VIII. THE THEOLOGY OF THE BOERS. EXPLOITATION OF NATIVES BY CAPITALISTS. BRITISH COLONIZING. - ITS CAUSES AND NATURE. CHARACTER OF PAUL KRUGER AS A RULER. THE MORAL TEACHINGS OF THE WAR. OUR RESPONSIBILITIES. HASTY JUDGMENTS. DENUNCIATIONS OF ENGLAND BY ENGLISHMEN. THE OPEN BOOK. MY LAST WORD IS FOR THE NATIVE RACES.
Even in these enlightened days there seems to be in some minds a strange confusion as to the understanding of the principle of Equality for which we plead, and which is one of the first principles laid down in the Charter of our Liberties. What is meant in that charter is Equality of all before the Law; not by any means social equality, which belongs to another region of political ideas altogether.
A friend who has lived in South Africa, and who has had natives working for and with him, tells me of this confusion of ideas among some of the more vulgar stamp of white colonists, who, my friend observes, amuse themselves by assuming a familiarity in intercourse with the natives, which works badly. It does not at all increase their respect for the white man, but quite the contrary, while it is as little calculated to produce self-respect in the native. My friend found the natives naturally respectful and courteous, when treated justly and humanely, in fact as a gentleman would treat them. Above all things, they honour a man who is just. They have a keen sense of justice, and a quick perception of the existence of this crowning quality in a man. Livingstone said that he found that they also have a keen eye for a man of pure and moral life.
The natives in the Transvaal have never asked for the franchise, or for the smallest voice in the Government. In their hearts they hoped for and desired simple legal justice; they asked for bread, and they received a stone. It does not seem desirable that they should too early become "full fledged voters." Some sort of Education test, some proof of a certain amount of civilization and instruction attained, might be applied with advantage; and to have to wait a little while for that does not seem, from the Englishwoman's point of view at least, a great hardship, when it is remembered how long our agricultural labourers had to wait for that privilege, and that for more than fifty years English women have petitioned for it, and have not yet obtained it, although they are not, I believe, wholly uncivilized or uneducated.
The Theology of the Boers has been much commented upon; and it is supposed by some that, as they are said to derive it solely from the Old Testament Scriptures, it follows that the ethical teaching of those Scriptures must be extremely defective. A Swiss Pastor writes to me: "It is time to rescue the Old Testament from the Boer interpretation of it. We have not enough of Old Testament righteousness among us Christians." This is true. Those who have studied those Scriptures intelligently see, through much that appears harsh and strange in the Mosaic prescriptions, a wisdom and tenderness which approaches to the Christian ideal, as well as certain severe rules and restrictions which, when observed and maintained, lifted the moral standard of the Hebrew people far above that of the surrounding nations. When Christ came on earth, He swept away all that which savoured of barbarism, the husk which often however, contained within it a kernel of truth capable of a great development. "Ye have heard it said of old times," He reiterated, "but I say unto you" - and then He set forth the higher, the eternally true principles of action.
Yet if the Transvaal teachers and their disciples had read impartially (though even exclusively) the Old Testament Scriptures, they could not have failed to see how grossly they were themselves offending against the divine commands in some vital matters. I cite, as an example, the following commands, given by Moses to the people, not once only, but repeatedly. Had these commands been regarded with as keen an appreciation as some others whose teaching seems to have an opposite tendency, it is impossible that the natives should have been treated as they have been by Boer Law, or that Slavery or Serfdom should have existed among them for so many generations. The following are some of the often-repeated commands and warnings:
Ex. xii. v 19. - "One law shall be to him that is homeborn, and unto the stranger that sojourneth among you."
Num. ix. v 14. - "If a stranger shall sojourn among you, ... ye shall have one ordinance, both for the stranger, and for him that was born in the land."
Num. xv. v 15. - "One ordinance shall be both for you of the congregation, and also for the stranger that sojourneth with you, an ordinance for ever in your generation: as ye are so shall the stranger be before the Lord."
Verse 16. - "One law and one manner shall be for you, and for the stranger that sojourneth with you."
Lev. xix. v 33. - "And if a stranger sojourn with thee in your land, ye shall not vex him."
Verse 34. - "But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt."
Verse 35. - "Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment, in mete-yard, in weight, or in measure."
