The Boers in the Cape Colonies have been prospering in a marked degree since the British accession in 1814, enjoying ideal liberty and good government upon perfect equality with the English colonists.
The people of the Orange Free State fared equally well under best relations with the British Government up to the outbreak of the present war.
In the Transvaal the Boers were more handicapped, being furthest removed from profitable Cape connections, and having to cope with powerful hostile tribes within their border. The most redoubtable, under Secoecoenie, was subdued during the British occupation in 1878. Then followed the short war of 1880, with the voluntary retrocession and peace of January, 1881. All appeared to progress remarkably well for about ten years after, until the irrational treatment by the Boers of British subjects in the Transvaal furnished the first cause of friction, and engendered at last the Johannesburg crisis with the Jameson incursion, followed by four years' vain attempts on the part of England to bring about satisfactory and peaceful relations.
The Afrikaner Bond had been inaugurated some thirty years ago, under the mask of a constitutional organization, professing loyalty to England; that body had succeeded in hiding its object, which was no less than the expulsion from South Africa of all that is English, and which object was brutally avowed since the outbreak of the war by declarations in the Press and by incendiary speeches of Colonial Bond leaders and members of the Cape Parliament.
The British Government did not view very seriously the information it received regarding the Bond menace until the definite action of the Transvaal Government partially opened its eyes prior to the Johannesburg revolt. The hope was, however, still clung to in an undefined way that patience and forbearance would yet overcome Boer prejudice and disperse racial antipathies, and with characteristic self-confidence as well, things were allowed to drift rather out of hand.
The two Republics had been de facto allied some time before the Johannesburg crisis in 1895. Both were then already provided with very abundant armaments of up-to-date types, with equipments and preparations far and away above any conceivable needs except indeed for a coup d'état against British supremacy and to sustain a Colonial revolt.
On the occasion of the Jameson incursion the Orange Free State promptly appeared near the scene with best equipped mounted Boer commandoes and artillery to assist the Transvaal if needed.
Before 1881 and some time subsequently there had been continued progress towards the assimilation of the English and Boer races in South Africa. This was marred by Afrikaner Bond doctrines and intrigues proceeding from a Hollander coterie, the formula being "Afrika voor de Afrikaners"—the aims including the usurpation of British authority in the Colonies, supremacy of the Boer nation under one great Republican federation, and an affiliated status with Holland which should restore that people, all to the prejudice of England, to a political and economic significance and power surpassing its former epoch of European and Colonial eminence. As to the incentives to the Boer nation, these were principally the plunder of capital investments and land conquests, which the people had learnt to consider legitimate and in fact incumbent as a duty to themselves and descendants.
The means employed in that conspiracy were a subtle, so to say, occult propaganda to seduce a simple people to false convictions, to induce the creation of gigantic armaments, a secret service employing at a vast cost journalism, emissaries, and agencies, to gain partisans and allies outside South Africa, the Transvaal mint to coin the sinews of war from the appropriation of the mines and their output, the dynamite factory (that Bond corner-stone for manufacturing ammunition), a system of immigration from Holland towards supplanting the English factor and to introduce auxiliaries. Other such means were: laws for admitting auxiliaries to immediate full burgher rights and privilege to carry arms, from which Uitlanders were rigorously excluded, the rabid campaign proscribing the English language and fostering High Dutch instead (which was much less understood by the entire Boer people, and much harder for them to learn than English). To the above list of devices came the exhaustive efforts to obtain an independent seaport for the Transvaal, first at St. Lucia Bay, then at Delagoa Bay (ostensibly with a German syndicate, and since by subsidizing Portugal or suborning Portuguese notables and officials).
The climax of duplicity is reached when it is averred that the pursuit of such an organized programme during the past twenty years and more had meant peace only, never a thought of conquest, as Ambassador Leyds so innocently declared after failing to gain abroad the hoped-for support for the monstrous Bond enormity.
The Afrikaner Bond leaders would have preferred the war to have been deferred a little longer—preferably to a moment when England might be embroiled elsewhere. It was also thought of importance that the Transvaal should first realize the auriferous "underground rights" situated around the Johannesburg mines, which Government asset was expected to net at least fifty million pounds sterling. The sales had already been advertised, and were in preparation when the outbreak of the war intervened. Upon the word "ready," flashed from Bloemfontein, followed at once the fateful Pretoria ultimatum. The proceeds of those underground rights must now come in afterwards to defray the war bill.
11. President Krüger's reference to that factory is well known, styling it as one of the corner-stones of Boer independence.