descendants of Hollanders, Germans and Frenchmen
inter-married, and are only known at present by their
surnames. They form the Afrikander nationality, and call
themselves Afrikanders. The Afrikanders are no more
Hollanders than Englishmen, Frenchmen, or Germans. They have
their own language, own morals and customs; they are just as
much a nation as any other."--De Patriot, in the course of
an article headed "A Common but Dangerous Error"--the error
in question being the assertion that "the Cape Colony is an
English colony" (translated and reproduced in The Cape
Times, September 3th, 1884).]
In the face of the colossal resistance offered to the British arms by the Boers and their colonial kinsmen in the South African War, it may seem unnecessary to produce any evidence in support of the contention that the military strength then displayed by the Dutch in South Africa was the result of long and careful preparation. But the same inability to grasp the facts of the South African situation which kept the Army Corps in England three months after it should have been sent to the Cape, is still to be met with. This attitude of mind--whether it be a consciousness of moral rectitude, or a mere insular disdain of looking at things from any but a British point of view--is still to be observed in the statements of those politicians who will even now deny that any trace of a definite plan of action, or of a concerted purpose, which could properly be described as a "conspiracy" against British supremacy was to be found among the Dutch population of South Africa as a whole, prior to the outbreak of the war. It is for the benefit of such politicians in part, and still more with a view of bringing the mind of the reader into something approaching a direct contact with the actual working of the Afrikander mind, that I transcribe a statement of the pure doctrine of the Bond, as it was expounded by the German, Borckenhagen, and his followers in the Free State. It will, however, be convenient to preface the quotation with a word of explanation in respect both of the text and the personality of Borckenhagen.
[Sidenote: Carl Borckenhagen.]
The passage, which is taken verbatim from a work entitled, "The Origin of the Anglo-Boer War Revealed," is a collection of sentences gathered from Dutch pamphlets and articles "emanating from Holland," and translated literally into the somewhat uncouth English of the text. The author of the work, Mr. C. H. Thomas, was for many years a burgher of the Free State, where he shared the opinions of President Brand, and subsequently supported Mr. J. G. Fraser in opposing the policy of "closer union" with the South African Republic, advocated by Brand's successor, Mr. F. W. Reitz. The point of view from which the Dutch of Holland regarded the nationalist movement in South Africa was succinctly stated in an article published by the Amsterdam Handelsblad in 1881.
"The future of England lies in India, and the future of Holland
in South Africa.... When our capitalists vigorously develop this
trade, and, for example, form a syndicate to buy Delagoa Bay from
Portugal, then a railway from Capetown to Bloemfontein,
Potchefstroom, Pretoria, Delagoa Bay will be a lucrative
investment. And when, in course of time, the Dutch language shall
universally prevail in South Africa, this most extensive
territory will become a North America for Holland, and enable us
to balance the Anglo-Saxon race."
[Footnote 17: Quoted by Du Toit in De Patriot: translation
from the English reprint of De Transvaalse Oorlog.]
Carl Borckenhagen, who, with Mr. Reitz, advocated the establishment of the Bond in 1881, was a German republican. His name has been associated with Mr. Thomas's summary of the Bond propaganda in the Free State, because, as editor of The Bloemfontein Express up to the time of his death, early in 1898, he was probably the most consistent of all the South African exponents of the nationalist creed. Certainly it is no exaggeration to say that he converted the Free State of Brand into the Free State of Steyn.
[Footnote 18: Then Judge, afterwards President of the Free
State, and State-Secretary of the South African Republic in
succession to Dr. Leyds.]
[Sidenote: The doctrine of the Bond.]
"THE BOND PROGRAMME
"The Afrikander Bond has as final object what is summed up in its
motto of 'Afrika voor de Afrikaners.' The whole of South Africa
belongs by just right to the Afrikander nation. It is the
privilege and duty of every Afrikander to contribute all in his
power towards the expulsion of the English usurper. The States of
South Africa to be federated in one independent Republic.
The Afrikander Bond prepares for this consummation.
Argument in justification:--
(a) The transfer of the Cape Colony to the British Government
took place by circumstances of force majeure and without the
consent of the Dutch nation, who renounced all claim in favour of
the Afrikander or Boer nation.
