Imperial Policy in South Africa.
[Sidenote: The Early Governors of Cape Colony]
Like most of England's Colonial Governors those of the Cape were, from the time of Lord Caledon's arrival in 1807, men of character, standing and ability. They might make mistakes in policy, they might occasionally be led astray by local advisers and they were always liable to censure or recall from a Colonial Office which too often judged local conditions from the standpoint of Downing Street rather than by a clear comprehension of the difference between struggling pioneer communities and a wealthy and matured home society. But their intentions were good, they were never known to be, or even charged with being corrupt, and they usually had a degree of experience in public life which was naturally useful to a new country with crude institutions. Lord Caledon improved the postal system and established Circuit Courts for the better administration of justice in outlying districts. Sir John Cradock, who came out in 1811, established schools in the country regions and tried to control the nomadic tendencies of the Dutch farmers by making them freeholders of farms ranging from 6000 to 20,000 acres in extent. Lord Charles Somerset--a brother of the Duke of Beaufort and of Lord Raglan, the well-known Crimean General of after-years--was appointed in 1814 and carried out many measures of value to the infant Colony. He founded new townships, promoted industrial development, encouraged the importation of sheep and himself brought out Merinos whom he established in sundry breeding-farms. At the same time he broached and carried out the important scheme of immigration known in its result as the Albany Settlement and as one of the chief factors in the progress of the period. His large salary of fifty thousand dollars, paid by the Local Government was, therefore, well earned and though an unpopular and arbitrary man he certainly appears to have done good service to the community.
[Sidenote: Good Service to the Community]
In 1826 Sir Lowry Cole succeeded to the position and attempted for a time the difficult and dangerous task of Anglicizing the population. Eight years afterwards General Sir Benjamin D'Urban, who had seen military service in Canada, and elsewhere, was appointed to carry out the slave emancipation policy. Then came Sir George Napier, under whose régime a splendid system of roads was created and, in 1847, General Sir Harry Smith, a most popular and able Governor. He was followed by Sir George Cathcart in 1852. All of these rulers had to deal with native or Boer wars and none of them had much time to spare for the cultivation of material progress in the generally harassed country. From 1854 to 1862, however, Sir George Grey administered the affairs of the Colony and to this remarkable man South Africa owes much, and would have owed more had he not been hampered and overruled at every turn by Imperial fears of a policy of expansion and Imperial objections to the assumption of further responsibilities.
This was the period when Little Englanders abounded in the mother country; when Tories and Radicals were agreed in opposing any added links to the chain of Empire; when the masses believed that the manufacturing industries and commerce which they saw advancing by leaps and bounds on every side were entirely independent of political boundaries and national allegiance; when the markets of the world seemed for a time to belong to England, and the markets of the Colonies were in comparison absolutely insignificant; when public men like John Bright and Richard Cobden, Cornewall Lewis and Sir William Molesworth, Lord Brougham and Lord Ellenborough, Robert Lowe and even Lord John Russell, spoke of a future in which the Colonies would be independent, and of a present which was simply preliminary to a destiny which they did not regret. The popular idol of that day was Trade, as the popular idol of the last days of the century is Empire. The swing of the pendulum has come indeed, but it has brought with it a war which the acceptance of Sir George Grey's policy at this time would have prevented.
[Sidenote: England's Unsettled Colonies]
There is, of course, much to excuse this view of the Colonies in, and about, 1850. The British-American Provinces were still in a dissatisfied and disorganized condition from the Rebellion of 1837, the racial troubles of 1848, and the fiscal difficulties which followed the repeal of the Corn Laws and Preferential duties by England. The value and resources of Australia were practically unknown. It was still the home of convicts, and had only just entered upon a period of rushing settlement and turbulent mining successes in which the problems of government were extremely complicated. South Africa had been the scene of nothing but war and trouble. All the later Governors had been recalled one after the other, and their policy frequently reversed without either conciliating the Colonists or controlling the restless masses of native population along the ever-changing frontiers. As a rule the earlier policy toward the Kaffirs had been one of half-measures. The first plan of alliances with native chiefs broke down, and in Lord Charles Somerset's time had ended in conflict. Then came the Boer wars with the Zulus in Natal and a British effort to protect the natives against the invaders' onslaughts. Sir Benjamin D'Urban's policy in 1835, after the Kaffir war of that time, was the establishment of a living frontier along the east of Cape Colony, which should be sufficiently strong to resist the pressure of the savage masses from beyond. A line of European settlers was to be established, and beyond that a body of loyal Kaffirs supported by a string of forts. Before a Committee of the House of Commons this was afterwards declared by D'Urban's successor, Sir G. Cathcart, to have been a wise and necessary policy. But, unfortunately, it involved an advance from the Fish to the Kei River, and such a thing the Colonial Office would not tolerate. The policy was reversed and the territory in question given back to the Kaffirs.
