The Restoration of the Transvaal
The result of English supremacy in the Transvaal was far from that predi ted by the Boers, The Boers are again in control of their state and have become Britain's must loyal subjects.
W. T. STEAD IN REVIEW OF REVIEWS.
WHEN I was in Johannesburg three years ago I told the Boers that I would return in five years to find them “the most prosperous, the most contented, and the most loyal of all the subjects of King Edward.” It seemed a bold prophecy at the time, but I knew my countrymen, and I knew my Boers. To-day no one goubts that I was right. The
advent of General Botha’s min-
istry is a notification to all the world that the Transvaal has been given back to the Boers ; that, so far as is possible, the criminal work of the war has been undone and Milnerism expelled root and branch from South Africa.
The British flag, it is true, waves over the Transvaal. The Boers are subjects of the British King, but to be a subject of a British King is no strain upon anyone’s loyalty. For the loyalty of British subjects is only claimed by an ideal sovereign who can do no wrong. If any of those who wield his authority and act in his name do anything that is wrong or unjust, then the first duty which a loyal subject owes to his ideal sovereign is energetically to rid his actual monarch of these evil advisers. All or nearly all the trouble in South Afri. ca arose from ignoring the difference between loyalty to the King and obedience to his satraps. The satrap always tries to make out that loyalty to the sovereign entails obedience to his ministers. Hence the Boers were taught that loyalty to the Queen involved submission to Lord Milner, to Mr. Chamberlain, and to Dr. Jameson. As a matter of fact, the more loyal a British subject is to his sovereign, the more violently must he revolt against the evil advisers of that sovereign who are doing wickedness in his name. In fact, disloyalty to an unjust or oppressive high commissioner or colonial secretary is the necessary corollary of true loyal-
ty to the ideal monarch, who by the law and the constitution is incapable of doing wrong,
It may be objected that the sacred right of insurrection may shelter itself under the guise of loyalty. The objection is sound. The fact is true. Loyalty lingers in Great Britain as a useful political force because the Puritans discovered the secret of making war on the King in the name of the King. When once the Boers realized that fundamental truth in modern politics they had no longer an)7 objection to profess loyalty to the King in the abstract, knowing that they thereby acquired a chartered right to oppose to the uttermost everything done in his name of which they disapproved.
Neither do they object to the British flag. That they love it no one pretends. For years it was the symbol of the most barbarous acts of devastation and the most ruthless policy of denudation that have disgraced the annals of modern war. It was under the shadow of that flag that 20,000 children and 5,000 women whose homes had been given to the flames were done to death in the concentration camps. For three long years that flag meant arson, burglary, highway robbery, and murder. No wonder they hated it, that Boer women would avoid the sight of it as a pestilence, and that many Boers refused to enter a building over which it was flying. But although it will be years before they forget the odious associations of the flag of the invaders, the Boers are far too shrewd and practical politicians to allow their sentimental preference for their old Vierkleuer to stand in the way of the restoration of their right to govern their country which they reeclaimed from the wilderness. They accept the flag as the outward and visible sign of their readiness to form one oí the congeries of independent republics which make up the British colonial em-
pire. It does them no harm. In their internal polities there will be, as Sir Richard Solomon declared, "no flagsagging," but neither will there be any attempt to pull down the flag.
When we ask how it comes that the Doers who but lour years ago were fighting against the British Government, are now accepting office as the King’s minsters in the Transvaal colony, the answer is that this blessed transformation nas been brought about by, the political evolution which took place in Great Britain at the beginning of last year. General Botha, the Boer eommander-infiief, is now Prime Minister of the ving in Pretoria, because Sir lí. Campbell-Bannerman, the pro-Boer who denounced British "methods of barbarism," is Prime Minister of the King in Downing Street.
