The Cause of War.
The English Blue Books treat the controversy that resulted in the war officially, impartially and exhaustively. The full dispatches are given, and all that the Boers had to say is fairly presented with unquestionable authenticity. What President Kruger stated in his conferences with Sir Alfred Milner, the British High Commissioner in South Africa, is given in his own language, as faithfully put down as the dispatches of Mr. Chamberlain or those of the High Commissioner Milner. The British Blue Book is made a perfect History for both sides and bears the closest scrutiny of a hostile opposition in parliament as accurate.
[Sidenote: Conference With President Kruger]
June 14, 1899, High Commissioner Sir Alfred Milner wrote from "Government House, Cape Town" to Colonial Secretary Chamberlain a report of his conferences with President Kruger at Bloemfontein. On the way to meet the President of the South African Republic, the British High Commissioner was the guest of President Steyn, of the Orange Free State. The conference with President Kruger was interpreted and reported with the greatest care. It is not given verbatim in all instances, because there was a great deal of repetition, but there is nothing important omitted, and the actual words of both gentlemen were officially reported and printed. The importance of these conferences was perfectly understood, and the official record has not been and will not be questioned. It was upon these conferences that the issue of peace and war hinged. [Sidenote: The Cause of Many Points of Difference] The President stated at the first meeting that he preferred the British High Commissioner should speak first, and the Commissioner, writing Mr. Chamberlain, said that in his personal opinion, "The cause of many points of difference, and the most serious, was the policy pursued by the South African Republic towards the Uitlanders, among whom many thousands are British subjects. The bitter feelings thus engendered in the Republic, the tension in South Africa, and the sympathy throughout the Empire with the Uitlanders, led to an irritated state of opinion on both sides which rendered it more difficult for the two Governments to settle differences amicably. It was my strong conviction that if the South African Republic would, before things get worse, voluntarily change its policy towards the Uitlanders, and take steps calculated to satisfy the reasonable section of them, who after all are the great majority, not only would the independence of the Republic be strengthened, but there would be such a better state of feeling all round that it would become far easier to settle outstanding questions between the two Governments.
[Sidenote: The President's Objection to the Franchise]
"The President, in coming to the Conference, had made a reservation as to the independence of the Republic. I could not see that it was in any way impairing that independence for Her Majesty's Government to support the cause of the Uitlanders so far as it was reasonable. A vast number were British subjects, and in similar circumstances we should in any part of the world, even in a country not under conventional obligations to Her Majesty's Government, be bound to make representations, and to point out that the intense discontent of our fellow-subjects stood in the way of the friendly relations which we desired to exist between the two Governments."
[Sidenote: By Gradual Co-operation all Would be Burghers]
The President objected to granting the franchise which he was assured by His Excellency, the Commissioner, was the main point, because he said if it was done "to any large number of aliens," the result would be "immediately the outvoting of the old burghers." The High Commissioner went so far as to say that it "would not be reasonable to do that," and he endeavored to explain the matter to the President, saying: "At present the Uitlanders had no effective voice whatever in the legislation, the existing form of oaths was offensive and unnecessary, and by taking it a British subject at once lost his nationality, and yet had to wait twelve years, or, under the President's latest proposals, seven years, before he could become a full citizen of the Republic. It was perfectly possible to leave the old burghers in such a position that they could not be swamped, and yet to give the numerous foreign population--to whom, after all, the Republic owed its present position--some share in the work of government, so that they could give the Government the benefit of their knowledge and experience. In this way the time would come when, by their gradual co-operation, instead of being divided into separate communities, they would all be burghers of one State."
The President indicated "a strong dislike of every proposition of the kind," and proceeded to assail a petition that had been sent from Johannesburg to the British Government praying for a redress of grievances, and alleged to have been signed by 25,000 people. This petition was like a red rag to the Boer bull all through the conferences. The British High Commissioner, when the President had expressed his feeling about the petition, informed him that that document did not change anything. The character of the petition was not especially to be considered, but he (His Excellency the Commissioner) based his statements "on a careful study of the conditions."
[Sidenote: Qualifications for Citizenship]
At the second meeting the President talked about the strengthening of the British garrison at the Cape, and referred to other military preparations of the English, of which mention had been made in the newspapers. The Commissioner denied the accuracy of the press in that particular; and then the President returned to the petition from Johannesburg to Her Majesty the Queen, and said the English proposition to "enlarge the franchise of the strangers" would do away with the independence of the Republic, and he added, "would be worse than annexation." His Excellency, the Commissioner, remarks that the President was "reluctant to come to close quarters" on the franchise proposition, but at last asked for a proposal of that which would be satisfactory to the Uitlanders and the English Commissioners, who said: "I proposed that the full franchise should be given to every foreigner who--
(a) "Had been resident for five years in the Republic.
