Origin of the Anglo-Boer War Revealed – C. H. Thomas

The Conspiracy of the 19th Century Unmasked
of Belfast Transvaal formerly Orange Free State Burgher
_Butler & Tanner The Selwood Printing Works Frome and London_
Copyright: Expired
The present book had been intended for publication in South Africa
before the end of 1899, with the object of laying bare the wicked and
delusive aims of the Afrikaner Bond combination, to which the Anglo-Boer
war alone is attributable, and to counteract its disastrous influences
so far as then still possible. But until quite lately circumstances had
conspired so as to prevent the writer from leaving the Transvaal, and
when he at last obtained the required passport to Lourenço Marques he
was there denied a permit to visit a colonial port. He therefore sailed
for London in order to publish this book without more loss of time.
Though too late to serve as a deterrent, the contents may be effective
towards showing up the really guilty parties--the instigators and
seducers of the deluded Boer nation, and so pave and widen the avenue of
peace and of conciliation between Boer and Briton who were duped and
victimized alike.
The exposure of the actual culprits and originators should also operate
favourably, and in mitigation in behalf of the much less guilty Boers,
so as to dispose the victors to the exercise of magnanimous
consideration. In exposing the villainy of the Dutch coterie in Holland,
the writer is far from impugning the honourable character of that
nation, the better part of whom, when once undeceived, will be the first
to reprobate and disown those arch-plotters who sacrificed the peace of
South Africa for personal and national advantage.
Some other information regarding the Boers and South Africa will be
found interspersed in this study, which will be found of use to the
uninitiated and to intending emigrants to that sub-continent. As the
reader proceeds with the examination of this book it will suggest
comparisons and even analogies which may commend themselves as
singularly apposite and instructive in relation with the study of the
presently budding Eastern question.
The issue of a Second Edition has afforded an opportunity to
correct a few linguistic blemishes, but the work has only been
very slightly revised.
NOTICE                                                                V
INTRODUCTION                                                          1
CURSORY HISTORY OF THE BOER NATION                                    6
TRANSVAAL HISTORY--SUZERAINTY                                        21
BLOEMFONTEIN CONFERENCE, BOER ULTIMATUM                              43
BOER LANGUAGE                                                        52
THE DUTCH COTERIE, ITS SEAT IN HOLLAND                               57
AFRIKANER BOND--OUTLINES AND PROGRAMME                               62
PACIFIC POLICY OF GREAT BRITAIN                                      70
DISLOYALTY OF COLONIAL BOERS                                         82
CLIMATE AND TOPOGRAPHY                                               95
BOER PREPAREDNESS FOR WAR                                           108
BOER FIGHTING STRENGTH                                              124
AN OLD FREE STATER'S ADMONITION                                     137
MR. CHAMBERLAIN'S POLICY TO AVERT WAR                               150
AFRIKANER BOND GUILT IN GRADATIONS                                  155
RÉSUMÉ                                                              161
BOERS' NATIVE POLICY                                                167
ENGLAND'S NATIVE AND COLONIAL POLICY                                172
OCCULT OPERATIONS AND AGENCIES                                      178
RELIGION                                                            184
PHYSIQUE AND HABITS                                                 193
PRESIDENT KRÜGER                                                    207
PEACE ADJUSTMENTS                                                   212
Apart from the progress of the present Anglo-Boer war a world-wide
interest has been excited also upon the question of its actual origin.
Much disparity of opinion prevails yet as to how it was provoked and
upon which side the guilt of it all lay.
English statesmen of noblest character and best discriminating gifts are
seen professing opposite convictions; one party earnestly asserting the
complete blamelessness of their Government, whilst the other, with
equally sincere assurance, denounces the responsible Ministry for having
provoked a most unjust war against a totally inoffensive people, whose
only fault consisted in asserting its love of freedom, and for thus
plunging the entire British nation into blackest guilt deserving
universal reprobation, a blot and stigma upon Her Majesty's reign.
In following the course of the arguments which have led to those
opposing verdicts, one is impressed with the paucity and the clashing
character of the information adduced. The marked reticence on the part
of the British Cabinet in regard to its diplomatic proceedings tends
further to mystify the inquirer, and leaves the bulk of the British
nation in a painful state of suspense without conclusive data for
judging whether the war is really justifiable or not.
Nor do the various pamphlets and Press articles furnish sufficient light
for exploring the maze and producing an approximate unanimity of
It is hoped that the succeeding pages will be found to supplement the
material so essential for diagnosing those grave questions with some
degree of certainty, and to locate the guilt more precisely.
Since my youth I have passed nearly forty years in uninterrupted and
intimate intercourse with all classes of Boers, resulting in a sincere
attachment to that people, with no small appreciation of its many good
traits and character. Besides making myself familiar with the earlier
portion of that nation's history, I have had leisure and opportunities
to closely follow up its later interesting phases up to the present
moment. These presented a more perplexing aspect during the last decade,
adding a zest to my endeavours for unravelling them, and happening to
be a good deal in the know I felt that I might not remain quiet.
Being anything but anti-Boer, nor an Englishman, but a foreigner, born
of continental parents and brought up in Europe, these facts should
exempt me from a supposition of bias in exonerating England. It is with
real grief that I must record my convictions against the Boer nation as
solely and entirely guilty, but with this qualification, that its
responsibility is much attenuated by the fact, as I will endeavour to
show, that the bulk of that people has been unconsciously decoyed as
tools of a gigantic intrigue, a conspiracy which was originated some
thirty years ago by an infamous Hollander coterie, and operated since by
its product and engine, the now well-known "Afrikaner Bond Association,"
with its significant motto of "Afrika voor Afrikaners"[1]--its object
being no less than the eviction of all that is English from South
Africa, and to substitute a federation of all South African States into
one free and independent Republic, the affiliation to be with Holland
instead, and Dutch the common and official language, other nations, in
return for afforded aid, to participate in the trade and other
advantages wrested from England.
I only regret that my ability falls so much short for the task of
demonstrating all this in an approved style--for doing justice to the
subject. Its investigation embraces a wider range of details to serve as
evidence than may, upon first thought, be held as relevant; but I
believe that a willing study will show their connection as serviceable
for arriving at an independent and unhesitating verdict.
A very strong and convincing case is indeed needed for remodelling
opinions where there is preconceived Boer partisanship, and where party
spirit or else foreign jealousy have already warped judgment and
established bias.
It would be no small relief to every honest-minded person, especially in
England, to be clear upon the subject that England is free of
guilt--equally so to the soldier who is called upon to fight her
battles. But other objects of no less importance are in view, viz., to
open the eyes of the misguided Boer people to the wicked artifices by
which it has been seduced from friendly relations with England into an
unjustifiable war, to deter the still wavering portion from joining the
ranks of sedition, and, lastly, the grounds for palliation being
recognised, to pave the way to an early termination of the war by
adjustments which could restore mutual goodwill and respect between the
contending parties, and so bring about a speedy return of South African
prosperity and progress.
The writer is fully prepared to give data and names of the incidents
adduced in this paper in support of their authenticity.
[Footnote 1: Africa for white African citizens.]
The two principal elements of the Boer nation were the settlers of the
Dutch trading company at the Cape of Good Hope, sturdy farmers and
tradesmen belonging to the proletarian class of Holland, and a
subsequent contingent of French Huguenot refugees and their families who
joined as colonists soon after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes. I
mention below the names still existing which form a large proportion of
the present Boer nation of Huguenot descent:--
Billion     Blignaut  Bisseux   Delporte
Du prez     Du Toit   De la Bey Durand
Davel       De Langue Duvenage  Fourie
Fouché      Grove     Hugo      Jourdan
Lombard     Le Roux   Roux      Lagrange
Labuscaque  Maré      Marais    Malan
Malraison   Maynard   Malherbe  De Meillon
De Marillac Matthée   Naudé     Nortier
Rousseau    Taillard  Theron    Terblanche
De Villiers Fortier   Lindeque  Vervier
Vercueil    Basson    Pinard    Duvenage
Celliers    de Clercq Leclercq  Devinare
Men of the best French stock, noted for honour, energy and
perseverance, rather than recant their Protestant faith, abandoned
seigneurial homes, high positions and lucrative callings to carve out
fresh careers, and even to become humble farmers wherever they found
asylums and tolerance, men who became very valuable accessions to the
nations who received them and a correspondingly significant loss to
France. To those two main elements were added sparse accessions from
other nations at later intervals, and also a strain of aboriginal blood,
of which a more or less faint tinge is still discernible in some
families, an admixture which many deplore and others consider as most
serviceable, supplying a subtle piquancy for perfecting the general
The early Cape Governors aimed at the prompt assimilation of those
French people with their own colonists--to make Dutchmen of them. Among
other drastic enactments to enforce that object, no other language but
Dutch was permitted to be used in public of pain of corporal punishment.
Not a few noble Frenchmen were subjected to that indignity for
inadvertent breaches of that draconian law, but, as conscientious
observers of biblical commands which enjoin subjection to all
governmental rule, they willingly submitted and obeyed. Intermarriages
with their Dutch fellow-colonists further promoted assimilation into one
cohesive community. At the same time the Huguenot faith was transmitted
to their descendants, and had a marked influence in sustaining common
religious fervour and consistency. They did not look for a reward or
compensation for the sacrifices endured, for the sake of faith, by those
refugees, though a gracious providence, as the sequel showed, held in
store a most ample restitution--magnificent heirlooms for their later
descendants, heirlooms which are now unhappily staked in this present
In 1814 a payment of six millions sterling received by the Prince of
Orange closed the transfer of the Dutch Cape settlement to Great
Britain. Immigration of English settlers followed and the area of the
colony soon largely extended. As under the Dutch _régime_, the practice
of slavery had continued until its abolition in 1833 by the ransom
payable by the English Government to the owners of slaves. The Boer
colonists deeply resented that act, and especially the next to
impracticable condition which provided that payments could only be
received in England instead of on the spot. Many were cheated of all
their emancipation money by their appointed proxies or agents, or else
had to submit to exorbitant charges and commissions; a great number
voluntarily renounced all in disgust.
By that time the existence had become known of promising tracts of
country lying north of the Orange River beyond the confines of the
British colonies, and a large number of Boers combined with the
intention of establishing an independent community northwards free from
British restraint.
The British authorities appeared at that time not to fully realize that
that movement was rife with future dangers and complications to their
own colonial interests, that it meant the creation of a nucleus of a
people openly averse to the English, and who would independently carry
out practices in near proximity, especially in dealing with aborigines,
which would seriously compromise them and become a standing menace
against peaceful expansion and civilization.
It was, on the other hand, anticipated that the movement could only end
in disaster, the people being too few to make a successful stand against
the numerous hostile Kaffir tribes. The Government, therefore, refrained
from preventive measures, and confined its efforts to discouraging the
emigration and to reconcile the malcontents. Those efforts, however,
proved fruitless; the people held to their project with resolute
fearlessness and self-confidence, and were even content to sacrifice
their farms and homesteads, their sale being in some cases forbidden by
special enactment.
The terms of "Boer" and "Boer nation" do not convey or mean anything
disparaging, rather the contrary. Boer simply means farmer, as a rule
the proprietor of a farm of about 3,000 to 10,000 acres, who combines
stock-breeding with a variety of other farming enterprises as well,
according to the soil and locality. As a national designation, the term
"Boer" conveys the distinction from the recently arrived Dutchman, who
is called "Hollander." Hollanders, again, delight of late to claim the
Boer nation as their kith and kin, but prefer to ignore the existence of
the French Huguenot factor.
The great "trek," with families and movables, as the emigration movement
is called, occurred in 1836; some families started even before, and
other contingents followed shortly afterwards. After many vicissitudes
and nearly twenty years of wanderings, and a nomadic life attended with
untold hardships and dangers, intermittent conflicts with native tribes,
and at times also contests with British forces, they were eventually
permitted, under treaty with England, to settle down and to constitute
the independent Orange Free State and Transvaal Republics. That was in
1854 and 1852 respectively.
But, until then, progress in the British colonies and peaceful relations
with the several Kaffir nations had at times been sadly impeded by the
aggressive native policy pursued by the Boers after the pattern adopted
from the previous Dutch _régime_, which admitted of slavery, whilst
English law had abolished and forbade that practice as contrary to a
soundly moral method of civilizing natives and inimical to prosperous
and peaceable colonial progress. Broils and wars between Boers and
Kaffirs had been almost incessant, and intervals of peace only proved
their mutually latent hostility. Besides being occasionally engaged in
unavoidable wars with neighbouring tribes themselves, it became
frequently incumbent upon the British military authorities to intervene
in conflicts induced by the Boers, alternately protecting them against
natives and natives against the Boers, and all that at the unnecessary
expenditure of much blood and treasure.
The Boer occupation of Natal was found to be wholly prejudicial to
British interests on aforesaid accounts, and was, besides, contrary to
the express declaration of the Boer emigrants at the time of their
exodus from the Cape Colony, which was that their new settlements should
be located north of the Orange River. Stepping in to the eastward and
claiming part of the littoral constituted a rivalry in conflict with
that understanding, and England therefore considered it within her
rights to expel the Boers from Natal, and to proceed with the
colonization there with British settlers instead. That temporary
occupation of Natal had been fraught to the Boers with most stirring
episodes--some of the most melancholy description, and others
representing records of really unsurpassed heroism, which can but arouse
deepest emotions and admiration in any reader of their history. There
was the treacherous massacre of Retief and Potgeiter and his party by
the Zulu king Dingaan at his military kraal, followed by other wholesale
massacres of men, women, and children at Weenen and other Boer camps in
Natal. Then came the punitive expedition of 450 Boers, armed with
flint-locks only, who utterly defeated Dingaan's most redoubtable impi
of 10,000 warriors, and resulted in the complete overthrow of that Zulu
When that punitive Boer commando was about to start upon its mission it
was solemnly vowed to observe a day of national thanksgiving each year
if Divine aid were vouchsafed to accomplish the object. That brilliant
victory had occurred on the 16th December, 1838, and the day has ever
since been religiously observed as had been vowed. The celebrations in
the Transvaal take place at Paarden-kraal, near Johannesburg, and some
other accessible and central camping grounds, where the burghers with
their families congregate in thousands--a sort of feast of tabernacles,
lasting three days, undeterred by the most boisterous weather. The
declaration of independence fell on that same date at Paarden-kraal in
1879, and it was also in December of the succeeding year that the Boers
proved victorious over the British troops in Natal, after which the
Transvaal had its independence generously restored by the Gladstone
Ministry (subject to treaty 1881).
On those anniversaries stirring speeches would be made by the elder
leading men, rehearsing the events of the nation's history so as to
grave them upon the minds of the younger, and to revive the thankful
memories of the elder people. It is only in human nature that
unsympathetic feelings against the English would intrude upon the
thanksgivings on those occasions, especially as it continues yet to be
averred that the British authorities had incited the Zulu king Dingaan
to those massacres. Nevertheless, except in instances of implacable
natures, the predominant sentiments at those gatherings were those of
gratitude to the Almighty and good-will towards all men. After the peace
of 1881, it used to be publicly recognised that the English were
entitled thenceforth to a first place in the nation's friendship, and
that the retrocession put a term to all recriminations applying to
previous dates.
The sequel has shown that soon afterwards another spirit was allowed to
intrude to displace those good and just sentiments, and that without any
reason or provocation and despite a persistently loyal and sincere
attitude of friendship and confidence observed towards the Boers by the,
British Government and the English people in South Africa. As instances
may be cited: (1) England's conceding spirit in assenting to a
modification of the convention of 1881 and agreeing to that of 1884; (2)
genial treatment of the colonial Boers on perfect equality with English
colonists, sharing in the privileges of self-government, the Dutch
language also raised to equal rights with English; (3) most harmonious
relations with the Orange Free State; (4) reduction of transit duties
for goods to the Republics to 5 per cent, and later to 3 per cent.; (5)
unrestricted privilege for the importations of arms and ammunition to
both Republics. In lieu of friendly reciprocity the return began to be
rancorous mistrust and revival of hatred.
In the course of our study to account for this sad and unwarrantable
change on the part of the Boers we will be following the trail of the
serpent and track it right up to its Hollander lair and to its at first
unsuspected product, the Afrikaner Bond.
A period of about twenty-five years following the establishment of the
Orange Free State and Transvaal Republics was marked with much progress
and prosperity in the Cape Colonies and Natal, both Republics also
having cause to rejoice over similar advancement.
The evil influence which aimed at rending good relations between Boer
and English became more apparent after 1881. During the preceding era
the two races actually had been in a fair way towards friendly
assimilation. Mutual appreciation was further stimulated by the
reciprocal benefits arising from trade and economic relations.
Intermarriages became more frequent under such friendly intercourse, a
respectable Englishman being truly prized in those days as a Boer's
son-in-law. The English language also largely advanced in favour and
prestige not only among the Cape Colonial and Natal Boers, but also in
both Republics, and anti-English sentiments were fast being supplanted
by amity and goodwill.
The principal event in the Orange Free State during that period was a
three years' exhaustive war with the Basuto nation, which ended in the
latter's defeat in 1867. Their chief Moshesh then appealed for British
intervention. The Basutos thus came under England's protection, and a
peace resulted which has ever since continued, through British prestige
and authority as well as good government. The Orange Free State gained a
large tract of the territory conquered by that State, but had to
renounce the rest.
Then, in about 1870, came the discovery of the diamond-fields, situated
on the then still ill-defined western limits of the State. According to
a boundary line claimed by Great Britain, those diamond-fields fell
outside Free State territory. That State received £90,000 compensation
for improvements and expenses incurred during its short occupation of
that disputed strip of diamondiferous ground. The diamond-fields at
Jagersfontein and Koffyfontein were subsequently discovered and lie deep
within the confines of the State. President Brand had proved his
sagacity and discretion in concluding the negotiations with England
upon the question of the peace with the Basutos and then again in
submitting to the boundary delimitations, it being contended even yet
that the Orange Free State had the weightier arguments in its favour in
both instances.
The people of that Republic proved however to be the ultimate gainers in
those adjustments; they did not miss the more solid advantages attending
the discovery of the diamond-fields. Believed of the grave
responsibility involved in governing a turbulent population of foreign
diggers, the geographical position of the Kimberley fields secured to
the Free State farmers an almost entire monopoly in the supply of
products; trade also flourished apace, all tending to enrich the
inhabitants and the State revenue as well.
But the Orange Free State derived a permanent advantage, quite unique
and more than compensating the apparent set-back suffered by the loss of
the diamond-field territory and by British intervention in the Basuto
war matter, in that the method of those procedures saddled England with
the responsibility of guaranteeing the internal safety of the State from
those hitherto unprotected borders "altogether at her own cost." The
Keate award completed the British cordon around the Free State,
excepting only in regard to the Transvaal frontier. No need thenceforth
for costly military provisions for the protection of the State--it was,
as it were, walled and fenced in at British expense, and the State
revenue was thus for ever relieved of a very heavy item of expenditure,
which could be devoted to the increase of the national wealth instead--a
peaceful security accompanied with an intrinsic gain constituting a
veritable and permanent heirloom for the people of that State.
It is notable that the position of the Orange Free State, without any
other access to the sea-board than from colonial ports, made its status
and welfare entirely dependent upon the friendly and loyal good faith of
England. Up to the present unhappy war that State enjoyed unaltered the
best relations without being ever subjected to even a trace of chicanery
from the part of Great Britain.
By what illusion, it may well be asked, could that hitherto friendly
people have been deluded to risk all in a disloyal breach with England
by joining the Transvaal in a "Bond" issue against her best friend?
Towards the Transvaal also had England proved her earnest desire to
maintain an intercourse on the basis of sincere amity, desirous only of
reciprocity, which indeed could be expected in willing return, seeing
that England took upon her own shoulders to provide for the protection
and welfare of the entire area of South Africa by sea and land, whilst
both Republics freely participated in all the great benefits so derived.
These considerations should substantially disprove the wicked aspersion
lately made that British policy aimed at the subversion of republican
autonomy in those two States. All that Great Britain needed and
confidently expected in return for her goodwill was friendly adhesion,
and a willing recognition of her paramountcy in matters affecting the
common weal of South Africa as a whole, and also such reciprocity and
mutual concern in the welfare of all as consistently comport with common
interests. How fell and malignant the "influence" which operated a
treacherous ingratitude and hostility instead!
The references made to the history of the Transvaal so far reach up to
the rehabilitation of its independence and the convention of 1881. Some
of the conditions of that treaty, especially the subordinate position
imposed by the suzerainty clause, were found to be repugnant to the
burghers. Delegates were therefore commissioned to proceed to England in
order to get the treaty so altered as to place the State into the status
provided by the Sand River convention, which conceded absolute
independence. Mr. Jorrison, a violent anti-English Hollander, was the
chief adviser of the members of that delegation.
To that the English Ministry could not assent, but sought to meet the
wishes of the people by agreeing to certain modifications of the
convention of 1881. This was effected with the treaty of 1884. The
delegates had specially urged the renunciation of the suzerainty claim,
but that claim appears not to have been abandoned, to judge from the
absence of such mention in the novated treaty. Had its renunciation been
agreed to, as has been since averred, it is quite certain that the
delegates would not have been content without the mention in most
distinct terms of that, to them, so important point. It may therefore be
assumed as a fact that the negotiations did not result in an active
suspension of the relations as set forth in the convention of 1881, and
that the Transvaal continued in a status of subordinacy to England, but
only with a wider range in regard to conditions of autonomy. To most lay
minds it therefore appears perfectly clear that the Transvaal delegates
had well understood and accepted, and so had also their Government, that
the convention of 1884 was _de facto_ a renewal of that of 1881, with
the only difference that it provided an enlarged exercise of autonomy,
but without in the least abrogating the principles of respective
relations, which were left intact, or at least latent.
It has been averred and a strong point made in the theory of repudiating
suzerainty or over-lordship that Lord Kimberley had given the assurance
that the right of Transvaal autonomy and independence was meant to equal
that of the Orange Free State. This need not be contested, as that
Minister obviously relied upon a similar observance of staunch adhesion
towards England which that State had shown during a period of thirty
years previous; the fact that the Transvaal was quite differently
situated as to adjoining territory imposed the necessity, if only as a
matter of form, to preserve the written conditions of Transvaal
Lord Kimberley, in 1889, intimated the readiness of his Government to
afford advisory and other co-operation with the Transvaal Government in
order to cope with the new element of foreign immigration, resulting
from the discovery of the rich gold-fields, and to provide appropriate
relations with a new floating population, without materially altering
the status of Transvaal authority, or the methods of government then in
The Transvaal Government, however, preferred to ignore that loyal offer,
and to be guided by Bond principles instead. That circumstance affords
another proof that England did not then see the necessity, as has
subsequently been the case, of strengthening her position against Bond
aggression by imposing a demand of general franchise for Uitlanders.
One aspect of the prolonged controversy _re_ suzerainty forced upon
England would be to denote a lack of honour, which is not of unfrequent
occurrence when one party to a contract seeks by cavil and legal quibble
to evade compliance with some of its conditions, simply because the
written terms appear to afford scope for doing so. But the principal
reason of the Transvaal contention proceeded from the project of gaining
over some strong foreign ally who would see an obstacle, if not
scruples, in joining common cause whilst England's claim of
over-lordship remained unshaken. But for that consideration the
Transvaal Government inwardly viewed the whole of the treaties as waste
paper, since it was not only intended to violate them all, but also to
bring about, at an opportune moment, a hostile severance from England.
In the meantime, the academic squabble was to serve as a decoy to hide
Transvaal identification with any such sinister objects, and to divert
attention and suspicion.
To resume the cursory history of the Transvaal. Mr. Burger, during his
Presidency in the early seventies, went to Europe with the mission of
attracting capital to the development and exploitation of gold, etc.,
then already authentically discovered; also, to provide for the building
of a railway connecting with Delagoa Bay. The Transvaal Boers were at
that time exceedingly poor, and without a sufficient revenue for
properly maintaining the administration. Beyond creating a lively
interest, his success was confined to an agreement with a company in
Holland for building a section of that railroad, which, however, fell
through, because the Transvaal proved ultimately unable to furnish its
quota of the necessary funds. The present President fared better. A
Dutch company styled "The Nederlandsch Zuid Afrikaansche Spoorweg
Maatschappy," abbreviated "Z.A.S.M.," undertook the work and completed
it in 1887, from the Portuguese border to Pretoria. The line from
Pretoria to the Natal border was soon after built, as also several
extensions around the Wit-waters Rand, and that from Pretoria to
Pietersburg. The section connecting Delagoa Bay as far as the Transvaal
border had previously been completed by McMurdo, and is the subject of
the present Berne arbitration.[2]
The contract conferred to the Dutch Company a monopoly, and most
advantageous financial terms as well. By that time great strides had
been made in the development of the Transvaal gold-fields, especially at
the Wit-waters Rand (Johannesburg); and immigration on a large scale
from all parts of the world had set in, and was constantly increasing
with vast amounts of investments in mercantile and other enterprises, as
well as in mining industries. At first, equitable laws governed burghers
and Uitlanders alike, administered by an independent judiciary. All
desirable security was afforded for person and property, with confidence
in the safety of investments, and great general prosperity kept pace
with ever-increasing activities and enterprise.
