Having failed in their constitutional attempts to secure a reasonable voice in the government, or any redress of their grievances, there came the time when men's thoughts naturally turned to the last expedient—force. Up to and so late as the Volksraad Session of 1895 a constitutional agitation for rights had been carried on by the Transvaal National Union, a body representing the unenfranchised portion of the population. Of its members but few belonged to the class of wealthy mine and land owners: they had so far abstained from taking any part in a political organization which was viewed with dislike and suspicion by the Government and the great majority of the Boers. It has been asserted by a few Progressive members of the Raad that many of the Boers were themselves opposed to the policy adopted towards the newcomers; but, whilst this may be to some extent true, it is more than questionable whether any of the burghers were willing to concede a share in the power of government, although it is certain that great numbers would not have taken active steps against the Uitlanders but for the invasion by a foreign force. Any extending of the franchise means to the great majority of the Boers a proportionate loss of independence.

When the matter of the Independence of the Republic is discussed it must not be forgotten that independence conveys something to the Boers which is radically different from what it means to anyone else. That the State should continue for ever to be independent and prosperous—a true republic—would be mockery heaped on injury if the absolute domination by the Boer party should cease; and when the parrot-like cry of 'The Independence of the State is threatened' is raised again and again à propos of the most trivial measures and incidents, this idea is the one that prompts it. Instances innumerable could be quoted seemingly illustrating the Boer legislators' inability to distinguish between simple measures of reform and justice, and measures aimed at undermining the State's stability and independence. It is not stupidity! It is that the Boer realizes at least one of the inevitable consequences of reform—that the ignorant and incapable must go under. Reform is the death-knell of his oligarchy, and therefore a danger to the independence of the State—as he sees it. Until the European people who have lately become so deeply concerned in Transvaal affairs realize how widely divergent are the two interpretations of 'Independence,' they will not have begun to understand the Transvaal Question.

The National Union did not represent any particular class in the Uitlander community. It was formed of men drawn from all classes who felt that the conditions of life were becoming intolerable, and that something would have to be done by the community to bring about reforms which the legislature showed no signs of voluntarily introducing.

When it is said that it consisted of men drawn from all classes, the qualification should be made that the richer classes, that is to say, the capitalists of the country, were very meagrely if at all represented. Many efforts had been made to enlist the sympathies of the capitalists, and to draw them into the movement, but the 'big firms,' as they were styled, for a very long time refused to take any part whatever, preferring to abstain entirely rather than associate themselves with a definite agitation. They pleaded, and no doubt fairly, that in case of failure they with their vested interests would be the ones to suffer, while in the event of success they would not benefit in a greater degree than the individuals who had little or no material stake. One by one however they were drawn into the political movement to the extent of supplying funds for carrying on the reform agitation, or of giving monetary support to those who were stimulating and organizing the Progressive party among the Boers. There can be no doubt that prior to 1895 the wealthier men without exception refused to consider the possibility of violent measures. It was only when they realized that the Boer party were determinedly hostile—organizing very large encroachments upon the privileges of the Uitlanders and designing fresh burdens to be borne by them—and when it became clear that the dangers threatening as a result of their own supine attitude were worse than any disfavour with which they might be viewed on account of political action, that they began to take an active part with others in the agitation for reform. It was not until the Volksraad in the Session of 1895 revealed their real policy and their fixed determination to effect no reform that men began to talk of the possibility of revolutionary measures becoming necessary. The subject once mooted was frequently discussed, and once discussed became familiar; and the thing which a few months before had been regarded as out of the bounds of possibility came to be looked upon as a very probable contingency. The extraordinary boom in shares, land, and all kinds of property, which lasted throughout the year, no doubt operated against the maturing of this feeling, but it nevertheless continued to grow. The most dissatisfied section of the Rand was, naturally enough, that one which included the South African Uitlander. These men, born in South Africa, or having spent the best years of their lives there, felt extremely bitter against the Boer Government, and were moved by feelings which were not in any way connected with considerations of material gain. With them were closely associated men of all nationalities who had determined to make their homes in the Transvaal, and these formed the class which has been disparagingly referred to as 'the political element,' but which the experience of every country shows to be the backbone of a nation. They were in fact the men who meant to have a hand in the future of South Africa. After them came the much larger class whose interest in the reforms was based mainly upon the fact that they suffered from the abuses and over-taxation of the Government.