(b) "Declared his intention to reside permanently.
(c) "Took an oath to obey the laws, undertake all obligations of citizenship, and defend the independence of the country.
"The franchise to be confined to persons of good character possessing a certain amount of property or income."
Finally it was proposed that a small number of new constituencies should be created. That which was vital in the plan of peace, Sir Alfred said, "was the simplification of the oath and the immediate admission to full burghership on taking it. Knowing as I do the feeling of the Uitlander population, and especially of the best of them, in these points, I felt and feel that any scheme not containing these concessions would be absolutely useless. The most influential and respectable sections of the Uitlander community feel strongly the indignity and injustice of asking them to denationalize themselves for anything less than full burghership--which in the South African Republic carries with it, de ipso facto, the right to vote for the First Volks Raad and the President. They will not accept citizenship of the Republic on any other terms." And Sir Alfred continues: "The President at once objected very strongly to my proposal, saying that it would immediately make the Uitlanders a majority of enfranchised burghers, who by the constitution formed the sovereign voice, and so controlled all legislation."
[Sidenote: Milner's proposition Absolutely Fair]
The President was evidently alarmed by the idea that a majority of the Europeans might, under the proposition urged by the British Commissioner, become the rulers of the land, and he stuck to his objection after it was explained that the new burghers who would appear, if the franchise arrangements were made, could have only a minority of seats in the first Volks Raad, and therefore they could not control the State. In fact, the President was not in favor of allowing the Uitlanders any political power whatever without a long intermission after the abandonment by the Uitlanders of their rights as British subjects. The proposition of Sir Alfred was absolutely fair, reasonable and moderate. Its acceptance would have prevented war. There was time given by the Commissioner to the President for full consultation and consideration--that is there was no effort to rush him. Sir Alfred says in his communication to the Colonial Secretary Chamberlain, that he felt here he "had reached the crucial point," and he alleges that the Boer President endeavored to make the matter one of bargaining, wanted to talk away from the real issue, and desired to speak of what he called "grievances," wandering far from the main matter, which was in its simplicity whether the great community of Johannesburg and the surroundings in the gold mines, constituting a very large majority of the Europeans and white men in the Transvaal, should have any representation at all in the Volks Raad.
[Sidenote: Self-Government desired by all]
President Kruger at the fourth meeting of the conference presented what he styled a "Complete Reform Bill," full, as Sir Alfred says, of "elaborate restrictions." Subsequently Sir Alfred drew up a paper showing what those restrictions were, and that this reform bill consisted of traps and catches, and was a careful, studied evasion, expressive of a fixed resolution to make no concessions whatever to the majority of the white population of the country. Sir Alfred says: "I pointed out that His Honor's proposal differed absolutely from mine, in that it did not provide for an immediate, or even an early, enfranchisement of people who might have been in the Republic for many years, and it made no provision for an increase in the number of seats in the Volks Raad. I, therefore, in view of the improbability of our arriving at a settlement on this basis, suggested that the President should consider whether there was any other way, apart from the franchise, of giving the Uitlanders some powers of local self-government, such as were suggested by Mr. Chamberlain in February, 1896. The President, however, was, if possible, more opposed to this than to my previous proposal. He maintained that the municipality of Johannesburg had already as great powers as could properly be entrusted to it, and said it was no use speaking about self-government, as his people would be absolutely against it."
[Sidenote: Lapse of Citizenship]
Sir Alfred further stated, as to President Kruger's plan: "Under the plan no man not already naturalized, even if he had been in the country for thirteen or fourteen years, would get a vote for the First Volks Raad in less than two and a half years from the passing of the new law. No considerable number of people would obtain the vote in less than five years, even if they got naturalized; but the majority would not naturalize because the scheme retained the unfortunate principle, first introduced in 1890, by which a man must abandon his old citizenship for a number of years before getting full burgher rights."
