Great Britain had been foully planned—the Prince of Wales even being an abettor of the attempted coup d'etat purely to gratify the lust of greed for the gold and diamonds of the poor innocent Boers. No terms were too vituperative to denounce the enormity. Millions of honest persons all over the world were deluded—there was a bitter cry of almost universal indignation. The Boer Government posed as innocent; the designs of the Afrikaner Bond were not even suspected—its ranks, in sympathy with those delusions sped on filling up faster than ever, and the father of lies was scoring another very sensible triumph.
In lieu of reforms, Bond projects and armaments were secretly pursued with redoubled vigour towards the climax which should install Afrikanerdom supreme in South Africa, financially as well as politically.
BLOEMFONTEIN FRANCHISE CONFERENCE—BOER ULTIMATUM
Capitalists had already begun to feel nervous about the final security of their investments; operations and credit became restricted, fresh projects were abandoned and a persistent withdrawal of capital set in. Trade and prosperity were progressively waning, accompanied with still more ominous portents for the Uitlanders' future. It all meant a very extensive weeding out of investments under enormous losses, except such as stood in relation with dividend-paying mines. England, though apparently apathetic and inactive, was not inattentive to the situation. Whoever had a stake, whether in South Africa or abroad, looked to Great Britain as the Power upon whom the duty devolved to provide a peaceable remedy. The suzerainty controversy was then followed by other questions of diplomatic difference, among which that of the franchise reform. Upon this matter English intervention took an insistent form. It clearly turned all upon that—and once it were satisfactorily arranged, the amicable solution of other questions might in turn be expected to follow. As to suzerainty, that claim appeared relegated to remain in abeyance. A conference was convened at Bloemfontein early in June, 1899, for the discussion of those topics between the Colonial Governor, Sir Alfred Milner, and the Presidents of the two Republics. The outcome was a final demand for the right of representation of the Uitlander interests in the legislative bodies of the Transvaal, amounting to one-fifth of the total aggregate of members, the voting qualifications to consist in the usual reasonable conditions and a residence in the State of five years, operating retrospectively.
We may here consider whether such a demand contained any real feature of unfairness to warrant refusal.
Three-fifths of the entire white Transvaal population were Uitlanders, the majority of them English. They own four-fifths of the total wealth invested in the State. About half of them have been domiciled, with house and other fixed property, for periods of from five to ten years and more.
The preponderance is not only in numbers and wealth, but also in intelligence and in contributing at least four-fifths of the total State revenues.
Is it right or prudent to exclude such interests and such a majority from legislative representation?
Could a minority of one-fifth, that is to say, twelve Uitlander members against forty-eight Boer members, be said to constitute a menace to the status or to the conservative interests of State?
Do Uitlanders not deserve equal recognition with the burghers in respect to intrinsic interest in the land, seeing that the former supplied all the skill and the capital to explore and exploit the mine wealth, all at their risk, and without which it would all have remained hidden and the country continued fallow and poor?
Though one-fifth would be so small a minority, it would at least have afforded the constitutional method of declaring the wishes of Uitlanders, and have done away with the disquieting and less effective practices of Press agitations, public demonstrations, and petitions. The measure could also have been expected to open up the way towards reconciling relations between the English and Boer races, beginning in the Transvaal, where it was hoped that the burghers would be gained over as friends, and so to stand aloof from the Afrikaner Bond. These were the supreme objects for peaceful progress and not for annexation. Solemn assurances from highest quarters were repeatedly given that no designs existed against the integrity of the Republic, that nothing unfriendly lurked behind the franchise demand, but that necessity dictated it for general good and the preservation of peace. Nor were other diplomatic means left unemployed to ensure the acceptance of the franchise reform. In addition to firmness of attitude and a display of actual force, most of the other Powers, including the United States of America, were induced to add their weight of persuasion in urging upon the Transvaal the adoption of the measures demanded by England for correcting the existing trouble. It may be urged that the display of force in sending the first batches of troops would have afforded grounds for exasperation, and be construed by the Transvaal as a menace and actual hostility, tending to precipitate a conflict which it was so earnestly intended to avoid. To this may be replied that the 20,000 men sent in August were readily viewed as placing the hitherto undermanned Colonial garrisons upon an appropriate peace effective only; but not so with respect to the army corps of 50,000 men despatched in September—this was felt as an intended restraint against "Bond" projects, to enforce the observance of any agreement which the Transvaal might for the nonce assent to, and above all it was tending, unless at once opposed by the Bond, to weaken its ranks by producing hesitation and ultimate defection from that body; the die was thus to be cast, duplicity appeared to be played out—the ultimatum of 9th October was the outcome; and England, though unprepared, could not possibly accept it otherwise than as a wilful challenge to war.
