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Full text of "The history of English rule and policy in South Africa : a lecture delivered in the lecture room, Nelson Street, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, on Friday, the 30th May, 1879"

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THE HIISTOK.'Y ^c^yx'^gj^ 








On FRIDAY, the 30T11 MAY, 1879, 

At the request of the Newcastle Liberal Association, 


newcastle-upon-tyhe : 














The English people are engaged in a strange enterprise in South 
Africa.* They are deliberately and of malice aforethought compassing 
the subjugation and possible extermination of a gallant though savage 
people. They have embarked in an aggressive war which must be 
troublesome and costly in any event ; — a war in which failure is not to 
be thought of, but in which, the greater the success, the_gr.eatjey.. their 
disgrace. And they have done this, paradox though it seem, without 
knowing it, and against their will. It is because every one of us is so 
deeply interested in this matter ; because everjr true born Englishman 
must feel that a stain on the honour of Ms nation'ls>.a 'personal 4i^5?a<5e, 
that I wish — however imperfectly, yet faithfully and fairly — to trace out 
for you the history of our rule and policy in South Africa ; so that those 
of my fellow citizens who do me the honour to listen to me may be able 
to form an opinion, founded upon knowledge, of the deeds which we are 
called upon to ratify and confirm. 

In 1806 the Dutch had maintained a colony at the Cape of Good 
Hope for more than a century and a half, as a convenient station on the 
old route from Europe to India. They had imported slaves to assist 
in the cultivation of the land which they purchased from the natives 
whom they called Hottentots. They fought these natives from time to 
time, and annexed more and more of their land, but instead of giving 
way or perishing before the white men, the Hottentots amalgamated 

* The War with the Zulus. 

with them, until some writers now tell us that there is not one pure 
Hottentot left. Whether this be so or not the native race has exercised 
a great influence upon the character and appearance of the major part of 
the population of to-day. 

In 1806 the English took forcible possession of the Cape Colony 
with which they had been playing since 1795, when the Prince of Orange 
had fled for safety from Holland to England, and they looked after it for 
him. It has been perhaps the most foolish of all the silly extensions of 
territory we have made. 

In 1811 came our flrst Kaffir war. The word "Kaffir," I should 
explain, is sometimes used to express the whole of the native tribes 
inhabiting South Africa, and sometimes to denote only those which 
inhabit the district known as Kaffraria, which lies to the east of Cape 
Colony, but has (for the most part) been annexed by us and added to it. 
The Dutch had established what they called a neutral zone between 
themselves and the Kaffirs, but the Kaffirs soon came across this zone for 
purposes of plunder. To the English and Dutch of that day no doubt 
this seemed an unpardonable offence, but to us it scarcely seems so 
enormous. The land had undoubtedly belonged to them before we 
stole it from the Dutch or the Dutch from them. True they had been 
driven out of it, but very much against their will, and (remembering the 
depravity of even white human nature) it seems rather natural that they 
should bear malice against those who had stolen away their homes and 
fatherland. An improvised force marched against them under a magis- 
trate who was unfortunately killed, and then we began a systematic 
and pitiless war with them. We took no prisoners ; every Kaffir who 
was caught was killed ; until the whole people were driven back across 
the Great Fish River — some sixty miles, as the crow flies, beyond the 
neutral belt. The punishment was scarcely in proportion to the offence. 

Our next difficulty was with the Dutch settlers — the so-called 
" Boers" or farmers. Then as now they were big, resolute, stubborn, 
simple men — only wishing to be left alone to rule both themselves and 
the natives about them. It is interesting to remembar that, of all the 
Teutonic peoples, the Dutch are the most nearly allied to us, that their 
language is our mother tongue, and that their true home is our true 
fatherland, and then that of all quarrels the bitterest are those which at 
times unfortunately break out between near relatives. 

This trouble with the Dutch came in 1815. They were slave 


owners as we then were. We made laws regulating their conduct to 
their slaves which they disliked, and they rebelled. They were soon 
beaten, six of them were hanged as an example, their friends being made 
to stand by and witness the execution. But this was not all. Under the 
weight of six men the gallows broke. In vain did the friends implore 
that the lives of the senseless wretches might be spared. The repairing 
of the gallows was a work of hours ; the victims were slowly restored 
to life ; their poor friends were compelled to remain on the spot, and at 
last the rebels were hanged for the second and last time, and that 
so effectually that the patient but unforgetful Boers still curse the place 
and the deed. 

Small wars with the Kaffirs were of constant occurrence, and in 
1819, there was a severe one which resulted, as did each in turn, in the 
extension of English territory. In 1820 our Government sent out four 
thousand emigrants to Algoa Bay, four hundred miles to the east of 
Cape Town, and they there laid the foundations of the Eastern Province, 
the most thriving and prosperous part of the Cape Colony. Those of 
you who have taken any interest in Cape politics must have noticed the 
constant struggle for power which goes on between the Western Province 
which we took from the Dutch, and where the Dutch element still pre- 
ponderates, and the Eastern Province which we colonized ourselves. 

In 1820 the Cape Colony was ruled, much as we rule India, by an 
English Governor who was an absolute despot. We need not linger 
over the disputes with the Boers, and the wars with the natives, but 
may come at once to the great disturbances from which our present 
difficulties have to some extent sprung. Anti-slavery doctrines had at 
length triumphed in England. In 1834 slavery was abolished through- 
out the British dominions. The slaves belonging to the Cape colonists 
were 35,745 in number, and they were valued at £3,000,000, whilst the 
compensation to be paid for them was fixed at £1,200,000. But even 
this was not paid at once ; it was long delayed, and fell into the hands 
of fraudulent agents, who would only part with it upon receiving heavy 
discounts. In 1833 and 1834 the Dutch began to leave the Cape 
Colony. They complained that the Government, which had so long 
encouraged slavery, now arbitrarily put an end to it; that they had 
parted with their independence, but had not obtained security; and 
they dreaded yet greater evils in the form of heavy taxation, which it 
was rumoured, the English Government intended to impose upon them. 

By the close of 1836 nearly 10,000 people had "trekked," as they called 
it — made tracks, as we should say. So anxious were they to depart that 
they sold the farms and lands which had been theirs for many genera- 
tions at merely nomiaal prices, — an entire farm being disposed of for a 
single waggon, — and moved off with their wives and children into the 
unknown world beyond, in search of some happy spot where the English 
should cease from troubling, and the Dutch should be at rest. Some 
stayed when they had crossed the Orange River, some reached Natal, 
and some even found their way beyond the Yaal River itself. 

But before this migration reached its height, we had another Kaffir 
war, which hastened it greatly. In 1834 there was one of the constant 
land disputes, in which the farmers took what land they wanted without 
inquiring to whom it belonged, the Kaffirs revenged themselves by- 
stealing their cattle; then a Commando was instituted, a number of 
soldiers, commanded by an English officer, and accompanied by the 
aggrieved farmers, invaded the Kaffir territory, seized all the cattle they 
found at the nearest Kaffir kraals, and sometimes burned the houses and 
shot the inhabitants in cold blood. This had been the case in 1834, and 
in December of that year the outraged Kaffirs rose suddenly and invaded 
the Cape Colony. To read the reception of the news by the House of 
Commons recals the feelings of pain and horror, and almost of dismay, 
with which we received the sad tidings of the defeat and slaughter of 
British troops at the battle of Isandula. "The news had filled the friends 
of the settlers in the colony, and of the missionaries who had gone thither 
to convert the natives, with the utmost alarm and dismay." The Kaffirs 
had swept along the frontier of the colony, had burned the farms, killed 
the colonists, and carried off an immense quantity of cattle. The colony 
seemed at their mercy, for contrary winds prevented the succour sent 
from the Cape to the East Province reachiQg its destination. But even 
at the moment of communicating this sad news to the House of Com- 
mons it was fully and fairly stated that the war had arisen out of the bad 
conduct of the colonists, and Sir Thomas Eowell Buxton confirmed this 
statement by citing several instances of robbery and atrocious cruelty; 
and " he hoped our treatment of* the natives would undergo strict revi- 
sion, for it had been such as to make every honest man blush."* 

But right is not always might ; when the white and the black man 
come to blows the ultimate result is certain. A terrible and stem 

* Hansard, vol. xxvi p. 726 (1835). 


revenge was taken ; we carried out to the full that Scriptural injunction, 
the full comprehension of which is one of the many substantial advan- 
tages which the English have derived from their Christianity, — "To 
him that hath shall be given, and he shall have more abundance ; but 
from him that hath not, shall be taken away even that which he seemeth 
to have." We received the submission of the Kaffirs; we took away 
their herds ; and we punished them for endeavouring to regain the land 
we had taken from them, by taking away the land to which we had 
driven them. 