Although the natives of the Transvaal were the original possessors of the country, they have been reckoned by the Boers as strangers and foreigners among them. They have treated them as the ancient Jews treated all Gentiles as for ever excluded from the Commonwealth of Israel, - until in the "fulness of time" they were forced by a great shock and terrible judgments - to acknowledge, with astonishment, that "God had also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life," and that they also had heard the news of the glorious emancipation of all the sons of God throughout the earth.
Not only is the non-payment, but even delay in the payment of wages condemned by the Law of Moses. Is it possible that Boer theologians, who quote Scripture with so much readiness, have never read the following?
Lev. xix. v 13. - "Thou shalt not defraud thy neighbour, neither rob him: the wages of him that is hired shall not abide with thee all night until the morning."
Deut. xxiv. v 14. - "Thou shalt not oppress an hired servant that is poor and needy, whether he be of thy brethren, or of the strangers that are in thy land, within thy gates."
Verse 15. - "At his day thou shalt give him his hire, neither shall the sun go down upon it; for he is poor, and setteth his heart upon it: lest he cry against thee unto the Lord, and it be sin unto thee."
Jer. xxii. v 13. - "Woe unto him that buildeth his house by unrighteousness, and his chambers by wrong; that useth his neighbour's service without wages, and giveth him not for his work."
Mal. iii. v 5. - "And I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against ... those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from his right, and fear not me, saith the Lord of hosts."
The following is from the New Testament, but it might have come under the notice of Boer theologians and Law makers: -
The epistle of St. James v. v 4. - "Behold the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth; and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth."
Verse 3. - "Your gold and your silver is cankered, and the rust of them shall be a witness against you."
Jer. xxxv. v 17. - "Because ye have not proclaimed Liberty every man to his neighbour, behold I proclaim Liberty for you, saith the Lord, to the Sword, to the pestilence, and to the famine."
I am aware that there will be voices raised at once in application to certain English people of the very commands here cited; and justly so, so far as that application is made to individuals or groups of persons who have transgressed not only Biblical Law but the Law of our Land in their dealings with native races; and the warning conveyed to us in such recriminations must not and, I believe, will not be unheeded.
The following occurs in a number of the "Ethical World," published early in the present year: - "We know that capitalists, left to themselves, would mercilessly exploit the labour of the coloured man. That is precisely the reason why they should not be left to themselves, but should be under the control of the British Empire. It is a reason why Crown colonies should supersede Chartered Companies; it is a reason for much that is often called 'shallow Imperialism.' If the present war had been staved off, and if, by mere lapse of time and increase of numbers without British intervention, the Outlanders had come to be the masters of the South African Republic, they might have established a system of independent government quite as bad as that now in existence, though not hardened against reform by the same archaic traditions."
To my mind some of the published utterances of the Originator and members of the "Chartered Company" are not such as to inspire confidence in those who desire to see the essential principles of British Law and Government paramount wherever Great Britain has sway. There is the old contemptuous manner of speaking of the natives; and we have heard an expression of a desire to "eliminate the Imperial Factor."
This elimination of the Imperial Factor is precisely that which is the least desired by those who see our Imperialism to mean the continuance of obedience to the just traditions of British Law and Government. The granting of a Charter to a Company lends the authority (or the appearance of it) of the Queen's name to acts of the responsible heads of that company, which may be opposed to the principles of justice established by British Law; and such acts may have disastrous results. It is to be hoped that the present awakening on the subject of past failures of our government to enforce respect for its own principles may be a warning to all concerned against any transgression of those principles.
Continental friends with whom I have conversed on the subject of the British Colonies have sometimes appeared to me to leave out of account some considerations special to the subject. They regard British Colonization as having been accomplished by a series of acts of aggression, solely inspired by the love of conquest and desire for increased territory. This is an error.
I would ask such friends to take a Map of Europe, or of the World, and steadily to regard it in connection with the following facts. Our people are among the most prolific, - if not the most prolific, - of all the nations. Energy and enterprise are in their nature, together with a certain love of free-breathing, adventure and discovery. Now look at the map, and observe how small is the circumference of the British Isles. "Our Empire has no geographical continuity like the Russian Empire; it is that larger Venice with no narrow streets, but with the sea itself for a high-road. It is bound together by a moral continuity alone." What are our Sons to do? Must our immense population be debarred from passing through these ocean tracts to lands where there are great uninhabited wastes capable of cultivation? What shall we do with our sons and our daughters innumerable, as the ways become overcrowded in the mother land, and energies have not the outlets needful to develop them. Shall we place legal restrictions on marriage, or on the birth of children, or prescribe that no family shall exceed a certain number? You are shocked, - naturally. It follows then that some members of our large British families must cross the seas and seek work and bread elsewhere.