(b) Natal is territory which accrued to a contingent of the
Boer nation by purchase from the Zulu king, who received the
consideration agreed for.
(c) The British authorities expelled the rightful owners from
Natal by force of arms without just cause.
The task of the Afrikander Bond consists in:
(a) Procuring the staunch adhesion and co-operation of every
Afrikander and other real friend of the cause.
(b) To obtain the sympathy, the moral and effective aid, of one
or more of the world's Powers.
The means to accomplish those tasks are:
Personal persuasion, Press propaganda, legislation and diplomacy.
The direction of the application of these means is entrusted to a
select body of members eligible for their loyalty to the cause
and their abilities and position. That body will conduct such
measures as need the observance of special secrecy. Upon the rest
of the members will devolve activities of a general character
under the direction of the selected chiefs.
One of the indispensable requisites is the proper organisation of
an effective fund, which is to be regularly sustained. Bond
members will aid each other in all relations of public life in
preference to non-members.
In the efforts of gaining adherence to the cause it is of
importance to distinguish three categories of persons:
(1) The class of Afrikanders who are to some extent deteriorated
by assimilative influences with the English race, whose
restoration to patriotism will need great efforts, discretion,
(2) The apparently unthinking and apathetic class who prefer to
relegate all initiative to leaders whom they will loyally follow.
This class is the most numerous by far.
(3) The warmly patriotic class, including men gifted with
intelligence, energy, and speech, qualified as leaders, and apt
to exercise influence over the rest.
Among these three classes many exist whose views and religious
scruples need to be corrected. Scripture abounds in proofs and
salient analogies applying to the situation and justifying our
cause. In this, as well as in other directions, the members who
work in circulating written propaganda will supply the correct
and conclusive arguments accessible to all.
Upon the basis of our just rights the British Government, if not
the entire nation, is the usurping enemy of the Boer nation.
In dealing with an enemy it is justifiable to employ, besides
force, also means of a less open character, such as diplomacy and
[Sidenote: Anti-british methods.]
The greatest danger to Afrikanderdom is the English policy of
Anglicising the Boer nation--to submerge it by the process of
A distinct attitude of holding aloof from English influences is
the only remedy against that peril and for thwarting that
It is only such an attitude that will preserve the nation in its
simple faith and habits of morality, and provide safety against
the dangers of contamination and pernicious examples, with all
their fateful consequences to body and soul.
Let the Dutch language have the place of honour in schools and
Let alliances of marriage with the English be stamped as
Let every Afrikander see that he is at all times well armed with
the best possible weapons, and maintains the expert use of the
rifle among young and old, so as to be ready when duty calls, and
the time is ripe for asserting the nation's rights and being rid
of English thraldom.
Employ teachers only who are animated with truly patriotic
Let it be well understood that English domination will also bring
English intolerance and servitude, for it is only a very frail
link which separates the English State Church from actual
Romanism, and its proselytism en bloc is only a matter of short
Equally repugnant and dangerous is England's policy towards the
coloured races, whom she aims, for the sake of industrial profit,
at elevating to equal rank with whites, in direct conflict with
spiritual authority--a policy which incites coloured people to
rivalry with their superiors, and can only end in common
Whilst remaining absolutely independent, the ties of blood,
relationship, and language point to Holland for a domestic base.
As to commerce, Germany, America, and other industrial nations
could more than fill the gap left by England, and such
connections should be cultivated as a potent means towards
obtaining foreign support to our cause and identification with
If the mineral wealth of the Transvaal and Orange Free State
becomes established--as appears certain from discoveries already
made--England will not rest until these are also hers.
The leopard will retain its spots. The independence of both
Republics is at stake on that account alone, with the risk that
the rightful owners of the land will become the hewers of wood
and drawers of water for the usurpers.
There is no alternative hope for the peace and progress of South
Africa except by the total excision of the British ulcer.
Reliable signs are not wanting to show that our nation is
designed by Providence as the instrument for the recovery of its
rights, and for the chastisement of proud, perfidious
[Footnote 19: P. 64 et seq. of The Origin of the
Anglo-Boer War Revealed (Hodder & Stoughton).]
