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The War: 
Its Cause and Conduct 



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The War 

in South Africa 

Its Cause & Conduct 

. By 

A. Conan Doyle 

Author of 
The Great Boer War 

t 



I 



New York 

McClure, Phillips £^ Co. 

Mcmii 



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AUTHORIZED EDITION 



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PREFACE 



For some reason, which may be either arrogance or apathy, the 
British are very slow to state their case to tlie world. At present 
the reasons for our actions and the methods which we have used 
are set forth in many Blue-books, tracts, and leaflets, but have 
never, so far as I know, been collected into one small volume. 
In view of the persistent slanders to which our politicians and 
our soldiers have been equally exposed, it becomes a duty which 
we owe to our national honour to lay the facts before the world. 
I wish someone more competent, and with some official authority, 
had undertaken the task, which I have tried to do as best I might 
from an independent standpoint. 

There was never a war in history in which the right was abso- 
lutely on one side, or in which no incidents of the campaign were 
open to criticism. I do not pretend that it was so here. But I 
do not think that any unprejudiced man can read the facts with- 
out acknowledging that the British Government has done its best 
to avoid war, and the British Army to wage it with humanity. 

I may add that I have not burdened my pages with ctMitinual 
references. My quotations are reliable and can always, if neces- 
sary, be substantiated. 

A. CONAN DOYLE 
Undekshaw, Hindhead: 
January, 1902. 



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CONTENTS 

OHAF. PAQK. 

I. THE BOER PEOPLE = I 

II. THE CAUSE OF QUARREL , 14 

III. THE NEGOTIATIONS 31 

IV. SOME POINTS EXAMINED . 50 

■V. THE NEGOTIATIONS FOR PEACE ..... 61 
VI. THE FARM-BURNING ...... .72 

VII. THE CONCENTRATION CAMPS 81 

VIII. THE BRITISH SOLDIER IN SOUTH AFRICA. . . g3 
IX. FURTHERCHARGES AGAINST BRITISH TROOPS . 108 
X. THE OTHER SIDE OF THE QUESTION. . . .117 
XL CONCLUSIONS .- . .133 



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THE WAR: 

ITS CAUSE AND CONDUCT 

Chapter I-: The Boer People 

IT is impossible to appreciate the South-African problem and 
the causes which have led up to the present war between the 
British Empire and the Boer republics without some knowl- 
edge, however superficial, of the past history of South 
Africa. To tell the tale one must go back to the beginning, 
for there has been complete continuity of history in South Africa, 
and every stage has depended upon that which has preceded it. 
No one can know or appreciate the Boer who does not know 
his past, for he is what his past has made him. 

It was about the time when Oliver Cromwell was at his zenith 
— in 1653, to be pedantically accurate — that the Dutch made their 
first lodgment at the Cape of Good Hope. The Portuguese had 
been there before them, but, repelled by the evil weather, and 
lured forward by rumours of gold, they had passed the true 
seat of empire, and had voyaged farther, to settle along the 
eastern coast. But the Dutchmen at the Cape prospered and 
grew stronger in that robust climate. They did not penetrate 
far inland, for they were few in number, and all they wanted was 
to be found close at hand. But they built themselves houses, 
and they supplied the Dutch East India Company with food and 
water, gradually budding off little townlets, Wynberg, Stellen- 
bosch, and pushing their settlements up the long slopes which 
lead to that great central plateau which extends for 1,500 miles 
from the edge of the Karoo to the Valley of the Zambesi. 

For a hundred more years the history of the colony was a 
record of the gradual spreading of the Africanders over the 
huge expanse of veldt which lay to the north of them. Cattle 
raising became an industry, but in a country where six acres can 
hardly support a sheep, large farms are necessary for even small 



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g THE WAR : ITS CAUSE AND CONDUCT 

herds. Six thousand acres was the usual size, and five pounds a 
year the rent payable to Government. The diseases which follow 
the white man had in Africa, as in America and Australia, been 
fatal to the natives, and an epidemic of smallpox cleared tlie 
country for the newcomers. Farther and farther north they 
pushed, founding-i.little towns here and there, such as Graaf- 
Reinet and Swellendam, where a Dutch Reformed Church and 
a store for the sale of the bare necessaries of life formed a 
nucleus for a few scattered dwellings. Already the settlers were 
showing that independence of control and that detachment from 
Europe wliich has been their most prominent characteristic. 
Even the sway of the Dutch Company had caused them to 
revolt. The local rising, however, was hardly noticed in the 
universal cataclysm which followed the French Revolution. After 
twenty years, during which the world was shaken by the Titanic 
struggle in the final counting up of the game and paying of 
the stakes, the Cape Colony was added in 1814 to' the British 
Empire. 

In all the vast collection of British States there is probably 
not one the title-deeds to which are more incontestable than 
to this. Britain had it by two rights, the right of conquest and 
the right of purchase. In 1806 troops landed, defeated the local 
forces, and took possession of Cape Town. In 1814 Britain 
paid the large sum of six million pounds to the Stadtholder for 
the transference of this and some South American land. It was 
a bargain which was probably made rapidly and carelessly in 
that general redistribution which, was going on. As a house of 
call upon the way to India the place was seen to be of value, but 
the country itself was looked upon as unprofitable and desert. 
What would Castlereagh or Liverpool have thought could they 
have seen the items which they were buying for six million 
pounds? The inventory would have been a mixed one of good 
and of evil; nine fierce Kaffir wars, the greatest diamond mines 
in the world, the wealthiest gold mines, two costly and humiliat- 
ing campaigns with men whom we respected even when we 
fought with them, and now at last, we hope, a South Africa of 
peace and prosperity, with equal rights and equal duties for all 
men. 

The title-deeds to the estate are, as I have said, good ones, but 
there is one singular and ominous flaw in their provisions. The 
ocean has marked three boundaries to it, but the fourth is un- 
defined. There is no word of the 'hinterland,' for neither the 
term nor the idea had then been thought of. Had Great Britain 
bought those vast regions which extended beyond the settle- 



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THE BOER PEOPLE 



merits? Or were the discontented Dutch at liberty to pass on- 
wards and found fresh nations to bar the path of the Anglo- 
Celtic colonists? In that question lay the germ of all the trouble 
to come. An American would realise the point at issue if be could 
conceive that after the founding of the United States the Dutch 
inhabitants of the State of New York had trekked to the west- 
ward and established fresh communities under a new flag. Then, 
when the American population overtook these western States, 
they would be face to face with the problem which this country 
has had to solve. If they found these new States fiercely anti- 
American and extremely unprogressive, they would experience 
that aggravation of their difficulties with which British states- 
men have had to deal. 

At the time of their transference to the British flag the colonists 
— Dutch, French, and German — numbered some thirty thousand. 
They were slaveholders, and the slaves were about as numerous 
as themselves. The prospect of complete amalgamation between 
the British and the original settlers would have seemed to be a 
good one. since they were of much the same stock, and their 
creeds could only be distinguished by their varying degrees of 
bigotry and intolerance. Five thousand British emigrants were 
landed in 1820, settling on the eastern borders of the colony, and 
from that time onwards there was a slow but steady influx of 
English-speaking colonists. The Government had the historical 
faults and the historical virtues of British rule. It was mild, 
clean, honest, tactless, and inconsistent. On the whole, it might 
have done very well had it been content to leave things as it 
found them. But to change the habits of the most conservative 
of Teutonic races was a dangerous venture, and one which has 
led to a long series of complications, making up the troubled 
history of South Africa. 

The Imperial Government has always taken an honourable and 
philanthropic view of the rights of the native and the claim 
which he has to the protection of the law. We hold, and rightly, 
that British justice, if not blind, should at least be colour-blind. 
The view is irreproachable in theory and incontestable in argu- 
ment, but it is apt to be irritating when urged by a Boston moral- 
ist or a London philanthropist upon men whose whole society 
has been built upon the assumption that the black is the inferior 
race. Such a people like to find the higher morality for them- 
selves, not to have it imposed upon them by those who live under 
entirely different conditions. 

The British Government in South Africa has always played 
the unpopular part of the friend and protector of the native 



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4 THE WAR: ITS CAUSE AND CONDUCT 

servants. It was upon this very point that the first friction ap- 
peared between the old settlers and the new administration. A 
rising with bloodshed followed the arrest of a Dutch farmer who 
had maltreated his slave. It was suppressed, and five of the 
participants were hanged. This punishment was undjily severe 
and exceedingly injudicious. A brave race can forget the victims 
of the field of battle, but never those of the scaffold. The making 
of political martyrs is the last insanity of statesmanship. How- 
ever, the thing was done, and it is typical of the enduring resent- 
ment which was left behind that when, after the Jameson Raid, 
it seemed that the leaders of that ill-fated venture might be 
hanged, the beam was actually brought from a farmhouse at 
Cookhouse Drift to Pretoria, that the Englishmen might die as 
the Dutchmen had died in 1816. Slagter's Nek marked the 
dividing of the ways between the British Government and the 
Africanders. 

And the separation soon became more marked. With vicarious 
generosity, the English Government gave very lenient terms to 
the Kaffir tribes who in 1834 had raided the border farmers. 
And then, finally, in this same year there came the emancipation 
of the slaves throughout the British Empire, which fanned all 
smouldering discontents into an active flame. 

