The Boer Ultimatum--Intrigues against British
supremacy--Great Britain's interest in the Dutch
Republics--Common interests of the white peoples--Early
history of Cape Colony--Unpopularity of the Dutch
East India Company--British capture Capetown--"The
Great Trek"--England recognizes the Republics--Their
attitude towards us--Sir Bartle Frere--Majuba--The
Outlanders--The Jameson raid--Kruger--His
character--Sir Alfred Milner--The Bloemfontein
conference--Transvaal refuses England's demands--War.
On October 11, 1899, began what was to prove the greatest struggle in
which England has engaged since the peace that followed Waterloo. For
at 5 p.m. on that day the forty-eight hours allowed by the Transvaal
Government for a favourable answer to its ultimatum expired, and the
forces of the two Boer Republics put themselves in motion to carry out
their favourite threat of sweeping the English from South Africa into
[Sidenote: The Boer Ultimatum.]
Thus came the explosion--the culminating catastrophe of a decade of
race-hatred in South Africa, the inevitable and certain result of
British moral cowardice and surrender in the past. Twenty years back it
had been foreseen and foretold by the prophets; for the last five years
before the hour of conflict the British nation had felt instinctively
that it was drawing steadily nearer; had watched with apprehension the
enormous armaments of the Transvaal, and heard with rage and shame the
story of the persistent oppression by the Boers of thousands of loyal
[Illustration: "A GENTLEMAN IN KHAKI."
Khaki, originally used in India only, but now universal in foreign
campaigns, is a canvas-like fabric, cool in summer and warm in winter.
It is precisely the colour of the dusty, yellow-brown veldt, and its
name is derived from the Persian word for dust.]
All men had dreaded it; many had striven to avert it; many more had
prayed that it might not come in their day. But it had come at last and
found Great Britain utterly unprepared, still clinging against hope
to the hope of peace, confused and distracted by false predictions
that the Boers would never fight, and by the ignorant assurance of
partisans who declared that Britain must never resort to force, but
must be contented with talk and threats alone, however grave her
[Sidenote: Intrigues against British Supremacy.]
Napoleon once said that France and England would never remain at peace;
their peace would be only suppressed war. And it might as truly be said
of the Transvaal that, since the great betrayal of British interests
which followed Majuba and which gave self-government back to the Dutch
Republic, it had never been at peace with Britain, but had for eighteen
years maintained barely concealed hostilities against all things
British. It had armed, plotted, lied, conspired, intrigued, oppressed,
prevaricated for the one great end of domination in South Africa at
whatever cost. Like the upas tree of the fable, it had corrupted the
soil of South Africa with its poison; it had blasted loyalty to Great
Britain in the surrounding territories; it had become a centre, and
a rallying point for all that was most bitterly opposed to British
supremacy and to the ideals which have made our race so great. The one
principle upon which its power was founded was the inequality of the
white races--the servitude of the Englishman to the Dutch.
[Illustration: MAJUBA HILL.
The scene of the disastrous defeat which we suffered at the hands of
the Boers on February 27, 1881. At that time there was no railway in
this portion of Natal, and the country was even more sparsely populated
than at present.]
The great principle upon which the British Empire has been built up is
that all men are equal before the law, and that all civilised races
stand upon precisely the same footing. As we profoundly believe, not
that we English are the favoured people of God, but that so long as we
are faithful to the noblest call of duty and to the highest instincts
which are in us as a race, we are helping the cause of progress,
which is the cause of God, we know that, whatever checks, whatever
vicissitudes, whatever disappointments may befall, we march to victory.
Our cause is the cause of liberty and of the right.
[Illustration: FIGURE-HEAD ROCK, MAJUBA.]
If we look at the map of South Africa as it stood in the days before
the war, we shall observe that in the centre of British territories,
cut off from all access to the sea, lay two states, one independent of
England--the Orange Free State; the other, the Transvaal, in a position
of quasi-independence. For a few miles, it is true, the Transvaal
boundary on the east is conterminous with Portuguese possessions;
indeed, it approaches very close to the magnificent harbour of Delagoa
[Illustration: KAFFIR WOMEN CARRYING BEER.