[Sidenote: Immediate Representation Wanted]
President Kruger added to his proposition a scheme for a few new seats. Of this Sir Alfred remarks: "I have an open mind as to the number of new seats for the Gold Fields, and for that reason did not attempt to lay down any definite number of my own proposal. I think three is decidedly too low. Under this proposal the enfranchised newcomers might, not immediately, but after the lapse of several years, obtain five seats in the First Volks Raad. Add, perhaps, two for other constituencies, in which they would in time become the majority, and they would be seven out of thirty-one. By that time they would be a vast majority of the inhabitants, and would contribute, as they indeed already do, almost the whole revenue. Under these circumstances less than one-fourth of the representation seems a scanty allowance. But the great point is, that even this limited degree of representation is still a long way off. My aim was to obtain some representation for them immediately. In my view, the First Volks Raad has already been too long out of touch with the new population, with whose most vital interests it is constantly dealing, and not dealing wisely. Every year that this state of things continues increases the tension and the danger. I do not assert that the mistakes made are due to ill-will. I believe they are due to want of knowledge. If representatives of the new population could make their voices heard, if they could come in contact with the representatives of the old burghers on an equal footing in the First Raad, they would, without being a majority or anything like it, yet exercise an appreciable influence on legislation and administration."
[Sidenote: Justice Would Have Prevented Intervention]
There is no question of the entire reasonableness and truth of this. In his talk with President Kruger Sir Alfred said of the Uitlanders: "A vast number of them are British subjects. If we had an equal number of British subjects and equally large interests in any part of the world, even in a country which is not under any conventional obligations to Her Majesty's Government, we should be bound to make representations to the Government in the interests of Her Majesty's subjects, and to point out that the intense discontent of those subjects stood in the way of the cordial relations which we desire to exist between us. I know that the citizens of the South African Republic are intensely jealous of British interference in their internal affairs. What I want to impress upon the President is that if the Government of the South African Republic of its own accord, from its own sense of policy and justice, would afford a more liberal treatment to the Uitlander population this would not increase British interference, but enormously diminish it. If the Uitlanders were in a position to help themselves they would not always be appealing to us under the convention."
When the conference was about to close President Kruger said: "Our enfranchised burghers are probably about 30,000, and the newcomers may be from 60,000 to 70,000, and if we give them the franchise to-morrow we may as well give up the Republic. I hope you will clearly see that I shall not get it through with my people."
Further along, when President Kruger insisted upon it that the too numerous newcomers would end the Republic, Sir Alfred asked what the President meant by "outvoting in the Volks Raad," and the President answered: "I mean this; that if they are all enfranchised then they would at once form the majority of the whole population, and the majority of the enfranchised burgher, according to our law, must be listened to by the Volks Raad; since in a republic we cannot leave the sovereign voice out of account. Then if they once get the vote, and the majority come to the Volks Raad saying that the members of the Raad should be in proportion to the number of electors, the Volks Raad would be all up with them."
[Sidenote: Ireland and The Transvaal]
Sir Alfred and President Kruger in course of conversation had an outing on "the Irish question," the President saying: "I say that by taking the oath of naturalization, whereby they become entitled to elect members for the Second Raad, they become lawful burghers, and at that moment they get more than they get in their own country. In their own country they cannot, within such a short period, choose ministers, magistrates, or similar officials; but they do this with me, and are they not to be regarded as full burghers because they cannot yet elect certain officials? The only difference is that they cannot yet exercise the full franchise. In England, for instance, the Irish also have not their own administration."
His Excellency.--"Yes, they have."
His Excellency.--"The Irish have always sent a full number of representatives to the Imperial Parliament, even in excess of what was due to them on a basis of population. If we were to apply the Irish principle to the South African Republic the Rand would send about fifty members to the First Volks Raad."
The conference came to nothing. President Kruger asserting to the last substantially, that if the English-speaking people whom he styled the "strangers" and the "newcomers," got any political rights at once, no matter how restricted, it would put his "blood-bought country into the hands of strangers."
[Sidenote: Grievances of the Uitlanders a Burning Question]
Mr. Conyngham Greene, Her Majesty's agent at Pretoria, wrote to the State Secretary of the South African Republic June 26, 1899, that Sir Alfred Milner "desires me to say that, as he pointed out to the President at Bloemfontein, he considers that the question of finding a remedy for the grievances of the Uitlanders is the burning question of the moment, and that this has to be disposed of before other matters can be discussed. The adoption by the Government of the South African Republic of measures calculated to lead to an improvement in the position of the Uitlanders would so improve the general situation that outstanding differences between the two Governments could be considered in a calmer atmosphere, and would be more capable of adjustment. Under these circumstances, it might be possible to devise a scheme for referring at least a certain number of differences to arbitration. But as the Government of the South African Republic has not seen its way to meet Her Majesty's Government on the question of primary importance, the High Commissioner can see no use in approaching the delicate and complicated subject of arbitration at the present time. Over and above this, His Excellency does not consider the scheme now proposed to be a practicable one. To make no mention of other objections, the constitution of the suggested Arbitration Court, which would leave every decision virtually in the hands of a President, who, it is provided, shall not be a subject of either of the arbitration parties, does not conform to the fundamental principle which, as Sir Alfred Milner more than once stated at Bloemfontein, Her Majesty's Government would regard as a conditio sine qua non to the acceptance of any scheme of arbitration."