It must be confessed that on this occasion the British philan- 
thropist was willing to pay for what he thought was right. It 
was a noble national action, and one the morality of which was 
in advance of its time, that the British Parliament should vote 
the enormous sum of twenty million pounds to pay compensa- 
tion to the slaveholders, and so to remove an evil with which the 
mother country had no immediate connection. It was as well 
that tlie thing should have been done when it was, for had we 
waited till the colonies affected had governments of their own 
it could never have been done by constitutional methods. With 
many a grumble the good British householder drew his purse 
from his fob, and paid for what he thought to be right. If any 
special grace attends the virtuous action which brings nothing 
but tribulation in this world, then we may hope for it over this 
emancipation. We spent our money, we ruined our West Indian 
colonies, and we started a disaffection in South Africa, the end 
of which we have not seen. 

But the details of the measure were less honourable than the 
principle. It was carried out suddenly, so that the country had 
no time to adjust itself to the new conditions. Three million 
pounds were ear-marked for South Africa, which gives a price 
per slave of from 60/. to 70/., a sum considerably below the cur- 



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THE BOER PEOPLE J 

rent local rates. Finally, the compensation was made payable in 
London, so that the fanners sold their claims at reduced prices 
to middlemen. Indignation meetings were lield in every little 
towiilet and cattle-camp on tiie Karoo. The old Dutch spirit was 
up — the spirit of the men who cut the dykes. Rebellion was 
useless. But a vast untenanted land stretched to the north of 
them. The nomad life was congenial to them, and in their huge 
ox-drawn wagons — like those bullock-carts in which some of 
their old kinsmen came to Gaul — they had vehicles and homes 
and forts all in one. One by one they were loaded up, the huge 
teams were inspanned, the women were seated inside, the men 
with their long-barrelled guns walked alongside, and the great 
«xodus was begun. Their herds and flocks accompanied the mi- 
gration, and the children helped to round them in and drive them. 
One tattered little boy of ten cracked his sjambok whip behind 
the bullocks. He was a small item in that singular crowd, but 
he was of interest to us, for his name was Paul Stephanus 
Kruger. 

It was a strange exodus, only comparable in modem times to 
the sallying forth of the Mormons from Nauvoo upon their search 
for the promised land of Utah. The country was known and 
sparsely settled as far north as the Orange River, but beyond . 
there was a great region which had never been penetrated save 
by some daring hunter or adventurous pioneer. It chanced — if 
there be indeed such an element as chance in the graver affairs 
of man — that a Zulu conqueror had swept over this land and left 
it untenanted, save by the dwarf bushmen, the hideous aborigines, 
lowest of the human race. There were fine grazing and good 
soil for the emigrants. They travelled in small detached parties, 
but their total numbers were considerable, from six to ten thou- 
sand according to their historian, or nearly a quarter of the whole 
population of the colony. Some of the early bands perished 
miserably. A large number made a trys ting-place at a high peak 
to the east of Bloemfontein, in what was lately the Orange Free 
State. One party of the emigrants was cut off by the formidable 
Matabeli, a branch of the great Zulu nation. 

The final victory of the ' voortrekkers " cleared all the country 
between the Orange River and the Limpopo, the sites of what 
have been known as the Transvaal and the Orange Free State. 
In the meantime another body of the emigrants had descended 
into Natal, and had defeated Dingaan, the great Chief of the 
Zulus. 

And now at the end of their great journey, after overcoming 
the difficulties of distance, of nature, and of savage c 



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6 THE WAR: ITS CAUSE AND CONDUCT 

Boers saw at the end of their travels the very thing which they 
desired least — that which they had come so far to avoid — the 
i^ag of Great Britain. The Boers had occupied Nata! from 
within, but England had previously done the same by sea, and a 
small colony of Englishmen had settled at Port Natal, now 
known as Durban. The Home Government however, had acted 
in a vacillating vray, and it was only the conquest of Natal by 
the Boers which caused them to claim it as a British colony. 
At the same time they asserted the unwelcome doctrine that a 
British subject could not at will throw off his allegiance, and 
that, go where they might, the wandering farmers were still only 
the pioneers of British colonies. To emphasise the fact three 
companies of soldiers vvere sent in 1842 to what is now Durban 
— the usual Corporal's guard with which Great Britain starts a 
new empire. This handful of-men was waylaid by the Boers and 
cut up, as their successors have been so often since. The sur- 
vivors, however, fortified themselves, and held a defensive posi- 
tionw.ras also their successors have done so many times since — 
until reinforcements arrived 'and the farmers dispersed. Natal 
from this time onward became a British colony, and the majority 
of, the Boers trekked north and east with bitter hearts to tell 
their wrongs to their brethren of the Orange Free State and of 
the Transvaal. 

Had they any wrongs to tell? It is difficult to reach that 
height of philosophic detachment which enables the historian to 
dea! absolutely impartially where his own country is a party to 
the quarrel. But at least we may allow that there is a case for 
our adversary. Our annexation bf Natal had been by no means 
definite, and it was they and not we who first broke that blood- 
thirsty Zulu power which threw its shadow across the country. 
It was hard after such trials and such exploits to turn their back 
upon the fertile land which they had conquered, and to return to 
the bare pastures of the upland veldt. They carried out of Natal 
a heavy sense of injury, which has helped to poison our relations 
with them ever since. It was, in a way, a momentous episode, 
this little skirmish of soldiers and emigrants, for it was the head- 
ing off of the Boer from the sea and the confinement of his 
ambition to the land. Had it gone the other way, a new and 
. possibly formidable flag would have been added to the maritime 
nations. 

The emigrants who had settled in the huge tract of country 
between the Orange River in the south and the Limpopo in the 
north had been recruited by newcomers from the Cape Colony 
until they numbered some fifteen thousand souls. This popula- 



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THE BOER PEOPLE 



tion was scattered over a space as large as Germany, and larger 
than Pennsylvania, New York, and New England. Their form 
of government was individualistic and democratic to the last de- 
gree compatible with any sort of cohesion. Their wars with the 
Kaffirs and their fear and dislike of the British Government 
appear to have been the only ties which held them together. 
They divided and subdivided within their own borders, like a 
germinating egg. The Transvaal was full of lusty little hjgh- 
metlled communities, who quarrelled among themselves as fiercely 
as they had done with tlie authorities at the Cape. Lydenburg, 
Zoutpansberg, and Potcliefstroom were on the point of turning 
their rifles against each other. In the south, between the Orange 
River and the Vaal, there was no fomi of government at all, 
but a welter of Dutch farmers, Basutos, Hottentots, and half- 
breeds livir^ in a chronic state of turbulence, recognising ndther 
the British authority to the south of them nor the Transvaal re- 
' publics' to the north. The chaos became at last unendurable, and 
in 1848 a garrison was, placed in Eloemfontein and the district 
incorporate in the British Empire, The emigrants made a futile 
resistance at Boomplats, and after a single defeat allowed them- 
selves to be drawn into the settled order of crvilised rule. 

At this period the Transvaal, where most of the Boers had 
settled, desired a formal acknowledgment of their independence, 
which the British authorities determined once and for all to give 
them. The great barren country, which produced little save 
marksmen, had no attractions for a Colonial Office which was 
bent upon the limitation of its liabilities, A convention was 
concluded between the two parties, known as the Sand River 
Convention, which is one of the fixed pqints in South African 
history. By it the 'British Government guaranteed to the Boer 
farmers the right to manage their own affairs, and to govern 
themselves by their own laws without any interference upon the 
part of the British. It stipulated that there should be no slavery, 
and with that single reservation washed its hands finally, as it 
imagined, of the whole question. So the Transvaal Republic 
came formally into existence. 

In the very year after the Sand River Convention, a second 
republic, the Orange Free State, was created by the deliberate 
withdrawal of Great Britain from the territory which she had 
for eight years occupied. The Eastern Question was already 
becoming acute, and the cloud of a great war was drifting up, 
visible to all men. British statesmen felt that their commitments 
were very heavy in every part of the world, and the South 
African annexations had always been a doubtful value and an 



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8 THE WAR: ITS CAUSE AND CONDUCT 

undoubted trouble. Against the will of a large part of the in- 
habitants, whether a majoritj' or not it is impossible to say, we 
withdrew our troops as amicably as the Romans withdrew from 
Britain, and the new republic was left with absolute and un- 
fettered independence. On a petition being presented against the 
withdrawal, the Home Government actually voted 48,000/. to 
compensate those who had suffered frqm the change. Whatever 
historical grievance the Transvaal may have against Great 
Britain, we can at least, save perhaps in one matter, claim to have 
a very clear conscience concerning our dealings with the Orange 
Free State. Thus in 1852 and in 1854 were bom those sturdy 
States which have been able for a time to hold at bay the united 
forces of the Empire. 

In the meantime Cape Colony, in spite of these secessions, had 
prospered exceedingly, and her population — British, German, 
and Dutch— had grown by 1870 to over two hundred thousand 
souls, tiie Dutch still slightly predominating. According to the 
liberal colonial policy of Great Britain, the time had come to cut 
tlie cord and let the young nation conduct its own affairs. In 
1872 complete, self-government was given to it, the Governor, 
as the representative of the Queen, retaining a nominal unexer- 
cised veto upon legislation. According to this system the Dutch 
majority of the colony could, and did, put their own representa- 
tives into power and nm the government upon Dutch lines. Al- 
ready Dutch law had been restored, and Dutch put on the same 
footing as English as the official language of the country. The 
extreme liber^ity of such measures, and the uncompromising 
way in which they have been car'ried out, however distasteful the 
legislation might seem to English ideas, are among the chief rea- 
sons which made the illiberal treatment of British settlers in the 
Transvaal so keenly resented at the Cape. A Dutch Government 
was ruling the British in a British colony, at a moment when 
the Boers would not give an Englishman a vote upon a municipal 
council in a city which he had built himself. 