[Sidenote: England's Unsettled Colonies]
Sir George Grey (1854-61) took a different line of action and policy. Everything that he did was bold and determined. He acted first, assumed the responsibility next, and made it necessary for the Colonial Office to either approve, or else recall, a Governor who had for the first time in a quarter of a century proved a successful South African ruler. This statement is not necessarily a reflection upon previous Governors. Sir Benjamin D'Urban was overruled by Downing Street. Sir George Napier went out simply to reverse a certain policy under detailed instructions. General Sir Peregrine Maitland had distinguished himself as a soldier, had made an excellent Governor of Upper Canada and of Nova Scotia, and was no more responsible for the Kaffir war which caused his inevitable recall than was the Premier of Great Britain. General Sir Harry Smith, the victor of Aliwal in India, and the only British officer who before 1899 had won a direct victory over the Boers, had in him the making of a statesman, as his annexation of the Orange River region proved. But the war with Sandili brought about his recall, and a very few years also saw the reversal of his policy toward the Boers, the creation of the independent Free State, the establishment of the Transvaal, and the foundation of endless opportunities for trouble in the future. For these actions the Government of the Earl of Aberdeen and the Secretaryship of the Duke of Newcastle must always hold an unpleasant responsibility. Sir George Grey did what he could to rectify the errors which had been made. He was instinct with the Imperial idea, and, although doomed to fail in some measure in the attainment of his great ambitions, none the less did splendid work for the Empire. The men at the Colonial Office were constantly changing, and the only continuity in their policy was a common desire to be relieved from any new developments and fresh responsibilities. Politics did not come into the matter at all, as one party was then as ignorant of Colonial requirements and as indifferent to Colonial possibilities as the other.
[Illustration: HOSPITAL TRAIN LOADING WOUNDED SOLDIERS]
[Illustration: THE TOWN HALL AT LADYSMITH CONVERTED INTO A HOSPITAL]
[Sidenote: Governors and Colonial Office Differ]
During Grey's seven years' administration of the Cape, for instance, Sidney Herbert (afterwards Lord Herbert of Lea), Lord John Russell, Sir William Molesworth, Henry Labouchere (afterwards Lord Taunton), Sir Edward Bulwer-Lytton, Lord Stanley (afterwards Earl of Derby), and the Duke of Newcastle, succeeded each other at the Colonial Office; while Sir Frederick Rogers (afterwards Lord Blachford) was Permanent Under-Secretary during part of the period. Molesworth, Russell, Stanley and Labouchere were all tainted strongly at this time with the Manchester School theory, and Sir F. Rogers who, in his more permanent position, had greater influence than all the passing Secretaries of State put together, is upon record as having advised his chief, on more than one occasion, to encourage the Colonies in every line of thought and action which would develop separatist and independence sentiment. It was little wonder, therefore, that Sir George Grey failed in his effort to weld the infant States and Colonies--first of South Africa and afterwards of Australasia--in a federal union. Had he succeeded in the one it would have averted much bloodshed and racial hatred, and in the other much of useless controversy, crude constitution-mongering and demagogic development. "I believe I should have succeeded," he declared in bitterness of heart many years afterwards; but the statesman proposed, the Colonial Office disposed. For years the whole scope of the suggested federation was discussed between the Governor and the Imperial authorities. The former suggested the constitution of the then federated islands of New Zealand as a practical basis, and even obtained a Resolution of the Free State Volksraad in favor of the general principle. The consent of Cape Colony would have been unanimous. Natal was ready, and it is not likely that the conflicting and tiny republics into which the Transvaal was then divided would have long resisted Free State influence and the personal magnetism which Sir George Grey could have brought to bear upon them. Even had their deeper prejudices and denser ignorance prevailed for a time in the perpetuation of their isolation, the increased prosperity of the Free State under the new conditions would have ultimately brought them into the union.