For several years a very strong feeling against the capitalists had ruled in Johannesburg. Men who thoroughly knew the Boer had prophesied and continued throughout to prophesy that absolutely nothing would be done to improve the conditions, and that the capitalists might as well throw in their lot with the general public early in the day as be forced to do so later, after spending their thousands in fruitless efforts for reform, and after committing themselves to a policy which would be regarded as selfish, pusillanimous, and foolish. The moneyed men no doubt occupied a very prominent and powerful position. They were constantly besought by the Reform leaders to side with them; they were looked to by the Progressive Party in the Boer camp to aid reform by peaceful measures only, to exercise all their influence towards preventing rash or violent measures being taken by the more excited party, and to trust to time and patience to achieve those results which they were all honestly desirous of bringing about; and they were approached, as has been stated, by the President and his party when moments of danger arrived, and when it was felt that their influence could be used towards the preservation of peace,—as witness the Loch incident.

'It is no crime to be a capitalist,' said one commentator on the late events, and neither is it necessary to attribute to this section of the community motives of patriotism to justify their association with the Reform movement. It is not intended to suggest that the men who did associate themselves eventually with it were not moved by any higher consideration than that of protecting their interests—in many cases a far larger view than this was taken; but it may be asked,—assuming that the capitalists were not moved by higher considerations,—What is there in their position which should debar them from endeavouring to introduce the reforms which would benefit them only equally with every other honest man in the community?

Most of the wealthy houses in the Transvaal are either offshoots of or have supporting connections with firms in England or on the Continent. Between them and their principals much correspondence had taken place on the political situation. As far as these houses were concerned, it was impossible for them to enter upon any movement without the consent of their European associates. For this reason the Reform movement, as it eventually took place, has in some ways the appearance of and has very frequently been stigmatized as an organization planned and promoted outside the Transvaal. The fact is that Mr. Alfred Beit, of the firm of Wernher, Beit and Co., London, and Mr. Cecil Rhodes, managing director of the Consolidated Goldfields, may be regarded as the chiefs to whom the ultimate decision as to whether it was necessary from the capitalistic point of view to resort to extreme measures was necessarily left. Each of these gentlemen controls in person and through his business associates many millions of money invested in the Transvaal; each of them was, of course, a heavy sufferer under the existing conditions affecting the mining industry, and each, as a business man, must have been desirous of reform in the administration. Mr. Beit acted in concert with Mr. Lionel Phillips, of H. Eckstein and Co., the Johannesburg representatives of Wernher, Beit and Co. Mr. Rhodes was represented by his brother, Colonel Francis Rhodes, and Mr. J.H. Hammond, of the Consolidated Goldfields Company in Johannesburg. Mr. George Farrar, another very large mine-owner, who joined a little later than the others, with the gentlemen above named, may be considered to have represented the capitalist element in the earlier stages of the Reform movement. The other elements were represented by Mr. Charles Leonard, the chairman of the National Union, and one or two other prominent members of that body.

It is impossible to say with whom the idea of the movement, including the arrangement with Dr. Jameson, originated. Perhaps it germinated when Dr. Jameson read the life of Clive! Probably it was the result of discussion, and no one man's idea. At any rate arms and ammunition were purchased, and arrangements were made by which they should be smuggled into the country concealed in machinery or gold-mining appliances. During the month of November Messrs. Leonard and Phillips went to Capetown to see Mr. Rhodes, in order to assure themselves finally as to the course which was to be pursued. The position of Mr. Rhodes in the matter was recognised by them to be a difficult one. Whilst as the managing director of the Consolidated Goldfields he had as much right as any other man interested in the Transvaal would have to concern himself in a movement of this nature, his right to act in his capacity of managing director of the Chartered Company would depend entirely on the nature of the part which he professed to play; but his position as Prime Minister of the Colony made the already difficult position much more complicated. Realizing this, Messrs. Leonard and Phillips acting on behalf of the others determined to have a perfectly clear understanding and to ascertain from Mr. Rhodes definitely what were his objects in associating himself with the movement. The matter was discussed at Mr. Rhodes' house, and the report given by the two deputies to their colleagues on their return was that Mr. Rhodes frankly admitted that he had two objects in view: one was to obtain an amelioration of the conditions such as he was entitled to claim as representing an enormous amount of capital invested in the Transvaal; the other object is best described by Mr. Leonard. 'We read to him,' said that gentleman when reporting to his comrades the result of his visit, 'the draft of our declaration of rights. He was leaning against the mantelpiece smoking a cigarette, and when it came to that part of the document in which we refer to Free Trade in South African products he turned round suddenly, and said: "That is what I want. That is all I ask of you. The rest will come in time. We must have a beginning, and that will be the beginning. If you people get your rights, the Customs Union, Railway Convention, and other things will all come in time." He then added that we must take our own time about this movement, and that he would keep Jameson on the frontier as long as it was necessary as a moral support, and also to come to our assistance should we get ourselves into a tight place. We asked him how he hoped to recoup himself for his share of the expense in keeping Jameson's force on the border, which should be borne by us jointly. He said that seeing the extent of his interests in the country, he would be amply repaid by the improvement in the conditions which it was intended to effect.'