[Illustration: A COMMANDO OF BOERS CHARGING COLONEL BADEN-POWELL'S FORCES AT MAFEKING]
[Illustration: SOME OF THE SECOND GORDON HIGHLANDERS ENJOYING A ROUGH AND READY CLEAN UP. BOER SCOUTING PARTY]
[Sidenote: What Mr. Chamberlain Wrote]
Mr. Chamberlain, Colonial Secretary, writing July 27, 1899, to Sir Alfred Milner, says:
"Besides the ordinary obligations of a civilized Power to protect its subjects in a foreign country against injustice, and the special duty arising in this case from the position of Her Majesty as the Paramount Power in South Africa, there falls also on Her Majesty's Government the exceptional responsibility arising out of the Conventions which regulate the relations between the Government of the South African Republic and that of Her Majesty. These Conventions were granted by Her Majesty of her own grace, and they were granted in the full expectation that, according to the categorical assurances conveyed by the Boer leaders to the Royal Commissioners in the negotiations preliminary to the Convention of 1881, equality of treatment would be strictly maintained among the white inhabitants of the Transvaal.
"It may be well to remind you what those assurances were, as detailed in the Blue Book of May, 1882. At the Conference of the 10th of May, 1881, at Newcastle, there were present: Sir Hercules Robinson (President), Sir Evelyn Wood, Sir J. H. De Villiers, Her Majesty's Commissioners; and, as Representatives of the Boers, Mr. Kruger, Mr. P. J. Joubert, Dr. Jorissen, Mr. J. S. Joubert, Mr. DeVilliers and Mr. Buskes.
"The following report of what took place shows the nature of the assurances given on this occasion:
"239. (President).--'Before annexation, had British subjects complete freedom of trade throughout the Transvaal; were they on the same footing as citizens of the Transvaal?'
"240. (Mr. Kruger).--'They were on the same footing as the burghers; there was not the slightest difference in accordance with the Sand River Convention.'
"241. (President).--'I presume you will not object to that continuing?'
"242. (Mr. Kruger).--'No; there will be equal protection for everybody.'
"243. (Sir E. Wood).--'And equal privileges?'
"244. (Mr. Kruger).--'We make no difference so far as burgher rights are concerned. There may perhaps be some slight difference in the case of a young person who has just come into the country.'
"At the Conference of the 26th of May, 1881, at Newcastle, there were present: Sir Hercules Robinson (President), Sir E. Wood, Sir J. H. DeVilliers, Her Majesty's Commissioners; and, as Representatives of the Boers, Mr. Kruger, Mr. J. S. Joubert, Dr. Jorissen, Mr. Pretorius, Mr. Buskes and Mr. DeVilliers.
"At this meeting the subject of the assurances was again alluded to as thus reported:
"1037. (Dr. Jorissen).--'At No. 244 the question was, 'Is there any distinction in regard to the privileges or rights of Englishmen in the Transvaal?' and Mr. Kruger answered, 'No, there is no difference;' and then he added, 'there may be some slight difference in the case of a young person just coming into the country.' I wish to say that that might give rise to a wrong impression. What Mr. Kruger intended to convey was this: 'according to our law a newcomer has not his burgher rights immediately.' The words 'young person' do not refer to age, but to the time of his residence in the Republic. According to our old 'Grondwet' (Constitution), you had to reside a year in the country.'
[Sidenote: The Whole Spirit of the Convention disregarded]
"In spite of these positive assurances, all the laws which have caused the grievances under which the Uitlanders labor, and all the restrictions as to franchise and individual liberty under which they suffer, have been brought into existence subsequently to the conventions of Pretoria or London. Not only has the letter of the convention of 1884 been repeatedly broken, but the whole spirit of that convention has been disregarded by this complete reversal of the conditions of equality between the white inhabitants of the Transvaal which subsisted, and which, relying on the assurances of the Boer leaders, Her Majesty believed would continue to subsist, when she granted to it internal independence in the preamble of the convention of 1881, and when she consented to substitute the articles of the convention of 188 for those of the previous convention.
