The news of Dr. Jameson's surrender was received in Johannesburg towards mid-day, at first with derision, but as report after report came in, each confirming and supplementing the other, no room for doubt was left and a scene of the wildest excitement ensued. It is not too much to say that not one person in a hundred, no matter what his political leanings were, had doubted for a moment Dr. Jameson's ability to force his way into Johannesburg. There is not the slightest indication in the newspapers of the time, which without doubt reflected every varying mood and repeated every rumour which it was possible to catch from an excited people, that there was in any man's mind a suspicion that the Boers would be able to stop the invader. In the first place no one believed that they could mobilize sufficiently quickly to oppose him, and in the second place, he was understood to have a force of 800 men so admirably equipped and trained that it would not be possible for 5,000 Boers hurriedly called together to intercept him. All this, however, was forgotten when it came to accounting for the disaster; or rather, the previous convictions only added strength to the rage of disappointment. The public by that time knew of the letter of invitation; it had been taken on the battle-field and news of it was telegraphed in, and apart from this the writers had made no secret of it. But what the public did not know, and what, if they had known it, would not have appealed with similar force, was the efforts made to stop Jameson and the practical withdrawal of the letter before he had started. It was sufficient for them during the few remaining hours of that day to recall that Jameson had come in, that he had fought against great odds, and that when almost reaching his goal he had been taken prisoner for want of assistance. It is perfectly true that in their rage of grief and disappointment men were willing to march out with pick-handles to rescue him, if there were not rifles enough to arm them. While the excitement lasted this was the mood, and the Reform Committee were the scapegoats. The attitude of the crowd was due to ignorance of the circumstances and natural emotion which could not be otherwise vented. The excitement had greatly abated by the following morning, and it was realized then that the position was practically but little worse than that which the Reform Committee had offered to take up when they tendered their persons as security for the evacuation of the country by the invading force, and had proposed to continue the struggle without their aid.
The reports received by the Johannesburg people were to the effect that the surrender had been conditional upon the sparing of the lives of the force. Indeed the first reports agreed that Jameson upon receipt of the High Commissioner's proclamation, had laid down his arms; but upon the return of Mr. Lace (whose mission has been explained) it was realized that this was not the case. A later account showed that Jameson had surrendered to Commandant Cronjé on the condition that the lives of all should be spared, and this version of the surrender was published in the Johannesburg newspapers. When further accounts were received from Pretoria and Krugersdorp, stating that the surrender had been unconditional and that there was grave doubt as to what would be done with Dr. Jameson, it was surmised as an explanation that he had declined to bargain for his own life and had merely stipulated that those of his followers should be spared.
On Friday the news that it was contemplated to shoot Dr. Jameson caused a frenzy of horror and excitement in the town. Every effort was made by the Reform Committee and its supporters to maintain strictly the position which the Government had suggested through their Commission on Wednesday, lest some untoward incident should turn the trembling balance against Dr. Jameson and his men; nor were the Committee alone in the desire to maintain that position. On Friday and on Saturday communications were received from the local Government officials, and from Commandant-General Joubert through the British Agent, drawing the attention of the Committee to alleged breaches of the arrangement. The allegations were satisfactorily disproved; but the communications clearly indicated that the Government were most desirous of maintaining the position in relation to Johannesburg which they had laid down before the first battle with Dr. Jameson's forces.
Information was received on Thursday that the High Commissioner would leave Capetown for Pretoria at 9 p.m. that night. It had been a matter of surprise that, the arrangement having been entered into with him early on Wednesday, he had not found it convenient to start for some thirty-six hours. Considering how seriously he had interfered with the movement—first by his proclamation, and next by concerted action with the Government for a peaceful settlement—it had been naturally assumed that he would not lose a moment in leaving Capetown for the scene of trouble. Such however was not the case.
It has been alleged that the arrangement made between the Transvaal Government and the High Commissioner with a view to a peaceful settlement bore only upon Dr. Jameson's action, and that it was not contemplated that there should be any interference between the Government and its own subjects in Johannesburg. In answer to this it may be noted that the High Commissioner had in the first place offered his services, and that those services had been declined by the Transvaal Government; but that the latter, on realizing the seriousness of the position which they were called upon to face, and acting, it is stated, upon the advice of Mr. J.H. Hofmeyr, the recognized leader of the Dutch Africanders in the Cape Colony, reconsidered this refusal and urgently besought the High Commissioner to go up to Pretoria and use his influence to effect a peaceful settlement. This arrangement, together with the promise of the redress of grievances, had been made known to the deputation of the Reform Committee by the Government Commission in Pretoria, as has already been stated—the Government well knowing that Johannesburg was in arms and a party to the arrangement with Dr. Jameson.
Dr. Jameson surrendered at 9.30 a.m. on Thursday. The High Commissioner did not leave Capetown until 9 p.m. the same day. There had therefore been ample time for the Government to intimate to him their opinion that matters had been satisfactorily settled and that they did not need his services any longer, had they held such an opinion. As a matter of fact, that was by no means their opinion. They considered that they had yet to deal with 20,000 armed men in Johannesburg, and that they had to do that, if possible, without provoking a civil war, which would inevitably result in the long-run to their disadvantage, however great their success might be over the Johannesburg people in the meantime. They not only allowed the High Commissioner to proceed to Pretoria on the understanding originally effected, but they took steps to remind the Reform Committee on several occasions that they were expected to adhere to the arrangement entered into. And such was the position when the High Commissioner arrived on the night of Saturday, the 4th.