It has since been suggested that the object of the movement was to 'steal the country' and to annex it to Rhodesia, in order to rehabilitate the Chartered Company. The suggestion is too ludicrous for serious discussion. It must be obvious to anyone that the persons most concerned in the movement, and whose interests lay in the Rand, would be the very last to consent to any such scheme. There appears to be no conceivable basis upon which such an arrangement could have been entered into, and it is quite clear that no sensible business man having interests in a rich country in a comparatively advanced state of development would consent to share that certainty with a new country such as Rhodesia, the value of which, however promising, has still to be proved. Notwithstanding the ludicrous nature of the charge, it is quite certain that the Boers have a deep-rooted conviction of its truth.

The arrangements with Dr. Jameson were made with him in person. During the month of September he visited Johannesburg, and it was then agreed that he should maintain a force of some 1,500 mounted men fully equipped, a number of Maxims, and some field artillery; that he was, in addition to this, to have with him 1,500 spare rifles and a quantity of spare ammunition; and that about 5,000 rifles, three Maxim guns, and 1,000,000 rounds of ammunition were to be smuggled into Johannesburg. It was calculated that in the town itself there would be, perhaps, 1,000 rifles privately owned. Thus, in the event of a junction of forces being effected, Johannesburg would be able to command about 9,000 armed men, with a fair equipment of machine-guns and cannon. Nor was this all, for on the original plan it was intended to seize the fort and magazines at Pretoria. And circumstances favoured the plans of the Johannesburg men. The surrounding wall of the fort, a mere barrack, had been removed on one side in order to effect some additions; there were only about 100 men stationed there, and all except half a dozen could be counted on as being asleep after 9 p.m. There never was a simpler sensational task in the world than that of seizing the Pretoria fort—fifty men could have done it. But there was more to be done than the mere taking. In the fort there were known to be some 10,000 rifles, ten or twelve field-pieces, and 12,000,000 rounds of small-arm ammunition; and it was designed to seize the fort and the railway on the night of the outbreak and, by means of one or two trains, to carry off as much of the material as possible and destroy the rest.

Association with Dr. Jameson as the leader of an invading force is the one portion of their programme which the Reform leaders find it extremely difficult to justify. As long as the movement was confined to the Uitlanders resident in the Transvaal the sympathy of South Africa and indeed of the world was with them. It was the alliance with the foreign invader which forfeited that sympathy. That the eventual intention of the Reformers was only to call upon Dr. Jameson in case they found themselves attacked by and unable to cope with the Boers is a fact, but it is only fair to Dr. Jameson to note that this was a modification of the original arrangement by which both forces were to act simultaneously and in concert,—when the signal should be given from Johannesburg.

On the occasion of Dr. Jameson's second visit to Johannesburg, towards the end of November, the following letter of invitation was written and handed to him:

To Dr. Jameson.



The position of matters in this State has become so critical that we are assured that at no distant period there will be a conflict between the Government and the Uitlander population. It is scarcely necessary for us to recapitulate what is now matter of history; suffice it to say that the position of thousands of Englishmen and others is rapidly becoming intolerable. Not satisfied with making the Uitlander population pay virtually the whole of the revenue of the country while denying them representation, the policy of the Government has been steadily to encroach upon the liberty of the subject, and to undermine the security for property to such an extent as to cause a very deep-seated sense of discontent and danger. A foreign corporation of Hollanders is to a considerable extent controlling our destinies, and in conjunction with the Boer leaders endeavouring to cast them in a mould which is wholly foreign to the genius of the people. Every public act betrays the most positive hostility, not only to everything English, but to the neighbouring States.

