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Title: The War in South Africa - Its Cause and Conduct
Author: Doyle, Arthur Conan, Sir, 1859-1930
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Transcriber's Note:

   Minor typographical errors have been corrected without note.

   The oe ligature is shown as [oe].

   Obsolete spellings have been retained.



THE WAR IN SOUTH AFRICA

Its Cause and Conduct

by

A. CONAN DOYLE

Author of 'The Great Boer War'



Published by
Smith, Elder, & Co., 15 Waterloo Place, London, S.W.

All Copies for the Colonies and India supplied by
G. Bell & Sons, London and Bombay

1902

[All rights reserved]



PREFACE


For some reason, which may be either arrogance or apathy, the British
are very slow to state their case to the world. At present the reasons
for our actions and the methods which we have used are set forth in many
Blue-books, tracts, and leaflets, but have never, so far as I know, been
collected into one small volume. In view of the persistent slanders to
which our politicians and our soldiers have been equally exposed, it
becomes a duty which we owe to our national honour to lay the facts
before the world. I wish someone more competent, and with some official
authority, had undertaken the task, which I have tried to do as best I
might from an independent standpoint.

There was never a war in history in which the right was absolutely on
one side, or in which no incidents of the campaign were open to
criticism. I do not pretend that it was so here. But I do not think that
any unprejudiced man can read the facts without acknowledging that the
British Government has done its best to avoid war, and the British Army
to wage it with humanity.

To my publisher and to myself this work has been its own reward. In this
way we hope to put the price within the reach of all, and yet leave a
profit for the vendor. Our further ambition is, however, to translate it
into all European tongues, and to send a free copy to every deputy and
every newspaper on the Continent and in America. For this work money
will be needed--a considerable sum. We propose to make an appeal to the
public for these funds. Any sums which are sent to me or to my publisher
will be devoted to this work. There cannot be too much, for the more we
get the more we shall do.

I may add that I have not burdened my pages with continual references.
My quotations are reliable and can always, if necessary, be
substantiated.

                                                       A. CONAN DOYLE.
 UNDERSHAW, HINDHEAD:
   _January, 1902._



CONTENTS


 CHAP.                                            PAGE

    I. THE BOER PEOPLE                               9

   II. THE CAUSE OF QUARREL                         23

  III. THE NEGOTIATIONS                             41

   IV. SOME POINTS EXAMINED                         61

    V. THE NEGOTIATIONS FOR PEACE                   73

   VI. THE FARM-BURNING                             84

  VII. THE CONCENTRATION CAMPS                      94

 VIII. THE BRITISH SOLDIER IN SOUTH AFRICA         107

   IX. FURTHER CHARGES AGAINST BRITISH TROOPS      123

    X. THE OTHER SIDE OF THE QUESTION              133

   XI. CONCLUSIONS                                 150



THE WAR:

ITS CAUSE AND CONDUCT



CHAPTER I

THE BOER PEOPLE


It is impossible to appreciate the South African problem and the causes
which have led up to the present war between the British Empire and the
Boer republics without some knowledge, however superficial, of the past
history of South Africa. To tell the tale one must go back to the
beginning, for there has been complete continuity of history in South
Africa, and every stage has depended upon that which has preceded it. No
one can know or appreciate the Boer who does not know his past, for he
is what his past has made him.

It was about the time when Oliver Cromwell was at his zenith--in 1652,
to be pedantically accurate--that the Dutch made their first lodgment at
the Cape of Good Hope. The Portuguese had been there before them, but,
repelled by the evil weather, and lured forward by rumours of gold, they
had passed the true seat of empire, and had voyaged farther, to settle
along the eastern coast. But the Dutchmen at the Cape prospered and grew
stronger in that robust climate. They did not penetrate far inland, for
they were few in number, and all they wanted was to be found close at
hand. But they built themselves houses, and they supplied the Dutch East
India Company with food and water, gradually budding off little
townlets, Wynberg, Stellenbosch, and pushing their settlements up the
long slopes which lead to that great central plateau which extends for
1,500 miles from the edge of the Karoo to the Valley of the Zambesi.

For a hundred more years the history of the colony was a record of the
gradual spreading of the Africanders over the huge expanse of veldt
which lay to the north of them. Cattle-raising became an industry, but
in a country where six acres can hardly support a sheep, large farms are
necessary for even small herds. Six thousand acres was the usual size,
and 5_l._ a year the rent payable to Government. The diseases which
follow the white man had in Africa, as in America and Australia, been
fatal to the natives, and an epidemic of smallpox cleared the country
for the new-comers. Farther and farther north they pushed, founding
little towns here and there, such as Graaf-Reinet and Swellendam, where
a Dutch Reformed Church and a store for the sale of the bare necessaries
of life formed a nucleus for a few scattered dwellings. Already the
settlers were showing that independence of control and that detachment
from Europe which has been their most prominent characteristic. Even the
mild sway of the Dutch Company had caused them to revolt. The local
rising, however, was hardly noticed in the universal cataclysm which
followed the French Revolution. After twenty years, during which the
world was shaken by the Titanic struggle in the final counting up of the
game and paying of the stakes, the Cape Colony was added in 1814 to the
British Empire.

In all the vast collection of British States there is probably not one
the title-deeds to which are more incontestable than to this. Britain
had it by two rights, the right of conquest and the right of purchase.
In 1806 troops landed, defeated the local forces, and took possession of
Cape Town. In 1814 Britain paid the large sum of six million pounds to
the Stadtholder for the transference of this and some South American
land. It was a bargain which was probably made rapidly and carelessly in
that general redistribution which was going on. As a house of call upon
the way to India the place was seen to be of value, but the country
itself was looked upon as unprofitable and desert. What would
Castlereagh or Liverpool have thought could they have seen the items
which they were buying for six million pounds? The inventory would have
been a mixed one of good and of evil: nine fierce Kaffir wars, the
greatest diamond mines in the world, the wealthiest gold mines, two
costly and humiliating campaigns with men whom we respected even when we
fought with them, and now at last, we hope, a South Africa of peace and
prosperity, with equal rights and equal duties for all men.

The title-deeds to the estate are, as I have said, good ones, but there
is one singular and ominous flaw in their provisions. The ocean has
marked three boundaries to it, but the fourth is undefined. There is no
word of the 'hinterland,' for neither the term nor the idea had then
been thought of. Had Great Britain bought those vast regions which
extended beyond the settlements? Or were the discontented Dutch at
liberty to pass onwards and found fresh nations to bar the path of the
Anglo-Celtic colonists? In that question lay the germ of all the trouble
to come. An American would realise the point at issue if he could
conceive that after the founding of the United States the Dutch
inhabitants of the State of New York had trekked to the westward and
established fresh communities under a new flag. Then, when the American
population overtook these western States, they would be face to face
with the problem which this country has had to solve. If they found
these new States fiercely anti-American and extremely unprogressive,
they would experience that aggravation of their difficulties with which
British statesmen have had to deal.

At the time of their transference to the British flag the
colonists--Dutch, French, and German--numbered some thirty thousand.
They were slaveholders, and the slaves were about as numerous as
themselves. The prospect of complete amalgamation between the British
and the original settlers would have seemed to be a good one, since they
were of much the same stock, and their creeds could only be
distinguished by their varying degrees of bigotry and intolerance. Five
thousand British emigrants were landed in 1820, settling on the Eastern
borders of the colony, and from that time onwards there was a slow but
steady influx of English-speaking colonists. The Government had the
historical faults and the historical virtues of British rule. It was
mild, clean, honest, tactless, and inconsistent. On the whole, it might
have done very well had it been content to leave things as it found
them. But to change the habits of the most conservative of Teutonic
races was a dangerous venture, and one which has led to a long series of
complications, making up the troubled history of South Africa.

The Imperial Government has always taken an honourable and philanthropic
view of the rights of the native and the claim which he has to the
protection of the law. We hold, and rightly, that British justice, if
not blind, should at least be colour-blind. The view is irreproachable
in theory and incontestable in argument, but it is apt to be irritating
when urged by a Boston moralist or a London philanthropist upon men
whose whole society has been built upon the assumption that the black is
the inferior race. Such a people like to find the higher morality for
themselves, not to have it imposed upon them by those who live under
entirely different conditions.

The British Government in South Africa has always played the unpopular
part of the friend and protector of the native servants. It was upon
this very point that the first friction appeared between the old
settlers and the new administration. A rising with bloodshed followed
the arrest of a Dutch farmer who had maltreated his slave. It was
suppressed, and five of the participants were hanged. This punishment
was unduly severe and exceedingly injudicious. A brave race can forget
the victims of the field of battle, but never those of the scaffold. The
making of political martyrs is the last insanity of statesmanship.
However, the thing was done, and it is typical of the enduring
resentment which was left behind that when, after the Jameson Raid, it
seemed that the leaders of that ill-fated venture might be hanged, the
beam was actually brought from a farmhouse at Cookhouse Drift to
Pretoria, that the Englishmen might die as the Dutchmen had died in
1816. Slagter's Nek marked the dividing of the ways between the British
Government and the Africanders.

And the separation soon became more marked. With vicarious generosity,
the English Government gave very lenient terms to the Kaffir tribes who
in 1834 had raided the border farmers. And then, finally, in this same
year there came the emancipation of the slaves throughout the British
Empire, which fanned all smouldering discontents into an active flame.

It must be confessed that on this occasion the British philanthropist
was willing to pay for what he thought was right. It was a noble
national action, and one the morality of which was in advance of its
time, that the British Parliament should vote the enormous sum of twenty
million pounds to pay compensation to the slaveholders, and so to remove
an evil with which the mother country had no immediate connection. It
was as well that the thing should have been done when it was, for had we
waited till the colonies affected had governments of their own it could
never have been done by constitutional methods. With many a grumble the
good British householder drew his purse from his fob, and paid for what
he thought to be right. If any special grace attends the virtuous action
which brings nothing but tribulation in this world, then we may hope for
it over this emancipation. We spent our money, we ruined our West Indian
colonies, and we started a disaffection in South Africa, the end of
which we have not seen.

But the details of the measure were less honourable than the principle.
It was carried out suddenly, so that the country had no time to adjust
itself to the new conditions. Three million pounds were ear-marked for
South Africa, which gives a price per slave of from 60_l._ to 70_l._, a
sum considerably below the current local rates. Finally, the
compensation was made payable in London, so that the farmers sold their
claims at reduced prices to middlemen. Indignation meetings were held in
every little townlet and cattle-camp on the Karoo. The old Dutch spirit
was up--the spirit of the men who cut the dykes. Rebellion was useless.
But a vast untenanted land stretched to the north of them. The nomad
life was congenial to them, and in their huge ox-drawn wagons--like
those bullock-carts in which some of their old kinsmen came to
Gaul--they had vehicles and homes and forts all in one. One by one they
were loaded up, the huge teams were inspanned, the women were seated
inside, the men with their long-barrelled guns walked alongside, and the
great exodus was begun. Their herds and flocks accompanied the
migration, and the children helped to round them in and drive them. One
tattered little boy of ten cracked his sjambok whip behind the bullocks.
He was a small item in that singular crowd, but he was of interest to
us, for his name was Paul Stephanus Kruger.

It was a strange exodus, only comparable in modern times to the sallying
forth of the Mormons from Nauvoo upon their search for the promised land
of Utah. The country was known and sparsely settled as far north as the
Orange River, but beyond there was a great region which had never been
penetrated save by some daring hunter or adventurous pioneer. It
chanced--if there be indeed such an element as chance in the graver
affairs of man--that a Zulu conqueror had swept over this land and left
it untenanted, save by the dwarf bushmen, the hideous aborigines, lowest
of the human race. There were fine grazing and good soil for the
emigrants. They travelled in small detached parties, but their total
numbers were considerable, from six to ten thousand according to their
historian, or nearly a quarter of the whole population of the colony.
Some of the early bands perished miserably. A large number made a
trysting-place at a high peak to the east of Bloemfontein, in what was
lately the Orange Free State. One party of the emigrants was cut off by
the formidable Matabeli, a branch of the great Zulu nation.

The final victory of the 'voortrekkers' cleared all the country between
the Orange River and the Limpopo, the sites of what have been known as
the Transvaal and the Orange Free State. In the meantime another body of
the emigrants had descended into Natal, and had defeated Dingaan, the
great Chief of the Zulus.

And now at the end of their great journey, after overcoming the
difficulties of distance, of nature, and of savage enemies, the Boers
saw at the end of their travels the very thing which they desired
least--that which they had come so far to avoid--the flag of Great
Britain. The Boers had occupied Natal from within, but England had
previously done the same by sea, and a small colony of Englishmen had
settled at Port Natal, now known as Durban. The home Government,
however, had acted in a vacillating way, and it was only the conquest of
Natal by the Boers which caused them to claim it as a British colony. At
the same time they asserted the unwelcome doctrine that a British
subject could not at will throw off his allegiance, and that, go where
they might, the wandering farmers were still only the pioneers of
British colonies. To emphasise the fact three companies of soldiers were
sent in 1842 to what is now Durban--the usual Corporal's guard with
which Great Britain starts a new empire. This handful of men was waylaid
by the Boers and cut up, as their successors have been so often since.
The survivors, however, fortified themselves, and held a defensive
position--as also their successors have done so many times since--until
reinforcements arrived and the farmers dispersed. Natal from this time
onward became a British colony, and the majority of the Boers trekked
north and east with bitter hearts to tell their wrongs to their brethren
of the Orange Free State and of the Transvaal.

Had they any wrongs to tell? It is difficult to reach that height of
philosophic detachment which enables the historian to deal absolutely
impartially where his own country is a party to the quarrel. But at
least we may allow that there is a case for our adversary. Our
annexation of Natal had been by no means definite, and it was they and
not we who first broke that bloodthirsty Zulu power which threw its
shadow across the country. It was hard after such trials and such
exploits to turn their back upon the fertile land which they had
conquered, and to return to the bare pastures of the upland veldt. They
carried out of Natal a heavy sense of injury, which has helped to poison
our relations with them ever since. It was, in a way, a momentous
episode, this little skirmish of soldiers and emigrants, for it was the
heading off of the Boer from the sea and the confinement of his ambition
to the land. Had it gone the other way, a new and possibly formidable
flag would have been added to the maritime nations.

The emigrants who had settled in the huge tract of country between the
Orange River in the south and the Limpopo in the north had been
recruited by new-comers from the Cape Colony until they numbered some
fifteen thousand souls. This population was scattered over a space as
large as Germany, and larger than Pennsylvania, New York, and New
England. Their form of government was individualistic and democratic to
the last degree compatible with any sort of cohesion. Their wars with
the Kaffirs and their fear and dislike of the British Government appear
to have been the only ties which held them together. They divided and
subdivided within their own borders, like a germinating egg. The
Transvaal was full of lusty little high-mettled communities, who
quarrelled among themselves as fiercely as they had done with the
authorities at the Cape. Lydenburg, Zoutpansberg, and Potchefstroom were
on the point of turning their rifles against each other. In the south,
between the Orange River and the Vaal, there was no form of government
at all, but a welter of Dutch farmers, Basutos, Hottentots, and
half-breeds living in a chronic state of turbulence, recognising neither
the British authority to the south of them nor the Transvaal republics
to the north. The chaos became at last unendurable, and in 1848 a
garrison was placed in Bloemfontein and the district incorporated in the
British Empire. The emigrants made a futile resistance at Boomplaats,
and after a single defeat allowed themselves to be drawn into the
settled order of civilised rule.

At this period the Transvaal, where most of the Boers had settled,
desired a formal acknowledgment of their independence, which the British
authorities determined once and for all to give them. The great barren
country, which produced little save marksmen, had no attractions for a
Colonial Office which was bent upon the limitation of its liabilities. A
Convention was concluded between the two parties, known as the Sand
River Convention, which is one of the fixed points in South African
history. By it the British Government guaranteed to the Boer farmers the
right to manage their own affairs, and to govern themselves by their own
laws without any interference upon the part of the British. It
stipulated that there should be no slavery, and with that single
reservation washed its hands finally, as it imagined, of the whole
question. So the Transvaal Republic came formally into existence.

In the very year after the Sand River Convention, a second republic, the
Orange Free State, was created by the deliberate withdrawal of Great
Britain from the territory which she had for eight years occupied. The
Eastern Question was already becoming acute, and the cloud of a great
war was drifting up, visible to all men. British statesmen felt that
their commitments were very heavy in every part of the world, and the
South African annexations had always been a doubtful value and an
undoubted trouble. Against the will of a large part of the inhabitants,
whether a majority or not it is impossible to say, we withdrew our
troops as amicably as the Romans withdrew from Britain, and the new
republic was left with absolute and unfettered independence. On a
petition being presented against the withdrawal, the Home Government
actually voted 48,000_l._ to compensate those who had suffered from the
change. Whatever historical grievance the Transvaal may have against
Great Britain, we can at least, save perhaps in one matter, claim to
have a very clear conscience concerning our dealings with the Orange
Free State. Thus in 1852 and in 1854 were born those sturdy States who
have been able for a time to hold at bay the united forces of the
Empire.

In the meantime Cape Colony, in spite of these secessions, had prospered
exceedingly, and her population--British, German, and Dutch--had grown
by 1870 to over two hundred thousand souls, the Dutch still slightly
predominating. According to the liberal colonial policy of Great
Britain, the time had come to cut the cord and let the young nation
conduct its own affairs. In 1872 complete self-government was given to
it, the Governor, as the representative of the Queen, retaining a
nominal unexercised veto upon legislation. According to this system the
Dutch majority of the colony could, and did, put their own
representatives into power and run the government upon Dutch lines.
Already Dutch law had been restored, and Dutch put on the same footing
as English as the official language of the country. The extreme
liberality of such measures, and the uncompromising way in which they
have been carried out, however distasteful the legislation might seem to
English ideas, are among the chief reasons which made the illiberal
treatment of British settlers in the Transvaal so keenly resented at the
Cape. A Dutch Government was ruling the British in a British colony, at
a moment when the Boers would not give an Englishman a vote upon a
municipal council in a city which he had built himself.

For twenty-five years after the Sand River Convention the burghers of
the Transvaal Republic had pursued a strenuous and violent existence,
fighting incessantly with the natives and sometimes with each other,
with an occasional fling at the little Dutch republic to the south.
Disorganisation ensued. The burghers would not pay taxes and the
treasury was empty. One fierce Kaffir tribe threatened them from the
north, and the Zulus on the east. It is an exaggeration to pretend that
British intervention saved the Boers, for no one can read their military
history without seeing that they were a match for Zulus and Sekukuni
combined. But certainly a formidable invasion was pending, and the
scattered farmhouses were as open to the Kaffirs as our farmers'
homesteads were in the American colonies when the Indians were on the
war-path. Sir Theophilus Shepstone, the British Commissioner, after an
inquiry of three months, solved all questions by the formal annexation
of the country. The fact that he took possession of it with a force of
some twenty-five men showed the honesty of his belief that no armed
resistance was to be feared. This, then, in 1877, was a complete
reversal of the Sand River Convention and the opening of a new chapter
in the history of South Africa.

There did not appear to be any strong feeling at the time against the
annexation. The people were depressed with their troubles and weary of
contention. Burgers, the President, put in a formal protest, and took up
his abode in Cape Colony, where he had a pension from the British
Government. A memorial against the measure received the signatures of a
majority of the Boer inhabitants, but there was a fair minority who took
the other view. Kruger himself accepted a paid office under Government.
There was every sign that the people, if judiciously handled, would
settle down under the British flag.

But the Empire has always had poor luck in South Africa, and never worse
than on that occasion. Through no bad faith, but simply through
preoccupation and delay, the promises made were not instantly fulfilled.
If the Transvaalers had waited, they would have had their Volksraad and
all that they wanted. But the British Government had some other local
matters to set right, the rooting out of Sekukuni and the breaking of
the Zulus, before they would fulfil their pledges. The delay was keenly
resented. And we were unfortunate in our choice of Governor. The
burghers are a homely folk, and they like an occasional cup of coffee
with the anxious man who tries to rule them. The 300_l._ a year of
coffee-money allowed by the Transvaal to its President is by no means a
mere form. A wise administrator would fall into the social and
democratic habits of the people. Sir Theophilus Shepstone did so. Sir
Owen Lanyon did not. There was no Volksraad and no coffee, and the
popular discontent grew rapidly. In three years the British had broken
up the two savage hordes which had been threatening the land. The
finances, too, had been restored. The reasons which had made so many
burghers favour the annexation were weakened by the very power which had
every interest in preserving them.

It cannot be too often pointed out that in this annexation, the
starting-point of our troubles, Great Britain, however mistaken she may
have been, had no possible selfish interest in view. There were no Rand
mines in those days, nor was there anything in the country to tempt the
most covetous. An empty treasury and two expensive native wars were the
reversion which we took over. It was honestly considered that the
country was in too distracted a state to govern itself, and had, by its
weakness, become a scandal and a danger to its neighbours and to itself.
There was nothing sordid in the British action, though it may have been
premature and injudicious. There is some reason to think that if it had
been delayed it would eventually have been done on the petition of the
majority of the inhabitants.

In December 1880 the Boers rose. Every farmhouse sent out its riflemen,
and the trysting-place was the outside of the nearest British fort. All
through the country small detachments were surrounded and besieged by
the farmers. Standerton, Pretoria, Potchefstroom, Lydenburg,
Wakkerstroom, Rustenburg, and Marabastad were all invested and all held
out until the end of the war. In the open country the troops were less
fortunate. At Bronkhorst Spruit a small British force was taken by
surprise and shot down without harm to their antagonists. The surgeon
who treated them has left it on record that the average number of wounds
was five per man. At Laing's Nek an inferior force of British
endeavoured to rush a hill which was held by Boer riflemen. Half of the
men were killed and wounded. Ingogo may be called a drawn battle, though
the British loss was more heavy than that of the enemy. Finally came the
defeat of Majuba Hill, where 400 infantry upon a mountain were defeated
and driven off by a swarm of sharpshooters who advanced under the cover
of boulders. Of all these actions there was not one which was more than
a skirmish, and had they been followed by a final British victory they
would now be hardly remembered. It is the fact that they were skirmishes
which succeeded in their object which has given them an importance which
is exaggerated.

The defeat at Majuba Hill was followed by the complete surrender of the
Gladstonian Government, an act which was either the most pusillanimous
or the most magnanimous in recent history. It is hard for the big man to
draw away from the small before blows are struck, but when the big man
has been knocked down three times it is harder still. An overwhelming
British force was in the field, and the General declared that he held
the enemy in the hollow of his hand. British military calculations have
been falsified before now by these farmers, and it may be that the task
of Wood and Roberts would have been harder than they imagined; but on
paper, at least, it looked as if the enemy could be crushed without
difficulty. So the public thought, and yet they consented to the
upraised sword being stayed. With them, as apart from the politicians,
the motive was undoubtedly a moral and Christian one. They considered
that the annexation of the Transvaal had evidently been an injustice,
that the farmers had a right to the freedom for which they fought, and
that it was an unworthy thing for a great nation to continue an unjust
war for the sake of a military revenge. Such was the motive of the
British public when it acquiesced in the action of the Government. It
was the height of idealism, and the result has not been such as to
encourage its repetition.

An armistice was concluded on March 5, 1881, which led up to a peace on
the 23rd of the same month. The Government, after yielding to force
what it had repeatedly refused to friendly representations, made a
clumsy compromise in their settlement. A policy of idealism and
Christian morality should have been thorough if it were to be tried at
all. It was obvious that if the annexation were unjust, then the
Transvaal should have reverted to the condition in which it was before
the annexation, as defined by the Sand River Convention. But the
Government for some reason would not go so far as this. They niggled and
quibbled and bargained until the State was left as a curious hybrid
thing such as the world has never seen. It was a republic which was part
of the system of a monarchy, dealt with by the Colonial Office, and
included under the heading of 'Colonies' in the news columns of the
'Times.' It was autonomous, and yet subject to some vague suzerainty,
the limits of which no one has ever been able to define. Altogether, in
its provisions and in its omissions, the Convention of Pretoria appears
to prove that our political affairs were as badly conducted as our
military in this unfortunate year of 1881.

It was evident from the first that so illogical and contentious an
agreement could not possibly prove to be a final settlement, and indeed
the ink of the signatures was hardly dry before an agitation was on foot
for its revision. The Boers considered, and with justice, that if they
were to be left as undisputed victors in the war then they should have
the full fruits of victory. On the other hand, the English-speaking
colonies had their allegiance tested to the uttermost. The proud
Anglo-Celtic stock is not accustomed to be humbled, and yet they found
themselves through the action of the home Government converted into
members of a beaten race. It was very well for the citizen of London to
console his wounded pride by the thought that he had done a magnanimous
action, but it was different with the British colonist of Durban or Cape
Town who, by no act of his own, and without any voice in the settlement,
found himself humiliated before his Dutch neighbour. An ugly feeling of
resentment was left behind, which might perhaps have passed away had the
Transvaal accepted the settlement in the spirit in which it was meant,
but which grew more and more dangerous, as during eighteen years our
people saw, or thought that they saw, that one concession led always to
a fresh demand, and that the Dutch republics aimed not merely at
equality, but at dominance in South Africa. Professor Bryce, a friendly
critic, after a personal examination of the country and the question,
has left it upon record that the Boers saw neither generosity nor
humanity in our conduct, but only fear. An outspoken race, they conveyed
their feelings to their neighbours. Can it be wondered at that South
Africa has been in a ferment ever since, and that the British Africander
has yearned with an intensity of feeling unknown in England for the hour
of revenge?

The Government of the Transvaal after the war was left in the hands of a
triumvirate, but after one year Kruger became President, an office which
he continued to hold for eighteen years. His career as ruler vindicates
the wisdom of that wise but unwritten provision of the American
Constitution by which there is a limit to the tenure of this office.
Continued rule for half a generation must turn a man into an autocrat.
The old President has said himself, in his homely but shrewd way, that
when one gets a good ox to lead the team it is a pity to change him. If
a good ox, however, is left to choose his own direction without
guidance, he may draw his wagon into trouble.

During three years the little State showed signs of a tumultuous
activity. Considering that it was larger than France and that the
population could not have been more than fifty thousand, one would have
thought that they might have found room without any inconvenient
crowding. But the burghers passed beyond their borders in every
direction. The President cried aloud that he had been shut up in a
kraal, and he proceeded to find ways out of it. A great trek was
projected for the north, but fortunately it miscarried. To the east they
raided Zululand, and succeeded, in defiance of the British settlement of
that country, in tearing away one-third of it and adding it to the
Transvaal. To the west, with no regard to the three-year-old treaty,
they invaded Bechuanaland, and set up the two new republics of Goshen
and Stellaland. So outrageous were these proceedings that Great Britain
was forced to fit out in 1884 a new expedition under Sir Charles Warren
for the purpose of turning these freebooters out of the country. It may
be asked, Why should these men be called freebooters if the founders of
Rhodesia were pioneers? The answer is that the Transvaal was limited by
treaty to certain boundaries which these men transgressed, while no
pledges were broken when the British power expanded to the north. The
upshot of these trespasses was the scene upon which every drama of South
Africa rings down. Once more the purse was drawn from the pocket of the
unhappy taxpayer, and a million or so was paid out to defray the
expenses of the police force necessary to keep these treaty-breakers in
order. Let this be borne in mind when we assess the moral and material
damage done to the Transvaal by the Jameson Raid.

In 1884 a deputation from the Transvaal visited England, and at their
solicitation the clumsy Treaty of Pretoria was altered into the still
more clumsy Convention of London. The changes in the provisions were all
in favour of the Boers, and a second successful war could hardly have
given them more than Lord Derby handed them in time of peace. Their
style was altered from the Transvaal to the South African Republic, a
change which was ominously suggestive of expansion in the future. The
control of Great Britain over their foreign policy was also relaxed,
though a power of veto was retained. But the most important thing of
all, and the fruitful cause of future trouble, lay in an omission. A
suzerainty is a vague term, but in politics, as in theology, the more
nebulous a thing is the more does it excite the imagination and the
passions of men. This suzerainty was declared in the preamble of the
first treaty, and no mention of it was made in the second. Was it
thereby abrogated or was it not? The British contention is that only the
articles were changed, and that the preamble continued to hold good for
both treaties. They point out that not only the suzerainty, but also the
independence, of the Transvaal is proclaimed in that preamble, and that
if one lapses the other must do so also. On the other hand, the Boers
point to the fact that there is actually a preamble to the second
convention, which would seem, therefore, to take the place of the first.
As a matter of fact, the discussion is a barren one, since both parties
agree that Great Britain retained certain rights over the making of
treaties by the Republic, which rights place her in a different position
to an entirely independent state. Whether this difference amounts to a
suzerainty or not is a subject for the academic discussion of
international jurists. What is of importance is the fact, not the word.



CHAPTER II

THE CAUSE OF QUARREL


Gold had been known to exist in the Transvaal before, but it was only in
1886 that it was realised that the deposits which lie some thirty miles
south of the capital are of a very extraordinary and valuable nature.
The proportion of gold in the quartz is not particularly high, nor are
the veins of a remarkable thickness, but the peculiarity of the Rand
mines lies in the fact that throughout this 'banket' formation the metal
is so uniformly distributed that the enterprise can claim a certainty
which is not usually associated with the industry. It is quarrying
rather than mining. Add to this that the reefs which were originally
worked as outcrops have now been traced to enormous depths, and present
the same features as those at the surface. A conservative estimate of
the value of the gold has placed it at seven hundred millions of pounds.

Such a discovery produced the inevitable effect. A great number of
adventurers flocked into the country, some desirable and some very much
the reverse. There were circumstances, however, which kept away the
rowdy and desperado element who usually make for a newly-opened
goldfield. It was not a class of mining which encouraged the individual
adventurer. It was a field for elaborate machinery, which could only be
provided by capital. Managers, engineers, miners, technical experts, and
the tradesmen and middlemen who live upon them, these were the
Uitlanders, drawn from all races under the sun, but with the
Anglo-Celtic vastly predominant. The best engineers were American, the
best miners were Cornish, the best managers were English, the money to
run the mines was largely subscribed in England. As time went on,
however, the German and French interests became more extensive, until
their joint holdings are now probably as heavy as those of the British.
Soon the population of the mining centres became about as numerous as
that of the whole Boer community, and consisted mainly of men in the
prime of life--men, too, of exceptional intelligence and energy.

The situation was an extraordinary one. I have already attempted to
bring the problem home to an American by suggesting that the Dutch of
New York had trekked west and founded an anti-American and highly
unprogressive State. To carry out the analogy we will now suppose that
that State was California, that the gold of that State attracted a large
inrush of American citizens, that these citizens were heavily taxed and
badly used, and that they deafened Washington with their outcry about
their injuries. That would be a fair parallel to the relations between
the Transvaal, the Uitlanders, and the British Government.

That these Uitlanders had very real and pressing grievances no one could
possibly deny. To recount them all would be a formidable task, for their
whole lives were darkened by injustice. There was not a wrong which had
driven the Boer from Cape Colony which he did not now practise himself
upon others--and a wrong may be excusable in 1835 which is monstrous in
1895. The primitive virtue which had characterised the farmers broke
down in the face of temptation. The country Boers were little affected,
some of them not at all, but the Pretoria Government became a most
corrupt oligarchy, venal and incompetent to the last degree. Officials
and imported Hollanders handled the stream of gold which came in from
the mines, while the unfortunate Uitlander who paid nine-tenths of the
taxation was fleeced at every turn, and met with laughter and taunts
when he endeavoured to win the franchise by which he might peaceably set
right the wrongs from which he suffered. He was not an unreasonable
person. On the contrary, he was patient to the verge of meekness, as
capital is likely to be when it is surrounded by rifles. But his
situation was intolerable, and after successive attempts at peaceful
agitation, and numerous humble petitions to the Volksraad, he began at
last to realise that he would never obtain redress unless he could find
some way of winning it for himself.

Without attempting to enumerate all the wrongs which embittered the
Uitlanders, the more serious of them may be summed up in this way:

1. That they were heavily taxed and provided about seven-eighths of the
revenue of the country. The revenue of the South African Republic--which
had been 154,000_l._ in 1886, when the goldfields were opened--had
grown in 1899 to four million pounds, and the country through the
industry of the new-comers had changed from one of the poorest to the
richest in the whole world (per head of population).

2. That in spite of this prosperity which they had brought, they were
left without a vote, and could by no means influence the disposal of the
great sums which they were providing. Such a case of taxation without
representation has never been known.

3. That they had no voice in the choice or payment of officials. Men of
the worst private character might be placed with complete authority over
valuable interests. The total official salaries had risen in 1899 to a
sum sufficient to pay 40_l._ per head to the entire male Boer
population.

4. That they had no control over education. Mr. John Robinson, the
Director-General of the Johannesburg Educational Council, has reckoned
the sum spent on the Uitlander schools as 650_l._ out of 63,000_l._
allotted for education, making 1_s._ 10_d._ per head per annum on
Uitlander children, and 8_l._ 6_s._ per head on Boer children--the
Uitlander, as always, paying seven-eighths of the original sum.

5. No power of municipal government. Watercarts instead of pipes, filthy
buckets instead of drains, a corrupt and violent police, a high
death-rate in what should be a health resort--all this in a city which
they had built themselves.

6. Despotic government in the matter of the Press and of the right of
public meeting.

7. Disability from service upon a jury.

8. Continual harassing of the mining interest by vexatious legislation.
Under this head come many grievances, some special to the mines and some
affecting all Uitlanders. The dynamite monopoly, by which the miners had
to pay 600,000_l._ extra per annum in order to get a worse quality of
dynamite; the liquor laws, by which the Kaffirs were allowed to be
habitually drunk; the incompetence and extortions of the State-owned
railway; the granting of concessions for numerous articles of ordinary
consumption to individuals, by which high prices were maintained; the
surrounding of Johannesburg by tolls from which the town had no
profit--these were among the economical grievances, some large, some
petty, which ramified through every transaction of life. These are the
wrongs which Mr. W. T. Stead has described as 'the twopenny-halfpenny
grievances of a handful of Englishmen.'