For twenty-five years after the Sand River Convention, the 
burghers of the Transvaal Republic had pursued a strenuous and 
violent existence, fighting incessantly with the natives and some- 
times with each other, with an occasional fling at the little Dutch 
republic to the south. Disorganisation ensued. The burghers 
would not pay taxes and the treasury was empty. One fierce 
Kaffir tribe threatened them from the north, and the Zulus on 
the east. It is an exaggeration to pretend that British interven- 
tion saved the Boers, for no one can read their military history 
without seeing that they were a match for Zulus and Sekukuni 



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THE BOER PEOPLE 



combined. But certainly a formidable invasion was pending. 
and the scattered farmhouses were as open to the Kaffirs as our 
farmers' homesteads were in the American colonies when the 
Indians were on the warpath. Sir Theophilus Shepstone, the 
British Commissioner, after an inquiry of three months, solved 
alt questions by the formal annexation of the country. The fact 
that he took possession of it with a force of some twenty-five 
men, showed the honesty of his belief that no armed resistance 
was to be feared. This, then, in 1877, was a complete reversal 
of the Sand River Convention and the opening of a new chapter 
in the history of South Africa. 

There did not appear to be any strong feeling at the time 
against the annexation. The people were depressed with their 
troubles and weary of contention. Burgers, the President, put 
in a formal protest, and took up his abode in Cape Colony, where 
he had a pension from the British Government. A memorial 
against the measure received the signatures of a majority of the 
Boer inhabitants, but there was a fair minority who took the 
other view. Kruger himself accepted a paid office under_ Gov- 
ernment. There was every sign that the people, if judiciously 
handled, would settle down under the British flag. 

But the Empire has always had poor luck in South Africa, and 
never worse than on that occasion. Through no bad faith, but 
simply through preoccupation and delay, the promises made were 
not instantly fulfilled. If the Transvaalers had waited, they 
would have had their Volksraad and all that they wanted. But 
the British Government had some other local matters to set right, 
the rooting out of Sekukuni and the breaking of the Zulus, before 
they would fulfil their pledges. The delay was keenly resented. 
And we were unfortunate in our choice of Governor. The 
burghers are a homely folk, and they like an occasional cup of 
coffee with the anxious man who tries to rule them. The 300/. 
a year of coffee-money allowed by the Transvaal to its President 
is by no means a mere form. A wise administrator would fall 
into the social and democratic habits of the people. Sir Theoph- 
ilus Shepstone did so. Sir Owen Lanyon did not. There was 
no Volksraad and no coffee, and the popular discontent grew 
rapidly. In three years the British had broken up the two savage 
hordes which had been threatening the land. The finances, too, 
had been restored. The reasons which had made so many 
burghers favour the annexation were weakened by the very 
power which had every interest in preserving them. 

It cannot be too often pointed out that in this annexation, the 
starting-point of our troubles, Great Britain, however mistaken 



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IP THE WAR: ITS CAUSE AND CONDUCT 

she may have been, had no possible selfish interest in view. 
There were no Rand mines in those days, nor was there any- 
thing in the country to tempt the most covetous. An empty 
treasury and two expensive native wars were the reversion which 
we took over. It was honestly considered that the country was 
in too distracted a state to govern itself, and had, by its weak- 
ness, become a scandal and a danger to its neighbours and to 
itself. There was nothing sordid in the British action, though 
it may have been premature and injudicious. There is some 
reason to think that if it had been delayed it would eventually 
have been done on the petition of the majority of the inhabitants. 

In December, 1880, the Boers rose. Every farmhouse sent out 
its riflemen, and the trysting-place was the outside of the nearest 
British fort. All through the country small detachments were 
surrounded and besieged, by the farmers. Standerton, Pretoria, 
Pot chef st room, Lydenburg, Wakkerstroom, Rustenburg, and 
Marabastad were all invested and all held out until the end of 
the war. In the open country the troops were less fortunate. 
At Fronkhorst Spruit a small British force was taken by sur- 
prise and shot down without harm to their antagonists. The 
surgeon who treated them has left it on record that the average 
number of wounds was five per man. At Laing's Nek an in- 
ferior force of British endeavoured to rush a hill which was 
held by Boer riflemen. Half of the men were killed and wounded. 
Ingogo may be called a drawn battle, though the British loss was 
more heavy than that of the enemy. Finally came the defeat of 
Majuba Hill, where 400 infantry upon a mountain were defeated 
and driven off by a swarm of -sharpshooters who advanced under 
the cover of boulders. Of all these actions there was not one 
which was more than a skirmish, and had they been followed 
by a final British victory they would now be hardly remembered. 
It is the fact that they were skirmishes which succeeded in their 
object — which has given them an exaggerated iniporta.nce. 

The defeat at Majuba Hill was followed by the complete sur- 
render of the Gtadstonian Government, an act which was either 
the most pusillanimous or the most magnanimous in recent his- 
tory. It is hard for the big man to draw away from the small 
before blows are struck, but when the big man has been knocked 
down three times it is harder still. An overwhelming British 
force was in the field and the general declared that he held the 
enemv in the hollow of his hand. British military calculations 
have 'been falsified before now by these farmers, and it may be 
that the task of Wood and Roberts would have been harder than 



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THE BOER PEOPLE 



they imagined ; but on paper, at least, it looked as if the enemy 
roiild be crushed without difficulty. So the public thought, and 
yet they consented to the upraised sword being stayed. With 
them, as apart from the politicians, the motive was undoubtedly 
a moral and Christian one. They considered that the annexation 
of the Transvaal had evidently been an injustice, that the farmers 
had a right to the freedom for which they fought, and that it was 
an unworthy thing for a great nation to continue an unjust war 
for the sake of a military revenge. Such was the motive of the 
British j)ublic when it acquiesced in the action of the Govern- 
ment, xt was the height of idealism, and the result has not been 
such as to encourage its repetition. 

An armistice was concluded on March 5, 1881, which led up 
to a peace on the 23rd of the same month. The Government, 
after yielding to force what it had repeatedly refused to friendly 
representations, made a clumsy compromise in their settlement. 
A policy of idealism and Christian morality should have been 
thorough if it were to be tried at all. It was obvious that if the 
annexation were unjust, then the Transvaal should have reverted 
to the condition in which it was before the annexation, as defined 
by the Sand River Convention. But the Government for some 
reason would not go so far as this. They niggled and quibbled 
and bargained until the State was left as a curious hybrid thing 
such as the world has never seen. It was a republic which was 
part of the system of a monar'hy, dealt with by the Colonial 
Office, and included under the heading of ' Colonies ' in the news 
columns of the ' Times.' It was autonomous, and yet subject to 
•some vague suzerainty, the limits of which no one has ever been 
able to define. Altogether, in its provisions and in its omissions, 
the Convention of Pretoria appears to prove that our political 
affairs were as badly conducted as our military in this unfortu- 
nate year of 1881. 

It was evident from the first that so illogical and contentious 
an agreement could not possibly prove to be a final settlement, 
and indeed the ink of the signatures was hardly dry before an 
agitation was on foot for its revision. The Boers considered, and 
with justice, that if they were to be left as undisputed victors in 
the war then they should have the full fruits of victory. On the 
other hand, the English-speaking colonies had their allegiance 
tested to the uttermost. The proud Anglo-Celtic stock is not 
accustomed to be humbled, and yet they found themselves through 
the action of the Home Government converted into members of a 
beaten race. It was very well for the citizen of London to con- 
.■»le his wounded pride by the thought that he had done a 



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12 THE WAR: ITS CAUSE AND CONDUCT 

magnanimous action, but it was diffetent with the British colonist 
oi Durban or Cape Town who, by no act of his own, and with- 
out any voice in the settlement, found himself humiliated before 
his Dutch neighbour. An ugly feeling of resentment was left 
behind, which might perhaps have passed away had the Trans- 
vaal accepted the settlement in the spirit in which it was meant, 
but which grew more and more dangerous, as during eighteen 
years our people saw, or thought that they saw, that one conces- 
sion led always to a fresh demand, and that the Dutch republics 
aimed not merely at equality, but at dominance in South Africa. 
Professor Brice, a friendly critic, after a personal examination 
of the country and the question, has left it upon record that the 
Boers saw neither generosity nor humanity in our conduct, but 
only fear. An outspoken race, they conveyed their feelings to 
their neighbours. Can it be wondered at that South Africa has 
been in a ferment ever since, and that the British Africander has 
yearned with an intensity of feeling unknown in England for 
the hour of revenge? 

The Government of the Transvaal after the war was left in 
the hands of a triumvirate, but after one year Kruger became 
President, an office which he continued to hold for eighteen 
years. His career as ruler vindicates the wisdom of that wise 
but unwritten pFovision of the American Constitution by which 
there is a limit to the tenure of this office. Continued rule for 
half a generation must turn a man into an autocrat. The old 
President has said himself, in his homely but shrewd way, that 
when one gets a good ox to lead the team it is a pity to change 
him. If a good ox, however, is left to choose his own direction 
without gui^nce, he may draw his wagon into trouble. 