Well in short the internal policy of the Government is such as to have roused into antagonism to it, not only practically the whole body of Uitlanders but a large number of the Boers; while its external policy has exasperated the neighbouring States, causing the possibility of great danger to the peace and independence of this Republic. Public feeling is in a condition of smouldering discontent. All the petitions of the people have been refused with a greater or less degree of contempt; and in the debate on the Franchise petition, signed by nearly 40,000 people, one member challenged the Uitlanders to fight for the rights they asked for, and not a single member spoke against him. Not to go into details, we may say that the Government has called into existence all the elements necessary for armed conflict. The one desire of the people here is for fair play, the maintenance of their independence, and the preservation of those public liberties without which life is not worth living. The Government denies these things, and violates the national sense of Englishmen at every turn.

What we have to consider is, What will be the condition of things here in the event of a conflict? Thousands of unarmed men, women and children of our race will be at the mercy of well-armed Boers, while property of enormous value will be in the greatest peril. We cannot contemplate the future without the gravest apprehensions. All feel that we are justified in taking any steps to prevent the shedding of blood, and to insure the protection of our rights.

It is under these circumstances that we feel constrained to call upon you to come to our aid,{20} should a disturbance arise here. The circumstances are so extreme that we cannot but believe that you and the men under you will not fail to come to the rescue of people who will be so situated. We guarantee any expense that may reasonably be incurred by you in helping us, and ask you to believe that nothing but the sternest necessity has prompted this appeal.


The letter was drafted by Mr. Charles Leonard, and was signed then by four out of the five signatories, the fifth signature being added some weeks later in Cape Town. It was not dated, and was to be used only privately and in case of necessity for the purpose of excusing Dr. Jameson to the directors of the Chartered Company and the Imperial authorities in the course which it was intended to take.

Various plans were discussed, and even dates were provisionally arranged. The first arrangement agreed to was that Dr. Jameson should start two days before the intended outbreak in Johannesburg. This was agreed to for the time being, but subsequent discussion convinced the leaders that there were the gravest objections to such a course, and it was therefore decided that Dr. Jameson should be notified to start from his camp on the same night as the outbreak in Johannesburg. The dates of December 28 and January 4 were in turn provisionally decided upon, but the primary condition of these arrangements was that under no circumstances should Dr. Jameson move without receiving the word from the Johannesburg party.

With reference to the question of going out to meet Dr. Jameson or giving him assistance, the only thing that was discussed was that an officers' patrol should be sent out to meet him, to escort him to his camp. There was no doubt entertained as to the ability of Dr. Jameson and the force which it was believed he would command to come in without assistance or the arrangement would never have been made. The idea of the association with him was, of course, that he should assist the Reformers—not they assist him; and the proposal regarding the officers' patrol was one to which he only consented after scouting the notion of any co-operation.

During the weeks which followed the conclusion of the arrangement considerable dissatisfaction was felt at the very slow progress made in obtaining arms. The number originally agreed to was deemed to be sufficient but no more; and when it was first found that it would not be possible to obtain this number but that a few hundreds less would have to be accepted, doubts were freely expressed as to the wisdom of proceeding until a sufficient supply had been obtained. When on two subsequent occasions it was again notified that still a few hundred less would have to be accepted, some members of the Reform Party were very emphatic in their objections to proceeding any further until they should be satisfied that the undertakings upon the strength of which they had entered upon the arrangement would be faithfully adhered to. On the occasion of Dr. Jameson's last visit it had been extracted from him that instead of 1,500 men he would probably start with from 800 to 1,000. These discrepancies and alterations caused the liveliest dissatisfaction in the minds of those who realized that they were entering upon a very serious undertaking; but although the equipment seemed poor, reliance was always placed on the taking of Pretoria Fort. That at any rate was a certainty, and it would settle the whole thing without a blow; for Johannesburg would have everything, and the Boers would have rifles, but neither ammunition nor field-guns. Without doubt the Pretoria arsenal was the key of the position, and it is admitted by Boer and alien alike that it lay there unguarded, ready to be picked up, and that nothing in the world could have saved it—except what did!