These brief and disjointed sentences present in their shortest form arguments and exhortations with which the Dutch population of the Free State, the Transvaal, and the Cape Colony, were familiarised through the Press, the pulpit, the platform, and through individual intercourse and advocacy, from the time of the Retrocession in 1881 onwards. It is in effect the scheme of a Bond "worked out more in detail by some friends at Bloemfontein," as published by Borckenhagen in his paper, The Bloemfontein Express, on April 7th, 1881, to which Du Toit, the founder of the Bond in the Cape Colony, referred in the pamphlet, De Transvaalse Oorlog (The Transvaal War), which he issued from his press at the Paarl later on in the same year. The nationalist creed, as thus formulated, was preached consistently in the Free State; but in the Cape Colony it was modified by Hofmeyr to meet the exigencies of Colonial politics.
None the less it was in the Cape Colony that the Bond, as a political organisation, was destined to find its chief sphere of action. In the Free State it was discouraged by President Brand, and in point of fact the British population was too insignificant a factor in the politics of the central republic to make it necessary to maintain a distinct organisation for the promotion of nationalist sentiment. In the Transvaal, again, the Bond maintained no regular organisation. And this for two reasons. Every burgher of the northern Republic was sufficiently animated by the anti-British sentiments which it was intended to promote; and the only "constitution" which the Transvaal Dutch would accept was one which embodied principles so flagrantly inconsistent with submission to British authority that it could not be adopted by the branches of the Bond in the Cape Colony without exposing its members to immediate prosecution for high treason.
[Footnote 20: Under the changed conditions of to-day the Boer
population is organised in the Transvaal into Het Volk, and
in the Orange River Colony into the Oranjie Unie; both
practically identical with the Bond in the Cape Colony.]
[Sidenote: The origin of the Bond.]
In the politics of the Cape Colony, however, the Bond became the predominant force; and any picture, however briefly sketched, of South Africa as it was when Lord Milner's administration commenced, must include some account of the origin and methods of this remarkable organisation.
The origin of the Afrikander Bond is to be found in the articles written by the Rev. S. J. du Toit, a Dutch predikant, in De Patriot, a newspaper published at the Paarl, of which he was the editor. Mr. du Toit's political standpoint is sufficiently revealed by the fact that in 1881 he claimed that De Patriot had done more than any other single agency to secure the successful revolt of the Boers from British authority accomplished in that year. The inspiration which drove his pen to advocate the founding of a political organisation, that should serve to prepare the way for a more general and complete "war of independence," was the defeat of the British troops by the Transvaal burghers.
"This is now our time," he wrote, in the same year, "to establish
the Bond, while a national consciousness has been awakened
through the Transvaal War. And the Bond must be our preparation
for the future confederation of all the States and Colonies of
South Africa. The English Government keeps talking of a
confederation under the British flag. That will never happen. We
can assure them of that. We have often said it: there is just one
hindrance to confederation, and that is the English flag. Let
them take that away, and the confederation under the free
Afrikander flag would be established. But so long as the English
flag remains here the Afrikander Bond must be our confederation.
And the British will, after a while, realise that Froude's advice
is the best for them: they must just have Simon's Bay as a naval
and military station on the road to India, and give over all the
rest of South Africa to the Afrikanders."
[Footnote 21: Reprint of a pamphlet (found with the first
leaf torn) containing an English translation of De
Transvaalse Oorlog, p. 8.]
This general statement of the purpose of the Bond was supported by reiterated appeals to racial passion:
"The little respect which the Afrikander had for British troops
and cannons [up to the Majuba defeat]," he writes, "is utterly
done away. And England has learnt so much respect for us
Afrikanders that she will take care not to be so ready to make
war with us again.... The Englishman has made himself hated,
language and all. And this is well."
[Sidenote: The objects of the Bond.]