As the pursuit of our study will show, the success of Mr. Chamberlain's diplomacy to avert war depended upon the very slender prospects that the Transvaal Government might have been induced to waver, and finally to break with the Afrikaner Bond—a forlorn hope indeed, considering the perfection which that formidable organization had reached. Its cherished objects were not meant to be abandoned. The advice of "Bond" leaders prevailed. War was declared and the Rubicon crossed in enthusiastic expectations of soon realizing the long-deferred Bond motto: "The expulsion of the hateful English."
It is true the Transvaal had made a show of acquiescence to British and foreign pressure. This first took the shape of an offer of a seven years' franchise, and then one of five years, exceeding even Mr. Milner's demands as to the number of Uitlander representation. That of seven years was so fenced in with nugatory trammels and conditions that it had for those reasons to be rejected; whilst that at five years was coupled with the equally unacceptable conditions that the claim of suzerainty should be renounced, and that in all other respects the Transvaal should be recognised as absolutely independent in terms of the Sand River Convention of 1852.
Those offers could hardly have been made in sincerity, but rather as a temporary device and to meet the susceptibilities of the advising Powers, for all the time preparations for war were never relaxed for a moment, but were pushed on with extreme vigour. On the other hand, the British programme seeking to ensure peace by the franchise expedient had been strictly followed without deviation. When the Transvaal Government professed irritation over the disposition of some British troops too near the Transvaal border, they were promptly removed to more remote and less strategic positions, rather than incur the risk of rupture. During the month preceding the outbreak of the war, some large continental consignments of war munitions were, as usual, permitted to reach the Republics unhindered through several Colonial ports, portions being actually smuggled over the Colonial railways as merchandise addressed to a well-known Pretoria firm, but on arrival were secretly delivered, under cover of night, at the various forts and arsenals. These proceedings were carried out with the connivance of the Colonial Bond authorities, and though known to the British Governor, it was all winked at rather than hazard the momentous objects of peace by the introduction of another knotty subject. To sum up the situation, it was a diplomatic contest on the part of Great Britain aiming at peace and to safeguard her possessions and prestige, while the Afrikaner Bond, on the other part, continued active in the work of sedition and preparing for a war of usurpation. Every one must admit that the demand of the British Ministry for an immediate and adequate representation proceeded from the necessity and the desire to overcome the South African crisis in a just and pacific way. The measure was counted upon to effect conciliation between the Uitlander and burgher elements, and as a further result was earnestly hoped to bring about the secession of the Transvaal from the Afrikaner Bond, and so reduce that dangerous confederacy to a somewhat negligible impotence. To discover other objects of a sinister sort lurking behind needs a more than inventive genius. A united Afrikaner Bond, persistent to carry out its fell project, definitely meant war sooner or later. Its first step in launching out to it was that notorious ultimatum, which was tantamount to snatching back the feigned offers of the seven and five years' franchise. According to original programme, the very next step to accomplish the coup d'etat was the immediate seizure of all Colonial ports, and to complete a general and irrevocable Boer rising all over the Colonies.