it is somewhat difficult for Americans to understand the extraordinary completeness and suddenness of the change in the position of British political parties that took place at the last general election. Never before has any political ' party which exposed itself to the charge of treasonous sympathy with the enemy seen placed in office at the very first opportunity, in order to make amends to that enemy. The pro-Boers were denounced as false to their country, as traitors to their sovereign, as the friends and allies of the men whom the King’s soldiers were fighting in the field. They were mobbed, their meetings were brocen up, and but for police protection it would hr,ve fared ill with their lives. But. the moment Par liament was dissolved these much-despised, much-abused pro-Boers were installed in office at the head of the largest majority returned for seventy years. The men who made the war were swept from the field, and the men who hated it, who had denounced it and opposed it. from the first,, took their places. Hence it, was that as pro-Boers wore supreme at Westminster, the Boers have takken office as King’s ministers at Pretoria.
At first the Boers were suspicious. TQfrey feared that the influence of Lord ESbseberry’s three vice-presidents, Sir Eh Grey, Mr. Haldane, and Aír. Asquith. might paralyze the pro-Boer sympathies of the Liberal leader. Pre-
sident Steyn was frankly distrustful. "I don’t see any signs," he said, to my daughter, in 1904, "of your father’s Englishmen coming into power." "Wait," I replied, "till we get the chance." The chance came, and "my Englishmen," Liberal Englishmen, faithful to the principles upon which the British colonial empire has been built up, came into office on a great tide of national enthusiasm.
Mr. J. G. Smuts, a young and determined republican, who was state, attorney of the South African Republic and assistant commandant-general during the war, came to England twc,ve months ago, to take soundings. He saw most of the new ministers and met many members of the new majority. He was more than satisfied. He was amazed and delighted. He told me just before he started for South Africa that he had never expected to return with a heart so full of confidence. "Some of your ministers," he added, "are more proBoer than I am myself." Certainly the hatred and loathing with which the majority of English Liberals, in and out of office, regard the South African War is quite as intense as anything I have ever heard expressed by the South African Boers. After Air. Smuts came Ur. Engelenburg, editor of the Volksten, formerly President Kruger’s organ. He also went home delighted. "I never dreamed," he said, "that so soon after a long war a British Government couhl be so sympathetic with the men they had been fighting. You have only to stick to your present lines and you will have no trouble from the Boers," "Indeed," he added, "if you should have trouble from the other fellows you may confidently appeal to us for help in case of need. ’ '
When these emissaries returned to South Africa the Alilnerites were furious. The British Government dispatched a small commission of four to South Africa to examine and report as to the best way in which the republics could bo restored to the Boers. That was not the precise terms of their instructions—they had "to prepare a scheme of responsible self-government for the new colony." This they did. Their scheme was submitted to the Cabinet.
After a good deal of discussion the Lord Chancellor, Lord Loreburn, one who was and is the bitterest enemy of Milnerism in the Government, drafted a new constitution for the Transvaal.
While they were framing it the Milnerites dispatched two of their number, Sir Percy Fitzpatrick and Mr. Abe Bailey, to England to set forth how serious would be the consequence of giving responsible government to the colony. They did their best to make the British jingoes’ flesh creep. But it was all in vain. The ministry proclaimed the new constitution, which gave the government of the country back to its inhabitants. They refused female suffrage, for which the Boers had asked, for it was felt that if the women had votes the celibate miners of the Rand would not even have a sporting chance of success. But adult white male suffrage was established. A representative house of sixty-nine members was to be elected for five years, and, as a balance weight, there was added an upper house of fifteen members nominated by the crown. This arrangement was tentative. At the end of four years the constitution can be revised in the light of experience in accordance with the wishes of the representatives of the people. If at any time differences of opinion should arise between the two houses, they were to sit together and the vote of the majority was to prevail.
With three important exceptions, the constitution gave the Boers all the rights and privileges of an independent republic. These three reserved points related (1) to the natives, (2) to the Chinese, and (3) to the British who had settled in the colony after the war. The last is of no importance, the British settler on the land being usually' more of a Boer than his neighbor. The native question is not immediately urgent. The restriction placed upon the introduction of further supplies of Chinese labor was inevitable in view of the pledges of the Home Government to the British electorate.