The highest and lowest, representing all ranks, engage in this kind of initial colonization. Our present Prime Minister, a "younger son," went out in his youth, - as others of his class have done, - with his pickaxe, to Australia, to rank for a time among "diggers" until called home by the death of the elder son, the heir to the title and estate. This necessity and this taste for wandering and exploring has helped in some degree to form the independence of character of our men, and also to strengthen rather than to weaken the ties of affection and kinship with the Motherland. Many men, "nobly born and gently nurtured," have thus learned self-dependence, to endure hardships, and to share manual labour with the humblest; and such an experience does not work for evil. Then when communities have been formed, some sort of government has been necessitated. An appeal is made to the Mother Country, and her offspring have grown up more or less under her regard and care, until self-government has developed itself.
The great blot on this necessary and natural expansion is the record (from time to time) of the displacement of native tribes by force and violence, when their rights seemed to interfere with the interests of the white man. Of such action we have had to repent in the past, and we repent more deeply than ever now when our responsibilities towards natives races have been brought with startling clearness before those among us who have been led to look back and to search deeply into the meanings of the present great "history-making war."
The personality of Paul Kruger stands out mournfully at this moment on the page of history. Mr. FitzPatrick wrote of him in 1896, as follows: -
"L'Etat c'est moi, is almost as true of the old Dopper President as it was of its originator; for in matters of external policy and in matters which concern the Boer as a party, the President has his way as completely as any anointed autocrat. To anyone who has studied the Boers and their ways and policy ... it must be clear that President Kruger does more than represent the opinion of the people and execute their policy: he moulds them in the form he wills. By the force of his own strong convictions and prejudices, and of his indomitable will, he has made the Boers a people whom he regards as the germ of the Afrikander nation; a people chastened, selected, welded, and strong enough to attract and assimilate all their kindred in South Africa, and thus to realize the dream of a Dutch Republic from the Zambesi to Cape Town.
"In the history of South Africa the figure of the grim old President will loom large and striking, - picturesque as the figure of one who, by his character and will, made and held his people; magnificent as one who, in the face of the blackest fortune, never wavered from his aim or faltered in his effort ... and it maybe, pathetic too, as one whose limitations were great, one whose training and associations, - whose very successes had narrowed and embittered and hardened him; - as one who, when the greatness of success was his to take and to hold, turned his back on the supreme opportunity, and used his strength and qualities to fight against the spirit of progress, and all that the enlightenment of the age pronounces to be fitting and necessary to good government and a healthy State.
"To an English nobleman, who in the course of an interview remarked, 'my father was a Minister (of the Queen),' the Dutchman answered, 'and my father was a shepherd!' It was not pride rebuking pride; it was the ever present fact which would not have been worth mentioning but for the suggestion of the antithesis. He, too, was a shepherd, - a peasant. It may be that he knew what would be right and good for his people, and it may be not; but it is sure that he realized that to educate would be to emancipate, to broaden their views would be to break down the defences of their prejudices, to let in the new leaven would be to spoil the old bread, to give to all men the rights of men would be to swamp for ever the party which is to him greater than the State. When one thinks of the one century history of that people, much is seen which accounts for their extraordinary love of isolation, and their ingrained and passionate aversion to control; much, too, that draws to them a world of sympathy; and when one realizes the old President hemmed in once more by the hurrying tide of civilization, from which his people have fled for generations - trying to fight both fate and Nature - standing up to stem a tide as resistless as the eternal sea - one realizes the pathos of the picture. But this is as another generation may see it. We are now too close - so close that the meaner details, the blots and flaws, are all most plainly visible, the corruption, the insincerity, the injustice, the barbarity - all the unlovely touches that will bye and bye be forgotten - sponged away by the gentle hand of time, when only the picturesque will remain."
And now that his sun is setting in the midst of clouds, and the great ambition of his life lies a ruin before him, and age, disappointment, and sorrow press heavily upon him, reproach and criticism are silenced. Compassion and a solemn awe alone fill our hearts.