But there was then (as I trust and believe there is now) a strong 
party in England who refused to allow injustice to be done in her name 
even to Kaffirs. The causes which had led to the war were carefully 
inquired into. Lord Glenelg, then Secretary of State for the Colonies, 
openly declared that the Kaffirs had ample justification for their conduct ; 
he recalled Sir Benjamin D'Urban, the then Governor, and restored to 
the natives the land of which they had been wrongfully despoiled.* 

This act of justice is worth our while remembering : it is possible 
that we may even wisely profit by the precedent it affisrds us. 

Let me sum up the position of afiairs at the end of the Dutch 
migration, say 1838. We had ruled the Cape Colony for 32 years; we had 
carried on three extensive wars with the Kaffirs, and nearly constant 
petty ones; we had quelled the Dutch rebellion; we had abolished 
the use of the Dutch language in Government despatches, and the old 
Dutch Courts for the settlement of disputes ; we had given the Hotten- 
tots the same privileges and position in the eye of the law as the Euro- 
peans ; we had put down slavery. A large number of the Dutch inhabi- 
tants had left the colony, and had gone away beyond the Orange River. 
Our possessions consisted of but a portion of the district which we now 
call the Cape Colony, and that the portion bordering the coast. 

And now we will follow those Dutch boers who did not like us, and 
who had shaken off the dust of their feet against us, and gone out into 
the great continent of Africa in search of independence and peace. A rough 
and weary time they had of it, constantly harassed by the natives, and 
without house or home, but they were brave men and persevered to the 
end. Some of them, after encountering incredible hardships and priva- 
tions, forced their way over the Drakenberg Mountains (the Dragon 
Hills) into what we now call the Province of Natal. They found the 

* " Handbook of Cape Colony," by John Noble, p. 23 

fair land almost without inhabitants, for Tschaka, the great Zulu King, 
had carried out in it his policy of extermination. This man had, during 
the sixteen years of his reign, acquired permanent authority over nearly 
the whole of South Eastern Africa, including the districts now known 
as Basuto Land, Natal, the Orange Free State, and the Transvaal. He 
*was the Napoleon of Southern Africa, and carried out his conquests at a 
cost in human suffering which almost approaches that of his great white 
contemporary. I have not the time, nor should I venture to weary you 
by relating the bitter wars between Tschaka's successor, Dingaane, and 
the Dutch, but they at length triumphed over him (460 of them under 
Pretorius defeating his picked army of 12,000 men on Dec. 16th, 1838)t 
and established the free Dutch Republic of Natalia, and I think that 
you will agree with me that they had also established some claim to the 
right of self-government. 

But we could not let them alone, although they had gone nearly a 
thousand miles away from us. In 1842 we sent our troops to invade 
their territory. They were told that they owed obedience and fealty 
to English rule, and, after a brief but brave resistance they were over- 
powered; and on the 8th August, 1843, Natal was formally annexed, 
and became a British dependency. At this time there were about 6,000 
whites and 25,000 natives in the land, there are now only about 20,000 
whites and 320,000 natives, so that, although it is called the Garden of 
Africa, it has not been a very successful colony. 

I stated that only a part of the Dutch emigrants had forced their 
way into Natal. Those who settled in the Orange Biver territory 
formed themselves into a kind of Republic, and laid down laws to regu- 
late the position of the natives who continued to dwell in the district, 
but they speedily received notice from Governor Napier that they were 
not released from their allegiance to the British Crown. They had 
many wars with the natives who were openly encouraged by the English, 
Earl Grey, who was then at the Colonial Office, actually writing to Sir 
Harry Smith, " I would advise you to enter into friendly relations with 
those chiefs ; advise those chiefs to combine against the Boers under 
a general authority ; tell them the British Government will help them. 
If they choose, the Governor of the Cape will send them an officer to 
reside amongst them, and aid them by his advice and directions, if is first 

* Shooter's " Kaffirs of Natal t'nd the Zulu Country," p. 240. 
t *' Natal," by Brooks and Mann, p. 219. 

step is to induce the chief to establish a confederacy against the Boers." 

And yet it is denied that the English Government has ever incited 
the natives against the Boers, or ever used the dangerous weapon of 
savage allies against a civilized people. 

But the Boers in the Orange River territory received reinforce- 
ments of an unexpected kind. The English Government in Natal soon 
made itself hateful to the Dutch, from whom the English had seized it. 
They were not allowed to purchase lands; and Kaffirs were located on the 
lands which already did belong to them. No attempt was made in any 
way to regulate the conduct of these Kaffirs, and the Dutch, after 
appealing through Pretorius to the Governor of Cape Colony in vain, 
once again abandoned all their possessions, and set out to seek a home 
in the wilderness. 

It was the wet season of the year when Sir Harry Smith met them 
on their road, and was moved to tears by their condition. He says : 
*" These families were exposed to a state of misery which I never before 
saw equalled, except in Massena's invasion of Portugal, when the whole 
of the population of that part of the seat of war abandoned their homes 
and fled. The scene here was truly heartrending." But the Dutch 
persevered, and made their way for the most part into the district we 
now call the Transvaal, some going to the Orange River territory. 

In the latter territory they were attacked by the English in 1848, 
and at Boomplaats they were defeated after one of the most severe skir- 
mishes ever witnessed, and the Orange River territory was declared to 
belong to England. 

And yet, at this very time, the Governor of the Cape Colony, Sir 
Henry Pottenger, f declared that there should be a complete reversal of 
English policy in South Africa, and that, instead of adding to the limits 
of the Colony, he would gladly retrench them. 

We must now return to that Colony. In 1846 we were again at 
war with the Kaffirs. Two of them had stolen an axe, and were rescued 
by their countrymen as they were being taken to prison. | In the war which 
ensued we were again victorious, and the Kaffirs were driven beyond the 
Kei River. Then in 1850 came the bloodiest struggle in which the Cape 
Colony ever engaged, it was a kind of sacred war, to which the Kaffirs 
were roused by the preaching of one of their prophets : it lasted for two 

* J. Noble's "South Africa, Past aud Present," p. 124. 

t Hansard, vol. c. xvi, p. 250. 

} Bisseta's "Sport and War in South Africa," p. 54. 


years and a half, but at length the natives submitted to Sir George 
Cathcart, and Kaffraria became a British dependency. Since that time 
the Cape Colony has been free from war until the year 1877. 

But the peculiar interest to us of this struggle is that its long dura- 
tion forced the English Parliament to give it quite an unusual amount 
of attention. Debate followed debate in the House of Commons, and 
the whole question of our South African policy was thoroughly discussed. 
We learn from these debates that the patriotic British merchants at the 
Cape had been supplying the natives with fire-arms. We learn also that 
one of the principal causes of the war was the support which the Eng- 
lish had given to the Kaffirs when they came into collision with the 
Dutch. We learn that many of the colonists found the Kaffir wars a 
lucrative source of income, and that it was commonly said in the colony 
that the war would last as long as the expenditure went on, and would 
begin to end "when the price of wrggons fell." How history repeats 
itself ! How one thinks of the difficulty which there is now in Natal to 
find means of transport; how the very men for whose sake England is 
putting forth such efforts are plundering her for their own benefit, and 
how scarcely for love or money can a single waggon be got to cross the 
frontier ! yet public meetings are held, and resolutions that the war 
should be vigorously carried on, are enthusiastically passed. 

But to return to the debates. In 1848 Earl Grey had told the 
colonists that " it was not to be expected that in future this country 
should bear the expenses incurred in maintaining a force to defend the 
Colony, and that it was incumbent upon the colonists to make a suitable 
provision for that purpose." Upon this point most of the debates in 
1851 turned, and I propose to make some quotations from them, as 
they bear closely upon the position of affairs to-day. 

Perhaps the principal part in the discussions was taken by Sir 
William Molesworth. On the 10th April he made a remarkable speech, 
in which he reviewed England's entire policy in reference to her colonies, 
and from this speech I must read at some length, because I find there 
expressed, eloquently and forcibly, that which I believe to be the common- 
sense view of the matter taken by a man who does not agree with some 
of us upon the unlawfulness of war. 

After speaking of the forces maintained in our various colonies, and 
of possible reductions in them, he thus proceeds : — * 
'' Hansard, vol. cxv, p. 1385. 