The natives make a fermented drink from mealies (Indian corn) which
is known as Kaffir beer. It is carried from one kraal to another by
strings of women walking in Indian file and carrying on their heads
great yellow gourds containing their favourite drink.]
[Sidenote: 1652-1709.] Conflict of Races in South Africa.]
[Sidenote: Great Britain's Interest in the Dutch Republics.]
But with this exception the two Boer States are closely shut in by
British colonies. Hence of necessity the British Empire must always
have been profoundly interested in the internal condition of these two
Dutch republics. Had they been peaceful and orderly States, as was the
Orange Free State up to that evil day when it became demoralised by the
gold lavished from the Transvaal secret service funds, they might have
existed in perfect amity. Had they been content to accept things as
they were, there could have been no quarrel.
In the British colonies of Natal and Cape Colony, the one to the
south-east of the Boer Republics, the other to the west and south-west,
were many thousands of Dutch, closely connected by family and by race
with the inhabitants of those republics. It was the one desire of the
Government of the Transvaal to unite these Dutch against the English,
and to sap their loyalty, though they had no grievances and had been
given in every respect the same privileges as the Englishmen.
No other theory will explain the conduct of the Transvaal. It had
assumed the title of "South African Republic," and taken to itself a
four-coloured flag as emblem of the future union of Transvaal, Orange
Free State, Cape Colony, and Natal under its sovereign influence.
[Illustration: O'NEILL'S HOUSE.
Temporary hospital for wounded men brought from Majuba; the house where
the Anglo-Boer Convention was held in 1881 and the treaty signed.]
[Illustration: O'NEILL'S HOUSE.
The room in which the Convention of 1881 was signed.]
[Illustration: VIEW ON THE ORANGE RIVER, FROM THE RAILWAY BRIDGE.
The Orange River divides Cape Colony from the Orange Free State. This
view is taken from a railway bridge connecting the two, and looking up
stream. The Orange River is one of the few South African rivers that
rarely, if ever, dries up.]
The conflict of races in South Africa was complicated by the presence
of the Bantu peoples, who gradually overcame the original inhabitants
of South Africa, the Hottentots and Bushmen, and are themselves
a conquering race, who increase in numbers with the peace which
civilisation brings, and who do not suffer, as do many dark-skinned
peoples, from the white man's vices and diseases.
 Bantu is the generic name for the native tribe, of which the Zulus,
Swazies, Amatongas, and Matabele are the off-shoots. There are no pure
Bantus left in South Africa, but it is the root-race from which all the
more warlike tribes have sprung.
[Sidenote: Common Interests of the White Peoples.]
Though accurate statistics of the proportion of English and
Dutch-speaking inhabitants in the various South African states cannot
be obtained, it is probable that in British and Dutch South Africa
there were, in 1899, 400,000 Englishmen or men of English descent,
500,000 Dutch, and 3,500,000 Indians, Malays, Hottentots, and natives
of the various Kaffir tribes. In Cape Colony and the Orange Free
State of the white races the Dutch preponderated; in the Transvaal,
Natal, and Rhodesia, the British. Instinct should have united the
white peoples, for, dwelling amidst a vast number of Bantus, warlike
by nature and intelligent above the common run of negro, both white
peoples were face to face with a common danger--a danger which the many
fierce struggles with the great tribes of the Zulus, Matabele, and
Basutos, had in the past proved to be a very real and ever-present one.
Here were the very conditions which should have produced peace and
amity--two kindred white races of the same faith, and almost of the
same blood, confronted by hourly peril from the blacks.
Why, then, was it that Englishmen and Dutchmen could not dwell in
peace? Hereafter we shall have to follow the whole sad story out in
detail; in this place it may suffice briefly to recapitulate the most
[Illustration: OLD DUTCH HOUSE IN PAPENDORP IN WHICH THE CAPITULATION
OF THE CAPE FROM HOLLAND TO GREAT BRITAIN WAS SIGNED IN 1806.]
