V. VISIT OF TRANSVAAL DELEGATES TO ENGLAND. THE LORD MAYOR'S REFUSAL TO RECEIVE THEM AT THE MANSION HOUSE. DR. DALE'S LETTER TO MR. GLADSTONE. MR. MACKENZIE IN ENGLAND. MEETINGS AND RESOLUTIONS ON TRANSVAAL MATTERS. MANIFESTO OF BOER DELEGATES. SPEECHES OF W.E. FORSTER, LORD SHAFTESBURY, SIR FOWELL BUXTON, AND OTHERS. THE LONDON CONVENTION (1884).
In 1883, two years after the retrocession of the Transvaal, the Boers, encouraged by the hesitating policy of the British Government, sent a deputation to London of a few of their most astute statesmen, to put fresh claims before Mr. Gladstone, and Lord Derby, then Colonial Minister. They did not ask the repeal of the stipulations of the Convention of 1881 - that was hardly necessary, as these stipulations had neither been observed by them nor enforced by our Government, but what they desired and asked was the complete re-establishment of the Republic, freed from any conditions of British Suzerainty. This would have given them a free hand in dealing with the natives, a power which those who knew them best were the least willing to concede.
Sir R.N. Fowler was at that time Lord Mayor of London. According to the custom when any distinguished foreigners visit our Capital, of giving them a reception at the Mansion House, these Transvaal delegates were presented for that honour. But the door of the Mansion House was closed to them, and by a Quaker Lord Mayor, renowned for his hospitality!
The explanation of this unusual act is given in the biography of Sir R. Fowler, written by J.S. Flynn, (page 260.) The following extract from that biography was sent to the Friend, the organ of the Society of Friends, in November, 1899, by Dr. Hodgkin, himself a quaker, whose name is known in the literary world: - "The scene of Sir R. Fowler's travels in 1881 was South Africa, where he went chiefly for the purpose of ascertaining how he could best serve the interests of the native inhabitants. He left no stone unturned in his search for information - visiting Sir Hercules Robinson, the Governor of the Cape, Sir Theophilus Shepstone, Sir Evelyn Wood, Colonel Mitchell, Bishops Colenso and Macrorie, the Zulu King Cetewayo, the principal statesmen, the military, the newspaper editors, the workers at the diamond-fields, and many others. The result of his inquiries was to confirm his belief of the charges which were made against the Transvaal Boers of wronging and oppressing the blacks.
"It was the opinion of many philanthropists that the only way to insure good Government in the Transvaal - justice to the natives, the suppression of slavery, the security of neighbouring tribes - was by England's insisting on the Boer's observance of the Treaty which had been made to this effect, and the delimitation of the boundary of their territory in order to prevent aggression. With this object in view meetings were held in the City, petitions presented by Members of Parliament, resolutions moved in the House; and when at last it was discovered that Mr. Gladstone's Government was unwilling to fulfil its pledges in reference to South Africa, and that in consequence the native inhabitants would not receive the support they had been led to expect, considerable indignation was felt amongst the friends of the aborigines. The demand which they made seems to have been moderate. The Transvaal, which before the war, had been reckoned, for its protection, a portion of the British dominions, was now made simply a State under British Suzerainty, with a debt to England of about a quarter of a million (in lieu of the English outlay during the three years of its annexation), and a covenant for the protection of the 800,000 natives in the State, and the Zulu, Bechuana, and Swazi tribes upon its borders. The English sympathisers with these natives simply asked that the covenant should be adhered to. There was little chance of the debt being paid, and that they were willing to forego; but they maintained that honour and humanity demanded that the Boers should not be allowed to treat their agreement with us as so much waste paper.
"The Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for the Colonies received the Transvaal delegates graciously, but the doors of the Mansion House were shut against them. Its occupant at that time would neither receive them into his house nor bid them God-speed. He had made a careful study of the South African question, and he felt no doubt that this deputation represented a body of European settlers who were depriving the natives of their land, slaying their men, and enslaving their women and children. He desired to extend the hospitality of the Mansion House to visitors from all countries, and to all creeds and political parties; but the line must be drawn somewhere, and he would draw it at the Boers. The boldness of his action on this occasion startled some even of his friends. He was, of course, attacked by that portion of the press which supported the Government. On the other hand, he had numerous sympathisers. Approving letters and telegrams came from many quarters, one telegram coming from the 'Loyalists of Kimberley' with 'hearty congratulations.' As for his opponents, he was not in the least moved by anything they said. He held it to be impossible for any respectable person who knew the Boers to support them. This was no doubt strong language, but it was not stronger than that of Moffat and Livingstone; not a whit stronger either than that used by W.E. Forster, who had been a member of the Gladstonian Government."
