The Boer section in the Cape Colonies represents nearly one-half of the white population there. Their representatives in the administration were ever profuse and assertive in professions of loyalty to the Queen and to the English Government, and any aspersions to the contrary were always indignantly and stoutly repelled. The Afrikaner Bond was averred to include nothing to clash with loyal sentiments, no severance from England, but, on the contrary, that its principal objects were to strengthen the lines of amity and joint solidarity in view of a general federation of South Africa upon Imperial bases. In support of such sentiments one of the first acts of the Bond party when recently come into power was a vote of £30,000 per year towards British naval outlays, and in grateful recognition of naval protection; it was at the same time mooted, in fact almost pledged, that the Transvaal would similarly offer £12,000 as well.
The sequel has proven these to be Athenian gifts, for no sooner had the Republican commandoes invaded the Cape Colonies in November last than those identical men enthusiastically welcomed the Queen's enemies as their friends and deliverers from hateful English dominion. There they stood—self-avowed and unmasked traitors. Members of the Legislative Assembly met those Boer invaders with addresses and speeches, assuring them of their own and of every other true Afrikaner's aid and fidelity in their common cause. "The star of liberty," they said, "had arisen at last—it had been the nation's desire and prayers during the past fifteen years." "He could thank God with tears of joy for having granted those prayers." Such were the words of Mr. van der Walt, M.L.A., uttered at Colesberg. Mr. de Wet, M.L.A., Mr. van den Heever, M.L.A., and other colonial notables were spokesmen in similar terms of enthusiasm on other occasions as the invasion advanced. All this is sadly notorious, but still it seems a hard task to convince people who prefer to remain blind or only see a presumptuous adversary in any one who seeks to enlighten them upon this glaring and premeditated treachery.
October and November were months of unrestrained exultation to the Boer party, to judge from letters and articles which appeared in the Standard and Diggers' News, Johannesburg, dated 22nd November, 1899, and in the Pretoria Volksstem, dated 20th November, 1899. There one sees the mask off, in language of defiant insult and of scurrilous mendacity against all that is English, avowing that the present Anglo-Boer War has been the outcome of preparations during the past thirty years. That letter is not all suitable reading for the tender sex, but should serve as evidence to the still unconvinced sceptic that the Boers are fighting for something more than their mere independence and liberty, viz., for conquest and the domination of Afrikanerdom. His Excellency Dr. Leyds may deny all those too previous intentions with his placid effrontery of assumed innocent calm. He may denounce Mr. Chamberlain, Rhodes, Jameson, and even the Prince of Wales, and he may use the old device of posing as innocent by accusing others. The detected robber, however, does not always escape with his booty by running off himself, whilst shouting "Stop, thief!"
Something refreshingly analogous to such attempts of screening and exculpation has been extemporized in Cape journals of late. There, in an ingeniously pretended dissertation, it is invented how ill founded the aspersions are against Mr. Premier Schreiner, and that the acts, upon which he was so wrongly suspected as an amphibious helmsman, are really attributable to another person—by the way, to one at a safe distance, viz., to Mr. F.W. Reitz, the Transvaal State Secretary; whilst this gentleman again, when lecturing at Johannesburg in July last, naively deplored the confusion of people's ideas who see anything wrong in the Afrikaner Bond, adding: "Lord, forgive them, for they know not what they do or talk about."
"The peace of South Africa is only possible under Boer supremacy," is the Bond shibboleth. The end justifies the means, even to sedition, to a war of conquest and the wholesale plunder of investors.
Many of the younger Boers in the Cape Colony and Natal had shown a singular ardour in joining the several volunteer corps. They were equipped with uniforms and best weapons, were drilled into efficiency, received pay, and all went on well until the oath of allegiance was to be tendered. This they refused, preferring to resign and to provide arms from other sources—Mauser rifles by preference. This happened some considerable time before the outbreak of the war.
Boer Arguments Denying Uitlanders' Complaints
Many plausible arguments are proffered to prove that Uitlanders' grievances and irritations are purely fictitious, but few, I venture to say, will bear
examination. Taxation, for example, is stoutly averred to fall alike upon burgher and Uitlander, but a glance at the long rubric of articles specially taxed will show that the selection is contrived to hit the latter and to spare, or even to protect and benefit, the burgher section.
The gold industry is not charged with a royalty as is customary in other gold-producing countries, but with 5 per cent. only upon the net profits; but here an intolerant and corrupt domination proves much more prejudicial than a heavy royalty would be.
Proper representation would be the remedy and afford contentment, even with higher taxation, but that is refused upon Bond principles.
The Anglo-Boer War is attributed to base motives on the part of the British Government, operating in collusion with capitalism—to England's passion for annexation, her rapacious greed for the Transvaal gold, her inordinate ambition to universal commercial supremacy, etc. What a confusion of assertions and of self-refuting contradictions!
Would England really acquire the Transvaal gold by the annexation of that State, seeing that its mines are already capitalized and as good as expropriated in favour of the host of shareholders, some of whom are English, but the greater portion German, French, and of other nations?
What advantage would accrue to shareholders? Would England, in case of forcible annexation, not be under the necessity of incurring a heavy charge in the increase of her South African garrisons, and so be justified in levying a considerable royalty upon the output, which would materially reduce the dividends? What advantage would arise to England by substituting an unproductive and costly war in South Africa for conditions of peace and prosperity, which alone can yield her commerce profit? England can only derive profit from wars waged between other peoples. And as to the incentive of commercial supremacy, England, while possessing that to a large extent already, freely and voluntarily allows all comers from other nationalities to share the benefits with her by her principle of free trade.
10. Extract from Pretoria Volksstem, 20th November, 1899, from a long letter averred to have appeared in the London Times, dated 12th October, 1899, said to have been signed by a well-known Cape Boer, then in England:—
"We have desired delay, and we have had it, and we are now practically masters of South Africa from the Zambesi to the Cape. All the Afrikaners in the Cape Colony have been working for years past for this end.
"For thirty years the Cape Dutch have been waiting their chance, and now their day has come; they will throw off their mask and their yoke at the same instant, and 200,000 Dutch heroes will trample you tinder foot. We can afford to tell you the truth now, and in this letter you have got it."