A late awakening and repentance may not serve to maintain the political life of a party or a nation; but it is never too late for a human soul to receive for itself the light that may have been lacking for right guidance all through the past, and God does not finally withdraw Himself from one who has ever sincerely called upon His name.
I beg to be allowed to address a word, in conclusion, more especially to certain of my own countrymen, - among whom I count some of my valued fellow-workers of the past years. These latter have been very patient with me at times when I have ventured a word of warning in connection with the Abolitionist war in which we have together been engaged, and perhaps they will bear with me now; but whether they will do so or not, I must speak that which seems to me the truth, that which is laid on my heart to speak. I refer especially to the temper of mind of those whose present denunciations of our country are apparently not restrained by considerations derived from a deeper and calmer view of the whole situation.
When God's Judgments are in the earth, "the people of the world will learn righteousness." Are we learning righteousness? Am I, are you, friends, learning righteousness? I desire, at least, to be among those who may learn something of the mind of God towards His redeemed world, even in the darkest hour. But you will tell me perhaps that there is nothing of the Divine purpose in all this tribulation, that God has allowed evil to have full sway in the world for a time. Others among us, as firmly believe that there is a Divine permission in the natural vengeance which follows transgression, that we are never the sport of a senseless fate, and that God governs as well as reigns.
"God's fruit of justice ripens slow; "Men's souls are narrow; let them grow, "My brothers, we must wait."
Many among us are learning to see more and more clearly that the present "tribulation" is the climax of a long series, - through almost a century past, - of errors of which till now we had never been fully conscious, - of neglect of duty, of casting off of responsibility, of oblivion of the claims of the millions of native inhabitants of Africa who are God's creatures and the redeemed of Christ as much as we, - of ambitions and aims purely worldly, of a breathless race among nations for present and material gain.
There are hasty judges it seems to me who look upon this war as the Initial Crime, a sudden and fatal error into which our nation has leapt in a fit of blind passion aroused by some quite recent event, and chiefly chargeable to certain individuals living among us to-day, who represent, in their view, a deplorable deterioration of the whole nation. The evils (which are not chiefly attributable to our nation) which have led up to this war, and made it from the human point of view, inevitable, are all ignored by these judges. Like the servant in one of the Parables of Christ, who said "my Lord delayeth his coming," (God is nowhere among us,) and began to beat and abuse his fellow-servants, they fall to inflicting on their fellow citizens unmeasured blows of the tongue and pen, because of this war. Their hearts are so full of indignation that they cannot see anything higher or deeper than the material strife. They judge the combatants, our poor soldiers, the first victims, with little tenderness or sympathy. When King David was warned by God of approaching chastisement for his sins as a ruler, he pleaded that that chastisement should fall upon himself alone, saying, "these sheep (the people) what have they done?" We may ask the same of the rank and file of our army. What have they done? It was not they who ordained the war, and so far as personal influence may have gone to provoke war, many of those who sit at home at ease are more to blame than the men who believe that they are obeying the call of duty when they offer themselves for perils, for hardships, wounds, sickness, and lingering as well as sudden death.
God's thoughts, however, are "not as our thoughts," nor "His ways as our ways." The record I might give of spiritual awakening and extraordinary blessing bestowed by Him at this time in the very heart of this war on these, the "first victims" of it, would be received I fear with complete incredulity by those to whom I now address myself. Be it so. The sources of my information are from "the front," they are many and they are trustworthy. It seems to me that in visiting the sins of the fathers on the children, or of rulers on the people, the Great Father of all, in His infinite love has said to these multitudes: "Your bodies are given to destruction, but I have set wide open for you the door of salvation; you Shall enter into my kingdom through death." And many have so entered.