Dr. Hodgkin prefaced this extract by the following lines, addressed to the Editor of the Friend:
"Dear Friend, - In re-perusing a few days ago the life of my late brother-in-law, Sir R.N. Fowler, I came upon the enclosed passage, which I think worthy of our consideration at the present time.
Of late years the disputes between our Government and the African Republic have turned so entirely on questions connected with the status of the settlers in and around Johannesburg, that we may easily forget the old subjects of dispute which existed for a generation before it was known that there were any workable goldfields in South Africa, and before the word "Uitlander" had been mentioned amongst us. I must confess that for my part I had forgotten this incident of Sir R.N. Fowler's Mayoralty, and I think it may interest some of your readers to be reminded of it at the present time. I am, thine truly, - THOMAS HODGKIN. Barmoor, Northumberland."
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The late Dr. Dale, of Birmingham, was one of those whose minds were painfully exercised on the matter of the abandonment of the natives of the Transvaal to the Boers. An extract from his life was sent in February this year to the Spectator, with the following preface: -
"Sir, - I have been greatly impressed by the justice of much that has been said in the Spectator on the fact that the present war is a retribution for our indifference and apathy in 1881. We failed in our duty then. We have taken it up now, but at what a cost! In reading lately the life of Dr. Dale, of Birmingham, I was struck by his remarks (pp. 438 and 439) on the Convention of Pretoria. These remarks have such a bearing on the present situation that I beg you will allow me to quote them:" -
"In relation to South African affairs he (Dr. Dale) felt silence to be impossible. He had welcomed the policy initiated by the Convention of Pretoria (1881) conceding independence to the Transvaal, but imposing on the Imperial Government responsibility for the protection of native races within and beyond the frontiers. In correspondence with members of the House of Commons and in more than one public utterance, he expressed his satisfaction that the freedom of the Boers did not involve the slavery of the natives. At first the outlook was hopeful, but the Boers soon began to chafe against the restrictions to which they were subjected.... The Rev. John Mackenzie brought a lamentable record of outrage and cruelty.... Dr. Dale particularly urged that the Government should insist on carrying out the 18th article of the Convention of Pretoria. 'The policy of the Government seemed to me both righteous and expedient, singularly courageous and singularly Christian. But that policy included two distinct elements. It restored to the Boers internal independence, it reserved to the British Government powers for the protection of native races on the Transvaal frontier. It is not unreasonable for those who in the face of great obloquy supported the Government in recognising the independence of the Transvaal, to ask that it should also use its treaty powers, and use them effectively for the protection of the natives.' To this statement the Pall Mall (John Morley) replied that the suzerainty over the Transvaal maintained by us was a 'shadowy term,' and that those who demanded that our reserved rights should be enforced were bound to face the question whether they were willing to fight to enforce them. Was Dr. Dale ready to run the risk of a fresh war in South Africa? Dr. Dale replied, should the British Government and British people regard with indifference the outrages of the Boers against tribes that we had undertaken to protect?... 'If the Government of the Republic cannot prevent such crimes as are declared to have been committed in the Bechuana country, and if we are indifferent to them, we shall have the South African tribes in a blaze again before many years are over, and for the safety of our Colonists we shall be compelled to interfere.' In the ensuing Session the Ministerial policy was challenged in both Houses of Parliament, and in the Commons Mr. Forster indicted the Government for its impotence to hold the Transvaal Republic to its engagements. Dr. Dale wrote a long letter to Mr. Gladstone: - 'If it had been said that power to protect the natives should be taken but not used, it is at least possible that a section of the party might have declined to approve the Ministerial policy.... The one point to which I venture to direct attention is the contrast, as it appears to me, between the declaration of Ministers in '81, in relation to the native races generally, and the position which has been taken in the present debate.' Mr. Gladstone's reply was courteous, but not reassuring."
* * * * *
Mr. Mackenzie, British Commissioner for Bechuanaland, came to England in 1882. In the following year the Delegates from the Transvaal came to London, and in 1884 the Convention was signed, which was called the "London Convention."