[Sidenote: A Statement by Kruger]
"The responsibility of Her Majesty's Government for the treatment of the alien inhabitants of the Transvaal is further increased by the fact that it was at the request of Her Majesty's High Commissioner that the people of Johannesburg, who in December, 1895, had taken up arms against the Government of the South African Republic to recover those equal rights and privileges of which they had been unwarrantably deprived, permitted themselves to be disarmed in January, 1896. The High Commissioner's request was made after the issue by President Kruger of a proclamation in which he stated: 'And I further make known that the Government is still always ready to consider properly all grievances which are laid before it in a proper manner, and to lay them before the Legislature of the country without delay to be dealt with.' Unfortunately, the assurances conveyed in this proclamation have been no better observed than the assurances of 1881. Not only have no adequate or genuine reforms been introduced up to the present time, but the conditions and the general atmosphere in which the Uitlanders have to live have become more difficult and irksome to free and civilized men. Fresh legislation has been passed in a repressive and reactionary direction, and the administration of justice itself has been made subservient to the control of the Executive Government."
Every word of this is amply supported.
[Sidenote: Orders from Mr. Chamberlain]
August 1st Mr. Chamberlain telegraphed Sir Alfred Milner: "I now authorize you to invite President Kruger to appoint delegates to discuss with our question whether reforms, which the Volks Raad has passed, will give immediate and substantial representation of Uitlanders, and if not, what additions and alterations will be necessary in order to secure this result. If invitation is accepted our delegates would not be precluded from raising any point calculated to improve measure; and you will instruct them to press for early report, which on the points mentioned ought not to be difficult."
Also: "My telegram of the 31st July. We must confine proposed joint inquiry, in the manner suggested in that telegram, to question of political representation of Uitlanders. You should, however, let President Kruger know through Greene that you will be ready, at the conclusion of inquiry, to discuss with him, not only the report of the inquiry, and the franchise question, but other matters as well, including arbitration without introduction of foreign element."
[Sidenote: Petition From Natal]
This petition was signed by 6,336 "loyal colonists of Natal, July 10, 1899: "Your Majesty's petitioners, being British subjects resident in the Colony of Natal, wish to express their sympathy with those thousands of their fellow-subjects in the Transvaal Republic, whose petition Your Majesty has been graciously pleased to receive.
"That men of British origin, engaged in industry of vital concern to the prosperity of all South Africa, should labor on sufferance under unjust laws partially administered; that they should contribute nearly the whole revenue of the State and have no voice in its disposal; that, while themselves rigorously designed, they should have to watch the fruits of their labor being applied to swell the military strength of the class which holds their liberties and even their lives at its disposal; this is a position repugnant to our sentiments.
"Moreover, it is a source of unrest, insecurity, and injury to business throughout Your Majesty's South African possessions.
"In all these possessions the rule is absolutely equal rights for the Dutch-speaking and English-speaking population; in the Transvaal Republic alone are the latter denied not only equal rights, but political rights altogether.
"From this contrast springs an intense race-feeling, which tends increasingly to divide and embitter all South Africa."
[Sidenote: Views of Mr. Baynes]
Mr. Baynes, of the Natal Parliament, is reported in the Natal Times, July 20, 1899: "He had said before, and he would say again, that keenly as he and all true Englishmen felt the defeat of those gallant British soldiers fighting at the command of their country in the war ending at Majuba, the Dutch then had right on their side and it was nothing but right that right should prevail. As a result of that battle he had hoped that the British blood there shed together with the magnanimous act of the British Government, as exemplified in and by the deed of retrocession, would have sufficed to have washed away all the bitterness of the past, and evoked forgiveness for all wrongs suffered, and that the two dominant races in South Africa would thereafter live together in peace and happiness, and in the process of time by inter-marriage, by mutual esteem, and by the uniting influence of the principle of self-preservation, become one people, ennobled by the struggles and sufferings of the past, each the better for the influence of the other, forming a people and country that would become the admiration and envy of the world. Any immediate prospect of such a consummation had been hopelessly deferred and blighted by the action of the Transvaal Government in refusing the continuance of the principle of equal rights to all Europeans alike within their borders. It was because he feared that the continued refusal of those rights must sooner or later bring about a war too fearful to contemplate, a war that might, and probably would, overthrow the independence of the Transvaal Republic, that he urged upon that Assembly to unanimously adopt the motion under consideration, in the hope that such an expression of opinion made by that Assembly might receive favorable consideration by His Honor the President, the Volks Raad and the burghers of the Transvaal. Equal rights and privileges would give the only sure foundation on which the Republic of the Transvaal could be established, and the only foundation on which the independence of the country could continue. Let these privileges be denied to Europeans now, and perpetual race hatred and strife, anarchy or tyranny, or war, too dreadful to contemplate, must result. With the same purpose of endeavoring to avert such a calamity, he moved the resolution standing in his name."
