[Footnote 272: This telegram is printed in Cd. 528.]
[Footnote 273: For the nature of these "Middelburg terms," see forward in note 2 on p. 568.]
[Sidenote: Affairs in the Cape colony.]
From this time forward (March 15th, 1901), Lord Milner's administrative activity is primarily concerned with the Transvaal and Orange River Colony. Owing, however, to the continued resistance of the Boers and the extension of the area of hostilities by the second invasion of the Cape Colony, the administrative development of the new colonies was confined within the narrowest limits, until six months of strenuous military operations had enabled Lord Kitchener to render the protected areas and the railways virtually secure against the raids of the Boer commandos. Four out of these six months were occupied by Lord Milner's second visit to England (May-August, 1901). But before we approach this episode, and thereby resume the main current of the narrative, it is necessary to trace the course of events in the Cape Colony. With the government of the Colony once more in the hands of the British party, Lord Milner had been relieved of the acute and constant anxieties that marked his official relationship to the Afrikander Ministry. On the vital question of the necessity of establishing British authority upon terms that would make any repetition of the war impossible, Sir Gordon Sprigg and his ministers were absolutely at one with Lord Milner and the Home Government. Whatever differences of opinion arose subsequently between the Cape ministers and the Imperial authorities were differences not of principle but of detail. For the most part they were such as would have manifested themselves in any circumstances in a country where the civil government was compelled, by the exigencies of war, to surrender some of its powers to the military authority.
[Sidenote: The Bond and peace.]
By supporting the Treason Bill, Mr. Schreiner and Sir Richard Solomon had dissociated themselves from the Afrikander nationalists; and henceforward their influence was used unreservedly on the side of British supremacy. On the other hand, Mr. Merriman and Mr. Sauer, as we have seen, had openly denounced the policy of the Imperial Government, and no less openly advocated the aims, and defended the methods, of the Afrikander Bond. The Bond's determination to do all in its power to secure the independence of the Boers, and thereby defeat the policy of the Imperial Government, was manifested by the abrupt refusal of its leaders to associate themselves with the efforts of the Burgher Peace Committee. Mr. P. de Wet and the other peace delegates who had visited the Colony in the circumstances already mentioned, desired the Bond to co-operate with them by informing the republican leaders that they must expect no military assistance from the Afrikander party, and by formally advising them to end the war in the interests of the Afrikander population. The details of the incident, as recorded in the Blue-book, show that Mr. Theron, the President of the Provincial Bestuur of the Bond and a member of the Legislative Assembly, was at first disposed to regard the proposal of the peace delegates with favour. But, after expressing himself to this effect at Wellington, on February 15th, 1901, he went to Capetown to consult the Bond leaders on the matter, and, as the result of this consultation, he wrote to Mr. de Wet, five days later, declining to meet the peace delegates again, or negotiate with them, on the ground that the "principles of the Afrikander Bond" would be prejudiced by his entering into official negotiations with the deputation, whose official status he was unable, after inquiry, to recognise. It is difficult not to connect this summary treatment of the peace delegates by the Bond with the fact that, just at this time, General C. de Wet was reporting to General Louis Botha that the "Cape Colony had risen to a man." However this may be, the wholesale manner in which the Afrikander Bond had identified itself in the country districts with the Boer invaders is sufficiently displayed by a return published six months later, from which it appears that, out of a total of thirty-three men holding official positions in the Bond organisation in three districts in the Cape Colony, twenty-seven were accused of high treason, of whom twenty-four were convicted, two absconded, and one was acquitted.
[Footnote 274: Sir Richard Solomon was appointed legal adviser to the new Transvaal Administration.]
[Footnote 275: Cd. 903.]
[Footnote 276: See p. 431.]
[Footnote 277: Cd. 903.]
With the Bond in this mood, with certain districts practically maintaining the enemy and certain other districts constantly exposed to the incursions of the guerilla leaders, with a large proportion of the loyalist population fighting at the front, and a still larger number organised for local defence, and with the whole of the Colony, except the ports, under martial law, it was obviously impossible for the machinery of representative government to continue in its normal course.
[Sidenote: Anti-British libels.]
The registration of electors, which, under the provisions of the colonial law, was directed to take place not later than the last day of February, 1901, was postponed to a more convenient season. The existing register, while it contained the names of—it was estimated—ten thousand persons disfranchised, or about to be disfranchised, for rebellion, and of some thousands of others then in arms against their sovereign, failed to include persons who had acquired the necessary qualifications since the date of the last registration (1899). Apart from the unsatisfactory condition of the voters' lists, there were other circumstances that made it undesirable as well as difficult not merely to hold the elections necessary to fill up the nine or ten vacant seats in the Legislative Assembly, but even to summon Parliament. Locomotion in many parts of the Colony was inconvenient, and sometimes dangerous. So large a proportion of the members of both chambers were absent in Europe, or engaged either in repelling the invaders or in repressing rebellion, that the remainder, if assembled, would present a mere simulacrum of the actual legislature of the Colony. Moreover, it was necessary that no fresh opportunities for promoting disaffection should be provided by discussions in Parliament or contested elections. The "carnival of mendacity" which, culminating in the Worcester Congress, was mainly responsible for the second invasion of the Colony, had been inaugurated by the inflammatory speeches delivered in the last session of Parliament by the Afrikander members during the debates on the Treason Bill. The spirit of malevolence displayed at this period by the anti-British Press, whether printed in Dutch or in English, may be inferred from the list of convictions reported on April 19th by Sir W. Hely-Hutchinson to the Colonial Office. Mr. Albert Cartwright, editor of The South African News (the reputed organ of Mr. Merriman and Mr. Sauer), was found guilty of a defamatory libel on Lord Kitchener, and sentenced to twelve months' imprisonment without hard labour. Mr. Advocate Malan, editor of Ons Land (the reputed organ of Mr. Hofmeyr), was found guilty of a defamatory libel on General French, and sentenced to a similar term of imprisonment. Mr. de Jong, editor of The Worcester Advertiser, and Mr. Vosloo, editor of Het Oosten, were both convicted of the same offence as Mr. Malan, and sentenced to six months' imprisonment without hard labour, while the former was further charged with a seditious libel attributing atrocities to the British troops, in respect of which he was convicted and sentenced to a fine of L100 or two months' imprisonment.
[Footnote 278: Cd. 903.]
The extension of martial law in January (1901) had made such excesses, whether on the platform or in the Press, no longer possible. But the Afrikander nationalists in the ports, and especially in Capetown, continued to render assistance to the guerilla leaders, both by providing intelligence of the plans of the British military authorities, and by forwarding supplies of arms and ammunition, until the time (October 9th) when these towns were placed, like the rest of the Colony, under martial law.
In these circumstances Sir W. Hely-Hutchinson, acting on the advice of his ministers, prorogued the Cape Parliament from time to time, until the actual termination of hostilities made it possible for the inhabitants of the Colony to return to the normal conditions of their political life. As, however, the provision for the ordinary cost of administration made by the Colonial Parliament in its last session did not extend beyond June 30th, 1901, it became necessary to provide for the expenditure of the Colony after this date by the issue of Governor's warrants, under which the Treasurer-General was authorised to pay out funds in anticipation of legislative authority. This technically illegal procedure, by which the authority of the Governor was substituted temporarily for that of Parliament, was advised by the Cape ministers and sanctioned by Mr. Chamberlain. In this way provision was made for the financial needs of the Government; and when, after the war, the Cape Parliament was able to meet again, the necessary bills of indemnity, legalising these acts of the Governor and acts committed by the military authorities in the administration of martial law, were passed in due course.
[Footnote 279: The action of Sir W. Hely-Hutchinson was not without precedent. See Cd. 903, pp. 57 and 67, and p. 123, supra.]
[Sidenote: Breakdown of government.]
The only alternative course was the suspension, or abrogation, of the Cape constitution by the Home Government. In view of the appeal for the suspension of the constitution made to Mr. Chamberlain a year later, and refused by him—an appeal which was endorsed by the judgment both of Lord Milner and Mr. Cecil Rhodes, and supported by the majority of the loyalists of both nationalities—it is interesting to observe that petitions addressed to the Governor in June, 1901, reveal a considerable body of opinion in favour of the proposal at this date. These petitions came from the British inhabitants of the small towns in the Eastern Province, since, in the vigorous language of one of the petitioners, "it's those who live in small towns that feel the Bond's iron heel." And the same correspondent asserts that a great number of persons have been prevented from signing the petition, although they approve of it, by fear of the "Bond boycott," adding, "Some of the Bond members have already remarked, 'Now martial law is on we are not in it; but wait until it's removed, then it will be our turn.'"
[Footnote 280: Cd. 903.]
The collapse of the system of responsible government in the Cape Colony was complete. The truth upon which Lord Durham insisted in his famous Report on Canada, that responsible government is only possible where an effective majority of the inhabitants are British, was once more demonstrated. In the granting of supplies, the characteristic function of the lower chamber, the authority of the Governor was now substituted for that of Parliament. The endeavour to check the rebellion by the agency of the civil courts had been already abandoned. The lenient penalties of the Treason Bill had produced a large increase of disaffection. On April 6th, 1901, a notice was issued by the Attorney-General warning the public that "any act of treason or rebellion and any crime of a political character" committed after the 12th instant would be brought no longer before the Special Tribunals, with their mitigated penalties created by the Act of 1900, but dealt with by the ordinary courts, and punishable by the severe penalties of the common law of the Colony. But this warning of the Attorney-General was superseded a fortnight later (April 22nd), by a notice, issued by Lord Kitchener and published by the Cape Government, under which it was declared that—
[Sidenote: The military courts.]
