The direct share which Lord Milner took in the skilful disposition of the handful of British troops available at the outbreak of the war for the defence of the north-eastern frontier of the Cape Colony has been mentioned. The part which he played during the first period of the war in his relationship to the military authorities is sufficiently indicated by the words which appear in Lord Roberts's final despatch.

"This despatch," writes the Commander-in-Chief on April 2nd,
1901, "would be incomplete were I to omit to mention the benefit
I have derived from the unfailing support and wise counsels of
Sir Alfred Milner. I can only say here that I have felt it a high
privilege to work in close communication with one whose courage
never faltered however grave the responsibilities might be which
surrounded him, and who, notwithstanding the absorbing cares of
his office, seemed always able to find time for a helpful message
or for the tactful solution of a difficult question."

That this is no conventional compliment, even in the mouth of so great a general as Lord Roberts, will appear from the fact that on one occasion--to be presently noted--Lord Milner's judgment did not entirely recommend itself at the moment to the Commander-in-Chief.

[Sidenote: An unnatural alliance.]

But such services, important as they were, are mere accidents in comparison with the volume of continuous and concentrated effort required to keep the machinery of administration available for the Imperial Government in a colony in which not merely the majority of the inhabitants, but the majority of the members of the Legislative Assembly, and half of the ministers of the Crown, were in more or less complete sympathy with the enemy. The Boer ultimatum, by making it impossible for the British Government to be any longer cajoled into an elusory settlement by Boer diplomacy, had relieved Lord Milner of a load of anxiety, and closed a period of unparalleled physical and mental strain. But it by no means brought Lord Milner's task to an end. The open rebellion of the Dutch subjects of the Crown, considerable alike in point of numbers and area, was not the most dangerous aspect of the state of utter disaffection, or rather demoralisation, to which the Cape Colony had been reduced by twenty years of Dutch ascendancy and nationalist propaganda. Just as before the ultimatum it was the influence, exercised by constitutional means, and ostensibly in the interests of the Imperial Government, over the Republics that brought the Salisbury Cabinet within measurable distance of diplomatic defeat; so, during the war, what was done and said by the Afrikander nationalists within the letter of the law constituted in fact the most formidable obstacle to the success of the British arms. If the Dutch in the Cape Colony had been left to themselves, their efforts to encourage the resistance of the Boers, in view of the rapid and effective blows struck by Lord Roberts, would probably have been without result. But unhappily their efforts stimulated the traditional sympathisers of the Boers in England to fresh action; and they were themselves stimulated in turn by the excesses of the party opposition which sprang into life again directly Lord Roberts's campaign had relieved the British people from any fear of military humiliation. Just as in the period before the war we found the Afrikander leaders striving to "mediate" between the Transvaal and the British Government; so now during the war we find them striving to "conciliate" the two contending parties. In both cases their aim was the same--to prevent the destruction of the Republics and the consequent ruin of the nationalist cause. As in the former case "mediation" was a euphemism for the diplomatic defeat of the British Government, so now "conciliation" is synonymous with the restoration of the independence of the Boers--that is, the renunciation of all that the British people, whether islander or colonist, had fought to secure. That any considerable body of Englishmen should have allowed themselves to become a second time the dupes of so coarse a political hypocrisy may well arouse surprise to-day; to a future generation it will seem almost incredible. The fact, however, admits of neither doubt nor contradiction. It is writ large in Hansard, in the Blue-books, and in the daily journals. The whole force of this strange and unnatural alliance between England's most bitter and most skilful enemies in South Africa and a section of her own sons at home, was directed against Lord Milner during the remaining years of his High Commissionership.

[Sidenote: Mr Schreiners's attitude.]

For the moment, however, the ultimatum had rendered the British people practically unanimous in the desire to chastise the insolence of the Boer, and, in the face of this determination, no opposition was manifested by the Afrikander Government to the free movement and disembarkation of the Imperial troops. The employment of the local forces in the defence of the colony was another matter. The Free State commandos crossed the Orange River on October 31st, 1899. The delay was not due to any regard felt by President Steyn for Mr. Schreiner, but solely to military considerations. On the previous day General Joubert had shut up Sir George White's force in Ladysmith; and there was, therefore, no longer any likelihood that these commandos would be required in Natal. The invasion of the Colony south of the Orange River produced, as we have noticed, a marked change in Mr. Schreiner's attitude; causing him finally to abandon the neutrality policy and recognise the necessity of employing the local volunteer forces in the defence of the Colony. None the less the injury inflicted upon British interests by the Prime Minister's attempt to keep the people of the Cape Colony out of the conflict was unquestionable. The ministers of the Crown in this British Colony had allowed arms and ammunition to go through to the Free State, until the Imperial authorities had interfered; they had refused to supply Mafeking and Kimberley with much-needed artillery; they had refused to call out the volunteers until the Colony was about to be invaded by the Free State as well as by the Transvaal, and even then they had delayed to supply these forces with Lee-Enfield rifles. These were injuries the effect of which could not be repaired by any subsequent co-operation with the representatives of the British Government. In addition to calling out the volunteers, Mr. Schreiner allowed the Imperial military authorities to take over the Cape Government railways, and he consented to the proclamation of martial law in those districts of the Colony in which the Dutch were in rebellion. But he was far from yielding, even now, that full and complete assistance to the Governor which would have been expected, as a matter of course, from the Prime Minister of any other British colony. On one occasion, at least, during this period the conflict between his views and those of Lord Milner became so acute that his resignation seemed to be inevitable. But this was not to be the end of the Afrikander Ministry. In proportion as Mr. Schreiner approached gradually to agreement with Lord Milner, so did he incur the displeasure of Mr. Hofmeyr and the Dutch, until (in June, 1901) the Ministry perished of internal dissension.