The following is the expression of the thought of many of our humble people at home, who are neither "jingoes" nor yet impatient judges of others. The Journal from which the extract is taken represents not the wealthy nor ambitious part of society, but that of the middle class of people, dependent on their own efforts for their daily bread, among whom we often find much good sense: - "Some persons are humiliated for the sins and mistakes they see in other people. As for themselves, their one thought is 'If my advice had been taken the country would never have been in this pass!' This is the expression of an utterly un-Christian self-conceit. Others, again, take delight in recording the sins of the nation. That our ideals have been dimmed, that a low order of public morality has been openly defended in the highest places, and that the reckoning has come to us we fully believe. Yet it is possible to judge the heart of our people far too harshly. It is a sound heart when all is said and done. We fix our eyes upon the great and wealthy offenders; but it must be remembered that the British people are not wealthy. The number of rich men is small. Most of us, in fact, are very poor. Even those who may be called well off depend on the continuance of health and opportunity for their incomes. The vast majority of those who believe that our cause is righteous are not exultant jingoes, neither are they millionaires. They are care-worn toilers, hard-worked fathers and mothers of children. They have in many cases given sons and brothers and husbands to our ranks; their hearts are aching with passionate sorrow for the dead. Many more are enduring the racking agony of suspense. Multitudes, besides, spend their lives in a hard fight to keep the wolf from the door. Already they are pinched, and they know that in the months ahead their poverty will be deeper. Yet they have no thought of surrender. They do not even complain, but give what they can from their scanty means to succour those who are touched still more nearly. It is quite possible to slander a nation when one simply intends to tell it plain truths. The British nation, we are inclined to believe, is a great deal better and sounder than many of its shrillest censors of the moment. And, for our part, we find among our patient, brave, and silent people great seed-beds of trust and hope."
These are noble words, because words of faith - worthy of the Roman, Varro - to whom his fellow-citizens presented a public tribute of gratitude because "he had not despaired of his country in a dark and troubled time."
It can hardly be supposed that I underrate the horrors of war. I have imagination enough and sympathy enough to follow almost as if I beheld it with my eyes, the great tragedy which has been unfolded in South Africa. The spirit of Jingoism is an epidemic of which I await the passing away more earnestly than we do that of any other plague. I deprecate, as I have always done, and as strongly as anyone can do, rowdyism in the form of violent opposition to free speech and freedom of meeting. It is as wholly unjustifiable, as it is unwise. Nothing tends more to the elucidation of truth than evidence and freedom of speech from all sides. Good works on many hands are languishing for lack of the funds and zeal needful to carry them on. The Public Press, and especially the Pictorial Press, fosters a morbid sentiment in the public mind by needlessly vivid representations of mere slaughter; to all this may be added (that which some mourn over most of all) the drain upon our pockets, - upon the country's wealth. All these things are a part of the great tribulation which is upon us. They are inevitable ingredients of the chastisement by war.
I see frequent allusions to the "deplorable state of the public mind," which is so fixed on this engrossing subject, the war, that its attention cannot be gained for any other. I hear our soldiers called "legalized murderers," and the war spoken of as a "hellish panorama," which it is a blight even to look upon.
But, - I am impelled to say it at the risk of sacrificing the respect of certain friends, - there is to me another view of the matter. It is this. In this present woe, as in all other earthly events, God has something to say to us, - something which we cannot receive if we wilfully turn away the eye from seeing and the ear from hearing.
It is as if - in anticipation of the last great Judgment when "the Books shall be opened," - God, in his severity and yet in mercy (for there is always mercy in the heart of His judgments) had set before us at this day an open book, the pages of which are written in letters of blood, and that He is waiting for us to read. There are some who are reading, though with eyes dimmed with tears and hearts pierced with sorrow - whose attitude is, "Speak, Lord, for Thy servant heareth."
You "deplore the state of the public mind." May not the cloud of celestial witnesses deplore in a measure the state of your mind which leads you to turn your back on the opened book of judgment, and refuse to read it? Does your sense of duty to your country claim from you to send forth such a cry against your fellow-citizens and your nation that you have no ears for the solemn teachings of Providence? Might it not be more heroic in us all to cease to denounce, and to begin to enquire? - with humility and courage to look God in the face, and enquire of Him the inner meanings of His rebukes, to ask Him to "turn back the floods of ungodliness" which have swelled this inundation of woe, rather than to use our poor little besoms in trying to sweep back the Atlantic waves of His judgments.
It is good and necessary to protest against War; but at the same time, reason and experience teach that we must, with equal zeal, protest against other great evils, the accumulation of which makes for war and not for peace. War in another sense - moral and spiritual war - must be doubled, trebled, quadrupled, in the future, in order that material war may come to an end. We all wish for peace; every reasonable person desires it, every anxious and bereaved family longs for it, every Christian prays for it. But what Peace? It is the Peace of God which we pray for? the Peace on Earth, which He alone can bring about? His hand alone, which corrects, can also heal. We do not and cannot desire the peace which some of those are calling for who dare not face the open book of present day judgment, or who do not wish to read its lessons! Such a peace would be a mere plastering over of an unhealed wound, which would break out again before many years were over.