"All subjects of His Majesty and all persons residing in the Cape Colony who shall, in districts thereof in which martial law prevails, be actively in arms against His Majesty, or who shall directly invite others to take up arms against him, or who shall actively aid or assist the enemy or commit any overt act by which the safety of His Majesty's forces or subjects is endangered, shall immediately on arrest be tried by court martial, convened by my authority, and shall on conviction be liable to the severest penalties of the law."
[Footnote 281: Queen Victoria died January 22nd, 1901.]
The decision to deal with such cases by military courts was taken by Lord Kitchener, after consultation with Lord Milner, on the ground that the state of the midland and north-western districts was such that "only prompt and severe punishment could stop the spread of rebellion and prevent general anarchy." The Cape Government, however, in assenting to the measure, stipulated that certain conditions should be laid down for the constitution and procedure of the military courts, sufficient to check the more obvious abuses to which such tribunals are liable. These conditions, as expressed in a minute of Sir James Innes, the Attorney-General, were embodied in a set of instructions issued by Lord Kitchener to his officers concurrently with the publication of the notice of April 22nd. Nor was this all. In view of the continued assistance known to be rendered to the Boer and rebel commandos by the Afrikander nationalists, martial law was extended, on October 9th, to the Cape ports; and on December 2nd the British Government announced that, as the result of the establishment of martial law at the South African ports, no persons would be allowed to land in South Africa from January 1st, 1902, onwards without a permit, except under certain special circumstances.
[Footnote 282: Cd. 983.]
[Footnote 283: Cd. 903. These measures were taken upon Lord Milner's return to the Transvaal (September, 1901) after his visit to England. The scandal of the almost open co-operation of the Bond with the Boer leaders had become notorious, and this assistance was recognised as a contributory cause to the protraction of the guerilla war.]
Ample evidence alike of the necessity of these measures, and of the de facto suspension of the constitution, is provided by a Minister's minute of September 12th, 1901. The immediate object of the minute is to advise the Governor that it is impossible, in the opinion of the Cape Ministry, to avoid the further prorogation of Parliament; and this, although the Constitution Ordinance requires the Cape Parliament to meet "once at least every year," and cannot, therefore, be complied with, unless Parliament is summoned "for the despatch of business on or before Saturday, 12th October." In support of this decision Sir Gordon Sprigg and his colleagues referred to the Military Intelligence Report for the current month, which showed that, south of the Orange River, there were a dozen or more commandos, with a total of from 1,800 to 2,000 men; while in the portion of the Colony north of the river there were "numerous commandos also roaming about." Then follows a startling revelation of the character of the men whom the Bond organisation had sent to Parliament:
[Sidenote: Condition of Cape parliament.]
"One member of the House of Assembly," ministers write, "is undergoing a term of imprisonment for seditious libel, three members are awaiting their trial on the charge of high treason, two seats are practically vacant by reason of the absence of the members without leave during the whole of last session. Those two members are alleged to have welcomed the invaders of the Colony, and encouraged rebellion, and then fled to Holland, where they are now living. One seat is vacant by the resignation of the member, who has accepted an appointment in the Transvaal Colony. Another seat is vacant on account of the death of the member, another member is sending in his resignation owing to ill health, which compels him to reside in Europe. In all these cases the divisions concerned are either under martial law or in a state of disturbance, which makes new elections impracticable.
"Besides the cases enumerated there are members who have been deported from their homes on account of the seditious influences which the military authorities allege they were exercising, and others who are under military observation, with respect to whom their attendance in Parliament must be regarded as uncertain. Several members also are engaged in military operations, whose attendance could not, in the present condition of the country, be relied on. There are also some members who would be unable to attend owing to the state of war and rebellion prevailing in the districts where they reside, whose personal presence is necessary for the protection of their families and property."
Such a legislature, they concluded, could not be regarded as "fairly representing the people." Moreover—
"There is also the further consideration that the probability of good resulting from the meeting of Parliament now is but small, while the likelihood of evil consequences accruing from the publication of speeches of a character similar to many that were delivered last session is strong. The tendency of such speeches would be to encourage the spirit of rebellion which unhappily prevails in the Colony over a large area, and ministers regard it as an imperative duty to do everything in their power to subdue that rebellious spirit, and restore peace and good-will to the distracted country."
[Footnote 284: Cd. 903.]
The necessity for the more stringent action now taken by the Imperial authorities was, therefore, undoubted. But here again, in placing the ports, the centres of commercial life, under martial law, an endeavour was made to render the restraints of military rule as little onerous as possible. A Board, consisting of three persons nominated respectively by the Governor, the Prime Minister, and the General Commanding in the Cape Colony, was created for the consideration and, where necessary, the redress of all complaints or grievances arising out of martial law in the Colony, other than pecuniary claims against the Government. The fact that, on the whole, martial law was judiciously administered is indicated by the Report of the proceedings of this Board, presented on December 3rd by Mr. (now Sir Lewis) Mitchell, who, as Manager of the Standard Bank, had been appointed chairman by Sir W. Hely-Hutchinson. Out of 199 cases brought before the Board, Mr. Mitchell writes:
"A fair number of substantial grievances have been redressed, but in a majority of instances the Board have held that complainants suffered through some misconduct of their own, or were deported, imprisoned, or otherwise punished on reasonable grounds of suspicion."
[Footnote 285: Cd. 903.]
[Sidenote: Loyalists defend the colony.]
In all this Sir Gordon Sprigg loyally co-operated with the Imperial military authorities. His attitude, and that of the loyalist inhabitants of the Colony, may be gathered from the speech which he delivered at Capetown on December 1st, 1901. In this striking and inspiring utterance we have the companion picture to that presented in the minute of September 12th. Throughout there runs a note of justifiable pride in the military efforts of the Cape Government, and in the sacrifices which these efforts have entailed upon the loyalist population. First there was the number of troops provided. The Cape Government had placed, he said, 18,000 men in the field against the invaders and rebels; they had a defensive force of 18,000 town guards, of whom 3,000 were natives; and, in addition, 7,000 natives were under arms in the Transkei for the defence of those territories. In respect of this force of 18,000 men in the field, Sir Gordon Sprigg pointed out that such a number of men, coming from a population of 500,000, was equivalent to a force of 1,450,000 men from the United Kingdom, with its population of over 40,000,000. He might have added that, since half of the 500,000 Europeans in the Cape Colony were "either actually in rebellion against the Crown or in positive sympathy with rebellion," the more correct equivalent force from the United Kingdom would have been 3,000,000 men. And as for the cost of maintenance, the colony provided three-fourths of the expenditure upon the 18,000 men in the field, while it wholly supported the town guards and other purely defensive forces. He then dwelt with satisfaction upon the fact that these local forces were now entirely controlled by the Cape Government, which had made itself responsible for the defence of no less than thirty-one districts of the Colony.
"Months ago," he said, "we pressed strongly upon the Commander-in-Chief to hand over to us the colonial forces then under his direction. We thought that if we got them into our possession, not only defraying the cost of their maintenance, but taking charge of certain parts of the Colony, we could keep those districts clear of the enemy. We were continually putting that view before the Commander-in-Chief, and also before the High Commissioner, Lord Milner, but still the matter hung, and we had communications going backwards and forwards till at last the High Commissioner communicated with me, and he said, 'I think the only way to come to an understanding in this matter is, if we have a conference. If you could manage to meet Lord Kitchener and myself, I have great hopes we should be able to arrange what you desire.' I asked then if Lord Kitchener and Lord Milner could come to meet me half-way, but Lord Kitchener said it was not possible for him to leave Pretoria at that time, but he would be only too delighted if I could come up and meet him and Lord Milner upon the question. The result of that was that I went up with two of my colleagues. It has been put about all over the country that we were ordered by Lord Kitchener to proceed to Pretoria, but, so far from that being the case, it was our suggestion that we should take over the command of certain portions of the country, and we went up to Pretoria to secure that object. And in that we were successful, and the result of it has been published very lately."
[Footnote 286: Cd. 903. This was, in its essence, the proposal for the systematic and effective defence of the Colony, which Lord Milner had consistently advocated both before and during the war—with General Butler and the Home Government, with Lord Roberts at the time of the Forward Movement (see p. 353), and now at the eleventh hour with Lord Kitchener in support of the Cape Government.]
[Sidenote: Second visit to England.]