All the while the old device had been put into practice of hiding Bond guilt by accusing England of designs against the integrity of the Boer Republics. But directly after, in the exultation of victorious invasions, the mask was shamelessly dropped, and Boerdom stands out defiantly and nakedly self-confessed, aiming at conquest and supremacy over all South Africa. Will the ensuing century have in store an instance to match that record plot of artifice and dissimulation, and see half the world duped into partisanship with it—by journalistic craft?
It may well be imagined that Mr. Chamberlain and his noble colleagues had anything but beds of roses whilst pursuing the diplomacy adopted to checkmate the Bond. They had to gain national support without divulging their own proceeding, and were at the same time reduced to a situation which imposed a spartan fortitude in concealing and repressing involuntary perturbation in the presence of an impending national crisis, and also the stoical endurance of bitter recriminations on the part of an opposition comprising a large and honourable but poorly informed section of the English nation.
We come now to the topic of language, which will be found relevant, showing Hollander and Bond influence in using that also as a hostile weapon. What the Boers still speak is a vernacular or dialect so far removed from High Dutch as to be unintelligible to the uninitiated Hollander. It took its form from the dialects brought to the Cape of Good Hope by unlettered Dutch colonists and a large admixture of locally produced idioms, with a slight trace of the structure of the French language in expressing negations. In the two Republics High Dutch rules for official purposes, but in common intercourse the vernacular Dutch is still about the same as it had been a hundred years ago. For an English-Dutch interpreter the thorough knowledge of the vernacular is essential. Preachers and teachers have to adapt their speech by combining High Dutch with the dialect, the one or the other predominating according to the capacity of the hearers. Hollanders follow the same method when learning the vernacular Dutch.
In towns and villages, not only in the Colonies, but also in both Republics, English is almost exclusively used. The Boers, and especially the younger generation, have a much greater aptitude and penchant for learning English than for High Dutch; and generally it has been held more important by the parents that their children should become proficient in English, that language being more easily acquired and of vastly greater use than Dutch. The latter, it was truly averred, would be learnt as they grew up quite sufficiently for all purposes.
The feeling thus existed some twenty years ago that English would become general, and ultimately oust both Dutch and the vernacular. Numerous Boer patriots then devised the remedy of preserving the vernacular by raising it to the standard of a written and printed language for official as well as common use. The Rev. du Toit, later appointed Minister (or Superintendent) of Education in the Transvaal, worked tenaciously towards making that movement a national success. He had the co-operation of many other educated patriots likewise. The Paarl Patriot, a journal published in the vernacular, is one of the surviving efforts. Vocabularies, school books, etc., etc., were printed in that dialect, and the translation of the Bible had also been brought to an advanced stage, when the project had to be abandoned, principally through Hollander influence, aided by some of the Republican leaders and Bond men. Dr. Mansfeld, the present Superintendent of Education in the Transvaal, was subsequently appointed—a very able Hollander, but also a very strong advocate in the general Hollander Bond movement for proscribing the use of the English language, and making High Dutch the compulsory medium of instruction. Since then, and during the past ten years, considerable progress has been made by the average Boer children, and even the grown-up people, in approaching a better knowledge of High Dutch. Before 1880 hardly any Boer cared to read a newspaper except, perhaps, the Paarl Patriot, the vernacular journal referred to. High Dutch and English papers were equally beyond his ready knowledge, but since then the interest in politics gave an impulse to a reading tendency, and at this moment the majority of the Boers manage to read and understand fairly well what is presented in simply written High Dutch by the local Press. They also are fond of simply written books of travels, and especially of narratives of a religious trend. With the Bible they are most familiar from childhood, but literature in High Dutch is beyond them as yet. Greater pains have of late years been taken to qualify Boer sons for the administrative service of the Republics, where imperfect knowledge of High Dutch is an obvious bar to advancement, and Hollanders would otherwise continue to monopolize the better positions.