On or about December 19, Messrs. Woolls-Sampson and A. Bailey, two Johannesburg men concerned in the movement, who had been in communication with Mr. Rhodes and others in Cape Town, arrived in Johannesburg, and indicated clearly that the question as to which flag was to be raised was either deemed to be a relatively unimportant one or one concerning which some of the parties had not clearly and honestly expressed their intentions. In simple truth, it appeared to be the case that Dr. Jameson either thought that the Johannesburg reformers were quite indifferent on the subject of the flag, or assumed that the provisions for the maintenance of the Transvaal flag were merely talk, and that the Union Jack would be hoisted at once. Nothing was further from the truth. The Reform Party in Johannesburg included men to whom the Union Jack is as dear as their own heart's blood, but it also included many others to whom that flag does not appeal—men of other nationalities and other associations and other sympathies. It included—perhaps the strongest element of all—those men whose sympathies were naturally and most strongly all for British rule, which they believed to be the best in the world, but whose judgment showed them that to proclaim that rule would be to defeat the very objects they honestly had in view, and who would have regarded the change of flag at the last moment as an unprincipled deception of those comrades who had been induced to co-operate for reform and not for annexation. It had been repeatedly and emphatically stated that the object was not to deprive the Boer of his independence or the State of its autonomy, but to alter the system of government in such a way as, first to obtain betterment of the economic conditions which affect everyone, and afterwards to induce a policy more in accordance with the general South African sentiment—in fact to get the Transvaal into line with the other South African States, in the same way for instance as the Free State had shown itself disposed to go. It is but poor work explaining failure, yet it must surely be permissible that something should be said for those who alone have had no hearing yet. And it is in the minds of the Reformers that the professions of their 'real intentions' regarding the flag made by Dr. Jameson and Mr. Rhodes might appropriately have been made before the raid, instead of afterwards when all was over. The regard for definite pledges, which in the Reformers was described as merely an excuse for backing out, would, if it had been observed by all, have made a sickening fiasco impossible.

No sooner had a doubt been raised on the subject of the flag than a trusted emissary was despatched to inquire from Mr. Rhodes the meaning of this tampering with one of the fundamental conditions of the agreement. The messenger returned on Christmas morning, and at a largely-attended meeting of the ringleaders stated that he had seen Mr. Rhodes, and had received from him the assurance that it was all right about the flag: no question or doubt had been raised on the subject. In returning to Capetown however in company with Dr. Rutherfoord Harris, he learned from that gentleman that it was by no means all right, and gathered that it was assumed that the provision about maintaining the Transvaal flag was so much talk necessary to secure the adhesion of some doubtful people. The announcement was received with the gravest dissatisfaction. Several of the leading men stated emphatically that nothing would induce them to take part in the movement unless the original arrangement was loyally adhered to. In consequence of this it was resolved to despatch Messrs. Charles Leonard and F.H. Hamilton to see Mr. Rhodes and to obtain from him a definite guarantee that in the event of their availing themselves of Dr. Jameson's help under any conditions the latter would abide by the arrangements agreed upon.

It was then thought that a week would be sufficient time in which to clear up the flag question and complete preparations. It was decided to call a big public meeting for the night of Monday, January 6, not with the intention of holding the meeting, but as a blind to cover the simultaneous rising in Johannesburg and seizing of the arsenal in Pretoria on the night of Saturday, January 4. With this in mind it was arranged to publish, in the form of a manifesto,{21} the address which Mr. Charles Leonard had prepared for the meeting.

Among the Reformers there had always been a considerable section who regarded the alliance or arrangement with Dr. Jameson as a very doubtful advantage. It was this section which strongly and successfully opposed the suggestion that he should start before an actual outbreak. The difference of opinion was not such as to cause division in the ranks, but yet sufficient to keep alive discussion as to how the common aim could be achieved without risk of the complications which external aid in the initial stages would be sure to cause. To this feeling of doubt was added a sense of distrust when Dr. Jameson's importunity and impatience became known; and when the question of the flag was raised there were few, if any, among those concerned in the movement who did not feel that the tail was trying to wag the dog. The feeling was so strong that many were prepared to abandon the whole scheme and start de novo rather than continue an undertaking in which it looked as though they were being fooled. Hence the despatch of Messrs. Leonard and Hamilton on Christmas Day.