The manner in which the blood was sucked from the Uitlanders, and the
rapid spread of wealth among the Boer officials, may be gathered from
the list of the salaries of the State servants from the opening of the
mines to the outbreak of the war:

                       £
    1886             51,831
    1887             99,083
    1888            164,466
    1889            249,641
    1890            324,520
    1891            332,888
    1892            323,608
    1893            361,275
    1894            419,775
    1895            570,047
    1896            813,029
    1897            996,959
    1898          1,080,382
    1899          1,216,394

which shows, as Mr. FitzPatrick has pointed out, that the salary list
had become twenty-four times what it was when the Uitlanders arrived,
and five times as much as the total revenue was then.

But outside and beyond all the definite wrongs from which they suffered,
there was a constant irritation to freeborn and progressive men,
accustomed to liberal institutions, that they should be despotically
ruled by a body of men some of whom were ignorant bigots, some of them
buffoons, and nearly all of them openly and shamelessly corrupt. Out of
twenty-five members of the First Volksraad twenty-one were, in the case
of the Selati Railway Company, publicly and circumstantially accused of
bribery, with full details of the bribes received, their date, and who
paid them. The black-list includes the present vice-president, Schalk
Burger; the vice-president of that date; Eloff, the son-in-law of
Kruger; and the secretary of the Volksraad. Apparently every man of the
executive and the legislature had his price.

A corrupt assembly is an evil master, but when it is narrow-minded and
bigoted as well, it becomes indeed intolerable. The following tit-bits
from the debates in the two Raads show the intelligence and spirit of
the men who were ruling over one of the most progressive communities in
the world:

'Pillar-boxes in Pretoria were opposed on the grounds that they were
extravagant and effeminate. Deputy Taljaard said that he could not see
why people wanted to be always writing letters; he wrote none himself.
In the days of his youth he had written a letter and had not been afraid
to travel fifty miles and more on horseback and by wagon to post it--and
now people complained if they had to go one mile.'

A debate on the possibility of decreasing the plague of locusts led to
the following enlightened discussion:

'_July 21._--Mr. Roos said locusts were a plague, as in the days of King
Pharaoh, sent by God, and the country would assuredly be loaded with
shame and obloquy if it tried to raise its hand against the mighty hand
of the Almighty.

'Messrs. Declerq and Steenkamp spoke in the same strain, quoting largely
from the Scriptures.

'The Chairman related a true story of a man whose farm was always spared
by the locusts, until one day he caused some to be killed. His farm was
then devastated.

'Mr. Stoop conjured the members not to constitute themselves terrestrial
gods and oppose the Almighty.

'Mr. Lucas Meyer raised a storm by ridiculing the arguments of the
former speakers, and comparing the locusts to beasts of prey which they
destroyed.

'Mr. Labuschagne was violent. He said the locusts were quite different
from beasts of prey. They were a special plague sent by God for their
sinfulness.'

In a further debate:

'Mr. Jan de Beer complained of the lack of uniformity in neckties. Some
wore a Tom Thumb variety, and others wore scarves. This was a state of
things to be deplored, and he considered that the Raad should put its
foot down and define the size and shape of neckties.'

The following note of a debate gives some idea of how far the
legislators were qualified to deal with commercial questions:

'_May 8._--On the application of the Sheba G. M. Co. for permission to
erect an aërial tram from the mine to the mill,

'Mr. Grobelaar asked whether an aërial tram was a balloon or whether it
could fly through the air.

'The only objection that the Chairman had to urge against granting the
tram was that the Company had an English name, and that with so many
Dutch ones available.

'Mr. Taljaard objected to the word "participeeren" (participate) as not
being Dutch, and to him unintelligible: "I can't believe the word is
Dutch; why have I never come across it in the Bible if it is?"

'_June 18._--On the application for a concession to treat tailings,

'Mr. Taljaard wished to know if the words "pyrites" and "concentrates"
could not be translated into the Dutch language. He could not understand
what it meant. He had gone to night-school as long as he had been in
Pretoria, and even now he could not explain everything to his burghers.
He thought it a shame that big hills should be made on ground under
which there might be rich reefs, and which in future might be required
for a market or outspan. He would support the recommendation on
condition that the name of the quartz should be translated into Dutch,
as there might be more in this than some of them imagined.'

Such debates as these may be amusing at a distance, but they are less
entertaining when they come from an autocrat who has complete power over
the conditions of your life.

From the fact that they were a community extremely preoccupied by their
own business, it followed that the Uitlanders were not ardent
politicians, and that they desired to have a share in the government of
the State for the purpose of making the conditions of their own industry
and of their own daily lives more endurable. How far there was need of
such an interference may be judged by any fair-minded man who reads the
list of their complaints. A superficial view may recognise the Boers as
the champions of liberty, but a deeper insight must see that they (as
represented by their elected rulers) have in truth stood for all that
history has shown to be odious in the form of exclusiveness and
oppression. Their conception of liberty has been a narrow and selfish
one, and they have consistently inflicted upon others far heavier wrongs
than those against which they had themselves rebelled.

As the mines increased in importance and the miners in numbers, it was
found that these political disabilities affected some of that
cosmopolitan crowd far more than others, in proportion to the amount of
freedom to which their home institutions had made them accustomed. The
Continental Uitlanders were more patient of that which was unendurable
to the American and the Briton. The Americans, however, were in so great
a minority that it was upon the British that the brunt of the struggle
for freedom fell. Apart from the fact that the British were more
numerous than all the other Uitlanders combined, there were special
reasons why they should feel their humiliating position more than the
members of any other race. In the first place, many of the British were
British South Africans, who knew that in the neighbouring countries
which gave them birth the most liberal possible institutions had been
given to the kinsmen of these very Boers who were refusing them the
management of their own drains and water-supply. And again, every Briton
knew that Great Britain claimed to be the paramount Power in South
Africa, and so he felt as if his own land, to which he might have looked
for protection, was conniving at and acquiescing in his ill-treatment.
As citizens of the paramount Power, it was peculiarly galling that they
should be held in political subjection. The British, therefore, were the
most persistent and energetic of the agitators.

But it is a poor cause which cannot bear to fairly state and honestly
consider the case of its opponents. The Boers had made, as has been
briefly shown, great efforts to establish a country of their own. They
had travelled far, worked hard, and fought bravely. After all their
efforts they were fated to see an influx of strangers into their
country, some of them men of questionable character, who threatened to
outnumber the original inhabitants. If the franchise were granted to
these, there could be no doubt that, though at first the Boers might
control a majority of the votes, it was only a question of time before
the new-comers would dominate the Raad and elect their own President,
who might adopt a policy abhorrent to the original owners of the land.
Were the Boers to lose by the ballot-box the victory which they had won
by their rifles? Was it fair to expect it? These new-comers came for
gold. They got their gold. Their companies paid a hundred per cent. Was
not that enough to satisfy them? If they did not like the country, why
did they not leave it? No one compelled them to stay there. But if they
stayed, let them be thankful that they were tolerated at all, and not
presume to interfere with the laws of those by whose courtesy they were
allowed to enter the country.

That is a fair statement of the Boer position, and at first sight an
impartial man might say that there was a good deal to say for it; but a
closer examination would show that, though it might be tenable in
theory, it is unjust and impossible in practice.

In the present crowded state of the world a policy of Thibet may be
carried out in some obscure corner, but it cannot be done in a great
tract of country which lies right across the main line of industrial
progress. The position is too absolutely artificial. A handful of people
by the right of conquest take possession of an enormous country over
which they are dotted at such intervals that it is their boast that one
farmhouse cannot see the smoke of another, and yet, though their numbers
are so disproportionate to the area which they cover, they refuse to
admit any other people upon equal terms, but claim to be a privileged
class who shall dominate the new-comers completely. They are outnumbered
in their own land by immigrants who are far more highly educated and
progressive, and yet they hold them down in a way which exists nowhere
else upon earth. What is their right? The right of conquest. Then the
same right may be justly invoked to reverse so intolerable a situation.
This they would themselves acknowledge. 'Come on and fight! Come on!'
cried a member of the Volksraad when the franchise petition of the
Uitlanders was presented. 'Protest! Protest! What is the good of
protesting?' said Kruger to Mr. W. Y. Campbell; 'you have not got the
guns, I have.' There was always the final court of appeal. Judge Creusot
and Judge Mauser were always behind the President.

Again, the argument of the Boers would be more valid had they received
no benefit from these immigrants. If they had ignored them they might
fairly have stated that they did not desire their presence. But even
while they protested they grew rich at the Uitlanders' expense. They
could not have it both ways. It would be consistent to discourage him
and not profit by him, or to make him comfortable and build the State
upon his money; but to ill-treat him and at the same time grow strong by
his taxation must surely be an injustice.

And again, the whole argument is based upon the narrow racial
supposition that every naturalised citizen not of Boer extraction must
necessarily be unpatriotic. This is not borne out by the examples of
history. The new-comer soon becomes as proud of his country and as
jealous of her liberty as the old. Had President Kruger given the
franchise generously to the Uitlander, his pyramid would have been firm
upon its base and not balanced upon its apex. It is true that the
corrupt oligarchy would have vanished, and the spirit of a broader, more
tolerant freedom influenced the counsels of the State. But the republic
would have become stronger and more permanent with a population who, if
they differed in details, were united in essentials. Whether such a
solution would have been to the advantage of British interests in South
Africa is quite another question. In more ways than one President Kruger
has been a good friend to the Empire.

At the time of the Convention of Pretoria (1881) the rights of
burghership might be obtained by one year's residence. In 1882 it was
raised to five years, the reasonable limit which obtains both in Great
Britain and in the United States. Had it remained so, it is safe to say
that there would never have been either an Uitlander question or a war.
Grievances would have been righted from the inside without external
interference.

In 1890 the inrush of outsiders alarmed the Boers, and the franchise was
raised so as to be only attainable by those who had lived fourteen years
in the country. The Uitlanders, who were increasing rapidly in numbers
and were suffering from the formidable list of grievances already
enumerated, perceived that their wrongs were so numerous that it was
hopeless to have them set right seriatim, and that only by obtaining the
leverage of the franchise could they hope to move the heavy burden which
weighed them down. In 1893 a petition of 13,000 Uitlanders, couched in
most respectful terms, was submitted to the Raad, but met with
contemptuous neglect. Undeterred, however, by this failure, the National
Reform Union, an association which was not one of capitalists, came back
to the attack in 1894. They drew up a petition which was signed by
35,000 adult male Uitlanders, as great a number probably as the total
Boer male population of the country. A small liberal body in the Raad
supported this memorial and endeavoured in vain to obtain some justice
for the new-comers. Mr. Jeppe was the mouthpiece of this select band.
'They own half the soil, they pay at least three-quarters of the taxes,'
said he. 'They are men who in capital, energy, and education are at
least our equals. What will become of us or our children on that day
when we may find ourselves in a minority of one in twenty without a
single friend among the other nineteen, among those who will then tell
us that they wished to be brothers, but that we by our own act have made
them strangers to the republic?' Such reasonable and liberal sentiments
were combated by members who asserted that the signatures could not
belong to law-abiding citizens, since they were actually agitating
against the law of the franchise, and others whose intolerance was
expressed by the defiance of the member already quoted, who challenged
the Uitlanders to come out and fight. The champions of exclusiveness and
racial hatred won the day. The memorial was rejected by sixteen votes to
eight, and the franchise law was, on the initiative of the President,
actually made more stringent than ever, being framed in such a way that
during the fourteen years of probation the applicant should give up his
previous nationality, so that for that period he would belong to no
country at all. No hopes were held out that any possible attitude upon
the part of the Uitlanders would soften the determination of the
President and his burghers. One who remonstrated was led outside the
State buildings by the President, who pointed up at the national flag.
'You see that flag?' said he. 'If I grant the franchise, I may as well
pull it down.' His animosity against the immigrants was bitter.
'Burghers, friends, thieves, murderers, new-comers, and others,' is the
conciliatory opening of one of his public addresses. Though Johannesburg
is only thirty-two miles from Pretoria, and though the State of which he
was the head depended for its revenue upon the goldfields, he paid it
only three visits in nine years.

This settled animosity was deplorable, but not unnatural. A man imbued
with the idea of a chosen people, and unread in any book save the one
which cultivates this very idea, could not be expected to have learned
the historical lessons of the advantages which a State reaps from a
liberal policy. To him it was as if the Ammonites and Moabites had
demanded admission into the twelve tribes. He mistook an agitation
against the exclusive policy of the State for one against the existence
of the State itself. A wide franchise would have made his republic
firm-based and permanent. It was a minority of the Uitlanders who had
any desire to come into the British system. They were a cosmopolitan
crowd, only united by the bond of a common injustice. The majority of
the British immigrants had no desire to subvert the State. But when
every other method had failed, and their petition for the rights of
freemen had been flung back at them, it was natural that their eyes
should turn to that flag which waved to the north, the west, and the
south of them--the flag which means purity of government with equal
rights and equal duties for all men. Constitutional agitation was laid
aside, arms were smuggled in, and everything prepared for an organised
rising.

It had been arranged that the town was to rise upon a certain night,
that Pretoria should be attacked, the fort seized, and the rifles and
ammunition, used to arm the Uitlanders. It was a feasible device, though
it must seem to us, who have had such an experience of the military
virtues of the burghers, a very desperate one. But it is conceivable
that the rebels might have held Johannesburg until the universal
sympathy which their cause excited throughout South Africa would have
caused Great Britain to intervene. Unfortunately they had complicated
matters by asking for outside help. Mr. Cecil Rhodes was Premier of the
Cape, a man of immense energy, and one who had rendered great services
to the empire. The motives of his action are obscure--certainly, we may
say that they were not sordid, for he has always been a man whose
thoughts were large and whose habits were simple. But whatever they may
have been--whether an ill-regulated desire to consolidate South Africa
under British rule, or a burning sympathy with the Uitlanders in their
fight against injustice--it is certain that he allowed his lieutenant,
Dr. Jameson, to assemble the mounted police of the Chartered Company, of
which Rhodes was founder and director, for the purpose of co-operating
with the rebels at Johannesburg. Moreover, when the revolt at
Johannesburg was postponed, on account of a disagreement as to which
flag they were to rise under, it appears that Jameson (with or without
the orders of Rhodes) forced the hand of the conspirators by invading
the country with a force absurdly inadequate to the work which he had
taken in hand. Five hundred policemen and two field-guns made up the
forlorn hope who started from near Mafeking and crossed the Transvaal
border upon December 29, 1895. On January 2 they were surrounded by the
Boers amid the broken country near Dornkop, and after losing many of
their number killed and wounded, without food and with spent horses,
they were compelled to lay down their arms. Six burghers lost their
lives in the skirmish.

Determined attempts have been made to connect the British Government
with this fiasco, and to pretend that the Colonial Secretary and other
statesmen were cognisant of it. Such an impression has been fostered by
the apparent reluctance of the Commission of Inquiry to push their
researches to the uttermost. It is much to be regretted that every
possible telegram and letter should not have been called for upon that
occasion; but the idea that this was not done for fear that Mr.
Chamberlain and the British Government would be implicated, becomes
absurd in the presence of the fact that the Commission included among
its members Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman and Sir William Harcourt. Is it
conceivable that these gentlemen held their hands for fear of damaging
the Government, or that Mr. Chamberlain could afterwards have the
effrontery to publicly and solemnly deny all knowledge of the business
in the presence of gentlemen who had connived at the suppression of the
proofs that he _did_ know? Such a supposition is ridiculous, and yet it
is involved in the theory that the Commission refrained from pushing
their examination because they were afraid of showing their country to
have been in the wrong.

Again, even the most embittered enemy of Mr. Chamberlain must admit that
he is a clear-headed man, a man of resolution, and a man with some sense
of proportion as to the means which should be used for an end. Is such a
man, knowing the military record of the burghers, the sort of man to
connive at the invasion of their country by 500 policemen and two guns?
Would he be likely, even if he approved of the general aim, to sanction
such a harebrained piece of folly? And, having sanctioned it, would he
be so weak of purpose as to take energetic steps, the instant that he
heard of the invasion, to undo that which he is supposed himself to have
done, and to cause the failure of his own scheme? Why should he on such
a supposition send energetic messages to Johannesburg forbidding the
British to co-operate with the raiders? The whole accusation is so
absurd that it is only the mania of party spite or of national hatred
which could induce anyone to believe it.

Again, supposing for an instant that the British Government knew
anything about the coming raid, what is the first and most obvious thing
which they would have done? Whether Jameson got safely to Johannesburg
or not there was evidently a probability of a great race-struggle in
South Africa. Would they not then, on some pretext or another, have
increased the strength of the British force in the country, which was
so weak that it was powerless to influence the course of events? It is
certain that this is so. But nothing of the kind was done.

Mr. Chamberlain's own denial is clear and emphatic:

'I desire to say in the most explicit manner that I had not then, and
that I never had, any knowledge, or until, I think it was the day before
the actual raid took place, the slightest suspicion of anything in the
nature of a hostile or armed invasion of the Transvaal.'--(British South
Africa Committee, 1897. Q. 6223.)

The Earl of Selborne, Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies, was no
less explicit:

'Neither then nor at any subsequent period prior to the raid did we know
of what is now called "Jameson's plan," nor that the revolution at
Johannesburg was being largely controlled and financed from Cape Colony
and Rhodesia.... Sir Hercules Robinson had no suspicion of what was
impending, nor apparently President Kruger, nor Mr. Hofmeyr, nor any
public man in South Africa, except those who were preparing the plan. At
any rate the fact remains that from no quarter did the Colonial Office
receive any warning. I submit, therefore, it would have been a most
extraordinary thing if any suspicion had occurred to us.'

The finding of the Committee--a Committee composed of men of all
parties, some of whom, as we know, were yearning 'to give Joe a
fall'--was unanimous in condemning the raid and equally unanimous in
exonerating the Government from any knowledge of it. Their Report said:

'Your Committee fully accept the statements of the Secretary of State
for the Colonies, and of the Under-Secretary, and entirely exonerate the
officials of the Colonial Office of having been in any sense cognisant
of the plans which led up to the incursion of Dr. Jameson's force into
the South African Republic....

'Neither the Secretary of State for the Colonies, nor any of the
officials of the Colonial Office received any information which made
them, or should have made them, or any of them, aware of the plot during
its development.'

And yet to this day it is one of the articles of faith of a few
crack-brained fanatics in this country, and of many ill-informed and
prejudiced editors upon the Continent, that the British Government was
responsible for the raid.

The Uitlanders have been severely criticised for not having sent out a
force to help Jameson in his difficulties, but it is impossible to see
how they could have acted in any other manner. They had done all they
could to prevent Jameson coming to their relief, and now it was rather
unreasonable to suppose that they should relieve their reliever. Indeed,
they had an entirely exaggerated idea of the strength of the force which
he was bringing, and received the news of his capture with incredulity.
When it became confirmed they rose, but in a half-hearted fashion which
was not due to want of courage, but to the difficulties of their
position. On the one hand the British Government disowned Jameson
entirely, and did all it could to discourage the rising; on the other,
the President had the raiders in his keeping at Pretoria, and let it be
understood that their fate depended upon the behaviour of the
Uitlanders. They were led to believe that Jameson would be shot unless
they laid down their arms, though, as a matter of fact, Jameson and his
people had surrendered upon a promise of quarter. So skilfully did
Kruger use his hostages that he succeeded, with the help of the British
Commissioner, in getting the thousands of excited Johannesburgers to lay
down their arms without bloodshed. Completely out-man[oe]uvred by the
astute old President, the leaders of the reform movement used all their
influence in the direction of peace, thinking that a general amnesty
would follow; but the moment that they and their people were helpless
the detectives and armed burghers occupied the town, and sixty of their
number were hurried to Pretoria Gaol.

To the raiders themselves the President behaved with generosity. Perhaps
he could not find it in his heart to be harsh to the men who had managed
to put him in the right and won for him the sympathy of the world. His
own illiberal and oppressive treatment of the new-comers was forgotten
in the face of this illegal inroad of filibusters. The true issues were
so obscured by this intrusion that it has taken years to clear them, and
perhaps they will never be wholly cleared. It was forgotten that it was
the bad government of the country which was the real cause of the
unfortunate raid. From then onwards the government might grow worse and
worse, but it was always possible to point to the raid as justifying
everything. Were the Uitlanders to have the franchise? How could they
expect it after the raid? Would Britain object to the enormous
importation of arms and obvious preparations for war? They were only
precautions against a second raid. For years the raid stood in the way,
not only of all progress, but of all remonstrance. Through an action
over which they had no control, and which they had done their best to
prevent, the British Government was left with a bad case and a weakened
moral authority.

The raiders were sent home, where the rank and file were very properly
released, and the chief officers were condemned to terms of imprisonment
which certainly did not err upon the side of severity. In the meantime,
both President Kruger and his burghers had shown a greater severity to
the political prisoners from Johannesburg than to the armed followers of
Jameson. The nationality of these prisoners is interesting and
suggestive. There were twenty-three Englishmen, sixteen South Africans,
nine Scotchmen, six Americans, two Welshmen, one Irishman, one
Australian, one Hollander, one Bavarian, one Canadian, one Swiss, and
one Turk. The list is sufficient comment upon the assertion that only
the British Uitlanders made serious complaints of subjection and
injustice. The prisoners were arrested in January, but the trial did not
take place until the end of April. All were found guilty of high
treason. Mr. Lionel Phillips, Colonel Rhodes (brother of Mr. Cecil
Rhodes), George Farrar, and Mr. Hammond, the American engineer, were
condemned to death, a sentence which was afterwards commuted to the
payment of an enormous fine. The other prisoners were condemned to two
years' imprisonment, with a fine of 2,000_l._ each. The imprisonment was
of the most arduous and trying sort, and was embittered by the harshness
of the gaoler, Du Plessis. One of the unfortunate men cut his throat,
and several fell seriously ill, the diet and the sanitary conditions
being equally unhealthy. At last, at the end of May, all the prisoners
but six were released. Four of the six soon followed, two stalwarts,
Sampson and Davies, refusing to sign any petition and remaining in
prison until they were set free in 1897. Altogether the Transvaal
Government received in fines from the reform prisoners the enormous sum
of 212,000_l._ A certain comic relief was immediately afterwards given
to so grave an episode by the presentation of a bill to Great Britain
for 1,677,938_l._ 3_s._ 3_d._--the greater part of which was under the
heading of moral and intellectual damage. It is to be feared that even
the 3_s._ 3_d._ remains still unpaid.

The raid was past and the reform movement was past, but the causes
which produced them both remained. It is hardly conceivable that a
statesman who loved his country would have refrained from making some
effort to remove a state of things which had already caused such grave
dangers, and which must obviously become more serious with every year
that passed. But Paul Kruger had hardened his heart, and was not to be
moved. The grievances of the Uitlanders became heavier than ever. The
one power in the land to which they had been able to appeal for some
sort of redress amid their troubles was the law courts. Now it was
decreed that the courts should be dependent on the Volksraad. The Chief
Justice protested against such a degradation of his high office, and he
was dismissed in consequence without a pension. The judge who had
condemned the reformers was chosen to fill the vacancy, and the
protection of a fixed law was withdrawn from the Uitlanders.

A commission appointed by the State was sent to examine into the
condition of the mining industry and the grievances from which the
new-comers suffered. The chairman was Mr. Schalk Burger, one of the most
liberal of the Boers, and the proceedings were thorough and impartial.
The result was a report which amply vindicated the reformers, and
suggested remedies which would have gone a long way towards satisfying
the Uitlanders. With such enlightened legislation their motives for
seeking the franchise would have been less pressing. But the President
and his Raad would have none of the recommendations of the commission.
The rugged old autocrat declared that Schalk Burger was a traitor to his
country for having signed such a document, and a new reactionary
committee was chosen to report upon the report. Words and papers were
the only outcome of the affair. No amelioration came to the new-comers.
But at least they had again put their case publicly upon record, and it
had been endorsed by the most respected of the burghers. Gradually in
the press of the English-speaking countries the raid was ceasing to
obscure the issue. More and more clearly it was coming out that no
permanent settlement was possible where half the population was
oppressed by the other half. They had tried peaceful means and failed.
They had tried warlike means and failed. What was there left for them to
do? Their own country, the paramount power of South Africa, had never
helped them. Perhaps if it were directly appealed to it might do so. It
could not, if only for the sake of its own imperial prestige, leave its
children for ever in a state of subjection. The small spark which caused
a final explosion came from the shooting of a British subject named
Edgar by a Boer policeman, Jones, in Johannesburg. The action of the
policeman was upheld by the authorities, and the British felt that their
lives were no longer safe in the presence of an armed overbearing
police. At another time the incident might have been of no great
importance, but at that moment it seemed to be taken as the crowning
example of the injustice under which the miners suffered. A meeting of
protest called by the British residents was broken up by gangs of
workmen under Boer officials. Driven to desperation the Uitlanders
determined upon a petition to Queen Victoria, and in doing so they
brought their grievances out of the limits of a local controversy into
the broader field of international politics. Great Britain must either
protect them or acknowledge that their protection was beyond her power.
A direct petition to the Queen praying for protection was signed in
April 1899 by 21,000 Uitlanders.

The lines which this historical petition took may be judged from the
following excerpt:

'The condition of Your Majesty's subjects in this State has indeed
become well-nigh intolerable.

'The acknowledged and admitted grievances of which Your Majesty's
subjects complained prior to 1895, not only are not redressed, but exist
to-day in an aggravated form. They are still deprived of all political
rights, they are denied any voice in the government of the country, they
are taxed far above the requirements of the country, the revenue of
which is misapplied and devoted to objects which keep alive a continuous
and well-founded feeling of irritation, without in any way advancing the
general interest of the State. Maladministration and peculation of
public moneys go hand-in-hand, without any vigorous measures being
adopted to put a stop to the scandal. The education of Uitlander
children is made subject to impossible conditions. The police afford no
adequate protection to the lives and property of the inhabitants of
Johannesburg; they are rather a source of danger to the peace and safety
of the Uitlander population.

'A further grievance has become prominent since the beginning of the
year. The power vested in the Government by means of the Public Meetings
Act has been a menace to Your Majesty's subjects since the enactment of
the Act in 1894. This power has now been applied in order to deliver a
blow that strikes at the inherent and inalienable birthright of every
British subject--namely, his right to petition his Sovereign. Straining
to the utmost the language and intention of the law, the Government have
arrested two British subjects who assisted in presenting a petition to
Your Majesty on behalf of four thousand fellow-subjects. Not content
with this, the Government, when Your Majesty's loyal subjects again
attempted to lay their grievances before Your Majesty, permitted their
meeting to be broken up, and the objects of it to be defeated, by a body
of Boers, organised by Government officials and acting under the
protection of the police. By reason, therefore, of the direct, as well
as the indirect, act of the Government, Your Majesty's loyal subjects
have been prevented from publicly ventilating their grievances, and from
laying them before Your Majesty.

'Wherefore Your Majesty's humble petitioners humbly beseech Your Most
Gracious Majesty to extend Your Majesty's protection to Your Majesty's
loyal subjects resident in this State, and to cause an inquiry to be
made into grievances and complaints enumerated and set forth in this
humble petition, and to direct Your Majesty's representative in South
Africa to take measures which will insure the speedy reform of the
abuses complained of, and to obtain substantial guarantees from the
Government of this State for a recognition of their rights as British
subjects.'

From the date of this direct petition from our ill-used people to their
Sovereign events moved inevitably towards one end. Sometimes the surface
was troubled and sometimes smooth, but the stream always ran swiftly and
the roar of the fall sounded ever louder in the ears.



CHAPTER III

THE NEGOTIATIONS


The British Government and the British people do not desire any direct
authority in South Africa. Their one supreme interest is that the
various States there should live in concord and prosperity, and that
there should be no need for the presence of a British redcoat within the
whole great peninsula. Our foreign critics, with their misapprehension
of the British colonial system, can never realise that whether the
four-coloured flag of the Transvaal or the Union Jack of a
self-governing colony waved over the gold mines would not make the
difference of one shilling to the revenue of Great Britain. The
Transvaal as a British province would have its own legislature, its own
revenue, its own expenditure, and its own tariff against the mother
country, as well as against the rest of the world, and Britain be none
the richer for the change. This is so obvious to a Briton that he has
ceased to insist upon it, and it is for that reason perhaps that it is
so universally misunderstood abroad. On the other hand, while she is no
gainer by the change, most of the expense of it in blood and in money
falls upon the home country. On the face of it, therefore, Great Britain
had every reason to avoid so formidable a task as the conquest of the
South African Republic. At the best she had nothing to gain, and at the
worst she had an immense deal to lose. There was no room for ambition or
aggression. It was a case of shirking or fulfilling a most arduous duty.

There could be no question of a plot for the annexation of the
Transvaal. In a free country the Government cannot move in advance of
public opinion, and public opinion is influenced by and reflected in the
newspapers. One may examine the files of the press during all the months
of negotiations and never find one reputable opinion in favour of such a
course, nor did one in society ever meet an advocate of such a measure.
But a great wrong was being done, and all that was asked was the minimum
change which would set it right, and restore equality between the white
races in Africa. 'Let Kruger only be liberal in the extension of the
franchise,' said the paper which is most representative of the sanest
British opinion, 'and he will find that the power of the republic will
become not weaker, but infinitely more secure. Let him once give the
majority of the resident males of full age the full vote, and he will
have given the republic a stability and power which nothing else can. If
he rejects all pleas of this kind, and persists in his present policy,
he may possibly stave off the evil day, and preserve his cherished
oligarchy for another few years; but the end will be the same.' The
extract reflects the tone of all the British press with the exception of
one or two papers which considered that even the persistent ill-usage of
our people, and the fact that we were peculiarly responsible for them in
this State, did not justify us in interfering in the internal affairs of
the republic. It cannot be denied that the Jameson Raid had weakened the
force of those who wished to interfere energetically on behalf of
British subjects. There was a vague but widespread feeling that perhaps
the capitalists were engineering the situation for their own ends. It is
difficult to imagine how a state of unrest and insecurity, to say
nothing of a state of war, can ever be to the advantage of capital, and
surely it is obvious that if some arch-schemer were using the grievances
of the Uitlanders for his own ends the best way to checkmate him would
be to remove those grievances. The suspicion, however, did exist among
those who like to ignore the obvious and magnify the remote, and
throughout the negotiations the hand of Great Britain was weakened, as
her adversary had doubtless calculated that it would be, by an earnest
but fussy and faddy minority.

It was in April 1899 that the British Uitlanders sent their petition
praying for protection to their native country. Since the April previous
a correspondence had been going on between Dr. Leyds, Secretary of State
for the South African Republic, and Mr. Chamberlain, Colonial Secretary,
upon the existence or non-existence of the suzerainty. On the one hand,
it was contended that the substitution of a second convention had
entirely annulled the first; on the other, that the preamble of the
first applied also to the second. If the Transvaal contention were
correct it is clear that Great Britain had been tricked and jockeyed
into such a position, since she had received no _quid pro quo_ in the
second convention, and even the most careless of Colonial Secretaries
could hardly have been expected to give away a very substantial
something for nothing. But the contention throws us back upon the
academic question of what a suzerainty is. The Transvaal admitted a
power of veto over their foreign policy, and this admission in itself,
unless they openly tore up the convention, must deprive them of the
position of a sovereign State.

But now to this debate, which had so little of urgency in it that seven
months intervened between statement and reply, there came the bitterly
vital question of the wrongs and appeal of the Uitlanders. Sir Alfred
Milner, the British Commissioner in South Africa, a man of liberal
politics who had been appointed by a Conservative Government, commanded
the respect and confidence of all parties. His record was that of an
able, clear-headed man, too just to be either guilty of or tolerant of
injustice. To him the matter was referred, and a conference was arranged
between President Kruger and him at Bloemfontein, the capital of the
Orange Free State. They met on May 31, 1899.

There were three different classes of subject which had to be discussed
at the Conference. One included all those alleged breaches of the
Convention of London which had caused so much friction between the two
Governments, and which had thrice in eighteen years brought the States
to the verge of war. Among these subjects would be the Boer annexations
of native territory, such interference with trade as the stopping of the
Drifts, the question of suzerainty, and the possibility of arbitration.
The second class of questions would deal with the grievances of the
Uitlanders, which presented a problem which had in no way been provided
for in the Conventions. The third class contained the question of the
ill-treatment of British Indians, and other causes of quarrel. Sir
Alfred Milner was faced with the alternative either to argue over each
of these questions in turn--an endless and unprofitable business--or to
put forward some one test-question which would strike at the root of the
matter and prove whether a real attempt would be made by the Boer
Government to relieve the tension. The question which he selected was
that of the franchise for the Uitlanders, for it was evident that if
they obtained not a fair share--such a request was never made--but any
appreciable share in the government of the country, they would in time
be able to relieve their own grievances and so spare the British
Government the heavy task of acting as their champions. But the
Conference was quickly wrecked upon this question. Milner contended for
a five-years' retroactive franchise, with provisions to secure adequate
representation for the mining districts. Kruger offered a seven-years'
franchise, coupled with numerous conditions which whittled down its
value very much; promised five members out of thirty-one to represent
half the male adult population; and added a provision that all
differences should be subject to arbitration by foreign powers--a
condition which is incompatible with any claim to suzerainty. This offer
dropped the term for the franchise from fourteen years to seven, but it
retained a number of conditions which might make it illusory, while
demanding in exchange a most important concession from the British
Government. The proposals of each were impossible to the other, and
early in June Sir Alfred Milner was back in Cape Town and President
Kruger in Pretoria, with nothing settled except the extreme difficulty
of a settlement.

On June 12 Sir Alfred Milner received a deputation at Cape Town and
reviewed the situation. 'The principle of equality of races was,' he
said, 'essential for South Africa. The one State where inequality
existed kept all the others in a fever. Our policy was one not of
aggression, but of singular patience, which could not, however, lapse
into indifference.' Two days later Kruger addressed the Raad. 'The other
side had not conceded one tittle, and I could not give more. God has
always stood by us. I do not want war, but I will not give more away.
Although our independence has once been taken away, God had restored
it.' He spoke with sincerity no doubt, but it is hard to hear God
invoked with such confidence for the system which encouraged the liquor
traffic to the natives, and bred the most corrupt set of officials that
the modern world has seen.