" With the permission of the House, I will explain as shortly as I can 
the reasons which have led me to the conclusions which I have just stated. 
I have said that the policy of this country with regard to its true colonies 
is of a very diiferent character from its policy with regard to military 
stations ; for the motives which have induced it to plant colonies are 
quite diflerent from those which led it to occupy military stations. We 
all know that, ever since the new world was discovered, it has been the 
unceasing desire of England to plant that new world with new Englands. 
It was the ardent wish of this countr} that its children should occupy 
the uninhabited portions of the earth's surface, and carry along with 
them to their new homes the laws, the institutions, and feelings of 
Englishmen ; that they should there become bold, energetic, and self- 
relying men, capable and willing to aid their parents in times of need, 
and not weak, puling infants, ever crying to their mother for assistance 
and emptying her purse. Now it is as true of bodies of men as it is of 
individual men, that the best mode of developing in them energy, 
courage, and self-reliance, is not to coddle and fondle them, and to tie 
them to a mother's apron, but to throw them upon their own resources, 
and to let them rough it and battle it with the world. Therefore it was 
the old policy of this country, with regard to plantations, and it still is 
the recognized constitutional doctrine with regard to them, that their 
inhabitants should take care of themselves, and manage their local 
affairs, and govern themselves by representative institutions. Now, 
most of our colonies, properly so called, do possess representative institu- 
tions, and all of them are about to possess those institutions. With 
such institutions no taxes can be levied in these colonies without the 
consent of the representatives of the people; and their inhabitants 
cannot be constitutionally compelled to contribute out of their taxes to 
the revenues of the United Kingdoms. Therefore reciprocally, the 
people of the United Kingdoms ought not to be called upon to pay out 
of their own taxes any portion of the local expenses of such colonies ; 
and consequently in such colonies all expenses for local purposes should 
be paid out of local revenues, while all expenses for imperial purposes 
should be paid for out of imperial revenues." 

He then proceeds to apply the principles he has laid down to 
answering the question — who ought to pay for the military force which 
is maintained in a colony, and points out that such a force can only be 
required for war with external foes, or to preserve order and tranquility 


in the colony. Although the entire speech is full of interest, the part 
which affects us to-night is as follows : — 

"I will next speak of wars with savage tribes on the frontier of a 
colony. The answer to the question whether such wars ought to be 
considered as strictly local wars or not — whether any portion of the 
expense of such wars ought to be defrayed by the local government or 
not — the answers to these questions depend upon the nature of the 
government of the colony. If the inhabitants of a colony have represen- 
tative institutions, and the management of their local affairs, and if the 
relations between them . and the frontier tribes be conducted by local 
officers, then the local government must be held responsible for the 
result, and if the result be war, and that war be conducted by local 
officers, and the expenditure on account of it be under local control, 
then I think that it is quite clear that the whole expense of that war 
should be paid by the colony, and no portion of it by the United 
Kingdoms. And I feel convinced that if the local government had to 
pay the expense of native wars, those governments would take care not 
rashly to engage in war, and when engaged in it, it would be for their 
interest to bring the war to a termination as speedily as possible, and at 
the least possible cost. Unfortunately it is quite different when the 
imperial Government has to pay for a native war. Then it is the interest 
of many persons in the colony that the war should be made as expensive 
as possible. 

I believe that it is almost impossible for the imperial Government at 
home to exercise any real check over such expenditure ; and I believe 
that it is also very difficult, if not impossible, for the imperial officers in 
the colony to resist the claims poured in upon them from every quarter; 
for, the imperial purse being considered inexhaustible, every one in the 
colony is intent either upon picking it himself, or assisting others in 
doing so, whenever a fair opportunity, like a native war, occurs. On 
the other hand, the resistance offered by the imperial officers in a colony 
is generally languid, for they have no clear and permanent interest in 
offending those around them by keeping down imperial expenditure, pro- 
vided it do not become so extravagantly great as to cause a great outcry 
in this House ; and, generally speaking, hon. members know nothing 
about the matter till two or three years after the money has been spent. 
Then it is too late ; fair promises are made which are invariably broken. 


It appears to me to be of the utmost importance that we should not, if 
})Ossible, be made liable for any bill on account of native wars, for such 
a bill will always be a most extortionate one ; and yet in no one case 
that I remember, were the extortioners contented, but invariably accused 
us of being mean, shabby, and not paying enough. If in any excep- 
tional case it should be deemed expedient to assist a colony, possessing 
self-government, in a native war, I am inclined to think that th(i wisest 
plan would be to give the colony a round sum of money, and let the local 
government employ it in the manner which it deems best. On the other 
hand, I must admit that if the inhabitants of a colony do not possess 
representative institutions, if they have no voice in the management of 
their local afFairs^ if they be governed by the Colonial Office, and if the 
relations between them and the native tribes be conducted by officers 
responsible to the Colonial Office, then the Colonial Office, that is, the 
Imperial Government, must be held responsible for the result, and, if 
the result be war, as the war will be conducted by imperial officers, as 
the expenditure on account of it will be under imperial control, as such 
wars are apt to be hastily produced, unnecessarily prolonged, and con- 
ducted with lavish expense, it would not be just to throw the whole 
burden of such wars on the colony ; but a portion at least of the expense 
ought to be paid by the Imperial Government." 

Mr. Gladstone, Mr. Cobden, Mr. Bright, Mr. Hume, Mr. Adderley, 
and many others, enunciated and enforced similar views in the various 
debates ; Mr. Cobden quoting Adam Smith, who said we should make 
the colonies pay their own expenses in time of peace, and contribute as 
much as would indemnify us in time of war. 

It is amusing to notice, en passant, that the Zulus were mentioned 
in this debate of the 10th April, 1851, by Lord Mandeville, but only to 
say that they were perfectly peaceable, and never attacked us ! 

In Natal the inhabitants have only a partial voice in the manage- 
ment of their local affairs. The Imperial Government is conducting the 
war " hastily produced," and will be expected to bear all the cost of its 
unnecessary prolongation. The Colonists alone can and do benefit by it. 

The most important result of the long Kaffir War of 1850, and of 
the discussion which it aroused, was that our Government was led to 
give representative government on an unusually wide, popular basis to 
the Cape Colony; but it was not until 1872 that the Governor was re- 
moved, and that they received an entirely responsible government with 


an Elective Legislative Council and House of Assembly, and a Ministry- 
accountable only to their own Parliament. 

I shall have but little more to say about Cape Colony. It lies far 
away from the present source of anxiety, but in order that you may see 
how strange a people the Kaffirs are, I must tell you of their amazing 
conduct in 1857 in Kaffraria.* More than 50,000 of them voluntarily 
starved themselves to death. They were told that the English would 
be driven away, and that their race would be restored to its ancient 
glory, not by the living but by the dead. They sowed no seed ; they 
slaughtered their cattle ; they burned their grain ; aud then they sat 
down, and died the most lingering and painful of deaths, in quiet faith 
and hope. 

But this is a digression. I have already mentioned how some of 
the wandering Dutch found their way to the Transvaal, where the Eng- 
lish of that day thought it too far to follow them. Comparatively few, 
however, settled there until after the battle of Boomplaats, when the 
English took the Orange River Territory from them. Then Pretorius 
fled across the Vaal river into the Transvaal, and the English Govern- 
ment set a reward of £2,000 upon his head.f The Dutch Boers followed 
him ; he established a Republic ; and as he was so far away, and as the 
great debates to which I have alluded began to bear fruit, the English 
Government sent commissioners to negotiate with this doughty rebel, 
and in 1852 they entered into the Sand River Treaty, now of so much 
importance. JThe Transvaal had never been declared to be British 
territory, and by the first article of this convention the Assistant Com- 
missioners guaranteed " in the fullest manner, on the part of the British 
Government, to the emigrant farmers beyond the Vaal River the right 
to manage their own affairs, and to govern themselves according to their 
own laws, without any interference on the part of the British Govern- 
ment ; and that no encroachment shall be made by the said Government 
in the territory beyond, to the north of the Yaal River ; with the fur- 
ther assurance that the warmest wish of the British Government is to 
promote peace, free trade, and friendly intercourse with the emigrant 
farmers now inhabiting, or who hereafter may inhabit, that country ; it 
being understood that this system of non-interference is binding upon 
both parties." 

* J. Noble's " South Africa, Past and Present," p. 225. 
t J. Noble's "South Africa, Past and Present," p. 123. 
J This Treaty is given verbatun at p. 148 of J. Noble's -'South Afi-ica, Past and Present." 


In the further articles the Commissioners disclaimed all alliances 
whatsoever and with whomsoever of the coloured nations to the north 
of the Vaal River ; the Dutch agreed neither to permit nor to practise 
slavery ; all trade with the natives in ammunition was mutually prohi- 
bited ; and thus the Transvaal Republic was founded by treaty with the 
English nation. 