A week after Lord Roberts reached Capetown (January 10th, 1900), Lord Milner sent home a despatch in which he tells the story of the rebellion in the Cape Colony. The state of the districts on the western border of the Republics, north of the Orange River, is described in the words of a reliable and unbiassed witness who has just arrived at Capetown from Vryburg, where he has been lately resident:

"All the farmers in the Vryburg, Kuruman, and Taungs districts,"
says this witness, "have joined the Boers, and I do not believe
that you will find ten loyal British subjects among the Dutch
community in the whole of Bechuanaland. The Field Cornets and
Justices of the Peace on the Dutch side have all joined ... the
conduct of the rebels has been unbearable."

Of the position of that part of the Eastern Province of the Cape Colony which, lying to the south of the Free State, formed the main seat of the rebellion, Lord Milner himself writes:

[Sidenote: Treatment of loyalists.]

"Within a space of less than three weeks from the occupation of
Colesberg, no less than five great districts--those of Colesberg,
Albert, Aliwal North, Barkly East, and Wodehouse--had gone over
without hesitation, and, so to speak, bodily, to the enemy.
Throughout that region the Landdrosts of the Orange Free State
had established their authority, and everywhere, in the
expressive words of a magistrate, British loyalists were "being
hunted out of town after town like sheep." In the invaded
districts the method of occupation has always been more or less
the same. The procedure is as follows:--A commando enters, the
Orange Free State flag is hoisted, a meeting is held in the
courthouse, or market-place, and a Proclamation is read annexing
the district. The Commandant then makes a speech, in which he
explains that the people must now obey the Free State laws
generally, though they are at present under martial law. A local
Landdrost is appointed, and loyal subjects are given a few days
or hours in which to quit, or be compelled to serve against their
country. In either case they lose their property to a greater or
less extent. If they elect to quit they are often robbed before
starting or on the journey; if they stay their property and
themselves are commandeered.

"The number of rebels who have actually taken up arms and joined
the enemy during their progress throughout the five annexed
districts can for the present only be matter of conjecture. I
shall, however, be on the safe side in reckoning that during
November it was a number not less than the total of the invading
commandos, that is, 2,000, while it is probable that of the
invading commandos themselves a certain proportion were colonists
who had crossed the border before the invasion took place. And
the number, whatever it was, which joined the enemy before and
during November has been increased since. A well-informed refugee
from the Albert district has estimated the total number of
colonial Boers who have joined the enemy in the invaded
districts south of the Orange River at 3,000 to 4,000. In the
districts north of that river, to which I referred at the
beginning of this despatch, the number can hardly be less. Adding
to these the men who became burghers of the Transvaal immediately
before, or just after, the outbreak of war, with the view of
taking up arms in the struggle, I am forced to the conclusion
that, in round figures, not less than 10,000 of those now
fighting against us in South Africa, and probably somewhat more,
either are, or till quite recently were, subjects of the

[Footnote 202: Cd. 264 (Despatch of January 16th, 1900).]

As it turned out, this eastern rebellion was kept within limits by General French's advance upon Colesberg, and by the skilful and successful cavalry operations which he subsequently carried out upon the Free State border; but there is abundant evidence to support the belief that any second reverse in the Eastern Province, such as that which General Gatacre suffered at Stormberg, would have proved the signal for a rising in the Western Province. The Bond was active; and the tone of the meetings held by the various branches throughout the Colony was as frankly hostile to the Imperial Government as it was sympathetic to the Republics.

[Sidenote: State of western province.]

The extent to which Mr. Schreiner's qualified co-operation with the Imperial authorities had aroused the hostility of the Bond will be seen from the minutes of the proceedings of the meeting of the Cape Distriks-bestuur, held at the office of Ons Land at the end of January (1900). It was a small meeting, but among those present were Mr. Hofmeyr himself and Mr. Malan, the editor of Ons Land. On the motion of the latter, it was unanimously determined that the forthcoming Annual Congress of the Bond should be asked to pass a--

"resolution (a) giving expression of Congress's entire
disapproval of the policy which led to the present bloody war
instead of to a peaceful solution of the differences with the
South African Republic by means of arbitration; and (b) urging
a speedy re-establishment of peace on fair and righteous
conditions, as also a thorough inquiry by our Parliament into the
way in which, during the war, private property, the civil
liberties, and constitutional rights of the subject have been

[Footnote 203: Cd. 261.]