A despatch from Sir Alfred Milner, giving his views upon the situation,
made the British public recognise, as nothing else had done, how serious
the position was, and how essential it was that an earnest national
effort should be made to set it right. In it he said:

'The case for intervention is overwhelming. The only attempted answer is
that things will right themselves if left alone. But, in fact, the
policy of leaving things alone has been tried for years, and it has led
to their going from bad to worse. It is not true that this is owing to
the raid. They were going from bad to worse before the raid. We were on
the verge of war before the raid, and the Transvaal was on the verge of
revolution. The effect of the raid has been to give the policy of
leaving things alone a new lease of life, and with the old consequences.

'The spectacle of thousands of British subjects kept permanently in the
position of helots, constantly chafing under undoubted grievances, and
calling vainly to her Majesty's Government for redress, does steadily
undermine the influence and reputation of Great Britain within the
Queen's dominions. A section of the press, not in the Transvaal only,
preaches openly and constantly the doctrine of a republic embracing all
South Africa, and supports it by menacing references to the armaments of
the Transvaal, its alliance with the Orange Free State, and the active
sympathy which, in case of war, it would receive from a section of her
Majesty's subjects. I regret to say that this doctrine, supported as it
is by a ceaseless stream of malignant lies about the intentions of her
Majesty's Government, is producing a great effect on a large number of
our Dutch fellow-colonists. Language is frequently used which seems to
imply that the Dutch have some superior right, even in this colony, to
their fellow-citizens of British birth. Thousands of men peaceably
disposed, and if left alone perfectly satisfied with their position as
British subjects, are being drawn into disaffection, and there is a
corresponding exasperation upon the part of the British.

'I can see nothing which will put a stop to this mischievous propaganda
but some striking proof of the intention of her Majesty's Government not
to be ousted from its position in South Africa.'

Such were the grave and measured words with which the British pro-consul
warned his countrymen of what was to come. He saw the stormcloud piling
in the north, but even his eyes had not yet discerned how near and how
terrible was the tempest.

Throughout the end of June and the early part of July much was hoped
from the mediation of the heads of the Afrikander Bond, the political
union of the Dutch Cape colonists. On the one hand, they were the
kinsmen of the Boers; on the other, they were British subjects, and were
enjoying the blessings of those liberal institutions which we were
anxious to see extended to the Transvaal. 'Only treat our folk as we
treat yours!' Our whole contention was compressed into that prayer. But
nothing came of the mission, though a scheme endorsed by Mr. Hofmeyr and
Mr. Herholdt, of the Bond, with Mr. Fischer of the Free State, was
introduced into the Raad and applauded by Mr. Schreiner, the Africander
Premier of Cape Colony. In its original form the provisions were obscure
and complicated, the franchise varying from nine years to seven under
different conditions. In debate, however, the terms were amended until
the time was reduced to seven years, and the proposed representation of
the Goldfields placed at five. The concession was not a great one, nor
could the representation, five out of thirty-one, be considered a
generous provision for half the adult male population; but the reduction
of the years of residence was eagerly hailed in England as a sign that a
compromise might be effected. A sigh of relief went up from the country.
'If,' said the Colonial Secretary, 'this report is confirmed, this
important change in the proposals of President Kruger, coupled with
previous amendments, leads Government to hope that the new law may prove
to be the basis of a settlement on the lines laid down by Sir Alfred
Milner in the Bloemfontein Conference.' He added that there were some
vexatious conditions attached, but concluded, 'Her Majesty's Government
feel assured that the President, having accepted the principle for which
they have contended, will be prepared to reconsider any detail of his
scheme which can be shown to be a possible hindrance to the full
accomplishment of the object in view, and that he will not allow them to
be nullified or reduced in value by any subsequent alterations of the
law or acts of administration.' At the same time, the 'Times' declared
the crisis to be at an end: 'If the Dutch statesmen of the Cape have
induced their brethren in the Transvaal to carry such a Bill, they will
have deserved the lasting gratitude, not only of their own countrymen
and of the English colonists in South Africa, but of the British Empire
and of the civilised world.' The reception of the idea that the crisis
was at an end is surely a conclusive proof how little it was desired in
England that that crisis should lead to war.

But this fair prospect was soon destined to be overcast. Questions of
detail arose which, when closely examined, proved to be matters of very
essential importance. The Uitlanders and British South Africans, who had
experienced in the past how illusory the promises of the President might
be, insisted upon guarantees. The seven years offered were two years
more than that which Sir Alfred Milner had declared to be an irreducible
minimum. The difference of two years would not have hindered their
acceptance, even at the expense of some humiliation to our
representative. But there were conditions which excited distrust when
drawn up by so wily a diplomatist. One was that the alien who aspired to
burghership had to produce a certificate of continuous registration for
a certain time. But the law of registration had fallen into disuse in
the Transvaal, and consequently this provision might render the whole
Bill valueless. Since it was carefully retained, it was certainly meant
for use. The door had been opened, but a stone was placed to block it.
Again, the continued burghership of the new-comers was made to depend
upon the resolution of the first Raad, so that should the mining members
propose any measure of reform, not only their Bill but they also might
be swept out of the house by a Boer majority. What could an Opposition
do if a vote of the Government might at any moment unseat them all? It
was clear that a measure which contained such provisions must be very
carefully sifted before a British Government could accept it as a final
settlement and a complete concession of justice to its subjects. On the
other hand, it naturally felt loth to refuse those clauses which offered
some prospect of an amelioration in their condition. It took the course,
therefore, of suggesting that each Government should appoint delegates
to form a joint commission which should inquire into the working of the
proposed Bill before it was put into a final form. The proposal was
submitted to the Raad on August 7, with the addition that when this was
done Sir Alfred Milner was prepared to discuss anything else, including
arbitration without the interference of foreign powers.

The suggestion of this joint commission has been criticised as an
unwarrantable intrusion into the internal affairs of another country.
But then the whole question from the beginning was about the internal
affairs of another country, since there could be no rest in South Africa
so long as one race tried to dominate the other. It is futile to suggest
analogies, and to imagine what France would do if Germany were to
interfere in a question of French franchise. Supposing that France
contained nearly as many Germans as Frenchmen, and that they were
ill-treated, Germany would interfere quickly enough and continue to do
so until some fair _modus vivendi_ was established. The fact is that the
case of the Transvaal stands alone, that such a condition of things has
never been known, and that no previous precedent can apply to it, save
the general rule that white men who are heavily taxed must have some
representation. Sentiment may incline to the smaller nation, but reason
and justice are all on the side of Britain.

A long delay followed upon the proposal of the Secretary of the
Colonies. No reply was forthcoming from Pretoria. But on all sides there
came evidence that those preparations for war which had been quietly
going on even before the Jameson Raid were now being hurriedly
perfected. For so small a State enormous sums were being spent upon
military equipment. Cases of rifles and boxes of cartridges streamed
into the arsenal, not only from Delagoa Bay, but even, to the
indignation of the English colonists, through Cape Town and Port
Elizabeth. Huge packing-cases, marked 'Agricultural Instruments' and
'Mining Machinery,' arrived from Germany and France, to find their
places in the forts of Johannesburg or Pretoria. As early as May the
Orange Free State President, who was looked upon by the simple and
trustful British as the honest broker who was about to arrange a peace,
was writing to Grobler, the Transvaal official, claiming his share of
the twenty-five million cartridges which had then been imported. This
was the man who was posing as mediator between the two parties a
fortnight later at Bloemfontein.

For three years the Transvaal had been arming to the teeth. So many
modern magazine-rifles had been imported that there were enough to
furnish five to every male burgher in the country. The importation of
ammunition was on the same gigantic scale. For what were these
formidable preparations? Evidently for a war with Great Britain, and not
for a defensive war. It is not in a defensive war that a State provides
sufficient rifles to arm every man of Dutch blood in the whole of South
Africa. No British reinforcements had been sent during the years that
the Transvaal was obviously preparing for a struggle. In that one
eloquent fact lies a complete proof as to which side forced on a war,
and which side desired to avoid one. For three weeks and more, during
which Mr. Kruger was silent, these preparations went on more
energetically and more openly.

But beyond them, and of infinitely more importance, there was one fact
which dominated the situation and retarded the crisis. A burgher cannot
go to war without his horse, his horse cannot move without grass, grass
will not come until after rain, and it was still some weeks before the
rain would be due. Negotiations, then, must not be unduly hurried while
the veldt was a bare russet-coloured dust-swept plain. Mr. Chamberlain
and the British public waited week after week for an answer. But there
was a limit to their patience, and it was reached on August 26, when the
Colonial Secretary showed, with a plainness of speech which is as
unusual as it is welcome in diplomacy, that the question could not be
hung up for ever. 'The sands are running down in the glass,' said he.
'If they run out we shall not hold ourselves limited by that which we
have already offered, but, having taken the matter in hand, we will not
let it go until we have secured conditions which once for all shall
establish which is the paramount power in South Africa, and shall secure
for our fellow-subjects there those equal rights and equal privileges
which were promised them by President Kruger when the independence of
the Transvaal was granted by the Queen, and which is the least that in
justice ought to be accorded them.' Lord Salisbury, a short time before,
had been equally emphatic: 'No one in this country wishes to disturb the
conventions so long as it is recognised that while they guarantee the
independence of the Transvaal on the one side, they guarantee equal
political and civil rights for settlers of all nationalities upon the
other. But these conventions are not like the laws of the Medes and the
Persians. They are mortal, they can be destroyed ... and once destroyed
they can never be reconstructed in the same shape.' The long-enduring
patience of Great Britain was beginning to show signs of giving way.

Pressure was in the meanwhile being put upon the old President and upon
his advisers, if he can be said ever to have had any advisers, in order
to induce him to accept the British offer of a joint committee of
inquiry. Sir Henry de Villiers, representing the highest Africander
opinion of the Cape, wrote strongly pleading the cause of peace, and
urging Mr. Fischer of the Free State to endeavour to give a more
friendly tone to the negotiations. 'Try to induce President Kruger to
meet Mr. Chamberlain in a friendly way, and remove all the causes of
unrest which have disturbed this unhappy country for so many years.'
Similar advice came from Europe. The Dutch minister telegraphed as
follows:

'_August 4, 1899._--Communicate confidentially to the President that,
having heard from the Transvaal Minister the English proposal of the
International Commission, I recommend the President, in the interest of
the country, not peremptorily to refuse that proposition.'

'_August 15, 1899._--Please communicate confidentially to the President
that the German Government entirely shares my opinion expressed in my
despatch of August 4, not to refuse the English proposal. The German
Government is, like myself, convinced that every approach to one of the
Great Powers in this very critical moment will be without any results
whatever, and very dangerous for the Republic.'

But neither his Africander brothers nor his friends abroad could turn
the old man one inch from the road upon which he had set his foot. The
fact is, that he knew well that his franchise proposals would not bear
examination; that, in the words of an eminent lawyer, they 'might as
well have been seventy years as seven,' so complicated and impossible
were the conditions. For a long time he was silent, and when he at last
spoke it was to open a new phase of the negotiations. His ammunition was
not all to hand yet, his rifles had not all been distributed, the grass
had not appeared upon the veldt. The game must be kept going for a
couple of months. 'You are such past-masters in the art of gaining
time!' said Mr. Labouchere to Mr. Montague White. The President
proceeded to prove it.

His new suggestions were put forward on August 12. In them the Joint
Commission was put aside, and the proposal was made that the Boer
Government should accede to the franchise proposals of Sir Alfred Milner
on condition that the British Government withdrew or dropped her claim
to a suzerainty, agreed to arbitration by a British and South African
tribunal, and promised never again to interfere in the internal affairs
of the Republic. To this Great Britain answered that she would agree to
such arbitration; that she hoped never again to have occasion to
interfere for the protection of her own subjects, but that with the
grant of the franchise all occasion for such interference would pass
away; and, finally, that she would never consent to abandon her position
as suzerain power. Mr. Chamberlain's despatch ended by reminding the
Government of the Transvaal that there were other matters of dispute
open between the two Governments apart from the franchise, and that it
would be as well to have them settled at the same time. By these he
meant such questions as the position of the native races and the
treatment of Anglo-Indians.

For a moment there seemed now to be a fair prospect of peace. There was
no very great gap between the two parties, and had the negotiations
been really _bonâ fide_ it seems incredible that it could not be
bridged. But the Transvaal was secure now of the alliance of the Orange
Free State; it believed that the Colony was ripe for rebellion; and it
knew that with 60,000 cavalry and 100 guns it was infinitely the
strongest military power in Africa. One cannot read the negotiations
without being convinced that they were never meant to succeed, and the
party which did not mean them to succeed was the party which prepared
all the time for war. De Villiers, a friendly critic, says of the
Transvaal Government: 'Throughout the negotiations they have always been
wriggling to prevent a clear and precise decision.' Surely the sequel
showed clearly enough why this was so. Their military hand was stronger
than their political one, and it was with that that they desired to play
the game. It would not do, therefore, to get the negotiations into such
a stage that a peaceful solution should become inevitable. What was the
use of all those rifles and cannon if the pen were after all to effect a
compromise? 'The only thing that we are afraid of,' wrote young
Blignant, 'is that Chamberlain with his admitted fitfulness of temper
should cheat us out of our war and, consequently, the opportunity of
annexing the Cape Colony and Natal, and forming the Republican United
States of South Africa'--a legitimate national ambition perhaps, but not
compatible with _bonâ-fide_ peaceful negotiations.

It was time, then, to give a less promising turn to the situation. On
September 2 the answer of the Transvaal Government was returned. It was
short and uncompromising. They withdrew their offer of the franchise.
They reasserted the non-existence of the suzerainty. The negotiations
were at a deadlock. It was difficult to see how they could be reopened.
In view of the arming of the burghers, the small garrison of Natal had
been taking up positions to cover the frontier. The Transvaal asked for
an explanation of their presence. Sir Alfred Milner answered that they
were guarding British interests, and preparing against contingencies.
The roar of the fall was sounding loud and near.

On September 8 there was held a Cabinet Council--one of the most
important in recent years. The military situation was pressing. The
handful of troops in Africa could not be left at the mercy of the large
and formidable force which the Boers could at any time hurl against
them. On the other hand, it was very necessary not to appear to threaten
or to appeal to force. For this reason reinforcements were sent upon
such a scale as to make it evident that they were sent for defensive,
and not for offensive, purposes. Five thousand men were sent from India
to Natal, and the Cape garrisons were strengthened from England.

At the same time that they took these defensive measures, a message was
sent to Pretoria, which even the opponents of the Government have
acknowledged to be temperate, and offering the basis for a peaceful
settlement. It begins by repudiating emphatically the claim of the
Transvaal to be a sovereign international State in the same sense in
which the Orange Free State is one. Any proposal made conditional upon
such an acknowledgment could not be entertained. The status of the
Transvaal was settled by certain conventions agreed to by both
Governments, and nothing had occurred to cause us to acquiesce in a
radical change in it.

The British Government, however, was prepared to accept the five years'
franchise as stated in the note of August 19, assuming at the same time
that in the Raad each member might use his own language.

'Acceptance of these terms by the South African Republic would at once
remove tension between the two Governments, and would in all probability
render unnecessary any future intervention to secure redress for
grievances which the Uitlanders themselves would be able to bring to the
notice of the Executive Council and the Volksraad.

'Her Majesty's Government are increasingly impressed with the danger of
further delay in relieving the strain which has already caused so much
injury to the interests of South Africa, and they earnestly press for an
immediate and definite reply to the present proposal. If it is acceded
to they will be ready to make immediate arrangements ... to settle all
details of the proposed tribunal of arbitration.... If, however, as they
most anxiously hope will not be the case, the reply of the South African
Republic should be negative or inconclusive, I am to state that Her
Majesty's Government must reserve to themselves the right to reconsider
the situation _de novo_, and to formulate their own proposals for a
final settlement.'

This despatch was so moderate in form and so courteous in tone that
press and politicians of every shade of opinion were united in approving
it, and hoping for a corresponding reply which would relax the tension
between the two nations. Mr. Morley, Mr. Leonard Courtney, the 'Daily
Chronicle'--all the most strenuous opponents of the Government
policy--were satisfied that it was a message of peace. But nothing at
that time, save a complete and abject surrender upon the part of the
British, could have satisfied the Boers, who had the most exaggerated
ideas of their own military prowess and no very high opinion of our own.
The continental conception of the British wolf and the Transvaal lamb
would have raised a laugh in Pretoria, where the outcome of the war was
looked upon as a foregone conclusion. The burghers were in no humour for
concessions. They knew their own power, and they concluded with justice
that they were for the time far the strongest military power in South
Africa. 'We have beaten England before, but it is nothing to the licking
that we shall give her now!' said one prominent citizen. 'Reitz seemed
to treat the whole matter as a big joke,' remarked de Villiers. 'Is it
really necessary for you to go,' said the Chief Justice of the Transvaal
to an English clergyman. 'The war will be over in a fortnight. We shall
take Kimberley and Mafeking and give the English such a beating in Natal
that they will sue for peace.' Such were the extravagant ideas which
caused them to push aside the olive-branch of peace.

On September 18 the official reply of the Boer Government to the message
sent from the Cabinet Council was published in London. In manner it was
unbending and unconciliatory; in substance, it was a complete rejection
of all the British demands. It refused to recommend or propose to the
Raad the five-years' franchise and the other provisions which had been
defined as the minimum which the Home Government could accept as a fair
measure of justice towards the Uitlanders. The suggestion that the
debates of the Raad should be bilingual, as they are in the Cape Colony
and in Canada, was absolutely waved aside. The British Government had
stated in their last despatch that if the reply should be negative or
inconclusive they reserved to themselves the right to 'reconsider the
situation _de novo_, and to formulate their own proposals for a final
settlement.' The reply had been both negative and inconclusive, and on
September 22 a council met to determine what the next message should be.
It was short and firm, but so planned as not to shut the door upon
peace. Its purport was that the British Government expressed deep regret
at the rejection of the moderate proposals which had been submitted in
their last despatch, and that now, in accordance with their promise,
they would shortly put forward their own plans for a settlement. The
message was not an ultimatum, but it foreshadowed an ultimatum in the
future.

In the meantime, upon September 21, the Raad of the Orange Free State
had met, and it became more and more evident that this republic, with
whom we had no possible quarrel, but, on the contrary, for whom we had a
great deal of friendship and admiration, intended to throw in its weight
against Great Britain. Some time before, an offensive and defensive
alliance had been concluded between the two States, which must, until
the secret history of these events comes to be written, appear to have
been a singularly rash and unprofitable bargain for the smaller one. She
had nothing to fear from Great Britain, since she had been voluntarily
turned into an independent republic by her, and had lived in peace with
her for forty years. Her laws were as liberal as our own. But by this
suicidal treaty she agreed to share the fortunes of a State which was
deliberately courting war by its persistently unfriendly attitude, and
whose reactionary and narrow legislation would, one might imagine, have
alienated the sympathy of her progressive neighbour. The trend of events
was seen clearly in the days of President Brand, who was a sane and
experienced politician. 'President Brand,' says Paul Botha (himself a
voortrekker and a Boer of the Boers), 'saw clearly what our policy ought
to have been. He always avoided offending the Transvaal, but he loved
the Orange Free State and its independence for its own sake and not as
an appendage to the Transvaal. And in order to maintain its character he
always strove for the friendship of England.

'President Brand realised that closer union with the turbulent and
misguided Transvaal, led by Kruger's challenging policy, would
inevitably result in a disastrous war with England.

'I [Paul Botha] felt this as strongly, and never ceased fighting against
closer union. I remember once stating these arguments in the Volksraad,
and wound up my speech by saying, "May Heaven grant that I am wrong in
what I fear, because, if I am right, then woe, woe to the Orange Free
State."'

It is evident that if the Free State rushed headlong to utter
destruction it was not for want of wise voices which tried to guide her
to some safer path. But there seems to have been a complete
hallucination as to the comparative strength of the two opponents, and
as to the probable future of South Africa. Under no possible future
could the Free State be better off than it was already, a perfectly free
and independent republic; and yet the country was carried away by
race-prejudice spread broadcast from a subsidised press and an
unchristian pulpit. 'When I come to think of the abuse the pulpit made
of its influence,' says Paul Botha, 'I feel as if I cannot find words
strong enough to express my indignation. God's word was prostituted. A
religious people's religion was used to urge them to their destruction.
A minister of God told me himself, with a wink, that he had to preach
anti-English because otherwise he would lose favour with those in
power.' Such were the influences which induced the Free State to make an
insane treaty, compelling it to wantonly take up arms against a State
which had never injured it and which bore it nothing but good will.

The tone of President Steyn at the meeting of the Raad, and the support
which he received from the majority of his burghers, showed unmistakably
that the two republics would act as one. In his opening speech Steyn
declared uncompromisingly against the British contention, and declared
that his State was bound to the Transvaal by everything which was near
and dear. Among the obvious military precautions which could no longer
be neglected by the British Government, was the sending of some small
force to protect the long and exposed line of railway which lies just
outside the Transvaal border from Kimberley to Rhodesia. Sir Alfred
Milner communicated with President Steyn as to this movement of troops,
pointing out that it was in no way directed against the Free State. Sir
Alfred Milner added that the Imperial Government was still hopeful of a
friendly settlement with the Transvaal, but if this hope were
disappointed they looked to the Orange Free State to preserve strict
neutrality and to prevent military intervention by any of its citizens.
They undertook that in that case the integrity of the Free State
frontier would be strictly preserved. Finally, he stated that there was
absolutely no cause to disturb the good relations between the Free State
and Great Britain, since we were animated by the most friendly
intentions towards them. To this the President returned a somewhat
ungracious answer, to the effect that he disapproved of our action
towards the Transvaal, and that he regretted the movement of troops,
which would be considered a menace by the burghers. A subsequent
resolution of the Free State Raad, ending with the words, 'Come what
may, the Free State will honestly and faithfully fulfil its obligations
towards the Transvaal by virtue of the political alliance existing
between the two republics,' showed how impossible it was that this
country, formed by ourselves, and without a shadow of a cause of quarrel
with us, could be saved from being drawn into the whirlpool.

In the meantime, military preparations were being made upon both sides,
moderate in the case of the British and considerable in that of the
Boers.

On August 15, at a time when the negotiations had already assumed a very
serious phase, after the failure of the Bloemfontein Conference and the
despatch of Sir Alfred Milner, the British forces in South Africa were
absolutely and absurdly inadequate for the purpose of the defence of our
own frontier. Surely such a fact must open the eyes of those who, in
spite of all the evidence, persist that the war was forced on by the
British. A statesman who forces on a war usually prepares for a war, and
this is exactly what Mr. Kruger did and the British authorities did not.
The overbearing suzerain power had at that date, scattered over a huge
frontier, two cavalry regiments, three field batteries, and six and a
half infantry battalions--say six thousand men. The innocent pastoral
States could put in the field more than fifty thousand mounted riflemen,
whose mobility doubled their numbers, and a most excellent artillery,
including the heaviest guns which have ever been seen upon a
battlefield. At this time it is most certain that the Boers could have
made their way easily either to Durban or to Cape Town. The British
force, condemned to act upon the defensive, could have been masked and
afterwards destroyed, while the main body of the invaders would have
encountered nothing but an irregular local resistance, which would have
been neutralised by the apathy or hostility of the Dutch colonists. It
is extraordinary that our authorities seem never to have contemplated
the possibility of the Boers taking the initiative, or to have
understood that in that case our belated reinforcements would certainly
have had to land under the fire of the republican guns. They ran a great
military risk by their inaction, but at least they made it clear to all
who are not wilfully blind how far from the thoughts or wishes of the
British Government it has always been that the matter should be decided
by force.

In answer to the remonstrances of the Colonial Prime Minister the
garrison of Natal was gradually increased, partly by troops from
Europe, and partly by the despatch of 5,000 British troops from India.
Their arrival late in September raised the number of troops in South
Africa to 22,000, a force which was inadequate to a contest in the open
field with the numerous, mobile, and gallant enemy to whom they were to
be opposed, but which proved to be strong enough to stave off that
overwhelming disaster which, with our fuller knowledge, we can now see
to have been impending.

In the weeks which followed the despatch of the Cabinet message of
September 8, the military situation had ceased to be desperate, but was
still precarious. Twenty-two thousand regular troops were on the spot
who might hope to be reinforced by some ten thousand Colonials, but
these forces had to cover a great frontier, the attitude of Cape Colony
was by no means whole-hearted and might become hostile, while the black
population might conceivably throw in its weight against us. Only half
the regulars could be spared to defend Natal, and no reinforcements
could reach them in less than a month from the outbreak of hostilities.
If Mr. Chamberlain was really playing a game of bluff, it must be
confessed that he was bluffing from a very weak hand.

For purposes of comparison we may give some idea of the forces which Mr.
Kruger and Mr. Steyn could put in the field. The general press estimate
of the forces of the two republics varied from 25,000 to 35,000 men. Mr.
J. B. Robinson, a personal friend of President Kruger's and a man who
had spent much of his life among the Boers, considered the latter
estimate to be too high. The calculation had no assured basis to start
from. A very scattered and isolated population, among whom large
families were the rule, is a most difficult thing to estimate. Some
reckoned from the supposed natural increase during eighteen years, but
the figure given at that date was itself an assumption. Others took
their calculation from the number of voters in the last presidential
election; but no one could tell how many abstentions there had been, and
the fighting age is five years earlier than the voting age in the
republics. We recognise now that all calculations were far below the
true figure. It is probable, however, that the information of the
British Intelligence Department was not far wrong. No branch of the
British Service has come better out of a very severe ordeal than this
one, and its report before the war is so accurate, alike in facts and in
forecast, as to be quite prophetic.

According to this the fighting strength of the Transvaal alone was
32,000 men, and of the Orange Free State 22,000. With mercenaries and
rebels from the colonies they would amount to 60,000, while a
considerable rising of the Cape Dutch would bring them up to 100,000.
Our actual male prisoners now amount to 42,000, and we can account for
10,000 casualties, so that, allowing another 10,000 for the burghers at
large, the Boer force, excluding a great number of Cape rebels, would
reach 62,000. Of the quality of this large force there is no need to
speak. The men were brave, hardy, and fired with a strange religious
enthusiasm. They were all of the seventeenth century, except their
rifles. Mounted upon their hardy little ponies, they possessed a
mobility which practically doubled their numbers and made it an
impossibility ever to outflank them. As marksmen they are supreme. Add
to this that they had the advantage of acting upon internal lines with
shorter and safer communications, and one gathers how formidable a task
lay before the soldiers of the Empire. When we turn from such an
enumeration of their strength to contemplate the 12,000 men, split into
two detachments, who awaited them in Natal, we may recognise that, far
from bewailing our disasters, we should rather congratulate ourselves
upon our escape from losing that great province which, situated as it is
between Britain, India, and Australia, must be regarded as the very
keystone of the imperial arch.

But again one must ask whether in the face of these figures it is still
possible to maintain that Great Britain was deliberately attempting to
overthrow by force the independence of the republics.

There was a lull in the political exchanges after the receipt of the
Transvaal despatch of September 16, which rejected the British proposals
of September 8. In Africa all hope or fear of peace had ended. The Raads
had been dissolved and the old President's last words had been that war
was certain, with a stern invocation of the Lord as the final arbiter.
Britain was ready less obtrusively, but no less heartily, to refer the
quarrel to the same dread judge.

On October 2 President Steyn informed Sir Alfred Milner that he had
deemed it necessary to call out the Free State burghers--that is, to
mobilise his forces. Sir A. Milner wrote regretting these preparations,
and declaring that he did not yet despair of peace, for he was sure that
any reasonable proposal would be favourably considered by her Majesty's
Government. Steyn's reply was that there was no use in negotiating
unless the stream of British reinforcements ceased coming into South
Africa. As our forces were still in a great minority, it was impossible
to stop the reinforcements, so the correspondence led to nothing. On
October 7 the army reserves for the First Army Corps were called out in
Great Britain, and other signs shown that it had been determined to send
a considerable force to South Africa. Parliament was also summoned, that
the formal national assent might be gained for those grave measures
which were evidently pending.

It has been stated that it was the action of the British in calling out
the reserves which caused the ultimatum from the Boers and so
precipitated the war. Such a contention is absurd, for it puts the cart
before the horse. The Transvaal commandos had mobilised upon September
27, and those of the Free State on October 2. The railways had been
taken over, the exodus from Johannesburg had begun, and an actual act of
war had been committed by the stopping of a train and the confiscation
of the gold which was in it. The British action was subsequent to all
this, and could not have been the cause of it. But no Government could
see such portents and delay any longer to take those military
preparations which were called for by the critical situation. As a
matter of fact, the Boer ultimatum was prepared before the date of the
calling out of the reserves, and was only delivered later because the
final details for war were not quite ready.

It was on October 9 that the somewhat leisurely proceedings of the
British Colonial Office were brought to a head by the arrival of an
unexpected and audacious ultimatum from the Boer Government. In contests
of wit, as of arms, it must be confessed that the laugh has up to now
been usually upon the side of our simple and pastoral South African
neighbours. The present instance was no exception to the rule. The
document was very firm and explicit, but the terms in which it was drawn
were so impossible that it was evidently framed with the deliberate
purpose of forcing an immediate war. It demanded that the troops upon
the borders of the republic should be instantly withdrawn, that all
reinforcements which had arrived within the last year should leave South
Africa, and that those who were now upon the sea should be sent back
without being landed. Failing a satisfactory answer within forty-eight
hours, 'The Transvaal Government will with great regret be compelled to
regard the action of her Majesty's Government as a formal declaration
of war, for the consequences of which it will not hold itself
responsible.' The audacious message was received throughout the empire
with a mixture of derision and anger. The answer was despatched next day
through Sir Alfred Milner.

'_October 10._--Her Majesty's Government have received with great regret
the peremptory demands of the Government of the South African Republic,
conveyed in your telegram of the 9th October. You will inform the
Government of the South African Republic in reply that the conditions
demanded by the Government of the South African Republic are such as her
Majesty's Government deem it impossible to discuss.'



CHAPTER IV

SOME POINTS EXAMINED


Such is a general sketch of the trend of the negotiations and of the
events which led up to the war. Under their different headings I will
now examine in as short a space as possible the criticisms to which the
British Government has been subjected. Various damaging theories and
alternate lines of action have been suggested, each of which may be
shortly discussed.

1. _That Mr. Chamberlain was personally concerned in the raid and that
out of revenge for that failure, or because he was in the power of Mr.
Rhodes, he forced on the war._--The theory that Mr. Chamberlain was in
the confidence of the raiders, has been already examined and shown to be
untenable. That he knew that an insurrection might probably result from
the despair of the Uitlanders is very probable. It was his business to
know what was going on so far as he could, and there is no reason why
his private sympathies, like those of every other Englishman, should not
be with his own ill-used people. But that he contemplated an invasion of
the Transvaal by a handful of policemen is absurd. If he did, why should
he instantly take the strongest steps to render the invasion abortive?
What could he possibly do to make things miscarry which he did not do?
And if he were conscious of being in the power of Mr. Rhodes, how would
he dare to oppose with such vigour that gentleman's pet scheme? The very
facts and the very telegrams upon which critics rely to prove Mr.
Chamberlain's complicity will really, when looked at with unprejudiced
eyes, most clearly show his entire independence. Thus when Rhodes, or
Harris in Rhodes's name, telegraphs, 'Inform Chamberlain that I shall
get through all right if he will support me, but he must not send cable
like he sent to the High Commissioner,' and again, 'Unless you can make
Chamberlain instruct the High Commissioner to proceed at once to
Johannesburg the whole position is lost,' is it not perfectly obvious
that there has been no understanding of any sort, and that the
conspirators are attempting to force the Colonial Secretary's hand?
Again, critics make much of the fact that shortly before the raid Mr.
Chamberlain sold to the Chartered Company the strip of land from which
the raid started, and that he made a hard bargain, exacting as much as
200,000_l._ for it. Surely the perversion of an argument could hardly go
further, for if Mr. Chamberlain were in their confidence and in favour
of their plan it is certain that he would have given them easy and not
difficult terms for the land for which they asked. The supposition that
Mr. Chamberlain was the tool of Rhodes in declaring war, presupposes
that Mr. Chamberlain could impose his will without question upon a
Cabinet which contained Lord Salisbury, Lord Lansdowne, Arthur Balfour,
Hicks-Beach, and the other ministers. Such a supposition is too
monstrous to discuss.

2. _That it is a capitalists' war, engineered by company promoters and
Jews._--After the Jameson Raid a large body of the public held this
view, and it was this which to a great extent tied the hands of the
Government, and stopped them from taking that strong line which might
have prevented the accumulation of those huge armaments which could only
be intended for use against ourselves. It took years to finally
dissipate the idea, but how thoroughly it has been dissipated in the
public mind is best shown by the patient fortitude with which our people
have borne the long and weary struggle in which few families in the land
have not lost either a friend or a relative. The complaisance of the
British public towards capitalists goes no further than giving them
their strict legal rights--and certainly does not extend to pouring out
money and blood like water for their support. Such a supposition is
absurd, nor can any reason be given why a body of high-minded and
honourable British gentlemen like the Cabinet should sacrifice their
country for the sake of a number of cosmopolitan financiers, most of
whom are German Jews. The tax which will eventually be placed upon the
Transvaal mining industry, in order to help to pay for the war, will in
itself prove that the capitalists have no great voice in the councils of
the nation. We know now that the leading capitalists in Johannesburg
were the very men who most strenuously resisted an agitation which might
lead to war. This seems natural enough when one considers how much
capitalists had at stake, and how much to lose by war. The agitation for
the franchise and other rights was a _bonâ-fide_ liberal agitation,
started by poor men, employés and miners, who intended to live in the
country, not in Park Lane. The capitalists were the very last to be
drawn into it. When I say capitalists I mean the capitalists with
British sympathies, for there is indeed much to be said in favour of the
war being a capitalists' war, in that it was largely caused by the
anti-British attitude and advice of the South African Netherlands
Company, the Dynamite Monopoly, and other leeches which drained the
country. To them a free and honest government meant ruin, and they
strained every nerve, even to paying bogus English agitators, in order
to hinder the cause of reform. Their attitude undoubtedly had something
to do with stiffening the backs of the Boers and so preventing
concessions.

