As is known, the conference between Sir Alfred Milner and President Krüger, assisted by President Steyn, took place at Bloemfontein during the first days of June last (1899), and resulted in the refusal to a demand of a five years' franchise made on behalf of the Transvaal Uitlanders, which refusal was some time later modified by enacting a law admitting them to full burgher rights after a probation of seven years, but coupled with restrictive forms and conditions which made that measure unacceptable. Some time before that conference the old Free Stater already mentioned obtained several prolonged interviews with the hon. State Secretary Reitz, at Pretoria, with the object of dissuading the Transvaal Government from conferring with Sir Alfred Milner while as yet no sufficient friendly rapprochement had been reached and no advance had been made as to mutually approved bases upon which to confer. He strongly deprecated the idea of granting "full" burgher rights to Uitlanders, but held that their needs and wishes could be met by allowing their interests to be amply represented without impinging upon the special privileges which should be reserved for the burgher status proper. He was finally invited by Mr. Reitz to submit his scheme in writing, with the promise that it should receive careful consideration. That old Free Stater complied, and supplied President Krüger with a duplicate separately as well. The scheme ran in substance as follows:

"Modus vivendi"

The population of the Transvaal to be divided into two classes, pending the continued presence of the large floating portion consisting of Uitlanders who derive their subsistence from the mining industries, viz.:—

1st Class.—The fixed or burgher estate.

2nd Class.—The floating or alien estate or Guests.

The 1st Volksraad to be elected by burghers only, and to represent the highest legislative and administrative powers.

The 2nd Volksraad to be elected by Uitlanders and burghers, and to be vested with all such reasonable legislative powers as will cover the domestic, industrial, and vocative interests of both burghers and guests.

The Uitlander franchise shall be limited to representation in the 2nd Volksraad, and be extended under usual fair conditions of eligibility to all white persons after two years' residence, retrospectively reckoned.

Aliens may be admitted to full burgher rights and vote for 1st Volksraad, President, and Commandant-General, after five years' residence, if approved of by two-thirds of the burghers of his ward, possesses landed property to the value of £1,000, and has not been convicted here or elsewhere of any degrading crime.

Members of both Volksraads and for public service shall be eligible without respect of creed.

The exploitation of mines shall be subject to a tax of 25 per cent., reckoned upon the yearly net profits, such revenue to be applied at the discretion of the 1st Volksraad solely for the benefit of the burgher estate—schools, hospitals, universities, pensions, by means of permanent endowments.

The Government of the Transvaal undertakes:—

1.         There shall be no identification or co-operation permitted, on the part of any of the Transvaal people, with the association known as the Afrikaner Bond, or any such-like political complot.

2.         The recognition of British paramountcy over South Africa, including the Transvaal, in so far as it does not clash with the intentions and provisions set forth in the conventions of 1881 and 1884, and does not extend to interference with or curtailment of complete internal autonomy.

3.         Renunciation of indemnity claim re Jameson incursion.

4.         To regulate the question of coloured British subjects resident in the Transvaal upon a genial basis, irrespective of the Bloemfontein arbitration award upon that subject.

5.         Poll and war taxes shall be abolished.

6.         Dual rights equal with the Dutch language shall be accorded to the English language, similarly as is done in the Cape Colony for Dutch.

7.         The railways and dynamite factory to be expropriated as soon as possible—the loans required thereto to be amortized within twenty years, and pending those expropriations the freights upon coal and oversea goods shall be reduced 10 per cent, and the price of explosives 20s. per case, these reductions to be met from the revenue accruing to the burgher estate from the tax upon mining profits.

8.         To join a general Customs union upon equitable conditions.

9.         Restore the High Court to independent power in terms of constitution.

The sequel has shown that Bond counsels prevailed over the suggestions of that old Free Stater. As to the seven years' franchise offered under the pretence and colour of meeting Sir Alfred Milner's demand, it had clearly been intended to serve as a decoy and stop-gap pending the contemplated war of conquest, and to mask Bond duplicity while further preparations were to be completed in diplomacy abroad and in the seditious conspiracy in the Colonies. Natal was at that time swarming with Boer emissaries, and Transvaal artillery officers with Hollander engineers in disguise were seen inspecting Laing's Nek tunnel and other strategic points in that colony.

Not knowing at the time that State Secretary Reitz was an inveterate Bondman, that old Free State patriot had roundly denounced to him the wickedness of Bond aims, and added the remark that the establishment of a united Boer Republic apart from British supremacy in South Africa was a deceptive dream.

England has a mission in Africa—that of the Boers can only be subordinate to it. It would need the aid of a powerful maritime combination to supplant England. The case of America does not present an analogy; there England only was actually interested, but here various other nations were concerned in their respective huge investments. They would have a voice in the business. Armed intervention would lead to a big European war and extreme misery to entire Africa—just what the devil wants, but not the investor. Indiscriminate franchise will cause the loss of national independence, and so might ultimately cosmopolize and obliterate their distinctive nationality, but so would also a war with England, with the total sacrifice of their independence into the bargain. Let the Government rather prove to England its sincere friendship and agree to deal well by the Uitlanders, treating them as privileged guests, then the unhappy strain in relations will cease. Above all, renounce that wicked Afrikaner Bond with its motto of conquest. The demand for franchise is England's device of self-protection against Bond designs. England will desist from that demand if we renounce the Bond and prove our friendship.

That old Free Stater had moreover expressed his most earnest conviction that a modus vivendi upon the lines suggested would find ready consideration as an alternative to the five years' franchise demand, and that the British Government would hail with the utmost satisfaction and relief any tentative towards a sound rapprochement based upon the contentment of the Boer people within the areas of their Republics and which would terminate Bond aspirations for Boer supremacy in South Africa. Had he been permitted, the old Free Stater would gladly have called upon the British agent at Pretoria, Mr. Conyngham Greene, and felt confident that the modus vivendi would lead finally to a complete cessation of British interference and to best relations and prosperous conditions for all instead. He also cautioned the Government at Pretoria, giving chapter and verse, against counting upon "the arm of man." They would find they had trusted on reeds—it would be so in regard to any foreign help, and even in regard to men of their own nation in the Cape Colony.

During one of the interviews Mr. Reitz had remarked that he had a special theory in regard to the situation; but it varied from that of the President, who, in reality, was King, and whose will overcame all opposition.