When, by the use of these and even more violent expressions, the mind of the Dutch population had been sufficiently aroused, Du Toit proceeded to unfold his plan of campaign. His modus operandi is similar to that of Borckenhagen in its main features. The Bond, says De Patriot, must boycott all English traders, except only those who are ready to adopt its principles. English signboards, advertisements, shops and book-keepers, must be abolished. The English banks must be replaced by a National Bank. No land must be sold to Englishmen. The Republics must "make their own ammunition, and be well supplied with cannon, and provide a regiment of artillery to work them." And he cheerfully notices that "at Heidelberg there are already 4,000 cartridges made daily, and a few skilful Afrikanders have begun to make shells, too. This is right: so must we become a nation." For the Cape Colony, however, "such preparations are not so especially necessary." But, most of all, Du Toit insists upon the need of combating the growing use of the English language. "English education," he laments, "has done more mischief to our country and nation than we can express." And, therefore, he urges "war" against the English language. In the schools, in the Church, and "in our family life above all," it must be considered a "disgrace to speak English.... Who will join the war? All true Afrikanders, we hope."
Thus was the Bond, the child of Majuba, quickened into conscious being by the fiery pen of the predikant, Du Toit. Poor Du Toit! His after life was a strange commentary upon this early triumph of his brain, won in the drowsy solitudes of the Paarl. Summoned to be Director of Education in the Transvaal, he was quickly disillusioned of his love of his Dutch mother-country by actual intercourse with the contemptuous Hollanders whom Krüger had invited to serve the Republic. Later, again, he was rejected by the Bond which he had himself created, and driven to find comfort in the broad freedom of allegiance to an Empire-state.
The object of the Bond, as stated by Du Toit in De Transvaalse Oorlog, was the "creation of a South African nationality ... through the establishment of this Bond in all states and colonies of South Africa." Its organisation was to consist of a central governing body (bestuur), with provincial, district, and ward besturen. The central bestuur was to be composed of five members, two for the Cape Colony, and one each for the Transvaal, Natal, and Free State, who were "to meet yearly in one or other of the chief towns of the component states." The provincial besturen, consisting of one representative from each of the district besturen, were to meet every six months at their respective colonial or state capitals.
[Footnote 22: De Transvaalse Oorlog, pp. 7 and 8.]
The first Congress of the Afrikander Bond was held at Graaf Reinet in 1882. In the draft constitution then drawn up for the approval of its members, the relationship of the Bond to the British Government in South Africa was defined with commendable frankness. In the "Programme of Principles" was the article:
In itself acknowledging no single form of government as the only
suitable form, and whilst acknowledging the form of government
existing at present, [the Bond] means that the aim of our
national development must be a united South Africa under its own
[Sidenote: Hofmeyr's influence.]
And it was upon the basis of this "Programme of Principles" that the earliest Bond organisations were formed in the Transvaal, the Free State, and the Cape Colony. In the year following the Graaf Reinet Congress, however, the "Farmers' Protection Association" was amalgamated with the Bond in the Cape Colony, and the influence of Mr. J. H. Hofmeyr led the joint organisation to adopt a modified "programme." Mr. Hofmeyr, who was destined afterwards to assume the undisputed headship of the Bond, was an economist as well as a nationalist. He was intensely interested in the development of the country districts, and he saw that the conditions of agriculture could hardly be improved without the co-operation of the British and more progressive section of the farming class. He also knew that an organisation, professing to forward aims of avowed disloyalty, would rapidly find itself in collision with the Cape Government. With the growth of Mr. Hofmeyr's influence the policy, though not the aims, of the Bond was changed. All declarations, such as the clause "under its own flag," inconsistent with allegiance to the British Crown were omitted from the official constitution, and its individual members were exhorted to avoid any behaviour or expressions likely to prevent Englishmen from joining the organisation. As early as 1884 the Bond secured the return of twenty-five members to the Cape Parliament, and it was their support that enabled the Upington Ministry to maintain itself in office against an opposition which consisted of the main body of the representatives elected by the British population; and from this date onwards it was the recognised aim of Mr. Hofmeyr to control the Legislature of the Colony by making it impossible for any ministry to dispense with the support of the Bond members, although he refrained from putting a ministry of Bondsmen into office. To have done this latter might have united the British population and their representatives in a solid phalanx, and endangered the success of the effort to separate the British settlers in the country districts from the more recent arrivals from England--mostly townsmen--which remained a fruitful source of Afrikander influence up to the time of the Jameson Raid. By representing the new British population, which followed in the wake of the mineral discoveries, as "fortune-seekers" and adventurers and not genuine colonists, the Bond endeavoured, not merely to widen the natural line of cleavage between the townsman and the countryman, but actually to detach the older British settlers from sympathy with the mother country, and, by drawing them within the sphere of Afrikander nationalist aspirations, to make them share its own antagonism to British supremacy.