Even more significant--as evidence of the dangerous feeling of exaltation which possessed the Dutch at this time--was the New Year's exhortation of Ons Land, the journalistic mouthpiece of Mr. Hofmeyr. And Mr. Hofmeyr, it must be remembered, was not only the head of the Commissie van Toezicht, or Executive of three which controlled the Afrikander Bond, but the real master of the majority in the Cape Parliament, upon which the Schreiner Cabinet depended for its existence. After setting out the "mighty deeds" achieved by the Afrikander arms during the last three months, this bitter and relentless opponent of British supremacy in South Africa proceeded to declare that "still mightier deeds" were to be seen in the coming year (1900), and that the Afrikander nation, so far from being extinguished by the conflict with Great Britain, would be welded into one compact mass, and flourish more and more.

Nor was this all. In the closing days of the year (1899) information reached the British military authorities that a plot was on foot to seize Capetown. The Dutch from the country districts were to assemble in the capital in the guise of excursionists who had come to town to enjoy the Christmas and New Year holidays. On New Year's Eve, the night reported to have been fixed for the attempt, all the military stations in Capetown were kept in frequent communication by telephone; the streets were paraded by pickets; and, in the drill-shed the Capetown Highlanders slept under arms. Whether any attempt of the sort was seriously contemplated or not, there is no question as to the fact that the utmost necessity for precaution was recognised by the military authorities at Capetown during this period, in spite of the security afforded by the reinforcements which the Home Government was pouring into the Colony. It was an old boast of the militant Dutch in the Cape Colony that they would find a way to prevent British troops from using the colonial railways to attack the Boers.[204] And when at length, a month after Lord Roberts had arrived, the transport system had been reorganised, the troops concentrated at De Aar and Modder River, and everything was ready for the forward movement, the most complete secrecy was observed as to the departure of the Commander-in-Chief and Lord Kitchener. Instead of leaving for the front with the final drafts from the Capetown station in Adderley Street, amid the cheering of the British population, these two distinguished soldiers were driven in a close carriage, on the evening of February 6th, from Government House to the Salt River Station, where they caught the ordinary passenger train for De Aar.

[Footnote 204: At the time of the Bechuanaland Expedition
(1884-5), when the writer was in South Africa, "a controversy
was seriously maintained between the two moderate Afrikander
journals, the Sud Africaan and the Volksblad, on the
question whether the Imperial Government had, or had not, the
right to send troops through the Colony, without the consent
of the Colonial Ministry. In commenting upon this question a
correspondent wrote in the Patriot, the extreme organ of
the Afrikanders: 'I believe the Volksblad is correct in
maintaining that England has that right. But if England has
the right to send Rooibaatjes (i.e. British soldiers) to
kill my brethren in the Transvaal, then I have also the right
to try and prevent the same. My brother is nearer than
England. England can send troops, but whether they will all
arrive safely in Stellaland--that stands to be seen.'"--A
History of South Africa, by the writer. (Dent, 1900.)]

[Sidenote: Lord Robert's advance.]

No one was more aware of the reality of the Dutch disaffection in the Colony than Lord Milner. Before Lord Roberts left Capetown for the front he addressed a memorandum to him, in which the attention of the Commander-in-Chief was drawn to certain special elements of danger in the whole situation in South Africa as affected by the rebellion of the Dutch in the Cape Colony. With reference to this memorandum Lord Roberts writes, in the second of his despatches (February 16th, 1900):

"Before quitting the seat of Government I received a memorandum
from the High Commissioner, in which Sir Alfred Milner reviewed
the political and military situation, and laid stress on the
possibility of a general rising among the disaffected Dutch
population, should the Cape Colony be denuded of troops for the
purpose of carrying on offensive operations in the Orange Free
State. In reply I expressed the opinion that the military
requirements of the case demanded an early advance into the
enemy's country; that such an advance, if successful, would
lessen the hostile pressure both on the northern frontiers of the
Colony and in Natal; that the relief of Kimberley had to be
effected before the end of February, and would set free most of
the troops encamped on the Modder River, and that the arrival of
considerable reinforcements from home, especially of Field
Artillery, by the 19th of February, would enable those points
along the frontier which were weakly held to be materially
strengthened. I trusted, therefore, that His Excellency's
apprehensions would prove groundless. No doubt a certain amount
of risk had to be run, but protracted inaction seemed to me to
involve more serious dangers than the bolder course which I have
decided to adopt."

[Sidenote: Lord Milner's proposal.]