[Illustration: PRETORIA NACHTMAAL.
Four times a year the country Boers come into Pretoria for Nachtmaal
(Holy Communion). They outspan their waggons on the Church Square, camp
out for a week with their wives and families, and do their shopping for
the ensuing three months.]
[Illustration: BATTLEFIELD OF BRONKHORST SPRUIT.
The scene of the battle between the Boers and the English in 1881, when
a detachment of the 94th regiment was surprised by a party of the enemy
in ambush and nearly annihilated.]
[Sidenote: Early History of Cape Colony.]
[Sidenote: 1709-1833.] Early History of Cape Colony.]
Capetown was first occupied by the Dutch East India Company in 1652 as
a naval station on the road to India. At first it was only a military
post; five years later a dozen men were allowed to settle outside the
limits of the Dutch fortress, buying and selling under most stringent
regulations laid down by the Company. The Dutch forcibly took the land
from the Hottentots where they could not obtain its cession for a
consideration. Gradually they increased in numbers and spread inland;
at the close of the seventeenth century they were reinforced by a
number of Huguenots, exiled from France on account of their religion,
and for the most part men of high birth and noble character. The new
comers attempted to keep their tongue and identity, but in 1709 the
Dutch Company forbade all use of French in official communications, and
the language rapidly became obsolete.
A homogeneous Dutch community grew up in this remote region--for the
Cape was, in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, one of the
least-explored and most out-of-the-way parts of the earth--which knew
no literature but the Bible, which preserved the manners and traditions
of the seventeenth century, and which from its frequent disputes with
the Dutch East India Company's tyrannical government imbibed a rooted
aversion to all laws and restraints.
It was a strong, old-world community, which retrograded rather than
advanced as time went on, which in its utter isolation escaped the
soothing influence of civilisation, and in which every man, as far as
he could, did that which was right in his own eyes.
[Illustration: THE PAARDEKRAAL COMMEMORATION.
The Paardekraal (Horse-pound) Monument erected near Krugersdorp by the
Boers to commemorate their independence. Periodically great meetings
are held here, when prayers are offered and patriotic speeches made.
Beneath the monument is a sort of cellar, into which every Boer in
passing throws a stone as a token of his visit.]
[Sidenote: Unpopularity of the Dutch East India Company. British
The colonists were perpetually in conflict with the hated Dutch East
India Company; they were in open revolt when in 1795 a British force
appeared off Table Bay and captured Capetown. There was at first no
antagonism between the conquerors and the colonists. When the Cape was
re-occupied in 1806, it having been restored to Holland in the peace of
1802, Sir Home Popham was able to trust very largely to the colonists
for the defence of the place. He lays emphasis on their dislike for the
Dutch Company and on their loyalty to the Union Jack.
[Illustration: A LAAGER, SHOWING THE LONG CAPE WAGGONS USED IN A "TREK."
When Boers are trekking, or travelling from one place to another, they
outspan their waggons at night and put them end-on in the form of an
oblong. The cattle are tethered in the centre, and the interstices of
the wheels filled up with wacht-een-beitje or wait-a-bit thornbush.]
It was not until England began to interfere with the treatment of the
natives by the Dutch colonists that Dutch discontent first showed
itself. The prohibition of the use of the Dutch language in official
documents and in the law courts, the abolition of slavery in 1834--for
which most inadequate compensation was made by England--and the
meddling in the government of the colony by doctrinaires in England
who knew and cared little or nothing for the peculiar circumstances,
familiar to the men on the spot, caused general irritation amongst
a people always averse to law and order, and by nature inclined to
[Sidenote: "The Great Trek."]
The abolition of slavery was the immediate cause which led to "the
Great Trek" in 1837, when many hundreds of Dutch colonist-farmers
or "Boers," as they now came to be called, went forth with their
waggons and women and children and belongings into the vast, unknown,
mysterious, remote lands which then bordered upon the colony. They
settled down in what is now Natal, the Orange Free State, and the
Natal was annexed by England in 1843; the Orange Free State in 1848,
after the Boers had been defeated at Boomplaats in the first real
engagement fought in South Africa between the English and the Dutch
[Illustration: "STUCK" ON THE DRAKENSBERG.