These years included events of great interest. Mr. Mackenzie wrote: - "On my way to England I met a friend who had just landed in South Africa from England. He warned me 'If you say a good word for South Africa, Mr. Mackenzie, you will get yourself insulted. They will not hear a word on its behalf in England; they are so disgusted with the mess that has been made.'
'They had good reason to be disgusted, but I want all the same to tell them a number of things about the true condition of the country.'
'They will not listen,' my friend declared, 'They will only swear at you.' This was not very encouraging, but it was not far from the truth as to the public feeling at that time.
Being in the - - counties of England I was offered an introduction to the Editor of a well-known newspaper, who was also a pungent writer on social questions under a nom de plume which had got to be so well known as no longer to serve the purpose of the writer's concealment of identity.
'You come from South Africa, do you,' said the great man; 'a place where we have had much trouble, but mean to have no more.'
'Trouble, however,' I answered, 'is inseparable from Empire. Whoever governs South Africa must meet with some trouble and difficulty, although not much when honestly faced.'
'I assure you,' he broke in, 'we are not going to try it again after the one fashion or the other. We are out of it, and we mean to remain so.'
'You astonish me,' I answered; 'what about the Convention recently signed at Pretoria (1881)? What about the speeches still more recently made in this country in support of it?'
'As to the Convention, I know we signed something; people often do when they are getting out of a nasty business. We never meant to keep it, nor shall we.'
I believe I whistled a low whistle just to let off the steam, and then replied calmly, 'Will you allow me to say that by your own showing you are a bad lot, a very bad lot, as politicians.'
'That may be, but it does not alter the fact, which is as I state.'
'Well, I am an outsider, but I assure you that the English people, should they ever know the facts, will agree with me in saying that you are a bad lot. Such doctrines in commerce would ruin us in a day. You know that.'
'The people are with us. They are disgusted and heart-sore with the whole business.'
'I grant you that such is their frame of mind, but I think their attitude will be different when they come to consider the facts, and face the responsibilities of our position in South Africa. The only difficulty with me is to communicate the truth to the public mind.'
I was much impressed by this interview. Did this influential editor represent a large number of English people? Were they in their own minds out of South Africa, and resolved never to return?
... 'I do not know what you think, Mr. Mackenzie, but we are all saying here that Mr. Gladstone made a great mistake in not recalling Sir Bartle Frere at once. In fact, we are of opinion that Frere should have been tried and hanged.'
The speaker was a fine specimen of an Englishman, tall, with a good head, intelligent and able as well as strong in speech. He was a large manufacturer, and a local magnate. His wife was little and gentle, and yet quite fearless of her grim-looking lord. She begged that I would always make a deduction when her husband referred to South Africa. He could never keep his temper on that subject, My host abruptly demanded, 'But don't you think that Frere should have been hanged?'
'My dear, you will frighten Mr. Mackenzie with your vehemence, and you know you do not mean it a bit.'
'Mean it! Isn't it what everybody is saying here? At any rate I have given Mr. Mackenzie a text, and he must now give me his discourse.'
I then proceeded to sketch out the work which Sir Bartle Frere had had before him, its fatal element of haste, with its calamitous failures in no way chargeable to him. 'In short, I concluded, but for the grave blunders of others you would have canonized Sir Bartle Frere instead of speaking of him as you do. He is the ablest man you ever sent to South Africa. As to his personal character, I do not know a finer or manlier Christian.' ...
'I am quite bewildered,' said my host, at the end of a long conversation. 'I know more of South Africa than I knew before. But we shall not believe you unless you pitch into someone. You have not done that yet; you have only explained past history, and have had a good word for everybody.'
'Then, Sir,' I quickly answered, 'I pitch into you, and into your Governments, one after another, for not mastering the facts of South African life. Why do you now refuse to protect your own highway into the Interior, and at the same time conserve the work of the missionaries whom you have supported for two generations, and thus put an end to the freebooting of the Boers, and of our own people who joined them? At present there is a disarmed coloured population, disarmed by your own laws on account only of their colour; and there is an armed population, armed under your laws, because they are white; and you decline to interfere in any way for the protection of the former. You will neither protect the natives nor give them fair play and an open field, so that they may protect themselves.'
'Now, my dear,' said the little wife, 'I wonder who deserves to be hanged now? I am sure we are obliged to Mr. Mackenzie for giving us a clear view of things.'