[Sidenote: Merriman and the Bond.]
But, in spite of the change of policy due to Mr. Hofmeyr, the old leaven of stalwart Bondsmen remained sufficiently in evidence to draw from Mr. J. X. Merriman--then a strong Imperialist in close association with Mr. J. W. Leonard--a striking rebuke. The speech in question was made, fittingly enough, at Grahamstown, the most "English" town in South Africa, in 1885. It was reprinted with complete appropriateness, in The Cape Times of July 10th, 1899. The struggle which Mr. Merriman had foreseen fourteen years before was then near at hand; while Mr. Merriman himself had become a member of a ministry placed in power by the Bond for the avowed purpose of "combating the British Government."
"The situation is a grave one," he said. "It is not a question of
localism; it is not a question of party politics; but it is a
question whether the Cape Colony is to continue to be an integral
part of the British Empire.... You will have to keep public men
up to the mark, and each one of you will have to make up his mind
whether he is prepared to see this colony remain a part of the
British Empire, which carries with it obligations as well as
privileges, or whether he is prepared to obey the dictates of the
Bond. From the very first time, some years ago, when the poison
began to be instilled into the country, I felt that it must come
to this--Is England or the Transvaal to be the paramount force in
South Africa?... Since then that institution has made a show of
loyalty, while it stirred up disloyalty.... Some people, who
should have known better, were dragged into the toils under the
idea that they could influence it for good, but the whole
teaching of history goes to show that when the conflict was
between men of extreme views and moderate men, the violent
section triumphed. And so we see that some moderate men are in
the power of an institution whose avowed object is to combat the
British Government. In any other country such an organisation
could not have grown; but here, among a scattered population, it
has insidiously and successfully worked.... No one who wishes
well for the British Government could have read the leading
articles of the Zuid Africaan, and Express, and De Patriot,
in expounding the Bond principles, without seeing that the
maintenance of law and order under the British Crown and the
object they have in view are absolutely different things. My
quarrel with the Bond is that it stirs up race differences. Its
main object is to make the South African Republic the paramount
power in South Africa."
This was plain speaking. The rare insight revealed in such a sentence as this--"in any other country such an organisation could not have grown, but here, among a scattered population, it has insidiously and successfully worked"; the piquant incident of the reproduction of the speech on the eve of the war; the fact that the man who made this diagnosis was to drink the poison whose fatal effects he described so faithfully, was indeed to become the most bitter opponent of the great statesman that "kept South Africa a part of the British Empire,"--these things together make Mr. Merriman's Grahamstown speech one of the most curious and instructive of the political utterances of the period.
[Sidenote: Change of Bond policy.]
In the year following (1886) the Bond met officially, for the first and only time, as an inter-state organisation. Bloemfontein was the place of assemblage, and in the Central Bestuur, or Committee, the South African Republic, the Free State, and the Cape Colony were each represented by two delegates. This meeting revealed the practical difficulties which prevented the Cape nationalists from adopting the definitely anti-British programme of the Bond leaders in the Republics; and the conflict of commercial interests between the Cape Colony and the Transvaal, already initiated by the attempt of the latter to secure Bechuanaland in 1884-5, confirmed the Cape delegates in their decision to develop the Bond in the Cape Colony upon colonial rather than inter-state lines. The result of the divergences of aim manifested at Bloemfontein was speedily made apparent in the Cape Colony. In 1887 Mr. T. P. Theron, then Secretary of the Bond, delivered an address in which the new, or Hofmeyr, programme was formulated and officially adopted. In recommending the new policy to the members of the Bond, Mr. Theron made no secret of the nature of the considerations by which its leaders had been chiefly influenced.
"You must remember," he said, "that the eyes of all are directed
towards you. The Press will cause your actions, expressions, and
resolutions to be known everywhere. You cannot but feel how much
depends on us for our nation and our country. If we must plead
guilty in the past of many an unguarded expression, let us be
more cautious and guarded for the future."
And he then proceeded to sketch a picture of racial conciliation, when all "differences and disagreements" between Dutch and English would be merged in the consciousness of a new and common nationality--pointing out, however, that the advent of that day depended on "you and me, my fellow Bond members."