The Drakensberg Mountains form the northern boundary of Natal, dividing
that colony from the Orange Free State. The passes are of a difficult
and often dangerous nature for waggon-transit.]
[Illustration: FORDING A RIVER IN THE TRANSVAAL.
Except after heavy rains all the rivers are easily crossed at the
different drifts or fords, and after a long, dusty trek, the team of
sixteen oxen enjoy the coolness of the water, and linger in the stream
for as long as their drivers will permit.]
[Sidenote: England recognises the Republics.]
In 1852 the independence of the Transvaal was recognised by the Sand
River Convention, with the express stipulation that slavery should
never be permitted within the territories of the Republic. Two years
later England abandoned the Orange Free State for no reason whatever,
except her dislike for onerous responsibilities.
All this while war with the Kaffir tribes had continued, in which
British soldiers did most of the work and the British people paid
most of the cost. All this while, too, one able man after another was
going out from England to govern South Africa, and, because his ways
were not the home government's ways, was returning in disgrace. Sir
Benjamin D'Urban, Sir Harry Smith, Sir George Grey, all walked the same
sad road; all did what was wise, far-sighted, and just; all gained
the respect of the English and the Dutch in the colony, and all alike
were over-ruled, interfered with, or recalled. Jerusalem stoned the
prophets; England preferred not to listen to them: either had in the
end to pay bitterly for this refusal to hear and learn the truth.
[Sidenote: 1854-1877.] The Zulu War.]
And thus there grew up in South Africa two independent Dutch
communities, outside the pale of our Empire, and this, too, in a
country which nature clearly meant to be one organic whole.
[Sidenote: Their attitude toward us.]
These two republics differed much in their attitude to England. The
Orange Free State was always on friendly terms; the Transvaal always
more or less hostile. The Orange State was reasonably well governed;
the Transvaal became an anarchic, loosely compacted, lawless, bankrupt
country, where decent government was unknown. Its chequered existence
ended for a time in 1877, when, with treasury empty, and threatened on
the one hand by Cetewayo and the Zulus and on the other by the Bantu
chief Secocoeni, it was annexed in the name of Great Britain by Sir
Having taken over the Transvaal, England proceeded to break up the
power of the Zulus and to subdue Secocoeni. Trade revived, and
everything looked well, though there was still a good deal of veiled
discontent, due to the British failure to grant self-government,
when for party purposes, to eject Lord Beaconsfield from office, Mr.
Gladstone began to declaim against the "invasion of a free people," as
he called the annexation of the Transvaal. He was followed by Mr. John
Morley and Mr. Leonard Courtney, and by most of his party in this kind
[Illustration: A BOER COMMANDANT IN FIGHTING KIT.]
[Illustration: BOER CANNON USED IN THE WAR OF 1881.
These are old Boer cannon made by inexperienced workmen, and said to be
fashioned from the iron rims of wheels taken off the British waggons
captured at Bronkhorst Spruit. They form a remarkable contrast with the
modern guns with which the Boers are now armed.]
Never have rash and foolish words so swiftly come home to harass the
speakers, as in this case. Mr. Gladstone achieved his object, and
attained power for what afterwards proved to be the most disastrous and
humiliating period in British history. His speeches had been reprinted
in the Transvaal, and had inspired hopes which the Boers now expected
him to fulfil. They were disappointed. On June 8, 1880, he wrote to
a Transvaal deputation, "Our judgment is that the Queen cannot be
advised to relinquish the Transvaal," and that "obligations have been
contracted which cannot now be set aside."
[Illustration: A BOER "LONG TOM" AT PRETORIA STATION, EN ROUTE FOR THE
SCENE OF WAR.