There seems to me a lack of imagination and of Christian sympathy in the zeal which thrusts denunciatory literature into all hands and houses, as is done just now. It would, I think, check such action and open the eyes of some who adopt it, if they could see the look of pain, the sudden pallor, followed by hours and days of depression of the mourners, widows, bereaved parents, sisters and friends, when called upon to read (their hearts full of the thought of their beloved dead) that those who have fought in the ranks were morally criminal, legalized murderers, "full of hatred," actors in a "hellish panorama." Some of these sufferers may not be much enlightened, but they know what love and sorrow are. Would it not be more tender and tactful, from the Christian point of view, to leave to them their consoling belief that those whom they loved acted from a sense of duty or a sentiment of patriotism; and not, just at a time of heart-rending sorrow, to press upon them the criminality of all and every one concerned in any way with war? I commend this suggestion to those who are not strangers to the value of personal sympathy and gentleness towards those who mourn.
No, we are not yet looking upon hell! It may be, it is, an earthly purgatory which we are called to look upon; a place and an hour of purging and of purifying, such as we must all, nations and individuals alike, pass through, before we can see the face of God.
Mr. Fullerton, speaking in the Melbourne Hall, Leicester, on Jan. 7th of this year, said: - "The Valley of Achor (Trouble), may be a Door of Hope." "You say the Transvaal belongs to the Boers; I say it belongs to God. If it belongs specially to any, it belongs to the Zulus and Kaffirs, on whom, for 100 years, there have been inflicted wrongs worthy of Arab slave dealers. What has the Boer done to lift these people? Nothing. As a Missionary said the other day, 'A nation that lives amongst a lower race of people, and does not try to lift them, inevitably sinks.' The Boers needed to be chastised; only thus could they be kept from sinking; only thus can there be hope for the native races. Who shall chastise them? Another nation, which God wishes also to chastise. Is therefore God for one nation and not for another? May He not be for one, and for the other too? If both pray, must He refuse one? Perhaps God is great enough to answer both, and bringing both through the fire, purge and teach them."
It would have been bad for us if we had won an early or an easy victory. We should have been so lifted up with pride as to be an offence to high Heaven. But we have gone and are going through deep waters, and the wounds inflicted on many hearts and many homes are not quickly healed. In this we recognise the hand of God, who is faithful in chastisement as in blessing.
Many have, no doubt, read, and I hope some have laid to heart, the words which Lord Rosebery recently addressed to the Press, but which are applicable to us all at this juncture. They are wise and statesmanlike words. Taking them as addressed to the Nation and not to the Press only, they run thus: "At such a juncture we must be sincere, we must divest ourselves of the mere catchwords and impulses of party.... We must be prepared to discard obsolete shibboleths, to search out abuse, to disregard persons, to be instant in pressing for necessary reforms - social, educational, administrative, and if need be, constitutional.
"Moreover, with regard to a sane appreciation of the destinies and responsibilities of Empire, we stand at the parting of the ways. Will Britain flinch or falter in her world-wide task? How is she best to pursue it? What new forces and inspiration will it need? What changes does it involve? These are questions which require clear sight, cool courage, and freedom from formula."
In the conscientious study which I have endeavoured to make of the history of the past century of British rule in South Africa, nothing has struck me more than the unfortunate effects in that Colony of our varying policy inspired by political party spirit in the Mother Country; and consequently I hail with thankfulness this good counsel to "divest ourselves of mere catchwords and impulses of party, to discard obsolete shibboleths, to free ourselves from formula, and to disregard persons," even if these persons are or have been recognized leaders, and to abide rather by principles. "What new forces and inspiration do we need," Lord Rosebery asks, for the great task our nation has before it? This is a deep and far-reaching question. The answer to it should be sought and earnestly enquired after by every man and woman among us, who is worthy of the name of a true citizen.
My last word must be on behalf of the Natives. When, thirty years ago, a few among us were impelled to take up the cause of the victims of the modern white slavery in Europe, we were told that in our pleadings for principles of justice and for personal rights, we ought not to have selected a subject in which are concerned persons who may deserve pity, but who, in fact, are not so important a part of the human family as to merit such active and passionate sympathy as that which moved our group. To this our reply was: "We did not choose this question, we did not ourselves deliberately elect to plead for these persons. The question was imposed upon us, and once so imposed, we could not escape from the claims of the oppressed class whose cause we had been called to take up. And generally, (we replied,) the work of human progress has not consisted in protecting and supporting any outward forms of government, or the noble or privileged classes, but in undertaking the defence of the weak, the humble, of beings devoted to degradation and contempt, or brought under any oppression or servitude."
