The Great Sister Republic
across the water has met these difficulties by instituting a probationary residence of two years, after which, by taking a solemn oath renouncing all allegiance to any foreign sovereign or land, more especially to the ruler of England and the English nation, and declaring their wish to live and die a citizen of the United States, they are enfranchised, and become citizens of the American Republic. In this, as in many other cases, it would appear that the great Republic has struck on a wise and practical solution to a complex problem; and in this matter, as in many others, we, personally, should like to see the action of the great sister Republic followed. But thoughtful minds may suggest, on the other hand, that, while in America, at least in the present day, the newly enfranchised burgher receives but one-sixteenth millionth of the State power and of governmental control on his enfranchisement, while in a small State like the Transvaal each new burgher receives over eight hundred times that power in the government and control of the country, and that this makes a serious difference in the importance of making sure of the loyalty and sincerity of your citizen before you enfranchise him. We see this, and there is something to be said for it. It has been held by many sincerely desirous of arriving at a just and balanced conclusion that, in a Republic situated as the Transvaal is, a longer residence and the votes of a certain proportion of the already enfranchised citizens are necessary before the vast rights conferred by citizenship in a small purely democratic State are granted. The terms for the enfranchisement for foreigners in England yield us no instructive analogy; for, in a country with an hereditary sovereign and an hereditary Upper House the enfranchised foreigner receives only a minute fraction of the power conferred on the elector in a pure democracy; the little Russian Jew who has a vote given him in London can never become the supreme head of the State, can never sit in or vote for members of the Upper House, and receives only the minute, fractional power of voting for members of the Lower. It is
In a Pure Democracy
where the people are the sovereign and represent in themselves the hereditary ruler, the hereditary Upper House, and the Lower House combined, that the personnel of each accredited citizen becomes all-important. The greater the stability and immobility at one end of a State, the greater the mobility and instability which may be allowed at the other end without endangering the stability of the State as a whole, or the healthy performance of its functions. Even on this comparatively small question of the franchise it is evident that the problem before the little Transvaal Republic is one of much complexity, and on which minds broadly liberal and sincerely desirous of attaining to the wisest, and most humane, and most enlightened judgment may sincerely differ.
Of those other and far more serious problems which the Republic faces in common with South Africa there is no necessity here to speak further; the thoughtful mind may follow them out for itself. Time and experiment must be allowed for the balance of things to adjust themselves.
South Africa has need of more citizens leal and true. Whoever enters South Africa and desires to become one of us, to drink from our cup and sup from our platter, to mix his seed with ours and build up the South Africa of the future — him let us receive with open arms. From great mixtures of races spring great peoples. That scorned and oppressed Russian Jew, landing here to-day, vivified by our fresh South African breezes, may yet be the progenitor of the Spinoza and Maimonides of the great future South Africa, who shall lead the world in philosophy and thought. The pale German cobbler who with his wife and children lands to-day, so he stays with us and becomes one with us, may yet be the father of the greater Hans Sachs of Africa; and the half-starved Irish peasant become the forerunner of our future Burkes and William Porters. The rough Cornish miner, who is looking out with surprised eyes at our new South African world to-day, may yet give to us our greatest statesman and noblest leader.
The great African nation of the future will have its foundation laid on stones from many lands. Even to the Coolie and the Chinaman, so he comes among us, we personally should say, Stretch forth the hand of brotherhood; we may not desire him, we may not intentionally bring him among us, but, so he comes to remain with us, let South Africa be home to him.
"Be not unmindful to entertain strangers, for some have thereby entertained angels unawares."
* * * *
We, English South Africans of to-day, who are truly South African, loving
The Land of Our Birth,
and men inhabiting it, yet bound by intense and loving ties, not only of intellectual affinity, but of personal passion, to the homeland from which our parents came, and where the richest formative years of our life were passed, we stand to-day midway between these two great sections of South African folk, the old who have been here long and the new who have only come; between the homeland of our fathers and the love-land of our birth, and it would seem as though, through no advantage of wisdom or intellectual knowledge on our part, but simply as the result of the accident of our position and of our double affections, that we are fitted to fulfil a certain function at the present day, to stand, as it were, as mediators and interpreters between those our position compels us to sympathise with and to understand them, as they may not, perhaps, be able to understand each other.