During three years the little State showed signs of a tumultu- 
ous activity. Considering that it was larger than France and 
that the population could not have been more than fifty thousand, 
one would have thought that they might have found room with- 
out any inconvenient crowding. But the burghers passed beyond 
their borders in every direction. The President cried aloud that 
he had been shut up in a kraal, and he proceeded to find ways 
out of it. A great trek was projected for the north, but fortu- 
nately it miscarried. To the east they raided Zululand, and suc- 
ceeded, in defiance of the British settlement of that country, in 
tearing away one-third of it and adding it to the Transvaal. To 
the west, with no regard to the three-year-old treaty, they in- 
vaded Bechuanaland, and set up the two new republics of Goshen 
and Stellaland. So outrageous were these proceedings that 
Great Britain was forced to fit out in 1884 a new expedition 



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THE BOER PEOPLE 13 

under Sir Charles Warren for tiie purpose of turning these free- 
booters out of the country, it may be asked* Why should these 
men be called freebooters if the founders of Rhodesia were 
pioneers? The answer is that the Transvaal was limited by 
treaty to certain boundaries which these men transgressed, while 
no pledges were broken when the British power expanded to 
the north. The upshot of these trespasses was the scene upon 
which every drama of South Africa rings down. Once more the 
pufse was drawn from the pocket of the unhappy taxpayer, and 
a million or so was paid out to defray the expenses of the police 
force necessary to keep these treaty -breakers in order. Let this 
be borne in mind when we assess the moral and material damage 
done to the Transvaal by the Jameson Raid. 

In 1884 a deputation from the Transvaal visited England, and 
at their solicitation the clumsy Treaty of Pretoria was altered 
into the still more clumsy Convention of London. The changes 
in the provisions were al! in favour of the Boers, and a second 
successful war could hardly have given them more than Lord 

. Derby handed them in time of peace. Their style was altered 
from the Transvaal to the South African Republic, a change 
which was ominously suggestive of expansion in the future. 
The control of Great Britain over their for-'ign policy was also 
relaxed, though a power of veto was retained. But the most 
important tiling of all, and the fruitful cause of future trouble, 
lay in an omission. A suzerainty is a vague term, but in politics, 
as in theology, the more nebulous a thing is the more does' it 
excite the imagination and the passions of men. This suzerainty 
was declared in the preamble of the first treaty, and no mention 
of it was made in the second. Was it thereby abrogated or was 
it not? The British contention is that only the articles were 
changed, and that the preamble continued to hold good for both 
treaties. They point out that not only the suzerainty, but also 
the independence, of the Transvaal is proclaimed in that pre- 
amble, and that if one lapses the other must do so also. On 

• the other hand, the Boers point to the fact that there is actually 
a preamble to the second convention, which would seem, there- 
fore, to take the place of the first. As a matter of fact the dis- 
cussion is a barren one, since both parties agree that Great 
Britain retained certain rights over the making of treaties by 
the Republic, which rights place her in a different position to 
an entirely independent state. Whether this .difference amounts 
to a suzerainty or not is a subject for the academic discussion 
of international jurists. What is of importance is the fact, not 
the word. 



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Chapter II: The Cause of Quarrel 

GOLD had been known to exist in the Transvaal before, 
but it was only in 1886 that it was realised that the 
deposits which lie some thirty miles south of the capital 
are of a very extraordinary and valuable nature. The 
proportion of gold in the quartz is not particularly high, 
,nor are the veins of a remarkable thickness, but the peculiarity 
of the Rand mines lies in the fact that throughout this ' banket ' 
formation the metal is so uniformly distributed that the enter- 
prise can claim a certainty which is not usually associated with 
the industry. It is quarrying rather than mining. Add to this 
that the reefs which were originally worked as out-crops have 
now been traced to enormous depths, and present the same fea- 
tures as those at the surface. A conservative estimate of the 
value of the gold has placed it at seven hundred millions of 
pounds. 

Such a discovery produced the inevitable effect. A great 
number of adventurers flocked into the country, some desirable 
and some very much the reverse. There were circumstances, 
however, which kept away the rowdy and desperado element who 
usually make for this newly-opened goldfield. It was not a class 
of mining which encouraged the individual adventurer. It was 
a field for elaborate machinery, which could only be provided 
by capital. Managers, engineers, miners, technical experts, and 
the tradesmen and middlemen who live upon them, these were 
the Uitlanders, drawn from all races under the sun. but with 
the Anglo-Celtic vastly predominant. The best engineers were 
American, the best miners were Cornish, the best managers were . 
English, the money to run the mines was largely subscribed in 
England. As time went on, however, the German and French 
interests became more extensive, until their joint holdings are 
now probably as heavy as those of the British. Soon the popula- 
' tion of the mining centres became about as numerous as that of 
the whole Boer community, and consisted mainly of men in the 
prime of life — men, too, of exceptional intelligence and energy. 
The situation was an extraordinary one. I have already at- 
tempted to bring the problem home to an American by suggesting 



14 



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THE CAUSE OF QUARREL 15 

that the Dutch of New York had trekked west and founded an 
anti-American and highly unprogressive State. To carry out the 
analogy we will now suppose that that State was California, that 
the gold of that State attracted a Iai:ge inrush of American 
citizens, that these citizens were heavily taxed and badly used, 
and that they deafened Washington with their outcry about their 
injuries. That would be a fair parallel to the relations be- 
tween the Transvaal, the Uitlanders, and the British Govern- 
ment. 

That these Uitlanders had very real and pressing grievances 
no one could possibly deny. To recount them all would be a 
formidable task, for their whole lives were darkened by injustice. 
There was not a wrong which had driven the Boer from Cape 
Colony which he did not now practise himself upon others— 'and 
a wrong may be excusable in 1835 which is monstrous in 1895. 
The primitive virtue which had characterised the fanners broke 
down in the face of temptation. The country Boers were little 
affected, some of them not at all, but the Pretoria Government 
became a most corrupt oligarchy, venal and incompetent to the 
last degree. Officials and imported Hollanders handled the 
stream of gold which came in from the mines, while the un- 
fortunate Uitlander who paid nine-tenths of the taxation was 
fleeced at every turn, and met with laughter and taunts when 
he endeavoured to win the franchise by which he might peace- 
ably set right the wrongs from which he suffered. He was not 
an unreasonable person. On the contrary, he was patient to 
the verge of meekness, as capital is likely to be when it is sur- 
rounded by rifles. But his situation was intolerable, and after 
successive attempts at peaceful agitation, and numerous humble 
petitions to the Volksraad, he began at last to realise that he 
would never obtain redress unless he could find some way of 
winning it for himself. 

Without attempting to enumerate all the wrongs which em- 
bittered the Uitlanders, the more serious of them may be 
summed up in this way : • 

1. Tliat they were heavily taxed and provided about seven- 
eighths of the revenue of the country. The revenue of the South 
African Republic— which had been 154,000/. in 1886, when the 
goldfields were opened — had grown in 1899 to 4,000,000/., and 
the country through the industry of the newcomers had changed 
from one of the poorest to the richest in the whole world (per 
head of population). 

2. That in spite of this prosperity which they had brought, 
they were left without a vote, and could by no means influence 



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i6 THE WAR: ITS CAUSE AND CONDUCT 

the disposal of the great sums which they were providing. 
Such a case of taxation without representation has never been 
known, 

3. That they had no voice in the choice or payment of officials. 
Men of the 'worst private character might be placed with com- 
plete authority over valuable interests. The total official salaries 
had risen in 1899 to a sum sufficient to pay 40/. per head to 
the entire male Boer population. 

4. That they had no control over education. Mr. John Robin- 
son, the Director- General of the Johannesburg Educational Coun- 
cil, has reckoned the sum spent on the Uitlander schools as 650/. 
out of 63,000/. allotted for education, making is. lod. per head 
per annum on Uitlander children, and 8/. 6s. per head on Boer 
children— the Uitlander, as always, paying seven-eighths of the 
original sum. 

5. No power of municipal government. Watercarts instead 
of pipes, filthy buckets instead of drains, a corrupt and violent 
police, a high death-rate in what should be a health resort — all 
this in a city which they had built themselves. 

6. Despotic government in the matter of the press and of the 
right of public meeting. 

7. Disability from service upon a jury. 

8. Continual harassing of the mining interest by vexatious 
legislation. Under this head come many grievances, some special 
to the mines and some affecting all Uitlanders. The dynamite . 
monopoly, by which the miners had to pay 600,000/. extra per 
annum in order to get a worse quality of dynamite; the liquor 
laws, by which the Kaffirs were allowed to be habitually drunk; 
the incompetence and extortions of the State-owned railway; the 
granting of concessions for numerous articles of ordinary con- 
sumption to individuals, by which high prices were maintained; 
the surrounding of Johannesburg by tolls from which the town 
had no profit — these were among the economical grievances, some ., 
large, some petty, which ramified through every transaction of 
life. These are the wrongs which Mr. W. T. Stead has described 
as ' the twopenny "half penny grievances of a handful of English- 
men.' 

The manner in which the blood was sucked from the Uitland- 
ers, and the rapid spread of wealth among the Boer officials, 
may be gathered from the list of the salaries of the State 
servants from the opening of the mines to the ouireak of 
the war: 



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THE CAUSE OF QUARREL 



£ 

51.831 

99,083 

164.466 

249-641 

324.520 

332,888 

323.608 

:893 . . . . 361.275 

419.775 

570,047 

813,029 

996959 

. 1,080,382 

. 1,316,394 

which shows, as Mr. FitzPatrick has pointed out, that the salary 
list had become twenty-four times what il was when the Uit- 
landers arrived, and five times as much as the total revenue was 
then. 

