The project of alliance between the Transvaal and the Orange Free State had been mooted before 1890. After that came conferences between the respective Presidents and delegates for closer union as it was then styled. Mr. John G. Fraser, one of the noblest and most distinguished Orange Free State statesmen, was conspicuous among the few opponents. His arguments against federation were so logical and conclusive that it seemed for a while that the idea would have to be renounced. Among other grounds adduced against that alliance was the fact that England possessed claims of suzerainty over the Transvaal, and, the Orange Free State itself being entirely independent, the incongruity and incompatibility were obvious of joining a vassal State. There was trouble if not danger lurking behind it, if such two States were to join in an actual federation. Whatever was desirable for mutual advantage might be attained without offensive and defensive alliance. The two Governments, however, knew how to manipulate matters. The closer union scheme was carried through before the Jameson incursion, and soon after that event an offensive and defensive alliance completed the federation. The Afrikaner Bond then had advanced another important stage.
Mr. John G. Fraser's persistent objections to federation, upon the ground that the Transvaal stood under British suzerainty, had given that question a prominence operating against the Afrikaner Bond project, viz., that of gaining a strong Power as ally to its cause. It was felt that no Power could, with decency, enter into a connection with that State while such a claim was maintained. To overcome that obstacle the Transvaal Government proceeded to raise a controversy with England, taking up the position of repudiating the claim of suzerainty, and averring the complete independence of the State, subject only to the one clause re treaties with foreign nations. Another object would be gained, viz., of diverting England from Bond aims by that and similar controversies. To make a show of sincerity about it all, the opinions (foregathered, of course) of certain eminent jurists in England and Holland were obtained, who refuted the claim in elaborate disquisitions and with that readiness of apparent conviction so peculiar to some advocates' affected faith in their clients' cause. Thus England was decoyed into a protracted tournament of words and phrases without any practical result, but gratifying and inspiring no doubt to certain well-paid soi-disant champions of the principle defined as the "perfection of justice," who revel in a display of forensic erudition, which, however, only illustrates to the unedified lay mind how speech is adaptable to veil inward conviction, and how a mass of rhetoric can be employed to justify the breach of simple and well-understood engagements.
It continues to be clumsily insisted upon in official and paid Press organs how the need of providing Transvaal armaments became realized only with that Anglo-capitalistic plot of 1895-96 against Boer independence, and that, in fact, Dr. Jameson was worthy of the Boer nation's lasting gratitude for opening their eyes to their helplessly unarmed and unprepared condition up to that time. In those papers it is declared with unblushing inexactness how the Transvaal at that epoch possessed only two hundred and fifty inefficient and ill-equipped artillerists, with only a few cannons of various antiquated types, and how the burgher element had, up to that time, continued unarmed and in unsuspecting insecurity. To stamp these misstatements as false, it needs only to be considered that from the time of the Boer trek in 1835-38 every Boer had been a hunter and guerilla soldier possessed of the best firearms then extant, ready at any sacrifice to provide still more effective weapons as inventions in arms of precision in turn progressed. His passion to be well armed only equalled that of his love for land. From 1881 every Transvaal and Orange Free State Boer without exception had, and was obliged to have, his Martini-Henry rifle. The Government arsenals were supplied with reserves of that up to recently unsurpassed weapon and with large stores of ammunition. The authorities supplied that rifle at £4 each, and even gratis in the case of indigent burghers. At the frequent reviews (wapenschouwingen) each burgher had to appear mounted, with his Martini-Henry rifle and thirty rounds ammunition. To maintain proficiency in rifle practice, prizes and honours were distributed at Government expense in each ward, whilst there was plenty of private emulation encouraged among young and old in the science of sharp-shooting, the Governments of both Republics contributing ammunition at below cost price.
In about 1893 the Transvaal Government introduced about 10,000 new rifles of the Guede pattern, firing a steel-pointed bullet, but the issue did not become general, as the Martini-Henry rifle continued to be held more effective for game and for war. The Mauser rifle was only provided, after long hesitation and much diffidence, for its rapid-firing quality in war, whereas for game it is still considered inferior to the larger bored Martini-Henry.
On the occasion of the Jameson incursion, the Transvaal had in readiness extensive parks of the most modern quick-firing Maxims and Nordenfeldts of various calibres, and breech-loading field artillery of the Krupp make. The Orange Free State hurried to their assistance with similar artillery, each burgher armed with a Martini-Henry rifle. Besides all that, there was the dynamite and explosives factory equipped to manufacture all sorts of modern ammunition as it does now, and this is why President Krüger described that factory as one of the corner-stones of Boer independence. In the face of these facts it is a most singular departure to say that the Transvaal only thought of arming when becoming alarmed for the future by the Jameson attempt, and that statement could only have been intended to mislead the uninformed at a distance. "Qui s'excuse s'accuse" is applicable in this as well as in other ruses for hiding those sinister Bond aims and to pose as the guileless and victimized Boer nation. It was just the other way about—it was England who was unprepared and exposed to imminent risk of aggression on the part of the Boer combination.
What had amazed and actually exasperated many Boers was the ludicrously puny attempt made by Jameson and the Johannesburg revolutionary concert. It was at the time thought that the invasion of some 700 men was only a first installment, and that much larger developments were in preparation to attack the State. It was for that reason that only a few batteries of artillery were despatched at a late moment to Doornkop under Commandant Trichaart to operate against Jameson's party, while the bulk was held in reserve with an extensive mobilization of burghers to resist other supposed opposition of an altogether more formidable but yet undefined character. When nothing further transpired, the feeling uppermost with the people was unbounded derision at that impotent fiasco, and a loathing contempt for the cowering Johannesburg rabble who betrayed and sacrificed the insensate doctor. It was loudly asserted that the combined forces of the two Republics were competent to resist an invasion a hundred times stronger than the one so foolishly attempted; but, with cooler counsels, it was resolved to adopt the appealing attitude of the deeply injured party who miraculously and providentially escaped a great national peril. Upon these lines the raid incident afforded an immense advantage to Afrikaner Bond tactics, and an impulse to Bond propaganda which enormously increased Boer partisanship, inflicting at the same time a fatal check upon the diplomacy of England and upon the essential peace-preserving
measures for safeguarding her South African interests. The circumstances, however, served to embolden many hitherto undecided sympathisers into openly declared and vehement Boer partisans, revealing the singular spectacle, among English people even, of a morbid cult apparently ready to sacrifice their nation just to vindicate their judicial dicta about Boer innocence and to parade their own darling sense of shocked and violated national honour.
Quite other and more emphatic terms apply to the revolting sewerage such as the socialistic platform and other purulent nurseries for breeding wilful and hypocritical abettors, at so much a score, of misguided and treason-hatching Afrikanerdom.