When the electoral battle began it was not anticipated that the Boers would carry all before them. They did not expect it themselves. All that they hoped for was that they would be able, to-
gether with the Nationalists, to form a majority over the Progressives. A word here may not be out of place as to the political nomenclature of the parties in the Transvaal : The Boers form a solid homogeneous party known as Het Volk, “the People.” Opposed to them are the Progressives, so-called. They are the men whose political ideal is the ascendency of the Johannesburg Chamber of Mines. They are Milnerites, jingoes, advocates of the racial ascendency of the British over the Dutch. Their leader is Sir Percy Fitzpatrick, who played a most mischievous part in 1899 in precipitating the war, and with them are nearly all the great capitalists of the Rand, with the exception of J. B. Robinson. Between these two chief opposing forces come the Nationalists, the next largest group. The Nationalists are chiefly British electors who resent the domination of the Chamber of Mines * and who are willing to co-operate with the Boers. Their chief, who at one time was regarded as the certain first Premier of the colony, is Sir Richard Solomon, formerly chief legal adviser of Lord Milner. When Lord Milner fell Sir Richard Solomon lost no time in worshiping the rising sun. In his election address he declared “his policy was based on trusting the Dutch, reconciliation, co-operation, true imperialism, no flag-wagging, and no placing of political power in the hands of the financial houses.” In addition to the Nationalists there were a certain number of Independents and Labor candidates.
The electoral battle was waged with much spirit. The Milnerites appealed almost entirely to the mining community, although, taking advantage of the split in the ranks of the Boers and Nationalists, the Progressive leader captured the seat for South Central Pretoria. They predicted the certain ruin of the mining industry if the Boers were returned to power. They declared it was their mission to defend the policy of Lord Milner. On the other hand, the Boers proclaimed with thoroughgoing emphasis their desire for co-operation with the British. “At Vereeniging,” said General Botha in a message to the British at home, “I signed the treaty of peace ; I then solemnly accepted what
is so dear to you, your King and your flag. They are now our King and our flag.” Mr Smuts declared that “they had had enough of ‘ructions’ ; he was on the side of the Imperial Government, as against Sir Percy Fitzpatrick, who was talking of eliminating Downing Street from South Africa. Dr. Krause who had spent a long time in English prisons on a political charge, declared that “the British lion’s paws were strong enough to crush anything that was going to oppose it, but if their assistance was wanted it would willingly be given.” As to the alleged danger to the mines, General Botha was no less emphatic. He said :
“We simpljr object to the men who run the mines also running the country. As I protected the mines during the war so I shall see that they are not injured now. The talk of wholesale Chinese repatriation regardless of consequences is nonsense. I say emphatically that nothing shall be done to embarrass the mines so far as unskilled labor is concerned.”
Party feeling ran very high, and down almost to the opening of the ballot boxes the Progressives professed that they were confident of victory. They were destined to a cruel disillusion. It was masked for a moment by their unlookedfor success in South Central Pretoria, where they were defeated by Sir R. Solomon. Ten seats went to the Boers without a contest. When the polls were declared in the other sixty it was discovered that the Boers were strong enough to form a ministry without the aid of any of the Nationalists.
The result was decisive. The Boers had come to their own again. General Botha was sent for to form a ministry. He chose General Smuts as his right hand man. The old commandant-general, the assistant commandant-general, form the nucleus of the new Government, which has among its supporters General Delarey, General Beyers, and Mr. Schalk-Burger. It is the old headquarters staff of the republic installed in office as ministers of the King.
In the midst of the rejoicing that followed some little annoyance was caused by the publication of a list of the names of those persons who had been nomina-
ted by the crown as members of the upper house. There are fifteen of them. They are for the most part nonentities. The Progressives are in the majority. General Botha and Mr. Solomon promptly published a protest against the nominations and called upon the crown to revise the list.