[Sidenote: Federal Union Proposed]
When the Cape Parliament met in 1859 the Governor placed before it the Resolutions of the Orange River Volksraad, and in his accompanying address said: "You would, in my belief, confer a lasting benefit upon Great Britain and upon the inhabitants of this country if you could succeed in devising a form of federal union under which the several provinces composing it should have full and free scope of action left to them, through their own local Governments and Legislatures, upon all subjects relating to their individual prosperity or happiness; whilst they should act under a general federal Government in relation to all points which concern the general safety or weal." Along this path alone lay safety and success for the South African States. A copy of the address was sent to the Colonial Office with full explanations and comments, and then came a reply expressing great dissatisfaction at the question having been brought before the Legislature at Cape Town without authority from the Ministers at home. Sir George claimed, on the other hand, to have indirectly understood that the policy proposed had the approval of the Colonial Department. There seems, however, to be little doubt from the terms of the general correspondence that he did really try to force the hands of the Imperial Government in this matter; as one which he deemed essential to the welfare of the Empire, and for the success of which he was willing to risk personal humiliation in a bold effort to stem the tide of anti-colonialism then swelling on the shores of British thought and sentiment. [Sidenote: Government's Disapproval of Grey's Policy] The result, however, was his recall in a dispatch from Sir Edward Bulwer-Lytton, dated 4th June, 1859, and containing an expression of the high opinion held by the Government of Sir George Grey's endowments and patriotism, but explaining that "they could not safely continue to entrust with your present functions one committed, as you have committed yourself, to the policy of which they disapprove on a subject of the first importance; nor could they expect from you the necessary assistance when steps, which you have taken without that authority, have of necessity to be retraced." [Sidenote: Sir George Grey's Vindication] The reply to this was dated July 20, 1859, and constitutes a distinct and complete vindication of his general policy. In its closing paragraph is summed up the situation facing more than one Governor of Cape Colony, or High Commissioner to South Africa, before and since his time:
"Can a man, who, on a distant and exposed frontier, surrounded by difficulties, with invasions of Her Majesty's territories threatening on several points, assume a responsibility which he, guided by many circumstances which he can neither record nor remember as they come hurrying on one after another, be fairly judged of in respect of the amount of responsibility he assumes by those who, in the quiet of distant offices in London, know nothing of the anxieties or nature of the difficulties he had to encounter? If Her Majesty's possessions and Her Majesty's subjects are saved from threatening dangers, and they gratefully acknowledge this, whilst the Empire receives no hurt, is it a fitting return that the only reward he should receive should be the highest punishment which it is in the power of Her Majesty's Ministers to inflict? This may be the reward they bestow; but the true one of the consciousness of difficult duties performed to the best of his ability, with great personal sacrifice, they cannot take from him."
[Sidenote: Grey Reinstalled by Palmerston]
But Sir George Grey had friends of greater power than the novelist politician at the Colonial Office or his narrow-visioned assistant. From the time, in 1857, when he had diverted troops to India, which had stopped at Cape Town on their way to China, and by this seemingly reckless assumption of responsibility had enabled Sir Colin Campbell to relieve Lucknow and to save the situation in those terrible days of mutiny, he was given the lasting friendship and appreciation of the Queen. His further policy of conciliating the natives by personal visits and explanations of the situation; his wise trust in the friendship of savage chiefs whom he knew often understood honor and practiced it better than the white man himself; and his stripping the country of troops and munitions of war in order to give additional help in the Indian crisis; naturally added to the esteem which his first and most daring act had inspired in the mind of a Sovereign who was, even in those days, an Imperial statesman in the highest sense of the word. Of his action in changing the route of the troops from Hong Kong to Calcutta, and sending Cape troops and artillery and stores and specie to India in time to be of the most valuable service, the Queen commanded Mr. Labouchere, Colonial Secretary, to express privately to Sir George Grey "her high appreciation" as well as in a more formal manner. Later on she hesitated for some time in giving her assent to his recall, and short of precipitating a Cabinet crisis did refuse. A little later the Derby Government was defeated, and as soon as Lord Palmerston came into power Grey was promptly reinstalled, and, on his arrival in London, was informed by the Prince Consort of the Queen's "approval of the measures taken by him and the policy of confederation which he had pursued," and her opinion that the plans proposed were "beneficent, worthy of a great ruler, honorable to himself and advantageous to her people." Speaking at Sydney, New South Wales, in 1891, Sir George Grey referred to this matter, and declared that "one person in the Empire held that I was right, and that person was the Queen."