The motion was one of sympathy with and approval of the action of the British Government in endeavoring to secure equal rights and privileges for all Europeans in South Africa. The resolution was carried without a single dissentient.
[Sidenote: Resolutions of the House of Commons of Canada]
The House of Commons of Canada, July 31, 1899, adopted the following:
"1. Resolved, That this House has viewed with regret the complications which have arisen in the Transvaal Republic, of which Her Majesty is Suzerain, from the refusal to accord to Her Majesty's subjects now settled in that region any adequate participation in its government.
"2. Resolved, That this House has learned with still greater regret, that the condition of things there existing has resulted in intolerable oppression, and has produced great and dangerous excitement among several classes of Her Majesty's subjects in Her South African possessions.
"3. Resolved, That this House, representing a people which has largely succeeded, by the adoption of the principle of conceding equal political rights to every portion of the population, in harmonizing estrangement, and in producing general content with the existing system of government, desires to express its sympathy with the effort of Her Majesty's Imperial authorities to obtain for the subjects of Her Majesty who have taken up their abode in the Transvaal such measure of justice and political recognition as may be found necessary to secure them in the full possession of equal rights and liberties."
[Sidenote: A Characteristic Article]
The Boer organ, The Rand Post, December 28, 1898, had an article on "The Rebellion," which was very abusive of the petitioners, whose paper sent to the British Government, so greatly irritated President Kruger, who described it as "the lying and libelous petition"; and we quote:
"The hand on the rudder! It is more than time! Now once for all, an end must be put to such exhibitions as that of Saturday's, by reason of which the English Government will contend is not capable of exercising authority, not in a position to insure the safety of personal property. In the interests of the country such little upheavals must be vigorously suppressed. From henceforward public gatherings of a semi-political character in Johannesburg must be absolutely forbidden and prevented, because here (in Johannesburg) such gatherings lead to confusion and disorder. The 400 or 500 policemen are sufficient to exercise authority, and especially to prevent such open-air gatherings, and to prevent further flag waving by English ladies taking place before the door of the English Consulate. Mounted police can and must disperse such gatherings, and, if necessary, there must be some shooting done. Nobody should find that in any respect very terrible. In other countries that happens now and then, and the public well know beforehand that taking part in such gatherings is forbidden, and that force can be used for dispersing such gatherings. Those who then take part in them do so at their own risk. The Government must not proceed further under a Commandant who is hooted by the burghers, but appoint a Commandant who will have the esteem of the burghers. Commandants of neighboring districts should also be in complete readiness with their burghers. Immediately anything happens, the Government must take vigorous action. The Government must show that it is master of this town, and not unsuccessful men of business, and cowardly political wire-pullers, who shelter themselves behind the guns of Her British Majesty, not the men who in their quality of British subjects, and under cover of lying petitions bring to light their hatred of the Boer. To this Johannesburg Rebellion an end must be put once and for all. The well-meaning portion of the population, a very considerable part, wishes nothing else. Let us shoot down a pair of these wire-pullers, and thereby spare ourselves a formal war."
[Sidenote: A Whole History of Outrages]
This is expressive of the venomous intensity of the press of the Boers. In the same article there are very broad hints to President Kruger that he had been going too far in the conciliation of the British. There are in the Blue Books many instances of personal outrage, violence, insult, oppression and murder, with a view to the intimidation of the "strangers," the "newcomers," those who were crowding themselves into "the blood-bought land" from mere sordid motives of course in gathering gold and diamonds, and being more numerous than the Boers, and having more money and fixed property, were even not content with the simple office of the payment of taxes and submission to the Boers as an inferior caste. In order to emphasize this spirit of exclusion of those who were actually representing the progress of civilization, and doing vastly more than the Boers ever did to improve the country and make it prosperous in all the ways of advanced civilization, a fort was erected and so located as to bring the business centre of the Uitlanders directly under the guns of the Boers, who not satisfied with the menace of personal outrages and the denial of public rights, had to have a fort from which they could fire into the city, in which their policemen were constantly guilty of extraordinary brutalities. There is a whole history of these outrages that would make good reading for sentimentalists.