Sir Hercules Robinson proceeded direct to Pretoria, but did not transact any business until Monday, abstaining, in deference to the feelings of the Boers, from any discussion of business matters on the Sabbath. On Sunday, however, he received information from the Reform Committee as to the arrangements entered into with the Government. He was also informed that threats had been made by persons who without doubt were speaking the mind of the Government, that if any trouble should take place with Johannesburg Dr. Jameson and probably many of his comrades would be shot. It was not stated that the Transvaal Government or authorities would officially countenance any such act or would authorize it even as the result of a trial; but the statement which was made by everyone from the President downward was that, in the event of any fighting in Johannesburg, the burghers would be so much enraged and so beyond control that the prisoners who had caused all the trouble would inevitably be shot. It is a part of Boer diplomacy to make as much use as possible of every weapon that comes to hand without too great a regard for the decencies of government as they occur to the minds of every civilized people, and it is not at all unusual to find the President proclaiming at one moment that some course must be taken to prevent disaster, for the reason that he cannot be answerable for his burghers in their excited state, and at another moment indignantly repudiating the suggestion that they would be guilty of any step that could be considered unworthy of the most civilized of peoples. In fact such exhibitions were repeatedly given by him at a later stage when dealing with the Reform prisoners.
Before any communication was received from the High Commissioner on Monday messages had been received by the members of the Reform Committee to the effect that the laying down of arms would be absolutely necessary to ensure the safety of Jameson and his men. The Reform Committee had then learnt that the two messengers sent to stop Dr. Jameson—Major Heany and Captain Holden—had reached him, and had come in with him, and were at that moment prisoners with him in Pretoria. They had also heard of the reception accorded to Sir Jacobus de Wet's despatch and the High Commissioner's proclamation, so that it was abundantly clear that the incursion had been made in defiance of the wishes of the leaders, whatever other reasons there might have been to prompt it. But the public who constituted the movement were still under the impression that Dr. Jameson was a very fine fellow who had come in in a chivalrous manner to help those whom he had believed to be in distress. There was however no division of opinion as to what should be done; even those who felt most sore about the position in which they had been placed did not hesitate for a moment. The first and for the time being the only consideration was the safety of Dr. Jameson and his comrades.
The events and negotiations of the days preceding the arrest of the Reformers have been the subject of so much discussion and so much misunderstanding that it will be better as far as possible to compile the history from original documents or the published and properly authenticated copies. In Blue Book [C. 7,933] the following is published:
SIR HERCULES ROBINSON (Pretoria) to MR. CHAMBERLAIN.
(Telegraphic. Received 1.8 a.m., 6th January, 1896.)
5th January. No. 3.—Arrived here last night. Position of affairs very critical. On side of Government of South African Republic and of Orange Free State there is a desire to show moderation, but Boers show tendency to get out of hand and to demand execution of Jameson. I am told that Government of South African Republic will demand disarmament of Johannesburg as a condition precedent to negotiations. Their military preparations are now practically complete, and Johannesburg, if besieged, could not hold out, as they are short of water and coal. On side of Johannesburg leaders desire to be moderate, but men make safety of Jameson and concession of items in manifesto issued conditions precedent to disarmament. If these are refused, they assert they will elect their own leaders and fight it out in their own way. As the matter now stands, I see great difficulty in avoiding civil war; but I will do my best, and telegraph result of my official interview to-morrow. It is said that President of South African Republic intends to make some demands with respect to Article No. 4 of the London Convention of 1884.
MR. CHAMBERLAIN to SIR HERCULES ROBINSON.
(Telegraphic. January 6, 1896.)
6th January. No. 3.—It is reported in the press telegrams the President of the South African Republic on December 30 held out definite hopes that concessions would be proposed in regard to education and the franchise. No overt act of hostility appears to have been committed by the Johannesburg people since the overthrow of Jameson. The statement that arms and ammunition are stored in that town in large quantities may be only one of many boasts without foundation. Under these circumstances, active measures against the town do not seem to be urgently required at the present moment, and I hope no step will be taken by the President of the South African Republic liable to cause more bloodshed and excite civil war in the Republic.
These are followed in the same volume by No. 89:
SIR HERCULES ROBINSON (Pretoria) to MR. CHAMBERLAIN.
(Telegraphic. Received 7th January, 1896.)
6th January. No. 2.—Met President South African Republic and Executive Council to-day. Before opening proceedings, I expressed on behalf of Her Majesty's Government my sincere regret at the unwarrantable raid made by Jameson; also thanked Government of South African Republic for the moderation shown under trying circumstances. With regard to Johannesburg, President of South African Republic announced decision of Government to be that Johannesburg must lay down its arms unconditionally as a precedent to any discussion and consideration of grievances. I endeavoured to obtain some indication of the steps that would be taken in the event of disarmament, but without success, it being intimated that Government of South African Republic had nothing more to say on this subject than had been already embodied in proclamation of President of South African Republic. I inquired as to whether any decision had been come to as regards disposal of prisoners, and received a reply in the negative. President of South African Republic said that, as his burghers, to number of 8,000, had been collected, and could not be asked to remain indefinitely, he must request a reply, 'Yes' or 'No,' to this ultimatum within twenty-four hours. I have communicated decision of South African Republic to Reform Committee at Johannesburg through British Agent in South African Republic.