[Sidenote: Advancement During Grey's Governorship]
Back he went to South Africa amid general rejoicings at the Cape, but with the refusal of the new Government at home to take any steps whatever in the direction of federation. But, as if to expressly mark the Queen's sympathy with Grey's Imperial ideas, Prince Alfred was sent out in 1860 to make a tour of South Africa, and to evoke, as he did, the same sentiments of loyalty as were aroused by the visit of the Prince of Wales to Canada at about the same time. Cape Colony, Natal and the Orange Free State were visited with due ceremony by the Governor and the Prince, and at Bloemfontein one of the arches of welcome contained the significant motto: "Loyal, though discarded." During the succeeding year Sir George Grey finally left the Cape to take up the Governorship of New Zealand, at a critical period in its troubles with the Maoris, and at a time when the Duke of Newcastle, Colonial Secretary, had given him to understand that the Governor-Generalship of Canada and ultimately of India were open to him after leaving South Africa. But duty seemed to require him in New Zealand, and thither he went to live for years as Governor, for other years as Prime Minister, and for a still longer period as a private citizen. During the eight years in which he had ruled Cape Colony he had inaugurated representative institutions and established schools, libraries, hospitals, public works, roads and railways. The Cape Town and Wellington Railway, the first line in the Colony, was his enterprise. The great ostrich-farming industry of the future was started by him. Above all, he won the affection and respect of the most varied types of native races, and the after voluntary submission of Moshesh, the Basuto, to British authority may be largely traced to the friendly feeling inspired by a visit which Grey paid to the rocky heights of Thaba Bosigo. In his greatest aim he had failed, and in later days he became eccentric and erratic in his views; but none the less does South Africa owe much to the life and memory of Sir George Grey.
His successor, Sir Philip E. Wodehouse, was a man of ability who had been Governor of British Guiana, and was afterwards for five years Governor of Bombay. His administration was signalized by the inauguration of a new and wiser policy on the part of the Colonial Office. Whether it was that the Manchester School, in reaching the meridian of its power during these years, had temporarily overlooked South Africa; or that it had become apparent even to the Colonial Office that the man on the spot must be allowed some latitude; or that Sir Philip Wodehouse was more trusted and less feared by the Home authorities than Grey; is not visible upon the surface. But the fact remains that in 1865 British Kaffraria was finally incorporated with Cape Colony, and definite responsibility assumed for its government and control, and that in 1868 Basutoland was annexed to British dominions--not to the Cape Colony--and perhaps the most rugged and strongest natural fortress in the world prevented from falling into Boer hands. Sir Henry Barkly, an experienced Australian Governor, assumed charge in 1870, and a year later Griqualand West, with its vast potentialities as a diamond-producing country and as the only available British route to the far interior, was annexed and placed, like Basutoland, under the authority of the Cape Governor as High Commissioner for South Africa and direct representative of the Crown and the Colonial Office.