[Sidenote: Rhodes and Hofmeyr.]
Assuming that the predominance of Afrikander ideals could be secured only by the complete separation of the local governments from the Government of Great Britain, nothing could be more masterly than the manner in which the Bond approached the task of reuniting the European communities of South Africa--the task which the Imperial Government had abandoned as hopeless. As inspired and controlled by Hofmeyr during the years between this date (1887) and the Jameson Raid, the Bond embodied a volume of effort in which the most sincere supporter of the British connection could co-operate. It was the assistance afforded by the Bond in moulding British administration in South Africa upon South African lines that provided the common ground upon which Rhodes and Hofmeyr met in their long alliance. Hofmeyr probably never abandoned his belief that a republican form of government was the inevitable dénouement to which the administration of South Africa on a basis of South African ideas must lead. Rhodes never wavered in his loyalty to the British connection. But there was a great body of useful work which both men could accomplish in common, which each desired to see accomplished, which, when accomplished, would leave each free to choose the path--Republican or Imperial--by which the last stage was to be traversed and the goal of South African unity finally attained.
The character and career of Rhodes afford material for a study of such peculiar and engrossing interest that any adequate treatment of the subject would require a separate volume. Fortunately, the broad facts of his life are sufficiently well known to make it unnecessary to attempt the almost impossible task of condensing a volume within the limits of a few pages. None the less, there is one incident in his political career which must be recalled here, and that for the simple reason that it establishes two facts, each of which is essential to the complete understanding of the situation in the Cape Colony as it developed immediately after the Raid. First, that all through the years of the Rhodes-Hofmeyr alliance the Bond remained at heart true to the aim which it had at first openly avowed--the aim of establishing a united South Africa under its own flag. And second, that Rhodes was equally staunch in maintaining his ideal of a united South Africa under the British flag. The incident which exhibits both these facts in the clearest light is the refusal by Rhodes of the overtures made to him by Borckenhagen. At the time when these overtures were made Rhodes was Prime Minister of the Cape Colony, the Chartered Company had been successfully launched, and the alliance between himself and Hofmeyr was in full operation. The occasion which led to them was the opening of the railway at Bloemfontein in 1890--a railway constructed by the Cape Government under a friendly arrangement with the Free State. And it was one, therefore, which afforded a conspicuous example of the value of the Bond influence as a means of securing progress in the direction of South African unity. The story was told by Rhodes himself in a speech which he made in the Cape Colony on March 12th, 1898.
[Sidenote: Rhodes and Borckenhagen.]
"I remember," he said, "that we had a great meeting at
Bloemfontein, and in the usual course I had to make a speech. I
think I was your Prime Minister. And this speech pleased many
there, and especially--and I speak of him with the greatest
respect--a gentleman who is dead, Mr. Borckenhagen. He came to me
and asked me to dictate to him the whole of my speech. I said, 'I
never wrote a speech, and I don't know what I said; but I will
tell you what I know about it.' He wrote it down, and afterwards
came to Capetown with me.... He spoke very nicely to me about my
speech. 'Mr. Rhodes, we want a united South Africa.' And I said,
'So do I; I am with you entirely. We must have a united South
Africa.' He said, 'There is nothing in the way.' And I said, 'No;
there is nothing in the way. Well,' I said, 'we are one.' 'Yes,'
he said, 'and I will tell you: we will take you as our leader,'
he said. 'There is only one small thing, and that is, we must, of
course, be independent to the rest of the world.' I said, 'No;
you take me either for a rogue or a fool. I would be a rogue to
forget all my history and traditions; and I would be a fool,
because I would be hated by my own countrymen and mistrusted by
yours.' From that day he assumed a most acrid tone in his
Express towards myself, and I was made full sorry at times by
the tone. But that was the overpowering thought in his mind--an
independent South Africa."
[Footnote 23: Cecil Rhodes: His Political Life and
Speeches. By Vindex; p. 533. Borckenhagen had just died.]