'No, no, you are always too hasty,' said my host, quite gravely. 'The thing gets very serious. Do I rightly understand you, Mr. Mackenzie, that practically we Englishmen arm those freebooters (from the Transvaal,) and practically keep the blacks disarmed, and that when the blacks have called on us for protection and have offered themselves and their country to the Queen we have paid no heed? Is this true?'
'Every word true,' I replied.
'Then may I ask, did you not fight for these people? You had surely got a rifle,' said my host, turning right round on me.
'My dear, you forget Mr. Mackenzie has been a Missionary,' said his wife. 'You yourself, as a Director of the London Missionary Society, would have had him cashiered if he had done anything of the kind.'
'Nonsense, you don't see the thing. I assure you I could not have endured such meanness and injustice. I should have broken such confounded laws. I should have shouldered a rifle, I know,' said the indignant man as he paced his room.
'My dear, you would have got shot, you know,' said his wife.
'Shot! yes, certainty, why not?' said my host; and added gravely, 'A fellow would know why he was shot. Is it true, Mr. Mackenzie, that those blacks were kind to our people who fled to them from the Transvaal, and that they there protected them?'
'Quite true,' I rejoined.
'Then by heaven,' said Mr. - - , raising his voice -
'Let us go to supper,' broke in the gentle wife, 'you are only wearying Mr. Mackenzie by your constant wishes to hang some one.'
"I trust my friends will forgive me for recalling this conversation, which vividly pictures the state of people's mind concerning South Africa in 1882. I found that most people were incredulous as to the facts being known at the Colonial Office, and there was a uniform persuasion that Mr. Gladstone was ignorant that such things were going on."
I have given these interviews (much abridged) because they illustrate in a rather humourous way a state of mind which unhappily has long existed and exists to some degree to this day in England - an impatience of responsibility for anything concerning interests lying beyond the shores of our own Island, a certain superciliousness, and a habit of expressing and adhering to suddenly formed and violent opinions without sufficient study of the matters in question, - such opinions being often influenced by the bias of party politics. Our countrymen are now waking up to a graver and deeper consideration of the tremendous interests at stake in our Colonies and Dependencies, and to a greater readiness to accept responsibilities which once undertaken it is cowardice to reject or even to complain of.
At the request of the London Missionary Society, Mr. Mackenzie drew up an extended account of the Bechuanaland question, which had a wide circulation. He did not enter into party politics, but merely gave evidence as to matters of fact. There was surprise and indignation expressed wherever the matter was carefully studied and understood. Many resolutions were transmitted to the Colonial Secretary from public meetings; one which came from a meeting in the Town Hall of Birmingham was as, follows: -
"This meeting earnestly trusts that the British Government will firmly discharge the responsibilities which they have undertaken in protection of the native races on the Transvaal border."
Among the people who took up warmly the cause of the South African natives were Dr. Conder, Mr. Baines, and Mr. Yates of Leeds (who addressed themselves directly to Mr. Gladstone), Dr. Campbell and Dr. Duff of Edinburgh, the Rev. Arnold Thomas and Mr. Chorlton of Bristol, Mr. Howard of Ashton-under-Lyne, Mr. Thomas Rigby of Chester, and others.
A Resolution was sent to the Colonial Office by the Secretary of the Congregational Union of England and Wales, which had been passed unanimously at a meeting of that body in Bristol: -
"That the Assembly of the Congregational Union, recognising with devout thankfulness the precious and substantial results of the labours of two generations of Congregational Christian Missionaries in Bechuanaland, learns with grief and alarm that the lawless incursions of certain Boers from the Transvaal threaten the utter ruin of peace, civilization, and Christianity in that land. This Assembly therefore respectfully and most urgently entreats Her Majesty's Government, in accordance with the express provision of the Convention by which Self-Government was granted to the Boers, to take such steps as shall eventually put a stop to a state of things as inconsistent with the pledged word of England as with the progress of the Bechuanaland nations." Signed at Bristol, Oct. 1882.
"These," says Mr. Mackenzie, "were not words of war, but of peace; they were not the words of enemies, but of friends of the Transvaal, many of whom had been prominent previously in agitating for the Boers getting back their independence. They felt that this was the just complement of that action; the Boers were to have freedom within the Transvaal, but not licence to turn Bechuanaland (and other neighbouring native states) into a pandemonium."