[Sidenote: Natal a Separate Colony]
Meantime Natal, which had up to 1856 been under the control of the Governor at the Cape, was in that year made a separate Colony governed from the Colonial Office under a Lieut.-Governor, and with only partially representative institutions. Zululand and the Zulus were to this region what the Kosas had been to the Cape settlers so far as the fear of raids and the dangers of war were concerned. Of actual and serious war there was but little from the time of the Boers until 1879. Of trouble in management, however, there was abundance because of the number of Zulus within as well as from the Zulus without the strict limits of Colonial territory. In 1873 Cetywayo was installed under authority of the British Government as head of the Zulu nation, and from this time dates the inauguration of the serious situation which culminated six years later and ended in the annexation of a large part of that region in 1887, and the protectorate established over the sea-coast country, called Tongaland, in the same year. These two events marked a singularly wise expression of Imperial policy, as they checked and prevented the realization of the greatest ambition of the Transvaal Boers--the obtaining of a sea-port. While this extension was taking place in the east under the general administration of Sir Hercules Robinson (afterwards Lord Rosmead) as High Commissioner, and the whole sea-coast region from Portuguese territory to Cape Town was being made British, a similar expansion had occured in the north and west.
[Sidenote: Zululand Annexed]
It was to a great extent forced upon the British authorities by Boer aggressiveness which, after the war of 1880-1 and the succeeding Conventions, had become very marked. The Transvaal Dutch first trekked into Zululand when it had been placed again under Cetywayo's rule--after the war of 1879 and in the useless hope of avoiding its annexation--and endeavored to establish there another Boer republic. In order to prevent this and to protect the Zulus, under pledges previously made, the Imperial Government had to formally annex the greater part of the region. Then the Transvaalers turned to the west, and a large number trekked into Bechuanaland, threatened to cut off British territory and trade from the interior and menaced the independence of Khama--a wise and friendly ruler to the north of Bechuanaland. Sir Charles Warren's expedition of 1884 was despatched by the Imperial Government and checked this movement, though at the serious risk of war, and forced the Boers to recede. Bechuanaland was then made a Crown Colony. Khama's Country was proclaimed, in 1885, a British Protectorate, while in the preceding year, the important naval station of St. Lucia Bay, just south of Zululand and about the ownership of which there was some doubt, had also been annexed. Four years previously Griqualand West had been taken from the direct control of the Colonial Office and annexed to Cape Colony, and, in 1895, the Dutch of the Cape had recovered somewhat from the angry feelings provoked by the Warren expedition and the repulse of Boer ambitions which its success involved, and permitted Mr. Rhodes to arrange the annexation of all Bechuanaland to the Colony and its consequent removal from the control of the Governor as High Commissioner to his charge as the constitutional Governor of the Cape.
[Sidenote: Mr. Rhodes Premier of Cape Colony]
This curious combination of duties had been first created in 1847 when Sir Henry Pottinger, for a few brief months, held the position of Governor of Cape Colony and High Commissioner for South Africa. The latter position simply involved, at that time, certain powers of control over border tribes and certain specified authority in negotiation. There were then no recognized independent States in South Africa, and no self-governing powers at the Cape to complicate matters. In time these conditions developed, and yet the Governor of the Cape, responsible to his Ministers and Parliament for every detail of local government, remained apart from that Parliament as the centre of a thousand strings of diplomacy and negotiation throughout all South Africa and the Governor of various regions, with undefined powers and with responsibility only to the Colonial Office or the Crown. In 1889, for example, Cape Colony was under complete self-government, and Natal only partially so--the latter having a Governor of its own. Basutoland, Pondoland, Bechuanaland, the Khama Country and the sphere of British influence to the far north were under the Governor of Cape Colony as High Commissioner only. In the same year the latter region came under the direct control of Cecil Rhodes as Chairman of the British South Africa Company, and Mr. Rhodes, in 1890, became Premier of Cape Colony and the responsible adviser of the Governor. Zululand and Tongaland were at the same time subject to the joint control of the Governors of Cape Colony and Natal, though not in any way governed by the Ministers of either official. Meantime, Swaziland (northwest of Tongaland) was managed by alternate British and Boer Committees, and ultimately was allowed to pass into the hands of the Transvaal; while the latter Republic was nominally under the Queen's Suzerainty and the Orange Free State was absolutely independent.