There cannot, of course, be any question as to the general wisdom of this decision. Both in this case, and again in deciding to advance from Bloemfontein upon Johannesburg and Pretoria, it was just by taking his risks--risks that would have reduced a lesser man to inaction--that Lord Roberts displayed the distinguishing quality of a great captain of war. In both cases the best defence was to attack. But as Lord Roberts, in this brief reference, does not indicate the real point of the High Commissioner's representations, it is necessary to state with some precision what it was that Lord Milner had actually in his mind. The last thing which occurred to him was to advocate any course that could weaken our offensive action. But the peculiarity of the South African political situation, which enabled even a defeated enemy, by detaching a very small force, to raise a new war in our rear, in what was nominally our country, and thus to hamper, and possibly altogether arrest, the forward movement, was constantly present to his thought. The proposal which Lord Milner desired Lord Roberts to adopt was that a certain minimum of mobile troops should be definitely set aside for the defence of the Colony, and kept there, whatever happened; since, in Lord Milner's opinion, it was only in this way that a real and effective form of defence could be made possible, and the number of men locked up in the passive defence of the railway lines greatly reduced. If this suggestion had been carried out, as Lord Milner intended, there would have been no second rebellion. What prevented Lord Roberts from adopting the High Commissioner's suggestion was the numerical insufficiency of the troops at his disposal. In order to carry the war into the enemy's country, he had practically to denude the Cape Colony of troops. The subsequent course of the war will reveal the direct and disastrous influence which the situation in the Cape Colony was destined to exercise upon the military decisions of the republican leaders--an influence which would have been lessened materially, if not altogether removed, by the creation of this permanent and mobile force. And, in point of fact, Lord Milner's apprehension that the rebellion might even now interfere with the success of the forward movement, unless adequate provision was made to keep it in check, received almost immediate confirmation. While Lord Roberts was engaged in the capture of Cronje's force at Paardeberg, the north-midland districts of Prieska, Britstown, and Carnarvon, lying to the west of the railway from De Aar to Orange River, broke out into rebellion. Although Lord Roberts at once directed certain columns to concentrate upon this new area of disaffection, the situation had become so serious that on March 8th--i.e., the day after Poplar Grove, and in the course of the rapid march upon Bloemfontein--Lord Roberts--

"desired Major-General Lord Kitchener to proceed to De Aar with
the object of collecting reinforcements, and of taking such steps
as might be necessary to punish the rebels and to prevent the
spread of disaffection."[205]

[Footnote 205: Despatch dated "Government House,
Bloemfontein, March 15th, 1900."]

That is to say, the disclosure of a new centre of active rebellion in the Colony deprived the Commander-in-Chief of the services of Lord Kitchener, his Chief-of-Staff, when he was in the act of executing one of the most critical movements of the campaign.

[Sidenote: The Boer peace overtures.]

The complete revolution in the military situation produced by Lord Roberts's victorious advance into the Free State elicited from Presidents Krüger and Steyn the "peace overtures" cabled to Lord Salisbury on March 5th, 1900. In this characteristic document the two Presidents remark that--

"they consider it [their] duty solemnly to declare that this war
was undertaken solely as a defensive measure to safeguard the
threatened independence of the South African Republic, and is
only continued in order to secure and safeguard the incontestable
independence of both Republics as sovereign international states,
and to obtain the assurance that those of Her Majesty's subjects
who have taken part with [them] in this war shall suffer no harm
whatever in person or property."

They further declare that "on these conditions, but on these conditions alone," they are now, as in the past, desirous of seeing peace re-established in South Africa; and they add considerately that they have refrained from making this declaration "so long as the advantage was always on their side," from a fear lest it "might hurt the feelings of honour of the British people." They conclude:

"But now that the prestige of the British Empire may be
considered to be assured by the capture of one of our forces by
Her Majesty's troops, and that we are thereby forced to evacuate
other positions which our forces had occupied, that difficulty is
over, and we can no longer hesitate clearly to inform your
Government and people, in the sight of the whole civilised world,
why we are fighting, and on what conditions we are ready to
restore peace."[206]

[Footnote 206: Cd. 35.]

The best comment upon this grossly disingenuous document is that which is afforded by certain passages in Mr. Reitz's book, A Century of Wrong, which was written in anticipation of the outbreak of war and issued so soon as this anticipation had been realised:

"The struggle of now nearly a century," he writes in his appeal
to his brother Afrikanders, "hastens to an end; we are
approaching the last act in that great drama which is so
momentous for all South Africa.... The questions which present
themselves for solution in the approaching conflict have their
origin deep in the history of the past.... By its light we are
more clearly enabled to comprehend the truth to which our people
appeal as a final justification for embarking on the war now so
close at hand.... May the hope which glowed in our hearts during
1880, and which buoyed us up during that struggle, burn on
steadily! May it prove a beacon of light in our path, invincibly
moving onwards through blood and through tears, until it leads us
to a real union of South Africa.... Whether the result be victory
or death, Liberty will assuredly rise on South Africa ... just as
freedom dawned over the United States of America a little more
than a century ago. Then from Zambesi to Simon's Town it will be
Africa for the Afrikander."[207]

[Footnote 207: Mr. Reitz's work was translated into English
by Mr. W. T. Stead.]

And to this may be added the following extract from a letter written by "one of the distinguished members of the Volksraad" who voted for war against Great Britain, to one of his friends, a member of the Legislative Assembly of the Cape Colony:

"Our plan is, with God's help, to take all that is English in
South Africa; so, in case you true Afrikanders wish to throw off
the English yoke, now is the time to hoist the Vier-kleur in
Capetown. You can rely on us; we will push through from sea to
sea, and wave one flag over the whole of South Africa, under one
Afrikander Government, if we can reckon on our Afrikander

[Footnote 208: Cd. 109.]