There was a closer contact in Edinburgh with South Africa than elsewhere, owing to the constant presence at that University of a large number of students from South Africa. A public meeting was held in Edinburgh, among the speakers whereat were Bishop Cotterill, who had lived many years in South Africa; Mr. Gifford, who had been a long time in Natal; Professor Calderwood, and Dr. Blaikie, biographer of Dr. Livingstone. The Venerable Mr. Cullen, the first missionary traveller in Bechuanaland, who had often entertained Dr. Moffat and Dr. Livingstone in his house, was present to express his interest in that country. There were the kindest expressions used towards our Dutch fellow-subjects; but grave condemnation was expressed of the Transvaal policy towards the coloured people in making it a fundamental law that they were not to be equal to the whites either in Church or State.
A South African Committee was formed in London from which a largely supported address was presented to Mr. Gladstone.
The High Commissioner for Bechuanaland gave his impressions at several different times during that and the preceding year on the subject of the constant illegal passing of the Western Boundary line of the Transvaal by the Boers. Readers will remember that the delimitation of the western boundary of the Transvaal was a fixed condition of the Convention of 1881, a Convention which was continually violated by the Boers. No rest was permitted for the poor natives of the different tribes on that side, the Boers' land-hunger continuing to be one of their strongest passions. The High Commissioner wrote, "If Montsioa and Mankoroane were now absorbed, Banokwani, Makobi and Bareki would soon share the same fate. Haseitsiwe and Sechele would come next. So long as there were native cattle to be stolen and native lands to be taken possession of, the absorbing process would be repeated. Tribe after tribe would be pushed back and back upon other tribes or would perish in the process until an uninhabitable desert or the sea were reached as the ultimate boundary of the Transvaal State."
The Manifesto presented by the Transvaal delegates to the English people convinced no one, and its tone was calculated rather to beget suspicion. The following is an extract from that document:
"The horrible misdeeds committed by Spain in America, by the Dutch in the Indian Archipelago, by England in India, and by the Southern planters in the United States, constitute an humiliating portion of the history of mankind, over which we as Christians may well blush, confessing with a contrite heart our common guiltiness."
"The labours of the Anti-slavery and Protection of Aborigines Societies which have been the means of arousing the public conscience to the high importance of this matter cannot be, according to our opinion, sufficiently lauded and encouraged."
The manifesto then goes on to meet the charges concerning slavery and ill-treatment of natives brought against the Transvaal by a flat denial. "They may be true," they say, "as to actions done long ago, and they humbly pray to the Lord God to forgive them the sins that may have been committed in hidden corners. Believe us, therefore, Gentlemen, when we say that the opposition to our Government is caused by prejudice, and fed by misunderstanding. If you leave us untrammelled, we hope to God that before a new generation has passed, a considerable portion of our natives in the Transvaal will be converted to Christianity; at least our Government is preparing arrangements for a more thorough Christian mission among them."
A public Meeting was held at the Mansion House, called by the Lord Mayor, Sir R. Fowler, at which the Right Hon. W.E. Forster, referring to the Sand River and the other Conventions said: "can anything be more grossly unfair and unjust than on the one hand, to hand over these native people to the Transvaal Government, and on the other hand to do our utmost to prevent them from defending themselves when their rights are attacked? I cannot conceive any provision more contrary to that principle of which we are so proud - British fair play."
Speaking of the treatment of the Bechuanaland people by the Boers he said: "The story of these men is a very sad one; I would rather never allude to it again." He then referred to "the settlement of the western boundary of the Transvaal by Governor Keate, and the immediate repudiation of it by the Transvaal Rulers. Then came the Pretoria Convention only two years ago which added a large block of native land to the Transvaal. That was not enough. Freebooters came over, mostly from the Transvaal, and afterwards from other parts of the country. Representations and remonstrances were made to the Transvaal Government. There was a non possumus reply. 'We cannot stop them;' We seem to have good ground for believing that the freebooters were stimulated by the officers of the Transvaal Government. The result was that the native Chiefs of the people lost by far the larger portion of their land. They appealed to our Government, and we did nothing; there came again and again despairing appeals to England, and how were they met? I can only believe it was through ignorance of the question that it was possible to meet them as we did. It was proposed to meet them by a miserable compensation in money or in land, not to the people but to the few Chiefs, who to their credit, as a lesson to us, a great Christian Country said: 'We will not desert our people even if you desert us.' Then there followed utter disorder and disorganisation in Bechuanaland. Then came in the Transvaal Government and virtually said: 'Give us the country and we will maintain order; if owners of the land object we will put them down as rebels; we will take their land as we have taken Mapoch's, and apprentice their children. You have got tired of these quarrels, leave them to us; we will put a stop to them by protecting the robbers who have taken the land.'