It is the same now. My father was one of the energetic promoters of the Abolition of Slavery in the years before 1834, a friend of Clarkson and Wilberforce. The horror of slavery in every form, and under whatever name, which I have probably partly inherited, has been intensified as life went on. It is my deep conviction that Great Britain will in future be judged, condemned or justified, according to her treatment of those innumerable coloured races, heathen or partly Christianized, over whom her rule extends, or who, beyond the sphere of her rule, claim her sympathy and help as a Christian and civilizing power to whom a great trust has been committed.
It grieves me to observe that (so far as I am able to judge) our politicians, public men, and editors, (with the exception of the editors of the "religious press,") appear to a great extent unaware of the immense importance of this subject, even for the future peace and stability of our Empire, apart from higher interests. It will be "imposed upon them," I do not doubt, sooner or later, as it has been imposed upon certain missionaries and others who regard the Divine command as practical and sensible men should do: "Go ye and teach all nations." All cannot go to the ends of the earth; but all might cease to hinder by the dead weight of their indifference, and their contempt of all men of colour. Dr. Livingstone rebuked the Boers for contemptuously calling all coloured men Kaffirs, to whatever race they belonged. Englishmen deserve still more such a rebuke for their habit of including all the inhabitants of India, East and West, and of Africa, who have not European complexions, under the contemptuous title of "niggers." Race prejudice is a poison which will have to be cast out if the world is ever to be Christianized, and if Great Britain is to maintain the high and responsible place among the nations which has been given to her.
"It maybe that the Kaffir is sometimes cruel," says one who has seen and known him, - "he certainly requires supervision. But he was bred in cruelty and reared in oppression - the child of injustice and hate. As the springbok is to the lion, as the locust is to the hen, so is the Kaffir to the Boer; a subject of plunder and leaven of greed. But the Kaffir is capable of courage and also of the most enduring affection. He has been known to risk his life for the welfare of his master's family. He has worked without hope of reward. He has laboured in the expectation of pain. He has toiled in the snare of the fowler. Yet shy a brickbat at him! - for he is only a Kaffir! "However much the Native may excel in certain qualities of the heart, still, until purged of the poison of racial contempt, that will be the expression of the practical conclusion of the white man regarding him; "Shy a brickbat at him. He is only a nigger."
A merely theoretical acknowledgment of the vital nature of this question, of the future of the Native races and of Missionary work will not suffice. The Father of the great human family demands more than this.
"Is not this the fast that I have chosen? To loose the bands of wickedness, To undo the heavy burdens, To let the oppressed go free, And that ye break every yoke?"
(ISAIAH lviii. 6.)
I have spoken, in this little book, as an Abolitionist, - being a member of the "International Federation for the Abolition of the State regulation of vice." But I beg my readers to understand that I have here spoken for myself alone, and that my views must not be understood to be shared by members of the Federation to which I refer. My Abolitionist friends on the Continent of Europe, with very few exceptions, hold an opinion absolutely opposed to mine on the general question here treated. It is not far otherwise in England itself, where many of our Abolitionists, including some of my oldest and most valued fellow-workers, stand on a very different ground from mine in this matter. I value friendship, and I love my old friends. But I love truth more. I have very earnestly sought to know the truth in the matter here treated. I have not rejected evidence from any side, having read the most extreme as well as the more moderate writings on different sides, including those which have reached me from Holland, France, Switzerland, Germany, and the Transvaal, as well as those published in England. Having conscientiously arrived at certain conclusions, based on facts, and on life-long convictions in regard to some grave matters of principle, I have thought it worth while to put those conclusions on record. J.E.B.
[Footnote 37: The Transvaal from Within. FitzPatrick.]
[Footnote 38: This may also be true of the Boer combatants sacrificed for the sins of their rulers, but I prefer only to attest that of which I have full proof.]
[Footnote 39: "British Weekly."]
[Footnote 40: An Expression reported to have been used by Mr. Morley.]
[Footnote 41: Daily News, June 4th, 1900.]