It was a great satisfaction to Uitlanders that the peace of 1881, and
the reinstatement of Transvaal independence, had restored harmony
between Boer and English, and that a policy was being followed to
preclude friction between the respective Governments. Those facts
largely stimulated investments and enhanced confidence. By 1887 the
alien population had already exceeded 100,000, and the capital
investments £200,000,000 sterling, and the desire so ardently
entertained by the people of the land, for twenty years back, was
gratified at last. The burghers shared in the prosperity to a very large
degree, and in lieu of former poverty, competence and wealth became the
rule, and many of them became exceedingly rich. It was not unusual to
hear Boers expressing undisguised gratitude, not merely for the natural
gold deposits, but specially also that people had come to prospect and
to invest capital, without which the wealth of the land would have
remained unexploited and lain fallow. Harmony and cordiality were the
proper outcome between foreigners and Boers. The influx of capital and
of immigrants continued to increase, but not so the happy conditions.
These were gradually getting marred by a spirit of variance, no one
seemed to know how. The study of this paper will reveal it. The variance
between Boers and Uitlanders began to be specially discernible from 1887
and had been increasing like a blight ever since. This was noticeably
coincident with the numerous arrivals of educated Hollanders employed
for the railways and the Government administration.
In the earlier period of the Transvaal Republic, one year's residence
was first held sufficient for acquiring full franchise or burgher rights
and voting qualifications. The condition was successively raised to two,
three, and five years; but in 1890 laws were passed which required
fourteen years' probation, with conditions which virtually brought the
term to twenty-one years, and even then left the acquisition of full
franchise to the caprice of field-cornets and higher officials.
Englishmen and their descendants were at one time totally and for ever
excluded and disqualified just merely because of their nationality
whilst Hollanders were admitted in very large numbers without having to
pass any probation at all or only comparatively short terms. The English
language became a target for hostility and as good as proscribed;
impracticable and ludicrous attempts even were made to exclude its use
in Johannesburg, where hardly any Uitlander understood Dutch, whilst
every Boer official was well versed in English: market and auction sales
were to be conducted only in Dutch; bills of fare at hotels and
restaurants were also to be in full-fledged Dutch only--and all this, it
must be remembered, some years before the Jameson incursion took place.
The judiciary, which, according to the "Grondwet" (Constitution), was
the highest legal authority, was by one stroke of enactment rendered
subservient and subordinate to the First Volksraad. The then Chief
Justice (Kotzee) was ignominiously deposed for honourably contending
against the grave departure from right and justice in subverting the
sacred prerogative due to the highest tribunal, which Boer and Uitlander
alike relied upon for independent justice.
A new system of education was next introduced which admitted only High
Dutch as the medium of instruction in public schools. As only Hollander
children could benefit by such tuition, and whereas those of other
immigrants could not understand that language, the effect was that
parents of English and other nationalities had to combine in
establishing private schools or else to employ private teachers at their
own expense--whilst paying, in the way of taxation, for Hollander public
schools as well. That oppressive system was subsequently somewhat
modified in a manner which admitted the English language as a medium for
a portion of the school hours, the proportion so accorded being larger
in Johannesburg and other such wholly English-speaking centres than in
other parts of the State; but the amelioration did not take place until
after much irritation and expense had been occasioned, nor did it meet
the case of hardship more than half-way. I may here place the remark
that the public educational department is conducted without stint of
expenditure in providing from Holland the amplest and best school
equipments and highly salaried Dutch professors and teachers.
Irritating class legislation began to be systematically resorted to, to
the prejudice of Uitlanders (the majority of whom, it will be borne in
mind, were English), which painfully pointed to a fixed determination on
the part of the Boers to lord it over them as a totally inferior class,
allowing them no representation, and to treat them, in fact, just as a
conquered people placed under tribute and proper only to be dominated
and exploited.
Boers could walk or ride about armed to the teeth, whilst Uitlanders
were forbidden to possess arms under penalty of confiscation and other
punishments (except sporting-guns under special permit). The like
irritations became rampant by 1890 already.
The alien population were at first too much occupied with their
prosperous vocations to combine in the way of protesting against such
prevailing usage. The Press was, however, eventually employed, and the
Government was approached with respectful petitions praying for redress
of the most glaring causes of discontent; but those were invariably
either disdainfully rejected or ignored, or, if some matter was
relieved, other more exasperating enactments were defiantly substituted.
They were cynically told that they had come to their (the Boer's)
country unasked, and were at liberty, and in fact invited, to leave it
if the laws did not please them. This was said, well knowing that to
leave would involve too great sacrifices of homes and investments. The
Uitlanders could not, however, be brought to the belief that the
Government of a conscientious people could persist in dealing with them
as if a previous design had existed--first to inveigle them and their
capital into their midst, with the object of goading and despoiling them
afterwards. The course of petitioning and respectful remonstrances was
therefore persevered in, but all to no purpose. Indignation and
resentment were the natural result of those failures. There appeared no
alternative but to submit or else to abandon all and leave the country.
It is true that numerous Uitlanders acquired competences, and some were
amassing fortunes, but such prizes were comparatively few. The majority
just managed, with varying success, to reap a reasonable return for
their outlays and energies, or only to live more or less comfortably.
The fashion of luxurious and unthrifty living, so prevalent among the
"_nouveaux riches_" and the section who vied with them, impressed the
Boers with the notion that all were getting rich, and that soon there
would be nothing left for them in the race. In their Hollander Press
they were reminded that the gold, in reality belonging to them, was
rapidly being exhausted, and the wealth appropriated by aliens, whose
hewers of wood and drawers of water they would finally become. All this
galled them to the heart, and the Government readily lent itself to
proceedings intended to balance conditions in favour of their burghers,
as the process was described. I will adduce a few instances. As is well
known, it is only burghers and some privileged Hollanders who are
employed in Government service, from President down to policeman. There
are very few exceptions to this rule, which also applies to the
nominations of jurymen, who are well paid too. The salaries of all,
especially in the higher grades, had been largely augmented; the
President receiving £8,000 per year, and so on downwards.
For Government supplies and public works the tenders of burghers only,
and perhaps of some privileged persons, are accepted. In many instances
the tenderers are without any pretence of ability for the performance of
the contract, but are nevertheless accepted, performing only a _sub rosa
rôle_. One such instance occurred some years ago when a burgher who did
not possess £100--a simple farmer and a kind of "slim"
speculator--received by Volksraad vote the contract for building a
certain railway.[3] The price included a very large margin to be
distributed in places of interest--as douceurs of £1,000 to £5,000 each,
and £10,000 for the _pro forma_ contractor and his Volksraad
confederates; all those sums were paid out by the firm for whom the
contract was actually taken up.
Similarly in contracts for road making, repairing, and making streets,
etc., etc. On one occasion a rather highly placed official obtained a
contract for repairing certain streets in Pretoria for £60,000. The work
being worth £20,000 at most, the difference went to be shared by the
several official participants.
One of the first instances of glaring peculation occurred about fifteen
years ago in relation with the Selati railway contract obtained by Baron
Oppenheim.[4] The procedure was publicly stigmatized as bribery. It had
transpired that nearly all the Volksraad's members had received gifts in
cash and values ranging each from £50 to £1,000 prior to voting the
contract, but what was paid after voting did not become public at the
time of exposure.
The acceptance of those gifts was ultimately admitted, in the face of
evidence adduced in a certain law case; denial became, in fact,
impossible. The plea of exoneration was that those gifts had been freely
accepted without pledging the vote. The President publicly exculpated
the honourable members, expressing his conviction that none of them
could have meant to prejudice the State in their votes for the contract;
and as there had been no pledge on their part, the donor had actually
incurred the risk of missing his object. From that time the practice of
obtaining and selling concessions or of sinecures and other lucrative
advantages grew quite into a trade; and receiving douceurs became a
hankering passion from highest to lowest, but happily with not a few
exceptions where the official's honour was above being priced.
There was nothing shocking in all this venality to the bulk of the
Johannesburg speculator class and others of that category. The rest
assessed official morality at a depreciated value, but hoped the
blemishes might be purged out with other and graver causes for
discontent, if Uitlanders, were only granted some effective
representation in public matters. That appeared to be the only
constitutional remedy. But this continued to be resentfully refused,
even in matters which partook of purely domestic interest, such as
education, municipal privileges, etc. The latter were opposed upon the
specious argument that such extended rights would constitute an
_imperium in imperio,_ and thus a condition incompatible with the safety
and the conservation of complete control.
In the usual intercourse with burghers and officials a great deal of
exasperating and even humiliating experiences had often to be endured,
Uitlanders being treated as an inferior class, with scarcely veiled and
often with arrogant assumption of superiority.
I witnessed a field cornet enjoying free and courteous hospitality at a
Uitlander's house, while being entertained by his host and others in the
vernacular Dutch, peremptorily object to the conversation in English in
which the lady of the house happened to be engaged with another guest at
the further end of the table. His remark was to the effect "that he
could not tolerate English being spoken within his hearing"; this was in
about 1888.
No wonder that under such conditions and ungenial usage Englishmen and
other Uitlanders were put in a resentful mood, and many of them
bethought themselves of methods other than constitutional to improve
their position.
Identification was resorted to with the Imperial League, a political
organization called into being in the Cape Colony to stem Boer
assertiveness there and to restrain Bond aspirations. It was also
seriously mooted to obtain the good offices of Great Britain as an
influence for intervention and remonstrance.
It was not that the Transvaal Government was unaware of its duty and
responsibility to remove causes which produced discontent and resentment
among by far the larger section of the people under its rule. It seemed
rather that the Uitlanders were provoked with systematic intention.
[Footnote 2: The Berne award has, as is well known, since been given.]
[Footnote 3: The Ermelo-Machadodorp branch.]
[Footnote 4: These very details were since made public in the Belgian
Law courts in the recent _cause célèbre_ of "The Government of the South
African Republic _versus_ Baron Oppenheim."]
It was at this stage in May, 1894, that a monster petition with some
25,000 signatures was presented to the Volksraad, setting forth the
entire position, and praying for a commission to be appointed to examine
the merits of the Uitlander complaints, and to frame a programme of
reforms, the interests of the mining community needing such in a most
urgent degree, not only for the sake of its own prosperity, but for the
welfare of the entire State. A commission was indeed appointed, who
reported in favour of the petitioners, and suggested a series of
reforms; but the final Volksraad vote resulted in an angry rejection of
the petition and denunciation of its organizers.
As on the occasion of previous memorials, some few abuses were
redressed, but those benefits were made worse than nugatory by
enactments in other directions of a still more galling nature. The
petitioners found themselves snubbed and in the position of humiliating
Treatment of Coloured British Subjects
A glaring instance of oppression practised by the Transvaal Government
was its cruel treatment of coloured British subjects who had been
admitted into the State. Among these figured some thousands of educated
Asiatic traders, including numerous cultured Indian and Parsee merchants
with large stakes in the State and well-appointed residences, people
whose very religion exacted the most scrupulous cleanliness and who had
all proved themselves obedient and law-abiding. These were classed under
one rubric with the vastly inferior coolie labourer, with Kaffirs and
Hottentots, and actually compelled to abandon their stores and
residences to reside in one common ghetto upon the outskirts of the
towns, a measure which entailed great losses apart from the gratuitous
humiliation--to many it involved ruin and in fact meant their expulsion.
It will be remembered that some years before already the English
Government had felt it incumbent to advocate the cause of coloured
British subjects and to remonstrate against their ill-usage. The matter
was ultimately submitted to arbitration at Bloemfontein, under the
umpireship of Sir Henry de Villiers, whose award, contrary to
expectation, was adverse to the coloured people. Here was indeed a
unique occasion for the Transvaal Government to exercise geniality upon
a point sorely felt by the British Government; but the very contrary
course was adopted under the ægis of that notorious award, and upon the
untenable plea that sanitation and regard to public health necessitated
that measure of segregation.
Despite the fact that no royalty was yet exacted upon the gold output,
probably to please French, American, and German investors, there seemed
to exist a veiled hostility against the representatives of mining
capitalists, as if the Government regretted to have allowed the
exploitation of the mines to fall into private hands and would welcome
an opportunity to take them under State control altogether.
The Uitlander Press vented public sentiment and denounced the Government
attitude in unmistakable terms; there were besides some angry public
demonstrations. It was an alarming time of impending crisis, rife with
signs of open revolt; the Government looking calmly on awaiting
developments. It was then that the President's since famous saying was
pronounced, viz., "that the tortoise must first be allowed to put out
its head before it could be struck off, and that he was ready for any
The situation had a truly anomalous aspect. More discoveries of gold and
even of diamonds followed apace, and the scope for mining, commercial
and industrial enterprises expanded to an incalculable magnitude. All
that was needed was a stable and good Government to encourage the
needful investments. A most tantalizing picture indeed, based upon
undeniably well-grounded facts.
As it was, the situation was one of alarm for capital already
invested--a stake then of over 300 millions sterling in a country where
more than half of the population were in almost open revolt against a
Government commanding very large repressive forces, and resolved to
maintain its stand.
British intervention appeared to be the only means of salvation to
restore security, and to give a fillip to the brilliant prospects of the
country, for the good of the burgher estate as well as for the sake of
As the Government continued deaf and obdurate to representations, other
means were sought for. No wonder the Uitlanders longed for a change,
not by any means with the object of altering the style of Republican
status, but to get the Augean stable of misgovernment cleansed, to
escape oppressive and rapacious Boer domination.
The farcical failure of Dr. Jameson was the outcome of those endeavours.
The unspeakable cowardice of his Johannesburg confederates was the chief
feature of that puny attempt. Laurels, like those gained by Lord
Peterborough, Warren Hastings, or Lord Clive, were not decreed to that
ill-advised emulator.
Nothing could have been more propitious than that very Jameson incursion
to fan race hatred and to advance the projects of the Afrikaner
Bond--"Afrika voor de Afrikaners," for, whilst no one acquainted with
the facts can for a moment doubt the guilt of the Transvaal Government
for having systematically provoked that attempt at revolution, "Bond"
propaganda and paid journalism had a rare chance to set up the theory
that annexation on behalf of Great Britain had been foully planned--the
Prince of Wales even being an abettor of the attempted _coup d'état_
purely to gratify the lust of greed for the gold and diamonds of the
poor innocent Boers. No terms were too vituperative to denounce the
enormity. Millions of honest persons all over the world were
deluded--there was a bitter cry of almost universal indignation. The
Boer Government posed as innocent; the designs of the Afrikaner Bond
were not even suspected--its ranks, in sympathy with those delusions
sped on filling up faster than ever, and the father of lies was scoring
another very sensible triumph.
In lieu of reforms, Bond projects and armaments were secretly pursued
with redoubled vigour towards the climax which should install
Afrikanerdom supreme in South Africa, financially as well as
Capitalists had already begun to feel nervous about the final security
of their investments; operations and credit became restricted, fresh
projects were abandoned and a persistent withdrawal of capital set in.
Trade and prosperity were progressively waning, accompanied with still
more ominous portents for the Uitlanders' future. It all meant a very
extensive weeding out of investments under enormous losses, except such
as stood in relation with dividend-paying mines. England, though
apparently apathetic and inactive, was not inattentive to the situation.
Whoever had a stake, whether in South Africa or abroad, looked to Great
Britain as the Power upon whom the duty devolved to provide a peaceable
remedy. The suzerainty controversy was then followed by other questions
of diplomatic difference, among which that of the franchise reform.
Upon this matter English intervention took an insistent form. It clearly
turned all upon that--and once it were satisfactorily arranged, the
amicable solution of other questions might in turn be expected to
follow. As to suzerainty, that claim appeared relegated to remain in
abeyance. A conference was convened at Bloemfontein early in June, 1899,
for the discussion of those topics between the Colonial Governor, Sir
Alfred Milner, and the Presidents of the two Republics. The outcome was
a final demand for the right of representation of the Uitlander
interests in the legislative bodies of the Transvaal, amounting to
one-fifth of the total aggregate of members, the voting qualifications
to consist in the usual reasonable conditions and a residence in the
State of five years, operating retrospectively.
We may here consider whether such a demand contained any real feature of
unfairness to warrant refusal.
Three-fifths of the entire white Transvaal population were Uitlanders,
the majority of them English. They own four-fifths of the total wealth
invested in the State. About half of them have been domiciled, with
house and other fixed property, for periods of from five to ten years
and more.
The preponderance is not only in numbers and wealth, but also in
intelligence and in contributing at least four-fifths of the total State
Is it right or prudent to exclude such interests and such a majority
from legislative representation?
Could a minority of one-fifth, that is to say, twelve Uitlander members
against forty-eight Boer members, be said to constitute a menace to the
status or to the conservative interests of State?
Do Uitlanders not deserve equal recognition with the burghers in respect
to intrinsic interest in the land, seeing that the former supplied all
the skill and the capital to explore and exploit the mine wealth, all at
their risk, and without which it would all have remained hidden and the
country continued fallow and poor?
Though one-fifth would be so small a minority, it would at least have
afforded the constitutional method of declaring the wishes of
Uitlanders, and have done away with the disquieting and less effective
practices of Press agitations, public demonstrations, and petitions. The
measure could also have been expected to open up the way towards
reconciling relations between the English and Boer races, beginning in
the Transvaal, where it was hoped that the burghers would be gained over
as friends, and so to stand aloof from the Afrikaner Bond. These were
the supreme objects for peaceful progress and not for annexation. Solemn
assurances from highest quarters were repeatedly given that no designs
existed against the integrity of the Republic, that nothing unfriendly
lurked behind the franchise demand, but that necessity dictated it for
general good and the preservation of peace. Nor were other diplomatic
means left unemployed to ensure the acceptance of the franchise reform.
In addition to firmness of attitude and a display of actual force, most
of the other Powers, including the United States of America, were
induced to add their weight of persuasion in urging upon the Transvaal
the adoption of the measures demanded by England for correcting the
existing trouble. It may be urged that the display of force in sending
the first batches of troops would have afforded grounds for
exasperation, and be construed by the Transvaal as a menace and actual
hostility, tending to precipitate a conflict which it was so earnestly
intended to avoid. To this may be replied that the 20,000 men sent in
August were readily viewed as placing the hitherto undermanned Colonial
garrisons upon an appropriate peace effective only; but not so with
respect to the army corps of 50,000 men despatched in September--this
was felt as an intended restraint against "Bond" projects, to enforce
the observance of any agreement which the Transvaal might for the nonce
assent to, and above all it was tending, unless at once opposed by the
Bond, to weaken its ranks by producing hesitation and ultimate defection
from that body; the die was thus to be cast, duplicity appeared to be
played out--the ultimatum of 9th October was the outcome; and England,
though unprepared, could not possibly accept it otherwise than as a
wilful challenge to war.
As the pursuit of our study will show, the success of Mr. Chamberlain's
diplomacy to avert war depended upon the very slender prospects that the
Transvaal Government might have been induced to waver, and finally to
break with the Afrikaner Bond--a forlorn hope indeed, considering the
perfection which that formidable organization had reached. Its cherished
objects were not meant to be abandoned. The advice of "Bond" leaders
prevailed. War was declared and the Rubicon crossed in enthusiastic
expectations of soon realizing the long-deferred Bond motto: "The
expulsion of the hateful English."
It is true the Transvaal had made a show of acquiescence to British and
foreign pressure. This first took the shape of an offer of a seven
years' franchise, and then one of five years, exceeding even Mr.
Milner's demands as to the number of Uitlander representation. That of
seven years was so fenced in with nugatory trammels and conditions that
it had for those reasons to be rejected; whilst that at five years was
coupled with the equally unacceptable conditions that the claim of
suzerainty should be renounced, and that in all other respects the
Transvaal should be recognised as absolutely independent in terms of the
Sand River Convention of 1852.
Those offers could hardly have been made in sincerity, but rather as a
temporary device and to meet the susceptibilities of the advising
Powers, for all the time preparations for war were never relaxed for a
moment, but were pushed on with extreme vigour. On the other hand, the
British programme seeking to ensure peace by the franchise expedient had
been strictly followed without deviation. When the Transvaal Government
professed irritation over the disposition of some British troops too
near the Transvaal border, they were promptly removed to more remote and
less strategic positions, rather than incur the risk of rupture. During
the month preceding the outbreak of the war, some large continental
consignments of war munitions were, as usual, permitted to reach the
Republics unhindered through several Colonial ports, portions being
actually smuggled over the Colonial railways as merchandise addressed to
a well-known Pretoria firm, but on arrival were secretly delivered,
under cover of night, at the various forts and arsenals. These
proceedings were carried out with the connivance of the Colonial Bond
authorities, and though known to the British Governor, it was all winked
at rather than hazard the momentous objects of peace by the introduction
of another knotty subject. To sum up the situation, it was a diplomatic
contest on the part of Great Britain aiming at peace and to safeguard
her possessions and prestige, while the Afrikaner Bond, on the other
part, continued active in the work of sedition and preparing for a war
of usurpation. Every one must admit that the demand of the British
Ministry for an immediate and adequate representation proceeded from the
necessity and the desire to overcome the South African crisis in a just
and pacific way. The measure was counted upon to effect conciliation
between the Uitlander and burgher elements, and as a further result was
earnestly hoped to bring about the secession of the Transvaal from the
Afrikaner Bond, and so reduce that dangerous confederacy to a somewhat
negligible impotence. To discover other objects of a sinister sort
lurking behind needs a more than inventive genius. A united Afrikaner
Bond, persistent to carry out its fell project, definitely meant war
sooner or later. Its first step in launching out to it was that
notorious ultimatum, which was tantamount to snatching back the feigned
offers of the seven and five years' franchise. According to original
programme, the very next step to accomplish the _coup d'état_ was the
immediate seizure of all Colonial ports, and to complete a general and
irrevocable Boer rising all over the Colonies.
All the while the old device had been put into practice of hiding Bond
guilt by accusing England of designs against the integrity of the Boer
Republics. But directly after, in the exultation of victorious
invasions, the mask was shamelessly dropped, and Boerdom stands out
defiantly and nakedly self-confessed, aiming at conquest and supremacy
over all South Africa. Will the ensuing century have in store an
instance to match that record plot of artifice and dissimulation, and
see half the world duped into partisanship with it--by journalistic
It may well be imagined that Mr. Chamberlain and his noble colleagues
had anything but beds of roses whilst pursuing the diplomacy adopted to
checkmate the Bond. They had to gain national support without divulging
their own proceeding, and were at the same time reduced to a situation
which imposed a spartan fortitude in concealing and repressing
involuntary perturbation in the presence of an impending national
crisis, and also the stoical endurance of bitter recriminations on the
part of an opposition comprising a large and honourable but poorly
informed section of the English nation.
We come now to the topic of language, which will be found relevant,
showing Hollander and Bond influence in using that also as a hostile
weapon. What the Boers still speak is a vernacular or dialect so far
removed from High Dutch as to be unintelligible to the uninitiated
Hollander. It took its form from the dialects brought to the Cape of
Good Hope by unlettered Dutch colonists and a large admixture of locally
produced idioms, with a slight trace of the structure of the French
language in expressing negations. In the two Republics High Dutch rules
for official purposes, but in common intercourse the vernacular Dutch is
still about the same as it had been a hundred years ago. For an
English-Dutch interpreter the thorough knowledge of the vernacular is
essential. Preachers and teachers have to adapt their speech by
combining High Dutch with the dialect, the one or the other
predominating according to the capacity of the hearers. Hollanders
follow the same method when learning the vernacular Dutch.
In towns and villages, not only in the Colonies, but also in both
Republics, English is almost exclusively used. The Boers, and especially
the younger generation, have a much greater aptitude and penchant for
learning English than for High Dutch; and generally it has been held
more important by the parents that their children should become
proficient in English, that language being more easily acquired and of
vastly greater use than Dutch. The latter, it was truly averred, would
be learnt as they grew up quite sufficiently for all purposes.