"That practically is the demand. Are you prepared to grant it? I for my part say, that rather than grant it I would (a voice in the meeting - 'fight!') yes, if necessary, fight; but I will do my utmost to persuade my fellow countrymen to make the declaration that, if necessary, force will be used, which, if it was believed in, would make it unnecessary to fight.
"The Transvaal Boers know our power, and the Delegates know our power. It is our will that they doubt. If I could not persuade my fellow countrymen that they meant to show that they would never grant such demands as these, I would rather do - what I should otherwise oppose with all my might, - withdraw from South Africa altogether. I am not so proud of our extended Empire as to wish to preserve it at the cost of England refusing to discharge her duties. If we have obligations we must meet them, and if we have duties we must fulfil them; and I have confidence in the English people that first or last they will make our Government fulfil its obligations. But there is much difference between first and last; last is much more difficult than first, and more costly than first. The cost increases with more than geometrical progression. There are people who say, (but the British nation will not say it;) 'leave us alone, let these Colonists and Boers and Natives whom we are tired of, fight it out as best they can; let us declare by our deeds, or rather by our non deeds that we will not keep our promise nor fulfil our duty.' Such a course as that would be as extravagantly costly as it would be shamefully wrong. This laissez faire policy tends to make things go from bad to worse until at last by a great and most costly effort, and perhaps by a really bloody and destructive war, we shall be obliged to do in the end at a greater cost, and in a worse way, that which we could do now. It is not impossible to do it now. A gentleman in the meeting said it was a question of fighting. I do not believe this; but though born a Quaker, I must admit that if there be no other way by which we can protect our allies and prevent the ungrateful desertion of those who helped us in the time of need, than by the exercise of force, I say force must be exercised."
Readers will remark how extraordinarily prophetic are these words of Mr. Forster, spoken in 1883.
The "venerable and beloved Lord Shaftesbury," as Mr. Mackenzie calls him, spoke as follows: -
"This morning has been put into my hands the reply of the Transvaal delegates to the Aborigines Protection Society. I read it with a certain amount of astonishment and of comfort too, - of astonishment that men should be found possessing such a depth of Christianity, such sentiments of religion, such love for veracity, and such regard for the human race as to put on record and to sign with their own hands such a denial of the atrocities and cruelties which have been recorded against them for so many years. It is most blessed to contemplate the depth of their religious sentiments; they express the love they bear to our Lord and Saviour, and their desire to walk in His steps. All this is very beautiful, and, if true, is the greatest comfort ever given us concerning the native races. I will take that document as a promise for the future that they will act upon these principles, that they are Christians, and that they will act on Christian principles, and respect the rights of the natives. That is perhaps the most generous view to take of the matter; but, nevertheless, we shall be inclined to doubt until we see that they have put these principles into practice.
"Let me come to the laws of the Transvaal. It is a fundamental law of that State that there can be no equality either in Church or in State between white and coloured men. No native is allowed to hold land in the Transvaal with such a fundamental law. It is nothing more than a necessary transition to the conclusion that the coloured people should be contemned as being of an inferior order, and only fit for slavery. That is a necessary transition, and it is for Englishmen to protest against it, and to say that all men, of whatever creed, or race, or colour, are equal in Church and State, and in the sight of God, and to assert the principle of Civil and Religious Liberty whenever they have the opportunity. I have my fears at times of the consequences of democratic action; but I shall never feel afraid of appealing to the British democracy on a question of Civil and Religious liberty. That strikes a chord that is very deep and dear to every Briton everywhere. They believe, - and their history shows that they act upon the belief, - that the greatest blessing here below that can be given to intellectual and moral beings is the gift of Civil and Religious liberty. Sensible of the responsibility we have assumed, we appeal to the British public, and I have no doubt what the answer will be. It will be that by God's blessing, and so far as in us lies, Civil and Religious liberty shall prevail among all the tribes of South Africa, to the end that they may become civilized nations, vying with us in the exercise of the gifts that God has bestowed upon us."