The policy of the Boer President and people in the negotiations that had so unhappy a termination was, throughout, marked with all the worst characteristics of the Boer race. The President of the South African Republic had promised in London, where he appeared as the head of a commission when the British attempted the alleged sublime policy of magnanimity in refraining from pushing the war, after the miserable slaughters and skirmishes culminating in the Majuba Hill insanity and massacre--that the Government of the "Republic" would be most considerate in protecting the rights of the British subjects in the Transvaal. Doubtless it was the remembrance of his responsibilities thus undertaken that aroused the violent spirit in the Boer Dictator when he met the British High Commissioner, Sir Alfred Milner, in the Bloemfontein conferences--so that he vehemently denounced the true petitioners of Johannesburg as falsifiers in appealing to the British Government for belated protection. It was the pleasure of President Kruger, who had himself in London promised his protection, that those who told the plain truth as to the oppression of the European people were "libelous liars." The Dictator, whose official title was that of President, and who undertook to be the representative of the implacable, domineering spirit of the Boer minority in the Transvaal, in his personal declarations disregarded all civilized amenities, and grossly insisted upon the humiliation of England in the very matter of which she has been most justly proud and won the highest regard of all enlightened peoples, and that is, of seeing at whatever cost that British subjects shall be respected everywhere in their personal rights.
[Sidenote: England's Determined Protection of Her Subjects]
Mr. Chamberlain was well within the line of established truth when he said, if the English Government had no rights in the Transvaal other than those arising from the duty of demanding plain justice from an independent government, be it republican or monarchy, the treatment of the Uitlanders at the hands of the Boers required remonstrance and demanded consideration. Of course, the logic of this statement was that if there was not a remedy for the great and bitter wrong inflicted upon one of the most important communities in the world, and far the most important in Africa, the British Empire would have to interfere. The claims of England that British subjects should be respected in personal rights have been many times vindicated, and the fact that the whole world knows the high principle and firm policy of the British in the determined protection of its subjects is one of the glories of the Empire. The President of the South African Republic flinched from his own word of honor and responsibility given in London, and rudely asserted that the majority of Europeans in the Transvaal had no rights he was bound to respect. He did not use precisely that form of speech, but it was that substantially, and the meaning of it was that the English-speaking population that had sought the Transvaal because there were there the greatest gold discoveries ever made were to be treated by the Boers as exactly on a level with "niggers." It was the President's persistent assumption and unconcealed purpose that the minority of the people of the Transvaal he controlled must be supreme over two majorities,--one the natives who had precedence of the Dutch in possession of the country, and the other the newcomers who were there on the business of civilized mankind--the Boers being a semi-barbarous minority between the two--holding with a small fraction of the population a half-way fortification from which to order and command. President Kruger wandered constantly in his conferences from the discussion of the franchise, showing an imperious temper and an inordinate and reckless, domineering propensity.
[Sidenote: A Reasonable and Just Proposal]
The proposal made by the British Commissioner for a settlement of difficulties was plain, reasonable in all respects, singularly careful of all the just susceptibilities of the Boer Government. It consented to the maintenance of the dominance of the minority, except in requiring respect for personal and public rights accorded to individuals in all civilized governments,--and in the declaration of the strict rights of British subjects consent was given to the theory of the utter independence of the Boers. There was a careful limitation here, so that even the vanity of the semi-barbarians, who asserted that they were and must be always the exclusive rulers, was not to be suddenly and in a hostile sense disturbed. There was much conceded merely to save the excessive and savage self-esteem of the Boers, who, however, positively refused justice and demanded without mitigation exercise of a despotism so unwarranted and wicked as to be intolerable to civilization. The Boer statements, soliciting sympathy, circulated in the United States have dwelt upon the assertion that the British subjects, who meant to reside permanently in the Transvaal, refused to become citizens of the South African Republic on any conditions. This way of putting the case was misleading, and purposely so. The British subjects did not agree to renounce their character as subjects, until assured they could be citizens of the South African Republic so far, and that the large majority of the Europeans, the white men in the Transvaal, might have a small minority of representation in the Volks Raad, and this upon the belief that if a very few members of that body who knew the truth of the conditions were able to speak it in public and officially, there would be a mitigation of the remorseless tyranny under which the Uitlanders had been suffering.