[Sidenote: Gold not the Cause of Expansion]
Such a complication, it is safe to say, never existed in any other region of the world, or in any other record of colonization and expanding empire. That government was possible at all reflects great credit upon the administrators, and shows that, as years passed on, the Colonial Office had at last risen to the level of its responsibilities, had grasped the true spirit and the absolute necessity of Imperial growth, and had learned that the men in charge of distant regions must have the confidence of rulers at home and a policy with some degree of continuity in plan and principle and detail. What really caused this change in policy and the resulting expansion of Great Britain in South Africa is an interesting historical question. The position of late years has been so different from the developments of the fifties and from the dominating ideas and ideals of the Manchester School of thought that some explanation is necessary. The discovery of gold and diamonds does not afford an adequate one. There was none of either in Basutoland, or Zululand, or Bechuanaland, or Tongaland, or in the great regions which the Chartered Company had acquired and held under the Crown. Much was due to the slow but sure subsidence of the Little Englanders after 1872, when Mr. Disraeli in a famous speech expressed the first formal antagonism of a great party, as a whole, to any further playing with questions and principles of Imperial unity. More was due to the sustained Imperialism of his succeeding Ministry, to the purchase of the Suez Canal shares and increasing public appreciation of the value of the Cape in connection with the route to India, and to the growing popular comprehension of the value of India itself. More still was due to the rise of a new school of British statesmen, in all parties, who had become instinct with the spirit and pride of Empire and inheritors of the sentiment which Disraeli in his later years, and under his new designation of Lord Beaconsfield, so strenuously propagated. The Imperial Federation League, formed in 1884 with strong support from leaders such as the Earl of Rosebery, Mr. W. H. Smith, Mr. Edward Stanhope, Mr. Edward Gibson, Mr. W. E. Forster, Sir John Lubbock, Sir Lyon Playfair and Lord Tennyson, constituted a most important educative influence. Writers like Froude and Dilke and Seeley took the place of philosophic disintegrationists of the Molesworth and Cornwall Lewis school; whilst Radical politicians of the Chamberlain and Cowan type came gradually into touch upon this subject with aristocratic Imperialists such as Salisbury, Carnarvon and Rosebery.
[Sidenote: Cecil Rhodes and Expansion]
The rise of Cecil Rhodes and his enthusiastic perception of the necessity for South African expansion and unity had also much to do with the change, while the discovery of diamonds did of course have some effect in creating, at the time, a fresh interest in a country hitherto chiefly known for wars and natives and missionary explorations. So too with the natural rivalry aroused by German and French and Italian efforts at acquisition of African territory. The Transvaal annexation and war, 1877-81, had an effect also of considerable importance. It projected South Africa into the wide publicity of a place in British politics, and taught many opponents and supporters of Mr. Gladstone more than they had dreamt of in all their previous philosophies. The result was unfortunate as a whole, but in a somewhat undefinable degree it cleared the way for a knowledge of conditions and necessities which made the expansion policy of 1884-95 possible. The sending of Sir Bartle Frere to the Cape in 1877 was an illustration of the Imperialistic principles which actuated the Beaconsfield Government. No more brilliant and honorable administrator had ever graced the service of the Crown in India than Sir Bartle Frere. He was loved by subordinates, respected by all races and creeds, trusted by Ministers at home, and, like all the greater Governors of the Empire, was a strong believer in the closer union of its varied portions. Reference to his connection with the Confederation question, the Zulu war and the Transvaal annexation has been made elsewhere, and must be still more expanded in another chapter. But, something should be said here as to his general treatment by the Imperial authorities. He went out with distinct powers in connection with the unification of South Africa, and, with the additional ones given Sir Theophilus Shepstone in Natal, held practically a free hand.
[Sidenote: Gladstone and the Boers]
The annexation of the Transvaal and the subjugation of Cetywayo were duly accomplished, but success to the policy as a whole was prevented by the war of 1881; and the latter was greatly encouraged, if not practically caused, by the eloquent objections urged in England by Mr. Gladstone. There seems to have been no very clear comprehension of the issue, and there was certainly no accurate knowledge of the Boer character and history, in Mr. Gladstone's mind. They were simply to him a pastoral people asking, and then fighting, for a freedom for which they had struggled steadily during half a century. He knew nothing of the land and cattle and liberties stolen by them from unfortunate native races; of the bitter and ignorant hatred felt by them towards England and British civilization; of the contempt for missionaries and religious or political equality; or of their ambition, even in those days of weakness, to expand north and east and west and to cut off British power to the north and eventually in the south. He never had an Imperial imagination and cared little for the ideal of an united South Africa under the Crown. An historical imagination he did possess, as was shown in his devotion to the cause of Greek independence and his willing transfer of the Ionian Isles, in earlier years, to the new Hellenic Kingdom. But that was based upon his love of Homer and ancient Greek literature--not upon so modern and material a matter as the welfare of British settlers in a distant and storm-tossed colony.