Especially at the present moment has arrived a time when it is essential that, however small we may feel is our inherent fitness for the task, we should not shrink, nor remain silent and inactive, but exert by word and action that peculiar function which our position invests us with.
If it be asked, why at this especial moment we feel it incumbent on us not to maintain silence, and what that is which compels our action and speech, the answer may be given in one word — WAR!
The air of South Africa is
Heavy with Rumours;
inconceivable, improbable, we refuse to believe them; yet again and again they return.
There are some things the mind refuses seriously to entertain, as the man who has long loved and revered his mother would refuse to accept the assertion of the first passer-by that there was any possibility of her raising up her hand to strike his wife or destroy his child. But much repetition may at last awaken doubt, and the man may begin to look out anxiously for further evidence.
* * * *
We English South Africans are stunned; we are amazed; we say there can be no truth in it. Yet we begin to ask ourselves, "What means this unwonted tread of armed and hired soldiers on South African soil? Why are they here? "And the only answer that comes back to us, however remote and seemingly impossible, is — WAR!
To-night we laugh at it, and to-morrow when we rise up it stands before us again, the ghastly doubt — war —! war, and in South Africa! War — between white men and white! War! — Why? — Whence is the cause? — For whom? — For what? — And the question gains no answer.
We fall to considering, who gains by war?
Has our race in Africa and our race in England interests so diverse that any calamity so cataclysmic can fall upon us as war! Is any position possible that could make necessary that mother and daughter must rise up in one horrible embrace, and rend, if it be possible, each other's vitals? . . . Believing it impossible we fall to considering who is it gains by war?
There is peace to-day in the land; the two great white races, day by day, hour by hour, are blending their blood, and both are mixing with the stranger. No day passes but from the veins of some Dutch South African woman the English South African man's child is being fed; not a week passes but the birth cry of the English South African woman's child gives voice to the Dutchman's offspring; not an hour passes but on farm and in town and village Dutch hearts are winding about English,
And English about Dutch.
If the Angel of Death should spread his wings across the land and strike dead in one night every man and woman and child of either the Dutch or the English blood, leaving the other alive, the land would be a land of mourning. There would be not one household nor the heart of an African born man or woman that would not be weary with grief. We should weep the friends of our childhood, the companions of our early life, our grand-children, our kindred, the souls who have loved us and whom we have loved. In destroying the one race he would have isolated the other. Time, the great healer of all differences, is blending us into a great mutual people, and love is moving faster than time. It is no growing hatred between Dutch and English South African born men and women that calls for war. On the lips of our babes we salute both races daily.
Then we look round through the political world, and we ask ourselves what great and terrible and sudden crime has been committed, what reckless slaughter and torture of the innocents that blood can alone wash out blood? And we find the blood.
And still we look, asking what great and terrible difference has suddenly arisen, so mighty that the human intellect cannot solve it by means of peace, that the highest and noblest diplomacy falls powerless before it, and the wisdom and justice of humanity cannot reach it, save by the mother's drawing a sword and planting it in the heart of the daughter.
We can find none. And again, we ask ourselves,
Who Gains by War?
What is it for? Who is there that desires it? Do men shed streams of human blood as children cut off poppy heads to see the white juice flow?
Not England! She has a great young nation's heart to lose. She has a cable of fellowship which stretches across the seas to rupture. She has treaties to violate. She has the great traditions of her past to part with. Whoever plays to win, she loses.
Not Africa! The great young nation, quickening to-day to its first consciousness of life, to be torn and rent, and bear upon its limbs into its fully ripened manhood the marks of the wounds — wounds from a mother's hands?
Not the great woman whose eighty years tonight, [Written on the 24th May, 1899] who would carry with her to her grave the remembrance of the longest reign and the purest; who would have that when the nations gather round her bier the whisper should go round, "That was a mother's hand; it struck no child."