This powerful weapon, a Creusot gun of 5·9 inches calibre, has a range
of 10,000 yards. It was christened "Long Tom" by our men at Ladysmith,
where one of these guns was disabled in a night sortie. With equal
aptness a Boer gun whose shells constantly fell short was nicknamed
[Sidenote: Sir Bartle Frere.]
But though outwardly Mr. Gladstone's attitude was the attitude of
a strong man, he took no precautions to meet Boer discontent. The
warnings of Sir Bartle Frere, the British governor at the Cape, were
unheeded. Sir Michael Hicks-Beach had thrown him over once because he
had not been able to prevent the Zulu war; Mr. Gladstone now recalled
him at the very time when a brave, loyal, far-sighted, single-hearted
man, such as Bartle Frere undoubtedly was, was most needed in South
Africa. Abandoned by both parties, betrayed, and treated with a
contumelious contempt which his noble services had never deserved, he
turned his face sadly towards England. Two months later the Transvaal
rose in revolt.
[Illustration: FREE STATE ARTILLERY AT BLOEMFONTEIN.
The standing armies of both the Orange Free State and the Transvaal
consist of a few hundred State Artillery, largely recruited and
officered by Germans and Hollanders. This picture shows the Orange
Free State Artillery in gala uniform on the way to parade. They are
commanded by Major Albrecht, a German.]
In quick succession three checks, or positive defeats, were inflicted
upon a small British force, the most serious that of Majuba. The
British government had announced that, come what might, it would
suppress the insurrection, but losing heart and terrified by the
prospect of a Dutch rising in the Cape, it conceded to the insurgents
a limited measure of self-government, and strove to delude the world
by talk of magnanimity. It explained that there was real nobility in
receding from its pledges and giving way to a small but victorious
force of Boers. Many people at the time doubted this nobility, and
by an explicit statement of Lord Kimberley on November 14, 1899, the
surrender is now known to have been due to cowardice, and to cowardice
[Illustration: SIR BARTLE FRERE (the centre figure at the table),
STAFF, CHAPLAIN, AND SECRETARY OUTSIDE THE BRITISH RESIDENCY IN
A settlement based upon cowardice could never last, could never prove
satisfactory. The Transvaal Government used Mr. Gladstone's fears as
a lever to extort a fresh convention and get fresh concessions. Its
attitude to England was almost openly hostile.
[Sidenote: The Outlanders.]
[Sidenote: 1881-1896.] The English a Subject Race.]
And now the discovery of gold brought immense wealth and a large
British population into its midst. The rights of that British
population, known as Uitlanders or Outlanders, had been very
inadequately guaranteed by Mr. Gladstone, who foresaw nothing, and
thus failed hopelessly in the greatest department of statesmanship.
The Transvaal Boers remained what they had been in the days of the
Great Trek and in the early forties. They kept all the power in their
own hands and made of the English--from whose wealth, however, and
from whose energy they took ample toll--a subject race, excluded from
all voice in the management of affairs, deprived of the rights of free
speech and of free press, unable to obtain justice in the Boer courts,
openly insulted and outraged without hope of redress. Corruption was
rampant in the governing circles.
Up to September 1886 there was not a single house on the site of the
now flourishing town of Johannesburg. It owes its existence entirely to
the discovery of gold, of which a reef 130 miles long runs through the
town and district.]
[Illustration: A DUST STORM IN JOHANNESBURG.
This is a very cloudy view of Goldopolis. Periodically, especially in
winter, vast dust storms prevail, which obscure everything with an
opaque gritty haze as thick as a London fog, and far more unpleasant.]
The tone of the Dutch Parliament or Raad reflected the temper of the
whole Boer community, which may have been suited to the seventeenth
century, but was wholly out of place at the close of the nineteenth.
Pillar-boxes were effeminate; locusts were a plague sent from God, and
might not be interfered with; railways had not the divine blessing and
brought all manner of calamity; the firing of bombs to bring down rain
was impious profanity; the size of neckties ought to be regulated by
the authorities. At every turn there were fierce expressions of hatred
for England and Englishmen. Foreigners were called in to help hold down
the English; the government openly and undisguisedly coquetted with
Germany and with any power which it believed hostile to the British
[Sidenote: The Jameson Raid.]