' But outside and beyond all the definite wrongs from which 
they suffered, there was a constant irritation to freebom and pro- 
gressive men, accustomed to liberal institutions, that they should 
be despotically ruled by a body of men some of whom were 
ignorant bigots, some of them buffoons, and nearly all of them ' 
openly and shamelessly corrupt. Out of twenty-five members of 
the first Volksraad twenty-one were, in the case of the Selati Rail- 
way Company, publicly and circumstantially accused of bribery, 
with full details of the bribes received, their date, and who paid 
them. The black-list includes the present vice-president, Schalk 
Burger; the vice-president of that date; Eloff, the son-in-law of 
Kruger; and the secretary of the Volksraad. Apparently every 
man of the executive and the legislature had his price. 

A corrupt assembly is an evil master, but when it is narrow- 
minded and bigoted as well, it becomes indeed intolerable. The 
following tit-bits from the debates in the two Raads show the 
intelligence and spirit of the men who were ruling over one of 
the most progressive communities in the world: 

' Pillar-boxes in Pretoria were opposed on the grounds that 
they were extravagant and effeminate. Deputy Taljaard said 
that he could not see why people wanted to be always writing 
letters; he wrote none himself. In the days of his youth he 
had written a letter and had not been afraid to travel fifty 



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i8 THE WAR: ITS CAUSE AND CONDUCT 

miles and more on horseback and by wagon to post it — and 
now people complained if they had to go one mile,' 

A debate on the possibility of decreasing the plague of locusts 
led to the following enlightened discussion : 

'July 21. — Mr. Roos said locusts were a plague, as in the 
days of King Pharaoh, sent by God and the country would 
assuredly be loaded with shame and obloquy if it tried to raise 
its hand against the mighty band of the Almighty. 

' Messrs. Declerq and Steenkamp spoke in the same strain, 
quoting largely from the Scriptures. 

■ The Chairman related a true story of a man whose farm was 
always spared by the locusts, until one day he caused some to 
be killed. His farm was then devastated. 

' Mr. Stoop conjured the members not to constitute them- 
selves terrestrial gods and oppose the Almighty. 

■ Mr. Lucas Meyer raised a storm by ridiculing the arguments 
of the former speakers, and comparing the locusts to beasts of 
prey which tbey destroyed. 

' Mr. Labuschagne was violent. He said the locusts were quite 
different from beasts of prey. They were a special plague sent 
by God for their sinfulness.' 

In a further debate: 

' Mr. Jan de Beer complained of the lack of uniformity in 
neckties. Some wore a Tom Thumb variety, and others wore 
scarves. This was a state of tbiiig* to be deplored, and he con- 
sidered that the Raad should put its foot down and define the 
size and shape of neckties.' 

The following note of a debate gives some idea of how far 
the legislators were qualified to deal with commercial questions : 

' May 8. — On the application of the Sheba G. M. Co. for per- 
mission to erect an aerial tram from the mine to the mill, 

' Mr. Groblaar asked whether an aerial tram was a balloon or 
whether it could fly through the air. 

' The only objection that the Chairman had to urge against 
granting the tram was that the Company had an English name, 
and that with so many Dutch ones available. 

' Mr. Taljaard objected to the word " participeeren " (partici- 
pate) as not being Dutch, and to him unintelligible: "I can't 
believe the word is Dutch ; why have I never come across it in 
the Bible if it is? " 

' June i8. — On the application for a concession to treat tail- 
ings. 

' Mr. Taljaard wished to know if the words " pyrites " and 
" concentrates " could not be translated into the Dutch language. 



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THE CAUSE O F QUARREL 19 

He could not understand what it meaiit. He had gone to night- 
school as' long as he had been in Pretoria, and even now he 
could not explain everything to his burghers. He thought it a 
shame that big hills should be made oh ground under which 
there might be rich reefs, and which in future might be required 
for a market or outspan. He would support the recommendation 
on condition that the name of the quartz should be translated 
into Dutch, as there might be more in this than some of them 
imagined.' 

Such debates as these may be amusing at a distance, but they 
are less entertaining when they come from an autocrat who has 
complete power over the conditions of your life. 

From the fact that they were a community extremely pre- 
occupied by their own business, it followed that the Uitlanders 
were not ardent politicians, and that they desired to have a share 
'in the government of the State for the purpose of making the 
conditions of their own industry and of their own daily lives 
more endurable. How far there was need of such an inter- 
ference may be judged by any fair-minded man who reads the 
list of their complaints. A superficial view may recognise the 
Boers as the champions of liberty, but a deeper insight must see 
that they (as represented by their elected rulers) have in truth 
stood for ail that history has shown to be odious in the form of ex- 
clusiveness and oppression. Their conception of liberty has been 
a narrow and selfish one, and they have consistently inflicted 
upon others far heavier wrongs than those against which they 
had themselves rebelled. 

As the mines increased in importance and the miners in 
numbers, it was found that these political disabilities affected 
some of that cosmopolitan crowd far more than others, in pro- 
portion to the amount of freedom to which their home institutions 
had made them accustomed. The continental Uitlanders were 
more patient of that which was unendurable to the American, and 
the Briton. The Americans, however, were in so great a minority 
that it was upon the British that the bnmt of the struggle for 
freedom fell. Apart from the fact that the British were more 
numerous than all the other Uitlanders combined, there were 
special reasons why they should fee! their humiliating position 
more than the members of any other race. In the first place, 
many of the British were British South Africans, who knew that 
in the neighbouring countries which gave them birth the most 
liberal possible institutions had been given to the kinsmen of 
these very Boers who were refusing them the management of 
their own drains and water-supply. And again, every Briton 



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20 THE WAR: ITS CAUSE AND CONDUCT 

knew that Great Britain claimed to be the paramount power in 
South Africa, and so he felt as if his own land, to which lie 
might have looked for protection, was conniving at and acquies- 
cing in his ill-treatment. As citizens of the paramount power, 
it was peculiarly galHng that they should be held in political 
subjection. The British, therefore, were the most persistent and 
energetic of the agitators. 

But it is a poor cause which cannot bear to fairly state and 
honestly consider the case of its opponents. The Boers had 
made, as has been briefly shown, great efforts to establish a 
country of their own. They had travelled far, worked hard, 
and fought bravely. After, ail their efforts they were fated to 
see an influx of strangers into their country, some of them men 
of questionable character, who threatened to outnumber the 
original inhabitants. If the franchise were granted to these, there 
could be no doubt that, though at first the Boers might control 
a majority of the votes, it was only a question of time before 
the newcomers would dominate the Raad and elect their own 
President, who might adopt a policy abhorrent to the original 
owners of the land. Were the Boers to lose by the ballot-box 
the victory which they had won by their rifles? Was it fair to 
expect it? These newcomers came for gold. They got their 
gold. Their companies paid a hundred fier cent. Was not that 
enough to satisfy them? If they did not Wee the country, why 
did they not leave it? No one compelled them to stay there. 
But if they stayed, let them be thankful that they were tolerated 
at all, and not presume to interfere with the laws of those by 
whose courtesy they were allowed to enter the tountry. 

That is a' fair statement of the Boer position, and at first 
sight an impartial man might say that there was a good deal to 
say for it ; but a closer examination would show that, though 
it might be tenable in theory, it is unjust and impossible in 
practice. 

In the present crowded state of the world a policy of Thibet 
may be carried out in some obscure corner, but it cannot be done 
in a great tract of country which lies right across the main line 
of industrial progress. The position is too absolutely artificial. 
A handful of people by the right of conquest take possession 
of an enormous country over which they are dotted at such 
intervals that it is their boast that one farmhouse cannot see 
the smoke of another, and yet, though their numbers are so dis- 
proportionate to the area which they cover, they refuse to admit 
any other people upon equal terms, but claim to be a privileged 
cUiss who shall dominate the newcomers completely. They are 



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THE CAUSE OF QUARREL 21 

outnumbered in their own land by immigrants who are far more 
highly educated aiid proKressivo, and yet they hold them down 
in a way which exists nowhere else ujwn earth. What is their 
right? The right of conquest. Then the same right may be 
justly invoked to reverse so intolerable a situation. This they 
would themselves acknowledge. ' Come on and fight ! Come 
on ! ' cried a member of the Volksraad when t!ie franchise petition 
of the Uitlanders was presented. ' Protest ! Protest ! What is 
the good of protesting?' said Kruger to Mr. W. Y. Campbell; 
' you have not got the guns, I have.' There was always the 
final court of appeal. Judge Creusot and Judge Mauser were 
always behind tl'.e President, 

Again, the argument of the Boers would be more valid had 
they received no benefit from these immigrants. If they had 
ignored them they might fairly have stated that they did not 
desire their presence. But even while they protested they grew 
rich at the Uitlander's expense. They could not have it both 
ways. It would be consistent to discourage him and not profit 
by him, or to make him comfortable and build the State upon 
his money; but to ill-treat him and at the same time to grow 
strong by his taxation must surely be an injustice. 