Not the brave English soldier; there are no laurels for him here. The dying lad with hands fresh from the plough; the old man tottering to the grave, who seizes up the gun to die with it; the simple farmer who as he falls hears yet his wife's last whisper, “For freedom and our land!” and dies hearing it — these men can bind no laurels on a soldier's brow! They may be shot, not conquered — fame rests with men. Go, gallant soldiers, and defend the shores of that small island that we love; there are no laurels for you here!
Who Gains by War?
Not we the Africans, whose hearts are knit to England. We love all. Each hired soldier's bullet that strikes down a South African does more; it finds a billet here in our hearts. It takes one African's life — in another it kills that which will never live again.
Who Gains by War?
There are some who think they gain! In the background we catch sight of misty figures; we know the old tread; we hear the rustle of paper passing from hand to hand, and we know the fall of gold; it is an old familiar sound in Africa; we know it now! There are some who think they gain! Will they gain?
* * * *
But it may be said, “What matter who goads England on, or in whose cause she undertakes war against Africans; this at least is certain that she can win. We have the ships, we have the men, we have the money."
We answer, “Yes, might generally conquers — for a time at least." The greatest empire upon earth, on which the sun never sets, with its five hundred million subjects may rise up in its full majesty of power and glory, and crush those thirty thousand farmers. It may not be a victory, but at least it will be a slaughter. We ought to win. We have the ships, we have the men, and we have the money. May there not be something else we need? The Swiss had it when they fought with Austria; the three hundred had it at Thermopylae though not a man was saved; it goes to make a victory. Is it worth fighting if we have not got it?
I suppose there is no man who to-day loves his country who has not perceived that in the life of the nation, as in the life of the individual, the hour of external success may be the hour of irrevocable failure, and that the hour of death, whether to nations or individuals, is often the hour of immortality. When William the Silent, with his little band of Dutchmen, rose up to face the whole empire of Spain, I think there is no man who does not recognise that the hour of their greatest victory was not when they had conquered Spain, and hurled backward the greatest empire of the world to meet its slow, imperial death; it was the hour when that little band stood alone with the waters over their homes,
Facing Death and Despair,
and stood facing it. It is that hour that has made Holland immortal, and her history the property of all human hearts.
It may be said, “But what has England to fear in a campaign with a country like Africa? Can she not send out a hundred thousand or a hundred and fifty thousand men and walk over the land? She can sweep it by mere numbers." We answer yes — she might do it. Might generally conquers; not always. I have seen a little meerkat attacked by a mastiff, the first joint of whose leg it did not reach. I have seen it taken in the dog's mouth, so that hardly any part of it was visible, and thought the creature was dead. But it fastened its tiny teeth inside the dog's throat, and the mastiff dropped it, and mauled and wounded and covered with gore and saliva, I saw it creep back to its hole in the red African earth. But might generally conquers, and there is no doubt that England might send out sixty or a hundred thousand hired soldiers to South Africa, and they could bombard our towns and destroy our villages; they could shoot down men in the prime of life, and old men and boys, till there was hardly a kopje in the country without its stain of blood, and the Karoo bushes grew up greener on the spot where men from the midlands who had come to help their fellows fell, never to go home. I suppose it would be quite possible for the soldiers to shoot all male South Africans who appeared in arms against them. It might not be easy, a great many might fall, but a great Empire could always import more to take their places; we could not import more, because it would be our husbands and sons and fathers who were falling, and when they were done we could not produce more. Then the war would be over. There would not be a house in Africa — where African-born men and women lived — without its mourners, from Sea Point to the Limpopo; but South Africa would be pacified — as Cromwell pacified Ireland three centuries ago, and she has been being pacified ever since! As Virginia was pacified in 1677: its handful of men and women in defence of their freedom were soon silenced by hired soldiers. “I care that for the power of England," said “a notorious and wicked rebel " called Sarah Drummond, as she took a small stick and broke it and