These events, revealing the slow and laborious progress of the Imperial troops in a South Africa rent by war from end to end, account sufficiently for the postponement of the work of active administrative reconstruction in the new colonies, to which Lord Milner owed the opportunity for his second visit to England. On April 3rd, 1901, he telegraphed a request that he might be allowed to return home at an early date, on leave, since he feared that, unless he had a short rest, he would approach the onerous duty of superintending the work of reconstruction with lessened efficiency. "I have now been continuously in harness," he said, "without a day's holiday, for more than two years ... and it is, undoubtedly, better for the public service, if I am to get such a rest at all, that I should take leave immediately while military operations still continue and the work of civil administration is necessarily curtailed, rather than when it will be possible to organise civil government in a more complete fashion, and when many important problems which are for the moment in abeyance will have to be dealt with." To this request Mr. Chamberlain replied that, although His Majesty's Government greatly regretted that it was necessary for Lord Milner to leave South Africa at present, they quite recognised that it was unavoidable that he should take the rest which the severe strain of the last two years had made imperative. He was, therefore, to take leave as soon as he found it possible to do so.
[Footnote 287: Cd. 547.]
[Sidenote: Civil affairs in new colonies.]
None the less the little that could be done to develop the inchoate machinery of administration which marked the transition from military to civil order in the new colonies, was done, and done well, before Lord Milner left Johannesburg. On May 4th, 1901, Sir H. Gould-Adams was able to report that the chief departments of the administration of the Orange River Colony had been transferred from military to civil officials, and reorganised on a permanent basis. In the Transvaal the departments of finance, law, mines, and that of the Secretary to the Administration, had been organised, and were gradually taking over an increasing volume of administrative work from the military officials. Even more significant was the establishment by proclamation (May 8th), of a nominated Town Council for the management of the municipal affairs of Johannesburg, and the consequent abolition of the office of Military Governor, with the transfer of the departments hitherto controlled by him to a Government Commissioner and other officials of the civil administration. This step was rendered possible by the circumstance that a certain number of the principal residents, of whom twelve were nominated for service on the Council, had now returned to their homes. It marked the recommencement of the industrial life of the Rand, which had followed the permission, given by Lord Kitchener in April, for three mines to resume work. From this time forward the Uitlander refugees began to return; although, as we have seen, it was not possible to allow the general mass of the inhabitants to leave the coast towns until the following November. And, in addition to this, Lord Milner had obtained statements of the views of the Cape and Natal Governments on the question of the settlement of the new colonies. Mr. Chamberlain had attached great importance to this interchange of opinions; rightly holding that, in determining the conditions and methods of the settlement of the conquered territories, the British South African colonies should be taken into the counsels of the Imperial Government. Lord Milner had, therefore, submitted to the colonial Governments the draft of the Letters Patent, under which the system of Crown Colony government was to be established in the Transvaal and the Orange River Colony, before they were issued. As the result of these consultations the terms of surrender granted to the Boers at Vereeniging, and the consequent administrative arrangements arising out of them, embodied decisions based not merely on the judgment of the Imperial Government, but on what was virtually the unanimous opinion of the loyal population of South Africa. In this, as in the crisis of the negotiations before the war, the loyalists found in Lord Milner their "representative man."
[Footnote 288: See p. 459.]
[Footnote 289: The Letters Patent were not issued until August.]
[Sidenote: Milner in England.]
Lord Milner—then Sir Alfred Milner—left Capetown on May 8th, and reached England on the 24th. On his arrival in London he was met at the station by Lord Salisbury and Mr. Chamberlain, and immediately conducted to the King, who was at that time still residing at Marlborough House. At the end of a long audience His Majesty announced his intention of raising him to the peerage, the first of many marks of royal favour, including his elevation to the Privy Council, which were shown to the High Commissioner during his stay in England. The warm demonstrations of popular regard with which he had been welcomed upon his arrival in London, were followed by a luncheon given on the next day (Saturday, May 25th) in his honour by Mr. Chamberlain, his official chief. The speech elicited by this notable occasion is one in which a graceful humour is characteristically blended with deep emotion. Those who have had the good fortune to hear many of Lord Milner's speeches—speeches sometimes turning a page of history, sometimes mere incidents of official or administrative routine—know that they are all alike distinguished by the high quality of sincerity. But this was an occasion upon which even adroitness of intellect and integrity of purpose might well have sought the shelter of conventional expressions. Lord Milner dispenses with any such protection. "In a rational world," he said, it would have seemed better to everybody that he, "with a big unfinished job awaiting him," and many of his fellow workmen unable to take the rest which they both deserved and needed, "should have arrived, and stayed, and returned in the quietest possible manner." But it was an age in which it "seemed impossible for many people to put a simple and natural interpretation on anything; and his arrival in this quiet manner would have been misconstrued to a degree, which would have been injurious to the public interests." If his "hard-begged holiday" could have been represented as a "veiled recall," then of course it was obvious that, having taken the proverbial hansom from Waterloo to his own chambers, this very harmless action would have been "trumpeted over two continents as evidence of his disgrace."
[Footnote 290: It was, in its essence, the "high seriousness of absolute sincerity" that Arnold, after Aristotle, makes the central attribute of poetic thought. In commenting upon a speech delivered at Germiston on March 15th, 1905, the Johannesburg Star wrote on the day following: "Did ever a High Commissioner for South Africa speak in this wise before? But beneath the light words and unstudied diction there is the weight and sureness of the 'inevitable' thought. A man who has pursued a single task for eight years with unremitting effort and unswerving devotion can afford to put his mind into his words. And in all that Lord Milner says there is an absolute sincerity, born of high integrity of purpose and an assurance of knowledge, that compels conviction. Or, rather, should we say, that makes the need of conviction as unnecessary as a lamp in daylight."]
"It is hard, it is ludicrous," he continued, "that some of the busiest men in the world should be obliged to occupy their time, and that so many of my friends and well wishers should be put to inconvenience—and on a day, too, when it would be so nice to be in the country—merely in order to prove to persons with an ingrained habit of self-delusion that the British Government will not give up its agents in the face of the enemy, or that the people of this country will not allow themselves to be bored into abandoning what they have spent millions of treasure and so many precious lives to obtain. All I can say is, that if it was necessary (I apologise for it: I am sorry to be the centre of a commotion from which no man could be constitutionally more averse than myself), I can only thank you heartily for the kindness and the cordiality with which the thing has been done. I feel indeed that the praises which have been bestowed, the honours which have been heaped on me, are beyond my deserts. But the simplest thing to do under these circumstances is to try to deserve them in the future. In any case I am under endless obligations. It is difficult to say these things in the face of the persons principally concerned, but I feel bound to take this opportunity, especially in view of the remarks which have been made in certain quarters, to express my deep sense of gratitude for the manner in which His Majesty's Government, and especially my immediate chief, have shown me great forbearance, and given me support most prompt at the moment when it was most needed, without which I should have been helpless indeed. And I have also to thank many friends, not a few of them here present, and some not present, for messages of encouragement, for kindly words of suggestion and advice received at critical moments, some of which have been of invaluable assistance to me, and have made an indelible impression on my heart. I am afraid, if I were to refer to all my benefactors, it would be like the bidding prayer—and you would all lose your trains.
[Sidenote: Hint from the bidding prayer.]
"But there is one hint I may take from the bidding prayer. Not only in this place, but at all times and in all places, I am specially bound to remember the devotion of the loyalists—the Dutch loyalists, if you please, and not only the British—the loyalists of South Africa. They responded to all my appeals to act, and, harder still, to wait. They never lost their cheery confidence in the darkest days of our misfortunes, they never faltered in their fidelity to a man of whose errors and failings they were necessarily more conscious than anybody else, but of whose honesty of purpose they were long ago, and once for all, convinced. If there is anything most gratifying to me on this memorable occasion it is the encouragement which I know the events of yesterday and of to-day will give to thousands of our South African fellow-countrymen, like minded with us, in the homes and in the camps of South Africa.
"Your Royal Highness, Mr. Chamberlain, ladies, and gentlemen—I am sure you will not desire me to enter into any political questions to-day. More than that, I really have nothing to add to what I have already said and written, I fear with wearisome reiteration. It seems to me we are slowly progressing towards the predestined end; latterly it has appeared as if the pace was somewhat quickening, but I do not wish to make too much of that or to speak with any too great confidence. However long the road, it seems to me the only one to the object which we were bound to pursue, and which seems now fairly in sight. What has sustained me personally—if your kindness will allow me to make a personal reference—what has sustained me personally on the weary road is my absolute, unshakable conviction that it was the only one which we could travel.
[Footnote 291: The Duke of Cambridge.]
"Peace we could have had by self-effacement. We could have had it easily and comfortably on those terms. But we could not have held our own by any other methods than those which we have been obliged to adopt. I do not know whether I feel more inclined to laugh or to cry when I have to listen for the hundredth time to these dear delusions, this Utopian dogmatising that it only required a little more time, a little more patience, a little more tact, a little more meekness, a little more of all those gentle virtues of which I know I am so conspicuously devoid, in order to conciliate—to conciliate what? Panoplied hatred, insensate ambition, invincible ignorance. I fully believe that the time is coming—Heaven knows how we desire it to come quickly—when all the qualities of the most gentle and forbearing statesmanship which are possessed by any of our people will be called for, and ought to be applied, in South Africa. I do not say for a moment there is not great scope for them even to-day, but always provided they do not mar what is essential for success in the future—the conclusiveness of the final scenes of the present drama."
[Sidenote: Merriman and Sauer mission.]
[Sidenote: Liberals and Afrikanders.]