Let us return to the Orange River Territory. After the defeat of 
the Dutch, a British Resident was appointed, who, with the aid of a 
small council, might make laws for everybody but the natives, but even 
the fact that we did not make laws for them was insufficient for them, 
and they would fight us. The Dutch naturally refused to help us ; we 
were surrounded by hostile peoples ; we were making great exertions 
and going to vast expense to maintain our government over a people 
who hated us, and not without cause. The game was evidently not 
worth the candle. In 1851 Earl Grey had written to the High Com- 
missioner that "the ultimate abandonment of the Orange River sove- 
reignty must be a settled point of our policy," and that when this was 
effected, no wars, however sanguinary, which might occur between the 
native tribes and the independent peoples should afford a ground for our 
interference. This was followed by the appointment of the Commis- 
sioners who had consented to the treaty with the Transvaal farmers, 
and they entered into a similar convention with the Boers of the Orange 
River territory.* The future independence of that State and its govern- 
ment were guaranteed, and its inhabitants were declared to be a free 
and independent people. Existing treaties with coloured people north 
of the Orange River were renounced, and none were thereafter to be 
entered into which might be injurious or prejudicial to the interests of 
the new Republic. This convention was coniirmed by Royal proclama- 
tion on the 8th April, 1854. 

The Orange River Republicans had many a difficulty to contend 
with, and had to make great sacrifices. They had to fight as well as to 
pay taxes ; they had to suspend the action of their law courts ; and their 
whole industries were paralyzed, whilst their state revenue was exhausted. 
But they struggled bravely on for more than 14 years ; they got through 
their troubles, and their land is now the only inland state which is peaceful 
and prosperous. It has a population of 50,000 whites and 25,000 blacks 
in a country not quite so large as England and Wales ; that is to say, 
* Given verbatim in J. Noble's " South Africa, Past and Present," p. 169, 


the entire population, of a land nearly as large as our own, is less than 
that of North Shields. 

I have gone so carefully into this history of our dealings with the 
Dutch in the Orange Free State because it is one of the few glimpses of 
justice and common sense which the whole of our dealings with them 
afford. We voluntarily came to the opinion that our annexation had 
not been wise and judicious, and we abandoned it. There is thus a 
precedent which might be fairly and fully weighed in connection with 
our recent course of dealing in the Transvaal, and the policy which we 
may hereafter adopt in regard to it. 

But the case is yet stronger than I have stated it. There were 
some of the inhabitants of the Orange River Territory who did not wish 
to be without the care and. protection of England.* They memorialized 
the Secretary of State, and even sent a deputation to England to urge 
the impolicy and injustice of the proposed measure. It would destroy 
confidence in the stability of the British rule throughout Southern 
Africa j it would occasion cruel and interminable wars between the 
Natives and the Europeans which would endanger the security and peace 
of Cape Colony itself. But though these are the very views which have 
occasioned the annexation of the Transvaal, Sir George Clerk and Sir 
George Cathcart took a decided stand in opposition to those who did not 
wish to be free. "The more I consider the position of the territory," 
said Sir George Clerk, " the more I feel assured of its inutility as an 
acquisition. It unquestionably has some attractions * * ^ * but it is 
nevertheless a vast territory, possessing nothing that can sanction its 
being permanently added to a frontier already inconveniently extended. 
Jt secures no genuine interests ; it is recommended by no prudent or 
justifiable motive ; it answers no really beneficial purpose ; it imparts no 
strength to the British Government, — no credit to its character, no lustre 
to its crown." 

Every word might have been spoken of the Transvaal ! but how 
strangely inconsistent is our policy with these Dutch. We take their 
land from them by force of arms ; and then compel them to receive it 
back again. We insist upon annexing a State where the great majority 
of the inhabitants do not desire it ; we refuse to keep a State where 
some of the inhabitants do not wish for independence. Such 
conduct looks like a set resolve to thwart the wishes of the Dutch what- 
ever they might be. 

* I have been informed by Sir George Clerk that it was the few English settlers in the Orange River 
Territory who took this action. It was the few English settlers in the Transvaal also who 
invoked us im our unfortunate annexation of the territnrv fy,a ir,Aa^^^A i-i-»- - ' - 


Let us now sum up the state of affairs in South Africa twenty-five 
years ago. Cape Colony has fought its longest war with the natives, has 
greatly extended its boundaries, and is to enjoy peace for twenty years ; 
it has received a representative government, although the Home Govern- 
ment will appoint its Chief for eighteen years longer. Natal has been 
wrested from the Dutch, and is governed by a Lieutenant Governor. 
The Orange River Territory has been taken forcibly from the Dutch, but 
has been given up to them again, and is a E-epublic ; and the Transvaal 
is also a Republic by express agreement with the English Government j 
and thus things remained for the next thirteen years. Every province 
had its difficulties and troubles, bat the arrangement which had been 
come to seems on the whole a wise and fair one. It would have been 
better had Natal been added to the other i-epublics, but in two direc- 
tions, at all events, the Dutch had fairly won their independence, whilst 
we had the barrier of the two young republics between our Cape Colony, 
and the most warlike tribes of natives. 

And now we come to one of those curious discoveries which change 
the political history of the world, and show us how infinitely true it is 
that "trifles make the sum of human things." *In 1867 a diamond was 
seen in the hands of some children who were playing with it in their 
father's house. He was a Dutchman, living in the extreme north of 
Cape Colony, and almost on the south bank of the Orange River. 
Another plaything was substituted for this one; the diamond passed 
through several hands, and was at last purchased for £500 by Sir 
Philip Woodhouse, the then Governor of Cape Colony. That stone 
should surely be amongst the regalia at the Tower of London, for it has 
become historical, and has cost the English people untold gold and some 
priceless honour. In 1868 and 1869 search was made, and diamonds 
were found upon some of the farms in the west of the Orange Free 
State ; and in 1870 there was a general rush to the Diamond Fields of 
needy men anxious to pick up a fortune, — a rush like that which many 
of us remember to the A.ustralian gold diggings in 1851. And now 
most unfortunately the English Government forgot all about the treaty 
they had made when they forced the Dutch to establish the Orange 
River Free State : they crossed the river ; they set aside the claims of 
the Dutch, who were in possession ; and they professed to purchase the 
territory now called Griqualand West from an old Kaffir who laid claim 
* TroUope's "South Africa," vol. ii, p. 161. 


to it. In one sense it was a cheap enough purchase, the diamonds found 
upon a single farm in four years were worth £3,500,000 ; more than 
£10,000,000 worth have been taken from another farm. We stole the 
land from the Dutch in the first place, and then got a sham title to it 
by giving Nicholas Waterboer, the Kaffir, a life annuity of £1000 for 
it, and securing to his wife and children a pension of £500 a year.* The 
Orange Free State had no armed force wherewith to arrest our wanton 
and wicked aggression, but they protested stoutly against the act- 
Lord Kimberley was then at the Colonial Office : in this matter of 
wrong-doing in South Africa neither of our political parties have clean 
hands. It has been a national, not a party question, and where both 
have so much to be ashamed of, it would be difficult and unjust to en- 
deavour to apportion the weight of blame. Lord Kimberley then being 
at the Colonial Office, the Diamond Fields were declared to be British 
territory on the 27th October, 1871, but we had done this grievous 
wrong in a muddled and blind way, for although we had got the Dia- 
mond Fields, the mines themselves had been bought by private specu- 
lators. The most valuable one of all had been sold by a Dutch Boer to 
an English firm for £6,600 ; they cleared £35,000 a year from it for 
four years, and sold it in 1875 to the English Government for £100,000.1 

But I have not time to go at all fully into the curious history of 
the Diamond Fields. The annexation was not popular even amongst 
the English, and in 1874 an English resident told Mr. Froude that the 
transaction made him ashamed of his country. J The Government wished 
the Cape Colony to accept the new territory, but it objected to do so, and 
not even, yet have the terms upon which it would consent to take the 
awkward gift been arrived at. 

But President Brand not only protested against the wrong done to 
his little republic, he came over to England and urged the justice of 
his case so pertinaciously that Lord Carnarvon, who had then become 
Secretary for the Colonies, whilst refusing to entertain the question of 
right, agreed to pay to the Orange Free State the sum of £90,000, and 
the further sum of £15,000 in case that State should at any time make 
a railway in connectien with the other colonial railways, and thus the 
difficulty was ended in a somewhat strange and undignified way. 

- * The end of tbis business is amusing. We have not paid Waterboer. We have disputed his title 
at law, putting him to £3000 expense, and have cast him into prison for some trifling offence. 
"The Native Question in South Africa," by W, H. James- M.P., p. 43. 

t Cunjmghair.c's "ily command in South Africa," p. 172. 

i Froude's •' bhort Studies on Great Subjects." " Leaves from a South African Journal," p. 532. 


And now you will learn how these Diamond Fields have been an 
unmitigated curse to us, and how seriously they have afiected the 
chances of permanent peace in the adjoining territories. The work in 
the mines was performed by Kaffirs who were enticed irom all parts of 
the surrounding country by the prospect of liberal pay, fur Kaffirs can 
and do work when it suits them to do so. We had bound ourselves by 
treaty not to deal in ammunition with the natives, but, having already 
broken the treaty in one particular, it was easier to break it in another. 
"We allowed the unreserved sale of fire-arms and gunpowder to the Kaffirs 
at the Diamond Fields, and much of their wages was spent in the pur- 
chase of these articles. General Cunynghame thinks that 400,000 fire- 
arms (chiefly rifles) were thus distributed amongst the warlike nations 
adjoining the Transvaal, the Orange Free State, and Natal. ^ 

The result of this state of affairs was soon seen, and we have had 
to pay dearly for our gross faithlessness. 