lay it on the ground. A few months later her husband and all the men with him were made prisoners, and the war was over. “I am glad to see you," said Berkely, the English Governor, “I have long wished to meet you; you will be hanged in half an hour!” and he was hanged and twenty-one others with him, and Virginia was pacified. But a few generations later in that State of Virginia was born George Washington, and on the 19th of April, 1775, was fought the battle of Lexington — “Where once the embattled farmers stood, and fired a shot, heard round the world," — and the greatest crime and the greatest folly of England's career was completed. England acknowledges it now. A hundred or a hundred and fifty thousand imported soldiers might walk over South Africa: it would not be an easy walk, but it could be done. Then from east and west and north and south would come men of pure English blood to stand beside the boys they had played with at school and the friends they had loved; and a great despairing cry would rise from the heart of Africa. But we are still few. When the war was over the imported soldiers might leave the land — not all. Some must be left to keep the remaining people down. There would be quiet in the land. South Africa would rise up silently, and count her dead, and bury them. She would know the places where she found them. South Africa would be peaceful. There would be silence, the silence of a long exhaustion— but not peace! Have the dead no voices? In a thousand farmhouses black-robed women would hold memory of the count, and outside under African stones would lie the African men to whom South African women gave birth under our blue sky. There would be a silence, but no peace.
You say that all the fighting men in arms might have been shot. Yes, but what of the women? If there were left but five thousand pregnant South African born women, and all the rest of their people destroyed, those women would breed up again a race like to the first.
Oh, Lion Heart of the North,
do you not recognise your own lineage in these whelps of the South, who cannot live if they are not free?
The grandchildren and great-grandchildren of the men who lay under the stones (who will not be English then nor Dutch, but only Africans), will say as they pass those heaps, “There lie our fathers, or great-grandfathers, who died in the first great war of independence," and the descendants of the men who lay there will be the aristocracy of Africa. Men will count back to them and say: My father or my great-grandfather lay in one of those graves. We shall know no more of Dutch or English then; we shall know only the great African people. And we? We, the South Africans of to-day, who are still English, who have been proud to do the smallest good so that it might bring honour to England, who have vowed our vows on the honour of Englishmen, and by the faith of Englishmen, What of us?
What of us? We, too, have had our vision of Empire. We have seen as in a dream the Empire of England as a great banyan tree; silently with the falling of the dew and the dropping of the rain it has extended itself; its branches have drooped down and rooted themselves in the earth; in it all the fowl of heaven have taken refuge, and under its shade all the beast of the field have lain down to rest. Can we change it for an upas tree, whose leaves distil poison and which spells death to those who have lain down in peace under its shadow?
You have no right to take our dream from us; you have no right to kill our faith! Of all the sins England will sin if she makes war on South Africa, the greatest will be towards us.
Of what importance is honour and faith we have given her? You say, we are but few! Yes, we are few; but all the gold of Witwatersrand would not buy one throb of that love and devotion we have given her.
Do not think that when imported soldiers walk across South African plains to take the lives of South African men and women that it is only African sand and African bushes that are cracking beneath their tread; at each step they are breaking the fibres, invisible as air but strong as steel, which bind the hearts of South Africans to England. Once broken they can never be made whole again; they are living things; broken they will be dead. Each bullet which a soldier sends to the heart of a South African to take his life wakes up another who did not know he was an African. You will not kill us with your Lee-Metfords; you will make us. There are men who do not know they love a Dutchman, but the first three hundred that fall, they will know it.
Do not say, “But you are English, you have nothing to fear; we have no war with you!” There are hundreds of us, men and women who have loved England; we would have given our lives for her; but rather than strike down one South African man fighting for freedom, we would take this right hand and hold it in the fire, till nothing was left of it but a charred and blackened bone.