3. _That Britain wanted the gold mines._--No possible accusation is more
popular or more widely believed upon the Continent, and yet none could
be more ridiculous when it is examined. The gold mines are private
companies, with shares held by private shareholders, German and French,
as well as British. Whether the British or the Boer flag flew over the
country would not alienate a single share from any holder, nor would the
wealth of Britain be in any way greater. She will be the poorer by the
vast expense of the war, and it is unlikely that more than one-third of
this expenditure can be covered by taxation of the profits of the gold
mines. Apart from this limited contribution towards the war, how is
Britain the richer because her flag flies over the Rand? The Transvaal
will be a self-governing colony, like all other British colonies, with
its own finance minister, its own budget, its own taxes, even its own
power of imposing duties upon British merchandise. They will pay a
British governor 10,000_l._, and he will be expected to spend 15,000_l._
_We_ know all this because it is part of our British system, but it is
not familiar to those nations who look upon colonies as sources of
direct revenue to the mother country. It is the most general, and at the
same time the most untenable, of all Continental comments upon the war.
The second Transvaal war was the logical sequel of the first, and the
first was fought before gold was discovered in the country.

4. _That it was a monarchy against a republic._--This argument
undoubtedly had weight with those true republics like the United States,
France, and Switzerland, where people who were ignorant of the facts
were led away by mere names. As a matter of fact Great Britain and the
British colonies are among the most democratic communities in the
world. They preserve, partly from sentiment, partly for political
convenience, a hereditary chief, but the will of the people is decisive
upon all questions, and every man by his vote helps to mould the destiny
of the State. There is practically universal suffrage, and the highest
offices of the State are within reach of any citizen who is competent to
attain them. On the other hand, the Transvaal is an oligarchy, not a
democracy, where half the inhabitants claim to be upon an entirely
different footing from the other half. This rule represents the
ascendency of one race over the other, such an ascendency as existed in
Ireland in the eighteenth century. Technically the one country is a
republic and the other a monarchy, but in truth the empire stood for
liberty and the republic for tyranny, race ascendency, corruption,
taxation without representation, and all that is most opposed to the
broader conception of freedom.

5. _That it was a strong nation attacking a weak one._--That appeal to
sentiment and to the sporting instincts of the human race must always be
a powerful one. But in this instance it is entirely misapplied. The
preparation for war, the ultimatum, the invasion, and the first shedding
of blood, all came from the nation which the result has shown to be the
weaker. The reason why this smaller nation attacked so audaciously was
that they knew perfectly well that they were at the time far the
stronger power in South Africa, and all their information led them to
believe that they would continue to be so even when Britain had put
forth all her strength. It certainly seemed that they were justified in
this belief. The chief military critics of the Continent had declared
that 100,000 men was the outside figure which Britain could place in the
field. Against these they knew that without any rising of their kinsmen
in the Cape they could place fifty or sixty thousand men, and their
military history had unfortunately led them to believe that such a force
of Boers, operating under their own conditions with their own horses in
their own country, was far superior to this number of British soldiers.
They knew how excellent was their artillery, and how complete their
preparations. A dozen extracts could be given to show how confident they
were of success, from Blignant's letter with his fears that Chamberlain
would do them out of the war, to Esselen's boast that he would not wash
until he reached the sea. What they did not foresee, and what put out
their plans, was that indignant wave of public opinion throughout the
British Empire which increased threefold--as it would, if necessary,
have increased tenfold--the strength of the army and so enabled it to
beat down the Boer resistance. When war was declared, and for a very
long time afterwards, it was the Boers who were the strong power and the
British who were the weak one, and any sympathy given on the other
understanding was sympathy misapplied. From that time onwards the war
had to take its course, and the British had no choice but to push it to
its end.

6. _That the British refused to arbitrate._--This has been repeated _ad
nauseam_, but the allegation will not bear investigation. There are some
subjects which can be settled by arbitration, and all those Great
Britain freely consented to treat in this fashion, before a tribunal
which should be limited to Great Britain and South Africa. Such a
tribunal would by no means be necessarily drawn from judges who were
committed to one side or the other. There were many men whose moderation
and discretion both sides would admit. Such a man, for example, was Rose
Innes amongst the British, and de Villiers among those who had
Africander sympathies. Both the Transvaal and the British Governments
agreed that such a tribunal was competent, but they disagreed upon the
point that the British Government desired to reserve some subjects from
this arbitration.

The desire upon the part of Great Britain to exclude outsiders from the
arbitration tribunal was due to the fact that to admit them was to give
away the case before going into Court. The Transvaal claimed to be a
sovereign international state. Great Britain denied it. If the Transvaal
could appeal to arbitration as a peer among peers in a court of nations,
she became _ipso facto_ an international state. Therefore Great Britain
refused such a court.

But why not refer all subjects to such a South African court as was
finally accepted by both sides? The answer is that it is a monstrous
hypocrisy to carry cases into an arbitration court, when you know
beforehand that by their very nature they cannot possibly be settled by
such a court. To quote Milner's words, 'It is, of course, absurd to
suggest that the question whether the South African Republic does or
does not treat British residents in that country with justice, and the
British Government with the consideration and respect due to any
friendly, not to say suzerain power, is a question capable of being
referred to arbitration. You cannot arbitrate on broad questions of
policy any more than on questions of national honour.' On this point of
the limitation of arbitration the Transvaal leaders appear to have been
as unanimous as the British, so that it is untrue to lay the blame of
the restriction upon one side only. Mr. Reitz, in his scheme of
arbitration formulated upon June 9, has the express clause 'That each
side shall have the right to reserve and exclude points which appear to
it to be too important to be submitted to arbitration.' To this the
British Government agreed, making the further very great concession that
an Orange Free Stater should not be regarded as a foreigner. The matter
was in this state when the Transvaal sent its ultimatum. Up to the
firing of the first shot the British Government still offered the only
form of arbitration which was possible without giving away the question
at issue. It was the Transvaal which, after agreeing to such a Court,
turned suddenly to the arbitrament of the Mauser and the Creusot.

7. _That the war was to avenge Majuba._--There can be no doubt that our
defeat in this skirmish had left considerable heart-burnings which were
not allayed by the subsequent attitude of the Boers and their
assumption, testified to by Bryce and other friendly observers, that
what we did after the action was due not to a magnanimous desire to
repair a wrong but to craven fear. From the outset of the war there was
a strong desire on the part of the soldiers to avenge Majuba, which was
fully gratified when, upon the anniversary of that day, Cronje and his
4,000 brave companions had to raise the white flag. But that a desire to
avenge Majuba swayed the policy of the country cannot be upheld in view
of the fact that eighteen years had elapsed; that during that time the
Boers had again and again broken the conventions by extending their
boundaries; that three times matters were in such a position that war
might have resulted and yet that peace was successfully maintained. War
might very easily have been forced upon the Boers during the years
before they turned their country into an arsenal, when it would have
been absolutely impossible for them to have sustained a long campaign.
That it was not done and that the British Government remained patient
until it received the outrageous ultimatum, is a proof that Majuba may
have rankled in our memory but was not allowed to influence our policy.

8. _What proof is there that the Boers ever had any aggressive designs
upon the British?_--It would be a misuse of terms to call the general
Boer designs against the British a conspiracy, for it was openly
advocated in the press, preached from the pulpit, and preached upon the
platform, that the Dutch should predominate in South Africa, and that
the portion of it which remained under the British flag should be
absorbed by that which was outside it. So widespread and deep-seated was
this ambition, that it was evident that Great Britain must, sooner or
later, either yield to it or else sustain her position by force of arms.
She was prepared to give Dutch citizens within her borders the vote, the
power of making their own laws, complete religious and political
freedom, and everything which their British comrades could have, without
any distinction whatever; but when it came to hauling down the flag, it
was certainly time that a stand should be made.

How this came about cannot be expressed more clearly than in the words
of Paul Botha, who, as I have already said, was a voortrekker like
Kruger himself, and a Boer of the Boers, save that he seems to have been
a man with wider and more liberal views than his fellows. He was member
for Kroonstadt in the Free State Raad.

'I am convinced,' he says, 'that Kruger's influence completely changed
the character of the Afrikander Bond--an organisation which I believe
Hofmeyr started at the Cape with the legitimate purpose of securing
certain political privileges, but which, under Kruger's henchmen--Sauer,
Merriman, Te Water, and others--raised unrest in the Cape Colony.

'This successful anti-British policy of Kruger created a number of
imitators--Steyn, Fischer, Esselen, Smuts, and numerous other young
educated Africanders of the Transvaal, Orange Free State, and the Cape
Colony, who, misled by his successes, ambitiously hoped by the same
means to raise themselves to the same pinnacle.

'Krugerism under them developed into a reign of terror. If you were
anti-Kruger you were stigmatised as "Engelschgezind," and a traitor to
your people, unworthy of a hearing. I have suffered bitterly from this
taunt, especially under Steyn's _régime_. The more hostile you were to
England the greater patriot you were accounted.

'This gang, which I wish to be clearly understood was spread over the
whole of South Africa, the Transvaal, the Orange Free State, and the
Cape Colony, used the Bond, the press, and the pulpit to further its
schemes.

'Reitz, whom I believe to have been an honest enthusiast, set himself up
as second sponsor to the Bond and voiced the doctrine of this gang:
"Africa for the Africanders. Sweep the English into the sea." With an
alluring cry like this, it will be readily understood how easy it was to
inflame the imagination of the illiterate and uneducated Boer, and to
work upon his vanity and prejudices. That pernicious rag, Carl
Borckenhagen's "Bloemfontein Express," enormously contributed to
spreading this doctrine in the Orange Free State. I myself firmly
believe that the "Express" was subsidised by Kruger. It was no mystery
to me from where Borckenhagen, a full-blooded German, got his ardent
Free State patriotism.

'In the Transvaal this was done by the "Volksstem," written by a
Hollander and subsidised by Kruger; by the "Rand Post," also written by
a Hollander, also subsidised by Paul Kruger; and in the Cape Colony by
the "Patriot," which was started by intriguers and rebels to their own
Government, at the Paarl--a hot-bed of false Africanderism. "Ons Land"
may be an honest paper, but by fostering impossible ideas it has done us
incalculable harm. It grieves me to think that my poor people, through
want of education, had to swallow this poison undiluted.

'Is it possible to imagine that Steyn, Fischer, and the other educated
men of the Free State did not know that, following Kruger's hostile
policy of eliminating the preponderating Power in South Africa, meant
that that Power would be forced either to fight in self-preservation or
to disappear ignominiously? For I maintain that there were only two
courses open to England in answer to Kruger's challenging policy--to
fight or to retire from South Africa. It was only possible for men
suffering from tremendously swollen heads, such as our leaders were
suffering from, not to see the obvious or to doubt the issue.'

So much for a Boer's straightforward account of the forces at work, and
the influences which were at the back of those forces. It sums the
situation up tersely, but the situation itself was evident and dominated
Cape politics. The ambitions of Africanderdom were discussed in the
broad light of day in the editorial, in the sermon, in the speech,
though the details by which those ambitions were to be carried out were
only whispered on the Dutch stoeps.

Here are the opinions of Reitz, the man who more than all others, save
his master, has the blood of the fallen upon his conscience. It is taken
from the 'Reminiscences' of Mr. Theophilus Schreiner, the brother of the
ex-Prime Minister of the Cape:

'I met Mr. Reitz, then a judge of the Orange Free State, in Bloemfontein
between seventeen and eighteen years ago, shortly after the retrocession
of the Transvaal, and when he was busy establishing the Afrikander Bond.
It must be patent to everyone that at that time, at all events, England
and its Government had no intention of taking away the independence of
the Transvaal, for she had just "magnanimously" granted the same; no
intention of making war on the republics, for she had just made peace;
no intention to seize the Rand gold fields, for they were not yet
discovered. At that time, then, I met Mr. Reitz, and he did his best to
get me to become a member of his Afrikander Bond, but, after studying
its constitution and programme, I refused to do so, whereupon the
following colloquy in substance took place between us, which has been
indelibly imprinted on my mind ever since:

'_Reitz_: Why do you refuse? Is the object of getting the people to take
an interest in political matters not a good one?

'_Myself_: Yes, it is; but I seem to see plainly here between the lines
of this constitution much more ultimately aimed at than that.

'_Reitz_: What?

'_Myself_: I see quite clearly that the ultimate object aimed at is the
overthrow of the British power and the expulsion of the British flag
from South Africa.

'_Reitz_ (_with his pleasant conscious smile, as of one whose secret
thought and purpose had been discovered, and who was not altogether
displeased that such was the case_): Well, what if it is so?

'_Myself_: You don't suppose, do you, that that flag is going to
disappear from South Africa without a tremendous struggle and fight?

'_Reitz_ (_with the same pleasant self-conscious, self-satisfied, and
yet semi-apologetic smile_): Well, I suppose not; but even so, what of
that?

'_Myself_: Only this, that when that struggle takes place you and I will
be on opposite sides; and what is more, the God who was on the side of
the Transvaal in the late war, because it had right on its side, will be
on the side of England, because He must view with abhorrence any
plotting and scheming to overthrow her power and position in South
Africa, which have been ordained by Him.

'_Reitz_: We'll see.

'Thus the conversation ended, but during the seventeen years that have
elapsed I have watched the propaganda for the overthrow of British power
in South Africa being ceaselessly spread by every possible means--the
press, the pulpit, the platform, the schools, the colleges, the
Legislature--until it has culminated in the present war, of which Mr.
Reitz and his co-workers are the origin and the cause. Believe me, the
day on which F. W. Reitz sat down to pen his ultimatum to Great Britain
was the proudest and happiest moment of his life, and one which had for
long years been looked forward to by him with eager longing and
expectation.'

Compare with these utterances of a Dutch politician of the Cape, and of
a Dutch politician of the Orange Free State, the following passage from
a speech delivered by Kruger at Bloemfontein in the year 1887, long
before Jameson raids or franchise agitations:

'I think it too soon to speak of a United South Africa under one flag.
Which flag was it to be? The Queen of England would object to having her
flag hauled down, and we, the burghers of the Transvaal, object to
hauling ours down. What is to be done? We are now small and of little
importance, but we are growing, and are preparing the way to take our
place among the great nations of the world.'

'The dream of our life,' said another, 'is a union of the States of
South Africa, and this has to come from within, not from without. When
that is accomplished, South Africa will be great.'

Always the same theory from all quarters of Dutch thought, to be
followed by many signs that the idea was being prepared for in practice.
I repeat, that the fairest and most unbiassed historian cannot dismiss
the movement as a myth.

And to this one may retort, Why should they not do so? Why should they
not have their own views as to the future of South Africa? Why should
they not endeavour to have one universal flag and one common speech? Why
should they not win over our colonists, if they can, and push us into
the sea? I see no reason why they should not. Let them try if they will.
And let us try to prevent them. But let us have an end of talk about
British aggression, of capitalist designs upon the gold fields, of the
wrongs of a pastoral people, and all the other veils which have been
used to cover the issue. Let those who talk about British designs upon
the republics turn their attention for a moment to the evidence which
there is for republican designs upon the colonies. Let them reflect that
in the British system all white men are equal, and that in the Boer one
race has persecuted the other; and let them consider under which the
truest freedom lies, which stands for universal liberty, and which for
reaction and racial hatred. Let them ponder and answer all this before
they determine where their sympathies lie.

Long before the war, when the British public and the British Government
also had every confidence that the solution would be found in peace,
every burgher had been provided with his rifle, his ammunition, and his
instructions as to the part which he was to play in that war which they
looked upon as certain. A huge conspiracy as to the future, which might
be verbally discussed but which must not be written, seems to have
prevailed among the farmers. Curious evidence of it came into my own
hands in this fashion. After a small action at which I was present I
entered a deserted Boer farmhouse which had been part of the enemy's
position, and, desiring to carry away some souvenir which should be of
no value, I took some papers which appeared to be children's
writing-exercises. They were so, but among them were one or two letters,
one of which I append in all its frankness and simplicity. The date is
some fourteen weeks _before_ the declaration of war, when the British
were anxious for and confident in a peaceful solution:

                                              'Paradÿs, June 25, 1899.

'MY DEAR HENRY,--I taking my pen up to write you these few lines. That
we all are in good health, hoping to hear the same from you all. And the
letter of the 18th is handed to me. And I feel very much obliged that I
hear you are all in good health.... Here by us are the fields very dry,
and the dams just by dry also. _Dear Henry, the war are by us very much.
How is it there by you. News is very scarce to write, but much to speak
by ourselves._ I must now close with my letter because I see that you
will be tired out to read it. With best love to you and your family so I
remain your faithfully friend,

                                                       'PIETER WIESE.'

Here is, in itself, as it seems to me, evidence of that great
conspiracy, not of ambitions (for there was no reason why they should
not be openly discussed), but of weapons and of dates for using them,
which was going on all the time behind that cloud of suspicious
negotiations with which the Boer Governments veiled their resolution to
attack the British. A small straw, no doubt, but the result has shown
how deep and dangerous was the current which it indicates. Here is a
letter from one of the Snymans to his brother at a later period, but
still a month before the war. He is talking of Kruger:

'The old chap was nearly raving about it, and said that the burghers
wanted to tie his hands, and so, brother, the thing is simply war and
nothing else. He said we had gone too far, and help from oversea was
positively promised, only unanimity of opinion must reign here or we
could neither expect nor obtain assistance. Brother, the old man and his
Hollander dogs talk very easily about the thing; but what shall we do,
because if one speaks against it one is simply a rebel? So I remain
dumb.

'On the stoep it is nothing but war, but in the Raad everything is peace
and Queen. Those are the politics they talk. I have nothing more to say
here, but I can tell you a good deal. Brother, old Reitz says
Chamberlain will have a great surprise one of these days, and the
burghers must sleep with one eye open.

'It is rumoured here that our military officers work day and night to
send old Victoria an ultimatum before she is ready.'

'On the stoep it is nothing but war, but in the Raad everything is
peace.' No wonder the British overtures were in vain.



CHAPTER V

THE NEGOTIATIONS FOR PEACE


This is not an attempt to write the history of the war, which I have
done elsewhere, but only to touch upon those various points upon which
attempts have been made to mislead continental and American opinion. I
will endeavour to treat each of these subjects in turn, not in the
spirit of a lawyer preparing a brief, but with an honest endeavour to
depict the matter as it is, even when I venture to differ from the
action either of the British Government or of the generals in the field.
In this chapter I will deal with the question of making peace, and
examine how far the British are to blame for not having brought those
negotiations which have twice been opened to a successful conclusion.

The outset of the war saw the Boers aggressive and victorious. They
flocked into British territory, drove the small forces opposed to them
into entrenched positions, and held them there at Ladysmith, Kimberley,
and Mafeking. At the same time they drove back at Colenso and at
Magersfontein the forces which were sent to relieve these places. During
this long period of their predominance from October 1899 to February
1900, there was no word of peace. On the contrary, every yard of British
territory which was occupied was instantly annexed either by the
Transvaal or by the Orange Free State. This is admitted and beyond
dispute. What becomes then of the theory of a defensive war, and what
can they urge against the justice which awarded the same fate to the
land of the Boers when it in turn was occupied by us? The Boers did not
use their temporary victory in any moderate spirit. At the end of
January 1900, Dr. Leyds, while on his visit to Berlin, said:

'I believe that England will have to give us back a good part of the
territory formerly snatched away from us.... The Boers will probably
demand the cession of the strip of coast between Durban and Delagoa Bay,
with the harbours of Lucia and Kosi. The Orange Free State and the
Transvaal are to be united and to form one State, together with parts of
Natal and the northern districts of Cape Colony.'--(_Daily News_ Berlin
correspondent, February 1, March 16, 1900.)

They were to go to the sea, and nothing but going to the sea would
satisfy them. The war would end when their flag flew over Cape Town. But
there came a turn of the tide. The resistance of the garrisons, the
tenacity of the relieving forces, and the genius of Lord Roberts altered
the whole situation. The Boers were driven back to the first of their
capitals. Then for the first time there came from them those proposals
for peace, which were never heard when the game was going in their
favour. Here is President Kruger's telegram:

          'THE PRESIDENTS OF THE ORANGE FREE STATE AND OF THE
          SOUTH AFRICAN REPUBLIC TO THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY.

                                         'Bloemfontein: March 5, 1900.

'The blood and the tears of the thousands who have suffered by this war,
and the prospect of all the moral and economic ruin with which South
Africa is now threatened, make it necessary for both belligerents to ask
themselves dispassionately, and as in the sight of the Triune God, for
what they are fighting, and whether the aim of each justifies all this
appalling misery and devastation.

'With this object, and in view of the assertions of various British
statesmen to the effect that this war was begun and is being carried on
with the set purpose of undermining Her Majesty's authority in South
Africa, and of setting up an Administration over all South Africa
independent of Her Majesty's Government, we consider it our duty
solemnly to declare that this war was undertaken solely as a defensive
measure to safeguard the threatened independence of the South African
Republic, and is only continued in order to secure and safeguard the
incontestable independence of both Republics as Sovereign International
States, and to obtain the assurance that those of Her Majesty's subjects
who have taken part with us in this war shall suffer no harm whatsoever
in person or property.

'On these conditions, but on these conditions alone, are we now, as in
the past, desirous of seeing peace re-established in South Africa, and
of putting an end to the evils now reigning over South Africa; while, if
Her Majesty's Government is determined to destroy the independence of
the Republics, there is nothing left to us and to our people but to
persevere to the end in the course already begun, in spite of the
overwhelming pre-eminence of the British Empire, confident that that God
who lighted the unextinguishable fire of the love of freedom in the
hearts of ourselves and of our fathers will not forsake us, but will
accomplish His work in us and in our descendants.

'We hesitated to make this declaration earlier to Your Excellency, as we
feared that as long as the advantage was always on our side, and as long
as our forces held defensive positions far in Her Majesty's colonies,
such a declaration might hurt the feelings of honour of the British
people; but now that the prestige of the British Empire may be
considered to be assured by the capture of one of our forces by Her
Majesty's troops, and that we are thereby forced to evacuate other
positions which our forces had occupied, that difficulty is over, and we
can no longer hesitate clearly to inform your Government and people in
the sight of the whole civilised world why we are fighting, and on what
conditions we are ready to restore peace.'

Here is Lord Salisbury's reply:

                                      'Foreign Office: March 11, 1900.

'I have the honour to acknowledge Your Honours' telegram dated the 5th
of March from Bloemfontein, of which the purport is principally to
demand that Her Majesty's Government shall recognise the "incontestable
independence" of the South African Republic and Orange Free State "as
Sovereign International States," and to offer, on those terms, to bring
the war to a conclusion.

'In the beginning of October last peace existed between Her Majesty and
the two Republics under the Conventions which then were in existence. A
discussion had been proceeding for some months between Her Majesty's
Government and the South African Republic, of which the object was to
obtain redress for certain very serious grievances under which British
residents in the South African Republic were suffering. In the course of
those negotiations the South African Republic had, to the knowledge of
Her Majesty's Government, made considerable armaments, and the latter
had, consequently, taken steps to provide corresponding reinforcements
to the British garrisons of Cape Town and Natal. No infringement of the
rights guaranteed by the Conventions had up to that point taken place on
the British side. Suddenly, at two days' notice, the South African
Republic, after issuing an insulting ultimatum, declared war upon Her
Majesty, and the Orange Free State, with whom there had not even been
any discussion, took a similar step. Her Majesty's dominions were
immediately invaded by the two Republics, siege was laid to three towns
within the British frontier, a large portion of the two colonies was
overrun, with great destruction to property and life, and the Republics
claimed to treat the inhabitants of extensive portions of Her Majesty's
dominions as if those dominions had been annexed to one or other of
them. In anticipation of these operations, the South African Republic
had been accumulating for many years past military stores on an enormous
scale, which by their character could only have been intended for use
against Great Britain.

'Your Honours make some observations of a negative character upon the
object with which these preparations were made. I do not think it
necessary to discuss the question you have raised. But the result of
these preparations, carried on with great secrecy, has been that the
British Empire has been compelled to confront an invasion which has
entailed upon the Empire a costly war and the loss of thousands of
precious lives. This great calamity has been the penalty which Great
Britain has suffered for having in recent years acquiesced in the
existence of the two Republics.

'In view of the use to which the two Republics have put the position
which was given to them, and the calamities which their unprovoked
attack has inflicted upon Her Majesty's dominions, Her Majesty's
Government can only answer Your Honours' telegram by saying that they
are not prepared to assent to the independence either of the South
African Republic or of the Orange Free State.'

Is there any sane man of any nation who can contend that a British
statesman could possibly have taken any other view? From the firing of
the first shot the irresistible logic of events showed that either the
Republics must dominate Africa or they must cease to exist. For the
sparing of the Orange Free State there might, I think, be a fair
argument, but they had put themselves out of court by annexing every
foot of British territory which they could lay their hands upon. For the
sparing of the Transvaal there could be no possible reason. Had that
State been reconstituted we should instantly have been faced once more
with the Franchise question, the Uitlander question, the corrupt
oligarchy, the anti-British conspiracy, and everything which we had
spent so much blood and money to set right. The desperate situation from
which the British power was only just emerging was so fresh in our minds
that we could not feel justified in leaving the possibility--indeed the
certainty--of its recurrence to our children. Remember, you who judge
us, that we had done all this before. Once before within our own
memories we had patched up an inconclusive peace, and left these people
the power to hurt us. And what had come of it? Eternal trouble ending in
a great war which strained the resources of the Empire. Could we be
asked to do the same again? Would any nation on earth have done the same
again? From the day of the signing of peace we should know that we had
an implacable and formidable foe to the north of us, nursing his wrath
and preparing his strength for the day when he might strike us at an
advantage. Our colonies would lie ever in the shadow of its menace. Who
can blame us for deciding that the job should be done now in such a way
that it should never, so far as we could help it, need to be done once
more?

Such was the end of the first negotiations for peace. The war was
resumed, and in time the second capital of the Boers was taken and
President Kruger withdrew to Europe, leaving South Africa in the welter
to which he had reduced it. Then, for the second time, negotiations for
peace were opened on the initiative of General Botha, which led to a
meeting upon February 28, 1901, between Kitchener and Botha. Kitchener
had already explained that for the reasons given above the restoration
of independence was impossible, and the negotiations were carried
through on that understanding. Here is Lord Kitchener's own account of
the interview and of the points at issue:

 [_Telegram._]                     'Pretoria: March 1, 1901, 2.20 P.M.

'_28th February._--I have had a long interview with Botha, who showed
very good feeling and seemed anxious to bring about peace. He asked for
information on a number of subjects which he said that he should submit
to his Government and people, and if they agreed he should visit Orange
River Colony and get them to agree. They should all then hand in their
arms and finish the war. He told me that they could go on for some time,
and that he was not sure of being able to bring about peace without
independence. He tried very hard for some kind of independence, but I
declined to discuss such a point, and said that a modified form of
independence would be most dangerous and likely to lead to war in the
future. Subject was then dropped, and--

'Firstly.--The nature of future government of Colonies asked about. He
wanted more details than were given by Colonial Secretary, and I said
that, subject to correction from home, I understood that when
hostilities ceased military guard would be replaced by Crown Colony
administration, consisting of nominated Executive, with elected assembly
to advise administration, to be followed after a period by
representative government. He would have liked representative government
at once, but seemed satisfied with above.

'Secondly.--Whether a Boer would be able to have a rifle to protect him
from native? I said I thought he would be by a licence and on
registration.

'Thirdly.--He asked whether Dutch language would be allowed? I said that
English and Dutch would, I thought, have equal rights. He expressed hope
that officials dealing with farmers would know Dutch.

'Fourthly.--The Kaffir question. This turned at once on franchise of
Kaffirs, and a solution seemed to be that franchise should not be given
to Kaffirs until after representative government was granted to
Colonies. Orange Free State laws for Kaffirs were considered good.

'Fifthly.--That Dutch Church property should remain untouched.

'Sixthly.--Public trusts and orphan funds to be left intact. He asked
whether British Government, in taking over the assets of Republics,
would also take over legal debts. This he made rather a strong point of,
and he intended it to include debts legally contracted since the war
began. He referred to notes issued amounting to less than a million.

'Seventhly.--He asked if any war tax would be imposed on farmers? I said
I thought not.

'Eighthly.--When would prisoners of war return?

'Ninthly.--He referred to pecuniary assistance to repair burnt farms,
and enable farmers to start afresh. I said I thought some assistance
would be given.

'Tenthly.--Amnesty to all at end of war. We spoke of Colonials who
joined Republics, and he seemed not adverse to their being
disfranchised.

'I arranged with him that I should write and let him know the view of
the Government on these points. All I said during the interview was
qualified by being subject to confirmation from home. He was anxious to
get an answer soon.'

There followed some correspondence between Lord Kitchener, Sir Alfred
Milner, and Mr. Chamberlain upon the exact terms which could be given to
Botha. They ended in the following offer, which was submitted to him
upon March 7. That, in consideration of a complete military surrender,

'1. There should be a complete amnesty for all _bonâ fide_ acts of war
for all burghers of the Republics. In the case of Colonial rebels, if
they returned to their Colonies some inquiry must be held on their
conduct.

'2. All prisoners to be at once sent back.

'3. Crown Colony government to be given as soon as possible; this in
turn to change to representative government, as in all other free
British possessions. The courts of law to be independent of the
government.

'4. The Dutch and English languages to be put upon an equality.

'5. That the Government should help to replace the farmers on their
farms, to restore their buildings, should pledge itself not to specially
tax them, and should pay as an act of grace one million pounds to meet
the debt incurred by the Republican governments to their own people
during the war.

'6. That the burghers be allowed sporting fire-arms.

'7. That the Kaffirs should have the protection of the law, but should
not have the vote.

'In conclusion,' says Lord Kitchener, 'I must inform your honour that if
the terms are not accepted after a reasonable delay for consideration,
they must be regarded as cancelled.'

But the wise and chivalrous Botha was overruled by the men around him,
many of whom had little to lose by a continuance of the struggle. It was
evident that he did not himself consider independence vital, since he
had gravely discussed terms which were based upon loss of independence.
But other influences had been brought to bear upon him, and this was his
reply--a reply which has already cost the lives of so many of each side:

'I have the honour to acknowledge receipt of Your Excellency's letter
stating what steps Your Excellency's Government is prepared to take in
the event of a general and total cessation of hostilities. I have
advised my Government of Your Excellency's said letter; but, after the
mutual exchange of views at our interview at Middelburg on 28th February
last, it will certainly not surprise Your Excellency to know that I do
not feel disposed to recommend that the terms of the said letter shall
have the earnest consideration of my Government. I may add also that my
Government and my chief officers here entirely agree to my views.'

It will be observed that in this reply Botha bases his refusal upon his
own views as expressed in the original interview with Kitchener; and we
have his own authority, therefore, to show that they were not determined
by any changes which Chamberlain may have made in the terms--a favourite
charge of that gentleman's enemies.

It is impossible to say how, short of independence, Great Britain could
have improved upon these terms, and it has already been shown that to
offer independence would mean having to fight the war over again. It has
been suggested that Great Britain might have offered a definite date
upon which representative institutions should come in force, but such a
promise must be disingenuous, for it must evidently depend not upon a
date, but upon the state of the country. The offers of loans to the
farmers towards the stocking and rebuilding the farms were surely
generous to our defeated foes, and, indeed, it is clear now that in some
respects our generosity went too far, and that the interests of the
Empire would have suffered severely had these terms been accepted. To
have given more would certainly seem not to have offered peace, but to
have implored it.

Whatever the final terms of peace may prove to be, it is to be earnestly
hoped that 40,000 male prisoners will not be returned, as a matter of
right, without any guarantee for their future conduct. It is also much
to be desired that the bastard taal language, which has no literature
and is almost as unintelligible to a Hollander as to an Englishman, will
cease to be officially recognised. These two omissions may repay in the
long run for weary months of extra war since, upon Botha's refusal, the
British Government withdrew these terms and the hand moved onwards upon
the dial of fate, never to turn back.

De Wet had said in reference to Kitchener's terms of peace, 'What is
the use of examining all the points, as the only object for which we are
fighting is our independence and our national existence?' It is evident,
however, that Botha did not consider this an absolute bar to renewing
the negotiations, for upon May 10, two months later, he wrote the
following letter to Lord Kitchener:

                             'Commandant-General's Camp, May 10, 1901.

'EXCELLENCY,--As I have already assured Your Excellency I am very
desirous of terminating this war, and its sad consequences. It is,
however, necessary, in order to comply with the "Grondwet" of this
Republic and otherwise, that, before any steps are taken in that
direction, the condition of our country and our cause be brought to the
notice of His Honour, State President Kruger, in Europe; and I therefore
wish to send two persons to him in order to acquaint him fully with that
condition.

'As speed in this matter is of great consequence to both contending
parties, and as such despatch without Your Excellency's assistance would
take a considerable time, I should like to hear from Your Excellency
whether Your Excellency is prepared to assist me in expediting this
matter by allowing such person or persons to journey there and back
unhindered, if necessary by the traffic medium within Your Excellency's
control.--I have, &c.,

                                    'LOUIS BOTHA, Commandant-General.'

To this Kitchener answered:

             'Army Headquarters, South Africa, Pretoria, May 16, 1901.

'YOUR HONOUR,--I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of Your
Honour's letter of 10th instant, and, in reply, beg to state that I can
only deal with you and your superior officers in the field in regard to
the cessation of hostilities, and that I do not recognise the official
status of any other persons in the late Republics of the Orange River
and Transvaal.

'If, however, Your Honour desires, with the object of bringing
hostilities to a close, to consult with any person in Europe, I will
forward any telegram Your Honour desires on the subject, and let you
have the reply. Should, however, Your Honour still desire to send
messengers, and will inform me of their names and status, I will refer
the matter to His Majesty's Government for decision.--I have, &c.,

                       'KITCHENER, General,

 'Commanding-in-Chief, British Troops, South Africa.'