The feeling thus existed some twenty years ago that English would become
general, and ultimately oust both Dutch and the vernacular. Numerous
Boer patriots then devised the remedy of preserving the vernacular by
raising it to the standard of a written and printed language for
official as well as common use. The Rev. du Toit, later appointed
Minister (or Superintendent) of Education in the Transvaal, worked
tenaciously towards making that movement a national success. He had the
co-operation of many other educated patriots likewise. The _Paarl
Patriot_, a journal published in the vernacular, is one of the
surviving efforts. Vocabularies, school books, etc., etc., were printed
in that dialect, and the translation of the Bible had also been brought
to an advanced stage, when the project had to be abandoned, principally
through Hollander influence, aided by some of the Republican leaders and
Bond men. Dr. Mansfeld, the present Superintendent of Education in the
Transvaal, was subsequently appointed--a very able Hollander, but also a
very strong advocate in the general Hollander Bond movement for
proscribing the use of the English language, and making High Dutch the
compulsory medium of instruction. Since then, and during the past ten
years, considerable progress has been made by the average Boer children,
and even the grown-up people, in approaching a better knowledge of High
Dutch. Before 1880 hardly any Boer cared to read a newspaper except,
perhaps, the _Paarl Patriot_, the vernacular journal referred to. High
Dutch and English papers were equally beyond his ready knowledge, but
since then the interest in politics gave an impulse to a reading
tendency, and at this moment the majority of the Boers manage to read
and understand fairly well what is presented in simply written High
Dutch by the local Press. They also are fond of simply written books of
travels, and especially of narratives of a religious trend. With the
Bible they are most familiar from childhood, but literature in High
Dutch is beyond them as yet. Greater pains have of late years been taken
to qualify Boer sons for the administrative service of the Republics,
where imperfect knowledge of High Dutch is an obvious bar to
advancement, and Hollanders would otherwise continue to monopolize the
better positions.
Taking the fairly educated Free State and Transvaal youth, the average
proficiency in English compared to that in High Dutch is as two to one,
whilst many possess even a literary mastery in English whilst quite poor
in the other language.
In the Cape Colony the above comparison among the Boer section is still
more in favour of English.
It may be judged what an important _rôle_ the educated Hollander group
can take in those Republics, and are yet aiming at in the Colonies.
It is also worthy of reflection why and how the Dutch language has been
raised to equality with English in the Cape Colony, seeing English was
more generally understood by the Boers there than High Dutch, and none
of the Boer legislators or members of Parliament even now know more
than the Dutch vernacular, the High Dutch language having actually yet
to be learnt by the Boer population--an important step thus gained by
Afrikanerdom under the indulgent ægis of self-government, the thin end
of another wedge to nurse sedition and treason introduced by that odious
Bond under pretence and veil of Boer patriotism and loyalty.
As one of the world's languages, Dutch figures under a very sorry _rôle_
indeed. It had been ignored everywhere outside of Holland and her
distant Colonies. The consequence to Hollanders is that they are of
necessity subjected to the ordeal of learning several other continental
languages for commercial intercourse, and in order to keep at all
abreast with the progress of science, literature, and culture. Dutch is
in the moribund stage; its salvation from imminent extinction consists
in the expansion of its sphere. Boer successes in South Africa would
just accomplish that.
As has been shown, the conditions of the two Boer Republics, with High
Dutch as the official language, lent themselves to favour the
immigration into those States of educated Dutchmen (Hollanders, as they
are styled, to distinguish them from the old-established Boer Dutchmen).
These were indeed indispensable, as none of the Boers possessed the
competence in High Dutch requisite for the conduct of the more important
portion of the clerical work in the administration. The professional
branches were recruited from Holland likewise, in natural sequence. They
were men of high attainments and possessed of energy and astuteness and
of various qualifications--doctors, lawyers, editors, clergymen,
teachers. Those who did not receive Government appointments quickly
found lucrative positions in their vocations. The scope increased as
time went by and as those States developed with the growth of the
populations and the establishment of numerous towns and villages,
especially after the discovery of the diamond-fields in 1870. Every year
brought fresh contingents from Holland, including also the commercial
class, artisans, and even servants of both sexes, and agriculturists.
Preserving a constant intercourse with their native country, those
Hollanders also maintained cohesion and clanship among themselves in
their newly-adopted homes. Nor did Holland fail to realize the great
advantages accruing to that country and its people from the new South
African outlets--regular preserves with almost unlimited scope for
further extension and for increasing permanent, profitable connections.
A formidable barrier presented itself in the gradually ascendant
tendencies of the English language and English trade, with corresponding
neglect of the Dutch factors. Regretful forebodings aroused energetic
efforts to check rival interests. The prize was too valuable, and
increasing each year in importance. A dyke needed to be erected to stem
the English encroachments and to preserve and consolidate the Hollander
position of vantage. The ablest men in Holland and South Africa
exercised themselves with that task with an ardour impelled by jealous
hatred against the English and intensified by successive revelations of
more startling discoveries of gold and other mineral wealth in the
Transvaal. It was then, about thirty years ago, that a well-informed,
influential and unscrupulous coterie in Holland devised the fell
projects which developed into that potential association since known as
the Afrikaner Bond.
The building of the Transvaal railway lines brought other large
accessions of educated Hollanders, and as they were completed some
thousands more were added to serve as permanent staff. Dutch influence
was thus attaining strength to assert and consolidate its interests with
an expanding impulse. The monopolized railway company promoted
immigration from Holland by largely increasing the salaries to such of
the staff who were married. The Transvaal Government, under the advice
of their educational chief, Dr. Mansfeld, provided similar premiums to
secure married teachers from Holland and by raising the salaries of
married Hollander officials already placed. The Hollander population
attracted to the Transvaal since 1850, and which did not number above
500 in 1870, had increased by 1898 to fully 12,000, representing, as
ranged with the Boers, by far the largest factor of educated
intelligence, attached to and dependent upon the Government and its
staunch allies. The men received full burghership as a rule soon after
arrival, exempt from the formalities and probation prescribed by law.
Holland being the locality of the inception, I may say the ingestion, of
the Afrikaner Bond, one's thoughts are apt to retrace, by way of
contrast, that little nation's creditable past. The view presents those
dykes, monuments of labour's heroism; then that glorious resistance
against the mighty persecutor of religion, those unsurpassed
performances in the arena of culture, arts, and sciences, and that long
epoch of success in exploits of colonization, finance, and commerce.
"But view them closer, craft and fraud appear;
Even liberty itself is bartered here."--_Goldsmith_.[5]
One notes the placid landscapes intersected by those still but
deep-flowing rivers and canals, scenes so conducive to mental
exercise--the Dutch patriot mourning over the transition of former
national prestige to present condition of decadence presaging complete
national submersion, but at the same time courageously employing his
fertile brain in devising far-reaching projects of remedy over distant
perspectives so as to stem that tide of decadence and declension and to
erect a firm barrier against that menace--to gain (by inspiration from
the titular genius of commerce and craft so conspicuous in that famed
art representation[6] exhibited in his Bourse) a dazzling prize for his
nation by one fell swoop and, so to say, with folded arms, just by
pitting against the English his almost forgotten and long-neglected
clan, the Boer nation, inciting them to usurp Great Britain in South
Africa, Holland sharing the spoils. See here the master mind exulting in
the conception, gestation, and birth of the Afrikaner Bond conspiracy;
note the Hollander patriot's glitter of satisfaction at the vista of
realizing the restoration of Holland to a position excelling its former
glory, of a moribund language revived to significance, and of witnessing
besides a sweet vendetta operated upon England, the old enemy and
despoiler of his nation, to compass the humiliation and disintegration
of the British Empire. Patience, dear reader; preserve judicial
composure. Evidence is following on the heels of the charge.
[Footnote 5: This is of course not directed against the nation as a
whole. See also notice, page vi.]
[Footnote 6: Oil painting in the Amsterdam Exchange building
representing Mercurius.]
The late Mr. Jan Brand, that noble President who was succeeded by Reitz
and now by Steyn in the presidency of the Orange Free State, appeared to
have had early intimations, or at least presages, as to the true nature
of the Afrikaner Bond, for during the early eighties that association
had yet posed as a harmless body, intended to preserve old Boer
traditions upon perfectly constitutional lines. President Brand and some
others then already suspected more, as the following incident will show.
In 1883 President Brand officially opened the new wagon-road bridge over
the Caledon River at Commissie drift, near Smithfield, Orange Free
State. Towards the conclusion of the ceremony, one of the other
speakers, Mr. Advocate Peeters, member of the Volksraad for Smithfield
district, in the course of his speech formally suggested that President
Brand should accept the leadership of the Orange Free State section of
the Afrikaner Bond. The President, addressing the burghers and all
present, replied in about the following terms: The proposal just then
made by Advocate Peeters had pained and offended him; the festive event
would be marred by that incident were it not that it afforded him the
opportunity, which he otherwise would have missed, of telling them all
what he thought of the Afrikaner Bond--that it was an evil thing; he
could not find terms strong enough to warn the people against its subtle
seductions. The Afrikaner Bond professed its objects to be peace and
harmony, but it really contained the pernicious seeds of division and
strife, to set up enmity between English Afrikaners and Boer Afrikaners.
He pointed out the sincerity of friendly relations on the part of
England towards both the Orange Free State and the Transvaal Republics.
The peace which restored to the Transvaal its independence a few years
before was one big proof; his Government had many proofs of England's
good will, too. It suited both parties to maintain harmony--it behoved
every Afrikaner to be one-minded in friendly reciprocation. Through a
gracious Providence both Republics were prosperous and enjoyed
independence. All over the world the prosperity of States depended upon
good relations with their neighbours--this was especially so as regards
the Orange Free State. They knew what kind of bond the Bible enjoined.
It was the bond of peace and concord; and he concluded by declaring his
well-grounded fears that the Afrikaner Bond was a device of the devil
directed against the well-being of the entire Afrikaner nation. Instead
of being encouraged, it should, like the "Boete Bosch"[7] (_Xanthium
spinosum_, burr weed), be extirpated from the soil of South Africa.
The Afrikaner Bond has as final object what is summed up in its motto of
"Afrika voor de Afrikaners."[8] The whole of South Africa belongs by
just right to the Afrikaner nation. It is the privilege and duty of
every Afrikaner to contribute all in his power towards the expulsion of
the English usurper. The States of South Africa to be federated in one
independent Republic.
The Afrikaner Bond prepares for this consummation.
Argument in justification:--
(_a_) The transfer of the Cape Colony to the British Government took
place by circumstances of _force majeure_ and without the consent of the
Dutch nation, who renounce all claim in favour of the Afrikaner or Boer
(_b_) Natal is territory which accrued to a contingent of the Boer
nation by purchase from the Zulu King, who received the consideration
agreed for.
(_c_) The British authorities expelled the rightful owners from Natal by
force of arms without just cause.
The task of the Afrikaner Bond consists in:--
(_a_) Procuring the staunch adhesion and co-operation of every Afrikaner
and other real friend of the cause.
(_b_) To obtain the sympathy, the moral and effective aid of one or more
of the world's Powers.
The means to accomplish those tasks are:--
Personal persuasion, Press propaganda, legislation and diplomacy.
The direction of the application of those means is entrusted to a select
body of members eligible for their loyalty to the cause and their
abilities and position. That body will conduct such measures as need the
observance of special secrecy. Upon the rest of the members will
devolve activities of a general character under the direction of the
selected chiefs.
One of the indispensable requisites is the proper organization of an
effective fund, which is to be regularly sustained. Bond members will
aid each other in all relations of public life in preference to
In the efforts of gaining adherents to the cause it is of importance to
distinguish three categories of persons--
(1) The class of Afrikaners who are to some extent deteriorated by
assimilative influences with the English race, whose restoration to
patriotism will need great efforts, discretion, and patience.
(2)The apparently unthinking and apathetic class, who prefer to relegate
all initiative to leaders whom they will loyally follow. This class is
the most numerous by far.
(3) The warmly patriotic class, including men gifted with intelligence,
energy, and speech, qualified as leaders and apt to exercise influence
over the rest.
Among those three classes many exist whose views and religious scruples
need to be corrected. Scripture abounds in proofs and salient analogies
applying to the situation and justifying our cause. In this, as well as
in other directions, the members who work in circulating written
propaganda will supply the correct and conclusive arguments accessible
to all.
Upon the basis of our just rights, the British Government, if not the
entire nation, is the usurping enemy of the Boer nation.
In dealing with an enemy it is justifiable to employ, besides force,
also means of a less open character, such as diplomacy and stratagem.
The greatest danger to Afrikanerdom is the English policy of Anglicizing
the Boer nation--to submerge it by the process of assimilation.
A distinct attitude of holding aloof from English influences is the only
remedy against that peril and for thwarting that insidious policy.
It is only such an attitude that will preserve the nation in its simple
faith and habits of morality, and provide safety against the dangers of
contamination and pernicious examples, with all their fateful
consequences to body and soul.
Let the Dutch language have the place of honour in schools and homes.
Let alliances of marriage with the English be stamped as unpatriotic.[9]
Let every Afrikaner see that he is at all times well armed with the
best possible weapons, and maintains the expert use of the rifle among
young and old, so as to be ready when duty calls and the time is ripe
for asserting the nation's rights and be rid of English thraldom.
Employ teachers only who are animated with truly patriotic sentiments.
Let it be well understood that English domination will also bring
religious intolerance and servitude, for it is only a very frail link
which separates the English State Church from actual Romanism, and its
proselytism _en bloc_ is only a matter of short time.
Equally repugnant and dangerous is England's policy towards the coloured
races, whom she aims, for the sake of industrial profit, at elevating to
equal rank with whites, in direct conflict with scriptural authority--a
policy which incites coloured people to rivalry with their superiors,
and can only end in common disaster.
Whilst remaining absolutely independent, the ties of blood relationship
and language point to Holland for a domestic base.
As to commerce, Germany, America, and other industrial nations could
more than fill the gap left by England, and such connections should be
cultivated as a potent means towards obtaining foreign support to our
cause and identification with it.
If the mineral wealth of the Transvaal and Orange Free State becomes
established--as appears certain from discoveries already made--England
will not rest until those are also hers.
The leopard will retain its spots. The independence of both Republics is
at stake on that account alone, with the risk that the rightful owners
of the land will become the hewers of wood and drawers of water for the
There is no alternative hope for the peace and progress of South Africa
except by the total excision of the British ulcer.
Reliable signs are not wanting to show that our nation is designed by
Providence as the instrument for the recovery of its rights, and for the
chastisement of proud, perfidious Albion.
[Footnote 7: Literally "bush of fines" (fines imposed on landowners
where the burr weed was not eradicated).]
[Footnote 8: Africa for the African citizen or African-born whites.]
[Footnote 9: It is notorious that from about 1890 such marriages were
denounced from the Boer pulpits and on the occasions of the Independence
day anniversaries (16th December).]
During the period of, say, twenty-five years after the inception of the
Afrikaner Bond, and while its organization and development were secretly
kept at full pace with occurring events, the British Government
consistently and openly pursued the policy of bringing about the
unification of South Africa. Mr. Froude, a speaker of rare gifts, was
sent to lecture upon the topic: this was in about 1873. The Colonial
Governor, Sir Bartle Frere, strenuously advocated that union. The lines
suggested were a general federation under one protective flag,
self-government in the Colonies, and the continuance of uncurtailed
autonomic independence in the two Republics. The benefits which such a
coalition promised to all concerned in South Africa are obvious. It
would guarantee harmony between the two white races without involving
the least sacrifice of liberty with any party--it simply meant
coincident peace, prosperity and security, and would relieve England of
a considerable burden of anxiety. The scheme promised to find all-round
acceptance, but, unaccountably, except to Bond men, its greatest
opponents were the Cape Colonial Boers. It was, however, confidently
hoped that, with patience, opposition and indifference would be
overcome, and in view of this no opportunity was lost to prove England's
loyal sincerity by genial treatment, by conciliating the various
interests, and gratifying the wishes of the Boer communities, and so to
ensure the desideratum of complete _rapprochement_ between the white
Conferences were convened with the objects of coming to agreements for
the establishment of a general South African Customs Union, and for
adjusting railway tariffs upon fair bases and a more reliable permanency
of rates suggesting reciprocal terms advantageous to the Republics.
These efforts also proved fruitless through similar opposition.
The Afrikaner Bond party, as the reader will understand, had ranged
itself against all such attempts, whilst successfully masking its own
object all the time.
Other differences, which, with a friendly and united spirit, were
capable of easy adjustment, were welcomed by that party as grist to its
mill in order to widen the gulf and to increase the tension.
Besides the chagrin over the failure of its peace policy, the British
Cabinet had finally to admit itself confronted with a very real and
ominous national peril, face to face with the South African Medusa,
Afrikanerdom, defying Great Britain in preconcerted aggression and
revolt. That apparition was all the more startlingly disquieting because
of the suddenness with which the magnitude of the menace and its wide
perspectives had begun to expand into clearer view. It was interesting
to note how the English ministry responded to the call upon its
fortitude; the terrifying apparition did not seem to petrify that body
of men, despite the galling handicapping consequences through the
opposition of part of the nation, which was indeed tantamount to
encouraging South African rebels and usurpers.
The Bond leaders in Holland and South Africa had at an early stage acted
upon Stuart Mill's recognised saying, "that conviction in a cause is of
more potent avail than mere interest in it." Among those leaders there
was no lack of men of erudition and of psychological science, than whom
no one knew better the prime importance of ensuring uniformity of
convictions among the Boers and their partisans, and that the public
mind needs to be framed and trained so as to view the Boer cause as just
and that of the English as odiously wicked. They knew how indispensable
the Press is for attaining those objects, how journalism is capable of
plausibly representing black as white and to convince people so--that,
in fact, it is on occasion an agency of persuasion more potent than
armies are. Its needs are unscrupulous pens and ample payments. For
money is the sinews of journalism as well as of war, whether the
projectiles be charged with lyddite or with lies, whether it is bullets
or throwing dust into people's eyes.
We have seen how a few articles (for which a leading French paper
received £100,000) were instrumental in enabling the Panama Canal Co. to
swindle the French public of forty million pounds sterling, and more
recently, where through Press agency it became feasible to a combination
of Jesuitism and militarism to seduce by far the greater portion of the
noble French nation into frenzied agitation and anti-Semitic excesses,
and load the entire people with almost ineffaceable guilt in the matter
of that unfortunate Dreyfus. In its Press campaign the Afrikaner Bond
employed several leading Colonial organs--the Bloemfontein _Express_,
the Pretoria _Volksstem_, the _Standard and Diggers' News_ of
Johannesburg, and numerous papers of note abroad as well. These were
coached, in the usual masterly manner, sophisticating and perverting
truth. Whenever a lull occurred in treating one or other of the more
salient questions, those South African papers would invariably
contain--especially in their Dutch columns--aspersive articles, coupled
with invective comments to prejudice the Boer mind and to reawaken
anti-English sentiments. It is notable as a proof that the Bond party
lacked all occasions for recriminations, so that those papers had to
resort for material for their vituperation to distorted incidents of
Transvaal history prior to the peace of 1881. There would, for example,
be dished up falsely rendered and dramatically coloured and perverted
selections, such as the treacherous massacre of Retief's party in 1838,
averring that the Zulu king, Dingaan, had been incited thereto by the
British authorities; tragic descriptions of events, coupled with the
massacres by Zulu impis soon after at Weenen and Blaauwkrantz, averred
also to have taken place at the instance of the English Government, and
ever and anon references and full tragic descriptions of the
Slachtersnek execution in 1816, omitting to state that the Boer culprits
were hanged after fair and open trial and conviction by a "Boer" jury
for high treason in conspiring with Kaffirs against the Government,
which crime had led to bloodshed, and that their relatives had been
ordered to witness the execution because they had been abettors and
privy to the crime.
Books teaching the history of South Africa were adapted for school use
wherein denunciations against the English appear in almost every
chapter. Poetry in the vernacular Dutch and pamphlets teeming with like
burdens and calumnies also did their share in inspiring race hatred.
Pro-Boer journalism in England and elsewhere abroad had assumed such
dimensions, especially during the past decade, as to bring the Secret
Service expenditure on that head during recent years to over £100,000
per annum. Dr. Leyds, the Transvaal ambassador, now (December, 1899) in
Europe, is known to some to have with him some £250,000 to defray Press
expenditure, etc., apart from the millions to which he is authorized to
engage his Government in diplomatic projects, such as procuring allies,
or to create embroilments and diversions to the prejudice of England.
To sum up the success achieved by anti-English propaganda, we find the
Boer nation, from the Zambesi to the Cape, unanimous in convictions as
to their fancied claims, their own absolute innocence, and the
immeasurable guilt of the British Government, abetted by
capitalism--guilt which cries to heaven for retribution; and those
convictions take with each man the form of a resolute patriotism wherein
mingled fanaticism and religious fervour in their cause form a
powerfully sustaining part.
Partisanship outside of Africa counts by millions of individuals and
entire peoples; with these it is not so much conviction, but rather
persuasion induced by political hatred and the souring effects of
jealousy and unsuccessful rivalry. This feature is, of course, most
accentuated in Holland, where, with the eyes set upon the loaves and
fishes in South Africa, that nation has for some time been "publicly
praying" for Boer victory over England. These are instances of mere
interest in lieu of genuine convictions. In England the spectacle is
more varied. There we see interest where there are paid agencies, and
persuasion more or less pronounced induced by political party spirit and
also by real convictions. It is in regard to the latter category where
perverted journalism triumphs most and stabs deepest, where men of
honour and patriotism have adopted views which clash against public
interest, and convictions which torture their own minds with grief and
shame under the supposed idea of England's unjust attitude towards the
Boer people, assuming that a Government majority allows itself to be
actuated by base motives.
Is it not attributable in a large proportion to misguided as well as to
venal journalism that the Boer cause has so heavily scored?
Was all this not manifest in the divisions of England's counsels, in the
hampered progress of her diplomacy, her fateful hesitancy and delay in
providing appropriate preventive and protective measures in South
And as regards the tenacity of those convictions, it is with them as it
is in plant life. The longer a tree is in maturing, the harder is it to
uproot it.
The activities of Bond propaganda have been in continuance for many
years, and the prejudices fostered so long are correspondingly
Bond patriotism was not long subjected to the strain of individual
contributions and unpaid performances. When the Transvaal revenues
advanced with such giant strides the Afrikaner Bond leaders in that
State contrived arrangements by which the financial requirements were
supplied from State receipts. Nor was the least compunction felt in
doing so. Was the revenue of the State not chiefly derived from the
Uitlander element--from Uitlander investments, which all throve from the
nation's own buried gold wealth? No scruples existed to provide from
those sources the armaments and all else needed for the common cause of
A secret service fund of some £40,000 per year only was placed upon the
budget list. But this amount was vastly exceeded by the growing
requirements of the Afrikaner Bond for expenditure in South Africa
alone. It was easily contrived to divert, _sub rosa_, large State
receipts to supply the remaining financial needs. Among these figured,
besides the heavy outlays in journalism abroad, gratuities, etc., a
large bill also for secret agencies, spies, and the like.
The entire expenditure was under the direction of a few only of the
trusted leaders and audited by the chiefs, all being kept otherwise
The Transvaal thus became the treasury as well as the arsenal of the
entire Afrikaner Bond.
Hundreds of agents were in constant employ in the Cape Colonies and
Natal suborning the Boer colonists; many of them occupied positions in
various branches of the Colonial Government, and were able to supply
information upon any subject and even to influence elections.
There were numerous permanent agents drawing large emoluments in Europe
also, and emissaries to different places abroad, some touring in
America, England, and the Continent, as the Rev. Mr. Bosman did
recently, and also the P.M.G., Isaac van Alphen.
Much energy and money were also devoted to electioneering campaigns, as
had notoriously been done in the Cape Colony towards bringing in a Bond
majority. Large sums are spent in the diplomatic arena in Holland to
propitiate foreign statesmen, soliciting sympathy, and in coquettings
for Transvaal allies. One of these attempts that failed had been with
Germany. It would appear that some progress had been feasible some years
ago in temporarily luring Emperor William to favour a Holland-Transvaal
combination, but when that sovereign had at last penetrated the infamous
business that lay behind it all, he, as a true "_Bayard_" promptly
washed his hands clean of it, preferring to forego obvious brilliant
advantages for his people than to sully Germany's fair fame in a
connection amounting to no less than abetting a foul conspiracy.
The readers of the Johannesburg _Standard and Diggers' News_ will
remember among the staple attacks upon capitalism quite a series of
articles intended to decoy mining artisans and operatives to Boer views.