The burgher levies are in such an excited state over the invasion of their country that I believe President of South African Republic could not control them except in the event of unconditional surrender. I have privately recommended them to accept ultimatum. Proclamation of President of South African Republic refers to promise to consider all grievances which are properly submitted, and to lay the same before the Legislature without delay.
On January 7 Mr. Chamberlain replied:
No. 1.—I approve of your advice to Johannesburg. Kruger will be wise not to proceed to extremities at Johannesburg or elsewhere; otherwise the evil animosities already aroused may be dangerously excited.
And on the same day Sir Hercules Robinson telegraphed:
No. 1.—Your telegram of January 6, No. 2. It would be most inexpedient to send troops to Mafeking at this moment, and there is not the slightest necessity for such a step, as there is no danger from Kimberley volunteer corps or from Mafeking. I have sent De Wet with ultimatum this morning to Johannesburg, and believe arms will be laid down unconditionally. I understand in such case Jameson and all prisoners will be handed over to me. Prospect now very hopeful if no injudicious steps are taken. Please leave matter in my hands.
On Monday Sir Jacobus de Wet, acting under the instructions of the High Commissioner, telegraphed from Pretoria to the Reform Committee, Johannesburg, informing them that the High Commissioner had seen the President and Executive that morning, that he had been informed that as a condition precedent to the discussion and consideration of grievances the Government required that the Johannesburg people should lay down their arms; and that the Government gave them twenty-four hours—from 4 p.m. that day—in which to accept or reject that ultimatum. The Committee replied that it would receive their earnest consideration.
Notwithstanding the fact that such a condition had been anticipated the ultimatum was very unfavourably received, a large number of those present protesting that the Uitlanders were being led little by little into a trap, that the Boers as was their wont would never keep faith with them, that in the end they would find themselves betrayed, and that it would be better at no matter what cost to make a fight for it and attempt to rescue Dr. Jameson and his party. The last suggestion was a mad one, and after some consideration, and hearing the representations of Sir Sidney Shippard and Mr. Seymour Fort, who had been in communication with the High Commissioner on the previous day in Pretoria and were used by him as unofficial agents, the matter was more calmly considered by the Committee. It was very well realized that a struggle between Johannesburg and the Boer forces would have been an absolutely hopeless one for those who took part in it, but there was a determination to secure the objects for the attainment of which the agitation had been started, and it was believed that if a firm stand were taken, such was the justice of the cause of the Uitlanders that the Government would not be able to refuse definite terms as to what reforms they would introduce, besides assuring the safety of Dr. Jameson.
While the discussion was proceeding another telegram was received from the British Agent saying that, under instructions from the High Commissioner, he was proceeding in person to Johannesburg to meet the Reform Committee and explain matters to them. The meeting took place on the morning of Tuesday, and Sir Jacobus de Wet pointed out to the Committee the perilous position in which Dr. Jameson and his comrades were placed, owing to the hesitation of the Uitlanders to accept the ultimatum of the Government. He read again and again the following telegram from the High Commissioner, which had been despatched from Pretoria early that morning and received by the British Agent in Johannesburg when on his way to meet the Reform Committee:
Urgent.—You should inform the Johannesburg people that I consider that if they lay down their arms they will be acting loyally and honourably, and that if they do not comply with my request they forfeit all claim to sympathy from Her Majesty's Government and from British subjects throughout the world, as the lives of Jameson and the prisoners are now practically in their hands.
In reply to remarks about grievances, Sir Jacobus de Wet stated that the Uitlanders could not expect under the circumstances anything more favourable than the discussion and consideration of the grievances with the High Commissioner, as had been promised, and added that, if there were any spirit of reason in the community at all, they would be content to leave their case in the hands of so experienced a statesman as Sir Hercules Robinson, a man whose instinct and training were towards fair and decent government.
In the course of a very long discussion, Sir Jacobus de Wet was asked if he did not consider the Boer Government capable of an act of treachery such as disarming the community and then proceeding to wreak their vengeance upon those whom they might consider responsible for the agitation. According to the evidence of a number of those who were present, his reply was that 'not a hair of the head of any man in Johannesburg would be touched.' The discussion was resumed at various times and in various forms, when different groups of men had opportunities of questioning the British Agent themselves. When questioned again more definitely as to whether this immunity would be extended to the leaders—those who had signed the letter—Sir Jacobus de Wet replied again in the affirmative. To another member, who had asked the same question in another form, he said 'Not one among you will lose his personal liberty for a single hour. John Bull would never allow it.' In reply to the remark, 'John Bull has had to put up with a good deal in this country. What do you mean by "John Bull"?' he answered, 'I mean the British Government could not possibly allow such a thing.'