[Sidenote: The British reply.]

Lord Salisbury's reply, sent from the Foreign Office on March 11th, is as follows:

"I have the honour to acknowledge Your Honours' telegram dated
the 5th of March, from Bloemfontein, of which the purport is
principally to demand that Her Majesty's Government shall
recognise the 'incontestable independence' of the South African
Republic and Orange Free State 'as sovereign international
states,' and to offer, on those terms, to bring the war to a

"In the beginning of October last peace existed between Her
Majesty and the two Republics under the Conventions which then
were in existence. A discussion had been proceeding for some
months between Her Majesty's Government and the South African
Republic, of which the object was to obtain redress for certain
very serious grievances under which British residents in the
South African Republic were suffering. In the course of these
negotiations the South African Republic had, to the knowledge of
Her Majesty's Government, made considerable armaments, and the
latter had, consequently, taken steps to provide corresponding
reinforcements to the British garrisons of Capetown and Natal. No
infringement of the rights guaranteed by the Conventions had up
to that point taken place on the British side. Suddenly, at two
days' notice, the South African Republic, after issuing an
insulting ultimatum, declared war upon Her Majesty, and the
Orange Free State, with whom there had not even been any
discussion, took a similar step. Her Majesty's dominions were
immediately invaded by the two Republics, siege was laid to three
towns within the British frontier, a large portion of the two
colonies was overrun, with great destruction to property and
life, and the Republics claimed to treat the inhabitants of
extensive portions of Her Majesty's dominions as if those
dominions had been annexed to one or other of them. In
anticipation of these operations, the South African Republic had
been accumulating for many years past military stores on an
enormous scale, which by their character could only have been
intended for use against Great Britain.

"Your Honours make some observations of a negative character upon
the object with which these preparations were made. I do not
think it necessary to discuss the questions you have raised. But
the result of these preparations, carried on with great secrecy,
has been that the British Empire has been compelled to confront
an invasion which has entailed upon the Empire a costly war and
the loss of thousands of precious lives. This great calamity has
been the penalty which Great Britain has suffered for having in
recent years acquiesced in the existence of the two Republics.

"In view of the use to which the two Republics have put the
position which was given to them, and the calamities which their
unprovoked attack has inflicted upon Her Majesty's dominions, Her
Majesty's Government can only answer your Honours' telegram by
saying that they are not prepared to assent to the independence
either of the South African Republic or of the Orange Free

[Sidenote: Conventions to be annulled.]

This reply has been cited at length for two reasons. In the first place it affords a concise and weighty statement of the British case against the Republics, and, in the second, it contains a specific and reasoned declaration of the central decision of the Salisbury Cabinet, against which the efforts both of the Dutch party in the Cape and of the friends of the Boers in England continued to be directed, until the controversy was closed by the surrender of the republican leaders at Vereeniging. In the Cape Colony the cry of "conciliation" was raised to cloak the gross appearance of a movement which was, in fact, a direct co-operation with the enemy. And the same specious word was adopted in England, so soon as the strain of the war had begun to make itself felt in the constituencies, as a decent flag under which the party opponents of the Unionist Government in general could join forces with the traditional friends of the Boers and other convinced opponents of Imperial consolidation. The decision of the Salisbury Cabinet not to restore the system of the Conventions, which was in fact the decision of the great mass of the British people both at home and over-sea, was not reversed. It was confirmed in the House of Commons by 208 votes against 52 on July 25th, 1900, and by the verdict of the country in the General Election which followed.[209] But the political agitation by which it was sought to reverse this decision was none the less injurious alike to the Boer and British peoples, since it acted as a powerful incentive to the republican leaders to continued struggle which, except for the illusions created by this agitation, they would have recognised as hopeless in itself and unjustified by any prospect of military success. In both cases the effect of the agitation was the same: the war was unnecessarily prolonged--intentionally by the Afrikander nationalists, and unintentionally by Lord (then Mr.) Courtney, Mr. Morley, Mr. Bryce, and other opponents in England of the annexation of the Republics.

[Footnote 209: The Unionist party was returned to power with
a slightly decreased majority--130 as against 150. But this
loss of seats was counterbalanced by the consideration that
it is unusual for the same Government to be entrusted with a
second period of office by a democratic electorate.]

[Sidenote: The 'Conciliation' movement.]