In reply to the protest of General Botha and Mr. Edward Solomon, Lord Selborne takes upon himself the responsibility for the selection of the members of the Legislative Council, a selection which has given almost universal dissatisfaction. He declares that the members will deal with all questions in a spirit of strict impartiality, with an eye single to the welfare of the Transvaal and of South Africa, irrespective of race or party, from which it would seem that Lord Selborne has discovered not men but angels. This is merely a case of special pleading by a High Commissioner, who has to justify himself as best he can. From many points of view it was deplorable that Lord Selborne should have been allowed to remain in South Africa. He was a member of the Government who made the war, and it cannot be expected that he would be very enthusiastic in undoing the work of his own hands. From a practical point of view the composition of the Legislative Council is a matter of very little importance. The British ascendency party has not got a majority of more than five votes in the council, and, therefore, can easily be outvoted when the two chambers vote together.
What has been done in the Transvaal will a month or two later be accomplished not less thoroughly in the Orange Free State. In the Transvaal the Milnerites thought that they had at least a fighting chance. In the Orange Free State, which Lord Milner christened the Orange River Colony—as if a British colony could not be a free state—the Boer majorit}” is admittedly overwhelming. The programme of the Orangia Unie party is a reform of the Education Law, compulsory knowledge of English and Dutch in all Government offices, the reduction of the constabulary, the abolition of the Inter-Colonial Council, and the division of the South
African railway pool. President Steyn has resolved not to re-enter public life, but he will for years to come be the power behind the throne, whoever is Prime Minister. It is probable that the Orange Free State Cabinet will be presided over either by Mr. Abraham Fischer • or by General Hertzog, both good men and true.
Thus out of the smoke and flame of a wicked and wanton war there have come peace, loyalty and contentment. It is a magnificent illustration of the advantage of a party system. The Boers would never have trusted the jingo party that made the war, but, when the pro-Boers came into office, nothing was more natural than that they should co-operate with their old allies to settle the country and efface the traces of Milnerism.
Before concluding this article I would refer to one element not political, which will probably do as much as anything to secure the tranquillity and prosperity of the Transvaal. This is the ex* traordinary profit to the state which results from the successful development of the Premier Diamond Mine. This mine was discovered five years ago in the neighborhood of Pretoria, when a
company was formed to work it, with a capital of $50,000, which was afterward increased to $400,000. The development of the mine was so rapid that it has in the last four years earned a net profit of $40,000,000. Half of this has been spent in opening up the property, the shareholders have received $2,000,000, or five times the amount of their original investment, and the Transvaal has received as its share of the profits over $3,000,000. By the new mining law, which is probably the only valuable contribution which Lord Milner made to the welfare of South Aí rica, the Government is entitled to (¡0 per cent, of the profits. Last year from this one source alone the Transvaal Government received the sum of $1,800,000, and it is probable that its annual income from this single diamond mine will amount to $2,000,000 a year. There is probably no other state which claims so large an amount of the profits of the minerals found on its soil. There are other mineral deposits in the Transvaal which have as yet hardly been exploited. The brilliant success of the Premier Diamond Mine does much to justify the confidence of the Boers in the prosperity of their country, even after Chinese labor has been dispensed with.
It is like feeling a breeze on a warm, dusty day to meet anyone who is enthusiastic. You immediately revive from your apathy, your eyes glisten, your pulse beats faster, and all interest in life is renewed.
This strong mental activity, combined with optimism, sends out so much of its vital force to you that the effect sometimes lasts for days, and you are amazed at the amount of work that you have accomplished during that time.
If one mind has the power to create that atmosphere, every mind has the power to do so.
It is a peculiar thing that the majority of people think, because characteristic qualities are mental, that we have no need to trouble about the seemingly defective ones ; in fact, some will argue, “we are made that way, and it does not lie in our power to alter such circumstances,” yet if they have any physical defect they will go to untold trouble, discomfort, and suffering to remedy it.