Taking the fairly educated Free State and Transvaal youth, the average proficiency in English compared to that in High Dutch is as two to one, whilst many possess even a literary mastery in English whilst quite poor in the other language.
In the Cape Colony the above comparison among the Boer section is still more in favour of English.
It may be judged what an important role the educated Hollander group can take in those Republics, and are yet aiming at in the Colonies.
It is also worthy of reflection why and how the Dutch language has been raised to equality with English in the Cape Colony, seeing English was more generally understood by the Boers there than High Dutch, and none of the Boer legislators or members of Parliament even now know more than the Dutch vernacular, the High Dutch language having actually yet to be learnt by the Boer population—an important step thus gained by Afrikanerdom under the indulgent aegis of self-government, the thin end of another wedge to nurse sedition and treason introduced by that odious Bond under pretence and veil of Boer patriotism and loyalty.
As one of the world's languages, Dutch figures under a very sorry role indeed. It had been ignored everywhere outside of Holland and her distant Colonies. The consequence to Hollanders is that they are of necessity subjected to the ordeal of learning several other continental languages for commercial intercourse, and in order to keep at all abreast with the progress of science, literature, and culture. Dutch is in the moribund stage; its salvation from imminent extinction consists in the expansion of its sphere. Boer successes in South Africa would just accomplish that.
THE DUTCH COTERIE: ITS SEAT IN HOLLAND
As has been shown, the conditions of the two Boer Republics, with High Dutch as the official language, lent themselves to favour the immigration into those States of educated Dutchmen (Hollanders, as they are styled, to distinguish them from the old-established Boer Dutchmen). These were indeed indispensable, as none of the Boers possessed the competence in High Dutch requisite for the conduct of the more important portion of the clerical work in the administration. The professional branches were recruited from Holland likewise, in natural sequence. They were men of high attainments and possessed of energy and astuteness and of various qualifications—doctors, lawyers, editors, clergymen, teachers. Those who did not receive Government appointments quickly found lucrative positions in their vocations. The scope increased as time went by and as those States developed with the growth of the populations and the establishment of numerous towns and villages, especially after the discovery of the diamond-fields in 1870. Every year brought fresh contingents from Holland, including also the commercial class, artisans, and even servants of both sexes, and agriculturists. Preserving a constant intercourse with their native country, those Hollanders also maintained cohesion and clanship among themselves in their newly-adopted homes. Nor did Holland fail to realize the great advantages accruing to that country and its people from the new South African outlets—regular preserves with almost unlimited scope for further extension and for increasing permanent, profitable connections. A formidable barrier presented itself in the gradually ascendant tendencies of the English language and English trade, with corresponding neglect of the Dutch factors. Regretful forebodings aroused energetic efforts to check rival interests. The prize was too valuable, and increasing each year in importance. A dyke needed to be erected to stem the English encroachments and to preserve and consolidate the Hollander position of vantage. The ablest men in Holland and South Africa exercised themselves with that task with an ardour impelled by jealous hatred against the English and intensified by successive revelations of more startling discoveries of gold and other mineral wealth in the Transvaal. It was then, about thirty years ago, that a well-informed, influential and unscrupulous coterie in Holland devised the fell projects which developed into that potential association since known as the Afrikaner Bond.
The building of the Transvaal railway lines brought other large accessions of educated Hollanders, and as they were completed some thousands more were added to serve as permanent staff. Dutch influence was thus attaining strength to assert and consolidate its interests with an expanding impulse. The monopolized railway company promoted immigration from Holland by largely increasing the salaries to such of the staff who were married. The Transvaal Government, under the advice of their educational chief, Dr. Mansfeld, provided similar premiums to secure married teachers from Holland and by raising the salaries of married Hollander officials already placed. The Hollander population attracted to the Transvaal since 1850, and which did not number above 500 in 1870, had increased by 1898 to fully 12,000, representing, as ranged with the Boers, by far the largest factor of educated intelligence, attached to and dependent upon the Government and its staunch allies. The men received full burghership as a rule soon after arrival, exempt from the formalities and probation prescribed by law.