The Presidents had demanded the recognition of the independence of the Republics and a free pardon for the Cape rebels as the price of peace. The Afrikander nationalists at once began to co-operate with the Republics in the endeavour to wrest these terms from the British Government. Mr. Schreiner, as we have seen, had already incurred Mr. Hofmeyr's displeasure by allowing the Cape Government to render assistance to the Imperial authorities in the prosecution of the war. The breach thus created between the Prime Minister and Sir Richard (then Mr.) Solomon, on the one hand, and Dr. Te Water, Mr. Merriman, and Mr. Sauer, who shared the views of the Bond, on the other, was, rapidly widened by the "conciliation" meetings held throughout the Colony by the Afrikander nationalists in support of the "peace overtures" of the Presidents. The British population at the Cape was quick to realise the insidious and fatal character of the "conciliation" movement thus inaugurated by the Afrikander nationalists. The universal alarm and indignation to which it gave rise among the loyalists of both nationalities found expression in the impassioned speech which Sir James (then Mr.) Rose Innes delivered at the Municipal Hall of Claremont[210] on March 30th, 1900. The purpose of the meeting was to allow the British subjects thus assembled to record their approval of Lord Salisbury's reply to the Republics, and their conviction that "the incorporation of these States within the dominions of the Queen could alone secure peace, prosperity, and public freedom throughout South Africa." In supporting this resolution, Sir James Rose Innes said:

[Footnote 210: A suburb of Capetown.]

"This question of permanent peace is the key-stone of the whole
matter, because, I take it, we none of us want to see another war
of this kind. We do not want to see the misery and the suffering
and the loss which a war of this kind entails. We do not want to
see our sandy plains drenched with the best blood of England
again, fighting against white men in this country. We do not want
to see the flower of colonial manhood shot down on the plains of
the Orange Free State and the Karroo, and neither do we want to
see brave men, born in South Africa, dying in heaps, dying for
what we know is a hopeless ideal. Therefore we say, 'In Heaven's
name give us peace! Have a settlement, but make no settlement
which shall not be calculated, as far as human foresight can
provide, to secure a permanent peace.'"

These were strong words, and their significance was heightened by the well-known independence of Sir James Innes's political outlook.

[Sidenote: Lord Milner at Bloemfontein.]

A fortnight later Lord Milner declared his mind on the same question. Both the occasion and the speech are of special interest. The High Commissioner had just returned from a fortnight at the front. On March 19th he left Capetown in company with Sir Richard Solomon for the north-eastern districts of the Colony, which, having rebelled in November, had just been reduced to order by General Brabant and the "Colonial Division," when the Free State invaders had been drawn off by Lord Roberts's advance. After a week in the Colony, Lord Milner travelled on by rail to Bloemfontein, which he reached on the 27th. It was a stimulating and suggestive moment. He was now the guest of the British Commander-in-Chief at the Presidency, where, just ten months ago, as the guest of President Steyn, he had met Paul Krüger for the first time. The little Free State capital, then wrapped in its accustomed quietude, was now filled with the tumultuous presence of a great army. But, complete as was the revolution accomplished by Lord Roberts's advance, there were signs that the Boer was dying hard, even if he were not coming to life again. On the 30th a disquieting engagement was fought at Karree Siding, and on the 31st de Wet dealt his second shrewd blow at Sannah's Post.

With this experience of the actualities of war, Lord Milner, leaving Bloemfontein on April 2nd, had returned to Capetown. On the 12th he was presented with an appreciative address, signed by all, except one, of the Nonconformist ministers of religion resident in and around Capetown, in which personal affection for himself and approval of his policy were expressed. The action of these men was altogether exceptional. It was justified by the circumstance that in England Lord Milner's policy had been subjected to the bitterest criticism in quarters where Nonconformist influence was predominant. Not only to Lord Courtney, but to other Liberal friends and associates, the High Commissioner had become a "lost mind." To the Afrikander nationalists he was "the enemy"; the efforts which had barely sufficed to keep the administrative machinery of a British colony at the disposal of the Imperial Government were represented as the unconstitutional acts of a tyrannical proconsul; having ruthlessly exposed the aspirations of the Afrikander nationalists he was now to become the destroyer of the Boer nation. The personal note in the address was, therefore, both instructive and welcome, and it elicited a response in which the charm of a calm and generous nature shines through an unalterable determination to know and do the right:

"As regards myself personally, I cannot but feel it is a great
source of strength at a trying time to be assured of the
confidence and approval of the men I see before me, and of all
whom they represent. You refer to my having to encounter
misrepresentation and antagonism. I do not wish to make too much
of that. I have no doubt been exposed to much criticism and some
abuse. There has, I sometimes think, been an exceptional display
of mendacity at my expense. But this is the fate of every public
man who is forced by circumstances into a somewhat prominent
position in a great crisis. And, after all, praise and blame have
a wonderful way of balancing one another if you only give them

"I remember when I left England for South Africa three years ago,
it was amidst a chorus of eulogy so excessive that it made me
feel thoroughly uncomfortable. To protest would have been
useless: it would only have looked like affectation. So I just
placed the surplus praise to my credit, so to speak, as something
to live on in the days which I surely knew must come sooner or
later, if I did my duty, when I would meet with undeserved
censure. And certainly I have had to draw on that account rather
heavily during the last nine months. But there is still a balance
on the right side which, thanks to you and others, is now once
more increasing. So I cannot pose as a martyr, and, what is more
important, I cannot complain of any want of support. No man,
placed as I have been in a position of singular embarrassment,
exposed to bitter attacks to which he could not reply, and unable
to explain his conduct even to his own friends, has ever had more
compensation to be thankful for than I have had in the constant,
devoted, forbearing support and confidence of all those South
Africans, whether in this Colony, in Natal, or in the Republics,
whose sympathy is with the British Empire.