Sir Henry Barkly, who had held the office of Governor of the Cape Colony, and of High Commissioner for a number of years, said: -
"Apart from other considerations, it is essential in the interests of civilization and of commerce that the route to the interior of the Dark Continent should be kept in our hands. It has been through the stations planted by our missionaries all along it, as far as Matabeleland, that the influence of the Gospel has been spread among the natives, and that the way has been made safe and easy for the traveller and the trader. Can we suppose that these stations can be maintained if we suffer the road to fall within the limits of the Transvaal? We need not recall our melancholy experience of the past in this region. I would rather refer to the case of the Paris Evangelical Society, whose missionaries were refused leave only a short time ago to teach or preach to the Basuto-speaking population within the Transvaal territory."
The Hon. K. Southey said: -
"I concur entirely with what has been said by the Right Hon. Mr. Forster with regard to slavery. It must be admitted that the institution does not exist in name; but in reality something very closely allied to it exists, for in that country there is no freedom for the coloured races. The road to the interior must be kept open, not only for the purposes of trade, but also as a way by which the Gospel may be carried from here to the vast regions beyond Her Majesty's possessions in that part of the world. If we allow the Transvaal State to annex a territory through which the roads to the interior pass, not only will there be difficulties put in the way of our traders, but the missionary also will find it no easy task to obey the injunction to carry the Gospel into all lands, and to preach it to all peoples."
Sir Fowell Buxton presented the following thought, which might with advantage be taken to heart at the present time: -
"We know how in the United States they have lately been celebrating the events that recall the time a century ago of the declaration of their independence. I will ask you to consider what would have been the best advice that we could have given at that time to the Government at Washington? Do we not know that in regard to all that relates to the well-being of the country, to mere matters of wealth and property, the best advice to have given them would have been, to deliver their country at once from all connection with slavery in the days when they formed her constitution."
* * * * *
Sir William M'Arthur, M.P., said: -
"I have never seen in the Mansion House a larger or more enthusiastic meeting, and I believe that the feeling which animates this meeting is animating the whole country. Any course of action taken by Her Majesty's Ministers towards the Transvaal will be very closely watched. I myself am for peace, but I am also for that which maintains peace, viz., a firm and decided policy."
* * * * *
The poor Chief, Mankoroane, having heard that the Transvaal Delegates would discuss questions of vital importance to his people, left Bechuanaland and went as far as Cape Town on his way to England to represent his case there. Lord Derby, however, sent him word that he could not be admitted to the Conference in London, where the ownership of his own country was to be discussed. Mankoroane then begged Mr. Mackenzie to be his representative, but was again told that neither personally nor by representative could he be recognised at the Conference in Downing Street, but that any remarks which Mr. Mackenzie might make on his behalf would receive the attention of Government. (Blue Book 3841, 92.)
The first and great question which the Transvaal Delegates desired to settle in their own interests was that of the Western boundary line, amended by themselves, which was represented on a map. They were informed that their amended treaty was "neither in form nor in substance such as Her Majesty's Government could adopt," there being "certain Chiefs who had objected, on behalf of their people, to be included in the Transvaal, and there being a strong feeling in London in favour of the independence of these natives, or (if they, the natives, desired it) of their coming under British rule." There was now brought before the delegates a map showing the addition of land which was eventually granted to the Transvaal, but the delegates would not agree to any such arrangement. Her Majesty's Government were giving away to them some 2,600 square miles of native territory, concerning which there was no clear evidence that its owners wished to be joined to the Transvaal. But this was nothing to the Transvaal demand, as shown by a map which they put in, and which included an additional block of 4,000 square miles. Not finding agreement with the Government possible, the delegates then turned from that position, and took up the question of the remission of the debt which the Transvaal owed to England, saying that the wishes of the native chiefs should be consulted first about the boundary line. This was a bold stroke; they were professing to be representing the interests of certain chiefs, which was not the case.
Lord Derby telegraphed to the Cape on the 27th of Feb. 1884, the result of the protracted labours of the Conference at Downing Street, mentioning: - "British Protectorate established outside the Transvaal, with Delegates' consent. Debt reduced to quarter of a million." To many persons it seems that the Convention of 1884, rather than the Convention of 1881, was the real blunder. It is remarkable, however, as illustrating the small attention which South African affairs then received, that no party controversy was aroused over this later instrument. Very soon afterwards, however, the question became acute, owing to the action of Mr. Kruger; and then, it must be remembered, that Mr. Gladstone did not hesitate to appeal to the armed strength of the Empire in order to defend British interests and prevent the extension of Boer rule. That there was not war in 1884 was due only to the fact that Mr. Kruger at that time did not choose to fight. The raiders and filibusters were put down before by Sir Charles Warren's force, but Mr. Gladstone had taken every precaution in view of the contingency of a collision.