As a declaration to the British world that Lord Milner "possessed the unabated confidence of his sovereign and of his fellow countrymen," Mr. Chamberlain's luncheon was amply justified. The protraction of the war was beginning to try the endurance of the nation. Mr. Sauer and Mr. Merriman were in England for the express purpose of discrediting Lord Milner, and behind these fierce political freelances was the astute brain of the Bond Master, Hofmeyr. They had been commissioned early in the year by the Afrikander nationalists to give effect to the resolutions of the Worcester Congress by co-operating with their friends in England in an agitation for the recall of the High Commissioner. It was said that these two ex-ministers of the Crown were authorised to offer an undertaking that the Bond would use its influence with ex-President Krueger and Mr. Fischer to terminate the war, in exchange for the promise of "autonomy" for the Boers and a general armistice for the Cape rebels. However this may be, the delegates of the Worcester Congress made it their chief business to represent to the members of the Liberal party who favoured their cause, that the recall of Lord Milner would remove the chief obstacle to peace. This attempt never came within a measurable distance of success; but its failure was not due to any want of effort on the part of that section of the Liberal opposition which had been opposed to the annexation of the Republics, and now denounced the British Government and the Imperial troops for their "methods of barbarism." The completeness with which Lord Courtney, Mr. Bryce, Mr. Lloyd-George, Lord Loreburn (Sir Robert Reid), Mr. Burns, and other prominent members of the Liberal party identified themselves with the policy and action of the Afrikander Bond, is disclosed by the proceedings which marked the banquet given on June 5th in honour of Mr. Merriman and Mr. Sauer. Mr. Bryce, in a letter expressing his approbation of the object of the banquet and his regret at his inability to attend it, wrote: "Mr. Merriman and Mr. Sauer have not only distinguished public records, but did excellent service, for which the Government ought to have been grateful, in allaying passion and averting disturbances in Cape Colony." Lord (then Mr.) Courtney, in proposing a vote of thanks to the guests of the evening, declared that the annexation of the Republics was "a wrong and a blunder"; adding that the Liberal policy would some day be "to temper annexation, if not to abrogate it." Both Mr. Merriman and Mr. Sauer revealed the aims of their mission with perfect frankness. The former, after alluding to Mr. Chamberlain's luncheon as a display of the "Imperial spirit of the servile senate who decreed ovations and triumphs to Caligula and Domitian, when they had received rebuffs from the ancestors both of ourselves and the heroic Dutch now struggling in South Africa," and characterising Lord Milner's High Commissionership as "a career of unmitigated and hopeless failure," proceeded to demand his immediate recall. To employ Lord Milner in the settlement of the new colonies, said Mr. Merriman, would be "a suicidal and ruinous policy. He was a violent partizan; his predictions never came true; the bursts of fustian and the frivolous utterances of his despatches showed an ill-balanced and ill-regulated mind, which was utterly unable to cope with the problem." While, as for the prospect of a British army ever conquering the South African Dutch, he reasserted the opinion which he held before the war—"Our friends they might be, but our subjects never." Mr. Sauer, who "felt honoured by seeing such a gathering, and seeing in it a Gladstone and a Leonard Courtney," was no less explicit:
[Footnote 292: These two ex-officials, representing the respective Governments of the late Republics, were living in Holland at this time.]
[Footnote 293: It is only fair to assume that Mr. Bryce was not acquainted with the details of the Dordrecht and Hargrove affairs, to which reference has been made respectively at p. 287 and p. 375. And, still more that he was unaware of the utterly discreditable Basuto incident, with respect to which General Gordon's biographer writes: "The consequence was that Mr. Sauer deliberately resolved to destroy Gordon's reputation as a statesman, and to ensure the triumph of his own policy by an act of treachery which has never been surpassed."—The Life of Gordon, vol. ii., p. 83. (Fisher Unwin.)]
[Footnote 294: Compare the different and infinitely more instructive treatment of the question of Dutch allegiance by Lord Milner in his Johannesburg speech, quoted at p. 145.]
[Footnote 295: I.e., the Rev. Stephen Gladstone.]
"I stand here," he said, "as a representative of the Dutch people, and declare that they never mean to be a subject race. If they cannot get their rights by justice they will get them by other means.... I am glad to go back and tell my own people how many there are in this country who appreciate their devotion to an ideal, and are prepared to befriend them in the hour of trial."
[Footnote 296: Apart from those mentioned in the text, the following attended the Merriman and Sauer banquet: Mr. E. Robertson, M.P. (chairman), Lord Farrer, Mr. T. Shaw, M.P., Mr. Burt, M.P., Mr. Channing, M.P., Mr. John Ellis, M.P., Mr. H. J. Wilson, M.P., Sir Wilfred Lawson, Mr. Frederic Harrison, and others. And among those who sent letters of regret for their absence were the Marquis of Ripon, Lord Hobhouse, Dr. Spence Watson, Mr. Seale-Hayne, M.P., and Lord Loreburn.]
A fortnight later a meeting of those who sympathised with the Boer cause was held in the Queen's Hall, Langham Place. The spirit of this notorious gathering, presided over by Mr. Labouchere, M.P., and attended by Mr. Merriman. Mr. Sauer, Mr. Lloyd-George, M.P., and other Radical members of Parliament, is sufficiently revealed by certain characteristic incidents which marked the proceedings. The agents of the meeting wore the Transvaal colours; a member of the audience who uncovered at the mention of King Edward was ejected; the Union Jack was hissed and hooted; and, while a printed form was handed round inviting the signatures of persons prepared to pay eight and-a-half guineas for a tour in Holland and the privilege of seeing ex-President Krueger, the name of the British sovereign was received by the audience with marks of evident disapprobation.
[Sidenote: Agitation for Milner's recall.]
The agitation for Lord Milner's recall was continued throughout the year. It was accompanied by a repetition, in England and on the continent of Europe, of the shameless calumnies upon the Imperial troops, which had marked the "carnival of mendacity" that led to the second invasion of Cape Colony. The injurious effect produced upon the Boers in the field by the support thus given by public men in England to the "continued resistance" policy of the Afrikander nationalists, has been already noticed, and it is unnecessary, therefore, to say more on this aspect of the subject. The attempt to discredit Lord Milner culminated in the declaration made by Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, then recognised as the official leader of the Liberal party, at Plymouth, on November 19th, 1901, that, unless the British Government changed its methods, "the whole of the Dutch population in our colonies, as well as in the two territories, would in all probability be permanently and violently alienated from us" when the war was ended. "I am ready to speak out to-night," he continued, "and to say what I have never yet said, that for my part I despair of this peril being conjured away so long as the present Colonial Secretary is in Downing Street and the present High Commissioner is at Pretoria." When the full report of this speech had reached the Cape, the Vigilance Committee, a body representing the loyalists of both nationalities, met under the presidency of Sir Gordon Sprigg, and resolved:
[Footnote 297: December 17th, 1901.]
"That this committee views with the utmost disapproval the statement of Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman at Plymouth, to the effect that no satisfactory settlement would be arrived at in South Africa so long as Mr. Chamberlain and Lord Milner retained their present offices, and, on the contrary, emphatically affirms that the retention in office of those statesmen is regarded by the South African loyalists as affording the best security for a settlement which will be permanent, just, and consistent with the honour of the empire and the best interests of South Africa, and, further, affirms that the whole tone of Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman's speech is most pernicious, and prejudicial to Imperial interests in South Africa, and shows him to be entirely out of sympathy with loyalist opinion in South Africa."
With this prompt and uncompromising rejoinder we may take leave of an attempt to remove a great and devoted servant of the empire, which is as discreditable to the intelligence as it is to the patriotism of those prominent members of the Liberal party who thus lent their co-operation to the Afrikander nationalists. In South Africa the issue was simple. While Boer and rebel combined in their efforts to rid themselves of the man who had thwarted their ambitions, the loyalists closed their ranks and stood firm in his support. It is to the far-off Homeland that we have to turn for the spectacle of a nation in which gratitude to the man who upheld the flag gave place to sympathy for the enemy and the rebel; in which patriotism itself yielded to a greed of place wrapped up by sophistry in such decent terms as "humanity," "Liberal principles," and "conciliation."
[Sidenote: Finances of the new colonies.]
In the meantime Lord Milner had returned to Johannesburg. His "hard-begged" holiday had proved a change of occupation rather than a respite from work. Before he left England (August 10th), he had made known to the Home Government the actual condition of the infant administrations of the new colonies, and obtained a provision for their immediate wants. The Letters Patent constituting him Governor and Commander-in-Chief of the Transvaal and Orange River Colony had been passed under the Great Seal; and these and other instruments creating a system of Crown Colony Government, with Executive and Legislative Councils in both colonies, had been sent to him in readiness for use "whenever it might be thought expedient to bring them into operation." And on August 6th the House of Commons had voted L6,500,000 as a grant in aid of the revenues of the Transvaal and Orange River Colony. Of this sum L1,000,000 was required for the purchase of fresh rolling-stock for the Imperial Military Railways, still placed under the direction of Sir Percy (then Colonel) Girouard, and L500,000 was assigned to "relief and re-settlement," an item which included the purchase of land and other arrangements for the establishment of suitable British settlers on farms in both colonies. The debate on the vote afforded a significant exhibition of the spirit of mingled pessimism and distrust in which the Liberal Opposition approached every aspect of the South African question. The idea of the Transvaal ever being able to repay this grant-in-aid out of the "hypothetical" development loan appeared ridiculous to Sir William Harcourt. "Why," asked the Liberal ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer, "was not the money required for the South African Constabulary put forward in a supplementary military vote, instead of being proposed in this form and, under the grant-in-aid, subject to future repayment by the Transvaal, in which nobody believed?"