Holland being the locality of the inception, I may say the ingestion, of the Afrikaner Bond, one's thoughts are apt to retrace, by way of contrast, that little nation's creditable past. The view presents those dykes, monuments of labour's heroism; then that glorious resistance against the mighty persecutor of religion, those unsurpassed performances in the arena of culture, arts, and sciences, and that long epoch of success in exploits of colonization, finance, and commerce.
"But view them closer, craft and fraud appear; Even liberty itself is bartered here."—Goldsmith.
One notes the placid landscapes intersected by those still but deep-flowing rivers and canals, scenes so conducive to mental exercise—the Dutch patriot mourning over the transition of former national prestige to present condition of decadence presaging complete national submersion, but at the same time courageously employing his fertile brain in devising far-reaching projects of remedy over distant perspectives so as to stem that tide of decadence and declension and to erect a firm barrier against that menace—to gain (by inspiration from the titular genius of commerce and craft so conspicuous in that famed art representation exhibited in his Bourse) a dazzling prize for his nation by one fell swoop and, so to say, with folded arms, just by pitting against the English his almost forgotten and long-neglected clan, the Boer nation, inciting them to usurp Great Britain in South Africa, Holland sharing the spoils. See here the master mind exulting in the conception, gestation, and birth of the Afrikaner Bond conspiracy; note the Hollander patriot's glitter of satisfaction at the vista of realizing the restoration of Holland to a position excelling its former glory, of a moribund language revived to significance, and of witnessing besides a sweet vendetta operated upon England, the old enemy and despoiler of his nation, to compass the humiliation and disintegration of the British Empire. Patience, dear reader; preserve judicial composure. Evidence is following on the heels of the charge.
[Footnote 5: This is of course not directed against the nation as a whole. See also notice, page vi.]
[Footnote 6: Oil painting in the Amsterdam Exchange building representing Mercurius.]
AFRIKANER BOND—OUTLINES AND PROGRAMME
The late Mr. Jan Brand, that noble President who was succeeded by Reitz and now by Steyn in the presidency of the Orange Free State, appeared to have had early intimations, or at least presages, as to the true nature of the Afrikaner Bond, for during the early eighties that association had yet posed as a harmless body, intended to preserve old Boer traditions upon perfectly constitutional lines. President Brand and some others then already suspected more, as the following incident will show. In 1883 President Brand officially opened the new wagon-road bridge over the Caledon River at Commissie drift, near Smithfield, Orange Free State. Towards the conclusion of the ceremony, one of the other speakers, Mr. Advocate Peeters, member of the Volksraad for Smithfield district, in the course of his speech formally suggested that President Brand should accept the leadership of the Orange Free State section of the Afrikaner Bond. The President, addressing the burghers and all present, replied in about the following terms: The proposal just then made by Advocate Peeters had pained and offended him; the festive event would be marred by that incident were it not that it afforded him the opportunity, which he otherwise would have missed, of telling them all what he thought of the Afrikaner Bond—that it was an evil thing; he could not find terms strong enough to warn the people against its subtle seductions. The Afrikaner Bond professed its objects to be peace and harmony, but it really contained the pernicious seeds of division and strife, to set up enmity between English Afrikaners and Boer Afrikaners. He pointed out the sincerity of friendly relations on the part of England towards both the Orange Free State and the Transvaal Republics. The peace which restored to the Transvaal its independence a few years before was one big proof; his Government had many proofs of England's good will, too. It suited both parties to maintain harmony—it behoved every Afrikaner to be one-minded in friendly reciprocation. Through a gracious Providence both Republics were prosperous and enjoyed independence. All over the world the prosperity of States depended upon good relations with their neighbours—this was especially so as regards the Orange Free State. They knew what kind of bond the Bible enjoined. It was the bond of peace and concord; and he concluded by declaring his well-grounded fears that the Afrikaner Bond was a device of the devil directed against the well-being of the entire Afrikaner nation. Instead of being encouraged, it should, like the "Boete Bosch" (Xanthium spinosum, burr weed), be extirpated from the soil of South Africa.