Secret agents were also employed for that purpose, and to induce the
belief that the Government was the enemy of capitalism, and would
champion its victims (the mining operatives) in the State. It would
support miners and the working class generally against attempts to
curtail the just rights of labour, and to parade its sincerity actually
passed a law constituting eight tours a legal day's labour. With such
coquettings it was hoped to gain the miners' confidence and adhesion.
Those men were, however, not to be taught by quasi-socialistic
professions of concern, and when, some months later, the exodus prior
to the war occurred, they nearly all left, much to the disgust and
discomfiture of the Government, which had counted upon them to stay to
work the mines for its own account when the moment should arrive.
The appropriation of gold mines and their exploitation for Government
benefit bring about a singular anomaly for a nation engaged in war,
viz., that of a plethora of gold and a scarcity of paper currency, the
Transvaal mint coining the sinews of war at the expense of its victims,
but the plundered gold after all not equalling commercial paper values.
In connection with the foregoing remarks the following may also be said.
States professing neutrality still permit themselves to trade with the
Transvaal to a large extent. It is notorious that that State possesses
no funds available for payments except the gold derived from the
misappropriated mines. The output is seized in its entirety, and not
limited to the extent accruing to British scrip holders only. The
hustling rivalry of doing business with the Transvaal thus involves
receiving stolen money in payment of trade accounts. We see the
receivers eager to stand upon the same platform as the thief, thus not
only as his political partisans, but also as his accomplices.
The Boer section in the Cape Colonies represents nearly one-half of the
white population there. Their representatives in the administration were
ever profuse and assertive in professions of loyalty to the Queen and to
the English Government, and any aspersions to the contrary were always
indignantly and stoutly repelled. The Afrikaner Bond was averred to
include nothing to clash with loyal sentiments, no severance from
England, but, on the contrary, that its principal objects were to
strengthen the lines of amity and joint solidarity in view of a general
federation of South Africa upon Imperial bases. In support of such
sentiments one of the first acts of the Bond party when recently come
into power was a vote of £30,000 per year towards British naval outlays,
and in grateful recognition of naval protection; it was at the same time
mooted, in fact almost pledged, that the Transvaal would similarly offer
£12,000 as well.
The sequel has proven these to be Athenian gifts, for no sooner had the
Republican commandoes invaded the Cape Colonies in November last than
those identical men enthusiastically welcomed the Queen's enemies as
their friends and deliverers from hateful English dominion. There they
stood--self-avowed and unmasked traitors. Members of the Legislative
Assembly met those Boer invaders with addresses and speeches, assuring
them of their own and of every other true Afrikaner's aid and fidelity
in their common cause. "The star of liberty," they said, "had arisen at
last--it had been the nation's desire and prayers during the past
fifteen years." "He could thank God with tears of joy for having granted
those prayers." Such were the words of Mr. van der Walt, M.L.A., uttered
at Colesberg. Mr. de Wet, M.L.A., Mr. van den Heever, M.L.A., and other
colonial notables were spokesmen in similar terms of enthusiasm on other
occasions as the invasion advanced. All this is sadly notorious, but
still it seems a hard task to convince people who prefer to remain blind
or only see a presumptuous adversary in any one who seeks to enlighten
them upon this glaring and premeditated treachery.
October and November were months of unrestrained exultation to the Boer
party, to judge from letters and articles which appeared in the
_Standard and Diggers' News_, Johannesburg, dated 22nd November, 1899,
and in the Pretoria _Volksstem_, dated 20th November, 1899.[10] There
one sees the mask off, in language of defiant insult and of scurrilous
mendacity against all that is English, avowing that the present
Anglo-Boer War has been the outcome of preparations during the past
thirty years. That letter is not all suitable reading for the tender
sex, but should serve as evidence to the still unconvinced sceptic that
the Boers are fighting for something more than their mere independence
and liberty, viz., for conquest and the domination of Afrikanerdom. His
Excellency Dr. Leyds may deny all those too previous intentions with
his placid effrontery of assumed innocent calm. He may denounce Mr.
Chamberlain, Rhodes, Jameson, and even the Prince of Wales, and he may
use the old device of posing as innocent by accusing others. The
detected robber, however, does not always escape with his booty by
running off himself, whilst shouting "Stop, thief!"
Something refreshingly analogous to such attempts of screening and
exculpation has been extemporized in Cape journals of late. There, in an
ingeniously pretended dissertation, it is invented how ill founded the
aspersions are against Mr. Premier Schreiner, and that the acts, upon
which he was so wrongly suspected as an amphibious helmsman, are really
attributable to another person--by the way, to one at a safe distance,
viz., to Mr. F.W. Reitz, the Transvaal State Secretary; whilst this
gentleman again, when lecturing at Johannesburg in July last, naively
deplored the confusion of people's ideas who see anything wrong in the
Afrikaner Bond, adding: "Lord, forgive them, for they know not what they
do or talk about."
"The peace of South Africa is only possible under Boer supremacy," is
the Bond shibboleth. The end justifies the means, even to sedition, to a
war of conquest and the wholesale plunder of investors.
Many of the younger Boers in the Cape Colony and Natal had shown a
singular ardour in joining the several volunteer corps. They were
equipped with uniforms and best weapons, were drilled into efficiency,
received pay, and all went on well until the oath of allegiance was to
be tendered. This they refused, preferring to resign and to provide arms
from other sources--Mauser rifles by preference. This happened some
considerable time before the outbreak of the war.
Boer Arguments Denying Uitlanders' Complaints
Many plausible arguments are proffered to prove that Uitlanders'
grievances and irritations are purely fictitious, but few, I venture to
say, will bear examination. Taxation, for example, is stoutly averred to
fall alike upon burgher and Uitlander, but a glance at the long rubric
of articles specially taxed will show that the selection is contrived to
hit the latter and to spare, or even to protect and benefit, the burgher
The gold industry is not charged with a royalty as is customary in other
gold-producing countries, but with 5 per cent. only upon the net
profits; but here an intolerant and corrupt domination proves much more
prejudicial than a heavy royalty would be.
Proper representation would be the remedy and afford contentment, even
with higher taxation, but that is refused upon Bond principles.
The Anglo-Boer War is attributed to base motives on the part of the
British Government, operating in collusion with capitalism--to England's
passion for annexation, her rapacious greed for the Transvaal gold, her
inordinate ambition to universal commercial supremacy, etc. What a
confusion of assertions and of self-refuting contradictions!
Would England really acquire the Transvaal gold by the annexation of
that State, seeing that its mines are already capitalized and as good as
expropriated in favour of the host of shareholders, some of whom are
English, but the greater portion German, French, and of other nations?
What advantage would accrue to shareholders? Would England, in case of
forcible annexation, not be under the necessity of incurring a heavy
charge in the increase of her South African garrisons, and so be
justified in levying a considerable royalty upon the output, which would
materially reduce the dividends? What advantage would arise to England
by substituting an unproductive and costly war in South Africa for
conditions of peace and prosperity, which alone can yield her commerce
profit? England can only derive profit from wars waged between other
peoples. And as to the incentive of commercial supremacy, England, while
possessing that to a large extent already, freely and voluntarily allows
all comers from other nationalities to share the benefits with her by
her principle of free trade.
[Footnote 10: Extract from Pretoria _Volksstem_, 20th November, 1899,
from a long letter averred to have appeared in the London _Times_, dated
12th October, 1899, said to have been signed by a well-known Cape Boer,
then in England:--
"We have desired delay, and we have had it, and we are now practically
masters of South Africa from the Zambesi to the Cape. All the Afrikaners
in the Cape Colony have been working for years past for this end.
"For thirty years the Cape Dutch have been waiting their chance, and now
their day has come; they will throw off their mask and their yoke at the
same instant, and 200,000 Dutch heroes will trample you tinder foot. We
can afford to tell you the truth now, and in this letter you have got
Between the north-eastern borders of the Transvaal and the coast lies
the Portuguese colony Mozambique. Its frontier railway station, Ressario
Garcia, is near that of the Transvaal, viz., Komati poort, which is 53
miles from Delagoa Bay. A low-lying country extends from the coast about
100 to 200 miles inland, and is tropical. Except some elevated spots,
the whole of it is almost uninhabitable in summer by whites on account
of malaria. During some specially bad seasons natives even succumb to
that malady. The only comparatively safe months are from June to
November. Marshy localities, and wherever there is shaded rank
vegetation in low-lying parts, are dangerous all the year round; in such
places the water is deadly at all times unless first boiled.
This malarial poison is distinct from that which produces yellow fever
in America, and is so far unlike it as it is not contagious. The theory
is that the poison is produced below the surface by decaying vegetable
matter in low and dank parts during the more inactive but still warm and
sunny winter season and during the hot months preceding the summer
rainfall. Upon the first rains the malarial poison escapes through the
then softened crust in the shape of vapoury miasms. This happens during
the night, after the surface of the earth has been cooled off. Those
miasms are dissipated or neutralised by the action of the sun. The dewy
grass retains the poison until it is thoroughly dried to the root. All
surface water is liable to that poisonous impregnation. Malarial
manifestations occur all over South Africa, but in progressive degrees
of virulence with the advance to warmer latitudes, and with the descent
from the high table-lands to the coast levels. On the Transvaal high
veldt, for example, a mild form is developed which, in midsummer, to a
small extent, affects and kills sheep. It is called _blaauwtong_, and
does not affect horses. Descending further, this danger to sheep
increases and begins earlier. Below 5,000 feet altitude in the Transvaal
the summer season is dangerous to sheep, and horses and mules are
subject to horse sickness; whilst lower still the same malaria attains
sufficient virulence to attack human beings, and becomes very deadly
upon levels nearing the coast. Komati poort, the frontier railway
station already mentioned, is dreaded as a still worse death-trap than
even Delagoa Bay, where it is very unsafe, say, from December to end of
April. The season of horse sickness terminates upon the appearance of
the first sharp frost in May. The safeguards for human beings consist in
avoidance at night and early morning of low-lying localities, or such
elevated places even which are subject to be invaded by miasmatic
emanations produced on and wafted from dangerous lower levels. Drink no
unboiled water except that from deep wells or rain-water; maintain
careful and moderate diet, active habits, but avoiding extreme exertions
and excitements; a very sparing use of alcoholic drinks, preferably
taken with the regular meals, is admissible.
Donkeys, horned cattle, and goats are exempt from malarial risks.
For horses and mules no certain remedy appears as yet to be known. The
best research, on behalf of the Transvaal Government, by specially
requisitioned French bacteriologists, assisted by that famous
microbe-hunter, Dr. Theiler (Dr. Theiler is the Transvaal veterinary
surgeon and chief of the Medical Laboratory, Pretoria, a noted Swiss
savant, who, with the aid of the said French experts, discovered the
rinderpest inoculation remedy), has failed to find the bacillus of horse
sickness. Barely five per cent, of the horses attacked recover, and
about ten per cent, of mules. These are then called salted, and are
immune from horse sickness; they can after that be safely used in the
worst localities, and are correspondingly more valuable. They are,
however, liable periodically to light after-attacks, when it is safer to
exempt them from work for a day, or for a few hours at least.
Some proprietors of mail coaches are in the habit of administering doses
of arsenic to their horses and mules, which are said to operate in
lessening the death rate and to favour the salting process.
As safeguards for horses and mules, the following rules have been found
to minimise losses in dangerous tracts where the low clinging miasmatic
vapours are so deadly during the night and earlier parts of the morning.
(During rainfall there is hardly any danger, nor is there after a
night's rain for the day following):--
Do not traverse low suspicious tracts during the hours between 9 p.m.
and, say, two hours after sunrise, lest poisonous vapours be
encountered and inhaled by man or horse.
Choose the most elevated spots for camping out at night. No grazing to
be allowed from 10 p.m. to about 10 or 11 a.m., unless it is raining.
Dewy grass is fatally poisoned; the heavy moist air close to the surface
is also suspected. Grazing is only safe after the soil and grass are
dried of all dewy moisture.
Avoid all water of at all a stagnant nature; rather let the animals
remain thirsty.
If the animals have been fed with dry fodder during the night, let the
first morning stage be moderate and not exhausting. With empty stomachs
the task might be somewhat increased, but even then it should be less
than any other succeeding stage. When the first symptoms of sickness are
noticed they may pass over if the animal is at once freed from work and
allowed to rest, or is at most led when marching. Among the most
dangerous places for horse sickness and for fever to human beings are
the luxurious dongas, ravines, and valleys which abound along the long
stretches of mountains and broken country immediately below the high
The passes leading up to the high veldt are few in number, and so
precipitous as to be almost impracticable for vehicles. Of late years
those roads have been allowed to fall into disrepair, in order, it may
be supposed, to check wagon traffic and to promote that by railway;
apart from the railway, communication with Delagoa Bay would now be
impossible. What with the fever climate in summer, and the formidable
mountain barriers, the Transvaal high veldt is well protected from
aggression from the direction of Delagoa Bay. A few thousand men
distributed at the few mountain passes, blocking the tunnel at one of
these (at Waterval Boven), and breaking up some few bridges, would
effectually arrest the progress of any invading force.
From the tropical Zambesi regions and the torrid Kalahari plains, down
to the 34th parallel at Cape point, a great diversity of climatic
conditions is met with. To the north and north-east are the steaming,
death-breeding low lands, abounding with dank virgin forests and scrubby
stretches; and to the north-west extend the arid, sandy, and stony
levels. There are the temperate and fruitful inland reaches along the
southern and south-eastern littoral, and again further inward the vast
plateaux at 2,000 to 6,500 feet elevation, which represent nearly
one-half of the sub-continent with quite other climatic aspects. In the
southern and western provinces of the Cape Colony the rainy season
occurs during the winter months, probably because of the proximity to
the trade wind influences prevailing over the South Atlantic; over the
rest of South Africa the winters are dry and sunny, the rains falling in
summer, most copiously in December and January, the effect being that
there are hardly any winter rigours, and the heat of summer is
minimised. The most agreeable climate is that on the higher plateau
levels: never hot nor altogether cold, and yet virile and bracing;
something like the climate on sunny days found in the higher Alpine
regions in summer and in the mild Algerine winters. This climate is
found from the Queenstown district at about 3,000 feet elevation,
extending north and westwards over the Stormberg, the Orange Free State,
and along the lordly Drakensberg range and its spurs some 200 to 300
miles into the Transvaal, where the highest plateau levels occur between
Ermelo and to near Lydenburg, viz., 6,500 feet. The Harrismith district
near that mountain range is at a similar altitude with an identical
These high tracts are called _hoogeveldt_ or highlands. Their altitude
rises steadily with the advance northwards towards warmer latitudes, and
with the compensating effect that the climate in the Queenstown
district, Bontebok Flats for example, at 3,000 feet elevation, is
exactly similar to that in the eastern portions of the Orange Free State
at 5,500 feet, right up to near Lydenburg at 6,500 feet altitude, and
being some six degrees further north than Queenstown. The northern half
of Natal also partakes of that character, though there, as well as over
the rest of the eastern slopes of the Drakensberg mountains, the country
is more broken and hilly than on the western side. The Cape Colonial
high veldt near the Drakensberg range is intersected by high
continuations or spurs, but north and westwards those plateaux assume
more the real aspect of continuous high plains. There is a gradual
descent to the west; from occasional hilly ranges those dwindle to
kopjes, and to still less elevated "randjes" occurring in clusters more
and more apart, until yet further westwards one gets to the merely
undulating sterile approaches of the Karoo and the plains around and
beyond Kimberley, which merge at last in the still lower Kalahara
Within 200 or 300 miles from the Drakensberg slopes the country is
well-watered, and the rainfall ample and generally regular, but
westwards this abundance progressively decreases with a more tardy and
precarious rainy season, occasioning at times severe droughts
accompanied with correspondingly protracted and very hot weather.
Those high plains make up one vast green sward from the time of the
spring rains in September to April. From May the absence of rain,
together with the night frosts, shrivel up the herbage, giving the
country a pale-brown aspect. This continues until the return of spring,
varied with large expanses of black, caused by accidental or intentional
grass fires, and here and there a few green spots in specially sheltered
and moist localities.
Those burnt spaces may extend for miles, and are for the time veritable
deserts. The landscape being quite black and the atmosphere generally
very clear, it is obvious that objects of any lighter colour would be
conspicuous at very long distances: an ideal background for khaki
Most of the land is well suited for agriculture, but by far the largest
proportion is as yet used only for raising sheep, horses and cattle.
Angora goats also thrive in the hillier parts. About forty years ago the
Karoo plains, the Orange Free State, and Transvaal were, so to say,
monopolised by milliards of game. Standing upon an eminence or a swell
one could see in all directions, as far as the eye could reach,
innumerable herds of all sorts of game grazing, resting or gambolling;
the different kinds would be ranged in separate groups and could be
distinguished by their special colours--the black-looking wildebeest
(gnu) next to the striped quag-gas, the white-flanked springbocks,
blesbocks with a blaze on their foreheads, the larger elands and other
kinds of the antelope species. Almost all those vast herds have
disappeared since, having been killed off by natives and Boers for their
hides and for food, or else scared away farther north, where rinderpest
extirpated nearly all the rest in 1895-1897.
In the earlier days, and even not so long ago in some parts, the
farmers' crops required guarding during the night against the
depredations of game. This is still so in the north-western plains of
the Cape Colony, as already remarked. In May most of the Harrismith
district farmers and those of the Transvaal high veldt move their sheep,
horses and cattle to winter in Natal, Swaziland, and to the other
extensive low lands most adjacent, to return after the spring rains in
September or October. Sheep and horses could not with safety remain
longer in those warm regions, as then the fatal malarial _blaauwtong_
begins there to attack sheep, and horse sickness becomes virulent as
well. The high veldt, as said before, is exempt from that danger.
Some of the wealthier farmers can arrange it so that they and their
families can winter at their comfortable high-veldt homes and send
attendants with their cattle to the low veldt, while others, not so
well favoured, must close up their houses and accompany their flocks to
winter in the warm tracts, where they live in their wagons and tents and
escape the outlay for winter clothing.
Owing to the scarcity of wood on the high veldt, kraal fuel used
formerly to be the staple substitute. This would be obtained by penning
up sheep over-night. The deposits were after a month or two dug out in
thick flags, which, after being stacked and dried over the kraal wall,
would burn nearly as well and as brightly as wood. The discovery of coal
beds in so many accessible places in the Cape Colony, Natal, and in the
two Republics has since superseded that sort of fuel to a great extent.
The small divergence between summer and winter temperature upon the high
table lands will be seen from the following table taken from
observations at 5,500 to 6,000 feet altitude in the Transvaal:--
Fahr.                Fahr.
In winter--28° to 40° at night; 35° to 70° by day in the shade.
In summer--40° to 60° at night; 50° to 90° by day in the shade.
It is not often that 85° is reached, and rarely above. This applies
equally to the more southern and thus colder latitudes of Queenstown, at
3,000 feet elevation, and to the eastern half of the Orange Free State,
at 4,000 to 5,000 feet, the warmth increasing, as said before,
proportionately with the descent in altitude, and on occasions of tardy
summer rains.
The winter is the most enjoyable of the seasons, being an almost
uninterrupted continuation of fine sunny weather. On occasions there
would be spells of boisterous weather with a rather sudden and inclement
decrease of temperature, brought on by cold south-east winds; if these
are accompanied with rain in winter, which, however, rarely happens, it
would sometimes turn to sleet or even snow, or else to hard freezing at
night. The snow would, however, thaw with the warmth of the sun, and so
restore the temperature as before. The bracing quality of the climate
mostly consists just in those variations of cool nights and warm days,
and the occasional days of comparatively cold, boisterous weather. The
latter must indeed be provided against, for even in December--that is to
say, in the middle of summer--it would be imprudent to travel without
great-coats as well as waterproofs, so as to be protected against
unexpected changes, from say, 100° in the sun, almost suddenly to 40°
with a driving wind, accompanied perhaps with rain. Such transitions are
trying in the open, even if one is well clad, and the blustering weather
is sometimes so severe, if it happens in winter or early spring, as to
approach the character of a blizzard. One such lasted about thirty hours
in the early spring of 1881. It swept over the entire South African
plateaux and destroyed great numbers of sheep and cattle. These fell
exhausted in their flight before they could reach some sheltering hills
or ravines. In situations where such protections from the cold
south-east wind were far apart the veldt was on the following day found
strewn with their carcases, and upon the still more extensive and
unbroken plains antelopes even perished in enormous numbers simply from
exhaustion in trying to escape and find shelter from the cold wind.
I will just describe one of those occurrences, the severest in my
experience and well remembered by the Free State and the Transvaal
Boers--it was, I think, in 1881. One sunny day, early in August (spring
time), at a place about twenty miles east of Reddersburg, in the Orange
Free State, the wind veered to the south-east, and by afternoon had
begun to blow fairly hard and cold, about 35° Fahrenheit--that is to
say, about 35° below the temperature of a few hours previously. I had
managed to get some milch cows driven near to the kraal, where there
would have been very fair shelter for them, but luckily, as the sequel
proved, they refused to enter, and rushed past in a scared way, just
snatching up one mouthful of forage which had been thrown down to entice
them to stay, and making off as hard as they could. The wind did not
abate till the day after, when tales kept pouring in of terrible losses
of sheep and cattle killed by the cold wind; sheep in open plains had
suffered most, and cattle which had been kraaled were nearly all dead,
whilst the herds of cattle and horses which had been left grazing out
had been driven away and were also believed to have died. At the farm of
a certain Andries Bester, near by, some seventy head of cattle in very
good condition were found dead, piled up to the level of one of the
kraal walls, showing the struggle which some thirty others had in
escaping over the mound of dead cattle to the outside of the kraal.
The next day all those thirty head were found grazing some fifteen miles
westwards under the lee of hills near Reddersburg, where they had found
safe shelter. Everybody's cattle were recovered which had not been
kraaled, including mine. This was the case as well with cattle which had
been tethered to their transport wagons and which succeeded in breaking
loose, whilst the rest were found dead where they had been tied.
There was no possibility of restraining cattle or horses from
stampeding--they did it from the instinct of self-preservation, for,
whilst running with the wind, its force of driving cold was
proportionately lessened, and some loss of heat was made good by the
exertion of running, which they had to keep up till in safe shelter of
hills or ravines.
Had such a cold storm overtaken an army or patrol, the situation would
have been exactly similar, and would have been an ordeal even to
experienced Boers or Colonial farmers, and if an enemy had been located
near Reddersburg, all the cattle and horses would simply have fallen
into his lap.
The obvious safeguard would be a rug for each horse and mule, and for
oxen the erection of a shelter against the wind, consisting of all
available wagons and stores, or else, if practicable, to move at once to
a sheltered locality and always provide a good reserve supply of forage
or other provender. That sort of boisterous, cold weather continues
sometimes, with more or less severity, two or three days. The want of
food and inclemency besides would result in killing the weak cattle and
weaken the rest so as to be incapable of work for some days after. The
difficulty consists in that such inclement changes occur so suddenly,
and that their severity and duration cannot be forecasted.
Upon other much less severe occasions entire gangs of 20-50 Kaffirs,
travelling from the warm north to the diamond-fields or gold-mines, and
not sufficiently provided with blankets, would be found at their camping
places huddled together, nearly all numbed to death. The months when
such surprise weather is most liable to occur are from "July to
October," before and during the earlier spring rains. It is then, and
even up to December at times, that the Drakensberg and other mountains
resume their snow-capped winter decorations for some days. There is a
saying which fairly well applies to the high-veldt climate, _i.e._, that
cold and inclement weather is not met with until well in towards summer,
especially about the time of spring rains, and that hot weather of any
considerable continuance mostly occurs in spring. This will be
understood upon considering that the midsummer months, December to
February, are cooled by very frequent and copious rains, whilst the heat
accumulates more during the preceding sunny spring months, which are
interrupted at rarer intervals by short showers only.
Upon the whole, and despite the few eccentricities mentioned, the high
veldt is favoured with a climate which, for genial comfort all the year
round, exempt from prolonged winter rigours and excessive summer heat,
is not found anywhere else in the world, or only in rare privileged
spots. It is withal most healthy, promoting the highest possible
physical development and even longevity.
Under such favoured conditions the hand of man only is needed in
providing good habitations, planting trees, in the culture of the soil,
and some irrigation labour, to transform nearly every little farm within
five to ten years from a bare pastoral monotony to a really idyllic
spot. There are many such already in Basutoland, the Orange Free State,
and the Transvaal, as well as in the Cape Colonies and Natal--veritable
Eden-like places, as it were bits dropped from heaven. With a
continuance of peace these could be multiplied to any extent each year,
thus rendering those sparsely inhabited tracts the most beautiful areas
in the world, with a prosperous self-sustaining population, quite apart
from considerations of mineral wealth.