At this period, the second week of May, the Boer cause was in very low
water, as on the same date we have Botha reopening negotiations which he
had declared to be definitely closed, and Reitz (the man who used to
regard the whole matter as a great joke) writing a despairing letter to
Steyn to the effect that the game was up and that it was time to take
the last final step. A reply was received from Kruger encouraging the
Boers to continue their hopeless and fatal resistance. His reply was to
the effect that there were still great hopes of a successful issue of
the war, and that he had taken steps to make proper provision for the
Boer prisoners and for the refugee women. These steps, and very
efficient ones, too, were to leave them to the generosity of that
Government which he was so fond of reviling. There are signs that
something else had occurred to give them fresh hope and also fresh
material supplies. It looks, upon the face of it, as if, about that
time, large supplies of rifles, ammunition, and possibly recruits must
have reached them from some quarter, either from German Damaraland or
the Portuguese coast. At any rate there has been so much ammunition used
since, that either Reitz must have been raving or else large supplies
have reached the Boers from some unknown source.

So much for the official attempts at peace.

They have been given in some detail in order to prove how false it is
_that the British Government has insisted upon an unconditional
surrender_. Far from this being so, the terms offered by the British
Government have been so generous that they have aroused the strongest
distrust and criticism in this country, where they have seemed to be
surrendering by the pen all that had been won by the sword. Nothing has
been refused the enemy, save only independence, and that can never be
given, if the war has to continue until the last Boer is deported out of
Africa.

It is only necessary to refer briefly to the unofficial Boer attempts at
peace. A considerable body of the Boers, including many men of influence
and of intelligence, were disposed to accept the British flag and to
settle down in peace. The leaders of this party were the brave Piet de
Wet, brother of Christian, Paul Botha of Kroonstad, Fraser of
Bloemfontein, and others. Piet de Wet, who had fought against us as hard
as any man, wrote to his brother: 'Which is better, for the Republics to
continue the struggle and run the risk of total ruin as a nation, or to
submit? Could we for a moment think of taking back the country, if it
were offered to us, with thousands of people to be supported by a
Government which has not a farthing? Put passionate feeling aside for a
moment and use common-sense, and you will then agree with me that the
best thing for the people and the country is to give in, to be loyal to
the new Government, and to get responsible government.' Such were the
sentiments of many of the best of the burghers, and they endeavoured to
persuade their fellows. Both in the Transvaal and in the Free State,
Peace Committees were formed among the burghers, who sent deputies to
lay the facts of the situation before their brethren on commando. The
results were tragic. Two of the envoys, Morgendaal and de Koch, were
shot in cold blood, the former having been first beaten. Several of the
others were beaten, and all were ill-used.

This severity did not, however, stop the movement, but gave it a fiercer
turn. The burghers who were in favour of peace, finding it useless to
argue with their fellow-countrymen and knowing that their country was
being hopelessly ruined by the insensate resistance, took the extreme
course at last of bearing arms against them. There are at present three
strong commandos of burghers fighting upon the British side, commanded
by three Boer Generals--Marais, Celliers, and the younger Cronje, all of
whom had made their names in fighting against us. This fact alone goes
far to dispel those stories of British barbarity with which I shall
presently deal. They are believed in by political fanatics in England
and by dupes abroad, but the answer which many of the Boers upon the
spot make to them is to enlist and fight under the British flag. They
are in the best position for knowing the truth, and how can they show in
a stronger way what they believe that truth to be?



CHAPTER VI

THE FARM-BURNING


In the official correspondence which is published between the Boer and
British leaders in South Africa may very clearly be traced the way in
which this practice came to assume proportions which shocked public
opinion. It must be admitted that the results have not justified it, and
that, putting all moral questions apart, a burned-out family is the last
which is likely to settle down, as we hope that the Boers may eventually
settle down, as contented British citizens. On the other hand, when a
nation adopts guerilla tactics it deliberately courts those sufferings
to the whole country which such tactics invariably entail. They have
been the same in all wars and at all times. The army which is stung by
guerillas, strikes round it furiously and occasionally indiscriminately.
An army which is continually sniped and harassed becomes embittered, and
a General feels called upon to take those harsher measures which
precedent and experience suggest. That such measures have not been
pushed to an extreme by the British authorities is shown by the fact
that the captured guerilla has been made a prisoner of war--unlike his
prototype, the _franc-tireur_. The general question of guerillas may be
discussed later. At present we will confine our attention to the burning
of farms.

The first protest from the Boer side is dated February 3, 1900. In it
the two Presidents accuse the British troops 'of burning and blowing up
with dynamite the farmhouses, and of the devastation of farms.' The
document also includes an accusation of having used armed natives
against the Boers.

Lord Roberts replied upon February 5 to the effect that stringent
instructions had been given to the British troops to respect private
property. 'All wanton destruction or injury to peaceful inhabitants is
contrary to British practice and tradition, and will, if necessary, be
rigorously repressed by me.' He added that it was an untrue statement
that natives had ever been encouraged by British officers to commit
depredations. The charge, which has been the subject of many effective
cartoons upon the Continent, is as absurd as most of the other works of
the same artists. Why should the State which refused the aid of its own
highly trained Indian army of 150,000 men, avail itself of that of
savages? Lord Roberts denied the assertion with befitting warmth, and it
is not again repeated in the course of the despatches.

Lord Roberts in this document was not content with denying the Boer
allegations, but carried the war into the enemy's country:

'I regret to say that it is the Republican forces which have in some
cases been guilty of carrying on the war in a manner not in accordance
with civilised usage. I refer especially to the expulsion of loyal
subjects of Her Majesty from their homes in the invaded districts of
this Colony, because they refused to be commandeered by the invader. It
is barbarous to attempt to force men to take sides against their own
Sovereign and country by threats of spoliation and expulsion. Men,
women, and children have had to leave their homes owing to such
compulsion, and many of those who were formerly in comfortable
circumstances are now being maintained by charity.'

He adds: 'I beg to call your Honours' attention to the wanton
destruction of property by the Boer forces in Natal. They not only have
helped themselves freely to the cattle and other property of farmers
without payment, but they have utterly wrecked the contents of many
farmhouses. As an instance I would specify Mr. Theodore Wood's farm
"Longwood" near Springfield. I point out how very different is the
conduct of the British troops. It is reported to me from Modder River
that farms within the actual area of the British Camp have never even
been entered, the occupants are unmolested, and their houses, gardens,
and crops remain absolutely untouched.'

On March 26 Lord Roberts's Proclamation spoke with no uncertain voice
upon the subject of private property. It says:

'The following Proclamation, issued by me in the name of Her Majesty's
Government on the 26th March, begins: Notice is hereby given that all
persons who within the territories of the South African Republic or
Orange Free State shall authorise or be guilty of the wanton destruction
or damage or the counselling, aiding, or assisting in the wanton
destruction or damage of public or private property, such destruction or
damage not being justified by the usages and customs of civilised
warfare, will be held responsible in their persons and property for all
such wanton destruction and damage.'

This was during the period of the halt at Bloemfontein. I can well
remember that then and for long afterwards the consideration which was
shown upon this point seemed to those who were at the spot to be
exaggerated and absurd. I can remember that when we applied for leave to
use the deserted villas to put our sick soldiers into--the hospitals
being full--we were told that it could only be done by private treaty
with the owners, who were at that time on commando against us. I
remember also suggesting that the corrugated-iron fencing round the
cricket field should be used for making huts, and being told that it was
impossible, as it was private property.

The same extreme respect for personal property was shown during Lord
Roberts's advance. The country through which he passed swarmed with
herds and flocks, but, with as scrupulous a regard for the rights of
property as Wellington showed in the south of France, no hungry soldier
was allowed to take so much as a chicken. The punishment for looting was
prompt and stern. It is true that farms were burned occasionally and the
stock confiscated, but this was as a punishment for some particular
offence and not part of a system. The limping Tommy looked askance at
the fat geese which covered the dam by the roadside, but it was as much
as his life was worth to allow his fingers to close round those tempting
white necks. On foul water and bully beef he tramped through a land of
plenty.

A most striking example of British discipline and forbearance was
furnished at this period, while the war could still be called regular
upon the Boer side, by Rundle's Division, christened the 'Hungry Eighth'
by the Army. This Division had the misfortune to be stationed for
several months some distance from the railway line, and in consequence
had great difficulty in getting supplies. They were on half-rations for
a considerable period, and the men were so reduced in strength that
their military efficiency was much impaired. Yet they lived in a land of
plenty--a land of large farms well stocked with every sort of food. Why
it was impossible to get this food for the men I do not know, but I do
know that the prices for bread, eggs, milk, and other such things were
kept very high by the wives of the farmers who were away upon commando;
and that the hungry soldiers were quite unable to buy, and were not
permitted to take, the nourishment which was essential.

On May 19, while Lord Roberts's force was advancing on Pretoria, De Wet
sent in a despatch to complain of the destruction of two farms, Paarde
Kraal and Leeuw Kop. Lord Roberts replied that these two farms were
destroyed because, while a white flag was flying from the houses, the
troops were fired upon from the farmsteads. 'I have had two farms near
Kroonstad,' he adds, 'destroyed for similar reasons, and shall continue
to punish all such cases of treachery by the destruction of the farms
where they occur.' Here is a definite declaration of policy, quite
distinct from wanton destruction, and it is difficult to see how any
General could take any other steps, with justice to his own men. These
farms, and all which are included in this category, were justly and
properly destroyed--the families being removed without violence to a
place of safety.

The next representations from the Boer Commander were more definite in
their nature.

'Complaints are repeatedly reaching me,' he writes, 'that private
dwellings are plundered, and in some cases totally destroyed, and all
provisions taken from women and children, so that they are compelled to
wander about without food or covering. To quote several instances: It
has just been brought to my notice by way of sworn affidavit that the
house of Field-Cornet S. Buys on the farm, Leeuwspruit district,
Middelburg, was set on fire and destroyed on 20th June last. His wife,
who was at home, was given five minutes' time to remove her bedding and
clothing, and even what she took out was again taken from her. Her food,
sugar, &c., was all taken, so that for herself and her children she had
neither covering nor food for the following night. She was asked for the
key of the safe, and after it was given up by her she was threatened
with a sword, and money was demanded. All the money that was in the
house was taken away, all the papers in the safe were torn up, and
everything at the homestead that could not be taken away was destroyed.
The house of Field-Cornet Buys's son was also destroyed, the doors and
windows broken, &c.

'It has also been reported to me that my own buildings, on the farm
Varkenspruit, district Standerton, as well as the house of Field-Cornet
Badenhorst, on the adjoining farm, have been totally destroyed, and such
of the stock as was not removed was shot dead on the farm.

'Further, there is the sworn declaration of Mrs. Hendrik Badenhorst,
which speaks for itself.

'I cannot believe that such godless barbarities take place with Your
Excellency's consent, and thus I deem it my solemn duty to protest most
strongly against such destruction and vindictiveness as being entirely
contrary to civilised warfare.'

The greater part of these alleged outrages had occurred on General
Buller's side of the Transvaal, so the matter was referred to him. He
acknowledged that he had ordered six farmhouses to be destroyed:

'The following circumstances induced me to give the order. On entering
the Transvaal I caused the attached Proclamation (A) to be widely
distributed along my line of route. We marched from Volksrust to
Standerton practically unopposed. Shortly after our arrival at
Standerton our telegraph line was cut on several nights following, and
attempts were made to damage the military line by placing dynamite
cartridges with detonators attached upon it. These attempts were all
made on or in close vicinity to the estates above named. A watch was
kept and it was found that the attempts were made not by any formed
force of the enemy, but by a few scattered banditti who were given
shelter during the night in the houses I afterwards had destroyed, and
who thence, when they could, tried to murder our patrols, and sallied
out at night to damage the line. It was further ascertained that these
men came and usually returned through Varkenspruit. I directed that
copies of Proclamation (A) should be personally left at each house, and
the inmates of each should be warned that these depredations could not
be permitted, and that if people living under our protection allowed
these sort of men to resort to their houses without informing us, they
must take the consequences, and their houses would be destroyed. This
warning had some effect for a day or two, but on 1st and 2nd of July the
nuisance recommenced, and on the 7th July, having acquired full proof
that the houses were being regularly used as shelters for men who were
hostile to us, and who were not under any proper command, in fact, who
were only acting as banditti, I had the houses destroyed.

'The women and children occupying the farms were removed elsewhere with
as little inconvenience to themselves as we could arrange.'

Here again it is impossible to doubt that the British commanders were
well within their rights. It is true that Article XXIII. of The Hague
Conventions makes it illegal to destroy the enemy's property, but it
adds: 'Unless such destruction be imperatively demanded by the
necessities of war.' Now nothing can be more imperative in war than the
preservation of the communications of the army. A previous clause of the
same Article makes it illegal to 'kill or wound treacherously
individuals belonging to the hostile army.' It is incontestable that to
take the cover of a farmhouse which flies the white flag in order to
make attacks is to 'kill or wound treacherously,' and so on a double
count the action of the British becomes legal, and even inevitable. Lord
Roberts's message to De Wet upon August 3, 1900, restates both his
intentions and his reasons for it:

'Latterly, many of my soldiers have been shot from farmhouses over which
the white flag has been flying, the railway and telegraph lines have
been cut, and trains wrecked. I have therefore found it necessary, after
warning your Honour, to take such steps as are sanctioned by the customs
of war to put an end to these and similar acts, and have burned down the
farmhouses at or near which such deeds have been perpetrated. This I
shall continue to do whenever I consider the occasion demands it.

'The remedy lies in your Honour's own hands. The destruction of property
is most distasteful to me, and I shall be greatly pleased when your
Honour's co-operation in the matter renders it no longer necessary.'

This raises the question of the legality of the burning of farmhouses in
the vicinity of the place where the railway is cut. The question
presented itself forcibly to my mind when I saw with my own eyes the
tall plumes of smoke rising from six farmhouses, De Wet's among them, in
the neighbourhood of Roodeval. There is no doubt whatever that in the
war of 1870--the classic type of modern war--the villages and
populations near the scene of a cut railway were severely punished. But
The Hague Conventions had not then been signed. On the one hand, it may
be urged that it is impossible without such disciplinary measures to
preserve a line of 1,000 miles running all the way through a hostile or
semi-hostile country. Also that it is 'imperatively demanded by the
necessities of war.' On the other hand, there is Article L., which says,
'No general penalty can be inflicted on the population on account of the
acts of individuals, for which it cannot be regarded as collectively
responsible.' An argument might be advanced for either side, but what
will actually determine is the strongest argument of all--that of
self-preservation. An army situated as the British Army was, and
dependent for its supplies upon its communications, _must_ keep them
open even if it strains the Conventions in doing so. As a matter of
fact, farm-burning had no effect in checking the railway-cutting, and
had a considerable effect in embittering the population. Yet a General
who was cut off from his base thirty times in a month was bound to leave
the argument of legality to the jurists, and to adopt the means which
seemed most likely to stop the nuisance. The punishment fell with cruel
injustice upon some individuals. Others may have been among the actual
raiders.

On September 2 Lord Roberts communicated his intentions to General
Botha:

'SIR,--I have the honour to address your Honour regarding the operations
of those comparatively small bands of armed Boers who conceal themselves
on farms in the neighbourhood of our lines of communication and thence
endeavour to damage the railway, thus endangering the lives of
passengers travelling by train who may or may not be combatants.

'2. My reason for again referring to this subject is that, except in the
districts occupied by the Army under the personal command of your
Honour, there is now no formed body of Boer troops in the Transvaal or
Orange River Colony, and that the war is degenerating into operations
carried on by irregular and irresponsible guerillas. This would be so
ruinous to the country and so deplorable from every point of view, that
I feel bound to do everything in my power to prevent it.

'3. The orders I have at present issued, to give effect to these views,
are that the farm nearest the scene of any attempt to injure the line or
wreck a train is to be burnt, and that all farms within a radius of 10
miles are to be completely cleared of all their stock, supplies, &c.'

Granting that the penalty is legal at all, it must be allowed that it is
put in a minimum form, since only one farm in each case is to be
destroyed; and the further clearing of stock is undoubtedly justified,
since it would tend to cripple the mobility of Boer raiders approaching
the line. Yet one farm for each attack becomes a formidable total when
the attacks are on an average of one per day.

We have treated two causes for which farms were burned: (1) For being
used as cover for snipers; (2) as a punishment for the cutting of
railways. A third cause now comes to the front. A large number of
burghers had taken the oath of neutrality and had been allowed to return
to their farms by the British. These men were persuaded or terrorised by
the fighting commandos into breaking their parole and abandoning those
farms on which they had sworn to remain. The farmhouses were their bail,
and Lord Roberts decreed that it was forfeited. On August 23 he
announced his decision to General Botha:

'Your Honour represents that well-disposed families living on their
farms have been driven from their houses, and that their property has
been taken away or destroyed. This no doubt is true, but not in the
sense which your letter would imply. Burghers who are well-disposed
towards the British Government, and anxious to submit to my authority,
have had their property seized by the Boer commandos, and have been
threatened with death if they refused to take up arms against the
British forces. Your Honour's contention that a solemn oath of
neutrality which the burghers have voluntarily taken in order to remain
in unmolested occupation of their farms is null and void, because you
have not consented to it, is hardly open to discussion. I shall punish
those who violate their oath and confiscate their property, no burgher
having been forced to take the oath against his will.'

It is quite certain that the Boer Government committed a very clear
breach of the Conventions of The Hague in compelling, or even in
permitting, these men to rejoin the ranks. 'In such cases,' says Article
X., 'their own Government shall not require of, nor accept from, them
any service incompatible with the parole given.' This is clear as
regards the Government. But in the case of the men it is different.
Their promise was in a sense conditional upon effective protection from
our troops. We had no right to place a man in so terrible a position
that he had to choose between breaking his parole and death at the hands
of his own countrymen. If we were not sure that we could protect them,
we could have retained them in guarded camps, as we eventually did. If
we chose to turn them loose upon the wide veldt, then it was our fault
more than theirs that they were forced into the ranks of the enemy. To
their credit be it said that even under such pressure many of them were
true to their oath.

But if their guilt is indeed no greater than our own, then how are we
justified in burning down their houses? It seems to me that these cases
are very different from those in the other two categories, and that the
question of compensation to these men should be at least considered. I
take it that the numerous cases where 'on commando' is marked against a
burned farm on the official list, means that he had returned to commando
after giving his parole. The destruction of his house under those
circumstances is, in the peculiar conditions of the case, a harsh
measure, but if 'on commando' means simply that the man was away doing
his duty to his country, without any question of parole, then our
conscience can never permit that man to go without compensation.

We can trace in this account of the communications between the leaders
the growth of those harsher measures which have been so generally
deplored in this country. So long as the war was regular it is certain
that nothing could be more regular than the British conduct. When,
however, the war became irregular upon the part of the Boers, and their
army dissolved into small bands which harried the lines of
communications, the small posts, and the convoys, there was a
corresponding change upon the part of the troops. Towards the end of the
year 1900 that change was pushed to considerable lengths. Certain
districts which had been Boer centres, where they habitually collected
time after time, were devastated and destroyed. Such districts were
those of Kroonstad, Heilbron, Ventersburg, and Winburg. In these four
districts about one hundred and seventy houses were destroyed. The
village of Bothaville, which was a depôt of the enemy, was also
destroyed. It consisted of forty-three houses. In the Transvaal the
number of houses actually destroyed for strategic purposes seems to have
been very much smaller. In the official returns only about twelve houses
are so mentioned. Altogether the houses which have been burned for
reasons which are open to dispute, including those of the men upon
commando, do not appear to exceed two hundred and fifty.

It must be confessed that the case of these houses is entirely different
from the others which have been destroyed, because they were used for
active warlike operations. Of the 630 buildings which we know to have
been destroyed, more than half have been used by snipers, or in some
other direct fashion have brought themselves within the laws of warfare.
But it cannot be said that these others have done so. The cost of the
average farmhouse is a mere trifle. A hundred pounds would build a small
one, and 300_l._ a large. If we take the intermediate figure, then the
expenditure of 50,000_l._ would compensate for those cases where
military policy and international law may have been at variance with
each other. The burning of houses ceased in the year 1900, and, save in
very special instances, where there was an overwhelming military
necessity, it has not been resorted to since. In the sweeping of the
country carried out by French in the Eastern Transvaal and by Blood to
the north of the Delagoa Railway, no buildings appear to have been
destroyed, although it was a military necessity to clear the farms of
every sort of supply in order to hamper the movements of the commandos.
The destruction of the crops and herds of the Boers, distasteful as such
work must be, is exactly analogous to the destruction by them of our
supply trains on which the Army depended for their food. Guerilla
warfare cannot enjoy all its own advantages and feel none of its own
defects. It is a two-edged weapon, and the responsibility for the
consequences rests upon the combatant who first employs it.



CHAPTER VII

THE CONCENTRATION CAMPS


When considerable districts of the country were cleared of food in order
to hamper the movements of the commandos, and when large numbers of
farmhouses were destroyed under the circumstances already mentioned, it
became evident that it was the duty of the British, as a civilised
people, to form camps of refuge for the women and children, where, out
of reach, as we hoped, of all harm, they could await the return of
peace. There were three courses open. The first was to send the Boer
women and children into the Boer lines--a course which became impossible
when the Boer army broke into scattered bands and had no longer any
definite lines; the second was to leave them where they were; the third
was to gather them together and care for them as best we could.

It is curious to observe that the very people who are most critical of
the line of policy actually adopted, were also most severe when it
appeared that the alternative might be chosen. The British nation would
have indeed remained under an ineffaceable stain had they left women and
children without shelter upon the veldt in the presence of a large
Kaffir population. Even Mr. Stead could hardly have ruined such a case
by exaggeration. On some rumour that it would be so, he drew harrowing
pictures of the moral and physical degradation of the Boer women in the
vicinity of the British camps. No words can be too strong to stigmatise
such assertions unless the proof of them is overwhelmingly strong--and
yet the only 'proof' adduced is the bare assertion of a partisan writer
in a partisan paper, who does not claim to have any personal knowledge
of the matter. It is impossible without indignation to know that a
Briton has written on such evidence of his own fellow-countrymen that
they have 'used famine as a pander to lust.'

Such language, absurd as it is, shows very clearly the attacks to which
the British Government would have been subjected had they _not_ formed
the camps of refuge. It was not merely that burned-out families must be
given a shelter, but it was that no woman on a lonely farm was safe amid
a black population, even if she had the means of procuring food. Then,
again, we had learned our lesson as regards the men who had given their
parole. They should not again be offered the alternative of breaking
their oaths or being punished by their own people. The case for the
formation of the camps must be admitted to be complete and overwhelming.
They were formed, therefore, by the Government at convenient centres,
chiefly at Pretoria, Johannesburg, Krugersdorp, Middelburg,
Potchefstroom, Rustenburg, Heidelburg, Standerton, Pietersburg,
Klerksdorp, and Volksrust in the Transvaal; Bloemfontein, Kroonstad,
Bethulie, and Edenburg in the Orange Free State.

Such camps as refuges were no new things, for the British refugees from
Johannesburg have been living for over a year in precisely such places.
As no political capital and no international sentiment could be
extracted from their sufferings, and as they have borne their troubles
with dignity and restraint, we have heard little of the condition of
their lives, which is in many ways more deplorable than that of the
Boers.

Having determined to form the camps, the authorities carried out the
plan with great thoroughness. The sites seem to have been well chosen,
and the arrangements in most cases all that could be wished. They were
formed, however, at an unfortunate moment. Great strain had been placed
upon our Commissariat by the large army, over 200,000 men, who had to be
supplied by three tiny railways, which were continually cut. In January
1901 De Wet made his invasion of Cape Colony, and the demand upon the
lines was excessive. The extraordinary spectacle was presented at that
time of the British straining every nerve to feed the women and children
of the enemy, while that enemy was sniping the engineers and derailing
the trains which were bringing up the food.

The numbers of the inmates of the refugee camps increased rapidly from
20,000 at the end of the year 1900, up to more than 100,000 at the end
of 1901. Great efforts were made by the military authorities to
accommodate the swelling tide of refugees, and no money was spared for
that purpose. Early in the year 1901 a painful impression was created in
England by the report of Miss Hobhouse, an English lady, who had
visited the camps and criticised them unfavourably. The value of her
report was discounted, however, by the fact that her political
prejudices were known to be against the Government. Mr. Charles
Hobhouse, a relation of hers, and a Radical member of Parliament, has
since then admitted that some of her statements will not bear
examination. With the best will in the world her conclusions would have
been untrustworthy, since she could speak no Dutch, had no experience of
the Boer character, and knew nothing of the normal conditions of South
African life.

Her main contentions were that the diet was not sufficient, that there
was little bedding, that the water-supply was short, that the sanitation
was bad, that there was overcrowding, and that there was an excessive
death-rate, especially among the children.

As to diet, the list which she gives agrees roughly with that which is
officially quoted as the daily allowance at Irene Camp, near Pretoria,
in July. It is as follows:

    Meat                               1/2 lb.
    Coffee                             2 oz.
    Flour                              3/4 lb.
    Sugar                              2 oz.
    Salt                               1/2 oz.
    To every child under six, a bottle of milk

It must be confessed that the diet is a spare one, and that as supplies
become more plentiful it might well be increased. The allowance may,
however, be supplemented by purchase, and there is a considerable
outside fund, largely subscribed by British people, which is used to
make the scale more liberal. A slight difference was made at first
between the diet of a family which had surrendered and of that the head
of which was still in arms against us. A logical distinction may
certainly be made, but in practice it was felt to be unchivalrous and
harsh, so it was speedily abandoned.

As to the shortness of the water-supply, it is the curse of all South
Africa, which alternately suffers from having too much water and too
little. With artesian wells and better arrangements this difficulty is
being overcome, but it has applied as strongly to our own camps as to
those of the Boer refugees.

There seems to be a consensus of opinion from all the camps that the
defects in sanitation are due to the habits of the inmates, against
which commandants and doctors are perpetually fighting. Camp life
without cleanliness must become unhygienic. The medical reports are
filled with instances of the extreme difficulty which has been
experienced in enforcing discipline upon those who have been accustomed
to the absolute liberty of the lonely veldt.

On the question of overcrowding, the demand for tents in South Africa
has been excessive, and it may well have taxed all the power of the
authorities to find accommodation for the crowds of women and children.
The evil has been remedied since the time of Miss Hobhouse's report. It
is well known that the Boers in their normal life have no objection to
crowded rooms, and that the inmates of a farmhouse are accustomed to
conditions which would be unendurable to most. To overcrowd a tent is
hygienically almost impossible, for the atmosphere of a tent, however
crowded, will never become tainted in the same sense as a room.

All these things are of human contrivance, and the authorities were
doing their best to set them right, as Miss Hobhouse herself
acknowledged. 'They are, I believe, doing their best with very limited
means,' said she, and in so saying reduced her whole report to nothing.
For if they are really doing their best, then what more can be said? The
only alternative is the breaking up of the camps and the dispersal of
the women. But in that case Mr. Stead is waiting for us with some 'Blood
and Hell' broadsheet to tell us of the terrible fate of those women upon
the veldt. It must be one or the other. Of the two I prefer Miss
Hobhouse and the definite grievances which she reports, to the infinite
possibilities of Mr. Stead. As to the suggestion that this enormous
crowd of women and children should be quartered upon their kinsmen in
the Colony, it is beyond all argument. There has been no offer of such
wholesale hospitality nor have we any means for enforcing it.

But then we come to the great and piteous tragedy of the refugee camps,
the mortality, and especially the mortality among the children. That is
deplorable--more deplorable even than the infant mortality in Mafeking,
Ladysmith, and Kimberley. But is it avoidable? Or is it one of those
misfortunes, like that enteric outbreak which swept away so many British
soldiers, which is beyond our present sanitary science and can only be
endured with sad resignation? The nature of the disease which is mainly
responsible for the high mortality shows that it has no direct
connection with the sanitary conditions of the camps, or with anything
which it was in our power to alter. Had the deaths come from some
filth-disease, such as typhus fever, or even from enteric or diphtheria,
the sanitation of the camps might be held responsible. But it is to a
severe form of measles that the high mortality is due. Apart from that
the record of the camps would have been a very fair one. Now measles
when once introduced among children runs through a community without any
regard to diet or conditions of life. The only possible hope is the
segregation of the sufferer. To obtain this early quarantine the
co-operation of the parent is needed: but in the case in point the Boer
mothers, with a natural instinct, preferred to cling to the children and
to make it difficult for the medical men to remove them in the first
stages of the disease. The result was a rapid spread of the epidemic,
which was the more fatal as many of the sufferers were in low health
owing to the privations unavoidably endured in the journey from their
own homes to the camps. Not only was the spread of the disease assisted
by the mother, but in her mistaken zeal she frequently used remedies
which were as fatal as the disease. Children died of arsenical-poisoning,
having been covered from head to foot with green paint; and others of
opium-poisoning, having quack drugs which contain laudanum administered
to them. 'In Potchefstroom as at Irene,' says Dr. Kendal Franks, 'the
death-rate is attributable not so much to the severity of the epidemic
as to the ignorance, perverseness, and dirty habits of the parents
themselves.' But whatever the immediate cause the death of these
numerous children lies heavy, not upon the conscience, but upon the
heart of our nation. It is some mitigation to know that the death-rate
among children is normally quite remarkably high in South Africa, and
that the rate in the camps was frequently not higher than that of the
towns near which the camp was situated.

Be this as it may, we cannot deny that the cause of the outbreak of
measles was the collection of the women and children by us into the
camps. But why were they collected into camps? Because they could not be
left on the veldt. And why could they not be left on the veldt? Because
we had destroyed the means of subsistence. And why had we destroyed the
means of subsistence? To limit the operations of the mobile bands of
guerillas. At the end of every tragedy we are forced back to the common
origin of all of them, and made to understand that the nation which
obstinately perseveres in a useless guerilla war prepares much trouble
for its enemy, but absolute ruin for itself.

We have pushed our humanity in this matter of the refugees so far that
we have looked after our enemies far better than our friends. I
recognise that the two cases are not on all fours, since the Boers are
compelled to be in camps and the loyalist refugees are not. But the fact
remains that the loyalists _are_ in camps, through no fault of their
own, and that their condition is a worse one than that of our enemies.
At East London, for example, there are two refugee camps, Boer and
British. The former has 350, the latter 420 inhabitants. The former are
by far the better fed, clad, and housed, with a hospital, a school, and
a washhouse, all of which are wanting in the British camp. At Port
Elizabeth there is a Boer camp. A Dutch deputation came with 50_l._ to
expend in improving their condition, but returned without spending the
money as nothing was needed. The Boer refugees and the British are
catered for by the same man at Port Elizabeth. He is allowed 15_d._ per
head for the Boers per day, and 8_d._ for the British. These are the
'Methods of Barbarism.'

I shall now take a few opinions of the camps from British sources and
from Boer. I have only seen one British witness who was in sympathy with
Miss Hobhouse, and that is a lady (name not mentioned) who is quoted in
the appendix of Mr. Methuen's 'Peace or War.' She takes much the same
view, insisting mainly upon the insufficient diet, the want of fuel and
of bed-clothing. Against these two ladies I shall very shortly and in
condensed form cite a few witnesses from both sides.

Mr. Seaton, of Johannesburg (Secretary of the Congregational Church and
of the burgher camp), says: 'The reports you send make our blood boil.
They are frightfully exaggerated, and in many instances not only
misleading but untrue.... A more healthy spot it would be difficult to
find.... There is no overcrowding.

'Some weeks ago there was an epidemic of measles in camp of a very
severe type, and naturally there were many deaths among the children.
The doctor and nurses worked to the very utmost, and I am pleased to say
the epidemic is stamped out. No doubt this is what caused the talk by
the pro-Boers in the House of Commons and elsewhere, but it is one of
those epidemics which could not be prevented among the class of people
we have here. They had absolutely no regard for sanitary conveniences,
and the officials had the greatest difficulty in enforcing the most
ordinary rules of cleanliness. Another difficulty we had was to get them
to bring their children when sick into the hospital, where there is
every convenience. They prefer to disobey the doctor and try the old
women's remedies, which, as you know, are very plentiful among such
people. The doctor has had a most trying position, and has worked like a
slave. Nearly all the deaths have been from measles. We are having a
fairly mild winter. About three months ago it was bitterly cold, but
they are used to outdoor life, and this is no worse than they have
always been used to. The tents are all military tents, and there is no
sign of leakage. I know they all want tents when they come here, if it
is possible to get them. On the whole, the inmates are contented, and
the children are particularly happy. They skip and play about from morn
till eve.'

The Rev. R. Rogers (Wesleyan minister) writes:

'What is the use of persons ignorant of the life and customs of the
Boers coming to investigate these burgher camps? I have seen, and do not
hesitate to say, that most of them are better housed, better clothed,
and better fed than in their own homes of wattle and daub, and mud
floors.'

Mr. Howe of the Camp Soldiers' Homes says:

'We do not pass judgment; we only state facts.

'When the first concentration camp was formed we were on the spot, and
also saw others spring up. We admit that there has been suffering, but
we solemnly affirm that the officers in charge of the several camps
known to us were only too anxious to make the helpless people as
comfortable as possible. We have seen the huge cases and bales of
comforts for the inmates, and know that, in order to expedite the
despatch of these things, military stores and ordnance have been kept
back.'

The Rev. R. B. Douglas (Presbyterian minister) writes:

'I am glad to see that you are not giving credence to the tales of
brutality and cruelty which are being freely circulated by disloyal
agitators about the treatment of the Boer refugees. But one point on
which you ask for more information is worth being noticed--the
difference of treatment between families of those on commando and
others. I am in a position to state that the whole difference made
amounted to two ounces of coffee and four ounces of sugar per week, and
that even this distinction totally disappeared by the middle of March.
As a set-off to this, the local Dutch Committee, in distributing some
sixty cases of clothing, &c., sent out by the charitable, refused to
give any help to the families of some who were not on commando, on the
ground that these articles were for the benefit of those who were
fighting for their country.'

Mrs. Gauntlett, of Johannesburg, writes:

'I have read certain statements you sent me from English papers on
cruelty to Boer refugee families. I am amazed at the iniquity of men who
circulate such lies, and the credulity of those who believe them. The
opinion of Germans, French, Americans, and even many Dutch, here on the
spot, is that the leniency and amazing liberality of the Government to
their foes is prolonging the war. A Dutch girl in the Pretoria Camp
declared to the nurse that for seven months they had not been able to
get such good food as was given them by the British.'