The conditions laid down in the Convention did not satisfy the Delegates, although they formally assented to them. Their disappointment began to be strongly manifested. They had stoutly denied that slavery existed in their country. This denial was challenged by the Secretary of the Aborigines Protection Society, who brought forward some very awkward testimonies and facts of recent date. It was suggested that President Kruger should for ever silence the calumniators by demanding a Commission of enquiry on this subject which would take evidence within and round the Transvaal as they might see fit. The Delegates took good care not to accept this challenge. The firmness of the British Government at that moment was fully justified by the actual facts of the case which came so strikingly before them, and their attitude was supported by public opinion, so far as this public opinion in England then existed. It was the Transvaal deputation itself which had most effectually developed it when they first arrived in London, though it was known they had many friends, and that numbers of the public were generally quite willing to consider their claims. They sat for three months in conference with members of Her Majesty's Government before coming to any decision. That decision was known as the London Convention of 1884.
The displeasure of the Boer Delegates matured after their return to the Transvaal, and was expressed in a message sent by the Volksraad to our Government not many months after the signing of the Convention in London.
In this document the Boers seem to regard themselves as a victorious people making terms with those they had conquered. It is interesting to note the articles of the Convention to which they particularly object. In the telegram which was sent to "His Excellency, W.E. Gladstone," the Volksraad stated that the London Convention was not acceptable to them. They declared that "modifications were desirable, and that certain articles must be altered." They attached importance to the Native question, declaring that "the Suzerain (Great Britain) has not the right to interfere with their Legislature, and that they cannot agree to article 3, which gives the Suzerain a voice concerning Native affairs, nor to article 13, by virtue of which Natives are to be allowed to acquire land, nor to that part of Article 26, by which it is provided that white men of a foreign race living in the Transvaal shall not be taxed in excess of the taxes imposed on Transvaal citizens."
It should be observed here that this reference to unequal and excessive taxation of foreigners in the Transvaal, pointing to a tendency on the part of the Boers to load foreigners with unjust taxation, was made before the development of the goldfields and the great influx of Uitlanders.
The Message of the Volksraad was finally summed up in the following words: "we object to the following articles, 15, 16, 26, and 27, because to insist on them is hurtful to our sense of honour." (sic.)
Now what are the articles to which the Boer Government here objects, and has continued to object?
Article 15 enacts that no slavery or apprenticeship shall be tolerated.
Article 16 provides for religious toleration (for Natives and all alike.)
Article 26 provides for the free movement, trading, and residence of all persons, other than natives, conforming themselves to the laws of the Transvaal.
Article 27 gives to all, (Natives included,) the right of free access to the Courts of Justice.
Putting the "sense of honour" of the Transvaal Volksraad out of the question, past experience had but too plainly proved that these Articles were by no means superfluous.
[Footnote 16: "Austral Africa, Ruling it or Losing it," p. 157.]
[Footnote 17: When the Transvaal was annexed, in 1877, the public debt of that country amounted to £301,727. "Under British rule this debt was liquidated to the extent of £150,000, but the total was brought up by a Parliamentary grant, a loan from the Standard Bank, and sundries to £390,404, which represented the public debt of the Transvaal on the 31st December, 1880. This was further increased by monies advanced by the Standard Bank and English Exchequer during the war, and till the 8th August, 1881, (during which time the country yielded no revenue,) to £457,393. To this must be added an estimated sum of £200,000 for compensation charges, pension allowances, &c., and a further sum of £383,000, the cost of the successful expedition against Secocoemi, that of the unsuccessful one being left out of account, bringing up the total public debt to over a million, of which about £800,000 was owing to this country. This sum the Commissioners (Sir Evelyn Wood dissenting) reduced by a stroke of the pen to £265,000, thus entirely remitting an approximate sum of £500,000 or £600,000. To the sum of £265,000 still owing must be added say another £150,000 for sums lately advanced to pay the compensation claims, bringing up the actual amount owing to England to about a quarter of a million." - Report of Assistant Secretary to the British Agent for Native Affairs. (Blue Book 3917, 46.)]
[Footnote 18: "Austral Africa." Mackenzie.]