MEMORANDA OF BOND PROGRAMME, EMANATING FROM HOLLAND (TRANSLATION FROM GLEANINGS).
The Afrikaner Bond has as final object what is summed up in its motto of "Afrika voor de Afrikaners." The whole of South Africa belongs by just right to the Afrikaner nation. It is the privilege and duty of every Afrikaner to contribute all in his power towards the expulsion of the English usurper. The States of South Africa to be federated in one independent Republic.
The Afrikaner Bond prepares for this consummation.
Argument in justification:—
(a) The transfer of the Cape Colony to the British Government took place by circumstances of force majeure and without the consent of the Dutch nation, who renounce all claim in favour of the Afrikaner or Boer nation.
(b) Natal is territory which accrued to a contingent of the Boer nation by purchase from the Zulu King, who received the consideration agreed for.
(c) The British authorities expelled the rightful owners from Natal by force of arms without just cause.
The task of the Afrikaner Bond consists in:—
(a) Procuring the staunch adhesion and co-operation of every Afrikaner and other real friend of the cause.
(b) To obtain the sympathy, the moral and effective aid of one or more of the world's Powers.
The means to accomplish those tasks are:—
Personal persuasion, Press propaganda, legislation and diplomacy.
The direction of the application of those means is entrusted to a select body of members eligible for their loyalty to the cause and their abilities and position. That body will conduct such measures as need the observance of special secrecy. Upon the rest of the members will devolve activities of a general character under the direction of the selected chiefs.
One of the indispensable requisites is the proper organization of an effective fund, which is to be regularly sustained. Bond members will aid each other in all relations of public life in preference to non-members.
In the efforts of gaining adherents to the cause it is of importance to distinguish three categories of persons—
(1) The class of Afrikaners who are to some extent deteriorated by assimilative influences with the English race, whose restoration to patriotism will need great efforts, discretion, and patience.
(2)The apparently unthinking and apathetic class, who prefer to relegate all initiative to leaders whom they will loyally follow. This class is the most numerous by far.
(3) The warmly patriotic class, including men gifted with intelligence, energy, and speech, qualified as leaders and apt to exercise influence over the rest.
Among those three classes many exist whose views and religious scruples need to be corrected. Scripture abounds in proofs and salient analogies applying to the situation and justifying our cause. In this, as well as in other directions, the members who work in circulating written propaganda will supply the correct and conclusive arguments accessible to all.
Upon the basis of our just rights, the British Government, if not the entire nation, is the usurping enemy of the Boer nation.
In dealing with an enemy it is justifiable to employ, besides force, also means of a less open character, such as diplomacy and stratagem.
The greatest danger to Afrikanerdom is the English policy of Anglicizing the Boer nation—to submerge it by the process of assimilation.
A distinct attitude of holding aloof from English influences is the only remedy against that peril and for thwarting that insidious policy.
It is only such an attitude that will preserve the nation in its simple faith and habits of morality, and provide safety against the dangers of contamination and pernicious examples, with all their fateful consequences to body and soul.
Let the Dutch language have the place of honour in schools and homes.
Let alliances of marriage with the English be stamped as unpatriotic.
Let every Afrikaner see that he is at all times well armed with the best possible weapons, and maintains the expert use of the rifle among young and old, so as to be ready when duty calls and the time is ripe for asserting the nation's rights and be rid of English thraldom.
Employ teachers only who are animated with truly patriotic sentiments.