Confidence in their power to control Dr. Jameson and direct the movement, as they considered they had the right and ability to do, had been so shaken in the reformers that as soon as Messrs. Leonard and Hamilton had been sent they began to discuss a complete change of plans, and awaited only the reply from Capetown before taking the first steps in the prosecution of the new programme. The plan most favoured was that the importation and distribution of arms should be continued as speedily and as secretly as possible, that, instead of an invading force, as many armed and trained men as could be obtained should be brought in, nominally as mechanics or men seeking employment on the mines, that the public meeting called for January 6 should be held and made as large and demonstrative as possible, and a demand made to the Volksraad to grant the redress of the grievances complained of, and, failing reasonable concessions, that they should rise in arms and at the same time appeal to England, as the paramount Power, or to the other South African Governments, to mediate and so avert civil war. It was believed, and with much reason, that the Boers, knowing, as they then inevitably would, that a considerable quantity of arms and ammunition had been smuggled in, and knowing also that the sentiment of South Africa, including the Free State, was all in favour of considerable concessions to the Uitlanders, would have hesitated to take the initiative against Johannesburg, and would either have yielded to the pressure of the general South African opinion and have accepted the mediation of the High Commissioner, or would have offered considerable reforms. The Kruger party, it was well known, would proceed to any extreme rather than concede anything to the Uitlanders; but at that time the majority of the Boers were opposed to the Kruger policy of favouring the Hollanders and Germans to the exclusion of all other Uitlanders, and this majority would not have consented to measures calculated to embroil them with the people who had made their country prosperous, and even to imperil the very existence of the State, whilst an alternative course so easy as the one presented lay open to them.

On the day following the despatch of Messrs. Leonard and Hamilton to Capetown it was decided to send messengers to Dr. Jameson to emphatically prohibit any movement on his part, also to explain to him the position of affairs in Johannesburg with reference to the flag, and above all to impress upon him the condition of unpreparedness. Major Heany was sent by train viâ Kimberley, and in order to facilitate his travelling a telegram was sent to Mr. Rhodes in Capetown asking him to arrange for a special train, and acquainting him with the purpose of the trip. Captain Holden was sent on horseback across country to Pitsani. Both gentlemen carried the most definite instructions to Dr. Jameson on no account to move. Both gentlemen have since stated that they delivered the messages in word and in spirit absolutely as they were given to them in Johannesburg, and that they carried no private messages whatever from any individual member of the Committee in any way conflicting with the purport of the official message with which they were charged.

On the Thursday, Friday, and Saturday telegrams and messages were received from Dr. Jameson, all revealing impatience and a desire if not an intention to disregard the wishes of the Johannesburg people. Replies were sent to him and to the Capetown agents protesting against the tone adopted, urging him to desist from the endeavour to rush the Johannesburg people as they were pushing matters on to the best of their ability and hoped for a successful issue without recourse to violent measures, and stating emphatically that the decision must be left entirely in the hands of Johannesburg as agreed, otherwise there would be certain disaster. Besides what would be regarded as the official expressions and messages of the Johannesburg people, several individual members of the party telegraphed to Dr. Jameson informing him of the position and adding their personal advice and testimony. The probability of achieving success without firing a shot was referred to in the sense of a most satisfactory prospect. It did not occur to any one among the Johannesburg party that it was this prospect that moved Dr. Jameson to start. That idea is of later birth.

On Sunday morning, at about ten o'clock, two telegrams of importance were received. The first was from Messrs. Hamilton and Leonard, to the following effect: 'We have received perfectly satisfactory assurance from Cecil Rhodes, but a misunderstanding undoubtedly exists elsewhere. In our opinion, continue preparations, but carefully, and without any sort of hurry, as entirely fresh departure will be necessary. In view of changed condition Jameson has been advised accordingly.' Portions of this message were in code. It left Capetown at 2.20 p.m. on Saturday, the 28th, and was received on Sunday at about ten o'clock. The second telegram was one from Dr. Jameson to his brother, Mr. S.W. Jameson, and had been despatched at about the same time. It was in the Bedford-McNeil Code, and was much mutilated—so much so that it was thought to have been purposely done in the telegraph office in order to obscure the meaning. One expression was clear, however, and that was: 'I shall start without fail to-morrow night.' It concluded with the words: 'Inform Dr. Wolff—distant cutting. He will understand.'

The words 'distant cutting' did not occur in any code-book. Dr. Jameson states that they were words privately agreed upon between him and Dr. Wolff. The telegram was shown to Dr. Wolff as soon as he could be found, but he declared himself unable to throw any light whatever upon it. It was however clear from the message that on Saturday afternoon it had been Dr. Jameson's intention to disregard the wishes of the Committee, and to start on Sunday night, and the telegram impressed the recipients more than ever with the wisdom of their action in sending the messengers to Capetown and to Pitsani to insist upon no further steps being taken. It is of little consequence what the words 'distant cutting' really meant, or whether they were, or should have been, understood by any of the parties. Major Heany and Captain Holden, it was known, could not have reached Dr. Jameson at the time the message was despatched, and therefore no more importance was attached to this than to the other impatient telegrams.