The foregoing description of the high-veldt climate points to clothing
composed of woollen fabrics as the only _rational and safe_ attire for
men travelling or taking the field. No constitution could be expected to
hold out against the ever-changing temperature and weather if depending
upon being clad, for example, in a cotton suit; this would only do on
warm days for men who are certain of being safely housed at night and
sheltered during rainy weather. Horses and mules in the open should be
provided with woollen rugs during winter and spring.
The ultimatum cabled to England had no sooner expired at 5 p.m. on the
11th October last than the same evening and on the very next and
succeeding days appeared, published all over the Orange Free State and
the Transvaal, "Government Gazettes extraordinary," filling scores of
pages, comprising proclamations of martial law, and the hundred and one
enactments and provisions regulating that new condition. Their preambles
stated: Whereas in secret session on such and such dates (that is to
say, months previous) the honourable First Volksraad had passed this or
that law--or whereas the two Volksraads, assembled in secret session,
had authorized the Government to frame such and such laws, to come into
force immediately after publication. This shows at least a studious
purpose months beforehand to be in complete readiness, for it obviously
took no little time to prepare all those laws, and have them ready in
type for despatch and publication as had been done. It accords with the
assumption that war had been predetermined, and this is further
confirmed by numerous statements, publicly made by Volksraad members,
and also by President Steyn's famous and now historic message to
President Krüger some short time before, in the laconic and oracular
words, "We are ready."
That the Afrikaner Bond had been for years past preparing for its _coup
d'état_ is further shown by the following incidents which can be
substantiated by the writer:--
During the days of the Jameson raid a very prominent Transvaal Boer,
holding office and who had two sons at the scene of the disturbance,
remarked at a public place in conversation with other burghers:--
"England just wants to annex the Transvaal, and no doubt the Orange Free
State too. This we know; but what she does not know is, that we can at
this moment reverse the tale--we can seize in one day Cape Town, Port
Elizabeth, East London, and Durban, and within a very short time turn
every Englishman out of the Colonies, out of the land which England has
robbed us of."
Those words were spoken by a Bond man who is known to rarely speak in
public. When asked by a Uitlander how it could be done, he relapsed into
his usual prudent reticence, and merely remarked grimly, "We can do it."
But for subsequent revelations and the present sequel those words would
have been forgotten, and were at the time attributed by some to mere
boastful exuberance.
In July last the topic was discussed by some Boers at the house of a
highly placed military official, about the five per cent. tax upon the
profits of the gold industry. One said it should be raised to
twenty-five per cent. for the benefit of the burgher estate. That
official, who, by the way, had just returned from a gathering of country
officials at Pretoria, sententiously replied "that it was no more a
question of any tribute, but of taking the mines altogether out of the
capitalists' hands"; and when another burgher interposed a doubt as to
the fairness of such a proceeding, that official continued by saying,
"Fairness indeed! it is we who have submitted to unfairness only too
long--_ons wil nou Engelse schiet_ (we want now to go on the battue of
When the Transvaal Government had secured the assent of both Volksraads
to the seven years' franchise measure it was thought desirable, as a
matter of form and to gain time, to defer the formal passing of the law
until after it had been referred to the burghers. This was not done till
August last. A large section of the people were known to be against
extending the franchise, but the Government had no misgivings about the
result, counting upon the persuasive influence of the Volksraad members
who were to preside at the plebiscite meetings, and had before been
drilled up to their task. Their success was as desired, and the measure
became law in due course. Those meetings in the different districts and
wards of the State were characterised by almost uniform proceedings, so
that the description of one of them can serve for all.
The burghers assembled on the appointed day at the local Government
Office. The Landdrost, or chief official of the ward, took the chair.
There were four Volksraad members, who each in turn recommended the
adoption of the seven years' franchise measure. The burghers were
invited to express their views. The majority appeared dead against it,
but were gradually appeased, and they finally assented to a motion of
approval presented by the chairman, which also conveyed full confidence
in the Government and their representatives to deal with the enactment
and to modify it as they might consider appropriate.
One of the burghers had in his speech stated in passionate terms that no
dictation on the part of Uitlanders could be tolerated; they must either
obey the laws or leave the State. The function and prerogative of making
laws belonged to the burghers. They had been ill-used enough by the
English; it would be still worse, he said, if they were invested with
legislative rights. "On the contrary, it is the Boer nation which is
entitled to supremacy, not only in the Transvaal but right to the sea.
The Cape Colonies," he continued, "are ours by divine right, and so is
Natal, and no Afrikaner may rest until we are reinstated." General
approbation and stamping of feet followed that passionately rendered
speech. Not a word of restraint or censure from any of the four
Volksraad members. Some of these had addressed the meeting already, and
the others in turn followed. Their speeches had one import, viz.,
"Burghers! The Government and the two Volksraads have carefully and
prayerfully weighed this seven years' franchise measure. You may safely
approve of it; it can result in no harm; it will strengthen our cause.
We know that England wants our land because of the gold in it; but this
law will contribute to thwart her, though it will not avert war. We were
a small nation when our fathers trekked to this side of the Orange
River; we have become united and strong since. It will be soon seen that
our people have to be reckoned with among the other nations of the
earth; we have right on our side, and, with God's help, we are certain
to prevail. Burghers, you may trust us as your representatives; we are
all of one mind with you; you may safely approve of the proposed
franchise law, and leave possible modifications in the hands of the
Government." Then followed tumultuous approval from the great majority,
motions of confidence and of thanks. Those burgher meetings were
convened during July and August.
*       *       *       *       *
President Krüger is famous for employing clever and original similes in
order to illustrate a policy as he wants his people to understand it.
It has already been noted that the Franchise Law of 1890 excluded
Uitlanders from full burgher rights until after twenty-one years'
probation. The reduction to seven years was proclaimed to be a
concession to meet Mr. Chamberlain's demand. The simile, as addressed to
the Volksraad and published in the journals, ran as follows:--
"First my coat was demanded of me, which I gave; next were asked my
boots, vest, and trousers. I surrendered these as well; and now, as I
stand in my bare shirt, my limbs are wanted besides."
The people were thus led to be unanimous in the resolve to oppose any
further concession, and to view Sir Alfred Milner's unconditional
insistence for a five years' franchise as a conclusive proof that
England in reality wanted no less than the country itself. In this way
the Boer mind was designedly fashioned into the conviction that war was
inevitable, and that both President and people were absolved from all
responsibility in it. Had the offered franchise of seven years and the
subsequent one of five years been honestly meant, there should, indeed,
have been little difficulty for adjusting in the one case the difference
of two years; but it being so surrounded by impossible trammels that
what purported to be an egg proved more like a stone, and even that was
not intended to be given, it was a mere subterfuge to gain time for
carrying out Bond designs.
The project of alliance between the Transvaal and the Orange Free State
had been mooted before 1890. After that came conferences between the
respective Presidents and delegates for closer union as it was then
styled. Mr. John G. Fraser, one of the noblest and most distinguished
Orange Free State statesmen, was conspicuous among the few opponents.
His arguments against federation were so logical and conclusive that it
seemed for a while that the idea would have to be renounced. Among other
grounds adduced against that alliance was the fact that England
possessed claims of suzerainty over the Transvaal, and, the Orange Free
State itself being entirely independent, the incongruity and
incompatibility were obvious of joining a vassal State. There was
trouble if not danger lurking behind it, if such two States were to join
in an actual federation. Whatever was desirable for mutual advantage
might be attained without offensive and defensive alliance. The two
Governments, however, knew how to manipulate matters. The closer union
scheme was carried through before the Jameson incursion, and soon after
that event an offensive and defensive alliance completed the federation.
The Afrikaner Bond then had advanced another important stage.
Mr. John G. Fraser's persistent objections to federation, upon the
ground that the Transvaal stood under British suzerainty, had given that
question a prominence operating against the Afrikaner Bond project,
viz., that of gaining a strong Power as ally to its cause. It was felt
that no Power could, with decency, enter into a connection with that
State while such a claim was maintained. To overcome that obstacle the
Transvaal Government proceeded to raise a controversy with England,
taking up the position of repudiating the claim of suzerainty, and
averring the complete independence of the State, subject only to the one
clause _re_ treaties with foreign nations. Another object would be
gained, viz., of diverting England from Bond aims by that and similar
controversies. To make a show of sincerity about it all, the opinions
(foregathered, of course) of certain eminent jurists in England and
Holland were obtained, who refuted the claim in elaborate disquisitions
and with that readiness of apparent conviction so peculiar to some
advocates' affected faith in their clients' cause. Thus England was
decoyed into a protracted tournament of words and phrases without any
practical result, but gratifying and inspiring no doubt to certain
well-paid _soi-disant_ champions of the principle defined as the
"_perfection of justice_," who revel in a display of forensic erudition,
which, however, only illustrates to the unedified lay mind how speech is
adaptable to veil inward conviction, and how a mass of rhetoric can be
employed to justify the breach of simple and well-understood
It continues to be clumsily insisted upon in official and paid Press
organs how the need of providing Transvaal armaments became realized
only with that Anglo-capitalistic plot of 1895-96 against Boer
independence, and that, in fact, Dr. Jameson was worthy of the Boer
nation's lasting gratitude for opening their eyes to their helplessly
unarmed and unprepared condition up to that time. In those papers it is
declared with unblushing inexactness how the Transvaal at that epoch
possessed only two hundred and fifty inefficient and ill-equipped
artillerists, with only a few cannons of various antiquated types, and
how the burgher element had, up to that time, continued unarmed and in
unsuspecting insecurity. To stamp these misstatements as false, it needs
only to be considered that from the time of the Boer trek in 1835-38
every Boer had been a hunter and guerilla soldier possessed of the best
firearms then extant, ready at any sacrifice to provide still more
effective weapons as inventions in arms of precision in turn progressed.
His passion to be well armed only equalled that of his love for land.
From 1881 every Transvaal and Orange Free State Boer without exception
had, and was obliged to have, his Martini-Henry rifle. The Government
arsenals were supplied with reserves of that up to recently unsurpassed
weapon and with large stores of ammunition. The authorities supplied
that rifle at £4 each, and even gratis in the case of indigent burghers.
At the frequent reviews (_wapenschouwingen_) each burgher had to appear
mounted, with his Martini-Henry rifle and thirty rounds ammunition. To
maintain proficiency in rifle practice, prizes and honours were
distributed at Government expense in each ward, whilst there was plenty
of private emulation encouraged among young and old in the science of
sharp-shooting, the Governments of both Republics contributing
ammunition at below cost price.
In about 1893 the Transvaal Government introduced about 10,000 new
rifles of the Guede pattern, firing a steel-pointed bullet, but the
issue did not become general, as the Martini-Henry rifle continued to be
held more effective for game and for war. The Mauser rifle was only
provided, after long hesitation and much diffidence, for its
rapid-firing quality in war, whereas for game it is still considered
inferior to the larger bored Martini-Henry.
On the occasion of the Jameson incursion, the Transvaal had in readiness
extensive parks of the most modern quick-firing Maxims and Nordenfeldts
of various calibres, and breech-loading field artillery of the Krupp
make. The Orange Free State hurried to their assistance with similar
artillery, each burgher armed with a Martini-Henry rifle. Besides all
that, there was the dynamite and explosives factory equipped to
manufacture all sorts of modern ammunition as it does now, and this is
why President Krüger described that factory as one of the corner-stones
of Boer independence. In the face of these facts it is a most singular
departure to say that the Transvaal only thought of arming when becoming
alarmed for the future by the Jameson attempt, and that statement could
only have been intended to mislead the uninformed at a distance. "_Qui
s'excuse s'accuse_" is applicable in this as well as in other ruses for
hiding those sinister Bond aims and to pose as the guileless and
victimized Boer nation. It was just the other way about--it was England
who was unprepared and exposed to imminent risk of aggression on the
part of the Boer combination.
What had amazed and actually exasperated many Boers was the ludicrously
puny attempt made by Jameson and the Johannesburg revolutionary concert.
It was at the time thought that the invasion of some 700 men was only a
first installment, and that much larger developments were in preparation
to attack the State. It was for that reason that only a few batteries of
artillery were despatched at a late moment to Doornkop under Commandant
Trichaart to operate against Jameson's party, while the bulk was held in
reserve with an extensive mobilization of burghers to resist other
supposed opposition of an altogether more formidable but yet undefined
character. When nothing further transpired, the feeling uppermost with
the people was unbounded derision at that impotent fiasco, and a
loathing contempt for the cowering Johannesburg rabble who betrayed and
sacrificed the insensate doctor. It was loudly asserted that the
combined forces of the two Republics were competent to resist an
invasion a hundred times stronger than the one so foolishly attempted;
but, with cooler counsels, it was resolved to adopt the appealing
attitude of the deeply injured party who miraculously and providentially
escaped a great national peril. Upon these lines the raid incident
afforded an immense advantage to Afrikaner Bond tactics, and an impulse
to Bond propaganda which enormously increased Boer partisanship,
inflicting at the same time a fatal check upon the diplomacy of England
and upon the essential peace-preserving measures for safeguarding her
South African interests. The circumstances, however, served to embolden
many hitherto undecided sympathisers into openly declared and vehement
Boer partisans, revealing the singular spectacle, among English people
even, of a morbid cult apparently ready to sacrifice their nation just
to vindicate their judicial dicta about Boer innocence and to parade
their own darling sense of shocked and violated national honour.
Quite other and more emphatic terms apply to the revolting sewerage such
as the socialistic platform and other purulent nurseries for breeding
wilful and hypocritical abettors, at so much a score, of misguided and
treason-hatching Afrikanerdom.
The factory pertaining to this enterprise, situated near Pretoria, is
recognised to be the most extensive and best equipped of its kind in
existence. It is capable of turning out all the dynamite and similar
blasting material needed for the gold and other mines of the State, also
every description of explosive needed for modern ammunition.
Its equipments include ateliers and laboratories under the conduct of
eminent scientists and men of most advanced technical proficiency. The
site is a farm named Modderfontein of about 8,000 acres near Pretoria.
The industry provides employment for over 5,000 persons. In connection
with this factory is a foundry at Pretoria for casting shells, etc. The
various ingredients, such as sulphur, guhr, saltpetre, etc., are
believed to be plentiful in the State, but their exploitation is found
to be more costly than it is to import the pure articles from Europe.
The investment is represented mostly by French and German shareholders,
the Transvaal Government also possessing a portion of the shares. The
contract with the State conveys a complete monopoly for the manufacture
and importation of all descriptions of explosives, and is so framed as
to base its subsistence upon international rights. One of the conditions
is that the issue of ammunition is relegated to State control. In this
manner burghers only get supplies, whilst Uitlanders are limited to very
small quantities for sporting purposes by special permits.
Efficiently      _Mounted Infantry._       At least about 142,000
15,000   Orange Free State, between 18-50
years  . . . . . . . . . . . . .  20,000
25,000   Transvaal, between 18-50 years  . .  30,000
40,000   Cape Colonies, between 18-50
years  . . . . . . . . . . . . .  60,000
2,000   Natal and elsewhere, between 18-50
years  . . . . . . . . . . . . .   2,000
18,000   Of above, aged 16-18 and 50-60  . .  30,000
-------                                        ------
100,000             _Artillery_  . . . . . . . . . . . . .  2,000
600   Orange Free State, including
trained reserves . . . . . . . .     600
1,400   Transvaal . . . . . . . . . . . . .   1,400
-------                                         -----          -------
102,000   . . . . . . . . . . .  Total at least about          144,000
102,000 highly efficient, and 42,000 partly trained.
The mounts are docile, hardy and nimble, with large reserves available.
The above includes 500 Johannesburg Mounted Police, a picked body of men
armed with carbine, revolver, and sabre.
_Small Arms_ . . . . . . . . .  About    250,000
Martini-Henry rifles in Orange Free State }
} 100,000
"      "     "    in Transvaal         }
Guede rifles in Transvaal  . . . . . . . .   10,000
Mauser rifles in Transvaal . . . . . . . .  120,000
Revolvers in both States . . . . . . . . .   20,000
_Artillery, both Republics_ . . . . . . . .   140
Maxims and Nordenfeldts, modern  . . . . .       50
Field cannon and Howitzers   "   . . . . .       70
Siege and heavy guns         "   . . . . .       20
Rudyard Kipling truly said "the Boers are the most conservative people
on earth." Habits and views which had prevailed two hundred years ago
with their forefathers are still tenaciously preserved by them. We see
this in matters of language, religion, in certain antipathies, and even
in attire. They are justly famed for hospitality, not only amongst
themselves, but also towards strangers, and a very pleasing trait, no
doubt handed down from the seigneurial Huguenots, is the genial
politeness which a stranger will receive in an otherwise wholly
uncultured Boer family.
On his farm the Boer is chief and supreme after the patriarchal
fashion--no thought of tolerating an equal or a rival in authority.
Collectively also, as in governmental representation, he is extremely
averse to the introduction of any foreign element; such a factor would
meet with his undisguised suspicion and jealousy. It must be Boer
supremacy, and to this strangers must submit; the Boers to figure as
the only caste or military aristocracy privileged to carry arms, very
much like the Samouris nobles of Japan, who from of old until recently
had represented the feudal estate, and had made quite a famous cult of
personal bravery, chivalry and devotion to their Mikado and for their
independent caste. Long intercourse and inter-marriage with a Boer
family would ultimately remove the barrier. With such rooted
exclusiveness it is only in accord with Boer nature to be reluctant in
admitting Uitlanders to burgher franchise, and the greater their numbers
and influence of wealth the more would they be viewed as an innovating
menace and their admittance to political equality be resisted.
Upon newly occupied farms a Boer will always seek to locate one or more
squatters of his own nation upon allotments ultimately intended for the
occupation of some of his own children as soon as they are grown up. The
usual conditions for privileges of residence, grazing, and cultivation
are that the squatter builds a dwelling and does all the other permanent
improvements at his own cost, that he accounts to the owner for half or
one-third of all products raised, and that he and his family should
render services whenever required. When the squatter acquires land of
his own he will in turn adopt similar feudal methods to get it improved
and to obtain services without expense. Should the conditions accorded
to the squatter result in advantages which prove any way lucrative to
him, the owner would in nine cases out of ten immediately impose more
exacting conditions, upon the plea of making provision for his own
children. Such dependants are otherwise treated with familiar equality,
as are also other white employees, and are admitted at the common table
like any of the family, but below the salt.
To acquire farms is a Boer's greatest ambition. The love of land is his
special passion, so that his children also may be independent owners of
farms. Formerly such land acquisitions were made by encroachments upon
the possessions of natives or by purchases from them and by barter, and
failing those means, by conquest. Since 1885, however, the stipulations
in connection with the Anglo-Swaziland settlement effectually barred
expansion and encroachments in any direction. The Boers resent this
check as an exceedingly sore point. There is not enough land for the
sons who have since grown up. These cannot possibly compete with the
educated Hollanders in quest of good positions, nor are they taught any
handicrafts, and the galling prospect is inevitable that they will have
to content themselves with very humble stations in life, dependent even
upon the more prosperous Uitlanders. No wonder these Boers fell an easy
prey to the seductions and deceptive fallacies of the Afrikaner Bond
doctrine of conquest, for dispossessing England of her Colonies, and to
resume a free hand for expansion northwards as well.
In connection with the stated inadequacy of spare land it is well to
note that, of the two Republics, the Transvaal only possesses
undeveloped Government reserve land. This is all situated in more or
less low-lying and fever-stricken parts, large tracts being absolutely
uninhabitable for that reason, especially in summer. Some of the rest is
occupied on terms of lease by burghers, and has up to the present
afforded scope for some of the less aspiring class. About one-quarter of
the aggregate Transvaal farms are owned by Uitlander individuals or by
companies who are mostly English. But the bulk of the land owned by
burghers in both States has gradually become cut up by the process of
succession into holdings so small as to admit of hardly any further
division. There are, of course, numerous exceptions of wealthy farmers
who can still bequeath to each of their sons a whole farm of 6,000
acres, or half a farm. In the face of these restrictive circumstances a
scheme has been in preparation during the past years, promoted by the
Bond coterie in Holland and the Governments of the two Republics, to
effect a large emigration from Holland to those States. A company has
thus been formed, called "Nederlandsche Emigratie Maatschappy voor
Transvaal en Oranje Vry Staat." The prospectus describes the objects as
agricultural, pastoral, and industrial, but, as "members," only such are
invited as are disposed to join hands with the Boer cause. That scheme
came into operation before the outbreak of the war. What else does it
reveal but a thinly veiled recruiting device for auxiliaries against
What has been said about the ignorance and illiteracy of the Boers may
be admitted to apply to the great majority of the grown-up and of the
more maturely aged population; those of youthful age have of late years
had the benefit of a better education than had before been possible to
provide. But the great drawback consists in the still very imperfect
knowledge of High Dutch, and it will take many years yet before a more
general proficiency in that language will qualify the youth for more
than purely elementary studies. There are numerous exceptions, however,
of very creditably educated Boers, whose parents have been able to get
them taught at Colonial schools, such as the Stellenbosch seminary, and
even in Holland. Besides this, there are the children and grandchildren
of the many educated Hollanders who have continued to stream into the
Republics since 1854, and who had the advantage of learning High Dutch
from their parents. Those, as a rule, bestowed great attention to their
children's education, and in many cases sent them to Holland to complete
their studies. The greatest factor of the educated Dutch element in
South Africa consists of the mass of Hollanders itself, who have made
their way to the Republics, and especially to the Transvaal, during the
past eighteen years, among whom are many of highest European
attainments, so that altogether a big muster is made up of
well-instructed people, comparing well enough with other nations, and
ample to meet all the exigencies of the two rapidly developing
Republics. This educated contingent is being continuously supplemented
by like arrivals from Holland, including eminent technical experts and
scientists. It is a well-known feature that many chief posts of the
administration are filled by aged, uneducated burghers who are
altogether without the qualification required for the exercise of their
function, but this drawback is effectually remedied by the expedient of
providing proficient Hollanders as working adjuncts and secretaries, in
which manner all the branches of the administration are nevertheless
efficiently and most creditably served. Hundreds of young Boers are
admitted as supernumeraries into the various offices to prepare them for
responsible positions later on.
Dundee Secret Dossier
The greatest stir was made upon the discovery of secret documents left
behind by the British military at the hurried evacuation of Dundee
It was made public that those documents contained all the details of a
plan of invading the Orange Free State, and that it furnished most
incontestable proofs of British designs as early as 1896 against the
independence of both Republics. It was promised to publish those
details, but this has not yet been done. It appears, however, that no
incriminating details exist. Nevertheless, the matter has been made to
serve calumniating reports on a considerable scale in the pro-Boer Press
abroad, declaring that those documents conveyed absolute proofs of
England's perfidious intentions of attacking the Orange Free State
unawares, whilst all the time professing friendly relations and
undertaking to respect the complete integrity of the Republican status
of both States. What actually has transpired is that the whole thing was
a mare's nest, simply and nothing more than military information under
cover marked "secret," giving topographical and other details upon the
Orange Free State--a proceeding which is carried out by all military
authorities of any pretensions to prudent activity in the information
department, and no more construable into actual hostile intentions than
are other geographical surveys for general instructions or for school
The incident again shows the absence of tangible grounds for accusations
against England when a foolish invention as the one cited must do duty
for such, and to rekindle race hatred.
The interest and the manipulation devoted to that fabrication by the
pro-Boer Press have, however, scored another success to Bond propaganda
in fixing the belief with Boer partisans, of England's really
predetermined designs to annex both Republics. Every Boer has since been
more than ever so persuaded, the conviction fanning the fervour of
patriotism and stimulating his eagerness to resist the would-be
ravishers of his country.
Considering, on the other hand, that the English Government had known
much about the Afrikaner Bond menace, it is singular that precautionary
measures had halted with that bare effort of making military
observations. The only way to account for this apparent lethargic
inaction is the assumption that a persevering patience and friendly
attitude was expected in time to effectually dissipate all trouble in
South Africa, and that a display of anxiety or of force would have
frustrated such peaceable tactics. In refutation of the aspersion
against England, it may be sufficient to point to the fact that during
those very years (1896-7) both Republics were in a condition of complete
helplessness through the rinderpest scourge which was then raging. If
any hostile designs had in reality existed they could have been carried
out with utmost ease then, as that scourge presented no obstacle to
England. But it was the programme of peace which was pursued as
undeviatingly then as since, with a constancy which refused to be
Pamphlet entitled _A Hundred Years of Injustice_
A mass of so-called proof against England of her guilt in provoking the
present war and justifying the Boer attitude was presented to the public
in South Africa and abroad in November last in the shape of a voluminous
pamphlet entitled _A Hundred Years of Injustice_ (published both in
English and Dutch, and later even translated into French). That
production covers Boer history and its troubles with England up to 1881.