And again, the whole argument is based upon the narrow 
racial supposition that every naturalised citizen not of Boer 
extraction mast necessarily be unpatriotic. This is not borne 
out by the examples of history. The newcomer soon becomes as 
proud of his country and as jealous of her liberty as the old. 
Had President Kruger given the franchise generously to the 
Uitlander, his pyramid would have been firm upon its base and 
not balanced upon its apex. It is true that the corrupt oligarchy 
would have vanished, and the spirit of a broader, more tolerant 
freedom influenced the counsels of the State. But the Republic 
would have become stronger and more permanent, with a popula- 
tion who, if they differed in details, were united in essentials. 
Whether such a solution would have been to the, advantage of 
British interests in South Africa is quite another question. In 
more ways than one President Kruger has been a good friend to 
the Empire. 

At the time of the Convention of Pretoria (1881) the rights 
of burghership might be obtained by one year's residence. In 
1882 it was raised to five years, the reasonable limit which obtains 
both in Great Britain and in the United States. Had it re- 
mained so, it is safe to say that there would never have been 
either an Uitlander question or a war. Grievances would have 
been righted from the inside without external interference. 



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in THE WAR:- ITS CAUSE AND CONDUCT 

In 1890 the inrush of outsiders alarmed the Boers, and the 
franchise was raised so as to be only attainable by those who had 
lived fourteen years in the couiitrj'. The Uitlanders, who were 
increasing rapidly in numbers and were suffering from the for- 
midable list of grievances already enumerated, perceived that 
their wrongs were so numerous that it was hopeless to have them 
set right seriatim, and that only by obtaining the leverage of the 
franchise coiild they hope to move the lieavy burden which 
weighed them down. In 1893 a petition of 13,000 Uitlanders, 
couched in most respectful terms, was submitted to the Raad, 
but met with contemptuous neglect. Undeterred, however, by 
this failure, the National Reform Union, an as'^ociation which 
was not one of capitalists, came back to the attack in 1894, They 
drew up a petition which was signed by 35,000 adult male 
Uitlanders, as great a number probably as the total Boer male 
population of the country. A small liberal body in the Raad 
supported this memorial and endeavoured in vain to obtain some 
justice for tile newcomers. Mr. Jeppe was the mouthpiece of 
this select band. ' They own half the soil, they pay at least three- 
quarters of the taxes,' said he. ' They are men who in capital, 
energy, and education are at least our equals. What will become 
of us or our children on that day when ■we may find ourselves 
in a minority of one in twenty without aXsingle friend among 
the other nineteen, among those who will tljen tell us that they 
wished to be brothers, but that we by our bwn act have made 
them strangers to the Republic?' Such reasonable and liberal 
sentiments were combated by njembers who asserted that the 
signatures could not belong to law-abiding citizens, since they 
were actually agitating against the law of the franchise, and 
others whose intolerance was expressed by the defiance of the 
member already quoted, who challenged the Uitlanders to corfle 
out and fight. The champions of exclusiveness and racial hatred 
won the day. The memorial was rejected by sixteen votes to 
eight, and the franchise law was, on the initiative of the Presi- 
dent, actually made more stringent than ever, being framed in 
such a way that during the fourteen years of probation the 
applicant should give up his previous nationality, so that for that 
period he would really belong to no country at all. No hopes 
were held out that any possible attitude upon the part of the 
Uitlanders would soften, the determination of the President and 
his burghers. One who remonstrated was led outside the State 
buildings by the President, who pointed up at the national flag. 
'You see that flag?' said he. 'If I grant the franchise, I may 
as well pull it down.' His animosity against the immigrants was 



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THE CAUSE OF QUARREL 23 

bitter. "Burghers, friends, thieves, murderers, newcomers, and 
others,' is the conciliatory opening of one of his public addresses. 
Though Johannesburg Ts only thirty-two miles from Pretoria, and 
though the State ot which he was the head depended for its 
revenue upon the goldfields, he paid it only three visits in nine 
years. 

This settled animosity was deplorable, but not unnatural. A 
man imbued with the idea of a chosen people, and unread in any 
book save the one wliich cultivates this very idea, could not be 
expected to have learned the historical lessons of the advantages 
which a State reaps from a liberal policy. To him it was as if 
the Ammonites and Moabites had demanded admission into the 
twelve tribes. He mistook an agitation against the exclusive 
policy of the State for one against the existence of the State 
itself. A wide franchise would have made his republic firm- 
based and permanent. It was a minority of the Uitlanders who 
had any desire to come into the British system. They were a 
cosmopolitan crowd, only united by the bond of a common in- 
justice. The majority of the British immigrants had no desire 
to subvert the State. But when every other method had failed, 
and their petition for the rights of freemen had been flung back 
at them, it was natural that their eyes should turn to that flag 
which waved to the north. t!ie west, and the south of them — 
the flag which means purity of government with equal rights 
and equal duties for all men. Constitutional agitation was laid 
aside, arms were smuggled in, and everything prepared for an 
organised rising. 

It had been arranged that the town was to rise upon a certain 
night, that Pretoria should be attacked, the fort seized, and the 
rifles and ammunition used to arm the Uitlanders, It was a 
feasible device, though it must seem to us, who have had such 
an experience of the military virtues of the burghers, a very 
desperate one. But it is conceivable that the rebels might have 
held Johannesburg until the universal sympathy which their 
cause excited throughout South Africa would have caused Great 
Britain to intervene. Unfortunately they had complicated 
matters by asking for outside help. Mr. Cecil Rhodes was 
Premier of the Cape, a man of immense energy, and one who 
had rendered great services to the empire. The motives of his 
action are obscure— -certainly, we may say that they were not 
sordid, for he has always been a man whose thoughts were large 
and whose habits were simple. But whatever they may have 
been — whether an ill-regulated desire to consolidate South Africa 
under British rule, or a burning sympathy with the Uitlanders in 



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24 THE WAR: ITS CAUSE AND CONDUCT 

their figiit against injustice — it is certain that he allowed his 
lieutenant, Dr. Jameson, to assemble the mounted police of the 
Chartered Company, of which Rhodes was founder and director, 
for the purpose of co-operating with the rebels at Johannesburg. 
Moreover, when the revolt at Johannesburg was postponed, on 
account of a disagreement as to which flag they were to rise 
under, it appears that Jameson (with or without the orders of 
Rjiodes) forced the hand of the conspirators by invading the 
country with a force absurdly inadequate, to the work which he 
had taken in hand. Five hundred policemen and two field-guns 
made up the forlorn hope who started from near Mafeking and 
crossed the Transvaal border upon December 39, 1895. On Janu- 
ary 2 they were surrounded by the Boers amid the broken country 
near Domkop, and after losing many of their number killed and 
wounded, without food and with spent horses, they were, com- 
pelled to lay down their arms. Six burghers lost their lives in 
the skirmish. 

Determined attempts have been made to connect the British 
Government with this fiasco, and to pretend that the Colonial 
Secretary and otlier statesmen were cognisant of it. Such an 
impression has been fostered by the apparent reluctance of the 
Commission of Inquiry to pusii their researches to the uttermost. 
It is much to be regretted that every possible telegram and letter 
should not have been called for upon that^ccasion ; but the idea 
that this was not done for fear that Mr. Chamberlain and the 
British Government would be implicated, becomes absurd in the 
presence of the fact that the Commission ipcluded among its mem- 
bers Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman and Sir ^illiam Harcourt. 
Is it conceivable that these gentlemen held iheir hands for fear 
of damaging the Government, or that Mr. Chamberlain could 
afterwards have the effrontery to publicly and solemnly deny all 
knowledge of the business in the presence of gentlemen who 
had connived at the suppression of the proofs that he did know ? 
Such a supposition is ridiculous, and yet it is involved in the 
theory that the Commission refrained from pushing their exami- 
nation because they were afraid of showing their country to 
have been in the wrong. 

Again, even the most embittered enemy of Mr. Chamberlain 
must admit that he is a clear-headed man, a man of resolution, 
and a man with some sense of proportion as to the means which 
should be used for an end. Is such a man, knowing the military 
record of the burghers, the sort of man to connive at the invasion 
of their country by 500 policemen and two guns? Would he 
be likely, even if he approved of the geperal aim, to sanction 



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THE CAUSE OF QUARREL 15 

such a harebrained piece of folly? And, having sanctioned it, 
would he be so weak of purpose as to take energetic steps, the 
instant that he heard of the invasion, to undo that which he is 
supposed himself to have done, and to cause the failure of his 
own scheme? Why should he on such a supposition send ener- 
getic messages to Johannesburg forbidding the British to co- 
operate with the raiders? The whole accusation is so absurd 
that it ia only the mania of party spite or of national hatred 
which could induce anyone to believe it. 

Again, supposing for an instant that the British Government 
knew anything about the coming raid, what is the first and most 
obvious thing which they would have done? Whether Jameson 
got safely to Johannesburg or not there was evidently a prob- 
ability of a great race-struggle in South Africa. Would they 
not then, on some pretext or another, have increased the strength 
of the British force in the country, which was so weak that it 
was powerless to influence the course of events? It is certain 
that this is so. But nothing of the kind was done. 

Mr, Chamberlain's own denial is clear and emphatic: 

' I desire to say in the most explicit manner that I had not 
then, and that I never had, any knowledge, or until, I think it 
was the day before the actual raid, took place, the slightest sus- 
picion of anything in the nature of a hostile or armed invasion 
of the Transvaal.' — (British South Africa Committee, 1897. Q. 
6223.) 