The Transvaal, or as it was then called " The South African Ke- 
public," had a rough struggle almost for existence. There were fierce and 
bloody wars between the Dutch and the Kaffirs, in which acts of savage 
cruelty were followed by bitter retaliation. There was an attempt to 
unite the two Dutch republics under one government, but we interfered 
and declared that such a proceeding would annul both the Conventions 
of 1852 and 1854. Strange and invariable blindness to the true course 
of honest policy ! We break the treaties ourselves directly and with 
impunity, even when our doing so involves the worst consequences : the 
Dutch must not even break them by implication ! Then there was a 
dispute with the Griquas, and we broke the Sand River Treaty, and, 
although their territory bounded that of the Transvaal, we declared that 
they were British subjects. There had been internal dissensions also, 
for the land was rich and of great extent, and the people were few, and 
inclined to a simple patriarchal form of government, and there was not 
that community of interest which produces strong community of feeling, 
which lies at the root of what we call patriotism, and which induces men 
to make great sacrifices, pecuniary and otherwise for their common 
country. But the discovery of diamonds in Griqualand West intensified 
every difficulty ; not only were the natives armed, but we began to play 
them off against the Dutch in order to keep the republics in check. 
Then in 1871 gold was discovered in the North of the Transvaal, and 

■^ Cunynghame's "My command in South Africa," p, xi. 


the diggers rushed off to avail themselves of the discovery. Diggers are 
not the most orderly and scrupulous of men, and they soon began to 
involve the Dutch with the Natives who were already ripe for mischief. 
Then noble old Andries Pretorius was long dead, his last words advising 
concord among his countrymen, and the President (elected in 1872), the 
Rev. Thomas Frangois Burgers, was by no means a typical Dutchman. 
He had the "go" of a steam-engine always at high pressure, and his 
overflowing energy was sometimes misapplied.* He had not learned 
the wisdom of hurrying gently, and so, although his exchequer was 
empty, he initiated great railways and other enterprises, succeeded in 
obtaining credit, and rushed his Pepublic into heavy debt. Then the 
waywardness of the digger produced its certain result, and Secocoeni, 
the Chief whose possessions lay nearest to the Leydenburg diggings, 
declared war, and the result (when, after three months' fighting, the 
volunteer army broke up of its own accord and went home) was some- 
what doubtful, although Secocoeni sued for and obtained peace upon 
agreeing to pay a small indemnity. It is said that some of the farmers 
in out-lying districts subsidized the local chiefs in order that they might 
live in safety. Then there were frontier questions with Cetewayo, the 
King of the Zulus, whose land lay between the Transvaal and Natal 
and the Sea, and here again we supported the Natives against the 
Boers. Then the English Government was perpetually sending poor 
President Burgers irritating and insulting messages based on an in- 
sufficient knowledge of the facts, and he was rated in turn by each 
Colonial Secretary. There was no doubt that the Transvaal was passing 
through many and great difficulties, but its position was not nearly so 
desperate as that of the Orange Biver Free State had been. At length 
tbe English Government professing that it feared something might 
happen which would endanger the English possessions sent Sir Theophilus 
Shepstone to investigate matters, and to advise the Dutch authorities. 
Already there had been a clamour for annexation from the English 
colonists who had recently settled in the state, but the Dutch believed 
that the mission was a friendly one, and received it in a friendly manner, 
and (so reckless of facts are men resolved upon excusing injustice) that 
this very friendliness has been adduced as a proof that the Boers desired 
annexation ] 

Sir Theophilus Shepstone took with him a small escort of mounted 

* Trollope's "South Africa," vol. ii, p. 44. 


police. The Dutch knew that the entire armed power, of England was 
at his Lack ; they did not know that a commission which was to be the 
death-blow to their independence was in his pocket. 

This commission is so strange a production, that I would fain have 
quoted it to you in its entirety.* It was purposely vague, so that it could 
be said that any successful act of aggression was covered by it. It was 
guarded in its language, so that any unsuccessful act could be success- 
fully repudiated. The most important poition — after declaring that Sir 
Theophilus Shepstone may annex and admin seer such territories as after 
due consideration he shall think fit, but only provisionally and during 
the Queen's pleasure, and without ever mentioning the Transvaal in any 
way, runs thus : — " Provided first that no such proclamation should be 
issued by you with respect to any district, territory, or state, unless you 
shall be satisfied that the inhabitants thereof, or a sufiicient number of 
them, or the Legislature thereof, dcisire to become our subjects ; nor if 
any conditions unduly limiting our power and authority therein are 
sought to be imposed." 

Sir Theophilus Shepstone arrived at Pretoria on the 22nd Jan., 187'< , 
and on the 12th April, without having made any public or general attempt 
to ascertain what the wishes of the people were, and in direct defiance of 
the plain sense of his commission, he issued a proclamation coolly annexing 
the whole of a territory as large as France, and with a population of 
40,000 whites and 250,000 blacks : — f'Now therefore I do, in virtue of 
the power and authority conferred upon me by Her Majesty's Boyal 
Commission, and in accordance with instructions conveyed to me thereby 
and otherwise^ proclaim and make known that from and after the 
publication hereof the territory heretofore known as the South African 
Republic shall be and shall be taken to be British territory," 

" And otherwise." What were the instructions conveyed to this 
mighty Commissioner "otherwise," and what way was that "otherwise," 
and from whom and by whom were tliey conveyed 1 It does not read like 
a piece of honest English history this, nor is it. A more wicked and 
wanton deed was never done by any man in the name of any nation, and 
yet it was not i-epudiated. It is not too late to repudiate it now. 

When the news came to England people did not understand it or 
care about it. There was indeed a debate in the House of Commons in 

* It will be found in Aylward's "The Transvaal of To-Day," p. 389, and in Noble's "South Africa 

Past and Present," Appendix p. 339. 
t Noble's "South Africa, Past and Present," p. 341. 


which Mr. Courtney, Sir Charles Dilke, Mr. Parnell, Mr. O'Donnell, 
and a few others, stood up manfully for those rights of the people which 
are the first article in the creed of all Liberals who see that it is 
possible for other peoples as well as the English people to have rights. 
But, as a whole, Tories, Whigs, and Radicals joined hands over the 
business, and sang a chorus of thanksgiving and joy over this most 
wicked and wanton violation of popular rights. 

How was this possible 1 Chiefly from a misconception of the facts. 

Lord Carnarvon was busily forwarding his scheme for a great South 
African confederation at this very time. If we read the deeply-interesting 
debates upon this subject, as well as that upon the annexation question, 
we shall find the following statements constantly made, and the facts 
involved therein as constantly assumed to be correct : — 

1. — That the inhabitants of the Republic wished to be annexed. 

2. — That they had instituted and maintained slavery. 

3. — That they had exercised exceptional cruelty towards the natives 
in their wars, and exceptional injustice in their government. 

4. — That they had been disgracefully beaten by the natives in war. 

5. — That annexation was ardently desired by the natives, and would 
insure peace with them in the Transvaal, and would also pre- 
vent disturbances in our other colonies. 

We will take each of these assertions seriatim, and endeavour to 
ascertain its truth or falsehood. 

The first proviso of Sir Theophilus Shepstone's commission requires 
him as a condition precedent to annexation to obtain the popular sanc- 
tion. The second proviso shows clearly that annexation, if it were 
desired, was not to be sudden, and should not be forcible, but was to be a 
matter of negotiation and arrangement, for it contemplates the people 
wishing to be annexed, yet requiring conditions which, unduly limiting 
the power of the Crown, would not permit its compliance with their 
wishes. In this case no annexation was to take place. 