[Footnote 298: They were read and published by Lord Milner on June 21st, 1902.]
[Footnote 299: It is scarcely necessary to say that the entire cost of the Constabulary has been borne by the new colonies; or that every penny of this grant-in-aid was paid back out of the development loan raised in 1902-3.]
This temporary financial assistance was of the utmost importance. Just as in the Cape Colony Lord Milner had seen that the Boers and Afrikander nationalists were to be beaten at their own game of renewed invasion by enabling the loyalist population to defend the Colony, so in the new colonies he proposed to beat the guerilla leaders at their game of wanton and mischievous resistance by building up a new prosperity faster than they could destroy the old. The conditions under which he worked, and the state in which he found South Africa when he began to engage actively in the work of reconstruction, he has himself described. In a despatch, written from the "High Commissioner's Office, Johannesburg," on November 15th, 1901, not only has Lord Milner placed on record the actual position of affairs in the new colonies at this time, but he has sketched with masterly precision the nature of the economic and administrative problems that awaited solution. The progress towards pacification won by the mobile columns and the blockhouse system, the dominant influence of the railways as the agency of transport, the condition of the Concentration Camps, and the degree in which our responsibility for the non-combatant and surrendered Boers limited our capacity to restore our own people to their homes, the economic exhaustion of the country, the threatened danger of the scarcity of native labour, and the processes and problems of repatriation—all these subjects are touched as by a master of statecraft.
[Sidenote: Improved situation.]
"Without being unduly optimistic," he writes, "it is impossible not to be struck by two great changes for the better in [the military situation] since the time when I first took up my residence in the Transvaal—just eight months ago. These are the now almost absolute safety and uninterrupted working of the railways and the complete pacification of certain central districts. As regards the railways, I cannot illustrate the contrast better than by my own experiences. In the end of last year and the earlier months of this I had occasion to make several journeys between Capetown and Johannesburg or Pretoria, and between Johannesburg and Bloemfontein. Though most careful preparations were made and every precaution taken, I was frequently 'hung up' on these journeys because the line had been blown up—not, I think, with any reference to my movements, but in the ordinary course of affairs. Small bodies of the enemy were always hovering about, and a state of extreme vigilance, not to say anxiety, was observable almost everywhere along the line. Since my return from England I have again traversed the country from East London to Bloemfontein and Johannesburg, and from Johannesburg to Durban and back, to say nothing of constant journeys between this place and Pretoria. On no single occasion has there been the slightest hitch or the least cause for alarm. The trains have been absolutely up to time, and very good time. They could not have been more regular in the most peaceful country. This personal experience, in itself unimportant, is typical of a general improvement. I may add, in confirmation of it, that during the last two months the mail train from Capetown to the north has only been late on one or two occasions, and then it was a matter of hours. Six months ago it was quite a common event for it to arrive a day, or a couple of days, late. I need not enlarge on the far-reaching importance of the improvement which these instances illustrate. Not only have the derailments, often accompanied by deplorable loss of life, which were at one time so common, almost entirely ceased, but, owing to more regular running, and especially the resumption of night running, the carrying capacity of the railways has greatly increased. Indeed, it is the inadequacy of the lines themselves to meet the enormous and ever-increasing extra requirements resulting from the war, and the shortness of rolling-stock, not any interference from the enemy, which causes us whatever difficulties—and they are still considerable—we now labour under in the matter of transport. When the large amount of additional rolling-stock ordered for the Imperial Military Railways last summer is received—and the first instalment will arrive very shortly—there will be a further great and progressive improvement in the conveyance of supplies and materials for the troops, the civil population of the towns, and the concentration camps.
[Sidenote: Contraction of area of war.]
"The advance made in clearing the country is equally marked. Six months ago the enemy were everywhere, outside the principal towns. It is true they held nothing, but they raided wherever they pleased, and, though mostly in small bodies, which made little or no attempt at resistance when seriously pressed, they almost invariably returned to their old haunts when the pressure was over. It looked as though the process might go on indefinitely. I had every opportunity of watching it, for during the first two months of my residence here it was in full swing in the immediate neighbourhood. There were half a dozen Boer strong-holds, or rather trysting-places, quite close to Pretoria and Johannesburg, and the country round was quite useless to us for any purpose but that of marching through it, while the enemy seemed to find no difficulty in subsisting there....
"To-day a large and important district of the Transvaal is now firmly held by us. But it must not be supposed that all the rest is held, or even roamed over, by the enemy. Wide districts of both the new colonies are virtually derelict, except, in some cases, for the native population. This is especially true of the northern part of the Transvaal, which has always been a native district, and where, excepting in Pietersburg and some other positions held by our troops, the natives are now almost the only inhabitants. Indeed, nothing is more characteristic of the latest stage of the war than the contraction of Boer resistance within certain wide but fairly well-defined districts, separated from one another by considerable spaces. Instead of ranging indifferently over the whole of the two late Republics, the enemy show an increasing tendency to confine themselves to certain neighbourhoods, which have always been their chief, though till recently by no means their exclusive, centres of strength.... From time to time the commandos try to break out of these districts and to extend the scene of operations. But the failure of the latest of these raids—Botha's bold attempt to invade Natal—shows the disadvantages under which the Boers now labour in attempting to undertake distant expeditions.
"The contraction of the theatre of war is doubtless due to the increased difficulty which the enemy have in obtaining horses and supplies, but, above all, to the great reduction in their numbers.... To wear out the resistance of the Boers still in the field—not more than one-eighth, I think, of the total number of burghers who have, first and last, been engaged in the war—may take a considerable time yet, and will almost certainly involve further losses. I will not attempt to forecast either the time or the cost. What seems evident is that the concentration of the Boers, and the substitution of several fairly well-defined small campaigns for that sort of running fight all over the country which preceded them, is on the whole an advantage to us, and tends to bring the end of the struggle within a more measurable distance. Our great object, it seems to me, should be to keep the Boers within the areas of their main strength, even if such concentration makes the commandos individually more dangerous and involves more desperate fighting, and meanwhile to push on with might and main the settlement of those parts of the country out of which they have been driven. No doubt this is a difficult, and must be a gradual, process. The full extent of the difficulty will appear from the sequel. But it is the point to which the main efforts, of the civil authorities at any rate, should be continually directed.
[Footnote 300: An under-estimate. One-fourth, or one-fifth, would have been nearer the mark. See note, p. 454.]
[Sidenote: The return to the Rand.]
"If the latest phase of the military situation is maintained, i.e., if we are able to prevent the Boers from breaking back into the cleared areas, or from injuring the railway lines, I can see no reason why the work of settlement should not proceed at a greatly quickened pace in the immediate future. The most urgent point is to bring back the exiled Uitlanders to the Rand, always provided that they are able to find employment when they arrive there. But the basis of any general revival of industrial and commercial activity on the Rand is the resumption of mining operations. So far it has only been found possible to proceed very slowly in this respect. The full capacity of the Rand is about 6,000 stamps. The first step was taken in April last, when the Commander-in-Chief agreed to allow the Chamber of Mines to open three mines with 50 stamps each. Up till now permission has been granted for the working of 600 stamps, but only 450 have actually been started. This is slow work, but even this beginning, modest as it is, has made an immense difference in the aspect of Johannesburg since first I came here in March last.
"The number of people allowed to return from time to time, for other than mining employments, is in proportion to the number of stamps re-started. This, no doubt, is a wise principle, for business generally can only expand pari passu with the resumption of mining. Up to the present something like 10,000 people have been allowed to come up, the vast majority of them being refugees, though there is a small new element of civil servants and civilians in the employ of the military. Assuming that from 8,000 to 9,000 are refugees, this would represent about one-sixth of the total number of well-accredited Uitlanders registered in the books of the 'Central Registration Committee.'
"The best that can be said on the thorny subject of the return of the refugees, is that latterly the rate of return has been steadily increasing. Last month the military authorities allowed us to grant 400 ordinary permits (this number is over and above permits given to officials or persons specially required for particular services to the Army or the Government). This month the number has been raised to 800. I need hardly say that the selection of 800 people out of something like fifty times that number is an onerous and ungrateful task. South Africa simply rings with complaints as to favouritism in the distribution of permits. As a matter of fact, whatever mistakes have been made, there has been no favouritism. I do not mean to say that a certain number of people—not a large number—have not slipped through or been smuggled up under false pretences. But the great bulk of the permits have been allotted by the Central Registration Committee, a large, capable, and most representative body of the citizens of this town and neighbourhood. And they have been allotted on well-defined principles, and with great impartiality.... I am satisfied that no body of officials, even if our officials were not already over-worked in other directions, could have done the business so well.
[Sidenote: Labour and transport.]