Let it be well understood that English domination will also bring religious intolerance and servitude, for it is only a very frail link which separates the English State Church from actual Romanism, and its proselytism en bloc is only a matter of short time.
Equally repugnant and dangerous is England's policy towards the coloured races, whom she aims, for the sake of industrial profit, at elevating to equal rank with whites, in direct conflict with scriptural authority—a policy which incites coloured people to rivalry with their superiors, and can only end in common disaster.
Whilst remaining absolutely independent, the ties of blood relationship and language point to Holland for a domestic base.
As to commerce, Germany, America, and other industrial nations could more than fill the gap left by England, and such connections should be cultivated as a potent means towards obtaining foreign support to our cause and identification with it.
If the mineral wealth of the Transvaal and Orange Free State becomes established—as appears certain from discoveries already made—England will not rest until those are also hers.
The leopard will retain its spots. The independence of both Republics is at stake on that account alone, with the risk that the rightful owners of the land will become the hewers of wood and drawers of water for the usurpers.
There is no alternative hope for the peace and progress of South Africa except by the total excision of the British ulcer.
Reliable signs are not wanting to show that our nation is designed by Providence as the instrument for the recovery of its rights, and for the chastisement of proud, perfidious Albion.
[Footnote 7: Literally "bush of fines" (fines imposed on landowners where the burr weed was not eradicated).]
[Footnote 8: Africa for the African citizen or African-born whites.]
[Footnote 9: It is notorious that from about 1890 such marriages were denounced from the Boer pulpits and on the occasions of the Independence day anniversaries (16th December).]
PACIFIC POLICY OF GREAT BRITAIN
During the period of, say, twenty-five years after the inception of the Afrikaner Bond, and while its organization and development were secretly kept at full pace with occurring events, the British Government consistently and openly pursued the policy of bringing about the unification of South Africa. Mr. Froude, a speaker of rare gifts, was sent to lecture upon the topic: this was in about 1873. The Colonial Governor, Sir Bartle Frere, strenuously advocated that union. The lines suggested were a general federation under one protective flag, self-government in the Colonies, and the continuance of uncurtailed autonomic independence in the two Republics. The benefits which such a coalition promised to all concerned in South Africa are obvious. It would guarantee harmony between the two white races without involving the least sacrifice of liberty with any party—it simply meant coincident peace, prosperity and security, and would relieve England of a considerable burden of anxiety. The scheme promised to find all-round acceptance, but, unaccountably, except to Bond men, its greatest opponents were the Cape Colonial Boers. It was, however, confidently hoped that, with patience, opposition and indifference would be overcome, and in view of this no opportunity was lost to prove England's loyal sincerity by genial treatment, by conciliating the various interests, and gratifying the wishes of the Boer communities, and so to ensure the desideratum of complete rapprochement between the white races.
Conferences were convened with the objects of coming to agreements for the establishment of a general South African Customs Union, and for adjusting railway tariffs upon fair bases and a more reliable permanency of rates suggesting reciprocal terms advantageous to the Republics. These efforts also proved fruitless through similar opposition.
The Afrikaner Bond party, as the reader will understand, had ranged itself against all such attempts, whilst successfully masking its own object all the time.
Other differences, which, with a friendly and united spirit, were capable of easy adjustment, were welcomed by that party as grist to its mill in order to widen the gulf and to increase the tension.
Besides the chagrin over the failure of its peace policy, the British Cabinet had finally to admit itself confronted with a very real and ominous national peril, face to face with the South African Medusa, Afrikanerdom, defying Great Britain in preconcerted aggression and revolt. That apparition was all the more startlingly disquieting because of the suddenness with which the magnitude of the menace and its wide perspectives had begun to expand into clearer view. It was interesting to note how the English ministry responded to the call upon its fortitude; the terrifying apparition did not seem to petrify that body of men, despite the galling handicapping consequences through the opposition of part of the nation, which was indeed tantamount to encouraging South African rebels and usurpers.