It would have been an easy and no doubt a proper and reasonable precaution had the Reformers insisted upon a statement in writing of the terms upon which they laid down their arms. There were however two considerations which weighed against any bargain of this sort. The first was the overwhelming and paramount consideration of insuring Dr. Jameson's safety; and the other was the belief (not seriously shaken by suggestions to the contrary) that the Government would be obliged to abide by the spirit of the terms arranged on January 1, because the High Commissioner would insist upon it as the vital condition under which he was endeavouring to effect the disarmament of Johannesburg. That Sir Hercules Robinson well realized his responsibility to the Uitlander, but found it inconvenient or impossible to accept it at a later stage, is shown by his own reports. On January 7 he telegraphed to Mr. Chamberlain as follows:
Your telegram No. 3 of January 6. I need now only say that I have just received a message from Reform Committee resolving to comply with demand of South African Republic to lay down their arms; the people placing themselves (? and) their interests unreservedly in my hands in the fullest confidence that I will see justice done to them. I have received also the following from British agent, dated 7th January:
Begins: I have sent the following telegram to His Honour the President:
I have met the Reform Committee. Am gratified with the spirit shown in the discussion of the all-important present position. The Committee handed me the following resolution—Begins: The Reform Committee in Johannesburg, having seriously considered the ultimatum of the Government of the South African Republic communicated to them through Her Majesty's Agent at Pretoria, in a telegram dated 6th instant, to the effect that Johannesburg must lay down its arms as a condition precedent to a discussion and consideration of grievances, have unanimously decided to comply with this demand, and have given instructions to the citizens employed by this Committee for maintaining good order to lay down their arms. In coming to this determination, the Committee rely upon the Government that it will maintain law and order, and protect life and property in this town at this critical juncture. The Committee have been actuated by a paramount desire to do everything possible to ensure the safety of Dr. Jameson and his men, to advance the amicable discussion of terms of settlement with the Government, and to support the High Commissioner in his efforts in this respect. The Committee would draw the attention of the Government of the Republic to the presence of armed burgher forces in the immediate vicinity of this town, and would earnestly desire that these forces be removed in order to avoid all risk of any disturbance of the public peace. Resolution ends. I wish to add to my above remarks that I feel convinced there will be no further difficulty in connection with the laying down of their arms. I would suggest that the Government co-operate with the Reform Committee for a day or two for the purpose of restoring the town to its normal state. This will only take a day or two, and those who are excited among the people will by that time have calmed down, and the police can resume their ordinary duties. The Committee will co-operate in this matter. This course will very much facilitate the task of your Government if it meets with your approval. Ends.
The High Commissioner concluded the above telegram with the following significant sentence:
I hope now to be able to confer with President of the South African Republic and Executive Council as to prisoners and the redress of Johannesburg grievances.
On the 8th he again telegraphed:
Referring to your telegram of the 7th inst., No. 1, I consider that so far throughout this matter Kruger has behaved very well. He suspended hostilities pending my arrival, when Johannesburg was at his mercy; and in opposition to a very general feeling of the Executive Council and of the burghers who have been clamouring for Jameson's life, he has now determined to hand over Jameson and the other prisoners. If Jameson had been tried here there can be no doubt that he would have been shot, and perhaps some of his colleagues also. The excitement of the public is now calmed down.
I shall try to-day to make arrangements with Kruger as to taking over the prisoners, and I will confer with him as to redressing the grievances of the residents of Johannesburg on the basis of your telegram of the 4th inst. I have given Kruger a copy of that telegram.'
And later on the same day:
Since my telegram No. 1 of this morning, matters have not been going so smoothly. When the Executive Council met, I received a message that only 1,814 rifles and three Maxim guns had been surrendered, which the Government of the South African Republic did not consider a fulfilment of the ultimatum, and orders would be immediately issued to a commando to attack Johannesburg. I at once replied that the ultimatum required the surrender of guns and ammunition for which no permit of importation had been obtained, and that onus rested with Transvaal Government to show that guns and ammunition were concealed for which no permit had been issued. If before this was done any hostile step were taken against Johannesburg, I should consider it to be a violation of the undertaking for which I had made myself personally responsible to the people of Johannesburg, and I should leave the issue in hands of Her Majesty's Government. This had a sobering effect, and the order for the attack on Johannesburg was countermanded, and it was arranged that the Transvaal officials should accompany Her Majesty's Agent to Johannesburg and point out to him if they could where arms were concealed. Her Majesty's Agent left at 1 p.m. to-day for Johannesburg for this purpose.
The explanation of the change, I take it, is that Kruger has great difficulties to contend with among his own people. The apparent object is to prove that people of Johannesburg have not fulfilled the conditions which were to precede the handing over of the prisoners and consideration of grievances. I should not be surprised if, before releasing the prisoners or redressing grievances, an attempt were now made to extort an alteration of the London Convention of 1884, and the abrogation of Article No. 4 of that instrument. I intend, if I find that the Johannesburg people have substantially complied with the ultimatum, to insist on the fulfilment of promises as regards prisoners and consideration of grievances, and will not allow at this stage the introduction of any fresh conditions as regards the London Convention of 1884. Do you approve?
The Reform Committee published the following official notice on Tuesday afternoon:
The Reform Committee notify hereby that all rifles issued for the defence of life and property in town and the mines are to be returned at once to the Central Office in order to enable the Committee to carry out the agreement with the Government, upon the faithful observance of which so much is dependent.
The Committee desire to make it known that late last night they received an intimation from Her Majesty's Agent in Pretoria to the effect that the decision of the Government was that Johannesburg must lay down its arms as a condition precedent to the discussion and consideration of grievances.