"There can, I think, be little doubt that the present rate of return can be maintained, and I am not without hope that it may in a short time be considerably increased. But this depends entirely, for the reasons already given, on the question whether the resumption of mining operations can be quickened. The obstacles to such a quickening are two-fold: first, want of native labour; secondly, want of trucks to bring up not only the increased supplies which a larger population necessitates, but also, and this is even a more serious matter, to bring up the material required for their work. The latter, I need hardly say, is a very heavy item, not only in the case of the mines, but in the case of all those other industries, building, for instance, which only need a chance in order to burst into extreme activity in this place. For the Rand requires just now an increase of everything—dwelling-houses, offices, roads, sewers, lighting, water-supply, etc., etc. Capital would be readily forthcoming for every kind of construction, and many skilled workmen are waiting at the coast. But it is no use bringing up workmen to live in the dearest place in the world unless they have the materials to work with. The most necessary materials, however, are bulky, and the carrying capacity of the railways, greatly improved as it is, gives no promise of an early importation of quantities of bulky material, if the other and more urgent demands upon our means of transport are to be satisfied.
"As regards native labour for the mines, the greater development of which is a condition of all other industrial development, the difficulty is that, while natives can be found in abundance to do surface work, the number of those who are willing to go underground is limited. There are only certain tribes among whom underground workers can be found in any great numbers, and these reside mostly in Portuguese territory. As you are aware, difficulties have arisen about the introduction of Portuguese natives, and the matter is at present the subject of negotiations between the Governor-General of Mozambique and myself. Having regard to the friendly attitude of the Governor-General, I have every hope that this difficulty may soon be overcome. But even then we shall not be able to count on any great immediate influx of labourers from Portuguese territory....
[Sidenote: The concentration camps.]
"The delay in obtaining native labour would be more serious if it were not for the existence of that other and still greater obstacle to the rapid revival of industry here which I have already dwelt on, namely, the difficulty of transport. And this latter difficulty is immensely aggravated at the present time by the constantly increasing requirements of the concentration camps. Not only has the number of people in these camps increased, with overwhelming rapidity, to an extent never contemplated when they were first started, but the extreme state of destitution in which many of the people arrived, and the deplorable amount of sickness which has all along existed among them, create a demand for a great deal more than mere primary necessities, such as food and shelter, if the condition of the camps is to be anything like what we should wish to see it. The amount of mortality in these camps, especially amongst very young children, as you are well aware, has been deplorable. I do not, indeed, agree with those who think—or assert—that the mortality among the Boers would have been less, if thousands of women and children had been allowed to live on isolated farms in a devastated country, or to roam about on the trail of the commandos. Indeed, I feel confident that it would have been far greater. The best proof of this is the deplorable state of starvation and sickness in which great numbers of people arrived at the camps, and which rendered them easy victims to the attack of epidemic diseases. At the same time it is evident that the ravages of disease would have been less if our means of transport had allowed us to provide them on their first arrival, not only with tents, rations, and necessary medicines (all of which were, as a matter of fact, supplied with great promptitude), but with the hundred and one appliances and comforts which are so essential for the recovery of the weakly and the sick, and the prevention of the spread of disease. I do not mean to say that it was only want of material, due to the insuperable difficulties of transport (especially at the time when the camps were first started, and when railways were subject to continual interruptions) from which the camps suffered. Equally serious was the want of personnel; of the necessary number of doctors, nurses, matrons, superintendents, etc., who were simply not to be found in South Africa, severely taxed as it had already been to find men and women of sufficient training and experience to look after the other victims of the war. Still, the want of material has been a serious item; and it is evidently a want which, as the carrying capacity of the railways increases, we must do our best to supply. The Ladies' Commission, of whose devoted labours in visiting and inspecting the camps it is impossible to speak too highly (they have been of inestimable service to the Government), have handed in a considerable list of requirements, which have been, and are being, supplied as fast as possible. But evidently these requirements enter into competition, and most serious competition, with the supply of food and materials necessary for the revival even of our central industry, not to say of industrial and agricultural activity elsewhere in the new colonies, of which, under the circumstances, it is, for the moment, unfortunately impossible to think.
"To decide between the competing demands upon the still very limited amount of truckage available for civil purposes, after the paramount requirements of the army have been satisfied, is indeed a most difficult and delicate task. Whether we have done all for the best, it is not for me to say. That any amount of conscientious thought and labour has been devoted, on all hands, to grappling with the problem, I can confidently assert. And I am equally confident that whatever has been done, and whatever may yet be done, the amount of hardship must have been and must still be very great. It would be amusing, if amusement were possible in the presence of so much sadness and suffering, to put side by side the absolutely contradictory criticisms, all equally vehement, to which our action is subjected. On the one hand is the outcry against the cruelty and heartlessness manifested in not making better provision for the people in the concentration camps: on the other, the equally loud outcry against our injustice in leaving the British refugees in idleness and poverty at the coast, in order to keep the people in the concentration camps supplied with every luxury and comfort. I have even frequently heard the expression that we are 'spoiling' the people in the Boer camps. We are, alas, not in a position to spoil anybody, however much we might desire to do so....
"The pressing questions connected with the return of the refugees and the maintenance of the Boers at present in the concentration camps are, it is evident, only the first of a series of problems of the most complicated character, which have to be solved before the country can resume its normal life....
[Sidenote: Re-settlement problems.]
"Even if the war were to come to an end to-morrow, it would not be possible to let the people in the concentration camps go back at once to their former homes. They would only starve there. The country is, for the most part, a desert, and, before it can be generally re-occupied, a great deal will have to be done in the way of re-stocking, provision of seed, and also probably, in the absence of draught animals, for the importation of steam ploughs.
"Then there are the arrangements to be made for the return of the prisoners of war. Evidently these will have to wait till the whole of the British refugees are brought back. The latter not only have the strongest claim, but they will be immediately wanted when order is restored, and will have, as soon as the railway can bring up the necessary material, abundance of work, whereas it may take some time before the country is fit to receive the prisoners. Nevertheless, though the return of the prisoners may still be far distant, there are certain measures which have to be taken even now, in order that we may be able to deal with the matter when the time comes.
"Altogether, the number and complexity of the tasks, embraced under the general term 're-settlement,' which are either already upon us or will come upon us as the country gradually quiets down, are sufficient to daunt the most stout-hearted. And yet the tone of hopefulness among the British population who have so far returned to the new colonies is very marked, especially in the Transvaal. It is not incompatible with many grievances, and with much grumbling at the Administration. But that was only to be expected, and is of very small importance as long as people are prepared to tackle the big work of reconstruction in front of them in a vigorous and sanguine spirit. Nor is this hopefulness, in my opinion, at all ill-founded, however gloomy may be the immediate outlook.
"Terrible as have been the ravages of war and the destruction of agricultural capital, a destruction which is now pretty well complete, the great fact remains that the Transvaal possesses an amount of mineral wealth, virtually unaffected by the war, which will ensure the prosperity of South Africa for the next fifty years; and other resources, both industrial and agricultural, which, properly developed, should make it a rich country, humanly speaking, for ever. Economically, all that is required is that a very small proportion of the superabundant but exhaustible riches of the mines should be devoted to developing the vast permanent sources of wealth which the country possesses, and which will maintain a European population twenty times as large as the present, when all the gold has been dug out. No doubt it is not economic measures alone which will ensure that result. A social change is also necessary, viz., the introduction of fresh blood, of a body of enterprising European settlers, especially on the land, to reinforce the Boer population, who have been far too few, and far too easy-going, to do even the remotest justice to the vast natural capabilities of the soil, on which, for the most part, they have done little more than squat. But then the introduction of the right type of agricultural settlers, though it will not come about of itself, would not seem to be a task beyond the powers of statesmanship to grapple with.
[Sidenote: The land settlement report.]
"This despatch has dealt so largely with questions of immediate urgency, that I have left myself no time to refer to the work which is being quietly done in both the new colonies to build up the framework of the new Administration. I can hardly claim for myself that I have been able to give to that work anything more than the most general supervision, as my time is more than fully occupied in dealing with matters of present urgency. But, thanks to the great energy displayed by the principal officers of the Administration—by Major Goold-Adams and Mr. Wilson at Bloemfontein, by Mr. Fiddes, Sir Richard Solomon, and Mr. Duncan, at Pretoria, and by Sir Godfrey Lagden and Mr. Wybergh here—a really surprising amount of ground has been covered. Despite all the difficulties and discouragements of the present time, the machinery of the Government is getting rapidly into working order, and, as soon as normal conditions are restored, the new colonies will find themselves provided with an Administration capable of dealing with the needs of a great and progressive community, and with efficient and trustworthy courts of law. A number of fundamental laws are being worked out, and will shortly be submitted for your approval. In the Orange River Colony they do not involve any great change of system, but, in the Transvaal, some most important reforms are at once necessary, while an immense amount of useless rubbish, which encumbered the Statute Book and made it the despair of jurists, has already been repealed."
[Footnote 301: Cd. 903.]
In spite of the disturbed condition of the country, two independent inquiries, each of which was concerned with matters of cardinal importance to the future of South Africa, were concluded before the second year of the war had run its course. From the report addressed to Mr. Chamberlain by the Land Settlement Commission, of which Mr. Arnold-Forster was chairman, and from that presented to Lord Milner by Sir William (then Mr.) Willcocks on Irrigation in South Africa, there emerged three significant conclusions. Racial fusion, or the ultimate solution of the nationality difficulty, was to be found in the establishment of British settlers upon the land, living side by side with the Dutch farmers and identified with them by common pursuits and interests; the possibility alike of the successful introduction of these settlers and of the development of the hitherto neglected agricultural resources of South Africa depended upon the enlargement and improvement of the cultivable area by irrigation; and the only existing source of wealth capable of providing the material agencies for the realisation of these objects was the Witwatersrand gold industry. British agricultural settlers for the political, irrigation for the physical regeneration of South Africa—this was the essence of these two Reports.