I know of no more graphic image in the history of the world than
The Figure of Franklin
when he stood before the Lords of Council in England, giving evidence, striving, fighting to save America for England. Browbeaten, flouted, jeered at by the courtiers, his words hurled back at him, as lies, he stood there fighting for England. England recognises now that it was he who tried to save an empire for her, and that the men who flouted and browbeat him lost it. There is nothing more pathetic than the way in which Americans who loved England, Washington and Franklin, strove to keep the maiden vessel moored close to the mother's side, bound by the bonds of love and sympathy, that alone could bind them. Their hands were beaten down, bruised and bleeding, wounded by the very men they came to save till they let go the mother ship and drifted away on their own great imperial course across the seas of time.
England knows now what those men strove to do for her, and the names of Washington and Franklin will ever stand high in honour where the English tongue, is spoken; the names of Hutchinson, and North, and Grafton are not forgotten also; it might be well for them if they were!
Do not say to us: “You Englishmen, when the war is over, you can wrap the mantle of our imperial glory round you and walk about boasting that the victory is yours."
We could never wrap that mantle round us again. We have worn it with pride. We could never wear it then. There would be blood upon it, and the blood would be our brothers'.
We put it to the men of England. In that day where should we be found— we who have to maintain English honour in the South? Judge for us, and by your judgment we will abide. Remember, we are Englishmen!
* * * *
Looking around to-day along the somewhat over-clouded horizon of South African life, one figure strikes the eye, new to the circle of our existence here; and we eye it with something of that hope and sympathy with which a man is bound to view the new and unknown, which may be of vast possible good and beauty. What have we in this man, who represents English honour and English wisdom in South Africa? To a certain extent we know.
We have a man honourable in the relations of personal life, loyal to friend, and above all charm of gold; wise with the knowledge of books and men; a man who could not violate a promise or strike in the dark. This we know we have, and it is much to know this; but what have we more?
The man of whom South Africa has need to-day to sustain England's honour and her empire of the future is a man who must possess more than the knowledge and wisdom of the intellect.
When a woman rules the household with none but the children of her own body in it, her task is easy; let her obey nature, and she will not fail. But the woman who finds herself in a large, strange household, where children and step-children are blended, and where all have passed the stage of childhood and have entered on that stage of adolescence where coercion can no more avail, but where sympathy and comprehension are the more needed, that woman has need of large and rare qualities springing more from the heart than from the head. She who can win the love of her strange household in its adolescence will keep its loyalty and sympathy when adult years are reached, and will be rich indeed.
There have been Englishmen in Africa who had those qualities. Will
This New Englishman of Ours
evince them and save an empire for England and heal South Africa's wounds? Are we asking too much when we turn our eyes with hope to him?
Further off also, across the sea, we look with hope. The last of the race of great statesmen was not put into the ground with the old man of Hawarden; the great breed of Chatham and Burke is not extinct; the hour must surely bring forth the man.
We look further, yet with confidence, from the individual to the great heart of England, the people. The great fierce freedom-loving heart of England is not dead yet. Under a thin veneer of gold we still hear it beat. Behind the shrivelled and puny English Hyde, who cries only “gold," rises the great English Jekyll, who cries louder yet “Justice and honour.” We appeal to him; history shall not repeat itself.
Nearer home, we turn to one whom all South Africa are proud of, and we would say to Paul Kruger, “Great old man, first but not last of South Africa's great line of rulers, you have shown us you could fight for freedom; show us you can win peace. On the foot of that great statue which in the future the men and women of South Africa will raise to you let this stand written, 'This man loved freedom, and fought for it; but his heart was large; he could forget injuries and deal generously.'"
And to our fellow Dutch South Africans, whom we have learnt to love so much during the time of stress and danger, we would say: “Brothers, you have shown the world that you know how to fight, show it you know how to govern; forget the past; in that Great Book which you have taken for your guide in life, turn to Leviticus, and read there in the 1 9th chapter, 34th verse: Be strong, be fearless, be patient. We would say to you in the words of the wise dead President of the Free State which have become the symbol of South Africa, 'Wacht een bietje, alles zal recht kom.'" (Wait a little, all will come right.)
On our great African flag let us emblazon these words, never to take them down, “FREEDOM, JUSTICE, LOVE "; great are the two first, but without the last they are not complete.