The Earl of Selbome, Under-Secretary of State for the Col- 
onies, was no less explicit : 

' Neither then nor at any subsequent period prior to the raid 
did we know of what is now called " Jameson's plan," nor that 
the revolution at Johannesburg was being largely controlled and 
financed from Cape Colony and Rhodesia. Sir Her- 

cules Robinson had no suspicion of what was impending, nor ap- 
parently President Kruger. nor Mr. Hofmeyr, nor any public 
man in South Africa, except those who were preparing the plan. 
At any rate therfact remains that from no quarter did the Colonial 
Office receive any warning. I submit, therefore, it would have 
been a most extraordinary thing if any suspicion had occurred 
to us,' 

The finding of the Committee — a Committee composed of men 
of all parties, some of whom, as we know, were yearning ' to give 
Joe a fail '—was unanimous in condemning the raid and equally 
unanimous in exonerating the Government from any knowledge 
of it. Their Report said : 

' Your Committee fully accept the statements of the Secretary 



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26 THE WAR: ITS CAUSE AND CONDUCT 

of State for the Colonies, and of the Under-Secretary, and en- 
tirely exonerate (he officials of the Colonial Office of having been 
in any sense cognisant of the plans which led up to the incursion 
of Dr. Jameson's force into the South African Republic. . 

' Neither the Secretary of State for the Colonies, nor any of 
the officials of the Colonial Office received any information which 
made them, or should liave made them, or any of them, aware of 
the plot during its development.' 

And yet to this day it is one of the articles of faith of a few 
crack-brained fanatics in this country, and of many ill-informed 
and prejudiced editors upon the Continent, that the British Gov- 
ernment was responsible for the raid. 

The Uitlanders have 'been severely criticised for not having 
sent out a force to help Jameson in his difficulties, but it is 
impossible to see how they could have, acted in any other manner. 
They had done all they could to prevent Jameson coming to their 
relief, and now it was rather unreasonable to suppose that they 
should relieve their reliever. Indeed, they had an entirely exag- 
gerated idea of the strength of the force which he was bringing, 
and received the news of his capture with incredulity. When it 
became confirmed they rose, but in a half-hearted fashion which 
was not due to want of courage, but to the difficulties of their 
position. On the one hand 'the British Government disowned 
Jameson entirely, and did all it could to discourage the rising; 
on the other, the President had the raiders in his keeping at 
Pretoria, and let it be understood that their late depended upon 
the behaviour of the Uitlanders. They were led to believe that 
Jameson would be shot unless they laid down their arms, though, 
as a matter of fact, Jameson and his people-had surrendered 
upon a promise of quarter. So skilfully did' Kruger use his 
hostages that he succeeded, with the help of the British Com- 
missioner, in getting the thousands of excited Johannesburgers 
to lay down their arms without bloodshed. Completely out- 
manceuvred by the astute o!d President, the leaders of the re- 
form movement used all their influence in the direction of peace, 
thinking that a general amnesty would follow; but the moment 
that they and their people were helpless the detectives and 
armed burghers occupied the town, and sixty of their number 
were hurried to Pretoria Gaol. 

To the raiders themselves the President behaved with gener- 
osity. Perhaps he could not find it in his heart to be harsh 
to the men who had managed to put him in the right and won 
for him the sympathy of the world. His own illiberal and op- 
pressive treatment of the newcomers was forgotten in the face of 



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THE CAUSE OF QUARREL 27 

this illegal inroad of filibusters. The true issues were so ob- 
scured by this intrusion that it has taken years to clear them, 
and perhaps they will never be wholly cleared. It was forgotten 
that it was the bad government of the country which was the 
real cause of the unfortunate raid. From then onwards the gov- 
ernment might grow worse and worse, but it was always possible 
to point to the raid as justifying everything. Were the Uit- 
landers to have the franchise? How could they expect it after 
the raid! \Vould Britain object to the enornions importation of 
arms and obvious preparations for war? They were only pre- 
cautions against a second raid. For years the raid stood in 
the way, not only of all progress, but of alt remonstrance. 
Through an action over which they had no control, and which 
they had done their best to prevent, the British Government was 
left with a bad case and a weakened moral authority. 

The raiders were sent home, where the rank and file were 
very properly released, and the chief officers were condemned to 
terms of imprisonment which certainly did not err upon the side 
of severity. In the meantime, both President Kruger and his 
burghers had shown a greater severity to the political prisoners 
from Johannesburg than to the armed followers of Jameson. The 
nationality of these prisoners is interesting and suggestive. There 
were twenty-three Englishmen, sixteen South Africans, nine 
Scotchmen, six Americans, two Welshmen, one Irishman, one' 
Australian, one Hollander, one Bavarian, one Canadian, one 
Swiss, and one Turk. The list is sufficient comment upon the 
assertion that only the British Uitlanders made serious com- 
plaints of subjection and injustice. The prisoners were arrested 
in January, but the trial did not take place until the end of 
April. All were found guiltv of high treason. Mr. Lionel 
Phillips, Colonel Rhodes (brother of Mr. Cecil Rhodes), George 
Farrar, and Mr. Hammond, the American engineer, were con- 
demned to death, a sentence which was afterwards commuted 
to the payment of an enormous fine. The other prisoners were 
condemned to two years' imprisonment, with a fine of 2,000/. 
each. The imprisonment was of the most arduous and trying 
sort, and was embittered by the harshness of the gaoler, Du 
Plessis. One of the unfortimate men cut his throat, and several 
fell seriously ill, the diet and the sanitary conditions being equally 
unhealthy. At last, at the end of May, all the prisoners but 
six were released. Four of the six soon followed, two stalwarts. 
Sampson and Davies, refusing to sign any petition and remaining 
in prison until they were set free in 1897, Altogether the Trans- 
vaal Government received in fines from the reform prisoners the 



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28 THE WAR: ITS CAUSE AND CONDUCT 

enormous sum of 212,000/. A certain comic relief was imme- 
diately afterwards given to so grave an episode by the presenta- 
tion of a bill to Great Britain for 1,677,938/. 3J. 3c/. — the greater 
part of which was under the heading of moral and intellectual 
damage. 

The raid was past and the reform movementwas past, but the 
causes which produced them both remained. It is hardly con- 
ceivable that a statesman who loved his country would have 
refrained from making some effort to remove a state of things 
which had already caused such grave dangers, and which must 
obviously become more serious with every year that passed. But 
Paul Kruger had hardened bis heart, and was not to be moved- 
The grievances of the Uitianders became heavier than ever. The 
one power in the land to which they had been able to appeal 
for some sort of redress amid their troubles was the law courts. 
Now it was decreed that the courts should be dependent on the 
Volksraad. The Chief Justice protested against such a degra- 
dation of his high office, and he was dismissed in consequence 
without a pension. The judge who bad condemned the reformers 
was chosen to fill the vacancy, and the protection of a fixed law 
was withdrawn from the Uitianders. 

A commission appointed by the State was sent to examine 
into the condition of the mining industry and the grievances 
from which the newcomers suffered. The chairman was Mr. 
Schalk Burger, one of the most liberal of the Boers, and the 
proceedings were thorough and impartial. The result was 'a 
report which amply vindicated the reformers, and suggested 
remedies which would have gont a long way towards satisfying 
the Uitianders. With such enlightened legislation, their motives 
for seeking the franchise would have been less pressing. But 
the President and his Raad would have none of the recommenda- 
tions of the commission. The mg^ed old autocrat declared that 
Schalk Burger was a traitor to his country for having signed 
such a document, and a new reactionary committee was chosen 
to report upon the report. Words and papers were the only out- 
come of the affair. No amelioration came to the newcomers. 
But at least they had again put their case publicly upon record, 
and it had been endorsed by the most respected of the burghers. 
Gradually in the press of the English-speaking countries the raid 
was ceasing to obscure the issue. More and more clearly it was 
coming out that no permanent settlement was possible where half 
the population was oppressed by the other half. They had tried 
peaceful means and failed. They had tried warlike means and 



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THE CA USE OF QUARREL 29 

failed. What was there left for them to do? Their own coun- 
try, the paramount power of South Africa, had never helped 
them. Perhaps if tt were directly appealed to it might do so. It 
could not, if only for the sake of its own imperial prestige, leave 
its children for ever in a state of subjection. The small spark 
which caused a final explosion came from the shooting of a 
British subject named Edgar by a Boer policeman, Jones, in 
Johannesburg. The action of the policeman was upheld by the 
authorities, and the British felt that their lives were no longer 
safe in the' presence of an armed, overbearing police. At an- 
other time the incident might have been of no great importance, 
but at that moment it seemed to be taken as the crowning ex- 
ample of the injustice under which the miners suffered. A 
meeting of protest called by the British residents was broken 
up by gangs of workmen under Boer officials. Driven to des- 
peration the Uitlanders determined upon a petition to Queen 
Victoria, and in doing so they brought their grievances out of 
the limits of a local controversy into the broader field of inter- 
national politics. Great Britain must either protect them or ac- 
knowledge that their protection was beyond her power. A direct 
petition to the Queen praying for protection was signed in April 
1899 by 21,000 Uitlanders. 

The lines which this historical petition took may be judged 
from the following excerpt : 

' The condition of Your Majesty's subjects in this State has 
indeed become well-nigh intolerable. 

' The acknowledged and admitted grievances of which Your 
Majesty's subjects complained prior to 1895, not only are not re- 
dressed, but exist to-day in an aggravated form. They are still 
deprived of all political rights, they are denied any voice in the 
government of the country, they are taxed far above the require- 
ments of the country, the revenue of which is misapplied and 
devoted to objects which keep alive a continuous and well-founded 
feeling of irritation, witliout in any way advancing the general 
interest of the State. Maladministration and peculation of public 
moneys go hand-in-hand, without any vigorous measures being 
adopted to put a stop to the scatidal. The education of Uitlander 
children is made subject to impossible conditions. The police 
afford no adequate protection to the lives and property of the 
inhabitants of Johannesburg ; they are rather a source of danger 
to the peace and safety of the Uitlander population. 