[Footnote 302: Managing Director of the Daira Sania Company; of the Indian and Egyptian Irrigation Services.]
"We desire to express our firm conviction," wrote the Land Settlement Commissioners, "that a well-considered scheme of settlement in South Africa by men of British origin is of the most vital importance to the future prosperity of British South Africa. We find among those who wish to see British rule in South Africa maintained and its influence for good extended, but one opinion upon this subject. There even seems reason to fear lest the vast expenditure of blood and treasure which has marked the war should be absolutely wasted, unless some strenuous effort be made to establish in the country, at the close of the war, a thoroughly British population large enough to make a recurrence of division and disorder impossible."
[Footnote 303: Cd. 626.]
[Sidenote: The irrigation report.]
Apart from its mineral development, Sir William Willcocks points out, South Africa has remained "strangely stationary. Fifty years ago it was a pastoral country importing cereals and dairy produce, and even hay from foreign countries. It is the same to-day. Half a century ago it needed a farm of 5,000 acres to keep a family in decent comfort; to-day it needs the same farm of 5,000 acres to keep a single family in comfort." West of the great Drakenberg range it is an arid, or semi-arid, region. The reason is not so much that the rainfall is deficient, as that the rain comes at the wrong time, and is wasted. What is wanted is water-storage, with irrigation works to spread the water upon the land when it is needed by the farmer. Nothing short of the agency of the State will serve to bring about this physical revolution; for bad legislation must be annulled, and a great intercolonial system of water-husbandry, comparable to those of India and Egypt, must be created. Hitherto agriculture, in spite of the latent possibilities of the country, has scarcely been "attempted"; for, with the exception of the extreme south-western corner of the Cape Colony, the "conquered territory" of the Orange River Colony, and the high veld of the Transvaal, the agricultural development of South Africa "depends entirely on irrigation."
[Footnote 304: Cd. 1,163.]
But, great as was the claim of agriculture, the claim of the gold industry was at once more immediate and more imperative.
"Valuable as water may be for agricultural purposes," Sir William Willcocks wrote, "it is a thousand times more valuable for gold-washing at the Rand mines."
"The prosperity and well-being of every interest, not only in the Transvaal, but in South Africa generally, will depend on the prosperity of the Rand, certainly for the next fifty years. Though my life has been spent in the execution of irrigation projects and the furtherance of agricultural prosperity, I feel that, under the special conditions prevailing in South Africa, the suggestion of any course other than the obvious one of first putting the Rand mines on a sound footing as far as their water supply is concerned, would have constituted me a bigot. Ten acres of irrigable land in the Mooi or Klip river valleys, with Johannesburg in the full tide of prosperity, will yield as good a rent as forty acres with Johannesburg in decay."
And the prosperity of the mines is not only essential in the present: it is to be the instrument for the development of the permanent resources of the Transvaal:
[Sidenote: Economic importance of Rand.]
"The mineral wealth of the Transvaal is extra-ordinarily great, but it is exhaustible, some say within a space of fifty years, others within a space of one hundred years. It would be a disaster indeed for the country if none of this wealth were devoted to the development of its agriculture. Agricultural development is slow, but it is permanent, and knows of no exhaustion. If the companies working the gold, coal, and diamond mines were by decree compelled to devote a percentage of their gains to the execution of irrigation works on lines laid down by the Government, they would assist in the permanent development of the country and would be investing in works which, though slow to give a remuneration, would, at any rate, be absolutely permanent. It would thus happen, that when the mineral wealth of the country had disappeared, its agricultural wealth would have been put on such a solid basis that the country would not have to fall from the height of prosperity to the depth of poverty."
These were conclusions of so fundamental a nature that no statesman could afford to overlook them; and, in point of fact, Lord Milner kept them steadily in sight from first to last in all that he did for the administrative and economic reconstruction of the new colonies.
Another effort of the civil administration which was carried on successfully during the war was the teaching of the Boer children in the refugee camps. The narrative of the circumstances in which the camp schools were first organised, of the manner in which teachers came forward from all parts of the empire to offer their services, and of the complete success which attended their efforts, was told three years later by Mr. E. B. Sargant, the Education Adviser to the Administration. The report in which the story appears not only affords a record unique in the annals of educational effort, but adds a pleasing and significant page to what is otherwise a gloomy chapter of the war. Mr. Sargant was invited by Lord Milner to organise the work of educational reconstruction in the new colonies in the autumn of 1900. He was then travelling in Canada, in the course of a journey through the empire undertaken for the purpose of investigating the methods and conditions of education in the several British colonies; and he reached Capetown on November 6th, 1900. At that time the headquarters of the new Transvaal Administration had not been established in Pretoria; but in the Orange River Colony certain schools along the railway line and elsewhere had been opened under the military Government. From observations made in December in the two new colonies, Mr. Sargant had begun to fear that the work of educational reorganisation would have to be indefinitely postponed, when a visit to the Boer prisoners' camp at Seapoint, Capetown, gave him the idea from which the whole system of the camp schools was subsequently evolved. Here he found that a school for boys and young men had been provided by the prisoners themselves, but that it was destitute of books and of almost all the necessary appliances. Mr. Sargant's appeal on behalf of this school met with a ready response from the Cape Government. What could be done here, he thought, could be done elsewhere. The nearest refugee camp to Capetown was at Norval's Pont, on the borders of the Orange River Colony; and it was here that Mr. Sargant determined to make his first experiment.
[Footnote 305: This Report was issued (June 14th, 1904) from the Education Adviser's Office, Johannesburg, on "The Development of Education in the Transvaal and Orange River Colony." It is one of the many contributions of permanent value to political and economic science that mark the second period of Lord Milner's Administration in South Africa. E.g., in Appendix XXX. of this Report, the various solutions of the much-vexed question of religious instruction in State Schools, severally adopted by the self-governing colonies of the empire, are excellently presented in tabular form.]
[Sidenote: Origin of the camp schools.]
"Having provided myself," Mr. Sargant says, "with several boxes of school books, I left Capetown on the last day of January and took up my quarters in the camp already named. The Military Commandant threw himself heartily into the experiment, although at that time the provision of food and shelter for each new influx of refugees was a matter of great difficulty. Fortunately Norval's Pont, being nearer the base of supplies than the other camps, had a few marquees to spare. In two of these I opened the first camp school, remaining for a fortnight as its headmaster. The rest of the teachers were found in the camp itself. It was apparent from the first that the school would be a success. The children flocked to it, and the mothers who brought them were well content with the arrangement that the religious instruction should be given in Dutch and other lessons in English. Here, as in several other camps which were visited later, I found that a school, taught through the medium of Dutch, had already been opened by some of the more serious-minded of the people. In this case, an offer was made to me by the Commandant to suppress this school and to send the children to my marquees. This I refused, and in less than two months I had the gratification of knowing that teachers and children had come voluntarily to the Government school, and that the tents in which they had been taught formed one of a row of six which were needed to accommodate the rapidly increasing number of scholars."
[Footnote 306: Report on "The Development of Education in the Transvaal and Orange River Colony."]
[Sidenote: Over-sea teachers.]
After this initial success Mr. Sargant made arrangements, first from Bloemfontein, and afterwards from Pretoria, for the establishment of such schools in all the refugee camps; and by the end of May, 1901, there were 4,000 children in the camp schools, as against 3,500 in the town schools of the two colonies. In the following month it became evident that the local supply of teachers would be insufficient to meet the demands of the rapidly increasing schools; and Lord Milner devoted much of his time during his leave of absence to making arrangements for the introduction of a number of well-trained teachers from England, and subsequently from the over-sea colonies. Before these welcome reinforcements could arrive, however, the number of children in the camp schools, apart from the Government schools in the towns, had risen to 17,500, and the supply of South African teachers was exhausted. "In many cases," says Mr. Sargant, "the services of young men and women who had passed the sixth, fifth, and even fourth standard were utilised temporarily." With the new year, 1902, drafts of carefully chosen and well-qualified teachers from England began to arrive. Both the Board of Education for England and Wales and the Scotch Education Department took up the work of selection and appointment, and the co-operation of the Canadian, Australian, and New Zealand Governments was obtained. From this time forward the system of the camp schools was steadily extended; and on May 31st, 1902, the date of the Vereeniging surrender, when the attendance reached its highest point, more than 17,000 Boer children were being thus educated in the Transvaal camps, and more than 12,000 in those of the Orange River Colony.
[Footnote 307: These imported teachers worked harmoniously with the South African teachers, whether of British or Dutch extraction; they filled the gap left by the Hollander teachers, who had returned to Europe after the outbreak of the war, and formed a valuable element in the permanent staff of the Education Departments of the new colonies. In 1903 there were 475 of these over-sea teachers at work in the two colonies, as against some 800 teachers appointed in South Africa.]