[Sidenote: Governor's Restraint of Boers]
However that may be, his eloquent attacks upon the Government hampered their further action, and when the Transvaal rebellion broke out Sir Bartle Frere--to the lasting discredit of the Administration--was promptly recalled. Then and to-day his name is perhaps the most loved in the list of British rulers at the Cape--not even excepting Sir George Grey. In the Diary of Prince Alfred Victor and Prince George of Wales, written during their cruise around the world, in 1880-81, there is a reference to the Governor who had just left the Cape of interest in this connection: "Ask any Colonist, haphazard--Afrikander or English--and in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred you will be told that he was conscientious, able, far-seeing, magnanimous, truthful and loyal." The reversal of his policy followed, and was embodied in the Convention of 1881. The new Governor and High Commissioner, Sir Hercules G. R. Robinson, was a man of considerable ability and of prolonged experience. After the settlement of the Transvaal troubles he was given a certain amount of latitude in dealing with the natives and in controlling the Boer disposition to seize territory in every outstanding direction. The annexations and protectorates already alluded to followed in due course, and Sir Hercules claimed before he left Cape Town in 1889, after eight years of administration, that: "As Governor of a self-governing Colony I have endeavored to walk within the lines of the Constitution; and as Her Majesty's High Commissioner for South Africa I have, whilst striving to act with equal justice and consideration to the claims and susceptibilities of all classes and races, endeavored at the same time to establish on a broad and secure basis British authority as the paramount power in South Africa."
To this claim there was certainly one exception. The treatment of the Swaziland question during these years was a distinct evasion of responsibility on the part of both High Commissioner and the Imperial Government, and appears to have been better suited to the earlier fifties than to the developments of the eighties. It was, however, a fitting sequel to events such as the somewhat indifferent agreement of the British Government, in the days of Lord Granville's weak administration of the Foreign Office, to the German acquisition of Damaraland and North Namaqualand on the western coast--for no other apparent reason than to have some territory contiguous to that of Great Britain. Fortunately, the vigorous protests of the Cape Government prevented Walfisch Bay--the only useful harbor on the shores of all that parched and arid region--from being given up to the same Power. The Swazis were a branch of the Zulu race, and their territory bordered the Transvaal to the north-west, and Tongaland and the Delagoa Bay region to the south-east. Its acquisition meant that only Portuguese territory would lie between the Boer country and the great harbor at Lorenzo Marques. But apart from the immense strategic importance of the country--afterwards so strongly realized--it was the duty of the British Government to have in this case withstood the covetous designs of the Transvaal.
[Sidenote: Swazis Appeal to England]
Protected by the terms of the Convention of 1884, when their practical independence was guaranteed, and appreciating the policy by which the infant Boer republics of Stellaland and Goshen had been suppressed in Bechuanaland by the Warren expedition, the Swazis naturally looked to England for support when they found numerous individual Boers settling amongst them and preparing for further and more active aggression. In 1886 and 1887 the Swazi Chief appealed to the British Government for the establishment of a formal protectorate; but was refused on the ground that the Convention of 1884 by guarding their independence practically prevented Great Britain from taking such a step. For years prior to this period the Swazis had been friendly to the British, and had stood by them in war and peace. Promises of consideration were given, but nothing was done. The fact of the matter is that the Afrikander party in Cape Colony wanted to help the Transvaal to a seaport, and from some motive of conciliation, or strange error of judgment, Sir Hercules Robinson shared, or appeared to share, the same sentiment. So far as this point was concerned, the protectorate established over St. Lucia Bay and Tongaland neutralized the evil of the subsequent acquisition of Swaziland by the persistent Boers, but nothing can ever compensate the loyal and friendly Swazis of that time for their apparent desertion through the final refusal of the British Government--after a discussion with a delegation of Chiefs in 1894--to interfere with the action of the Transvaal in claiming full possession of their country. It is only fair, however, to say that the issue had become complicated by extensive and voluntary Swazi grants of land to individual Boers.