The Committee met this morning to consider the position, and it was unanimously resolved to accept the ultimatum of the Government for reasons which the following communications sufficiently explain:
Here followed the High Commissioner's telegram to Sir Jacobus de Wet, urging disarmament, already given, and the following memorandum:
Sir Jacobus de Wet, Her Majesty's Agent at Pretoria, has notified to the Committee that he has been officially informed by the Government in Pretoria that upon Johannesburg laying down its arms Dr. Jameson will be handed over to Her Majesty's High Commissioner.
Johannesburg, 7th January.
The above is correct.
J.A. DE WET,
The Committee can add nothing to the above, and feel that there will not be one man among the thousands who have joined the Reform movement who will not find it consistent with honour and humanity to co-operate loyally in the carrying out of the Committee's decision.
By order of the Committee.
On Wednesday the investigations effected by the Government, with the aid of the Reform Committee, established the fact that the ultimatum had been complied with; but the juggling with Dr. Jameson's life continued for some days. On Thursday the 9th the High Commissioner received a communication from the President in which occurred the following sentence: 'As I had already caused your Excellency to be informed, it is really my intention to act in this sense (i.e., hand over Dr. Jameson and men), so that Dr. Jameson and the British subjects who were under his command may then be punished by her Majesty's Government, and I will make known to your Excellency the final decision in this matter as soon as Johannesburg shall have reverted to a condition of quietness and order.'
In the face of this and many other significant messages and expressions which reached Sir Hercules Robinson, it is not to be wondered at that he considered Dr. Jameson's life to be in peril, and that he regarded, as he distinctly said he did, disarmament by Johannesburg as the only means of saving him; but what is less pardonable is, that he did not pin President Kruger to this, and demand an explanation when it became known that Jameson and his men were secured by the conditions of the surrender. The truth is that the wily old Boer President, by a species of diplomacy which does not now commend itself to civilized people, managed to jockey everybody with whom he had any dealings. He is much in the position of a certain financier who, after a vain effort to justify his proceedings, turned at last in desperation upon his critics and said: 'Well, I don't care what view you hold of it. You can have the morality, but I've got the cash.'
Late in the evening of the 9th the following proclamation was published:
Whereas by resolution of the Government of the South African Republic, dated Monday, the 6th of January, 1896, whereby to all persons at Johannesburg and suburbs twenty-four hours were granted to hand over and to lay down to the Government unconditionally all arms and ammunition for which no permit could be shown, and
Whereas the said period of twenty-four hours has already expired on Tuesday, the 7th of January, 1896, and whereas the so-called Reform Committee and other British subjects have consented and decided to comply unconditionally with the resolution of the Government, and
Whereas sundry persons already have laid down their arms and ammunition, and have handed them over to the Government, and
Whereas the laying down and giving over of the said arms and ammunition is still proceeding, and
Whereas it is desirable and proper that this be done as soon as possible, and in a proper way, and that a term be fixed thereto,
Now I, Stephanus Johannes Paulus Kruger, State President of the South African Republic, with the advice and consent of the Executive Council, by virtue of Article 5 of their minutes, dated 9th January, 1896, proclaim that further time will be given for that purpose until FRIDAY, the 10th JANUARY, 1896, at 6 p.m.
All persons or corporations with whom, after the expiration of that period, arms or ammunition will be found, for which no permit granted by Government can be shown, will be dealt with according to law; and
Whereas the laying down and handing over of the said arms and ammunition should have been effected unconditionally,
Now I further proclaim that all persons who have already laid down and given over the said arms and ammunition, or who shall have done so before Friday, the 10th January, 1896, at 6 p.m., shall be exempted from all prosecution, and will be forgiven for the misdeeds that have taken place at Johannesburg and suburbs, except all persons and corporations who will appear to be the chief offenders, ringleaders, leaders, instigators, and those who have caused the rebellion at Johannesburg and suburbs.
Such persons and corporations shall have to answer for their deeds before the legal and competent courts of this Republic.
I further proclaim that I will address the inhabitants of Johannesburg to-morrow by a separate proclamation.
God save Land and People.
Given under my hand at the Government Office at Pretoria on this Ninth Day of January, in the Year One Thousand Eight Hundred and Ninety-six.
C. VAN BOESCHOTEN,
Acting State Secretary.
The grim, cautious method of the President was never better illustrated than by these proclamations and the concurrent actions. In no part of his diplomatic career has he better stage-managed the business than he did here. To the world at large these addresses commend themselves no doubt as reasonable and moderate, and they establish a record which will always speak for him when the chronology of events is lost; but the true worth of it all is only appreciated when one realizes that the first proclamation extending the time for disarmament, and promising amnesty to all except the leaders, was not issued until two days after the Government had satisfied themselves that the disarmament had been completed, and that it was deliberately held back until the police and burghers were in the outskirts of the town ready to pounce upon the men with whom they had been treating. It is an absolute fact that the Reform Committee-men, who had offered to effect the peaceful settlement seemingly desired by all parties, who had used every means in their power to convince the Government that disarming was being effected in a bonâ fide and complete manner, and who had themselves supplied the Government in good faith with any documents they had showing the number of guns and the amount of ammunition which had been at the disposal of the Reform Committee, had not the remotest suspicion that an act of treachery was in contemplation, nor any hint that the Government did not regard them as amnestied by virtue of the negotiations; and it is a fact that when the proclamation of the 9th was issued the detectives were waiting at the clubs, hotels and houses to arrest the members of the Reform Committee, and that the Reformers did not know of the proclamation exempting them from the 'Forgive and Forget' until after they had been seized.