Mr. Soutar, Secretary of the Pretoria Camp, writes:

'The Boer women and children get as much food as they require, and have
all sorts of medical comforts, such as beef-tea, extracts of meat,
jellies, brandy and wine, and the advantage of fully qualified
attendants. Not only are their absolute requirements provided for, but
even their "fads" are considered.'

Mr. Scholtz, Inspector of Camps for the Transvaal, reports:

'Many of the children, when they first arrived at the camp, were little
better than skin and bone, and, being in so emaciated a condition, it
was not surprising that, when they did catch measles, they could not
cope with the disease. Many of the women would not open their tents to
admit fresh air, and, instead of giving the children the proper
medicines supplied by the military, preferred to give them home
remedies. The mothers would not sponge the children, and the greatest
difficulty was experienced in inducing them to send the patients to
hospital. The cause of the high death-rate among children from measles
is due to the fact that the women let their children out as soon as the
measles rash has subsided. Pneumonia and bronchitis naturally supervene.
Another cause is that the mothers persist in giving their children meat
and other indigestible foods, even when the doctors strictly prohibit
it, dysentery resulting as a matter of course. In other respects the
health of the camp is good, there being only one case of typhoid out of
5,000 residents in camp.'

Here is light on the Krugersdorp Camp:

'JOHANNESBURG, July 31st.--(Reuter's Special Service.)--Commandant
Alberts, commanding the Boers near Krugersdorp, has sent a letter to the
officer commanding the British forces at Krugersdorp, stating that as he
has with him on commando several families whose male relatives have
recently surrendered, he wishes to know if he will receive these
families, as they would like to go to Krugersdorp. The officer replied
that he would be pleased to receive them, and they are expected to
arrive to-day.

'This action on the part of the Boers clearly shows that the families
themselves have no longer any objection to the Refugee Camps, where
everything is done to promote their comfort, or any disinclination to
being placed under our care and protection.'

From Reuter's agent at Springfontein:

'I to-day visited the Boer Refugee Camp here, containing 2,700 inmates.
The camp is splendidly situated, and well laid out. I spoke to several
refugees, and met with no complaint, all being satisfied with the
treatment received. The hospital arrangements are excellent, and there
is very little sickness in the camp.'

From Mr. Celliers, Dutch Minister from Aberdeen, Cape Colony, sent to
inspect the Port Elizabeth Refugee Camp:

'He was writing this to show that the British Government were doing
everything in their power to help the exiles, and to show that, although
these exiles' relatives and friends were still in the field, yet the
powers were merciful and kind to the exiles, showing them no enmity, for
which they felt grateful. He wished the people to understand that he was
at liberty to speak to them privately, and that he had a fair
opportunity to hear any complaints, if there were any to be made. Mr.
Hess allowed him to go round, placing full confidence in him, and he
felt satisfied that if there had been anything wrong he should have
heard of it. It had been his opinion all along that the Military, in
sending these exiles down there, had done so for their own safety and
advantage; and that it had preserved them, and been a blessing in
disguise, which would be acknowledged by all in time to come.'

Major Harold Sykes's (2nd Dragoons) evidence is reported as follows:

He arranged the first of the Refugee Concentrated Camps, and when he
left he had a camp of about six thousand women and children under his
care. All charges of cruelty and inhumanity were vile and calumnious
falsehoods. Nay, worse, they were miserable, despicable concoctions.
Both women and children were better off, the great bulk of them, than
ever they were in their lives. The only thing approaching cruelty to
them was at the authorities insisted upon cleanliness and proper
attention to sanitary regulations, which the average Boer, being a
stranger to, utterly disliked. He had seen all the workings of these
camps. He could give an unqualified denial to all the villainous
allegations that had recently been made in public meeting and in the
House of Commons.

Under date November 1, an officer of the Kroonstad Camp writes:

'We have cricket, tennis, and croquet for them, and they are all jolly
well treated. Besides other amusements, they have a band twice a week,
and the other day they got up a concert.'

This is what Mr. Stead calls 'doing to death by slow torture all the
women and children whom we have penned behind the barbed wire of our
prison camps.' Can a cause be a sound one which is pleaded in such
terms!

Now for some Boer voices.

Commandant Alberts writes:

'Major WALTER, Boksburg.--Honoured Sir,--I must express to you and the
other officers of Boksburg my heartfelt thanks for the great kindness
shown towards my wife, and at the same time for the message, and I hope
that this kindness may some time be repaid to you.

'May you and I be spared to have a personal meeting.

'I have the honour to be your honour's servant,

                              '(Signed)       H. ALBERTS, Commandant.'

A Dutch minister writes to Captain SNOWDEN, O.C. of Boer Camp,
Johannesburg:--'Sir,--I am directed by the Committee of the Dutch
Reformed Churches here to convey to you the appreciation of the
Committee for the kindly interest and sympathy shown by you to the women
and children under your charge.'

One hundred male refugee Boers in the camp at Kroonstad sign the
following sentiment:

'We also wish to tender Your Excellency our heartiest thanks for the
interest you take in the education of our youth, and we trust you will
succeed in your endeavours, and that the growing-up generation will be
taught to be God-fearing, honest, and loyal citizens under the British
flag. We regret, however, to state that, notwithstanding the highly
appreciated efforts of our worthy superintendent and doctors, still so
many cases of sickness and deaths occur daily in this camp, still we
hope and trust Your Excellency will do all in your power for the health
in this camp.

'We trust that the efforts of our worthy superintendent towards
promoting our welfare under trying circumstances will be appreciated by
Your Excellency. We are happy to state that the spirit of loyalty is
daily increasing in this camp, and that the majority of the male
refugees have taken the oath of allegiance.'

Mr. Dudley Keys, a surrendered burgher, writes to his brother:

'I have been in camp now for more than seven months--a sufficient time,
you will allow, for reflection--and the immutability of the life
provides ample scope for indulgence in that direction. How we long for
the settlement you cannot imagine, nor can you imagine with what disgust
and impatience we regard every endeavour on the part of the pro-Boers,
as they are called, to divert the natural and inevitable course of
things. You will not be surprised at hearing this from a one-time Dutch
Republican when you take into consideration that all of us who have
surrendered are fully aware of the fact that we were the aggressors, and
that our statesmen are to blame for our present predicament. A large
number of Boers, of course, will never come to view the matter in this
light. That, of course, is not the result of thought and reflection, but
utter and total ignorance. When Miss Hobhouse was here I frequently saw
her priming herself or being primed. Some of our women would tell her
anything for a dress or a pair of boots. If she knew our countrymen and
women as well as we know them, her story would have been a short one.
Now the home Government are despatching this commission. Well, when they
see the women and children in camp they will naturally feel sorry for
them. Who would not? But if they only remember that this is war and not
a picnic, they will satisfy the people in England on their return that
all we want is peace, and plenty of it.'

He adds:

'In spite of the lack of gratitude shown by our people, the authorities
continue to make improvements and to lessen the hardships. That this
entails enormous expenditure you will see by the statistics frequently
published in the English papers. When I hear our people grumble, I often
wonder how they would have treated the Britishers if the positions were
reversed, and I am bound to acknowledge that it would not compare
favourably with the treatment we receive.'

A Boer woman, writing from Pietermaritzburg, says:

'Those who complain of anything must lie, for we are in good
circumstances.'

In a second letter she says:

'I can make no complaint at all.'

Mrs. Blignant, writing from the Port Elizabeth Refugee Camp, says:

'If we had to complain it would be false complaint, and all the stories
about ill-treatment are untrue as far as I can find out.' Among the
women cared for in this camp was one from Jagersfontein, who
boasted--and with truth--that she had shot two unarmed British soldiers
with a revolver.

Such is some of the evidence to be placed against Miss Hobhouse's
report, and that of the unnamed lady in Pretoria. In justice it must be
acknowledged that some camps may have been more open to criticism than
others, and that (as we should expect) they became more perfect with
time. But I cannot believe that any impartial mind can read the evidence
without seeing that the British Government was doing its best under
difficult circumstances to carry out the most humane plan possible, and
that any other must involve consequences from which a civilised nation
must shrink.

Towards the end of 1901 an attempt was made to lessen the mortality in
the camps by bringing them down to the sea-coast. The problem was
complicated by the fact that many of the refugees were averse from
leaving their own country, and had come in upon a promise that they
would not be asked to do so. Those who would were moved down, and the
camps at East London, Port Elizabeth, and Merebank, near Durban, largely
increased. 'No expense must be allowed to stand in the way,' said Mr.
Chamberlain in an official message. In Blue Book (Cd. 853) we find Lord
Milner and the Colonial Secretary discussing every means by which the
mortality might be lessened and the comfort of the camps increased.

It is worthy of record that the portrait of an emaciated child has been
circulated upon the Continent and in America as a proof positive of the
horrors of the concentration system. It is only too probable that there
are many emaciated children in the camps, for they usually arrive in
that condition. This particular portrait however was, as I am credibly
informed, taken by the British authorities on the occasion of the
criminal trial of the mother for the ill-usage of the child. The
incident is characteristic of the unscrupulous tactics which have been
used from the beginning to poison the mind of the world against Great
Britain.



CHAPTER VIII

THE BRITISH SOLDIER IN SOUTH AFRICA


When Lord Roberts desired to sum up the character of the soldiers whom
he had led, he declared that they had behaved like gentlemen. I believe
that statement to be no exaggeration, and I think that when the bitter
animosities of warfare have subsided, it will be acknowledged by the
Boers themselves that it is true. They have had some unsavoury work to
do--for guerilla warfare brings much in its train which is hateful--but
officers and men have ameliorated and softened the asperities of warfare
wherever it has been possible to do so. Their character has been most
foully attacked by politicians at home, and by the ignorant or
malevolent abroad. Let us examine the evidence.

There were many military attachés present with our Army. Have any of
them reported against the discipline of our soldiers? So far as their
reports are known, nothing of the sort has been alleged. Captain Slocum,
the American representative, writes from Bloemfontein:

'The British have been too merciful, and I believe, had a more rigorous
course been adopted when the Army first entered this capital and the
enemy thoroughly stampeded, the war would have been materially
shortened.'

The French military attaché said: 'What I admire most in this campaign
is the conduct of your soldiers. Here they are trekking and fighting
daily in an uninteresting country, scorched by day, cold by night,
without drink, without women. Any other soldiers in Europe would have
mutinied long ago.'

There were several foreign war-correspondents with our army. Of these
the only Frenchman, M. Carrère of the 'Matin' was an ardent pro-Boer.
Read his book, 'En pleine Epopée.' He is bitter against our policy and
our politicians. His eyes are very keenly open for flaws in our Army.
But from cover to cover he has nothing but praise for the devoted Tommy
and his chivalrous officer.

Three American correspondents were there--there may have been more, but
three I knew. These were Messrs. Julian Ralph, James Barnes, and Unger.
The first two were much impressed by the humanity and discipline of the
British troops, though Mr. Ralph was, I believe, like Captain Slocum, of
the opinion that it was occasionally pushed too far. Mr. Unger's
published impressions of the war confirm the same idea.

Here, then, is practical unanimity among all the impartial witnesses. On
the opinions of our own correspondents I will not dwell. I have the
advantage of knowing nearly all of them, and though among them are
several gentlemen who have a chivalrous and idealistic sympathy for the
Boers, I cannot recollect that I have ever once heard one of them record
a single instance where they had been shocked by the conduct of a
soldier.

I may, perhaps, be permitted to add my own testimony. I went to South
Africa with great sympathy for the individual Boer, and with a belief
that I should find soldiers in the field very different from soldiers in
peace. I was three months in Bloemfontein when there were from ten to
thirty thousand men encamped round the town. During that time I only
once saw a man drunk. I never saw a man drunk during the short time that
I was in Pretoria and Johannesburg. I once heard of a soldier striking a
Boer. It was because the man had refused to raise his hat at the burial
of the soldier's comrade. I not only never saw any outrage, but in many
confidential talks with officers I never heard of one. I saw twenty Boer
prisoners within five minutes of their capture. The soldiers were giving
them cigarettes. Only two assaults on women came to my ears while I was
in Africa. In each case the culprit was a Kaffir, and the deed was
promptly avenged by the British Army.

Miss Hobhouse has mixed with a great number of refugees, many of whom
are naturally very bitter against us. She is not reticent as to the
tales which they told her. Not one of them all has a story of outrage.
One woman, she says, was kicked by a drunken soldier, for which, she
adds, he was punished.

An inmate of the Springfontein Refugee Camp, Mr. Maltman, of
Philippolis, writes: 'All the Boer women here speak in the highest terms
of the treatment they have received at the hands of soldiers.'

Here is the testimony of a burgher's wife, Mrs. Van Niekirk:

'Will you kindly allow me to give my testimony to the kindly treatment
of the Dutch women and children by the British troops? As the wife of a
Transvaal burgher, I have lived in Krugersdorp since 1897, until three
weeks ago. The town was taken in June last, and since then there has
always been a fairly large force of men in, or quite near it; indeed, on
several occasions the numbers have amounted to ten thousand, or more,
and have been of many different regiments, English, Scotch, Irish, and
Colonial.

'At such times the streets and the few shops open were thronged with
soldiers, while, even when the town was quietest, there were always
numbers of them about. The women were at first afraid, but they very
soon discovered that they could move about as freely as in ordinary
times, without fear of any annoyance. During the whole six months I
never saw or heard of a single instance where a woman was treated with
the slightest disrespect; the bearing of both officers and men was
invariably deferential to all women, and kindly to children.

'Last July a detachment of Gordon Highlanders was camped on the veldt
for a week in front of my house, which stands almost alone on the
outskirts of the town. My husband was away during the time, and I was
alone with my young children. The nearest camp-fires were not a dozen
yards from my gate, yet I never experienced the least annoyance, nor
missed from my ground even so much as a stick of wood.

'I could multiply instances, but after this little need be said; if I
had not seen it I could not have believed that a victorious army would
behave with such humanity and consideration in the territory of a people
even then in arms against them; and if they behave so in Krugersdorp--a
place mind you, where during the last six months their doings could not
be openly criticised--is it likely that their conduct in other places
will be so entirely different?--I am, &c.'

This is the testimony of a woman. Here it is from a man's point of
view--an old burgher who had very special opportunities for studying the
conduct of British troops:

'Allow me to state here, once for all, that throughout the entire war
all the English officers--and a great many of all ranks came to see
us--treated us with the greatest kindness and courtesy. They knew, too,
that I was a burgher, and that I had several sons who were doing their
duty in fighting for the independence of our country.

'I return once more to the conduct of "Tommy Atkins." We saw numbers of
convoys, some of which were more than sixteen kilometres long, bringing
a great many Boer prisoners and their families to Pretoria. Tommy was
everywhere, watching the wagons, marching without a word in clouds of
dust, frequently in mud to the ankle, never rough towards women or
children, as has been so often repeated. We have heard the contrary
stated by our tried friends and by our own children.

'During halts, Tommy was the best and readiest creature imaginable; he
got the water boiled, laid himself out to attend to the children in a
thousand ways, and comforted the broken-hearted mothers. His hand was
ready with help for every invalid. At our farm he helped of his own free
will in saving a drowning beast, or in removing a fat pig that had been
killed, sometimes even in rounding-in cattle that had strayed out of
bounds, and so on, giving help in a thousand ways. For all that he
wanted no reward. Rewards he refused altogether simply because it was
good-feeling which made him do these things.

'Sir, these are indisputable facts, which I have repeated as accurately
as I could, leaving your readers to draw their own conclusions.

                                        'OLD BURGHER OF THE TRANSVAAL.

 'Rustenburg, Transvaal: July 1901.'

A long and curious letter appears in the 'Suisse Liberale' from a young
Swiss who spent the whole time of the war upon a farm in the Thabanchu
district of the Orange Free State. It is very impartial in its
judgments, and remarks, among other things--talking of the life of the
local garrison:

'They make frequent visits, send out invitations, and organise picnics.
In the town they get up charity concerts, balls, sports, and
horse-races. It is a curious thing that the English, even when they are
at war, cannot live without their usual sports, and the conquered do not
show the slightest repugnance to joining the victors in their games or
to mixing in society with them.'

Is this consistent with stories of military brutality? It appears to be
a very modified hell which is loose in that portion of Africa.

Mr. and Mrs. Osborn Howe were the directors of the Camp Soldiers' Homes
in South Africa. They have seen as much of the army in South Africa as
most people, and have looked at it with critical eyes. Here are some of
their conclusions:

'Neither we nor our staff, scattered between De Aar and Pretoria, have
ever heard of a single case of outrage or ill-treatment. One and all
indignantly denied the accusations against our soldiers, and have given
us many instances of great kindness shown by the troops towards helpless
women and children.

'We ourselves saw nothing which we could not tell to a gathering of
schoolgirls.

'When living in the Orange River Colony we were in the midst of the
farm-burning district, and witnessed Lord Roberts's efforts to spare the
people suffering by issuing warning proclamations. We saw how the
officers waited till the farmers had had time to digest these repeated
warnings, and then with what reluctance both officers and men went to
carry out the work of destruction, but we never heard of a case where
there had not first been some overt act on the part of the enemy.

'A story of reported outrage at a Dutch mission-house in the slums of a
large town was found after personal investigation to have been anything
but an outrage as the result proved. The young soldiers who entered the
house when the door was opened in answer to their knock, withdrew after
they had discovered that the ladies who occupied the house were
missionaries, nor had anything been removed or injured. But the garbled
story, with its misuse of the word "outrage," reached a district in Cape
Colony where it did no little mischief in fanning the flames of
animosity and rebellion. Thus the reported "outrage" was not even a
common assault.

'It may be said that our love for the soldiers has warped our judgment.
We would say we love God, and we love truth more than the honour of our
soldiers. If there was another side we should not hide it.'

So much for the general facts. But it is notoriously difficult to prove
a negative. Let us turn then to particular instances which have been
raked together, and see what can be made of them. One of them occurred
early in the war, when it was stated that there had been two assaults
upon women in Northern Natal. Here are the lies duly nailed to the
counter.

The Vicar of Dundee, Colony of Natal, on being requested by the Bishop
of Natal to inquire into the truth of a statement that four women of a
family near Dundee, named Bester, were outraged by English soldiers,
reported that he had had an interview with the father-in-law of Bester,
Jacobus Maritz, who is one of the most influential farmers in the
district. Maritz said to him:

'Well, Mr. Bailey, you do right in coming to me, for our family (Mrs.
Bester is his daughter) is the _only_ family of Bester in the district,
and you can say from me, that the story is nothing but a pack of lies.'

The other case, alleged at Dundee, furnished no names. The only thing
specified was that one of the men was in the uniform of a Highlander.
The Vicar replies to this: 'As you are aware, no Highland regiment has
been stationed at Dundee during the war.'

The weapons of slander were blunted by the fact that about May 1900 the
Transvaal Government, wishing to allay the fears of the women in the
farms, published an announcement in the 'Volksstem' advising every
burgher to leave his family upon the farms as the enemy were treating
women and children with the utmost consideration and respect. We know
that both President Kruger and General Botha acted up to this advice by
leaving their own wives under our protection while they carried on their
campaign against us. At the very instant that Kruger was falsely stating
at Marseilles that we were making war on women and children, his own
infirm wife was being so sedulously guarded by British soldiers that the
passer-by was not even allowed to stare curiously at the windows or to
photograph the house.

There was a lull in the campaign of calumny which was made up for by the
whole-hearted effort of M. van Broekhuizen. This man was a minister in
Pretoria, and, like most of the Dutch ministers, a red-hot politician.
Having given his parole to restrain his sentiments, he was found to be
still preaching inflammatory political sermons; so he was advised to
leave, and given a passage gratis to Europe. He signalised his arrival
by an article printed in the 'Independence Belge,' declaring among other
statements that 30 per cent. of the Boer women had been ruined by the
British troops. Such a statement from such a source raised a feeling of
horror in Europe, and one of deep anger and incredulity on the side of
those who knew the British Army. The letter was forwarded to Pretoria
for investigation, and elicited the following unofficial comments from
M. Constançon, the former Swiss Consul in that city, who had been
present during the whole British occupation:

'I am more than astonished, I am disgusted, that a Lausanne paper should
print such abominable and filthy lies.

'The whole article from the beginning to the end is nothing but a pack
of lies, and the writer, a minister of the Gospel, of all men, ought to
know better than to perjure himself and his office in the way he does.

'I have lived for the last eighteen years in or around Pretoria, and
know almost every Boer family in the district. The two names mentioned
by Broekhuizen of women assaulted by the troops are quite unknown to me,
and are certainly not Boer names.

'Ever since the entry of the troops in the Transvaal, I have travelled
constantly through the whole of Pretoria district and part of the
Waterberg. I have often put up at Boer houses for the night, and stopped
at all houses on my road on my business. In most of these houses the men
were away fighting against the British; women and children alone were to
be found on the farms. Nowhere and in no instance have I heard a single
word of complaint against the troops; here and there a few fowls were
missing and fencing poles pulled out for firewood; but this can only be
expected from troops on the march. On the other hand, the women could
not say enough in praise of the soldiers, and their behaviour towards
their sex. Whenever a camp was established close to the homestead, the
officers have always had a picket placed round the house for the object
of preventing all pilfering, and the women, rich or poor, have
everywhere been treated as ladies.

'Why the Boer women were so unanimous in their praises is because they
were far from expecting such treatment at the hands of the victors.

'Our town is divided into wards, and every woman and child has been fed
whenever they were without support, and in one ward we have actually
five hundred of these receiving rations from the British Government,
although in most cases the men are still fighting. In the towns the
behaviour of the troops has been, admirable, all canteens have been
closed, and in the last six months I have only seen two cases of
drunkenness amongst soldiers.

'We are quite a little Swiss colony here, and I don't know one of my
countrymen who would not endorse every word of my statement.

'Many may have sympathies with the Boers, but in all justice they will
always give credit to the British troops and their officers for the
humane way this war is carried on, and for the splendid way in which
Tommy Atkins behaves himself.'

With this was printed in the 'Gazette de Lausanne,' which instituted
the inquiry, a letter from Mr. Gray, Presbyterian minister in Pretoria,
which says:

'A few days ago I received an extract from your issue of November 17
last entitled "La Civilisation Anglaise en Afrique." It consisted mainly
of a letter over the signature of H. D. van Broekhuizen (not
Broesehuizen as printed), Boer pastor of Pretoria. Allow me, sir, to
assure you that the wholesale statements with regard to the atrocities
of British soldiers contained in that letter are a tissue of falsehoods,
and constitute an unfounded calumny which it would be difficult to
parallel in the annals of warfare. It is difficult to conceive the
motives that actuate the writer, but that they have been violent enough
to make him absolutely reckless as to facts, is evident.

'When I got the article from your paper I immediately went out to make
inquiry as to what possible foundation there was for the charges hurled
so wildly at the British soldier. Having lived in Pretoria for the last
eleven years I am acquainted with many of the local Boers. Those of them
whom I questioned assured me that they had never known a case in which
British soldiers had outraged a woman. One case was rumoured, but had
never been substantiated, and was regarded as very doubtful. Let it be
granted that some solitary cases of rudeness may have occurred, that
would not be surprising under the circumstances. Still it would not
furnish a ground for the libelling of a whole army. The astonishing fact
is, however, that in this country one only hears of the surprise
everywhere felt that the British soldier has been so self-restrained and
deferential towards women.'

To this M. van Broekhuizen's feeble reply was that there was no
ex-consul of the name of Constançon in Pretoria. The 'Gazette de
Lausanne' then pointed out that the gentleman was well known, that he
had acted in that capacity for many years, and added that if M. van
Broekhuizen was so ill-informed upon so simple a matter, it was not
likely that he was very correct upon other more contentious ones. Thus
again a false coin was nailed to the counter, but only after it had
circulated so widely that many who had passed it would never know that
it was proved to be base metal. Incredible as it may seem, the infamous
falsehood was repeated in 1902 by a Dr. Vallentin, in the 'Deutsche
Rundschau,' from which it was copied into other leading German papers
without any reference to its previous disproof in 1901.

Now we will turn for a moment to the evidence of Miss Alice Bron, the
devoted Belgian nurse, who served on both sides during the war and has
therefore a fair standard of comparison. Here are a few sentences from
her reports:

'I have so often heard it said and repeated that the British soldiers
are the dregs of London and the scum of the criminal classes, that their
conduct astounded me.'

This is the opinion of a lady who spent two years in the service of
humanity on the veldt.

Here are one or two other sidelights from Miss Bron:

'How grateful and respectful they all are! I go to the hospital at night
without the slightest fear, and when a sentry hears my reply, "Sister,"
to his challenge, he always humbly begs my pardon.

'I have seen the last of them and their affectionate attentions, their
respect, and their confidence. On this head I could relate many
instances of exquisite feeling on the part of these poor soldiers.

'A wounded English soldier was speaking of Cronje. "Ah, sister," said
he, "I am glad that we have made so many prisoners."

'"Why?" I asked, fearing to hear words of hatred.

'"Oh," he said, "I was glad to hear it because I know that they at least
would be neither wounded nor killed. They will not leave wife nor
children, neither will they suffer what we are suffering."'

She describes how she met General Wavell:

'"You see I have come to protect you," he said.

'We smiled and bowed, and I thought, "I know your soldiers too well,
General. We don't need any protection."'

But war may have brutalised the combatants, and so it is of interest to
have Nurse Bron's impressions at the end of 1901. She gives her
conversation with a Boer:

'"All that I have to say to you is that what you did down there has
never been seen in any other war. _Never_ in any country in the world
has such a dastardly act been committed as the shooting of one who goes
to meet the white flag."

'Very pale, the chief, a true "gentleman" fifty-three years old, and the
father of eleven children, answered, "You are right, sister."

'"And since we talk of these things," I said, "I will say that I
understand very well that you are defending your country, but what I do
not excuse is your lying as you do about these English."

'"We repeat what we are told."

'"No," I said, "you all of you lie, and you know that you are lying,
with the Bible on your knees and invoking the name of God, and, thanks
to your lies, all Europe believes that the English army is composed of
assassins and thieves. You see how they treat you here!"'

She proceeds to show how they were treated. The patients, it may be
observed, were not Boer combatants but Cape rebels, liable to instant
execution. This is the diet after operations:

'For eight, or ten days, the patient has champagne _of the choicest
French brands_ (her italics), in considerable quantity, then old cognac,
and finally port, stout, or ale at choice, with five or six eggs a day
beaten up in brandy and milk, arriving at last at a complete diet of
which I, though perfectly well, could not have absorbed the half.'

'This,' she says, 'is another instance of the "ferocity" with which,
according to the European press, the English butchers have conducted the
war.'

The Sisters of Nazareth in South Africa are a body who are above
political or racial prejudice. Here are the published words of the
Mother Superior:

'I receive letters by every mail, but a word that would imply the least
shadow of reproach on the conduct of the soldiers has never been
written. As for the British soldier in general, our sisters in various
parts of the colony, who have come a great deal in contact with the
military of all ranks, state that they can never say enough of their
courtesy, politeness, and good behaviour at all times.'

These are not the impressions which the Boer agents, with their command
of secret-service money and their influence on the European press, have
given to the world. A constant stream of misrepresentations and lies
have poisoned the mind of Europe and have made a deep and enduring
breach between ourselves and our German kinsmen.

The British troops have been accused of shooting women. It is wonderful
that many women have not been shot, for it has not been unusual for
farmhouses to be defended by the men when there were women within. As a
matter of fact, however, very few cases have occurred where a woman has
been injured. One amazon was killed in the fighting line, rifle in hand,
outside Ladysmith. A second victim furnished the famous Eloff myth,
which gave material for many cartoons and editorials. The accusation was
that in cold blood we had shot Kruger's niece, and a Berlin morning
paper told the story, with many artistic embellishments, as follows:

'As the Boer saw his wife down, just able to raise herself, he made an
attempt to run to her assistance, but the inhumans held him fast. The
officer assured him that she was shot through the temples and must
anyhow die, and they left her therefore lying. In the evening he heard
his name called. It was his wife who still lived after twelve hours'
agony. When they reached Rustenburg she was dead. This woman was Frau
Eloff, Kruger's niece. In addition to the sympathy for the loss Kruger
has suffered, this report will renew the bitter feeling of all against
the brutality of English warfare.'

This story was dished up in many ways by many papers. Here is Lord
Kitchener's plain account of the matter:

'No woman of that name has been killed, but the report may refer to the
death of a Mrs. Vandermerve, who unfortunately was killed at a farmhouse
from which her husband was firing. Mrs. Vandermerve is a sister-in-law
of Eloff. The death of a woman from a stray bullet is greatly to be
regretted, but it appears clear that her husband was responsible for the
fighting which caused the accident.'

So perished another myth. I observe, however, now (Christmas 1901), a
continental journalist describing an interview with Kruger says, 'he
wore mourning on account of his niece who died of a gun-shot.' Might not
his wife's death possibly account for the mourning?

And yet another invention which is destined to the same fate, is the
story that at the skirmish of Graspan, near Reitz, upon June 6, the
British used the Boer women as cover, a subject which also afforded
excellent material for the caricaturists of the Fatherland. The picture
of rows of charming Boer maidens chained in the open with bloodthirsty
soldiers crouching behind them was too alluring for the tender-hearted
artist. Nothing was wanting for a perfect cartoon--except the original
fact. Here is the report as it appeared in a German paper:

'When the English on June 6 were attacked by the Boers, they ordered the
women and children to leave the wagons. Placing these in front of the
soldiers, they shot beneath the women's arms upon the approaching Boers.
Eight women and two children fell through the Boers' fire. When the
Boers saw this they stopped firing. Yelling like wild beasts, they broke
through the soldiers' lines, beating to death the Tommies like mad dogs
with the butt ends of their rifles.'

The true circumstances of the action so far as they can be collected are
as follows: Early on June 6 Major Sladen, with 200 mounted infantry, ran
down a Boer convoy of 100 wagons. He took forty-five male prisoners, and
the wagons were full of women and children. He halted his men and waited
for the main British force (De Lisle's) to come up. While he was waiting
he was fiercely attacked by a large body of Boers, five or six hundred,
under De Wet. The British threw themselves into a Kaffir kraal and made
a desperate resistance. The long train of wagons with the women still in
them extended from this village right across the plain, and the Boers
used them as cover in skirmishing up to the village. The result was that
the women and children were under a double fire from either side. One
woman and two children appear to have been hit, though whether by Boer
or Briton it must have been difficult to determine. The convoy and the
prisoners remained eventually in the hands of the British. It will be
seen then that it is as just to say that the Boers used their women as
cover for their advance as the British for their defence. Probably in
the heat of the action both sides thought more of the wagons than of
what was inside them.

These, with one case at Middelburg, where in a night attack of the Boers
one or two inmates of the refugee camp are said to have been
accidentally hit, form the only known instances in the war. And yet so
well known a paper as the German 'Kladderadatsch' is not ashamed to
publish a picture of a ruined farm with dead women strewed round it, and
the male child hanging from the branch of a tree. The 'Kladderadatsch'
has a reputation as a comic paper, but there should be some limits to
its facetiousness.

In his pamphlet on 'Methods of Barbarism,' Mr. Stead has recently
produced a chapter called 'A Glimpse of the Hellish Panorama,' in which
he deals with the evidence at the Spoelstra trial. Spoelstra was a
Hollander who, having sworn an oath of neutrality, afterwards despatched
a letter to a Dutch newspaper without submitting it to a censor, in
which he made libellous attacks upon the British Army. He was tried for
the offence and sentenced to a fine of 100_l._, his imprisonment being
remitted. In the course of the trial he called a number of witnesses for
the purpose of supporting his charges against the troops, and it is on
their evidence that Mr. Stead dilates under the characteristic headline
given above.

Mr. Stead begins his indictment by a paragraph which speaks for itself:
'It is a cant cry with many persons, by no means confined to those who
have advocated the war, that the British Army has spent two years in the
South African Republics without a single case of impropriety being
proved against a single soldier. I should be very glad to believe it;
but there is Rudyard Kipling's familiar saying that Tommy Atkins is no
plaster saint, but a single man in barracks, or, in this case, a single
man in camp, remarkably like other human beings. We all know him at
home. There is not one father of a family in the House or on the London
Press who would allow his servant girl to remain out all night on a
public common in England in time of profound peace in the company of a
score of soldiers. If he did, he would feel that he had exposed the girl
to the loss of her character. This is not merely admitted, but acted
upon by all decent people who live in garrison towns or in the
neighbourhood of barracks. Why, then, should they suppose that when the
same men are released from all the restraints of civilisation, and sent
forth to burn, destroy, and loot at their own sweet will and pleasure,
they will suddenly undergo so complete a transformation as to
scrupulously respect the wives and daughters of the enemy? It is very
unpopular to say this, and I already hear in advance the shrieks of
execration of those who will declare that I am calumniating the gallant
soldiers who are spending their lives in the defence of the interests of
the Empire. But I do not say a word against our soldiers. I only say
that they are men.'

He adds:

'It is an unpleasant fact, but it has got to be faced like other facts.
No war can be conducted--and this war has not been conducted--without
exposing multitudes of women, married and single, to the worst
extremities of outrage. It is an inevitable incident of war. It is one
of the normal phenomena of the military Inferno. It is absolutely
impossible to attempt any comparative or quantitative estimate of the
number of women who have suffered wrong at the hands of our troops.'

Was ever such an argument adduced in this world upon a serious matter!
When stripped of its rhetoric it amounts to this, '250,000 men have
committed outrages. How do I prove it? Because they are 250,000 men,
and therefore _must_ commit outrages.' Putting all chivalry, sense of
duty, and every higher consideration upon one side, is Mr. Stead not
aware that if a soldier had done such a thing and if his victim could
have pointed him out, the man's life would be measured by the time that
was needed to collect a military court to try him? Is there a soldier
who does not know this? Is there a Boer who does not know it? It is the
one offence for which there would be no possible forgiveness. Are the
Boers so meek-spirited a race that they have no desire for vengeance?
Would any officer take the responsibility of not reporting a man who was
accused of such a crime? Where, then, are the lists of the men who must
have suffered if this cruel accusation were true? There are no such
lists, because such things have never occurred.