No one pretends that the Transvaal Yolksraad* (or Parliament) 
sanctioned the annexation, although Sir Theophilus Shepstone urged 
them to do so. No one ventures to assert that any public meetings 
were held in favour of it. The Commissioner says that he was satisfied 
by addresses, memorials, and letters received, and by personal inter- 

• "A nation with a popular parliament can only be held to express its ojinion to another nation by 
the voice of its parliament : and the Volksraad of the Transvaal was altogether opposed to 
the interference of Great Britain." " South Africa," by Anthony Trollope, vol. ii, p. 51. 

course with the inhabitants — that a large proportion of the people desired 
the establishment of Her Majesty's authority and rule. As he was 
living in Pretoria, which has but some 2,000 inhabitants (men, women, 
and children), and as his staff charged themselves with the task of 
getting suitable addresses, this was not quite so satisfactory as it should 
have been, seeing that the popular sanction lies at the root of the whole 
matter. But the question has been tested. The President and Yolks- 
raad at once formally and forcibly protested against the deed. A depu- 
tation was sent to England to plead for justice to their country. When 
Lord Carnarvon told them that their people had desired annexation, 
they were astounded, and he was equally amazed to hear it stoutly denied. 
This was a point which was capable of proof. The deputation apparently 
misunderstood Lord Carnarvon, and thought that he undertook that the 
annexation shoukl be cancelled if it were shown to have been contrary 
to the wish of the inhabitants. They went home, and sent out memo- 
rials to be signed by those who had not desired or approved of the 
annexation. What did Sir Theopliilus Shepstone do when his accuracy 
was to be put to the proof 1 He issued a ^proclamation that the setting 
on foot of the memorials was promoted by a spirit of sedition, and warned 
the promoters that they were by that — his proclamation — made liable to 
imprisonment, fine, and such further and other punishments as the law 
might direct ! And when the Deputies held a meeting at Pretoria to 
tell the people how they had fared on their journey to pray from free 
England for the restoration of independence, dearer than life, to them- 
selves and to their children, this representative of an English Queen 
had cannon directed upon the Assembly, and held troops in readiness 
with which it might be overawed If 

Are such things really possible? Am I telling you of the deeds of 
our own countryman in this 19th century, or do I dream, and are these 
things but recollections of the hateful rule of the Spanish Don Alva over 
the Netherlands ; of the wretched tyranny of Napoleon's minions over 
the Spaniards struggling for their country's liberty ; of the brutal 
Haynau trampling out the last sparks of freedom's torch in bleeding 
Hungary 1 Of such men, and of such men alone, are such proclamations 
and actions worthy. They reek cf the foul atmosphere of despotic 
Imperialism. There is a rank Russian flavour about them. They are 

■ Given in extenso in Ayl ward's "The Transvaal of To-Day," p. 404. 
t Hansard, vol. ccxiii, p. 2064. 


emanations from the mind of a detective policeman, not from that of 
an English statesman. The Dutch were too scattered, too feeble, too 
peaceful a people, to fight against the armed legions of England who 
crushed them ruthlessly, and then forbade them to murmur. 

But they are a patient, determined, obstinate people; and Sir 
Theophilus Shepstone's threats were futile. The memorials were signed 
and came in, one hundred and thirt-five against and thirty-one in favour 
of annexation. There are 8,000 adult males in the Transvaal — of these 
6,591 enfranchised burghers voted against annexation, and only 587 
^enfranchised burghers voted fur it : thirteen sixteenths of the entire 
adult male population voted against the deed. 

What becomes of the statement so constantly repeated in Parlia- 
ment, that the annexation was by mutual consent, and that the large 
majority of the whites were in favour of it 1 What is Sir Theophilus 
Shepstone's "satisfaction" worth? and how comes it that an English 
Commissioner tramples on the principle of popular sanction, and that 
an English Parliament applauds his deedl Even the Imperial 
despot of France did not dare to act so shamelessly. 

Now let us examine the second charge, that the Dutch had insti 
tuted slavery in their territory. There must be old Africans to whom 
such a charge as this, made by the nation which inflicted the slave trade 
upon Africa, and carried it on as one of her most important enterprizes 
until the year 1807, must sound somewhat ironical. The fact itself of 
the existence of slavery in the Transvaal is by no means proved, nay 
further, the Dutch themselves deny it absolutely, and ask how many 
slaves our Adminstrator has liberated since he annexed their country. 
This is a fair question, and unless it be answered we must conclude that 
the charge is false, and has only lived (like many a lie before it) because it 
has been so current. Mr. Froude, who visited the Republic in 1874, 
says,t " In the Transvaal the blacks swarm as they do in Natal. They 
do as little work, and as little does any one think of forcing them to 
work. Their women cultivate their corn patches. The men wander 
about and steal cattle." 

Yet there is no smoke without fire, and there is a wide concurrence 
of testimony that what is called forced labour did exist in both of the 
Dutch republics. In the Orange Free State it is rather a matter of 
police : vagrancy is strictly prohibited, and a confirmed vagrant is set to 

* Hansard, vol. ccxlii, p. 2005. 
t Froude's ** Leaves from a South African Journal," p. 525. 


work upon the road or elsewhere for the common weal. So we find that 
in the Orange Free State there are comparatively few natives ! But in 
the Transvaal there was evidently more than this. The work which 
seems to me to speak with the most assured authority upon this subject 
is "South Africa, Past and Present," by Mr. John ISToble, the Clerk to 
the House of Assembly in Cape Colony. He says that the Dutch made 
little scruple about obtaining possession of native children, sometimes as 
captives in war, sometimes by purchase from the natives, sometimes by 
mere violence. The children so procured were indentured up to the age 
of 22 or 25 years. Mr. Aylward says that these children were frequently 
brought by their parents to be apprenticed. After their term of appren- 
ticeship they were free to go where they liked, but they generally 
continued in the service of the farmer who had brought them up. Now 
I dread and dislike forced labour. Call it the apprenticeship system, 
the coolie system, or what you will, it is always open to grave abuses, 
and is often only slavery disguised. But surely we cannot in ordinary 
decency pretend that we have a right to annex the Transvaal in order to 
put down forced labour. Why we have just been introducing it into 
our most recent undesirable acquisition — the island of Cyprus. We have 
for many years sanctioned the detestable coolie system in British Guiana 
in Natal itself, and in other of our dependencies ; and no tale of cruelty 
to their apprentices has ever been told about the Boers to compare for an 
instant with the sickening details of fiendish barbarity which an English 
Judge has related about that accursed coolie trafiic in our own colony of 
British Guiana."^ Only upon the principle, which some Englishmen would 
fain make popular to day, that what is vice in the inhabitant of any other 
country may be virtue in an Englishman-— that England's mission is to 
remove the moces from the eyes of the nations of the world (albeit the 
beams in her own render the operation tedious and disagreeable), can we 
condemn the Dutch in the Transvaal for taking a leaf out of our book. 

We next come to the point that the Boers had exercised brutal 
cruelty towards the natives in war, and exceptional injustice in their 
government in peace. There can be no doubt that, wherever fighting 
goes on, the men who get the upper hand will often be guilty of gross 
cruelty to the conquered, and in war with savage peoples the accustomed 
barbarities of the savage are wont to arouse a thirst for simple and 

* "The new Slavery. An account of the Indian and Chinese Immigrants in British Guiana," by 
Joseph Beaumont, late Chief Justice of British Guiana. 


terrible revenge. War is a bnital business at tlie best, and our 
own hands are too deeply dyed with blood to admit of our casting 
stones at other people.* Even in 1851 Mr. Adderley said, fin the great 
Kaffir war debate to which I have alluded, " The dealings of the Boers 
with the Kaffirs would not present us with a more atrocious or barbarous 
system of warfare than that we were then carrying on upon the frontier 
of Cape Colony, under the command of Sir Harry Smith, Her Majesty's 

In the }>ractical government of the natives in time of peace our 
Cape Colony affords a bright and noble example. For the last quarter 
of a century slowly but surely has the social scale of the black inhabitant 
been raised. He has been treated with kindness and justice. Education 
has been afforded to his children, and he is gradually acquiring settled 
habits of industry and thrift. This is a work of which we may well be 
proud. But we must compare like things with like, and if we contrast 
the treatment of the natives in the Transvaal and in Natal, we shall not 
find much difference, and what difference there is will not always be in 
our favour. 

Let us look for a few minutes at our government of the natives in 
Natal where we were in authority eleven years before the Dutch rule 
was established in the Transvaal. They are for the most part Zulus, 
and there are not less than 320,000 of them. We rule them by Kaffir 
law ; we do not compel them to work ; we allow them to have as many 
wives as they like, and to live in idleness whilst there unfortunate wives 
are dealt with and dealt in as simple slaves. We draw the line, how- 
ever, at murder, and do not permit them to steal if we can prevent it. 
To illustrate our method of ruling them I must tell you the stories of the 
two chiefs — Mattyana and Langalibelee. 

I A young Zulu chief, Mattyana by name, was accused of a murder, 
and Mr. Shepstone was told to arrest him. Mr. Shepstonadid not credit 
the charge, but sent for the chief to come and see him, and he came with 
an escort of 300 men. Both parties agreed to be unarmed at the con- 
ference, Vjut Mr. Shepstone hid a gun under his cloak. Mattyana's men 
left their arms at some distance fi'om the place of interview, as agreed 
upon, and they were secured by some of Mr. Shepstone's men, whom he 
had ordered to steal secretly away for that purpose. He next thought 
that the Zulus had been as deceitful as he was, and that he saw the 

* Since this was written we have employed the savage Swazies against Secocoeni with sickening 
results, and the war now waging with the Basutos leaves us but little cause to boast of our way 
of dealing with native peoples in South Africa. 

t Hansard, vol. cxvii, p. 741. 

t Froude's "Leaves from a South African Jou.inal, p. 509. 


handles of short assegais (iron-headed spears) beneath their leopard skins 
There was a quarrel ; blows were struck on both sides ; Mattyana cried 
out that he was betrayed; Mr. Shepstone fired off his gun over the 
heads of the Zulus, who ran back for their arms, but found them gone ; 
and then the armed English fired upon the defenceless Zulus and killed 
thirty of them. 