[Sidenote: Boers Positively Refuse Justice]
The Boer President refused to think of this, on the precise and often expressed ground that the Uitlanders were a large majority of the people, and there could be no safeguards for the Boer Government if these outsiders and strangers were permitted to have any political rights whatever. The President held indomitably that the "newcomers" and "strangers" should not occupy and possess the country to any degree by force of numbers or merit of industry and property. They were in the "blood-bought land"--that is truthfully applied, especially the native blood, and British blood had been shed copiously, and the land was bloody enough in that sense; but the condition of English-speaking people and all white immigrants in the gold fields, the richest in the world, and the diamond fields, also the richest ever known--the whole output amounting to more than one hundred millions of dollars a year--should be abject submission to an extortionate, tyrannous and brutal caste that respected no human rights and revelled in selfishness, sordidness and personal and racial insolence. [Sidenote: Mr. Kruger's Views on the Question] The initial point at which President Kruger stood through these negotiations, in which he had ample and honorable opportunities to make peace, was that the great communities of English-speaking people were composed of strangers and aliens who must be inferiors. This amounted to a presumption, officially and peremptorily and continuously asserted, that the Boers must, though a minority, and because they were a minority, be consecrated by "blood" a ruling caste, a caste whose authority it was impious to dispute, and that they must have confided to them exclusively and forever commanding powers held sacred over the natives they had enslaved; and the English-speaking people they taxed, assessed and restricted, insulted and humiliated with ostentation at their sovereign, savage pleasure. It is a mild and gentle form of expression to say that the behavior of the Boers has been that of a barbarous tribe, and that their conduct has had a nearer correspondence with Zulu savagery than with Christian civilization, and totally lacks the kindliness of the Hottentot. The Boers forced the war with England in the spirit of haughty, tribal, class, racial, contemptuous hostility, and would have it so throughout the Conferences.
[Sidenote: The English Language not Permitted]
After the Conferences between the British Commissioner and Governor of South Africa, Sir Alfred Milner and President Kruger, the peace-making efforts lacked acute interest, but were perseveringly continued. The latest concession of the Boers was that if the "people"--and by the "people" were meant the burghers of the Transvaal--approved, and the Government would try to get them to do so, a "retrospective five years' franchise" would be granted, and the amount of it was that of two-thirds of the white men of the Transvaal were to have one-fourth of the representation in the Volks Raad, but by no possibility, it was a little later explained, could the English language be permitted in that august body--the barbarous jargon of the Boers being the official language and the only tongue to be spoken. The President of the Orange State, as the gravity of the situation increased played a raucous second fiddle to President Kruger, and busied himself against the English, constantly professing friendliness to excess, working upon the line of securing the acceptance of an impossible complacency by the majority of white men in the Transvaal, in reference to the policy of their own subordination. That sort of submission is not according to the inheritance of the blood or the antecedent history of the English-speaking race, and the Uitlanders were not effusive with satisfaction even at the last Boer effort to make peace by offering a fractional representation in a body while they must listen to an unknown tongue and not be permitted to speak in the "Republican" parliament the language of the majority of the tolerably white men dwelling in the territory of the Republic.
The utility of the hysteria of the President of the Orange State was in the warning his frequent and voluminous impracticable suggestions gave, that peace could only be preserved by another case of sublime magnanimity like that of Mr. Gladstone, whose Christian benevolence had given the Boers confidence in their own invincibility and also in the timidity of the British, who were supposed to be most happy when dealing in generosities toward enemies in arms and victorious over the generous. Suddenly the peace-maker, President of the Orange State, snatched the British gold in transit, arrested or expelled British subjects by countenancing and justifying a panic that led them to take flight from his peaceable State, at the same time commandeering the burghers in force, assuming that this was done in a purely pacific way; and on the fourth of October this man of peace wrote to Sir Alfred Milner that he must urge the "urgent necessity of intimating to me without further delay whether Your Excellency sees your way clear to give effect to these my views and wishes."
[Sidenote: The President of the Orange Free State as Peace Maker]
It will be remarked that there is found in the Orange President's literature the same sort of note that Aguinaldo was in the habit of putting in his proclamations expressions of his intense passion for pacification when he was plotting the burning of Manila and the massacre of the American army. President Steyn had just stated that the South African Republic would not "make or entertain proposals or suggestions unless not only the troops menacing their State were withdrawn further from their borders, but an assurance given" that all increase of British troops in South Africa would be stopped and those on the water not landed "or as far removed as can be from the scene of possible hostilities;" and then if the Orange State President was to do anything more for peace he must now--this was the evening of October 5th--"if this preliminary but absolutely essential matter can be regulated between this and to-morrow." This shows that the professional presidential pacificator had received due notice of the purpose of the Boers to rush a declaration of war.