Leading up to the events of the trial, Mr. Stead curdles our blood by
talking of the eleven women who stood up upon oath to testify to the
ill-treatment which they had received at the hands of our troops. Taken
with the context, the casual reader would naturally imagine that these
eleven women were all complaining of some sexual ill-usage. In the very
next sentence he talks about 'such horrible and shameful incidents.' But
on examination it proves that eight out of the eleven cases have nothing
sexual or, indeed, in many of them, anything criminal in their
character. One is, that a coffin was dug up to see if there were arms in
it. On this occasion the search was a failure, though it has before now
been a success. Another was that the bed of a sick woman was
searched--without any suggestion of indelicacy. Two others, that women
had been confined while on the trek in wagons. 'The soldiers did not
bother the woman during or after the confinement. They did not peep into
the wagon,' said the witness. These are the trivialities which Mr. Stead
tries to bluff us into classifying as 'horrible and shameful incidents.'

But there were three alleged cases of assault upon women. One of them is
laid to the charge of a certain Mr. E----n, of the Intelligence
Department. Now, the use of Mr. and the description 'Intelligence
Department' make it very doubtful whether this man could be called a
member of the British Army at all. The inference is that he was a
civilian, and further, that he was a Dutch civilian. British names which
will fit E----n are not common, while the Dutch name Esselen or Enslin
is extremely so. 'I have never been to the Intelligence Department to
find out whether he really belonged to that Department,' said the
woman. She adds that E----n acted as an interpreter. Surely, then, he
must have been a Dutchman. In that case, why is his name the only name
which is disguised? Is it not a little suggestive?

The second case was that of Mrs. Gouws, whose unfortunate experience was
communicated to Pastor van Broekhuizen, and had such an effect upon him
as to cause him to declare that 30 per cent. of the women of the country
had been ruined. Mrs. Gouws certainly appears by her own account to have
been very roughly treated, though she does not assert that her assailant
went to the last extremity--or, indeed, that he did more than use coarse
terms in his conversation. The husband in his evidence says: 'I have
seen a great deal of soldiers, and they behaved well, and I could speak
well of them.' He added that a British officer had taken his wife's
deposition, and that both the Provost-Marshal and the Military Governor
were interesting themselves in the case. Though no actual assault was
committed, it is to be hoped that the man who was rude to a helpless
woman will sooner or later be identified and punished.

There remains one case, that of Mrs. Botha of Rustenburg, which, if her
account is corroborated, is as bad as it could be. The mystery of the
case lies in the fact that by her own account a British force was
encamped close by, and yet that neither she nor her husband made the
complaint which would have brought most summary punishment upon the
criminal. This could not have been from a shrinking from publicity,
since she was ready to tell the story in Court. There is not the least
indication who this solitary soldier may have been, and even the date
was unknown to the complainant. What can be done in such a case? The
President of the court-martial, with a burst of indignation which shows
that he at least does not share Mr. Stead's views upon the frequency of
such crimes in South Africa, cried: 'If such a most awful thing happened
to a woman, would it not be the first thing for a man to do to rush out
and bring the guilty man to justice? He ought to risk his life for that.
There was no reason for him to be frightened. We English are not a
barbarous nation.' The husband, however, had taken no steps. We may be
very sure that the case still engages the earnest attention of our
Provost-Marshal, and that the man, if he exists, will sooner or later
form an object-lesson upon discipline and humanity to the nearest
garrison. Such was the Spoelstra trial. Mr. Stead talks fluently of the
charges made, but deliberately omits the essential fact that after a
patient hearing not one of them was substantiated.

I cannot end the chapter better than with the words of the Rev. P. S.
Bosman, head of the Dutch Reformed Church at Pretoria:

'Not a single case of criminal assault or rape by non-commissioned
officers or men of the British Army in Pretoria on Boer women has come
to my knowledge. I asked several gentlemen in turn about this point and
their testimony is the same as mine.'

But Mr. Stead says that it must be so because there are 250,000 men in
Africa. Could the perversion of argument go further? Which are we to
believe, our enemy upon the spot or the journalist in London?



CHAPTER IX

FURTHER CHARGES AGAINST BRITISH TROOPS


_Expansive and Explosive Bullets._

When Mr. Stead indulges in vague rhetoric it is difficult to corner him,
but when he commits himself to a definite statement he is more open to
attack. Thus, in his 'Methods of Barbarism' he roundly asserts that
'England sent several million rounds of expanding bullets to South
Africa, and in the North of the Transvaal and at Mafeking for the first
three months of the war no other bullets were used.' Mr. Methuen, on the
authority of a letter of Lieutenant de Montmorency, R.A., states also
that from October 12, 1899, up to January 15, 1900, the British forces
north of Mafeking used nothing but Mark IV. ammunition, which is not a
dum-dum but is an expansive bullet.

Mr. Methuen's statement differs, as will be seen, very widely from Mr.
Stead's; for Mr. Stead says Mafeking, and Mr. Methuen says north of
Mafeking. There was a very great deal of fighting at Mafeking, and
comparatively little north of Mafeking during that time, so that the
difference is an essential one. To test Mr. Stead's assertion about
Mafeking, I communicated with General Baden-Powell, the gentleman who is
most qualified to speak as to what occurred there, and his answer lies
before me: 'We had no expanding bullets in our supply at Mafeking,
unless you call the ordinary Martini-Henry an expanding bullet. I would
not have used them on humane principles, and moreover, an Army order had
been issued against the use of dum-dum bullets in this campaign. On the
other hand, explosive bullets are expressly forbidden in the Convention,
and these the Boers used freely against us in Mafeking, especially on
May 12.'

I have endeavoured also to test the statement as it concerns the troops
to the north of Mafeking. The same high authority says: 'With regard to
the northern force, it is just possible that a few sportsmen in the
Rhodesian column may have had some sporting bullets, but I certainly
never heard of them.' A friend of mine who was in Lobatsi during the
first week of the war assures me that he never saw anything but the
solid bullet. It must be remembered that the state of things was very
exceptional with the Rhodesian force. Their communications to the south
were cut on the second day of the war, and for seven months they were
dependent upon the long and circuitous Beira route for any supplies
which reached them. One could imagine that under such circumstances
uniformity of armament would be more difficult to maintain than in the
case of an army with an assured base.

The expansive bullet is not, as a matter of fact, contrary to the
Conventions of The Hague. It was expressly held from being so by the
representatives of the United States and of Great Britain. In taking
this view I cannot but think that these two enlightened and humanitarian
Powers were ill-advised. Those Conventions were of course only binding
on those who signed them, and therefore in fighting desperate savages
the man-stopping bullet could still have been used. Whatever our motives
in taking the view that we did, a swift retribution has come upon us,
for it has prevented us from exacting any retribution, or even
complaining, when the Boers have used these weapons against us.
Explosive bullets are, however, as my distinguished correspondent points
out, upon a different footing, and if the Boers claim the advantages of
the Conventions of The Hague, then every burgher found with these
weapons in his bandolier is liable to punishment.

Our soldiers have been more merciful than our Hague diplomatists, for in
spite of the reservation of the right to use this ammunition, every
effort has been made to exclude it from the firing line. An unfortunate
incident early in the campaign gave our enemies some reason to suspect
us. The facts are these.

At the end of the spring of 1899 some hundreds of thousands of
hollow-headed bullets, made in England, were condemned as
unsatisfactory, not being true to gauge, &c., and were sent to South
Africa for target practice only. A quantity of this ammunition, known as
'Metford Mark IV.,' was sent up to Dundee by order of General Symons for
practice in field firing. As Mark IV. was not for use in a war with
white races all these cartridges were called in as soon as Kruger
declared war, and the officers responsible thought they were every one
returned. By some blundering in the packing at home, however, some of
this Mark IV. must have got mixed up with the ordinary, or Mark II.,
ammunition, and was found on our men by the Boers on October 30.
Accordingly a very careful inspection was ordered, and a few Mark IV.
bullets were found in our men's pouches, and at once removed. Their
presence was purely accidental, and undoubtedly caused by a blunder in
the Ordnance Department long before the war, and it was in consequence
of this that some hollow-headed bullets were fired by the English early
in the war without their knowledge.

What is usually known as the dum-dum bullet is a 'soft-nosed' one: but
the regulation Mark II. is also made at the dum-dum factory, and the
Boers, seeing the dum-dum label on boxes containing the latter,
naturally thought the contents were the soft-nosed, which they were not.

It must be admitted that there was some carelessness in permitting
sporting ammunition ever to get to the front at all. When the Derbyshire
Militia were taken by De Wet at Roodeval, a number of cases of sporting
cartridges were captured by the Boers (the officers had used them for
shooting springbok). My friend, Mr. Langman, who was present, saw the
Boers, in some instances, filling their bandoliers from these cases on
the plausible excuse that they were only using our own ammunition. Such
cartridges should never have been permitted to go up. But in spite of
instances of bungling, the evidence shows that every effort has been
made to keep the war as humane as possible. I am inclined to hope that a
fuller knowledge will show that the same holds good for our enemies, and
that in spite of individual exceptions, they have never systematically
used anything except what one of their number described as a
'gentlemanly' bullet.


_Conduct to Prisoners on the Field._

On this count, also, the British soldiers have been exposed to attacks,
both at home and abroad, which are as unfounded and as shameful as most
of those which have been already treated.

The first occasion upon which Boer prisoners fell into our hands was at
the Battle of Elandslaagte, on October 21, 1899. That night was spent by
the victorious troops in a pouring rain, round such fires as they were
able to light. It has been recorded by several witnesses that the
warmest corner by the fire was reserved for the Boer prisoners. It has
been asserted, and is again asserted, that when the Lancers charged a
small body of the enemy after the action, they gave no quarter--'too
well substantiated and too familiar,' says one critic of this assertion.
I believe, as a matter of fact, that the myth arose from a sensational
picture in an illustrated paper. The charge was delivered late in the
evening, in uncertain light. Under such circumstances it is always
possible, amid so wild and confused a scene, that a man who would have
surrendered has been cut down or ridden over. But the cavalry brought
back twenty prisoners, and the number whom they killed or wounded has
not been placed higher than that, so that it is certain there was no
indiscriminate slaying. I have read a letter from the officer who
commanded the cavalry and who directed the charge, in which he tells the
whole story confidentially to a brother officer. He speaks of his
prisoners, but there is no reference to any brutality upon the part of
the troopers.

Mr. Stead makes a great deal of some extracts from the letters of
private soldiers at the front who talk of bayonetting their enemies.
Such expressions should be accepted with considerable caution, for it
may amuse the soldier to depict himself as rather a terrible fellow to
his home-staying friends. Even if isolated instances could be
corroborated, it would merely show that men of fiery temperament in the
flush of battle are occasionally not to be restrained, either by the
power of discipline or by the example and exhortations of their
officers. Such instances, I do not doubt, could be found among all
troops in all wars. But to found upon it a general charge of brutality
or cruelty is unjust in the case of a foreigner, and unnatural in the
case of our own people.

There is one final and complete answer to all such charges. It is that
we have now in our hands 42,000 males of the Boer nations. They assert,
and we cannot deny, that their losses in killed have been
extraordinarily light during two years of warfare. How are these
admitted and certain facts compatible with any general refusal of
quarter? To anyone who, like myself, has seen the British soldiers
jesting and smoking cigarettes with their captives within five minutes
of their being taken, such a charge is ludicrous, but surely even to the
most biassed mind the fact stated above must be conclusive.

In some ways I fear that the Conventions of The Hague will prove, when
tested on a large scale, to be a counsel of perfection. It will
certainly be the extreme test of self-restraint and discipline--a test
successfully endured by the British troops at Elandslaagte, Bergendal,
and many other places--to carry a position by assault and then to give
quarter to those defenders who only surrender at the last instant. It
seems almost too much to ask. The assailants have been terribly
punished: they have lost their friends and their officers, in the frenzy
of battle they storm the position, and then at the last instant the men
who have done all the mischief stand up unscathed from behind their
rocks and claim their own personal safety. Only at that moment has the
soldier seen his antagonist or been on equal terms with him. He must
give quarter, but it must be confessed that this is trying human nature
rather high.

But if this holds good of an organised force defending a position, how
about the solitary sniper? The position of such a man has never been
defined by the Conventions of The Hague, and no rules are laid down for
his treatment. It is not wonderful if the troops who have been annoyed
by him should on occasion take the law into their own hands and treat
him in a summary fashion.

The very first article of the Conventions of The Hague states that a
belligerent must (1) Be commanded by some responsible person; (2) Have a
distinctive emblem visible at a distance; (3) Carry arms openly. Now it
is evident that the Boer sniper who draws his Mauser from its
hiding-place in order to have a shot at the Rooineks from a safe kopje
does not comply with any one of these conditions. In the letter of the
law, then, he is undoubtedly outside the rules of warfare.

In the spirit he is even more so. Prowling among the rocks and shooting
those who cannot tell whence the bullet comes, there is no wide gap
between him and the assassin. His victims never see him, and in the
ordinary course he incurs no personal danger. I believe such cases to
have been very rare, but if the soldiers have occasionally shot such a
man without reference to the officers, can it be said that it was an
inexcusable action, or even that it was outside the strict rules of
warfare?

I find in the 'Gazette de Lausanne' a returned Swiss soldier named
Pache, who had fought for the Boers, expresses his amazement at the way
in which the British troops after their losses in the storming of a
position gave quarter to those who had inflicted those losses upon them.

'Only once,' he says, 'at the fight at Tabaksberg, have I seen the
Boers hold on to their position to the very end. At the last rush of the
enemy they opened a fruitless magazine fire, and then threw down their
rifles and lifted their hands, imploring quarter from those whom they
had been firing at at short range. I was astounded at the clemency of
the soldiers, who allowed them to live. For my part I should have put
them to death.'

Of prisoners after capture there is hardly need to speak. There is a
universal consensus of opinion from all, British or foreign, who have
had an opportunity of forming an opinion, that the prisoners have been
treated with humanity and generosity. The same report has come from
Green Point, St. Helena, Bermuda, Ceylon, Ahmednager, and all other
camps. An outcry was raised when Ahmednager in India was chosen for a
prison station, and it was asserted, with that recklessness with which
so many other charges have been hurled against the authorities, that it
was a hot-bed of disease. Experience has shown that there was no grain
of truth in these statements, and the camp has been a very healthy one.
As it remains the only one which has ever been subjected to harsh
criticism, it may be of use to append the conclusions of Mr. Jesse
Collings during a visit to it last month:

'The Boer officers said, speaking for ourselves and men, we have nothing
at all to complain of. As prisoners of war we could not be better
treated, and Major Dickenson' (this they wished specially to be
inserted), 'is as kind and considerate as it is possible to be.'

Some sensational statements were also made in America as to the
condition of the Bermuda Camps, but a newspaper investigation has shown
that there is no charge to be brought against them.

Mr. John J. O'Rorke writes to the 'New York Times,' saying, 'That in
view of the many misrepresentations regarding the treatment of the Boer
prisoners in Bermuda, he recently obtained a trustworthy opinion from
one of his correspondents there.'... The correspondent's name is Musson
Wainwright, and Mr. O'Rorke describes him 'as one of the influential
residents in the island.' He says, 'That the Boers in Bermuda are better
off than many residents in New York. They have plenty of beef, plenty of
bread, plenty of everything except liberty. There are good hospitals and
good doctors. It is true that some of the Boers are short of clothing,
but these are very few, and the Government is issuing clothing to them.
On the whole,' says Mr. Wainwright, 'Great Britain is treating the
Boers far better than most people would.'

Compare this record with the undoubted privations, many of them
unnecessary, which our soldiers endured at Waterval near Pretoria, the
callous neglect of the enteric patients there, and the really barbarous
treatment of British Colonial prisoners who were confined in cells on
the absurd plea that in fighting for their flag they were traitors to
the Africander cause.


_Executions._

The number of executions of Boers, as distinguished from the execution
of Cape rebels, has been remarkably few in a war which has already
lasted twenty-six months. So far as I have been able to follow them,
they have been limited to the execution of Cordua for broken parole and
conspiracy upon August 24, 1900, at Pretoria, the shooting of one or two
horse-poisoners in Natal, and the shooting of three men after the action
of October 27, 1900, near Fredericstad. These men, after throwing down
their arms and receiving quarter, picked them up again and fired at the
soldiers from behind. No doubt there have been other cases, scattered up
and down the vast scene of warfare, but I can find no record of them,
and if they exist at all they must be few in number. Since the beginning
of 1901 four men have been shot in the Transvaal, three in Pretoria as
spies and breakers of parole, one in Johannesburg as an aggravated case
of breaking neutrality by inciting Boers to resist.

At the beginning of the war 90 per cent. of the farmers in the northern
district of Cape Colony joined the invaders. Upon the expulsion of the
Boers these men for the most part surrendered. The British Government,
recognising that pressure had been put upon them and that their position
had been a difficult one, inflicted no penalty upon the rank-and-file
beyond depriving them of the franchise for a few years. A few who, like
the Douglas rebels, were taken red-handed upon the field of battle, were
condemned to periods of imprisonment which varied from one to five
years.

This was in the year 1900. In 1901 there was an invasion of the Colony
by Boers which differed very much from the former one. In the first case
the country had actually been occupied by the Boer forces, who were able
to exert real pressure upon the inhabitants. In the second the invaders
were merely raiding bands who traversed many places but occupied none. A
British subject who joined on the first occasion might plead compulsion,
on the second it was undoubtedly of his own free will.

These Boer bands being very mobile, and never fighting save when they
were at an overwhelming advantage, penetrated all parts of the Colony
and seduced a number of British subjects from their allegiance. The
attacking of small posts and the derailing of trains, military or
civilian, were their chief employment. To cover their tracks they
continually murdered natives whose information might betray them. Their
presence kept the Colony in confusion and threatened the communications
of the Army.

The situation may be brought home to a continental reader by a fairly
exact parallel. Suppose that an Austrian army had invaded Germany, and
that while it was deep in German territory bands of Austrian subjects
who were of German extraction began to tear up the railway lines and
harass the communications. That was our situation in South Africa. Would
the Austrians under these circumstances show much mercy to those rebel
bands, especially if they added cold-blooded murder to their treason? Is
it likely that they would?

The British, however, were very long-suffering. Many hundreds of these
rebels passed into their hands, and most of them escaped with fine and
imprisonment. The ringleaders, and those who were convicted of capital
penal offences, were put to death. I have been at some pains to make a
list of the executions in 1901, including those already mentioned. It is
at least approximately correct:

 +---------+--------------------+----------+------------------------------+
 | Number  |       Place        |   Date   |           Reason             |
 +---------+--------------------+----------+------------------------------+
 |         |                    |   1901   |                              |
 |    2    | De Aar             | March 19 | Train-wrecking.              |
 |    2    | Pretoria           |  June 11 | Boers breaking oath of       |
 |         |                    |          |   neutrality.                |
 |    1    | Middelburg         |  July 10 | Fighting.                    |
 |    1    | Cape Town          |    "  13 |    "                         |
 |    1    | Cradock            |    "  13 |    "                         |
 |    2    | Middelburg         |    "  24 |    "                         |
 |    2    | Kenhardt           |    "  25 |    "                         |
 |    1    | Pretoria           |  Aug. 22 | Boer spy.                    |
 |    3    | Colesburg          | Sept.  4 | Fighting.                    |
 |    1    | Middelburg         |  Oct. 10 |    "                         |
 |    1    | Middelburg         |    "  11 |    "                         |
 |    1    | Vryburg (hanged)   |    "  12 |    "                         |
 | Several | Tarkastad          |    "  12 |    "                         |
 |    1    | Tarkastad          |    "  14 |    "                         |
 |    1    | Middelburg         |    "  15 |    "                         |
 |    2    | Cradock (1 hanged, |    "  17 | Train-wrecking and murdering |
 |         |   1 shot)          |          |   native.                    |
 |    2    | Vryburg            |    "  29 | Fighting.                    |
 |    1    | Mafeking           |  Nov. 11 | Shooting a Native.           |
 |    1    | Colesburg          |    "  12 | Fighting, marauding, and     |
 |         |                    |          |   assaulting, &c.            |
 |    1    | Johannesburg       |    "  23 | Persuading surrendered       |
 |         |                    |          |   burghers to break oath.    |
 |    1    | Aliwal North       |    "  26 | Cape Police Deserter.        |
 |    1    | Krugersdorp        |  Dec. 26 | Shooting wounded.            |
 |    2    | Mafeking           |    "  27 | Kaffir murder.               |
 +---------+--------------------+----------+------------------------------+

Allowing 3 for the 'several' at Tarkastad on October 12, that makes a
total of 34. Many will undoubtedly be added in the future, for the
continual murder of inoffensive natives, some of them children, calls
for stern justice. In this list 4 were train-wreckers (aggravated cases
by rebels), 1 was a spy, 4 were murderers of natives, 1 a deserter who
took twenty horses from the Cape Police, and the remaining 23 were
British subjects taken fighting and bearing arms against their own
country.


_Hostages upon Railway Trains._

Here the military authorities are open, as it seems to me, to a serious
charge, not of inhumanity to the enemy but of neglecting those steps
which it was their duty to take in order to safeguard their own troops.
If all the victims of derailings and railway cuttings were added
together it is not an exaggeration to say that it would furnish as many
killed and wounded as a considerable battle. On at least five occasions
between twenty and thirty men were incapacitated, and there are very
numerous cases where smaller numbers were badly hurt.

Let it be said at once that we have no grievance in this. To derail a
train is legitimate warfare, with many precedents to support it. But to
checkmate it by putting hostages upon the trains is likewise legitimate
warfare, with many precedents to support it also. The Germans habitually
did it in France, and the result justified them as the result has
justified us. From the time (October 1901) that it was adopted in South
Africa we have not heard of a single case of derailing, and there can be
no doubt that the lives of many soldiers, and possibly of some
civilians, have been saved by the measure.

I will conclude this chapter by two extracts chosen out of many from the
diary of the Austrian, Count Sternberg. In the first he describes his
capture:

'Three hours passed thus without our succeeding in finding our object.
The sergeant then ordered that we should take a rest. We sat down on the
ground, and chatted good-humouredly with the soldiers. They were fine
fellows, without the least sign of brutality--in fact, full of sympathy.
They had every right to be angry with us, for we had spoiled their sleep
after they had gone through a trying day; yet they did not visit it on
us in any way, and were most kind. They even shared their drinking-water
with us. I cannot describe what my feelings were that night. A
prisoner!'

He adds: 'I can only repeat that the English officers and the English
soldiers have shown in this war that the profession of arms does not
debase, but rather ennobles man.'



CHAPTER X

THE OTHER SIDE OF THE QUESTION


Writing in November 1900, after hearing an expression of opinion from
many officers from various parts of the seat of war, I stated in 'The
Great Boer War': 'The Boers have been the victims of a great deal of
cheap slander in the press. The men who have seen most of the Boers in
the field are the most generous in estimating their character. That the
white flag was hoisted by the Boers as a cold-blooded device for luring
our men into the open, is an absolute calumny. To discredit their valour
is to discredit our victory.' My own opinion would have been worthless,
but this was, as I say, the result of considerable inquiry. General
Porter said: 'On a few occasions the white flag was abused, but in what
large community would you not find a few miscreants?' General Lyttelton
said: 'The Boers are brave men, and I do not think that the atrocities
which have been reported are the acts of the regular Dutch burghers, but
of the riff-raff who get into all armies.'

It is a painful fact, but the words could not possibly be written
to-day. Had the war only ended when it should have ended, the combatants
might have separated each with a chivalrous feeling of respect for a
knightly antagonist. But the Boers having appealed to the God of battles
and heard the judgment, appealed once more against it. Hence came the
long, bitter, and fruitless struggle which has cost so many lives, so
much suffering, and a lowering of the whole character of the war.

It is true that during the first year there were many things to
exasperate the troops. The Boers were a nation of hunters and they used
many a ruse which seemed to the straightforward soldier to be cowardly
and unfair. Individuals undoubtedly played the white-flag trick, and
individuals were guilty of holding up their hands in order to lure the
soldiers from their cover. There are many instances of this--indeed, in
one case Lord Roberts was himself a witness of it. Appended is his
official protest:

'Another instance having occurred of a gross abuse of the white flag and
of the signal of holding up the hands in token of surrender, it is my
duty to inform your Honour that if such abuse occurs again I shall most
reluctantly be compelled to order my troops to disregard the white flag
entirely.

'The instance occurred on the kopje east of Driefontein Farm yesterday
evening, and was witnessed by several of my own staff officers, as well
as by myself, and resulted in the wounding of several of my officers and
men.

'A large quantity of explosive bullets of three different kinds was
found in Cronje's laager, and after every engagement with your Honour's
troops.

'Such breaches of the recognised usages of war and of the Geneva
Convention are a disgrace to any civilised power.'

But British officers were not unreasonable. They understood that they
were fighting against a force in which the individual was a law unto
himself. It was not fair to impute to deliberate treachery upon the part
of the leaders every slim trick of an unscrupulous burgher. Again, it
was understood that a coward may hoist an unauthorised white flag and
his braver companions may refuse to recognise it, as our own people
might on more than one occasion have done with advantage. For these
reasons there was very little bitterness against the enemy, and most
officers would, I believe, have subscribed the opinion which I have
expressed.

From the first the position of the Boers was entirely irregular as
regards the recognised rules of warfare. The first article of the
Conventions of The Hague insists that an army in order to claim
belligerent rights must first wear some emblem which is visible at a
distance. It is true that the second article is to the effect that a
population which has no time to organise themselves and who are
defending themselves may be excused from this rule; but the Boers were
the invaders at the outset of the war, and in view of their long and
elaborate preparations it is absurd to say that they could not have
furnished burghers on commando with some distinctive badge. When they
made a change it was for the worse, for they finally dressed themselves
in the khaki uniforms of our own soldiers, and by this means effected
several surprises. It is typical of the good humour of the British that
very many of these khaki-clad burghers have passed through our hands,
and that no penalty has ever been inflicted upon them for their
dangerous breach of the rules of war. In this, as in the case of the
train hostages, we have gone too far in the direction of clemency. Had
the first six khaki-clad burghers been shot, the lives of many of our
soldiers would have been saved.

The question of uniform was condoned, however, just as the white-flag
incidents were condoned. We made allowance for the peculiarities of the
warfare, and for the difficulties of our enemies. We tried to think that
they were playing the game as fairly as they could. Already their
methods were certainly rough. Here, for example, is a sworn narrative of
a soldier taken in the fighting before Ladysmith:

'Evidence of No. 6418 Private F. Ayling, 3rd Batt. King's Royal Rifles.

                                     'Near Colenso, February 25, 1900.

'I was taken prisoner about 5 A.M. on 23rd instant by the Boers, being
too far in front of my company to retire. I was allowed to go about 10
A.M. on the 25th, and rejoined my regiment.

'During this time I was kept in the Boer trenches without food or drink.
There were quite twenty of our wounded lying close to the trenches, and
asking for water all the time, which was always refused. If any of the
wounded moved they were shot at. Most of them died for want of
assistance, as they were lying there two days and two nights. The Boers
(who seemed to be all English) said, "Let them die, and give them no
water."'

Such instances may, however, be balanced against others where
kind-hearted burghers have shown commiseration and generosity to our
wounded and prisoners.

As the war dragged on, however, it took a more savage character upon the
part of our enemy, and it says much for the discipline of the British
troops that they have held their hands and refused to punish a whole
nation for the cruelty and treachery of a few. The first absolute murder
in the war was that of Lieutenant Neumeyer, which occurred at the end of
November 1900. The facts, which have since been officially confirmed,
were thus reported at the time from Aliwal:

'Lieutenant Neumeyer, commanding the Orange River Police at Smithfield,
was driving here, unarmed, in a cart yesterday, when he was "held up" by
two Boers. He was taken prisoner, handcuffed, and treacherously shot in
the back with a revolver and again through the head.

'The murderers stripped off the leggings which Lieutenant Neumeyer was
wearing, searched his clothes for money, and afterwards dragged the body
to a sluit, where, later in the day it was discovered by the Cape Police
and brought here. Two natives were eye-witnesses of the murder.
Lieutenant Neumeyer had served with distinction in the Rhodesian
campaign.'

At this latter period of the war began that systematic murdering of the
Kaffirs by the Boers which has been the most savage and terrible feature
in the whole business. On both sides Kaffirs have been used as
teamsters, servants, and scouts, but on neither side as soldiers. The
British could with the greatest ease have swamped the whole Boer
resistance at the beginning of the war by letting loose the Basutos, the
Zulus, and the Swazis, all of whom have blood-feuds with the Boers. It
is very certain that the Boers would have had no such compunctions, for
when in 1857 the Transvaalers had a quarrel with the Free State we have
Paul Botha's evidence for the fact that they intrigued with a Kaffir
chief to attack their kinsmen from the rear. Botha says:

'I have particular knowledge of this matter, because I took part in the
commando which our Government sent to meet the Transvaal forces. The
dispute was eventually amicably settled, but, incredible as it may seem,
the Transvaal had actually sent five persons, headed by the notorious
Karel Geere, to Moshesh, the Basuto chief, to prevail upon him to attack
_us_, their kinsmen, in the rear! I was one of the patrol that captured
Geere and his companions, some of whom I got to know subsequently, and
who revealed to me the whole dastardly plot.'

This will give some idea as to what we might have had to expect had
native sympathy gone the other way. In the letter already quoted,
written by Snyman to his brother, he asserts that Kruger told him that
he relied upon the assistance of the Swazis and Zulus. As it was,
however, beyond allowing natives to defend their own lives and property
when attacked, as in the case of the Baralongs at Mafeking, and the
Kaffirs in the Transkei, we have only employed Kaffirs in the pages of
the continental cartoons.

As teamsters, servants, guides, and scouts the Kaffirs were, however,
essential to us, and realising this the Boers, when the war began to go
against them, tried to terrorise them into deserting us by killing them
without mercy whenever they could in any way connect them with the
British. How many hundreds were done to death in this fashion it is
impossible to compute. After a British defeat no mercy was shown to the
drivers of the wagons and the native servants. Boer commandos covered
their tracks by putting to death every Kaffir who might give
information. Sometimes they killed even the children. Thus Lord
Kitchener, in his report, narrates a case where a British column hard
upon the track of a Boer commando found four little Kaffir boys with
their brains dashed out in the kraal which the Boers had just evacuated.

A case which particularly touched the feelings of the British people was
that of Esau, the coloured blacksmith, who was a man of intelligence and
education, living as a loyal British subject in the British town of
Calvinia. There was no possible case of 'spying' here, since the man had
not left his own town. The appended documents will show why the nation
will not have done its duty until justice has been done upon the
murderers. A touching letter has been published from Esau to the
governor of the district in which he says that, come what may, he would
be loyal to the flag under which he was born. The next news of him was
of his brutal murder:

'Abraham Esau, a loyal coloured blacksmith, was mercilessly flogged for
refusing to give information as to where arms were buried. Inflammation
of the kidneys set in; nevertheless he was again beaten through the
village with sjamboks until he was unable to walk, and was then shot
dead.'--Calvinia, February 8. ('Times,' February 16, 1901, p. 7 [3]).

'The district surgeon at Calvinia, writing to the Colonial secretary,
has fully confirmed the flogging and shooting of Esau by a Boer named
Strydom, who stated that he acted in accordance with orders. No trial
was held, and no reason is alleged for the deed.'--Cape Town, February
19. ('Times,' February 20, 1901, p. 5 [3]).

'The authority for the statement of the flogging by the Boers of a
coloured man named Esau at Calvinia was a Reuter's telegram, confirmed
subsequently by the report made to Cape Town by the district surgeon of
Calvinia.'--From Mr. Brodrick's reply to Mr. Labouchere in House of
Commons, February 21. ('Times,' February 22, 1901).

'I had a telegram from Sir A. Milner in confirmation of the reports from
various quarters that have reached me. The High Commissioner states
that the name of the district surgeon who reported the mal-treatment of
the coloured man is Foote. Sir A. Milner adds: "There is absolutely no
doubt about the murder of Esau."'--From Mr. Brodrick's reply to Mr.
Dillon in House of Commons, February 22. ('Times,' February 23, 1901).

The original rule of the British Service was that the black scouts
should be unarmed, so as to avoid all accusations of arming natives.
When it was found that they were systematically shot they were given
rifles, as it was inhuman to expose them to death without any means of
defence. I believe that some armed Kaffirs who watch the railway line
have also been employed in later phases of the war, the weapons to be
used in self-defence. Considering how pressed the British were at one
time, and considering that by a word they could have thrown a large and
highly disciplined Indian army into the scales, I think that their
refusal to do so is one of the most remarkable examples of moderation in
history. The French had no hesitation in using Turcos against the
Germans, nor did the Americans refrain from using Negro regiments
against the Spaniards. We made it a white man's war, however, and I
think that we did wisely and well.

So far did the Boers carry their murderous tactics against the natives,
that British prisoners with dark complexions were in imminent danger.
Thus at a skirmish at Doorn River on July 27, 1901, the seven Kaffir
scouts taken with the British were shot in cold blood, and an Englishman
named Finch was shot with them in the alleged belief that he had Kaffir
blood. Here is the evidence of the latter murder:

No. 28284 Trooper Charles Catton, 22nd Imperial Yeomanry, being duly
sworn, states:

'At Doorn River on 27th July, 1901, I was one of the patrol captured by
the Boers, and after we had surrendered I saw a man lying on the ground,
wounded, between two natives. I saw a Boer go up to him and shoot him
through the chest. I noticed the man, Trooper Finch, was alive. I do not
know the name of the Boer who shot him, but I could recognise him
again.'

No. 33966 Trooper F. W. Madams, having been duly sworn, states:

'I was one of the patrol captured by the Boers on 27th July, 1901, near
Doorn River. After we had surrendered I went to look for my hat, and
after finding it I was passing the wounded man, Trooper Finch, when I
saw a Boer, whose name I do not know, shoot Trooper Finch through the
chest with a revolver. I could identify the man who shot him.'