It was assumed that, on receiving the emphatic messages sent through Major Heany and Captain Holden, Dr. Jameson would realize the seriousness of the position, and would, in fact, abide by the arrangements made with him. Nor was this all. It was also clear that the telegram of Mr. Rhodes to which it was inferred reference was made in the concluding words of Messrs. Hamilton's and Leonard's wire—'Jameson has been advised accordingly'—could not have reached Dr. Jameson at the time his telegram to his brother was despatched. It was part of the instructions to Messrs. Hamilton and Leonard that any communications which they might desire to make to Dr. Jameson should pass through Mr. Cecil Rhodes in order to ensure due regard being paid to them. There was therefore no doubt in the minds of the Johannesburg men that during Saturday afternoon—that is to say, more than twenty-four hours before he proposed moving—he must have received a wire forbidding him to move.

The facts here given were sufficient to warrant the belief that all that was necessary had been done to prevent any movement. But more reassuring than all precautions was the conviction that Dr. Jameson, no matter how much he might 'bluff' in order to force immediate action, would never be guilty of so gross a breach of faith as to start in defiance of the wishes of the Johannesburg people. Extreme dissatisfaction of course prevailed in the minds of a good many when they learned of the efforts made by him to force their hands, and this feeling was intensified by the report brought in by Dr. Wolff, who had just returned from seeing Dr. Jameson at Pitsani. Dr. Wolff had arrived at Pitsani on the previous Tuesday, and was then greeted by Dr. Jameson with the remark that he had 'as nearly as possible started for Pretoria last night.' It was felt that this might appear to be a very fine and dashing thing for a party of men well armed and trained and able to take care of themselves, but that it betrayed great indifference to his pledges, as well as to the fate of his associates, who as he knew perfectly well had not even the arms to defend themselves from the consequences of any precipitate action on his part, and who had moreover the responsibility for the control and protection of unarmed Johannesburg.

The feeling among the Reformers on Sunday, the 29th, was one of considerable relief at having found out in time the intention of their reckless colleague, and at having taken the necessary steps to control him. Secure in the belief that the messages from Capetown had duly reached Dr. Jameson, and that either Major Heany or Captain Holden had by that time also reached him, and that in the future the management of their affairs would be left in their own hands, they continued during Sunday and Monday, the 29th and 30th, to arrange plans on the basis before indicated, awaiting in the meantime further communications from Messrs. Hamilton and Leonard.

In the meanwhile it became generally known in Johannesburg that some movement was afoot, and suppressed excitement and expectancy became everywhere manifest. On Saturday, December 28, the President returned from his annual tour through certain of the outlying districts. On his journey he was met by a number of burghers at Bronkhorst Spruit, the scene of the battle in the War of Independence, about twenty miles from Pretoria. One of the burghers, an old Boer named Hans Botha, who was the opponent of Mr. Woolls-Sampson in the 'duel' at the battle of Zwartkoppies, in addressing the President, said that he had heard that there was some talk of a rising in Johannesburg, and added that although he had many bullets in him (It is stated that he still has five!), he could find room for more if it was a question of tackling the Britishers. The President replied that he had heard of the threatened rising, and did not believe it: he could not say what was likely to happen, but they must remember this—if they wanted to kill a tortoise they must wait until he put his head out of the shell.

In an interview with a representative of the press immediately after this the President said that the position was full of gravity and might lead to disagreeable consequences, especially to the mining industry and commercial enterprise generally; but he was still confident that common-sense would prevail in Johannesburg, and expressed the conviction that the law-abiding portion of the community, which included the greater part of the English and other nationalities, would support all measures for the preservation of law and order. He said that his endeavours hitherto to secure concessions for the Uitlander population had been frustrated by the public utterances and actions of irresponsible and unscrupulous agitators whose methods had often a detrimental effect on the Volksraad and on the burghers throughout the Republic. The first commotion created was by the flag incident some years before (1890), which caused a great shock to confidence; another sinister incident was the refusal of a portion of the British community to serve their adopted country in the Malaboch War, when the union of Boer and Briton against the common enemy was nearly brought about. 'If wiser counsels unfortunately should not prevail,' the President continued, 'then let the storm arise, and the wind thereof will separate the chaff from the grain. The Government will give every opportunity for free speech and free ventilation of grievances, but it is fully prepared to put a stop to any movement made for the upsetting of law and order.'

