The Bond leaders in Holland and South Africa had at an early stage acted upon Stuart Mill's recognised saying, "that conviction in a cause is of more potent avail than mere interest in it." Among those leaders there was no lack of men of erudition and of psychological science, than whom no one knew better the prime importance of ensuring uniformity of convictions among the Boers and their partisans, and that the public mind needs to be framed and trained so as to view the Boer cause as just and that of the English as odiously wicked. They knew how indispensable the Press is for attaining those objects, how journalism is capable of plausibly representing black as white and to convince people so—that, in fact, it is on occasion an agency of persuasion more potent than armies are. Its needs are unscrupulous pens and ample payments. For money is the sinews of journalism as well as of war, whether the projectiles be charged with lyddite or with lies, whether it is bullets or throwing dust into people's eyes.
We have seen how a few articles (for which a leading French paper received £100,000) were instrumental in enabling the Panama Canal Co. to swindle the French public of forty million pounds sterling, and more recently, where through Press agency it became feasible to a combination of Jesuitism and militarism to seduce by far the greater portion of the noble French nation into frenzied agitation and anti-Semitic excesses, and load the entire people with almost ineffaceable guilt in the matter of that unfortunate Dreyfus. In its Press campaign the Afrikaner Bond employed several leading Colonial organs— the Bloemfontein Express, the Pretoria Volksstem, the Standard and Diggers' News of Johannesburg, and numerous papers of note abroad as well. These were coached, in the usual masterly manner, sophisticating and perverting truth. Whenever a lull occurred in treating one or other of the more salient questions, those South African papers would invariably contain—especially in their Dutch columns—aspersive articles, coupled with invective comments to prejudice the Boer mind and to reawaken anti-English sentiments. It is notable as a proof that the Bond party lacked all occasions for recriminations, so that those papers had to resort for material for their vituperation to distorted incidents of Transvaal history prior to the peace of 1881. There would, for example, be dished up falsely rendered and dramatically coloured and perverted selections, such as the treacherous massacre of Retief's party in 1838, averring that the Zulu king, Dingaan, had been incited thereto by the British authorities; tragic descriptions of events, coupled with the massacres by Zulu impis soon after at Weenen and Blaauwkrantz, averred also to have taken place at the instance of the English Government, and ever and anon references and full tragic descriptions of the Slachtersnek execution in 1816, omitting to state that the Boer culprits were hanged after fair and open trial and conviction by a "Boer" jury for high treason in conspiring with Kaffirs against the Government, which crime had led to bloodshed, and that their relatives had been ordered to witness the execution because they had been abettors and privy to the crime.
Books teaching the history of South Africa were adapted for school use wherein denunciations against the English appear in almost every chapter. Poetry in the vernacular Dutch and pamphlets teeming with like burdens and calumnies also did their share in inspiring race hatred.
Pro-Boer journalism in England and elsewhere abroad had assumed such dimensions, especially during the past decade, as to bring the Secret Service expenditure on that head during recent years to over £100,000 per annum. Dr. Leyds, the Transvaal ambassador, now (December, 1899) in Europe, is known to some to have with him some £250,000 to defray Press expenditure, etc., apart from the millions to which he is authorized to engage his Government in diplomatic projects, such as procuring allies, or to create embroilments and diversions to the prejudice of England.
To sum up the success achieved by anti-English propaganda, we find the Boer nation, from the Zambesi to the Cape, unanimous in convictions as to their fancied claims, their own absolute innocence, and the immeasurable guilt of the British Government, abetted by capitalism—guilt which cries to heaven for retribution; and those convictions take with each man the form of a resolute patriotism wherein mingled fanaticism and religious fervour in their cause form a powerfully sustaining part.
Partisanship outside of Africa counts by millions of individuals and entire peoples; with these it is not so much conviction, but rather persuasion induced by political hatred and the souring effects of jealousy and unsuccessful rivalry. This feature is, of course, most accentuated in Holland, where, with the eyes set upon the loaves and fishes in South Africa, that nation has for some time been "publicly praying" for Boer victory over England. These are instances of mere interest in lieu of genuine convictions. In England the spectacle is more varied. There we see interest where there are paid agencies, and persuasion more or less pronounced induced by political party spirit and also by real convictions. It is in regard to the latter category where perverted journalism triumphs most and stabs deepest, where men of honour and patriotism have adopted views which clash against public interest, and convictions which torture their own minds with grief and shame under the supposed idea of England's unjust attitude towards the Boer people, assuming that a Government majority allows itself to be actuated by base motives.