This peculiar mode of punishing a murder, which had probably 
never been committed, bore such fruit as we might reasonably expect. 
Soon afterwards unlicensed guns were seen in the kraals of a tribe living 
under the Drakenberg Mountains, and the natives refused to give them 
up because they belonged to their chief, Langalibele. He was twice 
summoned to go and see the English authorities, but he had heard of 
their short way with contumacious chiefs, and he declined. On the 
4th of October, 1873,* five thousand soldiers, under the command of the 
Lieutenant-Governor himself, went up to the chief's territory. He ab- 
sconded, and his people tried to follow him. A small party of English 
overtook them and summoned them to stop, but were fired at, and three 
of the English and two natives were killed. Then the army swept over 
the country ; burned every house ; shot down every man taken with 
arms in his hands ; carried off the whole of the women, children, and 
cattle ; and followed and captured Langalibele and many of his men. 
He was tried and sentenced to imprisonment for life (which has since 
been commuted by the Home Authorities to expatriation), five hundred 
of his followers were kept in prison for twelve months without trial,! and 
they were then sentenced to penal servitude for terms varying from two 
to twenty years, —a sentence which to a free man accustomed to live in 
the open air is worse than any death. The Home Government com- 
muted some of these sentences also, saying that the matter should have 
been dealt with by the police, not by an army. 

For the refusal of their chief to appear before the English authorities 
we had destroyed two large native tribes. We can scarcely say that, 
the circumstances being similar, we govern the blacks in time of peace 
better than the Boers do ! 

I have already dealt with the fourth point urged as justifying the 
annexation of the Transvaal, viz., that the Dutch had been disgracefully 
beaten by the natives in war. In the first place it was not true ; in the 
second place, we, who had supplied the natives with arms, and had sup- 

■* "Natal," by Brooks and Mann, p. 263. 
t " Leave* from a South African Journal." p. 611. 


ported them in their claims against the Boers, were the last people who 
should bring forward such an accusation. 

The last and strongest argument was that annexation was ardently- 
desired by the natives, and would insure peace with them in the Trans- 
vaal, and would also prevent disturbances in our other colonies. 

It was stated that the natives were not hostile to the English ; and 
that by annexing the Transvaal we should be spared the horrors of a 
war which was imminent, and which, if it once broko out, might spread 
to our own provinces. We were indeed thus to effect an insurance 
against native wars. All South Africa, it was said, would know that 
England was in the Transvaal, and would rejoice that England had 
kindly shelved the wicked Dutch, and the reign of universal and ever- 
lasting Peace would once more begin positively for the last time. But 
before the year 1877 was out we were at war in Kaffraria, and the war, 
which was brought about by the misconduct of the Cape Government,* 
lasted for twelve months, and is scarcely well done with yet ; in the 
next year we were massacreing men, women, and children to put down 
an outbreak in Griqua Land West, and we were at war with the 
ungrateful natives in the Transvaal itself, who were actually under the 
guidance of Secocoeni himself, who treated us as though we were only 
Boers, — and we have not beaten him yet j and in the beginning of the 
third year we are at war with the Basutos and with our old allies and 
friends, the natives of Zululand. If we took the Transvaal from the 
Dutch because they went to war with the natives, who is going to be 
kind enough to take it from us 1 

But the Zulu war springs directly out of the annexation itself. 
Before I go to it let me say one word more about the Transvaal under 
English government. Sir Theophilus Shepstone himself wrote on Janu- 
ary 22th, 1878,t "Buin is staring the farmers in the face, and their 
position is for the time worse under Her Majesty's Government than it 
was under the Bepublic." But far beyond this : the very men who 
signed the memorial in favour of annexation, and who were, for the most 
part Englishmen, have presented another memorial upon the subject, 
and how do they describe the King Stork which has superseded King 

J" Upon the faith of (Sir Theophilus Shepstone's Proclamation and 

* General Cunynghame's "My command in South Africa," p. 370. 

t Blue Book, C. 2079. Enclosure 8 in No. 79. 

X Hansard, vol. ccxlii, p. 2068. 


Address of the 12th April, 1877), and in order to avoid civil strife and 
confusion, many of your Petitioners assisted or acquiesced in the annexa- 
tion and military occupation of the late Republic . . . That it was 
distinctly promised to your Petitioners by Sir Theophilus Shepstone, 
when he deprived them of their independence, that in view of an alleged 
inherent weakness of the Republic, the British Government would afford 
the inhabitants of that state the security and protection which they were 
unable to obtain by themselves ; that all legal courts of Justice in exist- 
ence at the time of the annexation should be continued ; that the Trans- 
vaal should remain a separate government, with its own laws and legis- 
lature ; that the laws then in force should be retained until altered by 
competent legislative authority ; that all private bona fide rights to 
property guaranteed by the late government, and all bona fide conces- 
sions and contracts, should be honourably maintained and respected : 
That as soon as it might be convenient some of Her Majesty's troops 
would enter this country, although they were not to do so to coerce the 
people, but to show those by whom they were surrounded that, with the 
changes in the form of ruling the country, would also come a great and 
necessary accession of strength to enable Her Majesty's Government to 
discharge the obligations it had undertaken : 

" That in direct violation of the aforesaid promises, upon the strength 
of which the inhabitants of the late Republic were willing to give a 
peaceable trial to the new order of things, your Petitioners find that 
after 1 2 months experience of the government of Sir Theophilus Shepstone 
the following are amongst the most prominent of his breaches of faith : — 
That, in the first place, he has utterly failed to give to the people the 
promised protection against the natives, and is even now compelled to 
call for Volr.nteers to do the work which ought to be done by the Im- 
perial troops in the settlement of the still pending Secocoeni revolt, for 
the suppression of which it was stated that the mere entry of British 
troops into this country was sufficient. And your Petitioners say gene- 
rally, as regards the the native question, that the present position of the 
country is far more critical than under the old regime. That, in violation 
of the promise to retain all legal courts of Justice at the time of the 
annexation. Sir Tlieo|4iilus has, by arbitrary proclamation, abolished the 
system of trial by Jury as exemplified in the old Courts of Landdrost 
and Heemraden of this country, and instituted a new High Cotirt and a 
totally unfamiliar system of legal procedure, administered under the 


supervision of only one Judge in place of a bench of three (as agreed upon 
by the late government), and in disregard of the acceptance of office by a 
second, if not a third, Judge; and your Petitioners further complain 
that the duties of the civil gaol officials and of the civil police, even on 
the floor of the High Court itself, have been usurped by the military 
authorities under orders of the Administrator. That the Legislature of 
this country has been dissolved, and no deliberative Kepresentative 
Assembly of any kind substituted for it, although promised in his Ex- 
cellency's Proclamation of the 12th April, 1877. That the laws of the 
country are being altered by mere Government Proclamation or Notice, 
and this without any prospect of the granting of any political constitution 
to the country. That with reference to the promised non-coercion by the 
British troops or authorities, your Petitioners complain that at a meeting 
which was held at Pretoria on the return of their Commissioners from 
Europe, certain artillery was trained upon the meeting, and the troops 
were held in readinesss to over-awe the meeting." 

Soldiers in the place of policemen : trial by Jury abolished : repre- 
sentative government abolished : laws altered by simple proclamation : 
military coercion ! This is indeed Imperialism with a vengeance. 
Talk of Russian tyranny after that ! Henceforth there can be little 
doubt in the mind of any reasonable man who reads the history of the 
transaction that the annexation of the Transvaal, the culmination 
of our seventy three years persecution of the Dutch, was a terrible 

The Zulu war sprang directly from that annexation. Its causes are 
so fresh in the memories of us all that there is little need for me to dwell 
much upon them, but I think that, the more we reflect upon the war and 
the more we know of its true history, the more we shall be amazed at 
it. For twenty-two years had Cetewayo maintained altogether friendly 
relations with the Natal government. He had been visited at least twice 
by Sir Theophilus Shepstone, who on the 1st September, 1873, actually 
performed the ceremony of his coronation, taking with him more than 
400 soldiers as a guard of honour, and two cannon to fire royal salutes ! 
Everywhere vast numbers of natives met him with the warmest express- 
ions of satisfaction and gratitude. " The impression which Cetewayo 
made upon him during this interesting and very notable visit was that 
he is immeasurably superior to any other native chief he had ever come 
into communication with. He has a dignified bearing, and is unques- 


tionably possessed of considerable ability and of much force of character. 
He was entirely frank and straightforward in all his personal communi- 
cations. Sir Theophilus Shepstone was convinced that he was too old 
and too fat to aspire to military renown, and that the Zulu tribe was a 
materially less formidable power then it was when the English first took 
possession of Natal."* 

And what has changed all this 1 Why are we now sending great 
bodies of troops against this man '? Why are we about to invade his 
country and to punish his people and him 1 What has he done to us to 
deserve this treatment at our hands '? 