The facts here disclosed explain how it was that the apparently satisfactory situation in South Africa before the Raid so rapidly developed into the dangerous situation of the years that followed it. The Raid tore aside the veil which the Rhodes-Hofmeyr alliance had cast over the eyes alike of Dutch and British, and left them free to see the essential antagonism of aim between the two men in its naked truth. From that moment Rhodes was recognised by the Bond as its chief and most dangerous enemy; and as such he was pursued by its bitterest hostility to the day of his death; while Rhodes, on the other hand, was driven to seek support solely in the people of his own nationality. From that moment the Bond fell back upon the policy of 1881. The Dutch Press, pulpit, and platform commenced an active nationalist propaganda on the old racial lines; and the advocacy of anti-British aims increased in boldness and in definiteness as the Transvaal grew strong with its inflowing armaments.
[Footnote 24: Ons Land, reputed to be controlled by Hofmeyr
himself, and certainly the recognised organ of the Bond,
published a pæan of triumph over the surrender of Dr.
Jameson's troopers at Doornkop. "Afrikanderdom has awakened
to a sense of earnestness which we have not observed since
the heroic war of liberty in 1881. From the Limpopo, as far
as Capetown, the second Majuba has given birth to a new
inspiration and a new movement amongst our people in South
Africa.... The flaccid and cowardly imperialism that had
already begun to dilute and weaken our national blood,
gradually turned aside before the new current that permeated
our people.... Now or never the foundation of a
wide-embracing nationalism must be laid.... The partition
wall has disappeared ... never has the necessity for a policy
of a colonial and republican union been greater; now the
psychological moment has arrived; now our people have
awakened all over South Africa; a new glow illumines our
hearts; let us lay the foundation-stone of a real United
South Africa on the soil of a pure and all-comprehensive
[Sidenote: Effects of the raid.]
We are now in a position to sum up the main features of the situation in South Africa as Lord Milner found it. British administration, controlled from Downing Street, had quickly led to what Sir George Grey called the dismemberment of European South Africa. The Imperial Government, having found out its mistake, had endeavoured to regain the lost solidarity of the European communities and its authority over them, by bringing the Republics into a federal system under the British Crown. It had been thwarted in this endeavour by the military resistance of the Boers in the Transvaal, and the fear of a like resistance on the part of the Dutch population throughout South Africa. Its impotency had invited, and in part justified, the efforts made by local British initiative to solve the problem of South African unity on South African lines, but in a manner consistent with the maintenance of British supremacy. The early success of these efforts, prosecuted mainly through the agency of Rhodes, had been obliterated by the Jameson Raid. All attempts to secure the reunion of South Africa under the British flag having failed alike under Imperial and local British initiative, the way was open for the Afrikander nationalists once more to put forward the alternative plan of a united South Africa under its own flag, which they had formulated in the year immediately following the retrocession of the Transvaal.
In proportion as the friends and supporters of British supremacy were discredited and depressed by the catastrophe of the Raid, the advocates and promoters of Afrikander nationalism were emboldened and encouraged. It was not Sir Gordon Sprigg, the Prime Minister of the Cape who succeeded the discredited Rhodes (January 13th, 1896), but Mr. Hofmeyr, the veteran leader of the Afrikander Bond, that dictated the policy which Lord Rosmead must pursue to re-establish the integrity of the Imperial Government in the minds of its Dutch subjects. At the next presidential election in the Free State (March 4th, 1896), Mr. J. G. Fraser, the head of the moderate party which followed in the steps of President Brand, was hopelessly beaten by Mr. Marthinus Steyn, an Afrikander nationalist of the scientific school of Borckenhagen, and a politician whose immediate programme included the "closer union" of that state with the South African Republic, the terms of which were finally settled at Bloemfontein on March 9th, 1897. In the Cape Colony the Bond organised its resources with a view of securing even more complete control of the Cape Legislature at the general election of 1898. And lastly, President Krüger, who had ceased to rely upon Holland for administrative talent, and opened the lucrative offices of the South African Republic to the ambitious and educated Afrikander youth of the Free State and Cape Colony, commenced methodically and secretly to supply arms and ammunition to the adherents of the nationalist cause in the British Colonies.
[Sidenote: Situation in 1896.]