[Sidenote: Delagoa Bay Decision]
In this connection some reference must be made to the Portuguese territory of this coast, in view of the important international issues since involved. Delagoa Bay is, perhaps, the most important harbor on the east coast of Africa and a vital naval factor in the protection of trade with India and China. The surrounding country is of little value, and in the main a hot-bed of malarial fever. The harbor was claimed for many years by Great Britain under terms of cession from a native chief to an exploring party in 1822. Portugal resisted the claim, and in 1872 the matter was referred to the arbitration of Marshal MacMahon, President of the French Republic. As usual in such cases, the decision was against Great Britain, but with the curious concession of a right to purchase the territory at any time Portugal might desire to sell it, and to the exclusion of the wish of any other Power in the same connection. It is stated that Portugal was actually ready at that time to sell her rights for £60,000; and Lord Carnarvon, British Colonial Secretary in 1874-78, afterwards stated that: "When I succeeded to office I had reason to think that the offer of a moderate sum might have purchased that which a very large amount now could not compass. Unfortunately the means were not forthcoming, the opportunity was lost, and such opportunities in politics do not often recur." The inference from this statement is that the Chancellor of the Exchequer--Sir Stafford Northcote--was the obstacle. If so, and in the light of the many millions sterling which Great Britain in 1900 would give for this bit of territory, his name certainly merits recollection.
 Molteno: Federal South Africa, page 87.
[Sidenote: Milner Appointed Governor]
Sir Henry Brougham Loch, a most successful Australian Governor, and afterwards created Lord Loch, became Governor and High Commissioner in 1889, and, in 1895, was succeeded by Sir Hercules Robinson again for a couple of years. It does not appear that the latter was recalled in 1889, but was simply not reappointed at the expiration of his term of office. He left the country in the midst of much and strongly expressed regret, and when he returned six years later was welcomed with open arms. Shortly afterwards he became Lord Rosmead, and, in 1897, his health compelled a retirement which was soon afterwards followed by death. Sir Alfred Milner was then appointed and at a most critical period. He had to assume charge of a complicated political and racial situation, and to supervise the relations of Great Britain and the Colonies with the increasingly aggressive Transvaal Republic and Afrikander organization. A strong Imperialist, a man of high reputation for ability in conducting the finances of Egypt for some time, and as Chairman of the British Board of Revenue in the preceding five years, he went out to Cape Town with large powers and with the complete confidence of Mr. Chamberlain and the Imperial Government. The immediate result of his conclusions and policy will be treated elsewhere in this volume, and whatever verdict the historian of the future may have to give upon data and documents and secret developments not now available, there is no doubt that he will accord to Sir Alfred Milner a high place for honest statesmanship, conciliatory personal policy and absolute conscientiousness of action in events, and amidst surroundings, calculated to disturb the equanimity of the coolest statesman and to influence the reasonableness of even the most strong-minded representative of the Crown. Unlike Sir Benjamin D'Urban, Sir Peregrine Maitland, Sir Harry Smith, Sir George Grey and Sir Bartle Frere, he has had the rich and rare privilege in South Africa of being endorsed and supported through all the tangled threads of a complicated situation by the Colonial Office, the Imperial Government, the British Parliament, and, eventually, the people of the Empire. Of this he will always have reason to be proud, whatever may be the arduous labors and responsibilities and perhaps changes of the hidden future. And the fact, in itself, affords a fitting conclusion to the consideration of British policy, or policies, in South Africa, and marks the wonderful change which has come over the face of affairs since the days of D'Urban and Lord Glenelg, Grey and Bulwer-Lytton, Frere and Hicks-Beach--the Governors in Cape Colony and the Secretaries of State in London.
[Illustration: BLUE JACKETS FROM THE BATTLESHIP "RENOWN" FIGHTING AT LADYSMITH.]
[Illustration: OFFICERS WHO FELL IN THE EARLY BATTLES OF THE TRANSVAAL WAR]