On the 10th the address promised to the inhabitants of Johannesburg duly appeared.
After reviewing recent events, it concluded with this appeal:
Now I address you with full confidence! Strengthen the hands of the Government, and work together with them to make this Republic a country where all inhabitants, so to say, live fraternally together. For months and months I have thought which alterations and emendations would be desirable in the Government of this State, but the unwarrantable instigations, especially of the Press, have kept me back. The same men who now appear in public as the leaders have demanded amendments from me in a time and manner which they should not have dared to use in their own country out of fear of the penal law. Through this it was made impossible for me and my burghers, the founders of this Republic, to take your proposals into consideration. It is my intention to submit a draft law at the first ordinary session of the Volksraad, whereby a municipality with a Mayor at its head will be appointed for Johannesburg, to whom the whole municipal government of this town will be entrusted. According to all constitutional principles, such a municipal council should be appointed by the election of the inhabitants. I ask you earnestly, with your hand upon your heart, to answer me this question: Dare I, and should I, after all that has happened, propose such to the Volksraad? What I myself answer to this question is, I know that there are thousands in Johannesburg to whom I can with confidence entrust this right to vote in municipal matters. Inhabitants of Johannesburg, make it possible for the Government to appear before the Volksraad with the motto, 'Forget and Forgive.'
(Signed) S.J.P. KRUGER,
One would think that anyone gifted with even a moderate sense of humour would have been restrained by it from issuing a second proclamation on top of the elaborate fooling of the first. Is it possible to imagine any other community or any other Government in the world in which the ruler could seriously set to work to promulgate two such proclamations, sandwiching as they did those acts which may be regarded as the practical expression—diametrically opposed to the published expression—of his intentions?
In the meantime the negotiations concerning Dr. Jameson were dragging on. After securing the disarmament of Johannesburg and getting rid of the troublesome question of the disposal of Jameson, and after refusing for several days (to quote the gist of the High Commissioner's telegram, Blue Book No. 125 [C-7933]) to allow the necessary arrangements for the deportation of the men to be made, Mr. Kruger suddenly called upon the High Commissioner to have them removed at once, intimating at the same time that it was the decision of the Executive that all the prisoners, except the Transvaal and Free State subjects, whom he would retain, should be sent to England to be tried according to English law. It was pointed out that it was only contemplated to send the officers for trial. To this Mr. Kruger replied: 'In such case the whole question must be reconsidered.' The High Commissioner at once telegraphed for the decision of Her Majesty's Government, stating that it was the opinion of Sir Jacobus de Wet and Sir Graham Bower, who had represented him at the interview with the Transvaal Government, that, if the whole lot were not sent home to be dealt with according to English law, they would be tried in Pretoria, with a result which he feared would be deplorable. To this Mr. Chamberlain replied:
Astonished that Council should hesitate to fulfil the engagement which we understood was made by President with you, and confirmed by the Queen, on the faith of which you secured disarmament of Johannesburg. Any delay will produce worst impression here, and may lead to serious consequences. I have already promised that all the leaders shall be brought to trial immediately; but it would be absurd to try the rank and file, who only obeyed orders which they could not refuse. If desired we may however engage to bring to England all who are not domiciled in South Africa; but we cannot undertake to bring all the rank and file to trial, for that would make a farce of the whole proceedings, and is contrary to the practice of all civilized Governments. As regards a pledge that they shall be punished, the President will see on consideration that although a Government can order a prosecution, it cannot in any free country compel a conviction. You may remind him that the murderers of Major Elliott, who were tried in the Transvaal in 1881, were acquitted by a jury of burghers. Compare also the treatment by us of Stellaland and other freebooters.
The result of this communication was that the President drew in his horns and agreed that if the prisoners were deported to England he would be satisfied to let the British Government decide which of them should be prosecuted.
The success of his diplomatic methods had whetted his appetite, it would appear. He was not content with the conditional surrender of Dr. Jameson, nor—having suppressed the fact that it was conditional—with having used him for the purpose of disarming Johannesburg; but, having achieved both purposes, Mr. Kruger was still desirous of keeping him in hand. This however was a length to which the British Government did not see fit to go; but there is no evidence in the correspondence which has passed tending to show that even then Sir Hercules Robinson perceived how he was being made use of and played with by the President.
On the night of the 9th and the morning of the 10th, the members of the Reform Committee to the number of about sixty were arrested and lodged in gaol; and from this moment the High Commissioner appears to have erased them from the tablets of his memory. On January 14 he telegraphed to Mr. Chamberlain as follows:
I have received a letter from Government of South African Republic, stating that, in their opinion, every reason exists for assuming that the complications at Johannesburg are approaching to an end, and that there need be no longer any fear of further bloodshed. The President of the South African Republic and Executive Council tender to me the warmest thanks of the Government of the South African Republic for the assistance I have been able to render in preventing further bloodshed, and their congratulations on the manner in which my object in coming has been fulfilled. They tender also their cordial acknowledgment of the services rendered by the British Agent at Pretoria, which I think is fully deserved. The Volksraad met yesterday, and adjourned until May, the only business transacted being a vote of thanks to the Orange Free State and the High Commissioner for their efforts in promoting a peaceful settlement, which was carried by acclamation. I now only await settlement of prisoners' difficulty to leave for Capetown, where my presence is urgently needed in consequence of change of Ministers. Governor of Natal and General Cox are here, to whom I will give instructions as to reception and disposal of prisoners as soon as I hear from you.