Is it not attributable in a large proportion to misguided as well as to venal journalism that the Boer cause has so heavily scored?
Was all this not manifest in the divisions of England's counsels, in the hampered progress of her diplomacy, her fateful hesitancy and delay in providing appropriate preventive and protective measures in South Africa?
And as regards the tenacity of those convictions, it is with them as it is in plant life. The longer a tree is in maturing, the harder is it to uproot it.
The activities of Bond propaganda have been in continuance for many years, and the prejudices fostered so long are correspondingly deep-rooted.
Bond patriotism was not long subjected to the strain of individual contributions and unpaid performances. When the Transvaal revenues advanced with such giant strides the Afrikaner Bond leaders in that State contrived arrangements by which the financial requirements were supplied from State receipts. Nor was the least compunction felt in doing so. Was the revenue of the State not chiefly derived from the Uitlander element—from Uitlander investments, which all throve from the nation's own buried gold wealth? No scruples existed to provide from those sources the armaments and all else needed for the common cause of conquest.
A secret service fund of some £40,000 per year only was placed upon the budget list. But this amount was vastly exceeded by the growing requirements of the Afrikaner Bond for expenditure in South Africa alone. It was easily contrived to divert, sub rosa, large State receipts to supply the remaining financial needs. Among these figured, besides the heavy outlays in journalism abroad, gratuities, etc., a large bill also for secret agencies, spies, and the like.
The entire expenditure was under the direction of a few only of the trusted leaders and audited by the chiefs, all being kept otherwise undivulged.
The Transvaal thus became the treasury as well as the arsenal of the entire Afrikaner Bond.
Hundreds of agents were in constant employ in the Cape Colonies and Natal suborning the Boer colonists; many of them occupied positions in various branches of the Colonial Government, and were able to supply information upon any subject and even to influence elections.
There were numerous permanent agents drawing large emoluments in Europe also, and emissaries to different places abroad, some touring in America, England, and the Continent, as the Rev. Mr. Bosman did recently, and also the P.M.G., Isaac van Alphen.
Much energy and money were also devoted to electioneering campaigns, as had notoriously been done in the Cape Colony towards bringing in a Bond majority. Large sums are spent in the diplomatic arena in Holland to propitiate foreign statesmen, soliciting sympathy, and in coquettings for Transvaal allies. One of these attempts that failed had been with Germany. It would appear that some progress had been feasible some years ago in temporarily luring Emperor William to favour a Holland-Transvaal combination, but when that sovereign had at last penetrated the infamous business that lay behind it all, he, as a true "Bayard" promptly washed his hands clean of it, preferring to forego obvious brilliant advantages for his people than to sully Germany's fair fame in a connection amounting to no less than abetting a foul conspiracy.
The readers of the Johannesburg Standard and Diggers' News will remember among the staple attacks upon capitalism quite a series of articles intended to decoy mining artisans and operatives to Boer views. Secret agents were also employed for that purpose, and to induce the belief that the Government was the enemy of capitalism, and would champion its victims (the mining operatives) in the State. It would support miners and the working class generally against attempts to curtail the just rights of labour, and to parade its sincerity actually passed a law constituting eight tours a legal day's labour. With such coquettings it was hoped to gain the miners' confidence and adhesion. Those men were, however, not to be taught by quasi-socialistic professions of concern, and when, some months later, the exodus prior to the war occurred, they nearly all left, much to the disgust and discomfiture of the Government, which had counted upon them to stay to work the mines for its own account when the moment should arrive.
The appropriation of gold mines and their exploitation for Government benefit bring about a singular anomaly for a nation engaged in war, viz., that of a plethora of gold and a scarcity of paper currency, the Transvaal mint coining the sinews of war at the expense of its victims, but the plundered gold after all not equalling commercial paper values.
In connection with the foregoing remarks the following may also be said. States professing neutrality still permit themselves to trade with the Transvaal to a large extent. It is notorious that that State possesses no funds available for payments except the gold derived from the misappropriated mines. The output is seized in its entirety, and not limited to the extent accruing to British scrip holders only. The hustling rivalry of doing business with the Transvaal thus involves receiving stolen money in payment of trade accounts. We see the receivers eager to stand upon the same platform as the thief, thus not only as his political partisans, but also as his accomplices.