[Sidenote: Never again.]

"In the concluding paragraph of your address you refer in weighty
and well-considered language to the conditions which you deem
necessary for the future peace and prosperity of South Africa,
and for the ultimate harmony and fusion of its white races. I can
only say that I entirely agree with the views expressed in that
paragraph. The longer the struggle lasts, the greater the
sacrifices which it involves, the stronger must surely be the
determination of all of us to achieve a settlement which will
render the repetition of this terrible scourge impossible. 'Never
again,' must be the motto of all thinking, of all humane men. It
is for that reason, not from any lust of conquest, not from any
desire to trample on a gallant, if misguided, enemy, that we
desire that the settlement shall be no patchwork and no
compromise; that it shall leave no room for misunderstanding, no
opportunity for intrigue, for the revival of impossible
ambitions, or the accumulation of enormous armaments. President
Krüger has said that he wants no more Conventions, and I
entirely agree with him. A compromise of that sort is unfair to
everybody. If there is one thing of which, after recent
experiences, I am absolutely convinced, it is that the vital
interests of all those who live in South Africa, of our present
enemies as much as of those who are on our side, demand that
there should not be two dissimilar and antagonistic political
systems in that which nature and history have irrevocably decided
must be one country. To agree to a compromise which would leave
any ambiguity on that point would not be magnanimity: it would be
weakness, ingratitude, and cruelty--ingratitude to the heroic
dead, and cruelty to the unborn generations.

"But when I say that, do not think that I wish to join in the
outcry, at present so prevalent, against the fine old virtue of
magnanimity. I believe in it as much as ever I did, and there is
plenty of room for it in the South Africa of to-day. We can show
it by a frank recognition of what is great and admirable in the
character of our enemies; by not maligning them as a body because
of the sins of the few, or perhaps even of many, individuals. We
can show it by not crowing excessively over our victories, and by
not thinking evil of every one who, for one reason or another, is
unable to join in our legitimate rejoicings. We can show it by
striving to take care that our treatment of those who have been
guilty of rebellion, while characterised by a just severity
towards the really guilty parties, should be devoid of any spirit
of vindictiveness, or of race-prejudice. We can show it, above
all, when this dire struggle is over, by proving by our acts that
they libelled us who said that we fought for gold or any material
advantage, and that the rights and privileges which we have
resolutely claimed for ourselves we are prepared freely to extend
to others, even to those who have fought against us, whenever
they are prepared loyally to accept them."[211]

[Footnote 211: Cd. 261.]

It is the third of three critical utterances of which each is summarised, as it were, in a single luminous phrase. To the Cape Dutch he spoke at Graaf Reinet, after their own manner: "Of course you are loyal!" To England, on the Uitlander's behalf, he wrote: "The case for intervention is overwhelming." And now he gathered the whole long lesson of the war into the two words, "never again."

[Sidenote: British policy.]

A month later Mr. Chamberlain, speaking at Birmingham (May 11th), made a general statement of the nature of the settlement upon which the British Government had determined. The separate existence of the Republics, "constantly intriguing as they had done with foreign nations, constantly promoting agitation and disaffection in our own colonies," was to be tolerated no longer; but the "individual liberties" of the Boers were to be preserved. After the war was over a period of Crown Colony government would be necessary; "but," he added, "as soon as it is safe and possible it will be the desire and the intention of Her Majesty's Government to introduce these States into the great circle of self-governing colonies." In making this pronouncement Mr. Chamberlain referred in terms of just severity to the injurious influence which Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, as the official leader of the Liberal party, had exercised upon the diplomatic contest of the preceding year. At the precise period when a word might have been worth anything to the cause of peace, Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, he said--

"had again and again declaimed his own opinion that not only was
war out of the question, but that military preparations of any
kind were altogether unnecessary. I do not speak of the wisdom
which dictated such an expression of opinion," Mr. Chamberlain
continued, "although he repeated that statement three days before
the ultimatum was delivered, and a week before the invasion of
Natal took place. I do not speak, therefore, of his foresight.
But what is to be said of the patriotism of a man who is not a
single individual but who represents a great party by virtue of
his position--although he does not represent it by virtue of his
opinion--what is to be said of such a man who, at such a time,
should countermine the endeavours for peace of Her Majesty's

And in the same speech Mr. Chamberlain warned his fellow-countrymen "against the efforts which would be made by the politicians to snatch from them the fruits of a victory which would be won by their soldiers; and in particular against the campaign of misrepresentation which had been commenced already by Mr. Paul, the Stop-the-War Committee, and the other bodies which were so lavish with what they were pleased to call their 'accurate information.'"

[Sidenote: Sir H. Campbell-Bannerman.]