To this Mr. Chamberlain telegraphed a most important reply on January 15:
I am left in great perplexity by your telegram No. 3, of the 14th inst., and fear that some previous telegrams must have miscarried. (Here follow directions to refer to a number of telegrams in which Mr. Chamberlain had indicated the settlement which he anticipated, the nature of the reforms which Sir Hercules Robinson was to secure, and many inquiries as to the reason for the arrests of the reformers as reported in the English papers.) I have received no reply to any of these telegrams, but have assumed that negotiations were in progress between the President and yourself.
There can be no settlement until the questions raised by these telegrams are disposed of. The people of Johannesburg laid down their arms in the belief that reasonable concessions would be arranged by your intervention; and until these are granted, or are definitely promised to you by the President, the root-causes of the recent troubles will remain.
The President has again and again promised reform, and especially on the 30th December last, when he promised reforms in education and franchise; and grave dissatisfaction would be excited if you left Pretoria without a clear understanding on these points. Her Majesty's Government invite President Kruger, in the interests of the South African Republic and of peace, to make a full declaration on these matters. I am also awaiting a reply respecting the alleged wholesale arrests of English, Americans and other nationalities, made after the surrender of Johannesburg.
It will be your duty to use firm language, and to tell the President that neglect to meet the admitted grievances of the Uitlanders by giving a definite promise to propose reasonable concessions would have a disastrous effect upon the prospects of a lasting and satisfactory settlement.
Send me a full report of the steps that you have already taken with regard to this matter, and of the further action that you propose.
In the meantime Sir Hercules Robinson left Pretoria, satisfied that he had done all that was necessary, and telegraphed to Mr. Chamberlain as follows:
FROM THE HIGH COMMISSIONER en route TO CAPETOWN.
15th January, 1896. No. 1.—Your telegram 13 January, No. 1, only reached me last night, after I had left Pretoria. I could if you consider it desirable, communicate purport to President of South African Republic by letter, but I myself think such action would be inopportune at this moment. Nearly all leading Johannesburg men are now in gaol, charged with treason against the State, and it is rumoured that Government has written evidence of a long-standing and widespread conspiracy to seize government of country on the plea of denial of political privileges, and to incorporate the country with that of British South Africa Company. The truth of these reports will be tested in the trials to take place shortly in the High Court, and meanwhile to urge claim for extended political privileges for the very men so charged would be ineffectual and impolitic. President of South African Republic has already promised municipal government to Johannesburg, and has stated in a proclamation that all grievances advanced in a constitutional manner will be carefully considered and brought before the Volksraad without loss of time; but until result of trials is known nothing of course will now be done.
Mr. Chamberlain replied to the above:
15th January. No. 5.—Referring to your telegram, No. 1, of the 15th January, see my telegram No. 1 of to-day, which was sent before receipt of yours. I recognize that the actual moment is not opportune for a settlement of the Uitlanders' grievances, and that the position of the President of the South African Republic may be an embarrassing one, but I do not consider that the arrest of a few score individuals out of a population of 70,000 or more, or the supposed existence of a plot amongst that small minority, is a reason for denying to the overwhelming majority of innocent persons reforms which are just in themselves and expedient in the interests of the Republic. Whatever may be said about the conduct of a few individuals, nothing can be plainer than that the sober and industrious majority refused to countenance any resort to violence, and proved their readiness to obey the law and your authority. I hope, therefore, to hear at an early date that you propose to resume discussion with President of South African Republic on lines laid down in my previous telegrams. I do not see that the matter need wait until the conclusion of the trial of the supposed plotters. I am anxious to receive the information asked for in my telegram No. 1 of the 14th January. Please communicate at once with the President on this matter.
The following is the telegram to which allusion is made above:
14th January. No. 1.—Press telegrams state numerous arrests of leading residents on the Rand, including many Americans, Germans, and other nationalities. Fear that number of these arrests of active managers, representatives, may disorganize industry on the Rand. Wish to know of what accused, when brought to trial, whether bail allowed, and what penalities prescribed by law. Shall be glad to learn from President of South African Republic what his intentions are in this matter, which affects the subjects of so many States. Propose to communicate President's reply to American and Belgian Governments, which have already asked us to take charge of interests of their respective citizens.
Sir Hercules Robinson, replied:
15th January. No. 2.—Your telegram of 14th January, No. 1. The accused are between fifty and sixty in number, and are mostly members of the Reform Committee. They have been arrested on charge of treason, and of seeking to subvert the State by inviting the co-operation and entrance into it of an armed force. The proceedings are based, I understand, on sworn information, and the trials will take place before High Court. The accused are being well treated, and are represented by able counsel. It is alleged that Government has documentary evidence of a widespread conspiracy to seize upon Government, and make use of the wealth of the country to rehabilitate finances of British South Africa Company. On taking leave of President of South African Republic, I urged on him moderation as regards the accused, so as not to alienate the sympathy he now enjoys of all right-minded persons. Bail is a matter entirely in the hands of Attorney-General. The Government seem acting within their legal rights, and I do not see how I can interfere. Mines are at work, and industry does not seem to be disorganized.