It would be hard to answer these questions honourably and satis- 
factorily. Sir Theophilus Shepstone has annexed the Transvaal since he 
crowned Cetewayo. The interests which were Dutch are' now English, 
and a change has now come over the spirit of his dream. He has found 
out that he was in error when he thought the Dutch were ; that their 
claims, which he had advised Cetewayo were wrong, were just and 
right ; but, last year, even when independent Commissioners of our own 
appointment have declared that the Zulu Chiefs contentions were correct, 
the English Administrator has refused to allow him to reap the fruits of 
the verdict in his favour. 

No doubt and no wonder that Cetewayo was roused at this sudden 
and self-interested change of treatment, and he stormed as some English- 
men (who would not like or deserve to be called savages) would have 
stormed had they been so served. But he did not declare war against 
us or touch our territory. Suddenly Sir Bartle Frere discovered that 
the army, which is the oldest of Zulu iustitutions, and which Cetewayo 
had commanded for 22 years without injury to us, was a standing 
menace, and he poured oil upon the fire by way of putting it out. He 
sent demands to Cetewayo which he must have known that Chiaf could 
never willingly submit to, and then wantonly and wickedly declared war 
against him. 

Cetewayo is a heathen and a savage ; Sir Bartle Frere is an Eng- 
lishman and a Christian : but if the words and spirit of the letters which 
passed between the two were weighed by an impartial judge, those of the 
savage Chief would be held the more truly Christian of the two. 

But the war is going on. We invaded their country, and the 
Zulus, in self-defence, have killed 2,500 of our troops in all, while we 

* "Natal," by Brooks and Mann, p. 258. 


have upheld our prestige by killing three times as many Zulus. Cete- 
wayo has not attempted to retaliate upon us by invading Natal even 
when it lay at his mercy. He has even sent messengers to sue for 
peace, but Sir Bartle Frere has refused to receive them.* What do we 
wish to do ? Is it to make these Zulus Christians by force that we are 
going to carry this accursed and shameful war further? Are ue by 
fire and sword to spread what we are pleased to call the blessings of 
civilisation amongst them 1 Well may they dread those blessings ! 
Christian England has much to answer for in the civilisation which she 
has inflicted upon savage peoples. Too often has she baptised men in 
the name of Christ but to make them the children of the devil ; too 
often have loathsome and foul disease, and the ruinous appetite for 
strong drink, been made the companions of the Bible. 

But again I ask what do we really wish to do in this matter ? If 
we were moved by fear of the Zulu army, and felt it a standing menace, 
could we not, at a tithe of the cost already incurred in this war, have so 
fortified our frontier next Zululand as to make it impossible for Cetewayo 
to invade Natal with success, even if he wished to do so? When a 
hundred determined Englishmen behind a few biscuit boxes can turn 
back the flower of his army, surely it was within the bounds of our 
military and engineering science to have accomplished this ! 

But the truth is that, deny it as we may, there has been the disease 
of land-hunger in England of late, and Sir Bartle Frere has inherited the 
vain idea of forming a second Indian Empire in Southern Africa. I 
rejoice in the fact that the eyes of our Government seem at length to be 
fairly opened in this matter, and that we are to be spared the trouble, 
expense, and iniquity of a fresh annexation of land even for "a scientific 
frontier." Would that the instructions to Sir Garnet Wolseley which 
are kept so secret contained an express injunction to conclude an honour- 
able peace without shedding another drop of Zulu blood. 

I have finished my task, but would fain say a few words as to the 
future of this great South African Land, so much of which we have 
already undertaken to govern, — a land as large as the United Kingdom 
of Great Britain and Ireland, France, Spain and Portugal, Holland and 

♦Daily News Special Correspondent, in paper of June 9th: "Durban, May 18th.— Cetewayo 
expressed surprise at the treatment to which he had been subjected ; reiterated his unwilling- 
ness to fight ; said that the quarrel was not his own seeking ; and that he desired to live at 
peace as the White Man's Son. He believed that the movements against him were without 
the Queen of England's sanction." Would that it were so ! 


Belgium, Prussia, and Switzerland, all put together, and containing some 
two millions of people black and white. Lord Carnarvon, who has 
shown that he has the best interests of the country really at heart (al- 
though he has been misled by the men he has chosen to do his work) 
proposed a measure of confederation for the several colonies of South 
Africa which passed both Houses of Parliament. Like most of our 
recent legislation it was (and in this case rightly) a permissive measure. 
The South African Colonies would not adopt it, and there are indeed great 
difficulties in the way of the successful carrying out of such a scheme. 
In the Cape Colony there is a truly representative government, and 
almost universal suffrage for black and white man alike. In Natal there 
is the despotism of a Lieutenant Governor modified by a small, partly 
nominated and partly elected, legislative council. In the Transvaal 
there is an Administrator who is practically an absolute, and may be a 
tyrannical, monarch. The Orange Free State can scarcely be anxious to 
mix itself up with us when it sees the evil effects of our mal-administra- 
tion. If Confederation is to save South Africa I fear that we shall not 
Bee its salvation. "Would that we could be truly wise; that we 
would acknowledge the precedent of the Orange Kiver Sovereignty, 
and would retire from the false position which we have assumed 
in the Transvaal, or, better still, that (with the consent of both) we 
could and would form Natal and the Transvaal into an independent, self- 
governed, and united State, and thus get rid at once of the shame of 
our wrongful deed, and of the constant wars and rumours of wars which 
so harass and perplex us. 

"We may beat the Zulus after a more or less bloody war, but 
we shall not have made them as friendly a people as they were 
before tbe annexation of the Transvaal. We may send our 
Dragoons to over-awe the Dutch, but that will not make of their deeply- 
wronged Republicans loyal subjects of Queen Yictoria. Peace with the 
Zulus upon honourable terms is all we have the right to ask for — we 
are the aggressors. Restitution of the territory we have stolen from 
them, and of the Government we have violated, is the only honest 
course we can adopt towards the Dutch. I trust that when the present 
troubles are over the Government in power will send out a strong Com- 
mission of independent and capable men, — men unbiassed by colonial ex- 
perience, and untrammelled by military traditions, but among the best and 
wisest of England's sons, who will patiently, carefully, and dispassion- 


ately search into and ascertain the facts of the whole case, and will frame 
some scheme for the future government of all the States with which we 
have to do, which can fairly be carried into ejffect, and by which right 
and justice shall be secured for white and black alike. 

For of one thing be certain, that in dealing with either savage or 
civilized peoples right and justice will ultimately go the furthest. His- 
tory shows us only too often the terrible results which spring from the 
common intercourse between the white and the coloured races of man- 
kind ; but the history of England can also tell us of one instance at all 
events in which the white man and the red Indian, mutually trustful, 
entered into a treaty which was never broken, and the blessed effects of 
which still endure, though two centuries have elapsed since it was made. 
England has in late years done much for native peoples. She has purged 
away from her thoroughly at last the gigantic crimes of the slave trade 
and of slavery. She has made it her proudest boast that the very touch 
of English soil strikes off the fetters of the slave — that free men alone 
can breathe English air. She has avowed herself the protector and the 
friend of the coloured race ; she has shown her practical belief in the 
universal brotherhood of man. Is she not strong enough and brave 
enough to-day to acknowledge that she has been made to sin grievously, 
in these Dutch and Zulu matters, against her own faith and in spite of 
her truest convictions'? Will she not show the nations of the world that, 
to her, honour is dearer than revenge; and that Justice and Mercy, 
Honesty and Truth, are more righteous and more powerful factors in the 
dealings of man with man than all the gigantic and infernal paraphernalia 
of thrice-accursed War ? 

May Zlst, 1879. 

NoTB. — In the Transvaal we sowed the wind and are reapmg the whirl-wind. 
It is not yet too late for the English people to prevent the perpetuation of a flagrant 
wrong done in their name to the Boers. Surely Commissioners would be better 
able to cope with the present difficulty than Generals, and it would be more con- 
sistent with the truest glory of England to acknowledge the wrong and to set it 
right, than to crush a small but gallant people who have risen in the name of 

January 2\st, 1881. 

J. FoB««E, TrKB Pbiktwo Works, 4, Diah Strmt, Nkwcastli-ox-Tykb. 



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