The doctrines of the Afrikaner Bond coterie have been so assiduously and deeply instilled into the Boer mind that demonstrations are utterly futile in shaking the national conviction of the divinely approved justice of his cause. The first occasion when I saw this illustrated, and also the people's unreasoning adherence to their leaders' opinions, happened about ten years ago at burgher meetings which had been convened to discuss the then projected law for restraining Uitlanders from admission to Transvaal franchise and other political topics.
An old Free State burgher was led then and subsequently to express his views upon the subject in about the following strain: "It is our duty to guard our nation against being swamped out or supplanted by strangers; they are in great force already, and their number will constantly increase, yet what attracts them, as you know, is our gold. That will give out eventually, when the majority will again depart. Those strangers, who then elect to remain with us, might be admitted to full burgher rights. In the meantime it behoves us to reserve the full franchise, nor will many aspire to it if they are only treated well as strangers should be, as we should wish to be treated if we were in their place. This is what they expect from us, and it can well be done without giving full franchise, which they indeed do not need and will then not claim. They will be content if their own interests are not hampered or interfered with, and will be satisfied with such rights and privileges as are reasonably due to guests, and we may say welcome guests (for it is plain that the land is also largely benefited by their presence). In other respects let us support law and order to suppress evil, which they desire as well as we do.
"Does the Bible not say, 'The Lord loveth the stranger?' so also then must we; and again, 'Thou shalt not devise mischief against the stranger who dwelleth in peace with thee.' We are reputed as a God-fearing people. Is it not well that we should take great care to act in accordance? But I have observed with shame that instead of love and peace a spirit of hatred and strife has been allowed to gain upon us. Let us strive to expel that evil, lest we fall under God's displeasure and forfeit His favour. We cannot afford to lose that."
At this stage the speaker was interrupted by violent remarks about England's incurable perfidy and the like, when he added, prolonging his speech more than he had probably intended: "Yes, we may not trust England, but what we must do is to trust in God. Did God not pull us through all along? was it not He who provided the peace of 1881 which restored our independence? And can that gracious Lord, if we only let Him act, not also protect us against any wiles and dangers if such should occur in the future? As yet none such have arisen. The Lord was with us in our battles for liberty; He was equally present and prompted the sense and conditions of that very convention of 1881, which the people were subsequently dissatisfied with and in their own wisdom sacrificed for that of 1884. It is just possible that that presumptuous act of wanting to improve upon the Lord's work will result in trouble and prove to our sorrow that we have simply tampered and tinkered with a good thing and spoilt it to our hurt.
"'Thou shalt not provoke thy children to wrath lest they be discouraged and be tempted to do evil,' applies specially also to the duties of Governments. Our rulers need wisdom in this direction, and will be responsible if our strangers are subjected to unfair laws. The older people here will call to mind, when the old voortrekkers were obliged to go hundreds of miles, as far as Pietermaritzburg, for their supplies, that we prayed for shopkeepers in our land so that we might be spared those long journeys. What was done soon after we had attracted strangers to establish businesses with us? We were seduced to deliberately attempt their ruin by starting those nationale Boerenwinkels (national Boer stores), supported by our own capital, but governed by Hollanders who eventually squandered our money. Was that dealing fairly by confiding strangers? Later on, again in response to our prayers, we got railways; skilled men and much capital from foreign countries, first to prospect for gold and then to develop and exploit the mines. Their labour and hard-earned money were risked when the return was still problematic. Shall we begrudge them their successes now, seeing that our whole land is equally enriched at the same time, and but for them and their enterprise the gold would still be lying uselessly hidden in the depths of the ground? There are now, in 1890, over 100,000 such strangers in the land, and probably over 200 millions capital invested. Shall they be treated in a manner to justify the accusation that they were inveigled into our land with the object of despoiling them afterwards after the style of 'Come into my parlour, says the spider to the fly'? These people count upon our honest friendship, especially the many English among them who ground that confidence upon the honourable peace accorded us in 1881. Shall we deceive them? May we hate them for old questions which that peace was intended to bury for ever? Think of the Lord's dealings with our people —poor, wandering, and despised at first. He had blessings in store for the tried voortrekkers and their children. 'The beggar was raised from the dunghill [asch-hoop, i.e., ash-heap, was the word he used] to sit with princes'—'a table laid for us in the sight of our enemies.' All this is literally fulfilled. Our President and others representing us have been to Europe and sat with princes, and we have a country full of riches enough to make any enemy to rage with jealousy at the sight. Who else but the devil is that enemy? It is he who persecuted our Dutch and Huguenot ancestors for their faith, and is pursuing us since. It is he and his army that rage the most at our unexampled blessings. It is he who wants us to forfeit them all and the Lord's favour as well. It emanates from the evil one that so many among us are seduced into wicked political plans to subvert authority installed by God, to incite our brethren to sedition in the Colonies, wanting to dispossess the English. For the Queen's Government there is as much from God as are the authorities over us here and in the Orange Free State.
"God saith by Solomon (Prov. xxiv. 21-22): 'My son, fear thou the Lord and the king; and meddle not with them that are given to change: for their calamity shall rise suddenly; and who knoweth the destruction of them both?'" and he finally warned them of the risk they incurred, after having been advanced and blessed in an unexampled way, of being flung back to their previous ignoble position upon the ash heap. There are plenty of respectable Boers in whose ears those expressions still tingle.
The man, who is no speaker, was, nevertheless, apt to grow warm and impressive, drawn out probably by interruptions and opposing views. The speeches terminated on one occasion by one of the party saying in violent Bond fashion: "The English hired the Zulus to massacre our people. They robbed us of Natal, and drove us from the Colonies. There can be no peace with them until we have our own. God helps them who help themselves. Whoever takes their part is against us and against every true Afrikaner."