While still on his way to Capetown, the High Commissioner telegraphed to Mr. Chamberlain again in a manner indicating his complete abandonment of the position taken up by him in relation to Johannesburg—in fact, his repudiation of what his own words have recorded against him:
16th January. No. i.—Your telegram of 15th January, No. 1, received. I cannot at this moment follow the complications arising from supposed missing and crossing telegrams, but can only say that no telegram which has reached me from you has remained unanswered.
No promise was made to Johannesburg by me as an inducement to disarm, except that the promises made in the President's previous proclamation would be adhered to, and that Jameson and the other prisoners would not be transferred until Johannesburg had unconditionally laid down its arms and surrendered. I sent your long telegram of 4th January to President; but the question of concessions to Uitlanders has never been discussed between us. Pending result of coming trials, and the extent to which Johannesburg is implicated in the alleged conspiracy to subvert the State is made clear, the question of political privileges would not be entertained by Government of the South African Republic.
He justified the change of policy in another communication addressed to Mr. Chamberlain before he reached Capetown:
16th January. No. 3.—Your telegram of the 15th January, No. 5. If you will leave the matter in my hands, I will resume advocacy of Uitlanders' claims at the first moment I think it can be done with advantage; the present moment is most inopportune, as the strongest feeling of irritation and indignation against the Uitlanders exists both amongst the Burghers and Members of Volksraad of both Republics. Any attempt to dictate in regard to the internal affairs of South African Republic at this moment would be resisted by all parties in South Africa, and would do great harm.
I have already replied in my telegram of 15th January, No. 2, in answer to your telegram of 14th January, No. 1, and I do not think it possible to obtain further information at this stage, the matter being sub judice.
Sir Hercules Robinson left Pretoria on the 14th, having resided within a few hundred yards of Dr. Jameson and his comrades for a week, and of the Reform prisoners for four days, without making any attempt whatever to ascertain their circumstances or story. During that time his military secretary called upon Dr. Jameson for the purpose of finding out details of the prisoners and wounded of the force, but made no further inquiries. Dr. Jameson's solicitor wrote to the Colonial Office on March 5:
MY DEAR FAIRFIELD,
You have probably seen the cable that has come to the Diggers' News, giving the lie direct to Sir John Willoughby's statement respecting terms of surrender.
I have seen Sir John again, and am authorized by him to state, with regard to the criticism that it is incredible that nothing should have been said by the officers when in prison at Pretoria to anybody about the terms of surrender, that it must be remembered that from the time of the surrender until they left Africa none of them were allowed to make any communication. While in gaol they were not allowed to see newspapers or to receive any news of what was going on in Pretoria or elsewhere.
Sir J. Willoughby made a statement to the head gaoler and other officials at the time of his arrival at the gaol when he was searched and all his papers taken from him. He requested to be allowed to keep the document signed by Cronjé, as it contained the terms of the surrender, but received as answer that all papers must be taken and that they would be returned afterwards. They were in fact taken and only returned when the officers were removed from the gaol to go to Durban.
My clients did try to get a note through to Johannesburg concealed in a matchbox. They paid twenty-five pounds to get it through, and sent it within thirty-six hours of their arrival in gaol, but they have never been able to ascertain whether it reached its destination.
The gist of it was that they were all right. It never occurred to the prisoners that neither the British Resident nor the High Commissioner would be informed of the terms of the surrender, or that they would not satisfy themselves on this point.
Sir Hercules Robinson might urge, in so far as Dr. Jameson's affair is concerned, that he could not be expected to suspect a deception such as was practised upon him; yet it does seem extraordinary that, being in Pretoria for the purpose of negotiating for the disposal of Dr. Jameson and his comrades, he should not have taken steps to ascertain what there was to be said on their behalf, especially as on his own showing it was for the greater part of the time a question of life and death for the leaders of the force. It is even more difficult to understand why no effort should have been made to communicate with the Reformers. The High Commissioner was thoroughly well aware of the negotiations between them and the Government on January 1. He had received communications by telegraph from the Reformers before he left Capetown; he came up avowedly to settle their business; he negotiated on their behalf and induced them to disarm; he witnessed their arrest and confinement in gaol; yet not only did he not visit them himself, nor send an accredited member of his staff to inquire into their case and conditions, but Sir Jacobus de Wet alleges that he actually, in deference to the wish of the President, desired the British Agent not to hold any communication whatever with the prisoners during his (Sir Hercules Robinson's) stay in Pretoria. Truly we have had many examples of President Kruger's audacity, and of the success of it; but nothing to equal this. That he demanded from Sir Hercules Robinson information as to the objects of the Flying Squadron and the movements of British troops in British territory, and succeeded in getting it, was a triumph; but surely not on a par with that of desiring the High Commissioner not to hold communication with the British subjects whom he, as the official representative of their sovereign, had travelled a thousand miles to disarm, and on whose behalf—ostensibly—he was there to negotiate.