The promiscuous details and incidents, together with the circumstantial and primâ facie evidence thus far adduced in arraigning the Afrikaner Bond combination, point mostly to conditions existent before the war broke out. We had the smoke before the conflagration—it is a wonder how people could manage to ignore the menace. Now the war torch is over us in its full luridness.
Ordinary fires, if not kindled, originate either from accident, spontaneous combustion, or incendiarism. With war the origin may be traced to similar causes either singly or in combination, or, when we cannot hit the exact diagnosis, we explain it with a handy word and call it evolution, as we may do in the case of the present Anglo-Boer conflict.
We may for a moment review the material and then also the agencies and incentives which operated that evolution against harmony and peace, and to which the conflagration is due. We have noted the legal acquisition of the Cape Colonies by Great Britain, the equally recognised occupation under treaties with England of the two Boer Republics, the English and Boer races in progress of friendly assimilation and in happy prosperity all over South Africa. This was essentially the position in 1881, until it became gradually marred by an invidious element. We have further noted the declining condition of Holland, its moribund language, and finally the prospects which South Africa presented for that nation's restoration to powerful significance, the English factor only standing in the way.
The next aspect brings out the marring manifestations: greed of land and of conquest with the Pretoria-Bloemfontein combination; malignant sedition in the Cape Colonies, urged by lust to participate more directly in the wealth of gold and diamonds in the north and to share general plunder—both categories of covetousness merged into one purulent fester by men of conceited ambition, all cemented with collusion, but the whole of it devised, engineered, and operated by the most malignant agencies from Holland under the coaching of the evil one himself.
The reader may be able to assess the degrees of guilt of each category—of the Republican Boer aspirant for land, the Colonial Boer rebel seeking his particular profit, the accomplices who for ambitious ends lead the first two, and the insidious Hollander intriguers who seduced and actuated all in order to seize the lion's share of the spoliation.
To sum up, the respective rewards which lured them all are: Plunder for the Boers and rebels, laurels and "fat" places for the Bond leaders, and a substantial harvest for entire Holland, with pæans of praise for the coterie and Dr. Leyds from a grateful people for successfully restoring the good fortunes of the Dutch nation, and for effecting a retributive vendetta upon England, all under world-wide, gloating acclaims of gratified and vindictive jealousy.
The Hollander coterie may plead patriotism which pointed to the duty of using the tempting opportunity presented in South Africa in saving Holland from national submersion and political extinction by means of the Boer nation, but against this stands the unparalleled vileness of expedients and the treacherous deceptions employed to attain that object. It involved the wholesale seduction of one section of that nation into sedition and rebellion against a most beneficent and just Government under which they prospered and enjoyed the highest conceivable degree of liberty and even special privileges, and of pitting the other section into hostility and war against a Power which meant nothing else than peace and amity towards them, thus placing both into a position of risk to forfeit all their prosperity, apart from the inevitable horrors of a war evoked by their rapacious and murderous Hollander malice.
The Bond scientists in Holland had fully persevered in their craftily laid programme. After having succeeded in producing race hatred between Boer and English, the next step had been to convince the Boer leaders and the people of the inevitableness of a contest for ensuring the supremacy of the Afrikaners, coupled with the absolute necessity of the complete expulsion of the entire British element. As arguments were adduced that the British element had proved itself unassimilable and irreconcilable, its retention in South Africa would necessitate continuous provisions to keep it in a state of subjection. The existence of such conditions would be inconsistent and incompatible with the true ideal liberty as intended for the whole of South Africa, and which must be linked with all-round equality and fraternity. The presence of a British factor would be an unsurmountable bar to that consummation, hence the necessity of its total removal.
The Bond leaders are the next in guilt; with these the incentive is principally ambition, which, by degrees, became mis-shaped into a specious patriotism. It is known how an ardently desired object pursued for a long period is apt to so monopolize and infatuate the mind as to totally vitiate and pervert the sense of discernment between right and wrong, both as to the legitimacy of the object and the means to be employed for its attainment. As the realization remains deferred and the efforts are increased, the object from being considered legitimate is by degrees invested with merit, a halo of virtue is added to the aspect, its pursuit is viewed as a duty by fair or by questionable means, the end justifying the latter. All, it is said, is fair in love and warfare. This diagnosis appears particularly applicable to President Krüger and State Secretary F.W. Reitz, both men of sincere piety (perhaps also to Mr. Schreiner), who would have abandoned their project and renounced and repudiated the Afrikaner Bond if ever they had doubted its legitimacy of principle. So also with most of the other Boer leaders and their clergy too. The agencies must have been exceedingly subtle, and the jugglery and artifice superhuman, to operate such processes of reasoning, such deception and aberration in honest-minded and even godly persons.
As to the bulk of the Boer people, they are simply led by their chiefs and superiors, in whom they repose unquestioning confidence. They go unreasoningly with the stream of opinion under the firm belief that all is divinely sanctioned, including rebellion and violence, and blindly obey their call, considering their cause analogous to that of the Jews of old, who were enjoined to spoil the Egyptians and then to pass over and conquer their land of promise. No papal bull of indulgence ever freed people's consciences more than the Boer people now feel in regard to the warfare in which they are engaged.