Then came the Jameson Raid, provoked by misgovernment and by the
growing exasperation throughout the British Empire, but in itself
indefensible. It failed signally, and left no heroic memory of resolute
fighting to the end against overpowering odds, but only shame and
sorrow in its trail. Yet it at least served to rivet the gaze of
England upon what was happening in South Africa. Even before the raid
the Transvaal Government had begun to arm; it now proceeded to build
up a great military power, purchasing cannon literally by the hundred
and rifles by the thousand, erecting immense fortifications at Pretoria
and Johannesburg, and concluding a secret alliance with the Orange Free
State. The money for these armaments was wrung from the Outlanders. By
the lavish use of secret service funds the press of Continental Europe
was set yelling against England, and treason was fomented in Cape
The treatment of the Outlanders went from bad to worse, till Englishmen
and Englishwomen were murdered, like Edgar and Mrs. Applebee, without
redress. No great nation could permit its subjects to suffer
continued humiliation in a country over which that nation had certain
rights--however shadowy--and it grew monthly more certain that Great
Britain must at last intervene.
[Illustration: COLESBERG: PRESIDENT KRUGER'S BIRTH-PLACE.
Seventy-four years ago Paul Kruger was born in the neighbourhood of
Colesberg in Cape Colony. He left it with his parents in 1837, at the
time of "the Great Trek," and travelled northwards to the wild country,
which eventually became the South African Republic.]
The president and the evil genius of the Transvaal through this epoch
was Stephanus Paulus Johannes Kruger, born in Cape Colony on October
10, 1825. He was a man of indomitable courage and extraordinary force
of character--a fighting man from his youth up. His coolness was shown
on one occasion, when, out hunting, he suddenly one day, from the top
of a kopje--a hillock such as cover the surface of the upland plains
of South Africa--saw a large number of Kaffirs evidently advancing
to attack him. He sat calmly down without betraying the slightest
trepidation, shook the sand from his rough raw-hide shoes, and then
waved and signalled with his rifle as if to a considerable force of
Boers behind him under shelter of the kopje. The Kaffirs, convinced by
his show of boldness that he was not alone, precipitately retreated.
[Sidenote: His character.]
As a diplomatist, Mr. Kruger earned Bismarck's commendation. The
great German, who had met him, saw in him the strongest man of our
time. He was, however, destitute of that noble instinct without which
statesmanship builds upon the shifting sands--the instinct of justice
and fair play. Personally corrupt, since he was not above charging very
heavy travelling expenses for a certain trip in which he was the guest
of Cape Colony; winking at or openly justifying corruption in others;
laying up a colossal fortune out of the stealings of himself and his
friends from the State, he had all the uncouthness and all the iron
determination of an Abraham Lincoln, but lacked the great American's
cleanness of hand and love of justice and of right.
[Illustration: PRESIDENT KRUGER.
Born at Rustenberg, near Colesberg, Cape Colony, October 10, 1825.
Emigrated across the Vaal, 1837. Member of Executive Council under
President Burghers, 1872. President of Transvaal since 1883; re-elected
1888, 1893, 1898.]
[Illustration: DOPPER CHURCH, PRETORIA.
The Dopper or Quaker Church, Pretoria, where President Kruger very
often preached. It stood directly opposite his house, and has quite
recently been replaced by a more modern structure.]
[Sidenote: 1881-1896.] Character of President Kruger.]
Mr. Kruger was by birth a peasant, and remained to the end a peasant in
ideas. His will power was coupled with a subtle cunning; his horizon
was narrow, and limited and never expanded; his mind was always filled
with suspicion and jealousy of all that he could not understand. His
patriotism had not prevented him from taking office under the British
Government, and asking from that government higher pay. His attitude to
the Outlanders, were these of British nationality, was one of insolent
contempt. When Johannesburg presented a petition asking for reforms, he
remarked, "Ah! that's just like my monkey. You know I keep a monkey in
my back yard, and the other day, when we were burning some rubbish, the
monkey managed to get his tail burnt, whereupon he bit me. That's just
like these people in Johannesburg. They burn their tails in the fire of
speculation and then they come and bite me."