[Footnote 308: Some idea of the significance of these figures may be gathered from the fact that the highest number of children on the rolls of the Government schools of the Orange Free State was 8,157 (in the year 1898). That is to say, the British Administration in the Orange River Colony was educating one-third more Boer children in the camp schools alone than the Free State Government had educated in time of peace. Cd. 903.]
[Sidenote: Administrative progress, 1901.]
Apart from this unique and significant effort, the reports furnished by the various departmental heads to Lord Milner in December afford striking and sufficient evidence of the progress of the civil administration in both the new colonies during the year 1901. In the Orange River Colony the sphere of operations of the departments existing at the time when Sir H. Gould-Adams was appointed Deputy-administrator (March, 1901), had been increased, and new departments were being organised. A statement issued by the financial adviser on August 29th showed that for the period March 13th, 1900 (the occupation of Bloemfontein) to June 30th, 1901, the "real" revenue and expenditure of the colony were respectively L301,800 8s. and L217,974 18s.; an excess of revenue over expenditure of L83,825 10s. And during the half-year July 1st-December 31st the revenue collected was about one-third in excess of the actual civil expenditure. The progress in education was remarkable. At the end of February, 1902, there were 13,384 children on the roll of the Government schools, camp and town, or nearly 5,000 more than the greatest number at school at any one time under the Republic, and the reorganisation of both higher and technical instruction had been taken in hand. A system of local self-government had been commenced by the establishment of Boards of Health at Bloemfontein and in all districts in the protected area, while in the capital itself the Town Council was again at work. The Agricultural Department formed on July 1st, 1901, had taken over a large number of sheep and cattle from the military authorities, and a commencement of tree-planting under an experienced forester had been made. The Land Board was created in October, with two branches concerned respectively with Settlement and Repatriation. The Settlement branch was occupied especially in procuring land suitable for agricultural purposes, and its efforts were so successful that by the end of April, 1902, 150 British settlers had been placed on farms. The Repatriation branch was engaged in collecting information as to the whereabouts of the absentee Boer landowners and their families, and the condition of their lands and houses; in investigating the possibility of importing fresh stock, and in collecting vehicles, implements, seed-corn, and the other necessaries which would be required to enable the Boer population, when repatriated, to resume their normal pursuits. Also temporary courts, pending the re-opening of the ordinary civil courts, had been established.
[Footnote 309: Cd. 1,163, p. 145. The accounts were complicated by expenditure for, and refunds from, the military authorities.]
[Footnote 310: This is in the Orange River Colony alone. For the number of children in the camp schools of both colonies, as apart from the town schools, see above.]
In the Transvaal the work was on a larger scale. Five departments, those of the Secretary to the Administration (afterwards Colonial Secretary), the Legal Adviser (afterwards Attorney-General), the Controller of the Treasury (afterwards Treasurer), the Mining Commissioner and of the Commissioner for Native Affairs, were already organised. The progress achieved by the heads of these departments in the Transvaal, and by Sir H. Gould-Adams and Mr. Wilson in the Orange River Colony, formed collectively a record the merit of which was acknowledged by "an expression of the high appreciation of His Majesty's Government of the services which they had rendered in circumstances of exceptional difficulty."
[Footnote 311: Cd. 1,163.]
It is difficult to present an account of the work already done in the Transvaal in a form at once brief and representative. The report of Mr. Fiddes, the Secretary to the Administration, recorded the progress made in education, public works, and district administration. Since July twenty-four new schools, of which seven were camp schools, eight fee-paying schools, and nine free town schools, had been opened, and 169 teachers were employed in the town schools, and 173 in the camp schools, opened by the Administration. The public buildings, including the hospitals and asylums at Johannesburg and Pretoria, the post offices and the seventeen prisons administered by the department, were being maintained and, where necessary, restored. In Johannesburg, as we have seen, a Town Council had been established, but Pretoria was still administered by a Military Governor, who controlled a temporary Town Board and the police. The Administration, however, was empowered by proclamation No. 28 of 1901 to appoint Boards of Health in places where no municipality existed, and it was expected that Pretoria would be endowed, before long, with the same municipal privileges as Johannesburg.
[Footnote 312: Dated December 12th, 1901.]
[Sidenote: Legislative reforms.]
The volume of work handled in the Legal Adviser's office formed a remarkable testimony to the energy and capacity of Sir Richard Solomon. Resident magistrates' courts had been established in twelve districts; temporary courts were being held in Pretoria and Johannesburg; the offices of the Registrar of Deeds and of the Orphan Master, and the Patent Office, were reorganised; and an ordinance creating a Supreme Court, consisting of a Chief Justice and five Puisne Judges, was drafted ready to be brought into operation so soon as circumstances permitted. The chaotic Statute Book of the late Republic had been overhauled. A large number of laws, some obsolete, some impliedly repealed, but still appearing on the Statute Book, and others unsuited to the new regime, had been repealed by proclamation; and at the same time many ordinances dealing with matters of fundamental importance had been prepared for submission to the future Legislative Council at the first opportunity.
The report of Mr. Duncan, the Controller of the Treasury, showed that the revenue actually being collected, mainly from the customs, the Post Office, mining and trading licences, and native passes, would provide for the ordinary expenditure of the civil administration. And, in point of fact, when the accounts were made up at the end of the first financial year of the new colonies (July 1st, 1901-June 30th, 1902) it was found that the Orange River Colony had a balance in hand of L231,000, while in the Transvaal the expenditure on civil administration had been covered by the revenue, which had assumed already the respectable figure of L1,393,000.
The Departments of Mines and Native Affairs had been reorganised, and the work done by Mr. Wybergh and Sir Godfrey Lagden respectively in these departments, in co-operation with Sir Richard Solomon, had produced the administrative reforms immediately required to regulate the employment of native labourers in the mines. By proclamations amending or repealing existing laws and making fresh provisions where necessary the native had been protected against oppression and robbery at the hands of unscrupulous labour-agents, and the liquor traffic, the chief cause of his insubordination and incapacity, had been effectively repressed. Considerations of public security made the maintenance of the "pass" system necessary, but modifications were introduced into the working of the system sufficient to protect the educated native from unnecessary humiliation and the native labourer from excessive punishment. In addition to this departmental work two commissions had been appointed by Lord Milner to investigate two matters of direct and immediate concern to the gold industry. The first of these, over which Sir Richard Solomon presided, was engaged in reviewing the existing gold laws, with a view to the introduction of new legislation embodying such modifications as the best local experience and the financial interests of the colony might require. The second was employed in formulating measures necessary to provide both the mines and the community of the Rand with a water-supply that would be at once permanent and economic.
[Footnote 313: Excluding expenditure on the South African Constabulary and relief and re-settlement, and certain other charges. Cd. 1,163.]
[Sidenote: The Johannesburg police.]
There remain certain special features of the administrative reconstruction accomplished in 1901 that merit attention, as showing the degree in which Lord Milner kept in view the fundamental necessities of the situation revealed by the Land Settlement and Irrigation Reports to which reference has been made above. As part of the work of the Law Department, the Johannesburg Municipal Police had been organised and placed under the control of Mr. Showers, the late head of the Calcutta Police.
"This fine body," Lord Milner wrote, "consists mainly of picked men from the Army Reserve, including many old soldiers of the Guards, and others who have fought in the war. The men are dressed like London policemen, but carry rifles. This odd-looking equipment is characteristic of the double nature of their duties. On the one hand they do the work of ordinary town police, and exhibit in that characteristic the same efficiency and civility as their London prototypes. On the other hand, they have played an important part in assisting the military and the Rand Rifles in the defence of the long line, fifty miles in extent of towns and mining villages which constitute the Rand district. Latterly, since the enemy have been quite driven out of this part of the country, the military portion of their duties is diminishing in importance, though the danger of small raids on outlying portions of the Rand by parties coming from a distance is not yet wholly removed. On the other hand, with the return of the civil population, their work as police proper is greatly on the increase. In their struggle with the illicit liquor dealers, one of the most difficult of their duties, they have so far met with a great measure of success."
[Footnote 314: Cd. 903.]
[Sidenote: South African constabulary.]
Just as here, in the case of the Johannesburg police, so in the formation of the South African Constabulary and in the reorganisation of the railways, Lord Milner had determined that no opportunity of adding to the permanent British population of the two colonies should be lost. The South African Constabulary was formed in October, 1900, by General Baden-Powell, mainly on the lines of the Canadian North-West police, for the protection of the settled population in the new colonies. Since July, 1901, however, when it had been called out for military service, this force, at the time some 9,000 strong, had been employed as part of the army under the direction of the Commander-in-Chief, although its organisation, finance, and internal discipline were dealt with by the High Commissioner. The men recruited for the Constabulary were of British birth, and every endeavour was made in the selection of recruits to secure persons who were adapted by pursuits and character to become permanent and useful colonists. It is interesting to note that a body of 500 burgher police, consisting of former burghers of the Orange Free State, and placed under the colonel commanding the Orange Colony division, had been associated with the Constabulary during the time that they were thus serving with the troops. Nor is it necessary to point out that the military experience, the knowledge of the country, and acquaintance with the life of the veld which the Constabulary gained at this period, largely contributed to the efficiency which they displayed afterwards in the discharge of their regular duties.