This scandal of the murder of the Kaffirs, a scandal against which no
protest seems to have been raised by the pro-Boer press in England or
the Continent, has reached terrible proportions. I append some of the
evidence from recent official reports from the front:

Case at Magaliesberg.--About October or November 1900, the bodies of
nine natives were found lying together on the top of the Magaliesberg.
Of these five were intelligence natives, the remainder being boys
employed by the Boers, but suspected of giving information. The
witnesses in this case are now difficult to find, as they are all
natives; but it appears that the natives were tried by an informal
court, of which B. A. Klopper, ex-President of the Volksraad, was
president, and condemned to death. Hendrik Schoeman, son of the late
general, and Piet Joubert are reported to have acted as escort.

Case of five natives murdered near Wilge River.--On capturing a train
near Wilge River, Transvaal, on March 11, 1901, the Boers took five
unarmed natives on one side and shot them, throwing their bodies into a
ditch. Corporal Sutton, of the Hampshire Regiment, saw, after the
surrender, a Boer put five shots into a native who was lying down. Other
soldiers on the train vouch to seeing one man deliberately shoot five
boys in cold blood.

Case of eight Kaffir boys.--On or about July 17, 1901, eight Kaffir
boys, between the ages of twelve and fourteen, went out from Uitkijk,
near Edenburg, to get oranges. None were armed. Boers opened fire, shot
one, captured six; one escaped, and is now with Major Damant. Corporal
Willett, Damant's Horse, afterwards saw boys' bodies near farm, but so
disfigured that they could not be recognised. Some Kaffirs were then
sent out from Edenburg and recognised them. One boy is supposed to have
been spared by Boers, body not found. Lieutenant Kentish, Royal Irish
Fusiliers, saw bodies, and substantially confirms murder, and states
Boers were under Field-Cornet Dutoit.

Case of Klass, Langspruit, Standerton.--Klass's wife states that on
August 3, 1901, Cornelius Laas, of Langspruit, and another Boer came to
the kraal and told Klass to go with them. On his demurring they accused
him of giving information to the British, and C. Laas shot him through
the back of the head as he ran away. Another native, the wife of a
native clergyman at Standerton, saw the dead body.

Case of Two Natives near Hopetown.--On August 22, 1901, Private C. P.
Fivaz, of the Cape Mounted Police, along with two natives, was captured
near Venter Hoek, Hopetown district, by a force under Commandant Van
Reenan. He had off-saddled at the time, and the natives were sleeping in
a stable. He heard Van Reenan give his men an order to shoot the
natives, which order was promptly carried out in his presence as regards
one man, and he was told that the other had also been shot. The resident
on the farm, A. G. Liebenberg, who warned Fivaz at 5 A.M. of the
approach of the enemy, buried both the bodies where he found them--viz.,
one about forty yards from the house and the other about five hundred
yards away. His statement is corroborated by his son, who saw one of the
boys killed.

Case of John Makran.--John Makran and Alfius Bampa (the witness) are
unarmed natives living near Warmbaths, north of Pretoria. On the evening
of September 17, 1901, Andries Van der Walt and a party of Boers
surrounded Makran's house. Van der Walt told the boy to come out, and
when he did so two men seized him. While two men held Makran's hands up
Van der Walt stood five yards behind him and shot him through the head
with a Mauser rifle. When the boy fell he shot him again through the
heart, and then with a knife cut a deep gash across his forehead. Both
these boys formerly worked for Van der Walt.

Case at Zandspruit.--On the night of October 1, 1901, about 11.30 P.M.,
a party of Boers surrounded a native house at Dassie Klip, near
Zandspruit, and killed four natives in or about the house. The party
consisted of twenty-four, under the following leaders: Dirk Badenhorst,
of Dassie Klip; Cornelius Erasmus, of Streepfontein; and C. Van der
Merwe, of Rooi Draai. The witnesses in this case are all natives
residing at Dassie Klip, who knew the assailants well. In one case a
native called Karle was endeavouring to escape over a wall, but was
wounded in the thigh. On seeing he was not dead, Stoffel Visagie, of
Skuilhoek, drew a revolver and shot him through the head. The charge
against these natives appears to have been that they harboured British
scouts.

Case of Jim Zulu.--On or about October 18, 1901, V. C. Thys Pretorius
(presumably of Pretoria), with seventy men, visited Waterval North, on
the Pretoria-Pietersburg line, and practically murdered two natives,
wounding three others, one of whom afterwards died. The witnesses state
that on the morning of October 18, 1901, Pretorius came to a colliery
near Waterval North and called for Jim Zulu, and on his appearance shot
him through the face. Three days later this native died of his wounds.
At the same time he and another man, named Dorsehasmus, also shot three
other natives.

Here is a further list, showing how systematic has been this brutality.
I reproduce it in its official curtness:

Report of Resident Magistrate, Barkly West, January 28, 1900.--Native
despatch rider shot and mutilated.

November or December 1900.--Near Virginia two natives were shot, being
accused of showing the British the road to Ventersburg.

Report of Resident Magistrate, Taungs, December 4, 1900.--Three natives
murdered at Border Siding.

December 18, 1900.--Native, Philip, shot at Vlakplaats, eight miles
south-west of Pretoria, by J. Johnson and J. Dilmar, of J. Joubert's
commando.

Report of Resident Magistrate, Taungs, December 24, 1900.--Native shot
by Boers at Pudimoe. Three natives killed at Christiana.

Report of Resident Magistrate, Herschel, January 6, 1901.--Two natives
shot as spies.

Report of Resident Magistrate, Calvinia, January 29, 1901.--Esau case
and ill-treatment of other natives.

February 28, 1901.--Zulu boy shot dead at Zevenfontein, between Pretoria
and Johannesburg, charged with giving information to the British, by men
of Field-Cornet Jan Joubert's commando.

Report of Resident Magistrate, Cradock, March 21, 1901.--Murder of
native witness, Salmon Booi.

Report of Resident Magistrate, Taungs, May 8, 1901.--Natives shot by
Boers at Manthe.

Report of Resident Magistrate, Gordonia, May 23, 1901.--Native shot
dead.

May 25, 1901.--District Harrismith. A native accused of laziness and
insolence was shot by men in M. Prinsloo's commando.

May 28, 1901.--At Sannah's Post three natives were captured and shot.

June 5, 1901.--Three natives with Colonel Plumer's column captured and
shot near Paardeberg.

July 27, 1901.--Seven natives captured with a patrol of Imperial
Yeomanry near Doorn River Hut were shot on the spot.

Report of Intelligence, East Cape Colony, July 29, 1901.--Shooting of
natives by Commandant Myburgh.

Report of Resident Magistrate, Aliwal North, July 30, 1901.--Shooting of
natives at refugee camp.

August 23, 1901.--Native captured with a private of the Black Watch near
Clocolan and shot in his presence.

September 1, 1901.--Four natives with Colonel Dawkins's column captured
in Fauresmith district and shot by order of Judge Hertzog.

Report of Resident Magistrate, Aliwal North, September 4, 1901.--Brutal
treatment of natives by Boers under Bester, J.P., of Aliwal North.

Report of Resident Magistrate, Riversdale, September 4, 1901.--Two
coloured despatch riders severely flogged.

Report of Intelligence, South Cape Colony, September 18, 1901.--Natives
murdered by Theron's orders.

Report of Chief Commissioner, Richmond, September 23, 1901.--Two unarmed
natives shot by Commandant Malan.

Report of Resident Magistrate, Prieska, September 26, 1901.--Murder of
two unarmed natives.

Report of Colonel Hickman, Ladismith, October 1, 1901.--Shooting of two
natives by Scheepers.

Date uncertain.--A native in Petrusburg Gaol was shot in his cell by two
Boers on the approach of the British troops.

So much for the Kaffir murders. It is to be earnestly hoped that no
opportunism or desire to conciliate our enemies at the expense of
justice will prevent a most thorough examination into every one of these
black deeds, and a most stern punishment for the criminals.

I return, however, to the question of the conduct of the Boers to their
white opponents. So long as they were fighting as an army under the eyes
of the honourable men who led them, their conduct was on the whole good,
but guerilla warfare brought with it the demoralisation which it always
does bring, and there was a rapid falling away from the ordinary
humanity between civilised opponents. I do not mean by this to assert
that the Boer guerillas behaved as did the Spanish guerillas in 1810,
or the Mexican in 1866. Such an assertion would be absurd. The Boers
gave quarter and they received it. But several isolated instances, and
several general cases have shown the demoralisation of their ranks. Of
the former I might quote the circumstances of the death of Lieutenant
Miers.

The official intimation was as follows:

                                              'Pretoria: September 27.

'Lieutenant Miers, Somerset Light Infantry, employed with South African
Constabulary, went out from his post at Riversdraai, 25th September, to
meet three Boers approaching under white flag, who, after short
conversation, were seen to shoot Lieutenant Miers dead and immediately
gallop away. Inquiry being made and evidence recorded.'

A more detailed account was sent by the non-commissioned officer who was
present. He described how the Boers approached the fort waving a white
flag, how a corporal went out to them, and was told that they wished to
speak with an officer, how Captain Miers rode out alone, and then:

'As soon as the officer had gone but a short distance on the far side of
the spruit, the Boer with the white flag advanced to meet him; the
officer also continued to advance till he came up with the blackguard.
At the end of three or four minutes we saw the two walking back to the
two Boers (who were standing a good two miles off from this fort of
ours). When they reached the two Boers we saw the captain dismount, the
group being barely visible owing to a rise in the ground. At the end of
five or ten minutes we were just able to distinguish the sound of a
shot, immediately after which we saw the officer's grey mare bolting
westwards across the veldt riderless, with one of the Boers galloping
for all he was worth after it.'

Of the general demoralisation here is the evidence of a witness in that
very action at Graspan on June 6, which has been made so much of by the
slanderers of our Army:

No. 4703 Lance-Corporal James Hanshaw, 2nd Batt. Bedfordshire Regiment,
being duly sworn, states: 'At Graspan on June 6, 1901, I was present
when we were attacked by the Boers, having previously captured a convoy
from them. On going towards the wagons I found the Boers already there;
finding we were outnumbered and resistance hopeless, we threw down our
arms and held our hands up. Private Blunt, who was with me, shouted.
"Don't shoot me, I have thrown down my rifle." The Boers then shot
Private Blunt dead. He was holding his hands above his head at the time.
Lieutenant Mair then shouted, "Have mercy, you cowards." The Boers then
deliberately shot Lieutenant Mair dead as he was standing with his hands
above his head. They then shot at Privates Pearse and Harvey, who were
both standing with their hands up, the same bullet hitting Private
Pearse in the nose, and killing Private Harvey. Two Boers then rushed
from the wagons and threatened to shoot me, kicked me, and told me to
lie down.'

No. 3253 Private E. Sewell, 2nd Batt. Bedfordshire Regiment, being duly
sworn, states: 'I was at the fight at Graspan on June 6, 1901. About
noon on that date the Boers attacked the convoy. I retired to Lieutenant
Mair's party, when, finding we were outnumbered and surrounded, we put
our hands up. The Boers took our arms from us and retired round some
kraals; shortly afterwards they came back, and two men shouted, "Hands
up." We said we were already prisoners, and that our arms had been
collected. Private Blunt held up his hands, and at the same time said,
"Don't shoot me, I am already hands up." The Boers then said, "Take
that," and shot him through the stomach. Lieutenant Mair then stepped
out from the wagons, and said, "Have mercy, you cowards." The Boer then
shot him dead from his horse. The Boer was sitting on his horse almost
touching Lieutenant Mair at the time. The Boer then shot at
Lance-Corporal Harvey and Private Pearse, who were standing together
with their hands up above their heads, the shot wounding Private Pearse
and killing Lance-Corporal Harvey.'

Here is the evidence of the murder of the wounded at Vlakfontein on May
29, 1901:

Private D. Chambers, H Company, 1st Batt. Derbyshire Regiment, being
duly sworn, states: 'Whilst lying on the ground wounded I saw a Boer
shoot two of our wounded who were lying on the ground near me. This Boer
also fired at me, but missed me.'

Privates W. Bacon and Charles Girling, 1st Batt. Derbyshire Regiment,
being duly sworn, state: 'Whilst lying wounded on the ground with two
other wounded men four Boers came up to us, dismounted, and fired a
volley at us. We were all hit again, and Private Goodwin, of our
regiment, was killed. The Boers then took our arms away, and after
swearing at us rode away.'

Corporal Sargent, 1st Batt. Derbyshire Regiment, being duly sworn,
states: 'While lying wounded behind a rock I saw a Boer shoot a Yeomanry
officer who was walking away, wounded in the hand.'

Acting-Sergeant Chambers, 69th Company Imperial Yeomanry, being duly
sworn, states: 'I saw a Boer, a short man with a dark beard, going round
carrying his rifle under his arm, as one would carry a sporting rifle,
and shoot three of our wounded.'

Private A. C. Bell, 69th Company Imperial Yeomanry, being duly sworn,
states: 'I heard a Boer call to one of our men to put up his hands, and
when he did so the Boer shot him from about fifteen yards off; I was
about twenty yards off.'

Private T. George, 69th Company Imperial Yeomanry, being duly sworn,
states: 'I was walking back to camp wounded, when I saw a Boer about
seventeen years of age shoot at a wounded Derby man who was calling for
water; the Boer then came up to me and took my bandolier away.'

Gunner W. H. Blackburn, 28th Battery Royal Field Artillery, being duly
sworn, states: 'I saw a Boer take a rifle and bandolier from a wounded
Derby man, and then shoot him; the Boer then came to me and asked me for
my rifle; I showed it him where it was lying on the ground.'

Things of this sort are progressive. Here is what occurred at
Brakenlaagte when the rear of Benson's column was destroyed.

Major N. E. Young, D.S.O., Royal Field Artillery, sends the report to
the Commander-in-Chief of Boer cruelty to the officers and men wounded
in the action with Colonel Benson's column at Brakenlaagte. It is dated
Pretoria, November 7, and Lord Kitchener's covering letter is dated
November 9.

Major Young, who made the inquiries into the charges of cruelty in
accordance with Lord Kitchener's instructions, says:

'Out of a total of 147 wounded non-commissioned officers and men seen by
me fifty-four had not been in the hands of the Boers. Of the remaining
ninety-three men, eighteen informed me they had nothing to complain of.

'Seventy-five non-commissioned officers and men made complaint of
ill-treatment of a more or less serious nature; nearly all of these had
been robbed of whatever money they possessed, also of their watches and
private papers.

'Many had been deprived of other articles of clothing, hats, jackets,
and socks, in some cases being left with an old shirt and a pair of
drawers only.

'There is a consensus of opinion that the wounded lying round the guns
were fired on by Boers, who had already disarmed them, for a long
period, after all firing in their neighbourhood from our side had
ceased.

'Even the late Colonel Benson was not respected, though he was protected
for some time by a man in authority; eventually his spurs, gaiters, and
private papers were removed.'

Major Young, in concluding his report, says:--

'I was impressed with the idea that the statements made to me were true
and not wilfully exaggerated, so simply were they made. There seems no
doubt that though the Boer commandants have the will they have no longer
the power to repress outrage and murder on the part of their
subordinates.'

Lieutenant G. Acland Troyte, King's Royal Rifle Corps, 25th Mounted
Infantry, states: 'I was wounded on October 25 in a rearguard action
with Colonel Benson's force, near Kaffirstadt. The Boers came up and
stripped me of everything except my drawers, shirt, and socks, they gave
me an old pair of trousers, and later a coat.'

Lieutenant Reginald Seymour, 1st Batt. King's Royal Rifle Corps, 25th
Mounted Infantry:--'On October 30 my company was sent back to the
support of Colonel Benson's rearguard. I was wounded early in the day.
The Boers came up. They took my greatcoat, gaiters, spurs, and helmet;
they took the money and watches from the other wounded, but left them
their clothes except the coat of one man. They then left us without
assistance. Two Boers afterwards returned and took away a greatcoat
belonging to one of our men which had been left over me. One of the
party who stripped us was addressed by the remainder as Commandant.'

Captain C. W. Collins, Cheshire Regiment:--'I was signalling officer to
Colonel Benson on October 30. I was wounded, and lying near the guns
about a hundred yards in rear of them. A field-cornet came up and went
away without molesting me. At about 5.30 P.M., or a little later, the
ambulances came and picked me up; my ambulance went on some distance
farther, and Colonel Benson and some men were put in it. There seemed to
be a lot of delay, which annoyed the Colonel, and he asked to be allowed
to get away. The delay, however, continued till a Boer came and took
away Colonel Benson's documents from his pocket, notwithstanding his
protest that they were all private papers, and that they had been seen
by a commandant earlier in the day, who said they were not required.'

Private E. Rigby, 4th Batt. King's Royal Rifle Corps, states the Boers
took all his clothes except his shirt. This man is not quite able to
speak yet.

Trooper Hood, 2nd Scottish Horse: 'While I was lying wounded on the
ground the Boers came up and stripped me of my hat and coat, boots,
15_s._, and a metal watch. I saw them fire at another wounded man as he
was coming to me for a drink.'

Trooper Alexander Main, 2nd Scottish Horse: 'While lying on the ground,
the Boers came close up and stood about fifteen to twenty yards away
from where we were lying wounded round the guns. All were wounded at
this time, and no one was firing. I saw the Boers there fire at the
wounded. Captain Lloyd, a staff officer, was lying beside me wounded in
the leg at this time; he received one or two more shots in the body, and
shortly afterwards he died. I myself received three more wounds.'

Trooper Jamieson, Scottish Horse: 'The Boers took off his boots and they
hurt his shattered arm in a terrible manner while getting off his
bandolier. His arm has been removed.'

Private Parrish, 1st Batt. King's Royal Rifle Corps: 'Our ridge was not
firing any more, but whenever a wounded man showed himself, they fired
at him, in this way several were killed; one man who was waving a bit of
blue stuff with the idea of getting an ambulance, received about twenty
shots.'

Private Prickett, 4th Batt. King's Royal Rifle Corps: 'On October 30 I
was lying wounded. I saw the Boers come up, and an old Boer with black
beard and whiskers, and wearing leggings, whom I should be able to
recognise again, shot my friend, Private F. Foster, 4th Batt. King's
Royal Rifle Corps, by putting the muzzle of his rifle to his side.
Private Foster had been firing under cover of an ant-heap till the Boers
took the position; he then threw away his rifle to put his hands up, but
was shot all the same.'

Private N. H. Grierson, Scottish Horse: 'I was wounded and lying by the
side of Colonel Benson. When the Boers came up they wanted to begin to
loot; Colonel Benson stopped them, telling them he had received a letter
from Commandant Grobelaar saying the wounded would be respected. Colonel
Benson asked if he could see Grobelaar; they said they would fetch him,
and brought up someone who was in authority, but I do not think it was
Grobelaar. Colonel Benson told him the wounded were not to be touched,
and he said he would do his best; he himself protected Colonel Benson
for about an hour, but he was still there when a Boer took off Colonel
Benson's spurs and gaiters.'

Sergeant Ketley, 7th Hussars: 'I was wounded in the head and hip just
before the Boers rushed the guns. I was covered with blood. A Boer came
up, took away my carbine and revolver and asked me to put up my hands. I
could not do this, being too weak with the loss of blood. He loaded my
own carbine and aimed from his breast while kneeling, and pointed at my
breast. He fired and hit me in the right arm just below the shoulder.'

Private Bell, 4th Batt. King's Royal Rifle Corps, 25th Mounted Infantry:
'When the Boers came up they took my boots off very roughly, hurting my
wounded leg very much. I saw them taking watches and money off the other
men.'

Private C. Connor, Royal Dublin Fusiliers: 'I was lying beside the guns
among a lot of our wounded, who were not firing. Every time one of our
wounded attempted to move the Boers fired at them; several men (about
ten or eleven) were killed in this way.'

Lieutenant Bircham, 4th Batt. King's Royal Rifle Corps: 'Was in the same
ambulance wagon as Lieutenant Martin, King's Own Yorkshire Light
Infantry (since deceased), and the latter told him that when he
(Lieutenant Martin) was lying on the ground wounded the Boers took off
his spurs and gaiters. In taking off his spurs they wrenched his leg,
the bone of which was shattered, completely round, so as to be able to
get at the spurs more easily, though Lieutenant Martin told them where
he was hit.'

Corporal P. Gower, 4th Batt. King's Royal Rifle Corps, 25th Mounted
Infantry: 'I was wounded and unconscious. When I came to, the Boers were
stripping the men round me. A man, Private Foster, who was not five
yards from me, put up his hands in token of surrender, but was shot at
about five-yards range by a tall man with a black beard. He was killed.'

Corporal Atkins, 84th Battery Royal Field Artillery: 'The Boers came up
to me and said, "Can you work this gun?" I said, "Yes." He said, "Get up
and show me." I said, "How can I? I have one hand taken away, and I am
wounded in both legs"--this last was not true. He then said, "Give us
your boots"--he took them and my mackintosh. He took what money was in
my belt. One of our men, Bombardier Collins, got up to try and put up a
white flag, as we were being fired at both from the camp and by the
Boers; as soon as he got up they began shooting at him. I saw a Kaffir
fire three shots from about thirty yards off.'

Bombardier Collins, 84th Battery Royal Field Artillery: 'When lying
wounded near the guns after the Boers had been up to them I tried to
raise a white flag as our own people were dropping their bullets close
to us. When I did this they fired at me.'

So long as an excuse could be found for a brave enemy we found it. But
the day is rapidly approaching when we must turn to the world with our
evidence and say, 'Are these the deeds of soldiers or of brigands? If
they act as brigands, then, why must we for ever treat them as
soldiers?' I have read letters from soldiers who saw their own comrades
ill-treated at Brakenlaagte. I trust that they will hold their hands,
but it is almost more than can be asked of human nature.



CHAPTER XI

CONCLUSIONS


I have now dealt with the various vexed questions of the war, and have,
I hope, said enough to show that we have no reason to blush for our
soldiers, but only for those of their fellow-countrymen who have
traduced them. But there are a number of opponents of the war who have
never descended to such baseness, and who honestly hold that the war
might have been avoided, and also that we might, after it broke out,
have found some terms which the Boers could accept. At their back they
have all those amiable and goodhearted idealists who have not examined
the question very critically, but are oppressed by the fear that the
Empire is acting too roughly towards these pastoral republics. Such an
opinion is just as honest as, and infinitely more respectable than, that
of some journalists whose arrogance at the beginning of the war brought
shame upon us. There is no better representative of such views than Mr.
Methuen in his 'Peace or War,' an able and moderate statement. Let us
examine his conclusions, omitting the causes of the war, which have
already been treated at some length.

Mr. Methuen draws a close comparison between the situation and that of
the American Revolution. There are certainly points of resemblance--and
also of difference. Our cause was essentially unjust with the Americans
and essentially just with the Boers. We have the Empire at our back now.
We have the command of the seas. We are very wealthy. These are all new
and important factors.

The revolt of the Boer States against the British suzerainty is much
more like the revolt of the Southern States against the Government of
Washington. The situation here after Colenso was that of the North after
Bull's Run. Mr. Methuen has much to say of Boer bitterness, but was it
greater than Southern bitterness? That war was fought to a finish and we
see what has come of it. I do not claim that the parallel is exact, but
it is at least as nearly exact as that from which Mr. Methuen draws
such depressing conclusions. He has many gloomy remarks upon our
prospects, but it is in facing gloomy prospects with a high heart that a
nation proves that it is not yet degenerate. Better pay all the price
which he predicts than shrink for one instant from our task.

Mr. Methuen makes a good deal of the foolish and unchivalrous, even
brutal, way in which some individuals and some newspapers have spoken of
the enemy. I suppose there are few gentlemen who have not winced at such
remarks. But let Mr. Methuen glance at the continental press and see the
work of the supporters of the enemy. It will make him feel more
charitable towards his boorish fellow-countrymen. Or let him examine the
Dutch press in South Africa and see if all the abuse is on one side.
Here are some appreciations from the first letter of P.S. (of Colesburg)
in the 'Times':

'Your lazy, dirty, drunken, lower classes.'

'Your officers are pedantic scholars or frivolous society men.'

'The major part of your population consists of females, cripples,
epileptics, consumptives, cancerous people, invalids, and lunatics of
all kinds.'

'Nine-tenths of your statesmen and higher officials are suffering from
kidney disease.'

'We will not be governed by a set of British curs.'

No great chivalry or consideration of the feelings of one's opponent
there! Here is a poem from the 'Volksstem' on August 26, 1899, weeks
before the war, describing the Boer programme. A translation runs thus:

    'Then shall our ears with pleasure listen
      To widow's wail and orphan's cry;
    And shall we gird, as joyful witness,
      The death-watch of your villainy.

    'Then shall we massacre and butcher
      You, and swallow glad your blood;
    And count it "capital with interest"--
      Villain's interest--sweet and good.

    'And when the sun shall set in Heaven,
      Dark with the clouds of steaming blood,
    A ghastly, woeful, dying murmur
      Will be the Briton's last salute.

    'Then shall we start our jolly banquet,
      And toast the first "the British blood."'

No doubt a decent Boer would be as ashamed of this as we are of some of
our Jingo papers. But even their leaders, Reitz, Steyn, and Kruger, have
allowed themselves to use language about the British which cannot,
fortunately, be matched upon our side.

Mr. Methuen is severe upon Lord Salisbury for the uncompromising nature
of his reply to the Presidents' overtures for peace in March 1900. But
what other practical course could he suggest? Is it not evident that if
independence were left to the Boers the war would have been without
result, since all the causes which led to it would be still open and
unsolved. On the morrow of such a peace we should be faced by the
Franchise question, the Uitlander question, and every other question for
the settling of which we have made such sacrifices. Is that a sane
policy? Is it even tenable on the grounds of humanity, since it is
perfectly clear that it must lead to another and a greater struggle in
the course of a few years? When the work was more than half done it
would have been madness to hold our hand.

Surely there is no need for gloomy forebodings. The war has seemed long
to us who have endured it, but to our descendants it will probably seem
a very short time for the conquest of so huge a country and so stubborn
a foe. Our task is not endless. Four-fifths of the manhood of the
country is already in our hands, and the fifth remaining diminishes week
by week. Our mobility and efficiency increase. There is not the
slightest ground for Mr. Methuen's lament about the condition of the
Army. It is far fitter than when it began. It is mathematically certain
that a very few months must see the last commando hunted down. Meanwhile
civil life is gaining strength once more. Already the Orange River
Colony pays its own way, and the Transvaal is within measurable distance
of doing the same. Industries are waking up, and on the Rand the roar of
the stamps has replaced that of the cannon. Fifteen hundred of them will
soon be at work, and the refugees are returning at the rate of 400 a
week.

It is argued that the bitterness of this struggle will never die out,
but history has shown that it is the fights which are fought to an
absolute finish which leave the least rancour. Remember Lee's noble
words: 'We are a Christian people. We have fought this fight as long and
as well as we knew how. We have been defeated. For us, as a Christian
people, there is now but one course to pursue. We must accept the
situation.' That is how a brave man accepts the judgment of the God of
battles. So it may at last be with the Boers. These prison camps and
concentration camps have at least brought them, men and women, in
contact with our people. Perhaps the memories left behind will not be
entirely bitter. Providence works in strange ways, and possibly the
seeds of reconciliation, may be planted even there.

As to the immediate future it is probable that the Transvaal, with the
rush of immigrants which prosperity will bring, will soon be, next to
Natal, the most British of the South African States. With Natal British,
Rhodesia British, the Transvaal British, the Cape half and half, and
only the Orange River Colony Dutch, the British would be assured of a
majority in a parliament of United South Africa. It would be well to
allow Natal to absorb the Vryheid district of the Transvaal.

It has occurred to me--a suggestion which I put forward with all
diffidence--that it would be a wise and practicable step to form a Boer
Reservation in the northern districts of the Transvaal (Watersberg and
Zoutpansberg). Let them live there as Basutos live in Basutoland, or
Indians in Indian territory, or the inhabitants of a protected state in
India. Guarantee them, as long as they remain peaceable under the
British flag, complete protection from the invasion of the miner or the
prospector. Let them live their own lives in their own way, with some
simple form of home rule of their own. The irreconcilable men who could
never rub shoulders with the British could find a home there, and the
British colonies would be all the stronger for the placing in quarantine
of those who might infect their neighbours with their own bitterness.
Such a State could not be a serious source of danger, since we could
control all the avenues by which arms could reach it. I am aware that
the Watersberg and the Zoutpansberg are not very desirable places of
residence, but the thing is voluntary and no man would need to go there
unless he wished. Without some such plan the Empire will have no
safety-valve in South Africa.

I cannot conclude this short review of the South African question
without some allusion to the attitude of continental nations during the
struggle. This has been in all cases correct upon the part of the
governments, and in nearly all cases incorrect upon the part of the
people. A few brave and clear-headed men, like Yves Guyot in France, and
M. Tallichet and M. Naville in Switzerland, have been our friends, or
rather the friends of truth; but the vast majority of all nations have
been carried away by that flood of prejudice and lies which has had its
source in a venal, or at best an ignorant, press. In this country the
people in the long run can always impose its will upon the Government,
and it has, I believe, come to some very definite conclusions which will
affect British foreign policy for many years to come.

Against France there is no great bitterness, for we feel that France has
never had much reason to look upon us in any light save that of an
enemy. For many years we have wished to be friendly, but the traditions
of centuries are not so easily forgotten. Besides, some of our
shortcomings are of recent date. Many of us were, and are, ashamed of
the absurd and hysterical outcry in this country over the Dreyfus case.
Are there no miscarriages of justice in the Empire? An expression of
opinion was permissible, but the wholesale national abuse has disarmed
us from resenting some equally immoderate criticism of our own character
and morals. To Russia also we can bear no grudge, for we know that there
is no real public opinion in that country, and that their press has no
means for forming first-hand conclusions. Besides, in this case also
there is a certain secular enmity which may account for a warped
judgment.

But it is very different with Germany. Again and again in the world's
history we have been the friends and the allies of these people. It was
so in the days of Marlborough, in those of the Great Frederick, and in
those of Napoleon. When we could not help them with men we helped them
with money. Our fleet has crushed their enemies. And now, for the first
time in history, we have had a chance of seeing who were our friends in
Europe, and nowhere have we met more hatred and more slander than from
the German press and the German people. Their most respectable journals
have not hesitated to represent the British troops--troops every bit as
humane and as highly disciplined as their own--not only as committing
outrages on person and property, but even as murdering women and
children.

At first this unexpected phenomenon merely surprised the British people,
then it pained them, and, finally, after two years of it, it has roused
a deep and enduring anger in their minds. There is a rumour which crops
up from time to time, and which appears to have some foundation, that
there is a secret agreement by which the Triple Alliance can, under
certain circumstances, claim the use of the British fleet. There are,
probably, only a few men in Europe who know whether this is so or not.
But if it is, it would be only fair to denounce such a treaty as soon as
may be, for very many years must pass before it would be possible for
the public to forget and forgive the action of Germany. Nor can we
entirely exonerate the German Government, for we know the Germans to be
a well-disciplined people; and we cannot believe that Anglophobia could
have reached the point of mania without some official encouragement--or,
at least, in the face of any official discouragement.

The agitation reached its climax in the uproar over the reference which
Mr. Chamberlain made to the war of 1870 in his speech at Edinburgh. In
this speech Mr. Chamberlain very justly remarked that we could find
precedents for any severe measures which we might be compelled to take
against the guerillas, in the history of previous campaigns--those of
the French in Algiers, the Russians in the Caucasus, the Austrians in
Bosnia, and the Germans in France. Such a remark implied, of course, no
blame upon these respective countries, but pointed out the martial
precedents which justify such measures. It is true that the Germans in
France never found any reason to lay the country waste, for they were
never faced with a universal guerilla warfare as we have been, but they
gave the _franc-tireur_, or the man who was found cutting the wire of
the line, very short shrift; whereas we have never put to death a single
_bonâ-fide_ Boer for this offence. Possibly it was not that the Germans
were too severe, but that we were too lax. In any case, it is evident
that there was nothing offensive in the statement, and those who have
been well informed as to the doings of the British soldiers in the war
will know that any troops in the world might be proud to be classed with
them, either in valour or humanity.

But the agitators did not even trouble to ascertain the words which Mr.
Chamberlain had used--though they might have seen them in the original
on the table of the _Lesezimmer_ of the nearest hotel. On the strength
of a garbled report a tumult arose over the whole country and many
indignation meetings were held. Six hundred and eighty clergymen were
found whose hearts and heads were soft enough to be imposed upon by
absurd tales of British atrocities, and these reverend gentlemen
subscribed an insulting protest against them. The whole movement was so
obviously artificial--or at least based upon misapprehension--that it
excited as much amusement as anger in this country; but still the honour
of our Army is very dear to us, and the continued attacks upon it have
left an enduring feeling of resentment amongst us, which will not, and
should not, die away in this generation. It is not too much to say that
five years ago a complete defeat by Germany in a European war would have
certainly caused British intervention. Public sentiment and racial
affinity would never have allowed us to see her really go to the wall.
And now it is certain that in our lifetime no British guinea and no
soldier's life would under any circumstances be spent for such an end.
That is one strange result of the Boer war, and in the long run it is
possible that it may prove not the least important.

Yet some allowance must be made for people who for years have had only
one side of the question laid before them, and have had that one side
supported by every sort of malignant invention and misrepresentation.
Surely the day will come when truth will prevail, if only for the reason
that the sources of corruption will run dry. It is difficult to imagine
that any permanent policy can ever be upheld by falsehood. When that day
does come, and the nations of Europe see how they have been hoodwinked
and made tools of by a few artful and unscrupulous men, it is possible
that a tardy justice will be done to the dignity and inflexible
resolution which Great Britain has shown throughout. Until the dawn
breaks we can but go upon our way, looking neither to the right nor to
the left, but keeping our eyes fixed ever upon one great object--a South
Africa in which there shall never again be strife, and in which Boer and
Briton shall enjoy the same rights and the same liberties, with a common
law to shield them and a common love of their own fatherland to weld
them into one united nation.


PRINTED BY
SPOTTISWOODE AND CO. LTD., NEW STREET SQUARE
LONDON





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