It then travels over the diplomatic appeals of the Transvaal delegation,
which resulted in the renewed convention of 1884. Then it wades through
all the mire of academic squabble _re_ suzerainty, etc. After exhausting
the Jameson episode with bitter invective, and seeking applause for the
Transvaal Government for its professed desire to conciliate and to
propitiate England by the offer of a seven years' franchise, the reader
is, in conclusion, 'treated to a literary display of pyrotechnic
denunciations and prophetic burdens against wicked Albion, with appeals
to divine justice for righting the cause of an innocent nation so foully
driven to a war of pure self-defence.
Lest he be taken unawares the reader of that pamphlet would do well to
note the significant fact in connection with those preferred accusations
and aspersions that not a single act construable to the prejudice of
England is adduced dating after the Anglo-Transvaal peace of 1881, that
peace which had been mutually understood to close up all by-gones. But
the recriminations all revert to previous history, nothing having
occurred since 1881 to form real grounds for accusations. There had, on
the contrary, been an exhibition of unwearied friendly endeavours on the
part of Great Britain to maintain loyal peace with an ever-shifty and
truculent Government, and to induce it to desist from scandalous
intrigue against imperial interests in South Africa, and to adopt a more
rational attitude towards Uitlanders, which in itself would have
precluded troubles like that of the Johannesburg revolt and the Jameson
The doctrines of the Afrikaner Bond coterie have been so assiduously and
deeply instilled into the Boer mind that demonstrations are utterly
futile in shaking the national conviction of the divinely approved
justice of his cause. The first occasion when I saw this illustrated,
and also the people's unreasoning adherence to their leaders' opinions,
happened about ten years ago at burgher meetings which had been convened
to discuss the then projected law for restraining Uitlanders from
admission to Transvaal franchise and other political topics.
An old Free State burgher was led then and subsequently to express his
views upon the subject in about the following strain: "It is our duty to
guard our nation against being swamped out or supplanted by strangers;
they are in great force already, and their number will constantly
increase, yet what attracts them, as you know, is our gold. That will
give out eventually, when the majority will again depart. Those
strangers, who then elect to remain with us, might be admitted to full
burgher rights. In the meantime it behoves us to reserve the full
franchise, nor will many aspire to it if they are only treated well as
strangers should be, as we should wish to be treated if we were in their
place. This is what they expect from us, and it can well be done without
giving full franchise, which they indeed do not need and will then not
claim. They will be content if their own interests are not hampered or
interfered with, and will be satisfied with such rights and privileges
as are reasonably due to guests, and we may say welcome guests (for it
is plain that the land is also largely benefited by their presence). In
other respects let us support law and order to suppress evil, which they
desire as well as we do.
"Does the Bible not say, 'The Lord loveth the stranger?' so also then
must we; and again, 'Thou shalt not devise mischief against the stranger
who dwelleth in peace with thee.' We are reputed as a God-fearing
people. Is it not well that we should take great care to act in
accordance? But I have observed with shame that instead of love and
peace a spirit of hatred and strife has been allowed to gain upon us.
Let us strive to expel that evil, lest we fall under God's displeasure
and forfeit His favour. We cannot afford to lose that."
At this stage the speaker was interrupted by violent remarks about
England's incurable perfidy and the like, when he added, prolonging his
speech more than he had probably intended: "Yes, we may not trust
England, but what we must do is to trust in God. Did God not pull us
through all along? was it not He who provided the peace of 1881 which
restored our independence? And can that gracious Lord, if we only let
Him act, not also protect us against any wiles and dangers if such
should occur in the future? As yet none such have arisen. The Lord was
with us in our battles for liberty; He was equally present and prompted
the sense and conditions of that very convention of 1881, which the
people were subsequently dissatisfied with and in their own wisdom
sacrificed for that of 1884. It is just possible that that presumptuous
act of wanting to improve upon the Lord's work will result in trouble
and prove to our sorrow that we have simply tampered and tinkered with a
good thing and spoilt it to our hurt.
"'Thou shalt not provoke thy children to wrath lest they be discouraged
and be tempted to do evil,' applies specially also to the duties of
Governments. Our rulers need wisdom in this direction, and will be
responsible if our strangers are subjected to unfair laws. The older
people here will call to mind, when the old voortrekkers were obliged to
go hundreds of miles, as far as Pietermaritzburg, for their supplies,
that we prayed for shopkeepers in our land so that we might be spared
those long journeys. What was done soon after we had attracted strangers
to establish businesses with us? We were seduced to deliberately attempt
their ruin by starting those _nationale Boerenwinkels_ (national Boer
stores), supported by our own capital, but governed by Hollanders who
eventually squandered our money. Was that dealing fairly by confiding
strangers? Later on, again in response to our prayers, we got railways;
skilled men and much capital from foreign countries, first to prospect
for gold and then to develop and exploit the mines. Their labour and
hard-earned money were risked when the return was still problematic.
Shall we begrudge them their successes now, seeing that our whole land
is equally enriched at the same time, and but for them and their
enterprise the gold would still be lying uselessly hidden in the depths
of the ground? There are now, in 1890, over 100,000 such strangers in
the land, and probably over 200 millions capital invested. Shall they be
treated in a manner to justify the accusation that they were inveigled
into our land with the object of despoiling them afterwards after the
style of 'Come into my parlour, says the spider to the fly'? These
people count upon our honest friendship, especially the many English
among them who ground that confidence upon the honourable peace accorded
us in 1881. Shall we deceive them? May we hate them for old questions
which that peace was intended to bury for ever? Think of the Lord's
dealings with our people--poor, wandering, and despised at first. He had
blessings in store for the tried voortrekkers and their children. 'The
beggar was raised from the dunghill [_asch-hoop, i.e._, ash-heap, was
the word he used] to sit with princes'--'a table laid for us in the
sight of our enemies.' All this is literally fulfilled. Our President
and others representing us have been to Europe and sat with princes, and
we have a country full of riches enough to make any enemy to rage with
jealousy at the sight. Who else but the devil is that enemy? It is he
who persecuted our Dutch and Huguenot ancestors for their faith, and is
pursuing us since. It is he and his army that rage the most at our
unexampled blessings. It is he who wants us to forfeit them all and the
Lord's favour as well. It emanates from the evil one that so many among
us are seduced into wicked political plans to subvert authority
installed by God, to incite our brethren to sedition in the Colonies,
wanting to dispossess the English. For the Queen's Government there is
as much from God as are the authorities over us here and in the Orange
Free State.
"God saith by Solomon (Prov. xxiv. 21-22): 'My son, fear thou the Lord
and the king; and meddle not with them that are given to change: for
their calamity shall rise suddenly; and who knoweth the destruction of
them both?'" and he finally warned them of the risk they incurred, after
having been advanced and blessed in an unexampled way, of being flung
back to their previous ignoble position upon the ash heap. There are
plenty of respectable Boers in whose ears those expressions still
The man, who is no speaker, was, nevertheless, apt to grow warm and
impressive, drawn out probably by interruptions and opposing views. The
speeches terminated on one occasion by one of the party saying in
violent Bond fashion: "The English hired the Zulus to massacre our
people. They robbed us of Natal, and drove us from the Colonies. There
can be no peace with them until we have our own. God helps them who help
themselves. Whoever takes their part is against us and against every
true Afrikaner."
As is known, the conference between Sir Alfred Milner and President
Krüger, assisted by President Steyn, took place at Bloemfontein during
the first days of June last (1899), and resulted in the refusal to a
demand of a five years' franchise made on behalf of the Transvaal
Uitlanders, which refusal was some time later modified by enacting a law
admitting them to full burgher rights after a probation of seven years,
but coupled with restrictive forms and conditions which made that
measure unacceptable. Some time before that conference the old Free
Stater already mentioned obtained several prolonged interviews with the
hon. State Secretary Reitz, at Pretoria, with the object of dissuading
the Transvaal Government from conferring with Sir Alfred Milner while as
yet no sufficient friendly _rapprochement_ had been reached and no
advance had been made as to mutually approved bases upon which to
confer. He strongly deprecated the idea of granting "full" burgher
rights to Uitlanders, but held that their needs and wishes could be met
by allowing their interests to be amply represented without impinging
upon the special privileges which should be reserved for the burgher
status proper. He was finally invited by Mr. Reitz to submit his scheme
in writing, with the promise that it should receive careful
consideration. That old Free Stater complied, and supplied President
Krüger with a duplicate separately as well. The scheme ran in substance
as follows:
"_Modus vivendi_"
The population of the Transvaal to be divided into two classes, pending
the continued presence of the large floating portion consisting of
Uitlanders who derive their subsistence from the mining industries,
1st Class.--The fixed or burgher estate.
2nd Class.--The floating or alien estate or Guests.
The 1st Volksraad to be elected by burghers only, and to represent the
highest legislative and administrative powers.
The 2nd Volksraad to be elected by Uitlanders and burghers, and to be
vested with all such reasonable legislative powers as will cover the
domestic, industrial, and vocative interests of both burghers and
The Uitlander franchise shall be limited to representation in the 2nd
Volksraad, and be extended under usual fair conditions of eligibility to
all white persons after two years' residence, retrospectively reckoned.
Aliens may be admitted to full burgher rights and vote for 1st
Volksraad, President, and Commandant-General, after five years'
residence, if approved of by two-thirds of the burghers of his ward,
possesses landed property to the value of £1,000, and has not been
convicted here or elsewhere of any degrading crime.
Members of both Volksraads and for public service shall be eligible
without respect of creed.
The exploitation of mines shall be subject to a tax of 25 per cent.,
reckoned upon the yearly net profits, such revenue to be applied at the
discretion of the 1st Volksraad solely for the benefit of the burgher
estate--schools, hospitals, universities, pensions, by means of
permanent endowments.
The Government of the Transvaal undertakes:--
1. There shall be no identification or co-operation permitted, on the
part of any of the Transvaal people, with the association known as the
Afrikaner Bond, or any such-like political complot.
2. The recognition of British paramountcy over South Africa, including
the Transvaal, in so far as it does not clash with the intentions and
provisions set forth in the conventions of 1881 and 1884, and does not
extend to interference with or curtailment of complete internal
3. Renunciation of indemnity claim _re_ Jameson incursion.
4. To regulate the question of coloured British subjects resident in the
Transvaal upon a genial basis, irrespective of the Bloemfontein
arbitration award upon that subject.
5. Poll and war taxes shall be abolished.
6. Dual rights equal with the Dutch language shall be accorded to the
English language, similarly as is done in the Cape Colony for Dutch.
7. The railways and dynamite factory to be expropriated as soon as
possible--the loans required thereto to be amortized within twenty
years, and pending those expropriations the freights upon coal and
oversea goods shall be reduced 10 per cent, and the price of explosives
20s. per case, these reductions to be met from the revenue accruing to
the burgher estate from the tax upon mining profits.
8. To join a general Customs union upon equitable conditions.
9. Restore the High Court to independent power in terms of constitution.
The sequel has shown that Bond counsels prevailed over the suggestions
of that old Free Stater. As to the seven years' franchise offered under
the pretence and colour of meeting Sir Alfred Milner's demand, it had
clearly been intended to serve as a decoy and stop-gap pending the
contemplated war of conquest, and to mask Bond duplicity while further
preparations were to be completed in diplomacy abroad and in the
seditious conspiracy in the Colonies. Natal was at that time swarming
with Boer emissaries, and Transvaal artillery officers with Hollander
engineers in disguise were seen inspecting Laing's Nek tunnel and other
strategic points in that colony.
Not knowing at the time that State Secretary Reitz was an inveterate
Bondman, that old Free State patriot had roundly denounced to him the
wickedness of Bond aims, and added the remark that the establishment of
a united Boer Republic apart from British supremacy in South Africa was
a deceptive dream. England has a mission in Africa--that of the Boers
can only be subordinate to it. It would need the aid of a powerful
maritime combination to supplant England. The case of America does not
present an analogy; there England only was actually interested, but here
various other nations were concerned in their respective huge
investments. They would have a voice in the business. Armed intervention
would lead to a big European war and extreme misery to entire
Africa--just what the devil wants, but not the investor. Indiscriminate
franchise will cause the loss of national independence, and so might
ultimately cosmopolize and obliterate their distinctive nationality, but
so would also a war with England, with the total sacrifice of their
independence into the bargain. Let the Government rather prove to
England its sincere friendship and agree to deal well by the Uitlanders,
treating them as privileged guests, then the unhappy strain in relations
will cease. Above all, renounce that wicked Afrikaner Bond with its
motto of conquest. The demand for franchise is England's device of
self-protection against Bond designs. England will desist from that
demand if we renounce the Bond and prove our friendship.
That old Free Stater had moreover expressed his most earnest conviction
that a _modus vivendi_ upon the lines suggested would find ready
consideration as an alternative to the five years' franchise demand,
and that the British Government would hail with the utmost satisfaction
and relief any tentative towards a sound _rapprochement_ based upon the
contentment of the Boer people within the areas of their Republics and
which would terminate Bond aspirations for Boer supremacy in South
Africa. Had he been permitted, the old Free Stater would gladly have
called upon the British agent at Pretoria, Mr. Conyngham Greene, and
felt confident that the _modus vivendi_ would lead finally to a complete
cessation of British interference and to best relations and prosperous
conditions for all instead. He also cautioned the Government at
Pretoria, giving chapter and verse, against counting upon "the arm of
man." They would find they had trusted on reeds--it would be so in
regard to any foreign help, and even in regard to men of their own
nation in the Cape Colony.
During one of the interviews Mr. Reitz had remarked that he had a
special theory in regard to the situation; but it varied from that of
the President, who, in reality, was King, and whose will overcame all
Seeing that twenty years of patient, loyal endeavours and friendly
conciliatory proceedings following upon the rehabilitation of the
Transvaal independence had utterly failed in advancing the object of
uniting the English and Boer races, and that instead the existing gulf
was ever widening through the spread of those fell Afrikaner Bond
doctrines, it had become imperative, on the part of British statesmen,
to employ special efforts to overcome the serious menace hanging over
South Africa. The critical situation designedly brought about by the
action of the Transvaal Government and by the influence of the Bond
party indicated the remedy. A liberal franchise in favour of the
Uitlanders would at one stroke correct that evil, and counteract the
other impending danger as well. With a large accession of legitimized
voters working in accord with England's desire for peace and progress,
that good influence would be potent, first to shackle Bond action and
ultimately to reduce it to Colonial limits. The Transvaal would then no
longer be the giant ally, the arsenal, and the treasury of the Afrikaner
Bond, and that organisation would then be checkmated into impotence for
The success of such a remedial and defensive measure would naturally
depend upon the adequacy of the franchise aimed at. Mr. Chamberlain and
his colleagues were not a little sanguine in expecting that a five
years' qualification for voting and a representation equal to one-fifth
of the total number of seats in the Legislature would be effective for
all that which was needed; nor could it be averred that the Transvaal
burghers would be swamped out thereby.
The Bond chiefs did not fail to at once penetrate the object when the
demand for a five years' franchise was made, and in vain did Sir Alfred
display that firm attitude and exhaust his arguments at the historic
Bloemfontein conference. He had pointed out to President Krüger in a
rudimentary fashion which was no doubt convincing enough--that it was
incompatible with professions of concord and desire for peace while
persisting in excluding from representation a large majority of the
population accustomed to and expecting liberal treatment, and which,
moreover, held four-fifths of the wealth invested in the State. There
could be no other result than a dangerous tension and alienation from
the Government, instead of the peaceful co-operation so essential to
security and progress. In these days of advanced ideas of personal and
political liberty people will resist domination by a minority. They want
to be consulted, and to have at least the opportunity of making their
wishes known by means of representation. The right of petitioning could
not meet that need, and in fact implied the recognition of an inferior
status so repugnant to any one's sensibility. When people are ignored
they resent even light impositions and taxes, but if allowed a voice
will cheerfully submit to heavy burdens, because they then become, in a
manner, self-imposed. Representation is the panacea against popular
disaffection and for assuring governmental stability. To concede to
Uitlanders one-fifth of the seats in the Legislature could not operate
to the prejudice of burgher interests, but less would not meet the case.
It was, however, not President Krüger alone who had to decide--it
affected the Bond as a whole. The diplomatic contest so far proved just
the thing to ripen conditions for the meditated Bond _coup d'état_. An
alternative offer of a seven years' franchise was interposed as a mere
ruse. Never for a moment did the Afrikaner Bond leaders waver or quail
in the face of resolute firmness, display of force, or even of moral
pressure and notes of advice from imposing quarters, as Mr. Chamberlain
had at first still fondly hoped. To the Bond it had all resolved itself
to a mere question of time, of choosing the most opportune moment when
to assume the aggressive. British attitude had only hastened the issue.
Mr. Jan Hofmeyer had indeed been sent for from the Cape so as to assure
that section of the Bond of Transvaal firmness, but he found no sign of
flinching or of renouncing the common object laboured for so long and
then so near fruition. The only difficulty was that British action had
hastened the issue somewhat too fast. Hence the repeated hurried visits
of the Bond leaders--Jan Hofmeyer, Abraham Fisher, and others--the
frequent caucus meetings of the Executive in consultation with those
delegates, the secret midnight sessions of the combined Volksraads and
Executive, the prolonged telegraphic conferences between the two
Presidents, and the final resulting word of "ready" which preceded the
fatal war ultimatum. The Gordian knot had been in evidence many years
ago; it is now recognised with regret that England had deferred action
for cutting it much too long.
But why not agree to arbitration, it will be asked, that peaceable
method so strenuously appealed for by the Transvaal Government and
advocated by her partisans, to adjust all differences, of which the
suzerainty claim and the Uitlander question appeared to be the principal
ones? The reply is not that England was unwilling, but because the
Transvaal was insincere, and the request was a cover for shameless
duplicity, for, while it had been declared by the former that the claim
to suzerainty would be left in abeyance and that infractions of
convention which had been committed by the latter would be overlooked in
consideration of future friendly relations and co-operation, the
Transvaal Government in reality never for a moment meant to be content
with less than British overthrow and complete Boer supremacy in South
Africa, and efforts and intrigues were never relaxed, in concert with
the Bond, to compass those objects.
The promiscuous details and incidents, together with the circumstantial
and _primâ facie_ evidence thus far adduced in arraigning the Afrikaner
Bond combination, point mostly to conditions existent before the war
broke out. We had the smoke before the conflagration--it is a wonder how
people could manage to ignore the menace. Now the war torch is over us
in its full luridness.
Ordinary fires, if not kindled, originate either from accident,
spontaneous combustion, or incendiarism. With war the origin may be
traced to similar causes either singly or in combination, or, when we
cannot hit the exact diagnosis, we explain it with a handy word and call
it evolution, as we may do in the case of the present Anglo-Boer
We may for a moment review the material and then also the agencies and
incentives which operated that evolution against harmony and peace, and
to which the conflagration is due. We have noted the legal acquisition
of the Cape Colonies by Great Britain, the equally recognised occupation
under treaties with England of the two Boer Republics, the English and
Boer races in progress of friendly assimilation and in happy prosperity
all over South Africa. This was essentially the position in 1881, until
it became gradually marred by an invidious element. We have further
noted the declining condition of Holland, its moribund language, and
finally the prospects which South Africa presented for that nation's
restoration to powerful significance, the English factor only standing
in the way.
The next aspect brings out the marring manifestations: greed of land and
of conquest with the Pretoria-Bloemfontein combination; malignant
sedition in the Cape Colonies, urged by lust to participate more
directly in the wealth of gold and diamonds in the north and to share
general plunder--both categories of covetousness merged into one
purulent fester by men of conceited ambition, all cemented with
collusion, but the whole of it devised, engineered, and operated by the
most malignant agencies from Holland under the coaching of the evil one
The reader may be able to assess the degrees of guilt of each
category--of the Republican Boer aspirant for land, the Colonial Boer
rebel seeking his particular profit, the accomplices who for ambitious
ends lead the first two, and the insidious Hollander intriguers who
seduced and actuated all in order to seize the lion's share of the
To sum up, the respective rewards which lured them all are: Plunder for
the Boers and rebels, laurels and "fat" places for the Bond leaders, and
a substantial harvest for entire Holland, with pæans of praise for the
coterie and Dr. Leyds from a grateful people for successfully restoring
the good fortunes of the Dutch nation, and for effecting a retributive
vendetta upon England, all under world-wide, gloating acclaims of
gratified and vindictive jealousy.
The Hollander coterie may plead patriotism which pointed to the duty of
using the tempting opportunity presented in South Africa in saving
Holland from national submersion and political extinction by means of
the Boer nation, but against this stands the unparalleled vileness of
expedients and the treacherous deceptions employed to attain that
object. It involved the wholesale seduction of one section of that
nation into sedition and rebellion against a most beneficent and just
Government under which they prospered and enjoyed the highest
conceivable degree of liberty and even special privileges, and of
pitting the other section into hostility and war against a Power which
meant nothing else than peace and amity towards them, thus placing both
into a position of risk to forfeit all their prosperity, apart from the
inevitable horrors of a war evoked by their rapacious and murderous
Hollander malice.
The Bond scientists in Holland had fully persevered in their craftily
laid programme. After having succeeded in producing race hatred between
Boer and English, the next step had been to convince the Boer leaders
and the people of the inevitableness of a contest for ensuring the
supremacy of the Afrikaners, coupled with the absolute necessity of the
complete expulsion of the entire British element. As arguments were
adduced that the British element had proved itself unassimilable and
irreconcilable, its retention in South Africa would necessitate
continuous provisions to keep it in a state of subjection. The existence
of such conditions would be inconsistent and incompatible with the true
ideal liberty as intended for the whole of South Africa, and which must
be linked with all-round equality and fraternity. The presence of a
British factor would be an unsurmountable bar to that consummation,
hence the necessity of its total removal.
The Bond leaders are the next in guilt; with these the incentive is
principally ambition, which, by degrees, became mis-shaped into a
specious patriotism. It is known how an ardently desired object pursued
for a long period is apt to so monopolize and infatuate the mind as to
totally vitiate and pervert the sense of discernment between right and
wrong, both as to the legitimacy of the object and the means to be
employed for its attainment. As the realization remains deferred and the
efforts are increased, the object from being considered legitimate is by
degrees invested with merit, a halo of virtue is added to the aspect,
its pursuit is viewed as a duty by fair or by questionable means, the
end justifying the latter. All, it is said, is fair in love and warfare.
This diagnosis appears particularly applicable to President Krüger and
State Secretary F.W. Reitz, both men of sincere piety (perhaps also to
Mr. Schreiner), who would have abandoned their project and renounced and
repudiated the Afrikaner Bond if ever they had doubted its legitimacy of
principle. So also with most of the other Boer leaders and their clergy
too. The agencies must have been exceedingly subtle, and the jugglery
and artifice superhuman, to operate such processes of reasoning, such
deception and aberration in honest-minded and even godly persons.
As to the bulk of the Boer people, they are simply led by their chiefs
and superiors, in whom they repose unquestioning confidence. They go
unreasoningly with the stream of opinion under the firm belief that all
is divinely sanctioned, including rebellion and violence, and blindly
obey their call, considering their cause analogous to that of the Jews
of old, who were enjoined to spoil the Egyptians and then to pass over
and conquer their land of promise. No papal bull of indulgence ever
freed people's consciences more than the Boer people now feel in regard
to the warfare in which they are engaged.
The Boers in the Cape Colonies have been prospering in a marked degree
since the British accession in 1814, enjoying ideal liberty and good
government upon perfect equality with the English colonists.
The people of the Orange Free State fared equally well under best
relations with the British Government up to the outbreak of the present
In the Transvaal the Boers were more handicapped, being furthest removed
from profitable Cape connections, and having to cope with powerful
hostile tribes within their border. The most redoubtable, under
Secoecoenie, was subdued during the British occupation in 1878. Then
followed the short war of 1880, with the voluntary retrocession and
peace of January, 1881. All appeared to progress remarkably well for
about ten years after, until the irrational treatment by the Boers of
British subjects in the Transvaal furnished the first cause of
friction, and engendered at last the Johannesburg crisis with the
Jameson incursion, followed by four years' vain attempts on the part of
England to bring about satisfactory and peaceful relations.