Had Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman seen fit to profit by the experience of the past, the whole of the suffering and loss of the next year and a half of wanton hostilities, in all human probability, would have been avoided. But Mr. Chamberlain's rebuke was disregarded. The senseless and unnatural alliance between the Afrikander nationalists and the Liberal Opposition was renewed. It is quite true that the official leader of the Opposition, in speaking at Glasgow on June 7th, two days after Lord Roberts had occupied Pretoria, declared that, in respect of the settlement, "one broad principle" must be laid down--

"the British Imperial power, which has hitherto been supreme in
effect in South Africa, must in future be supreme in form as well
as in effect, and this naturally carries with it the point which
is sometimes put in the foreground, namely, that there must be no
possibility that any such outbreak of hostilities as we have been
witnessing shall again occur.... The two conquered States must,
in some form or under some condition, become States of the
British Empire."

But when Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman proceeded to inform his audience how this was to be done, he used expressions which not only robbed his original statement of all significance as an indication of British unanimity, but conveyed a direct intimation to the Afrikander nationalists that their endeavours to frustrate the declared objects of the Unionist Government would receive the support and encouragement of the Opposition in England. His words were:

"We need have no doubt how it is to be done. By applying our
Liberal principles, the Liberal principles from which the
strength of the Empire has been derived, and on which it depends.
Let us apply our Liberal principles, and whether our party be in
a majority, or in a minority, I think that it is well in our
power to secure that these principles shall be applied. [The
General Election was imminent.] Let us restore as early as
possible, and let us maintain, those rights of self-government
which give not only life and vigour, but contentment and loyalty
to every colony which enjoys them...."

"Liberal principles," when applied to a given administrative problem, as Mr. Chamberlain took occasion to point out (June 19th), meant, for practical purposes, the opinions which prominent members of the Liberal party were known to hold upon the matter in question. Lord (then Mr.) Courtney was for autonomy--"the re-establishment of the independence of the two Republics." Mr. Bryce advocated "the establishment of two protected States, which would have a sham independence of not much advantage to them for any practical or useful purpose, but very dangerous to us." And then there was Mr. Morley. Now Mr. Morley, only a week before, at Oxford (June 10th), had condemned not only the war, but by implication, the rejection of President Krüger's illusory Franchise Bill.

[Sidenote: Mr. John Morley.]

"I assert," said Mr. Morley, "that the evils which have resulted
from the war immeasurably transcend the evils with which it was
proposed to deal.... I abhor the whole transaction of the war. I
think in many ways it is an irreparable situation. We have done
a great wrong--a wrong of which I believe there is scarcely any
Englishman living who will not bitterly repent."[212]

[Footnote 212: Mr. Morley has the doubtful merit of
consistency. As recently as April 27th, 1906, he alluded to
the South African War as "that delusive and guilty war," in
an address to the Eighty Club. According to The Times
report this expression was received with cheers.]

With these words fresh in his memory, Mr. Chamberlain continued:

"Is Mr. Morley a Liberal? I do not know in that case what would
become of the new territories if his principles were applied. But
this I do know--that in that case you would have immediately to
get rid of Sir Alfred Milner, who is the one great official in
South Africa who has shown from the first a true grasp of the
situation; and you would have also to get rid of the Colonial
Secretary, which would not, perhaps, matter."[213]

[Footnote 213: It may perhaps be objected that some credit
should have been allowed to Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman in
view of the fact that a sum of £41,807,400 was voted in
Committee of Supply in the House of Commons for military
requirements, practically without discussion, within four and
a half hours on June 19th, 1900. This objection is answered
by the words used by the Duke of Devonshire on the same day:
"I am afraid I must tell Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman that he
is not likely to receive from us any recognition, either
effusive or otherwise, of the patriotism of his party. It is
quite true that, as he took credit to himself and his
friends, they have not offered any opposition to our demands
for supplies or to the military measures which it has been
found necessary for the Government to take; but the reason
for that prudent abstinence is not very far to seek. Sir
Henry Campbell-Bannerman and his friends knew very well that
any factious opposition to the granting of these supplies
would have brought down upon them the almost unanimous
condemnation of the whole people; and Sir Henry
Campbell-Bannerman is much too shrewd and sensible a man to
risk the danger of committing for his party an act of
political suicide."--Address to Women's Liberal Unionist

And so in 1900--after the Raid, after the long diplomatic conflict, after the sudden revelation of the military strength of the Republics, after the ambitions of the Afrikander nationalists had been unmasked, and after the Dutch subjects of the Queen had risen in arms--the Liberal friends of the South African Dutch set themselves to do again what they had done in 1880. Just as then President Krüger wrote,[214] on behalf of himself and his Afrikander allies, to Lord (then Mr.) Courtney: "The fall of Sir Bartle Frere ... will be useful.... We have done our duty, and used all legitimate influence to cause the [Federation] proposals to fail"; so now these Boer sympathisers prepared to work hand in hand with the Afrikander nationalists in their endeavour to secure the "fall" of Lord Milner, and to cause the Annexation proposals to "fail." Happily the analogy ends here. Upon the "anvil" of Lord Milner the "hammers" of the enemies of the Empire were worn out--Tritantur mallei, remanet incus.

[Footnote 214: June 26th, 1880, C. 2,655.]