But disastrous as was the Jameson Raid in its method of execution and immediate effects, it produced certain results that cannot be held to have been prejudicial to the British cause in South Africa, if once we recognise the fact that the English people as a whole were totally ignorant, at the time of its occurrence, of the extent to which the sub-continent had already slipped from their grasp. Something of the long advance towards the goal of nationalist ambition, achieved by the Bond, was revealed. The emphatic cry of "Hands off" to Germany, for which the Kaiser's telegram of congratulation provided the occasion, was undoubtedly the means of arresting the progress of that power, at a point when further progress would have gained her a foot-hold in South Africa from which nothing short of actual hostilities could have dislodged her. And more important still was the fact that the Raid, with its train of dramatic incidents, had published, once and for all, the humiliating position of the British population in the Transvaal throughout the length and breadth of the Anglo-Saxon world, and compelled the Imperial Government to pledge itself to obtain the redress of the "admitted grievances" of the Uitlanders.
[Sidenote: Mr. Chamberlain's policy.]
Against the rallying forces of Afrikander nationalism Mr. Chamberlain, for the moment, had nothing to oppose but the vague and as yet unknown power of an awakened Imperial sentiment. Lord Rosmead's attitude at Pretoria had convinced him of the uselessness of expecting that any satisfactory settlement of the franchise question could be brought about through the agency of the High Commissioner. He, therefore, invited President Krüger to visit England in the hope that his own personal advocacy of the cause of the Uitlanders, backed up by the weight of the Salisbury Government, might remove the "root causes" of Transvaal unrest. But President Krüger refused to confer with the Colonial Secretary upon any other than the wholly inadmissible basis of the conversion of the London Convention into a treaty of amity such as one independent power might conclude with another. Mr. Chamberlain, therefore, having put upon record that the purpose of the proposed conference was to give effect to the London Convention and not to destroy it, proceeded to formulate a South African policy that would enable him to make the most effective use of the authority of Great Britain as paramount Power. His purpose was to win Dutch opinion in the Free State and the Cape Colony to the side of the Imperial Government, and then to use this more progressive Dutch opinion as the fulcrum by which the lever of Imperial remonstrance was to be successfully applied to the Transvaal Government. In the speech in which he sketched the main lines of this policy he declared emphatically that the paramount power of England was to be maintained at all costs, that foreign intervention would not be permitted under any pretence, and that the admitted grievances of the Uitlanders were to be redressed:
[Footnote 25: 1896.]
"We have," he continued, "a confident hope that we shall be able
in the course of no lengthened time to restore the situation as
it was before the invasion of the Transvaal, to have at our backs
the sympathy and support of the majority of the Dutch population
in South Africa, and if we have that, the opinion--the united
opinion--which that will constitute, will be an opinion which no
power in Africa can resist."
With the record of the last ten years before us it seems strange that Mr. Chamberlain should ever have believed in the efficacy of such a policy: still more strange that he should have spoken of his "confident hope" of winning the Afrikander nationalists to support the paramount Power. But it must be remembered that the evidence of the real sentiments and purposes of the nationalists here set forth in the preceding pages, and now the common property of all educated Englishmen, was then known only to perhaps a dozen journalists and politicians in England; and if these men had attempted to impart their knowledge to the general public, they would have failed from the sheer inability of the average Englishman to believe that "British subjects" under responsible government could be anything but loyal to the Imperial tie.
But little as Mr. Chamberlain knew of the real strength of the forces of Afrikander nationalism, he discerned enough of the South African situation to realise that this policy would have no chance of success, unless the maintenance of the British cause in South Africa was placed in the hands of a personality of exceptional vigour and capacity. When, therefore, Lord Rosmead intimated his desire to be relieved of the heavy responsibility of the joint offices of High Commissionship for South Africa and Governor of the Cape Colony no attempt to dissuade him was made. His health had been enfeebled for some time past, and he did not long survive his return to England. Both in Australia and at the Cape he had devoted his strength and ability to the service of the Empire. In the years 1883-5 he had resolutely and successfully opposed the attempt of the Transvaal Boers to seize Bechuanaland. His failure to control his powerful and impatient Prime Minister is mitigated by the circumstance that it was solely on the ground of public interest that, upon the retirement of Lord Loch in 1895, he had allowed himself, in spite of his advanced years and indifferent health, to assume the office of High Commissioner for a third time.