On the same day the President was interviewed by a deputation of Americans from Johannesburg. They were men of the highest position and influence in the community and were earnestly desirous of securing reforms, but they were impressed with the idea that peaceful means had not yet been exhausted and that the President and his Executive would listen to reason if they were convinced that serious consequences would follow the neglect to reform. The President received them civilly, as he often does when he has a strong hand to play: it is generally when his cards are poor that he gives way to the paroxysms of rage and indulges in the personal abuse and violent behaviour which have earned for him so unenviable a reputation. He listened to all that had been advanced by the deputation, and then said that 'it was no time to talk when danger was at hand. That was the time for action.' The deputation represented to him that there was no danger at hand unless the President by his own act precipitated matters and caused the trouble himself, that matters were completely in his hands, and that if he would deal with the people in a liberal and statesmanlike way and grant the reforms which were universally acknowledged to be necessary there would not be anywhere in the world a more law-abiding and loyal community than that of Johannesburg. The President answered merely by the question: 'If a crisis should occur, on which side shall I find the Americans?' The answer was, 'On the side of liberty and good government.' The President replied, 'You are all alike, tarred with the same brush; you are British in your hearts.'

In reply to another deputation, representing a section of the community which was not by any means at one with the reformers, but the leading members of which still urged the necessity for reforms, the President said, 'Either you are with me in the last extremity or you are with the enemy; choose which course you will adopt. Call a meeting to repudiate the Manifesto in its entirety, or there is final rupture between us.' The gentlemen addressed declared emphatically that on the Manifesto there could be no retreat. On that Johannesburg was absolutely at one. The President replied, 'Then, I shall know how to deal with Johannesburg,' and left the room.

The various business associations of Johannesburg and Pretoria approached the President at different hours in these threatening times, and did all that was possible to induce him to make reasonable concessions. Although numbers of his followers and counsellors were strongly in favour of doing something to avert the coming storm, the President himself seemed inclined to fight until the last ditch was reached rather than concede anything. In reply to the Mercantile Association he said that he was quite willing to give the franchise, but that it would be to those who were really worthy of it—those for instance who rallied round the Government in this crisis and took no part in the mischievous agitation and clamouring for so-called reforms: all malcontents should be excluded. In fact he made it perfectly plain that the franchise would be treated as a huge bribery fund; and he himself was introducing the thin end of the wedge in the suggestion made to the Association with a view to splitting up the Reform Party in Johannesburg. He however added that the special duties on food-stuffs would be immediately removed pending confirmation by the Volksraad, that equal subsidies would be granted to Dutch and English schools alike, and that the Netherlands Railway Company would be approached with a view to having the tariffs reduced. The effect of this was however slightly marred by the concluding sentence in which he stated that 'as he had kept his former promises, so he would do his best to keep this.'

In reply to a second deputation of Americans, the President in a moment of irritation said that it was impossible to grant the franchise to the Uitlander—American, British, or other; he would lose his power if he did; the Government would no longer be his. A member of the deputation said, 'Surely, if we take the oath of allegiance, you will trust us?' The President hesitated for a moment, and then said, 'This is no time to talk about these things; I can promise you nothing.'

Footnotes for Chapter III

{19} The date of 20th December, 1895, was filled in by Dr. Jameson when he decided to start and to publish the letter.

{20} When this letter was published by Dr. Jameson and cabled to the London Times the sense of it was very gravely—but doubtless unintentionally—altered by terminating this sentence with the word 'aid' and carrying the remaining words into the next sentence.

(July, 1899.) At the Westminster inquiry it transpired that on December 20 Mr. Rhodes instructed Dr. Harris to wire for a copy of the letter. Dr. Jameson forwarded it after filling in that day's date. On December 30, Dr. Harris, again acting on Mr. Rhodes' instructions, telegraphed the letter to the Times, having altered the date to 28th, and prefaced it with the statement that the letter had been 'sent on Saturday (28) to Dr. Jameson, Mafeking.'

{21} See Appendix I. for the full text of Manifesto.