The Afrikaner Bond had been inaugurated some thirty years ago, under the
mask of a constitutional organization, professing loyalty to England;
that body had succeeded in hiding its object, which was no less than the
expulsion from South Africa of all that is English, and which object was
brutally avowed since the outbreak of the war by declarations in the
Press and by incendiary speeches of Colonial Bond leaders and members of
the Cape Parliament.
The British Government did not view very seriously the information it
received regarding the Bond menace until the definite action of the
Transvaal Government partially opened its eyes prior to the Johannesburg
revolt. The hope was, however, still clung to in an undefined way that
patience and forbearance would yet overcome Boer prejudice and disperse
racial antipathies, and with characteristic self-confidence as well,
things were allowed to drift rather out of hand.
The two Republics had been _de facto_ allied some time before the
Johannesburg crisis in 1895. Both were then already provided with very
abundant armaments of up-to-date types, with equipments and preparations
far and away above any conceivable needs except indeed for a _coup
d'état_ against British supremacy and to sustain a Colonial revolt.
On the occasion of the Jameson incursion the Orange Free State promptly
appeared near the scene with best equipped mounted Boer commandoes and
artillery to assist the Transvaal if needed.
Before 1881 and some time subsequently there had been continued progress
towards the assimilation of the English and Boer races in South Africa.
This was marred by Afrikaner Bond doctrines and intrigues proceeding
from a Hollander coterie, the formula being "Afrika voor de
Afrikaners"--the aims including the usurpation of British authority in
the Colonies, supremacy of the Boer nation under one great Republican
federation, and an affiliated status with Holland which should restore
that people, all to the prejudice of England, to a political and
economic significance and power surpassing its former epoch of European
and Colonial eminence. As to the incentives to the Boer nation, these
were principally the plunder of capital investments and land conquests,
which the people had learnt to consider legitimate and in fact
incumbent as a duty to themselves and descendants.
The means employed in that conspiracy were a subtle, so to say, occult
propaganda to seduce a simple people to false convictions, to induce the
creation of gigantic armaments, a secret service employing at a vast
cost journalism, emissaries, and agencies, to gain partisans and allies
outside South Africa, the Transvaal mint to coin the sinews of war from
the appropriation of the mines and their output, the dynamite factory
(that Bond corner-stone for manufacturing ammunition[11]), a system of
immigration from Holland towards supplanting the English factor and to
introduce auxiliaries. Other such means were: laws for admitting
auxiliaries to immediate full burgher rights and privilege to carry
arms, from which Uitlanders were rigorously excluded, the rabid campaign
proscribing the English language and fostering High Dutch instead (which
was much less understood by the entire Boer people, and much harder for
them to learn than English). To the above list of devices came the
exhaustive efforts to obtain an independent seaport for the Transvaal,
first at St. Lucia Bay, then at Delagoa Bay (ostensibly with a German
syndicate, and since by subsidizing Portugal or suborning Portuguese
notables and officials).
The climax of duplicity is reached when it is averred that the pursuit
of such an organized programme during the past twenty years and more had
meant peace only, never a thought of conquest, as Ambassador Leyds so
innocently declared after failing to gain abroad the hoped-for support
for the monstrous Bond enormity.
The Afrikaner Bond leaders would have preferred the war to have been
deferred a little longer--preferably to a moment when England might be
embroiled elsewhere. It was also thought of importance that the
Transvaal should first realize the auriferous "underground rights"
situated around the Johannesburg mines, which Government asset was
expected to net at least fifty million pounds sterling. The sales had
already been advertised, and were in preparation when the outbreak of
the war intervened. Upon the word "ready," flashed from Bloemfontein,
followed at once the fateful Pretoria ultimatum. The proceeds of those
underground rights must now come in afterwards to defray the war bill.
[Footnote 11: President Krüger's reference to that factory is well
known, styling it as one of the corner-stones of Boer independence.]
Boer views regarding coloured peoples are those retained from Dutch
practices of a hundred and more years ago, when the Cape of Good Hope
still belonged to that nation. Servitude, if not absolute slavery, was
then generally recognised as the proper status for coloured aborigines,
and that principle of differentiation continues to be upheld and applied
in a modified form, it must be admitted, in all the Colonial possessions
of Holland. The authority for this stand is sought from ancient biblical
history, where the descendants of Ham appear marked out for servitude,
and from that basis it is interpreted that people so marked are not
designed for tuition or evangelization until after they have been
subjugated. According to such a doctrine the injunction to preach the
Gospel to every creature would be limited to civilized whites, and might
only be extended to such coloured peoples who have been fitted, as is
said, for the reception of the Christian faith by being placed under
the subserviency of whites, as their sponsors if not their actual
masters, and requiring mundane tuition and education as essential bases
to precede conversion.
For the refutation of such monstrous doctrines it may be urged that,
according to Scripture, savage as well as cultured peoples have a
consciousness of guilt towards the Divine Judge. The object of the
Gospel is to end the history of the culprit as such and to place him
upon a new standing--"the wind bloweth as it listeth": a new birth
operated by the acceptance of the Gospel proclamation addressed to every
creature, black as well as white. Growth and moral amendment properly
"follow" that spiritual birth; neither is conceivable before, except
purely human education, which is incapable of effecting a change, and in
fact tends only to fortify the natural man in his implacable hostility
against the newly implanted element, each lusting against the other.[12]
History records how the Spanish and other early explorers operated with
the aborigines in the regions discovered by them. The territories with
their inhabitants were declared possessions accruing to their respective
sovereigns, whose main policy was the exploitation of all the wealth
possible. The aborigines were dispossessed, treated as conquered
peoples, and forced to do the exploiting labour. No other results could
follow than the gradual diminution and final exhaustion of all the
wealth and the partial, if not total, extinction of the aboriginal
What retribution overtook those nations is also on record. Those
enslaved peoples were forced to accept the religion of their conquerors.
Can true converts be made to order by constraint, motives of
self-interest, or by baptizing them _en bloc_? What else but deepest
aversion and mistrust could a religion inspire which is professed and
taught by a people who practise spoliation, murder, and other
descriptions of wickedness abhorrent even to a savage mind? The
aborigines would daily behold their own land and possessions enjoyed by
usurpers and "would be teachers," who subjected them besides to slavery
and abject misery. Could the religion of such teachers ever find favour
with their victims? How could doctrines of righteousness and love be
understood when so glaringly violated by their preceptors?
It presents a sad paradox to see that the Boers, who are in many
respects consistently religious and even exemplary, could uphold
principles which place coloured people out of caste, not only in regard
to political rights but also as to the common religious standing before
the Creator. It would be unjust to charge the Boers with actually
barbarous practices towards the natives--what they do enforce is their
submission to the condition of servants.
The Boer people ever chafed against the restraining action of the
British Government as to their practice of slavery, and they have not
hesitated either to exhibit their hostility to missionary enterprise.
The confiscation of Protestant mission sites in the Orange Free State is
one of the instances; another was exemplified in a raid perpetrated
about forty years ago by the Transvaal Boers upon the inoffensive
Bechuana tribe, whose chief and many of his people had accepted the
Christian faith through the teaching of Moffat, David Livingstone, and
other evangelists. The pretext for that raid was a lying report that
that Bechuana chief had bartered some 400 guns from traders to fight the
Boers with. The Boers sent an ultimatum requiring the surrender of
those weapons. Despite the protestation of the chief and his people that
not more than eight guns had been bartered for hunting, which had later
proved true, a commando was sent against them under Commandant Paul
Krüger, now President Krüger. Many of the natives were slain, their
villages burnt, their cattle seized, and great numbers of the tribe
taken captive for distribution as servants among the Boer farmers in the
Transvaal. That raid was further signalized by the total destruction of
Moffat's mission station--church, school buildings, and industrial
shops. These, after being looted, were all consigned to the flames, as
also the missionary dwellings, among which was that of David
Livingstone, with his furniture, books, and belongings. There are
abundant records, besides that of the Bechuana nation, that barbarous
and idolatrous peoples are amenable to Christianity without the prior
influences of civilization or individual education, or that they should
be subjugated first, as the Boers would have it. What indeed is of
immense aid for moral and economic advancement is the operation of
civilized and liberal governmental authority, repressing slavery, under
which proprietary rights and justice are equally afforded to black and
white, and where the Gospel might have a free course without constraint
and without inducements of material advantages.
It seemed that such conditions were on the eve of eventuating for the
rescue and disenthralment of darkest Africa. This is what Moffat,
Livingstone, Coillard, and many other devoted servants of the Gospel had
prayed for all their lives, what has been and still is the burden of the
prayers (no doubt all inspired) of millions of Christians. The interior
is no more a blank on the map. Much is done for the suppression of
slavery. The whole continent is parcelled out among different nations,
who have assumed the task of civilizing their respective spheres. The
world's energy and capital stand available for the object, and it
appeared that many souls were being seriously aroused to the
responsibility of obeying the charge pronounced in Ezekiel xxxiii. 1-11.
But sinister influences have not failed in attempts to bar beneficent
dispensations. We have seen fanaticism resulting in the fierce revolt of
Mahdism in the north, and are now awaiting the issue of the war brought
on by Afrikaner Bondism in the south.
[Footnote 12: Another has aptly illustrated the change by comparing such
a man's new condition to a hotel that has come under totally different
and perfectly new management and controlling proprietorship.]
Until the earlier parts of this nineteenth century England has been
conspicuous among other nations in tolerating slavery in some of her
possessions, and in permitting her people to engage in systematic
man-hunts, with the accompanying atrocities and horrors of a regular
slave trade. Manifestations of national abhorrence and condemnation of
that inhuman traffic and of slavery in general appeared during the first
quarter of this century. The nation hid its shame and contrition in acts
towards remedying its share of the evil committed. These took the shape
of expending some twenty million pounds sterling towards the
emancipation of slaves and various other costly measures to repress the
trade in human beings, and in proclaiming personal freedom for all
slaves in her dominions. The desire to do justice to coloured races was
further exemplified in the adoption, dating some fifty years back, of a
totally altered colonial and native policy. Up to then the practice
with all colonizing Powers had been to utilize their foreign dominions
as preserves for financial exploitation, involving the most crying
injustice to aborigines. The departure then effected consisted in a
policy of just laws instead, directed to ensure to those people
equitable treatment and a recognition of their rights to fixed property
and to a position before the law equal with that of white inhabitants.
The revenues produced by the Colonies were thenceforward all to be
devoted to the advancement of their own local prosperity. Free trade
followed that _régime_ of liberty and equity, and, as intended, such
Colonial dominions began to partake of the character and were
constituted off-shoots of the mother country, with a like status of
liberty and enjoying the benefit of British protection at the same time.
Many were the auguries that the experiment would result in political and
economic failure, but the good results to all concerned proved to be so
far-reaching as to startle even its most sanguine advocates. The
extension of privileges and rights operated upon the natives as a
magical incentive to labour and emulation for the improvement of their
economic condition; people who had before preferred an indolent,
semi-nomadic existence betook themselves more to agricultural and
sedentary habits, living in much greater comfort and steadily increasing
in wealth.
Civilization went on apace, and with it the moral improvement of the
aborigines, paving the way as well for the spread of Christianity. All
this was accompanied with an immense and ever-advancing expansion of
trade with England and the recognition of British prestige as a
successful colonizing power.
Numerous other principalities courted the privilege of coming under the
ægis of the English flag, their potentates and people readily submitting
to the abolition of practices which were not in accord with humane and
civilized usages and eager to share the benefits and advancement of
civilization which were enjoyed under British rule. In not a few
instances it was, however, not feasible to extend the protectorate so
While other nations were engaged in wars during the past half-century,
England had opportunities to largely expand and consolidate her Colonial
dominions. At the same time British trade, industries and shipping
advanced with gigantic strides, and that nation has since gained the
foremost rank as a commercial and Colonial empire, governing over the
choicest portions of the globe some four hundred millions of loyal and
contented subjects, who enjoy liberty and a degree of prosperity
unequalled elsewhere as yet, the whole being protected by a navy which
constitutes England as champion on sea as well.
All this national success and example of liberal government have had a
salutary influence upon the rest of the world in evoking wholesome
competition and emulation. But another and very untoward effect is that
widespread and deep-rooted envy and jealousy have also been aroused,
which on occasion are apt to develop into pretexts for actual hostility,
or hostile partisanship as is now the case.
What signalises the beneficent reign of Queen Victoria more than
anything else is the peculiarly devoted manner in which that august lady
has personally acquitted herself of her duty and responsibility in
regard to the elevation and rehabilitation of the hitherto socially
enslaved condition of womanhood in her Indian empire; for it is well
known how the philosophic religions of the East have been subtly adapted
for establishing the political and social pre-eminence of certain
classes of a population over its majority, at the same time dooming
womanhood generally to the lowest rank of drudges, perpetual contempt
and ignorance, refusing them education (as had been done in the case of
the Roman slaves)--specially despised if without a husband, and if a
widow, immolated at last upon her husband's funeral pyre.
Step by step, by means of strenuous and disinterested exertions,
employing prestige and encouragements, by legislation and otherwise, a
breach was effected which bids fair to break down that caste-fenced and
chained thraldom, and to raise over a hundred millions of her humble
subject sisters from unnatural degradation to occupy the honourable and
responsible rank assigned by the Creator to woman as man's social help,
meet for him, and to whom honour is due as to the weaker vessel.
Millions of women have already found emancipation and recognition of
their right position, to man's reciprocal joy and to the felicity of
their families. Their sons and daughters in turn now form armies to
complete the mission of liberty so zealously inaugurated by their
beloved Empress, their own peculiar star of India.
Maybe this and similar earnests evinced during that noble Queen's reign,
among which the shelter afforded to the Jewish people, will come into
remembrance in mitigation of visitations deserved by the nation for its
previous complicity in the hideous traffic in African souls of men.
It throws a light upon the credulity and simplicity of the bulk of the
poor deluded peasant Boers when, in the face of most genial rule and
almost an excess of liberty and privileges, Bond artifice could succeed
in conjuring up contrary notions, and to poison them into the monstrous
belief that they, the Boers, were an oppressed people, whose downfall
was designed by rapacious England, and that no other remedy existed for
preserving independence, religion and homes than to expel that wicked
English people from African soil. This is, then, what Bond artifice
effected in the absence of actual cause and in order to dissimulate its
own nefarious objects. It was the work of twenty years' sedulously
applied deception and calumnious machinations.
The Hollander coterie has at last succeeded in its ardently desired
purpose of pitting the Boer nation against England, and to bring about
the present war. What is even more astounding is the success of those
villainous artificers upon intelligent partisans of the Boer cause
outside of Africa and in England even.
Will it be considered the mere fancy of enthusiasts, which admits the
thought of occult forces of a sinister kind set in array to overturn
beneficent dispensations, that the evil one, the father of lies, has
been active in all this marring of peace? Had that personage or evil
principle, if this term is more acceptable, not scored with his
malignant skill of deception 6,000 years ago, and been walking up and
down his domain ever since, intent upon undoing redemptive provisions
and counteracting all endeavours to ameliorate the miseries of humanity?
His malice would seem discernible against the Boer nation, the people
who continued in the simple faith which had been kept by their ancestors
despite the persecutions heaped upon them in France and by the oppressor
of Holland; he must have viewed with growing rage the designs of a
gracious Providence surrounding that very people with the blessings of
security and peace and accumulations of unparalleled riches, all
construable as in compensation for the sacrifices so willingly submitted
to by their forefathers and for their own fidelity to the faith. Would
he tamely brook that--and not bend on all his artifices to reverse those
provisions and to divert those rich dispensations in favour of his own
devotees instead, or else rather cause them to be devoured by wasting
war? He has so far succeeded in instigating the Boer nation to acts
which involve the forfeiture of their special heirlooms. He would also
thwart the programme of the world's nations for the civilization of
Central Africa, and would gratify his malice against the people to whom
is largely attributable the spread of governmental principles of equity
and liberty. He would seek to stamp with failure those hitherto
successful and self-rewarding methods, and so strike an effective blow
against their further adoption as being goody-goody, weak and
We see civilized humanity congested with over-population, excess of
energy and of production and suffering from a plethora of capital, the
entire condition rife on the one hand with prodigal waste and on the
other fraught with the cruel want of toiling and jostling millions
vainly fighting for space and the most modest means of
existence--conditions which presage an inevitable and universal crash
unless checked by a Malthusian or else by a beneficent and humane
remedy. We know the right remedy for at least staving off the impending
universal crisis lies in the manifold opportunities of creating outlets.
These exist to the full in the vast fallow regions of Africa, and in the
scope for industries and commerce in Asia and elsewhere. Each
well-devised colonizing scheme, every railway built, and every other new
investment would afford improved employment and relieve the general
strain; every true convert gained by the spread of Christianity would
become an obedient and reliable unit towards the menaced stability of
authorized Governments. We see capital impelled to vast enterprises, as
it were by secret forces;[13] we are aware of the activity of nations
singly and in co-operation in promoting and sustaining such projects.
All those efforts and outlets would serve as safety-valves for the
discontent of the ill-provided masses, and their success would render
them governable at a lesser cost, and even admit the reduction of
standing armies and other objects treated by the recent Peace Conference
at the Hague. The essential thing, indeed, is peace, and that in turn
would consolidate security and progress. But the enemy is interested
exactly the other way. His ascendancy is coincident, not with the
mitigation of the conditions of human existence, but in accentuating the
misery of the masses, driving them to desperation and to embrace illogic
and deceptive maxims of socialism and violent anarchy. It is with those
forces that he intends to uproot and usurp divinely instituted authority
expressly set up to repress evil and to protect person and property. He
wants by licence and not liberty to hasten the advent of that murderous
political power prophetically depicted with the statue standing upon
feet of clay and iron: supreme authority vested in the world's
proletariat in unstable and uncohesive union with militarism, Satan
himself the actual lawless animator.[14] As to the scope for outlets in
the East, it is more restricted to industries and commerce, but those
enterprises, however brilliantly promising, are fraught with the risks
incidental to hostile rivalries and political complications, while in
Africa the openings are at least as vast and inviting immigration on a
huge scale as well, but all with much greater security, inasmuch as the
spheres of operation are definitely apportioned to various nations, and
where in the nature of things the success of each would be promoted by
joint-solidarity, and thus afford a guarantee for the peaceable and
prosperous development of the whole continent. Our common enemy would
fain frustrate it all with his Afrikaner Bond device, and then finally
gloat over the accomplished ruin of his deluded Boer victims.
Africa has for some thousands of years been the enemy's favourite and
undisturbed haunt for his gory orgies, for the hecatombs of millions of
immolated victims each year, the teeming recruiting preserve for his
Is he likely to surrender it all to an invading beneficent operation?
Will he not rather continue a most determined and desperate resistance
and oppose the most advanced of his subtle devices? The malignant power
of his agencies is ever and anon manifest--if restrained in one
direction his sway is doubly asserted in another. While the Boer war is
proceeding a diversion upon a large scale is being effected in Asia
which may result in deferring progress in Africa, or history may be
brought to repeat itself by the production of some African Attila or
Grenseric or a Saladin or another Moselikatse or Mahdi, whose
overrunning hordes will efface all the good work thus far done and
restore conditions in accord with his murderous sway, whilst at the same
time revelling over the ominous developments looming in Europe and
America for the production of giant strikes and other imminent
socialistic outbursts which could all be prevented, or at least staved
off for a long time, if the existing immense spheres for civilizing
outlets could only be peaceably utilized.
[Footnote 13: One of those enterprises is the railway which is to
connect the Cape with Cairo.]
[Footnote 14: Pro-Boer Propaganda is persisting in designating England
as answering to that prophetic image destined to signal destruction.]
The old voortrekkers who emigrated from the Cape Colony all belonged to
the Dutch Reformed Protestant persuasion. With very little learning, the
Bible, catechism, and the orthodox "psalm and hymn-book" constituted
their sole means for building up their faith. The scope of their
education was likewise limited to these simple aids during their
chequered wanderings for nearly twenty years, proving ample, however, in
preserving themselves and children from the tendencies of receding into
barbarism. The Bible was the recognised reference and guide in private
and public affairs, and it is so still. It is, indeed, notable with what
wisdom and prudence those simple people managed to frame their treaties
with native potentates, their conventions with the Portuguese and the
British Governments, and, finally, in compiling their own constitutions.
Their experiences teem with incidents of extreme sufferings, dangers,
and reverses, and also with many signal deliverances, which all
operated in deepening religious fervour and dependence upon the
Their vicissitudes led them to make analogous comparisons with ancient
Jewish history. This practice resulted in some erroneous conceptions,
notably in regard to their relations with aborigines and general native
policy, as referred to in previous chapters. It also imperceptibly
fostered sentiments confounding legality with grace, and the by-product
of that subtle corrupting leaven which is apt to see a splint in the eye
of another whilst unmindful of the beam in one's own.
Upon the whole, the religious status of the Boers may be fairly compared
to that of the old American pilgrim fathers, only much less intolerant,
fairly strict sabbatarians, and jealous in maintaining national and
individual morality. About forty years ago a small group seceded from
the Dutch Reformed Church and formed a separate connection under the
name of "Enkel gereformende Kerk" (simply reformed Church), more
generally known under the sobriquet of "Doppers." This cult is identical
with the parent Church, and differs only in a somewhat stricter church
discipline and the rejection of the hymns from the common psalm and
hymn-book upon the ground that many of them are tainted with dangerously
anti-scriptural doctrine.[15] These Doppers are really very worthy
people, but noted for their strong conservatism and adherence to old
habits and customs, even in the matter of dress. President Krüger is one
of their prominent members and so is General Piet Cronjé.
The devotional habits of the Boers form one of their national
characteristics. The family collect at dawn for morning worship, led by
the parent or else by the tutor--it consists of a hymn,
Scripture-reading, and prayer--similarly before retiring at night,
devout grace before and after each meal. These practices are not relaxed
when travelling with their wagons or when in the field. On Sundays an
extra (forenoon) service is added. Strangers and travellers receiving
hospitality are always courteously and unostentatiously admitted to
those family devotions. One may thus meet with one or more wagons camped
in the wilderness and find a cluster of men, women, and children
engaged in happy devotions and singing psalms or hymns in the familiar
old "Herrenhut" melodies, or one may come upon a scene where men just
returned to camp, begrimed and still perspiring from a day's hunt or
battle, join with husky voices an already assembled group in the
customary service.
Such practices of piety cannot fail to have a salutary effect upon the
young, nor can it be with justice said that the bulk of the people are
inconsistent in their conduct, though formality and insincerity are
sadly frequent enough, and in late years a decadence in seriousness and
an increase of frivolity instead have marked the present epoch,
especially among those who are exposed to the pernicious influences and
contaminations incidental to town life. The old Free Stater mentioned
before expressed the expectation that the present war and trials will
tend to check that declension, and in that way prove to have a
compensating character for good. During my frequent travels it had been
my privilege as a guest to make the acquaintance of numerous truly
Christian Boer families, both well-to-do and poor. On one occasion I had
to accept the hospitality at a farmhouse of one named Brits,[16]
nicknamed "vuil" or dirty Brits. This was an old blind widower; his
household was composed, besides himself, of an old brother, also a
widower, and the family of a son-in-law. After the evening meal the
service was led by the blind man, the daughter reading some chapters in
the Bible indicated by him. The two old men and I occupied separate cots
in one small side room. Happening to wake up at dawn the following
morning, I saw those old men sit up facing each other, with their feet
upon the floor, and begin their morning hymn of praise, after which the
house resounded with younger voices from the other end with a similar
song. I do not call to mind any special untidiness at that poor blind
man's house to warrant his sobriquet; my recollections are, on the
contrary, of the happiest, and I mentally called him clean Brits, clean
every whit. In another part of the country I was privileged to meet with
a family, which included a grown-up blind daughter,' who had St. John's
Gospel in raised letters. While reading with her fingers her upturned
face would shine with joy when repeating some of the salient, consoling,
and sustaining verses. And how common are the records among those simple
Boers of happy and triumphant death-bed scenes of old and young,
softening the grief of the bereaved believers. Frivolous education and
advanced surroundings are accountable for a certain waning of the
original habits of serious piety; this is to some extent more the case
among the Cape Colonial and Orange Free State Boers, the declension
appearing greatest with those residing in or in close proximity to
towns. Among the men of exemplary and consistent piety in the Transvaal
are conspicuous: President Krüger, State Secretary Reitz,
Commandant-General Joubert, General Piet Cronjé, and others holding
highest positions, and also many of the Volksraad members, including the
late General Kock.