[Illustration: THE PRESIDENT'S HOUSE, PRETORIA.
This house was given to Paul Kruger by a man named Nellmapius, the
original liquor concessionaire, as a small token of gratitude. The only
outward signs of its purpose are the flagstaff and a lazy sentry.]
"Protest! protest!" he said on another occasion, "what is the good of
protesting? You have not got the guns! I have."
[Illustration: A MONSTER ANT-HILL.
The veldt throughout South Africa, but particularly in parts of the
Transvaal, is dotted at frequent intervals by ant-heaps, some of which
are as large as the one shown above. The natives use the smaller ones
as ovens, first driving out the ants by smoke, and then hollowing out
[Illustration: THE RAADZAAL, PRETORIA.
After the General Election to the Volksraad or Parliament of the
Transvaal in 1898, the new members were formally sworn in, and
President Kruger made a speech from the balcony under the awning to
the crowd waiting in Church Square. The soldiers are the Pretoria
Volunteers in their gala uniform.]
The outward appearance of Mr. Kruger is in keeping with his sinister
personality. A shabby frock coat deluged with coffee stains, a seedy
silk hat without gloss, an immense scarf of office which sorts
grotesquely with this apparel, and ill-fitting trousers barely long
enough to meet the boots, are his familiar habiliments. He smokes and
drinks coffee incessantly. He has the fervent piety of a Torquemada;
believes himself under the peculiar protection of God; and interlards
his discourse with religious ejaculations, as if God could smile upon
tyranny and corruption. He has exaggerated the outward roughness of
Cromwell, forgetting, however, that, to complete the picture, the vast
tolerance, which is Cromwell's greatest merit, is required.
[Sidenote: Sir Alfred Milner.]
To meet this man in a duel of giants, England sent out her greatest
and ablest administrator. Sir Alfred Milner went to his arduous task
with the solid approval--even with the prayers--of the whole nation.
Messrs. Morley and Courtney, and all the faint hearts that masquerade
in the party of Little Englanders, blessed the choice. He was known to
be wise, moderate, restrained, strong. An Oxford man, he had learnt,
in a school which imparts character even more than learning, that the
Englishman's duty is not to seek wealth, luxury, or ease, but, in the
highest sense, to live well. He did not parade religion, but then it
was in his heart. He did not talk of patriotism, but then he had never
been in foreign pay, like Mr. Kruger. His manners were not uncouth,
his dress was that of the ordinary world. No act of meanness, of
corruption, of unscrupulousness can be imputed to him. His career had
been one of unsullied brilliance. He was "straight," as he was brave.
At Cape Colony he was welcomed by all. He made no move, but sat still
and studied the country, studied the situation, studied Mr. Kruger and
Mr. Kruger's policy. He followed impassively the machinations of the
Bond, the Dutch party which had organised itself in Cape Colony. Mr.
Kruger fancied that here was another man who could be twisted round his
thumb, but he was greatly mistaken. Sir Alfred Milner was only striving
to discover the truth before he took action.
[Illustration: OOM PAUL AND TANT' SANNIE.
Paul Kruger and Mrs. Kruger, after whom Mr. Chamberlain enquired on a
memorable occasion. The President has been twice married; the present
Mrs. Kruger was a Miss Malan. The couple are familiarly known in South
Africa as "Uncle Paul and Aunt Sannie."]
[Sidenote: The Bloemfontein Conference.]
The crisis drew nearer when an immense petition to the Queen was
forwarded by the Outlanders, praying for redress of their grievances. A
conference was arranged between President Kruger and Sir Alfred Milner
at Bloemfontein, and at it Sir Alfred put forward minimum demands--for
a reform of the franchise in the Transvaal, by which the Outlanders
would be able to obtain votes, and for a redistribution of seats. The
demands were refused, Mr. Kruger offering very much less, and the
conference broke up.