Upon the occasion when the Transvaal Executive, with the assembled
Volksraads, finally determined upon war, and the momentous matter had
been considered of handing over the passports to Mr. Greene, the British
agent, just before signing them, President Krüger was observed occupied
in silent prayer for a few moments, while many of the others bowed their
heads similarly engaged, after which the documents were firmly
completed. When the first commandoes were about to depart for the field,
the President addressed a farewell to the burghers, assuring them that
God's aid could confidently be implored for their just cause; he also
quoted part of the Verse, "Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall
lose it," intending it as an exhortation for the timorous, warning them
of the greater danger incurred by retreat or flight than when
maintaining a manful stand. (The reader will know that the above
quotation does not complete the verse, the rest being, "But whosoever
shall lose his life for my sake or for the Gospel shall preserve it.")
It points to the operation of most persevering and subtle agencies and
potent illusions that could mislead and carry away the chief men and the
most intelligent of the Boer nation so far as to engender the erroneous
convictions which caused them to court the present war and to consider
it just. As to the bulk of the people, they are in turn led astray by
their leaders' example and opinions as victims of the general delusion.
These convictions, together with the acceptance of Afrikaner Bond
doctrines, have developed into quite a national infatuation, a kind of
Boer Koran, invested with similar fanaticism. Analogies are assumed as
existing between the case of the Israelites brought by Moses through the
wilderness, and led by Joshua into the conquered possession of their
promised Canaan. Following those prototypes, Paul Krüger is held as
having guided the Boer nation thus far through the mazes of political
troubles, and so also is General Joubert,[17] now their leader in the
conquest, South Africa in its entirety being considered as rightfully
belonging to them. The Orange River stands for Jordan, dividing as yet
the possessions of the people, and the analogy only needs completion by
a Pisgah for President Krüger. That such hallucinations have taken deep
root appears from the fact that the wife of President Krüger dreamt of
the accomplishment of such a typical history, and that her husband had
died at an early stage of the conquest. Such complete faith is attached
to the prophetic import of that dream that the President was prevailed
upon to permit its publication in full detail some time in November
last. The President's death was anticipated within two months after. (I
am far from referring to those incidents in a mocking mood, but rather
to show the intense sincerity of Boer convictions, confounding the
Christian's exalted calling with one which is temporal; and I fancy that
those very Boers, if equally well instructed, might sadly eclipse some
of us who have the privilege and also the responsibility of enjoying
correct teaching.)
The writer has endeavoured to represent in a true light both the
character of the Boer nation and its responsibility in regard to the
origin of the present deplorable war. The reader will be able to judge
whether that people is wilfully guilty, or whether the circumstances
admit of generous, mitigating condonement, always considered apart from
that horrible Hollander element which has been the root and instigating
cause of all the evil.
[Footnote 15: Some readers will recognise the significance, the
protective competence, the keen and reliable instinct which enable
untutored believers to discern and detect doctrinal leaven insidiously
concealed in the garb of worship.]
[Footnote 16: At Modder River, on the road between Bloemfontein and
[Footnote 17: At the time, December, 1899, when this was intended for
We have noted in former pages that the Boers' ancestry some two
centuries ago was composed of about two-thirds of sturdy Dutch peasants,
artizans, etc., while the other third consisted mostly of French
It is known that the immigrant class, though generally somewhat poor,
are uniformly men and women endowed with an adventurous, self-reliant
spirit and with unimpaired health. Naturally none but robust persons
were permitted to join the Dutch settlement at the Cape of Good Hope.
We see in that combination the patient, resolute quality prevailing in
Holland and the more ardent, vivacious, and chivalrous character found
with the French people. The Huguenot refugees belonged undisputably to
the cream of that impulsive nation--intellectual, educated, and
fearless--whilst both portions were pervaded with deep-rooted religious
fervour and habituated to moral and temperate lives.
Those combined qualities and habits would naturally be transmitted to
the progeny; prosperity and splendid climatic conditions tended still
further to develop a virile physique of first order. The moral and
physical standards were maintained by the practice of men and women
marrying early in life, and by occupations which required the people to
pass most of their time in the open. Educationally, there was
unavoidably some retrogression, but there is always plenty of scope in
the existence of colonists in a new country for the exercise of a
vigorous mind in the study of nature, in overcoming difficulties and in
cultivating the faculty of resourcefulness.
Whilst missing the intellectual benefits of advanced civilization, the
people escaped the dangers of its vitiating tendencies, thus preserving
a healthy mental calibre as well as robust physical health. In addition
may be mentioned a very notable fecundal power, which accounts for the
phenomenally rapid increase of the people. All those conditions have
continued to be maintained with the successive generations up to now.
Those who joined in the exodus north of the Orange River in 1835 and the
years following comprised the most indomitable and best endowed of that
stalwart race. Twenty years of a nomadic life after that and until they
got somewhat settled down served to weed out the weaklings among them;
since then their mode of life accorded well to keep up the highest
physical standard, not pampered with many comforts, inured to hardships
and to out-of-door exercise, with a diet consisting very largely of meat
and venison, coupled with energetic exercise of mind and body (the women
sharing in the less arduous duties). All this constituted a regimen and
training which did not fail to keep the people in a constant condition
of high efficiency and equipoise for the performance of tasks and for
surmounting difficulties needing more than usual strength, endurance,
and fortitude.
The rough labour all over South Africa is done mostly by Kaffirs and
other coloured people. A Boer farmer will have from two to ten or more
Kaffirs (men and women) employed for out-of-door work and for domestic
drudgery. Often absent from home on hunting trips and sometimes on
commando, the men entrust their work on such occasions (as is now the
case during the present war) to the care of their wives and daughters,
assisted by some younger sons, if the family includes any, or else
simply with the aid of Kaffir servants. Sometimes they are without any
such help, when they take a pride in doing it alone.
Girls as well as boys learn to ride on horseback when quite young. It is
quite a usual thing to see women riding astride fashion, collecting
sheep and cattle, or driving their horse carts and spiders (carriages),
unattended by males, over distances of over twenty and thirty
miles--women spanning in ox-teams to their travelling wagons, driving
them with long whips on journeys occupying one or more days. During the
Kaffir wars the Boers used to trek (travel) in bodies with their wagons,
which would serve to form a laager or fort, their families and
belongings being placed in the centre. During an attack the women would
attend to the men's wants, reload their rifles, and even take a more
active part in repelling the enemy, many of them being also crack shots.
The above-stated efficient and hardy habits with men and women apply
more to the people in the two Republics, and particularly so to those of
the Transvaal, while the Colonial Boers on the whole have had no such
experience, but instead have lived in uninterrupted peace and comfort
for generations, and may be classed with farmers of any other
well-governed and protected country or colony. The Boer farmers in the
northern portions of the Cape Colony, however, approximate to those of
the Orange Free State in hardy habits and ability to fend for themselves
when in difficulty. But with the Transvaal Boers the training incident
to wars, hunting, and nomadic movements has been more sustained, and
they are thus in best form and fitness of efficiency compared with all
the rest.
In the Orange Free State nearly every man above fifty years of age has
had the experience of the three years' Basuto war in 1865-67, and almost
all above forty are very expert huntsmen and crack shots. Quite a good
number have also taken part in the Transvaal war against the English in
1880; the rest have been trained by the elder veterans, and, though not
so well seasoned, are good horsemen, expert with the rifle, and
competent in the field. As to the Transvaalers, the men have all had
plenty of field practice before the previous war with England and since,
in subduing formidable Kaffir rebellions, the last being the operations
against the Magato chief, which terminated just before the outbreak of
the present Anglo-Boer war.
Besides this, game had continued longer in abundance in the Transvaal,
and is still hunted with success in the northern low veldt and in the
adjacent Portuguese territory. Added to this, the young Boers in the
Cape Colony, Natal, Orange Free State, and Transvaal have been
encouraged to attain proficiency in rifle practice and competence in the
field, ostensibly for the gratification of keeping up old traditions,
but in reality to be prepared for the struggle against England meditated
by the Afrikaner Bond.
About thirty odd years ago the Orange Free State and Transvaal were
still swarming with all sorts of game. Venison was the staple diet.
Lions and leopards also infested those States, but these and the game
have been pretty well extirpated since, except in some of the lower
parts of the Transvaal. In the earlier days ammunition was costly and
hard to procure, and the use had to be husbanded accordingly. It became
thus a practice never to pull a trigger unless with intense aim and the
certainty of an effective shot. A man would go out stalking for an hour
or so with perhaps but one or two charges, and would rarely fail in
bringing home the kind of game wanted--either a springbock, blesbock, or
wildebeest (gnu). In hunting lions, the lads would form part of the
company for the purpose of being taught. The boys would learn that if a
lion meant to attack he would approach to within twenty or thirty
yards, and then straighten himself up before making the final charge. It
was during that short halt that the disabling or killing shot would have
to be delivered. Father and son would then be standing ready--the son to
fire first; if unsuccessful, the animal would be brought down by the
father. If there were a larger party and the lions numerous, the lessons
would be learnt so much better by way of emulation. The boys soon
realized that a lion, means business only when he advances silently and
with smoothed gait, but that bristling up and roaring is a sure prelude
to his skulking off. What we read of the terror-inspiring roar is to the
Boer stripling pure romance and non-sense; but what he does realize is
that he must hit the animal in a vital spot at the right moment or else
run the risk of being clawed and bitten. The confidence, however, which
he has in his gun gives him all the requisite nerve, and mishaps are of
very rare occurrence. Those lion hunts used to be very profitable, not
only for the valuable skins, but especially when a number of young cubs
were also caught, which would realize considerably high prices from
menagerie purveyors.
At the age of about eight years a boy would be taught to ride on
horseback; when twelve years old he would be an expert horseman and a
deadly rifle shot as well; at sixteen he would be able to perform all
farm duties and rank with pride and confidence as an efficient burgher
to take the field against any enemy. His brain is not addled with school
lore, but is thoroughly versed and taught from nature's book. Hardened
to the fatigue of long rides over unfamiliar country in search of stray
cattle, the Boer youth has often to subsist upon a bit of dried biltong
(junked beef or venison), endure at intervals scorching heat and
drenching rains, swim rivers, and pass the night with a stone for a
pillow and his saddle as the only shelter, while his horse, securely
hobbled, feeds upon the grass around. Never will he lose his way; if
landmarks fail him and clouds hide moon and stars, he is guided by wind,
the run of water or his horse's instincts. Accustomed to wide horizons,
he can promptly distinguish objects at a distance, which, to an
ordinarily good eyesight, would need careful scanning through a
He is expert in finding and following any trail, and can promptly tell
the imprint from whatever animal it might be, or of whatever human
origin; an ideal scout and unsurpassed as a pioneer. When travelling
over roadless country the Boer's instinct will direct him in tracing
the most practicable route for his wagons, and with his experience he
can foretell what kind of topography he will in succession have to
traverse, avoiding unnegotiable spots and unnecessary detours, and when
about to halt, a surveying gaze will locate the safest and most suitable
position for his temporary camp. Such capacities serve with obvious
advantage in defensive and offensive war tactics. Prompt in seizing an
advantage and in avoiding danger, he has also learnt to be an adept in
ruses to decoy and mislead an enemy, and as for self-help and
resourcefulness, there is hardly a situation or difficulty conceivable
which will not be successfully surmounted. The usual Boer can also fend
for himself and cope with the minor perplexities of every-day life in
the field, which would strand a less initiated man. He can cook, bake
bread, mend clothes, make boots, repair saddles, harness, and vehicles,
and is full of expedients and able to make shift. Most of them know how
to shoe their horses, whilst many of them are expert also in working
wood and metals and similar handicrafts. In short, the Boers make ideal
scouts and are unique as colonizing pioneers. In their nomadic
wanderings and frequent wars, the Boers have gained much useful
experience in tactics, strategy, and in the wiles of diplomacy too.
They also learnt to adopt methods of organization, of cohesion, combined
action, and a certain amount of discipline among themselves.
They elect as subordinate and chief leaders men whose abilities and
influence have commended them for such responsible appointments. Before
committing themselves to any very important step these leaders would
first confer with the people, who in turn would generally be easily
swayed to their opinions, and who found by experience that it was safest
to follow their judgment. It thus also became a habit to leave the main
thinking over to those leaders, which enhanced unanimity and led to a
self-imposed obedience and discipline recognised as necessary for the
common welfare and also indispensable for common safety.
So prevalent had the practice become of deferring to the opinions of
their leaders that it engendered an apathy among the people against
considering political and public matters which were not altogether of
engrossing importance. Public meetings would be poorly attended, and at
elections not half the votes were recorded. "Let the elected heads see
to it; they are paid for doing the controlling and thinking work"--that
used to be the general feeling. But during the past twenty years public
interest has by degrees been successfully aroused by the activities of
the Afrikaner Bond; the former apathy and distaste to the consideration
of public concerns have given place to a more lively identification even
with politics, but the tendency of being swayed by men of influence of
their own kind remains unchanged.
The Boers are great smokers--tobacco appears to have no hurtful effects
whatever upon them, but seems rather to serve as a grateful sedative.
The first thing offered on meeting a Boer is his tobacco pouch, and if
one is a guest at his house, this is followed by one or more cups of
coffee. This is drunk by men and women in large quantities, often
without sugar, but very weak. The people are justly famed for cordial
hospitality to strangers, and the pleasing tact and unostentatious
correct politeness met with from the most ordinary and uneducated Boer
are only accountable for on the theory that that particular culture of
manners has been transmitted from his noble French ancestry of a couple
of hundred years ago.
In stature the men near the average of six feet (say five feet ten
inches)--full-bearded, brawny-limbed, and of stalwart build, suggesting
a homeric capacity for aggression and resistance. They present a
standard of sturdy and active manhood, which would have delighted the
critical eye of Frederick the Great for the formation of his very best
regiments. What is really singular is the infinitesimally small
proportion of ineffective and sickly men found left behind when all the
commandoes are called out, and also the considerable number of hale old
men above sixty who voluntarily join the field. And when the hardy
training and general high efficiency are considered down to the youth of
sixteen, one may estimate the formidableness of such a foe, all well
mounted on tough and nimble horses, well provisioned and provided with
the best weapons extant, guided by very competent chiefs and European
advisers--withal self-reliant and conscious of a superior aggressive and
defensive capability for repeating their splendid ancestral records of
prowess. Add to this inbred patriotism stimulated to an enthusiasm
approaching fanaticism by a mind fashioned to the belief that their war
is against an unjust usurper destined to be overthrown; it all sums up a
long way towards balancing numerical inferiority and inexperience in the
science of modern warfare. As to military science, they are apt to
become quickly tutored into proficiency by daily observation and
experience, and by the coaching of the numerous military officers who
have joined their ranks.
Another advantage upon the Boer side consists in complete
acclimatization and perfect knowledge of the country. Lastly, but by no
means less important, is the rational practice of always going as light
and unencumbered as at all possible, preferably with stripped saddle,
and to subsist mostly upon meat when in the field, both serving to
enhance staying power and to provide a reserve of stamina and of energy
for occasions of supreme effort, which often decide the fate of battle
against combatants, however courageous, who are fagged out with marching
on foot, and through being overladen with accoutrements and pack and a
lumbersome diet as well. What can such panting, unsteadied men do in
conflict with Boers who are fresh and in well-preserved form, and whose
steady sharp-shooting simply results in Calvaries for their opponents,
however brave, disciplined and well equipped they may be?
Yet to be noted is the small commissariat needed for Boer horses and
mules. These are accustomed to subsist altogether on grass, and when it
is plentiful, during summer and fall, to keep in good condition, working
six to ten hours daily, if only allowed to graze during the rest of the
time. They are then usually knee-haltered, _i.e._, one foreleg tied to
the halter, with about eighteen inches space between. A few feeds of dry
mealies (maize) will be amply supplementary when the pasture is
inferior, or if the animals have to be picketed much.
As said before, alcoholism does not prevail among the Boers, and any
tendency to it is sedulously checked by legislation and public
reprobation. President Krüger is an absolute abstainer from intoxicants,
and even at banquets he will sip water only when joining in a toast. His
contention is that the effects generally go beyond a harmlessly
exhilarating point; the action of alcohol unbalances the nervous
equilibrium, producing in most cases an excitement above the normal
level, followed by a corresponding depressive reaction below it,
creating an appetite for repeating the potation, with exactly similar
and progressively aggravated results. Then man's moral standard and
general efficiency and dignity become impaired, to the serious damage of
his own welfare and involving the common weal as well. When at the
outbreak of the war the sale of intoxicants became totally prohibited
the measure was received with willing submission and hailed with general
approval, which speaks volumes for the burgher population and without
doubt also tends to preserve their efficiency and stamina.
Stephanus Johannes Paulus Krüger is about the most accessible President
on record. Every morning--except Sundays and holidays, after family
worship, that is to say, from 5.30 in summer and 6 in winter to 8
o'clock--he gives audience to Boer and Uitlander, rich or poor alike,
and also on each afternoon, from 4 to 6 and even later. His residence in
the west end of Church Street, Pretoria, is quite an ordinary modest
building of the bungalow type. The only distinction observable is two
crouching lion figures, life size, on pedestals about three feet high,
at the balustrade entrance to the front verandah. A lawn of about thirty
feet across extends to the street limit, where at a very unpretentious
gate two armed burgher guards are constantly stationed. These will
receive an intending visitor's name, an unarmed domestic guard will then
come forward, who, after a short scrutiny, if the person is a stranger,
will report to the President and will immediately return to conduct you
to that dignitary, who may be sitting under the front verandah or in the
adjoining reception-room. There the President will readily shake hands
and point to a chair, rather near by because he is slightly hard of
hearing, the domestic guard standing or sitting between, but a good way
back. By his questions and final remarks one feels assured that the
topic introduced has been attentively listened to and fully grasped.
While conversing, other audience-seekers would drop in, and, while
waiting their turn, coffee would usually be served to all. The manners
observed are devoid of any stiffness of etiquette, but rather marked
with a cordial decorum approaching intimacy, most assuring to the
simplest and humblest visitor.
The only leisure the President enjoys is the interval from 12 to 2,
between his official labours at the Government buildings, which are
about half a mile distant from his house. He drives there and back in a
modest carriage attended by a guard of mounted policemen. His Honour is
invariably dressed in black cloth, with the usual tall silk hat. Six
feet high, with a slight stoop, broad shouldered, deep-chested, with
well-developed limbs, arms rather long, the President presents a
stately, burly figure, portly without obesity. When younger he was
noted, as something like a Ulysses, for personal strength and prowess as
well as for sagacity. Although seventy-five years old now, Mr. Krüger
has still a remarkably hale bearing and an intellect of undiminished
quality. His eyesight, however, has been suffering of late, rendering
the attendance of an oculist necessary. His Honour is in his fifth term
of presidency, and has held the office twenty-two years. His salary is
£8,000 per annum, of which he probably does not expend £1,000, his
habits being exceedingly simple and frugal, Mrs. Krüger being equally
conservative and thrifty, preferring rather to expend money for her
children and in unostentatious benevolence than in superfluities.
President Krüger is an exemplary Christian, an earnest student of the
Bible since his youth, ever ready to employ his gifts to strengthen the
faith of his people and to maintain their religious standard. He often
occupies the pulpit, and on other occasions gives exhorting discourses.
Upon the completion of the imposing Johannesburg synagogue his Honour
was requested to preside at its dedication. It was an impressive
function, and withal so anomalous and unrabbinical a departure--the head
of the State, a devout Christian, opening the edifice for Jewish
worship and addressing a discourse to the thousands of assembled
Israelites. In his zeal and concern Mr. Krüger could not refrain from
adverting to their blessed Messiah, the God-man of Jewish stock,
rejected through ignorance by their forefathers, exalted since, but who
loved His people nevertheless, as typified by Joseph's narrative when he
revealed himself to his brethren in Egypt. He adjured them to a
prayerful reading of their Old Testament, and he invoked God's mercy to
remove the veil which obscured from their eyes their own and also the
Gentiles' glorious Immanuel. The ceremony was concluded with perfect
decorum, despite the surprise that the address had drifted into an
impassioned Gospel sermon.
This grand old Boer is the very personification of noble patriotism and
devoted concern for the welfare of his nation. While admiring and loving
the man, what sorrow on the one side and indignant execration on the
other do not overwhelm one, seeing that such a pattern and leader of men
should have become the victim of that heartless Hollander coterie! One
cannot but marvel at the same time at the alert skill and wily patience
which must have been employed during the many years past to hold
President Krüger with State Secretary Keitz and President Steyn in the
Afrikaner Bond leash ready to let loose with unshaken convictions upon
the supreme contest designed for them and their people by the
machinations intended for upraising Holland at the risk of immolating
the victimized Boer nation.
Upon this topic a few remarks may be placed under the assumption that
the arch enemy's triumph in the present war will be circumscribed by the
havoc and the bereavements created by it, and by the forfeiture
inflicted upon the poor deluded Boers of their special heirlooms. One of
the considerations would be the war cost and its recoupment, and another
important one is the measures needful to prevent a repetition of a Bond
As to the war indemnity: it is well understood on all hands that the
supremacy of Great Britain, when once established as the result of the
war, will greatly enhance the value of all existing capital
investments--10 to 50 per cent., and many even 100 per cent. It is not
to be denied that capitalism has evinced decided eagerness that English
supremacy should be asserted, and it is in a manner amenable together
with the Afrikaner Bond, for secretly striving to bring about the
contest each independently in its own way, but without the least concert
with each other. It appears therefore equitable that capital should
become contributable to the cost of the war which will eventually result
in so largely enhancing its invested values.
A tax of 2-1/2 per cent. upon the aggregate investment values and a
royalty upon the mining industries of 25 per cent. of the net profits
would appear reasonable.
The 2-1/2 per cent. tax might bring a sum of ....... 15 millions
The royalty could be reckoned at capitalized
value ............................................ 50     "
The confiscations might reach ...................... 10     "
And the underground rights around the Johannesburg
mines might realize .............................. 50     "
Thus together 125 millions, possibly not sufficient to cover the entire
war cost if pensions are to be included. It is a sad reflection to note
that the entire wealth which constituted the national heirloom of the
Transvaal will have been wasted, and comes far short to cover the actual
war expenditure. In regard to preventive measures against another Bond
war, nothing appears clearer than the necessity of applying the _lex
talionis_ upon the Hollander element in South Africa (though not in that
inhuman fashion as was practised upon the English refugees before and at
the commencement of the war).
Whilst not so guilty to the same extent of enormity as the coterie in
Holland, who devised all the Bond mischief at a safe distance, the
Hollanders in South Africa were nevertheless their eager abettors and
sedulous henchmen. It will be remembered that the Bond cry had been
"Drive the English into the sea, out of Africa," and that the first
earnest in carrying out that fiat was practised some months before the
outbreak of the war upon the unaggressive coloured British subjects,
traders, merchants, etc., whose removal from their residences and
businesses to ghettos outside the towns practically compassed their ruin
and expulsion from the Transvaal. This was followed, first by a
voluntary and afterwards by the forced exodus of Uitlanders at the rate
of thousands per day--men, women, and children packed in uncleansed coal
and cattle trucks, together with Coolies, Kaffirs, and Hottentots, and
hustled over the Portuguese border, dumped down at that death-trap
Komati Poort if unable to pay the railway fare for fifty-three miles
further to Delagoa Bay. Those refugees were obliged to abandon or
sacrifice their belongings--they had no time allowed to realize them; it
meant their financial ruin.
That Hollander element comprises the most insidious menace, and, like a
cancer, must be unsparingly excised from South Africa, unless
encouragement is intended to be given for an attempt to go one better
next time, with a repetition, or rather an aggravation, of the horrors
of war and the cost in life and treasure, turning the sub-continent into
a second vast Algeria, with perhaps such another "Abd El Kadr" to
subdue, and without any reserve asset, as now, to fall back upon towards
reimbursing the expense. Their expulsion should, however, not be
effected without giving some fair notice affording them time for the
realization of their estates. As to the Dutch language, it will not
entail any excessive hardship if it is equally banished as an official
language, seeing that English is on the whole not more unfamiliar to the
bulk of the Boer people than pure High Dutch is, and seeing that the
dual right was accorded to Dutch as an official language under this
almost inconceivable feature, that it admittedly had yet to be learnt to
become of any practical use or utility other than as an instrument for
keeping the races apart and to facilitate the Bond objects of usurpation
and revolt.
End of Origin of the Anglo-Boer War Revealed
(2nd ed.), by C. H. Thomas