[Illustration: SIR A. MILNER AND PRESIDENT KRUGER LEAVING THE
CONFERENCE AT BLOEMFONTEIN, June, 1899.
No greater contrast can be imagined than the young, dapper, cultured
diplomatist, and the rugged, wily, and uncultured old President.]
[Sidenote: SEPT. 1899.] British Demands Refused.]
Then followed a long diplomatic battle between the British Government
and Mr. Kruger. Something on our part was conceded of Sir Alfred's
minimum, but not by Sir Alfred; nothing was conceded by the Transvaal,
which at every turn asserted its right to be considered a "sovereign
independent state." Mr. Kruger, as he had always prophesied, was aided
and encouraged in his resistance by a certain party of Englishmen which
denounced Sir Alfred Milner, pretended that England was aiming at "the
destruction of the Transvaal Republic," and asserted that England must
concede, and ought to concede, because the nation would never go to war.
[Illustration: BLOEMFONTEIN, CAPITAL OF THE ORANGE FREE STATE.]
Finally, on September 8, a British note was despatched demanding
a franchise attainable after five years' residence, a greater
representation for the Outlander majority in the Volksraad--the
Transvaal parliament--and equality of the Dutch and English languages
in that Parliament. An early answer was required. At the same time
5,000 troops were ordered from England and 5,000 from India to South
Africa, where our garrison did not much exceed 7,000 men.
[Photo by Elliott & Fry.
SIR ALFRED MILNER.
Son of a doctor of medicine; was educated in Germany, and at King's
College, London, and Balliol College, Oxford; barrister, 1881; engaged
in journalism, 1882-5; Private Secretary to Mr. Goschen, 1887-9;
Under Secretary for Finance in Egypt, 1889-92; Chairman of Board of
Inland Revenue, 1892-7; K. C. B., 1895; Governor of the Cape, and High
Commissioner of South Africa since 1897.]
[Photo by Elliott & Fry.
RT. HON. JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN.
Born in London, 1836; son of a Birmingham screw manufacturer; Chairman
of Birmingham School Board, 1873; Mayor, 1874-5-6; M. P. for Birmingham
since 1876; President of the Board of Trade, 1880; President of the
Local Government Board, 1886, both under Mr. Gladstone. He differed
from that leader on the question of Home Rule, and resigned, 1886. In
1895 he became Secretary of State for the Colonies in Lord Salisbury's
[Sidenote: Transvaal refuses England's demands.]
On the 16th the Transvaal replied with a flat refusal of the vital
demands. At the same time came news of immense military preparations
in the Transvaal and of a general exodus of British subjects from
Johannesburg. Yet England still waited in hope of a peaceful
settlement, and the government even now failed to take the steps which
should have been taken at once; it did not engage transports, mobilise
an army, and with all possible speed despatch it to South Africa.
[Sidenote: [OCT. 7-9, 1899.]
How terrible was the danger, how near the British Empire in South
Africa to its fall in the days which followed the 16th, was not at the
time apprehended by the public. Yet the government knew, or should have
known. Not till October 7, in face of the hourly growing peril, was
mobilisation ordered in England.
[Illustration: REFUGEES LEAVING JOHANNESBURG.
Owing to the immense crowds of refugees leaving Johannesburg, the
rolling stock of the Netherlands South African Railway was unequal
to the demands made upon it, and very many hapless Uitlanders had
to travel hundreds of miles in cattle trucks, amid terribly trying
On the 9th, the Boer ultimatum was handed in, demanding the withdrawal
of the troops which had reached South Africa since June 1, 1899, and
of all troops on their way. There was only one possible answer to this
[Illustration: REFUGEES WAITING TO EMBARK AT LOURENÇO MARQUES.
Lourenço Marques is the nearest seaport to Pretoria, and belongs to
Portugal. The photograph was taken on the occasion when many refugees
from the Transvaal waited all night on the jetty for the ship Avondale
Castle, which had been stopped by H. M. S. Philomel and compelled
to discharge at Durban £25,000 in specie consigned to the Transvaal