' A further grievance has become prominent since the begin- 
ning of the year. The power vested in the Government by means 
of the Public Meetings Act has been a menace to Your Majesty's 



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30 THE WAR : ITS CAUSE AND CONDUCT 

subjects since the enactment of the Act in 1894. This power has 
now been appUed in order to deliver a blow that strikes at the 
inherent and inalienable birthright of every British subject — 
namely, his right to petition his Sovereign. Straining to the 
utmost the language and intention of the law, the Government 
have arrested two British subjects who assisted in presenting a 
petition to Your Majesty on behalf of four thousand fellow- 
subjects. Not content with this, the Government, when Your 
Majesty's loyal subjects again attempted to lay their grievances 
before Your Majesty, permitted their meeting to be broken up, 
and the objects of it to be defeated, by a body of Boers, organised 
by Government officials and acting under the protection of the 
police. By reason, therefore, of the direct, as well as the in- 
direct, act of the Government, Your Majesty's loyal subjects 
have been prevented from publicly ventilating their grievances, 
and from laying them before Your Majesty. 

' Wherefore Your Majesty's humble petitioners humbly be- 
seech Your Most Gracious Majesty to extend Your Majesty's 
protection to Your Majesty's loyal subjects resident in this State, 
and to cause an inquiry to be made into grievances and com- 
plaints enumerated and set forth in this humble petition, and 
to direct Your Majesty's representative in South Africa to take 
measures which will insure the speedy reform of the abuses com- 
plained of, and to obtain substantial guarantees from the Govern- 
ment of this State for a recognition of their rights as British 
subjects.' 

From the date of this direct, petition from our ill-used people 
to their Sovereign events moved inevitably towards one end. 
Sometimes the surface was troubled and sometimes smooth, but 
the stream always ran swiftly and the roar of the fall sounded 
ever louder in the ears. 



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chapter III: The Negotiations 

THE British Government and the British people do not 
desire any direct authority in South Africa. Their one ' 
supreme interest is that the various States there should 
Hve in concord and prosperity, and that there should l>e 
no need for the presence of a British redcoat within 
the whole great peninsula. Our foreign critics, with their 
misapprehension of the British colonial system, can never realise 
that whether the four-coloured flag of the Transvaal or the Union 
Jack of a self-governing colony waved over the gold mines would 
not make the difference of one shilling to the revenue of Great 
Britain. The Transvaal as a British province would have its own 
legislature, its own revenue, its own expenditure, and its own 
tarif? against the mother country, as well as against the rest of 
the world, and Britain be none the richer for the change. This 
is so obvious to a Briton that he has ceased to insist upon it, and 
it is for that reason perhaps that it is so universally misunderstood 
abroad. On the other hand, while she is no gainer by the change, 
most of the expense of it in blood" and in money falls upon the 
home country. On the face of it, therefore, Great Britain had 
every reason to avoid so formidable a task as the conquest of 
■ the South African Republic. At the best she had nothing to gain, 
and at the worst she had an immense deal to lose. There was 
no room for ambition or aggression. It was a case of shirking 
or fulfilling a most arduous duty. 

There could be no question of a plot for the annexation of the 
Transvaal. In a free country the Government cannot move in 
advance of public opinion, and public opinion is influenced by 
and reflected in the newspapers. One may examine the files of 
the press during all tlie months of negotiations and never find 
one reputable opinion in favour of such a course, nor did one in 
society ever meet an advocate of such a measure. But a great 
wrong was being done, and all that was asked was the minimum 
change which would set it right, and restore equality between the 
white races in Africa. ' Let Kruger only be liberal in the ex- 
tension of the franchise,' said the paper which is most representa- 
tive of the sanest British opinion, ' and he will find that the 



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32 THE WAR: ITS CAUSE AND CONDUCT 

power of the Republic will become not weaker, but infinitely more 
secure. Let him once give the majority of the resident males 
of full age the full vote, and he will have given the Republic a 
stability and power which nothing else can. If he rejects all 
pleas of this kind, and persists in his present policy, he may 
possibly stave off the evil day, and preserve his cherished oli- 
garchy for another few years ; but the end will be the same.' 
The extract reflects the tone of all the British press with the 
exception of one or two papers which considered that even the 
persistent ill-usage of our people, and the fact that we were pe- 
culiarly responsible for them in this State, did not justify us in 
interfering in the internal affairs of the Republic. It cannot be 
denied that the Jameson Raid had weakened the force of those 
who wished to interfere energetically on behaSf of British sub- 
jects. There was a vague but widespread feeling that perhaps 
the capitalists were engineering the situation for their own ends. 
It is difficult to imagine how a state of unrest and insecurity, 
to say nothing of a state of war, can ever be to the advantage of 
capital, and surely it is obvious that if some arch-schemer were 
using the grievances of the Uitlanders for his own ends the best 
way to checkmate him would be to remove those grievances. 
The suspicion, however, did exist among those who like to ignore 
the obvious and magnify the remote, and throughout the negotia- 
tions the hand of Great Britain was weakened, as her adversary 
had doubtless calculated that it would be, by an earnest but 
fussy and faddy minority. 

It was in April, 1899, that the British Uitlanders sent their 
petition praying for protection to their native country. Since the 
April previous a correspondence had been going on between Dr. 
Leyds, Secretary of State for the South African Republic, and 
Mr. Chamberlain, Colonial Secretary, upon the existence or non- 
existence of the suzerainty. On the one hand, it was contended 
that the substitution of a second convention had entirely annulled 
the first ; on the other, that the preamble of the first applied also 
to the second. If the Transvaal contention were correct it is 
clear that Great Britain had been tricked and jockeyed into such 
a position, since she had received no quid pro quo m the second 
convention, and even the most careless of Colonial Secretaries 
could hardly have been expected to give away a very substantial 
something for nothing. But the contention throws us back upon 
the academic question of what a suzerainty is. The Transvaal 
admitted a power of veto over their foreign policy, and this ad- 
mission in itself, unless they openly tore up the convention, must 
deprive them of the position of a sovereign State. 



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THE NEGOTIATIONS 33 

But now to this debate, which had so little of urgency in it 
that seven months intervened between statement and reply, there 
came the bitterly vital question of the wrongs and appeal of the 
Uitlanders. Sir Alfred Milner, the British Commissioner in 
South Africa, a man of liberal politics who had been appointed 
by a Conservative Government, commanded the respect and con- 
fidence of all parties. His record was that of an able, clear-headed 
man, too just to be either guilty of or tolerant of injustice. To 
him the matter was referred, and a conference was arranged 
between President Kruger and him at Bloemfontein, the capital 
of the Orange Free State. They met on May 31, 1899. 

There were three different classes of subject which had to be 
discussed at the conference. One included all those alleged 
breaches of the Convention of London which had caused so much 
friction between the two Governments and which had thrice in 
eighteen years brought the States to the verge of war. Among 
these subjects would be the Boer annexations of native territory, 
such interference with trade as the stopping of the Drifts, the, 
question of suzerainty, and the possibility of arbitration. The 
second class of questions would deal with the grievances of the 
Uitlanders, which presented a problem which had in no way 
\ been provided for in the conventions. The third class contained 
\the question of the ill-treatment of British Indians, and other 
Muses of quarrel. Sir Alfred Milner was faced with the altema- 
tWe either to argue over each of these questions in turn — an 
aidless and unprofitable business— or to put forward some one 
test-question which would strike at the root of the matter and 
prove whether a real attempt would be made by the Boer Gov- 
ernment to relieve the tension. The question which he selected 
was that of the franchise for the Uitlanders, for it was evident 
that if they obtained nOt a fair share — such a request was never 
made — but any appreciable share in the government of the coun- 
try, they would in time be able to relieve their own grievances 
and so spare the British Government the heavy task of acting 
as their champions. But the conference was quickly wrecked 
upon this question. Milner contended for a five-years' retroactive 
franchise, with provisions to secure adequate representation for 
the mining districts. Kruger offered a seven-years' franchise, 
coupled with numerous conditions which whittled down its value 
very much ; promised five members out of thirty-one to represent 
half the male adult population; and added a provision that all 
differences should be subject to arbitration by foreign powers — a 
condition which is incompatible with any claim to suzerainty. 
This offer dropped the term for the franchise from fourteen years 



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34 THE WAR: ITS CAUSE AND CONDUCT 

to seven, but it retained a number of conditions which might 
make it illusory, while demanding in exchange a most important 
concession from the British Government. The proposals of each 
were impossible to the other, and early in June Sir Alfred Milner 
was back in Cape Town and President Kruger in Pretoria with 
nothing settled except the extreme difficulty of a settlement. 

On June 12 Sir Alfred Milner received a deputation at Cape 
Town and reviewed the situation. ' The principle of equality of 
races was,' he said, ' essential for South Africa. The one State 
where inequality existed kept alJ the others in a fever. Our 
policy was one not of aggression, but of singular patience, which 
could not, however, lapse into indifference.' Two days later 
Kruger addressed the Raad. ' The other side had not conceded 
one tittle, and I could not give more. God has always stood 
by us. I do not want war, but I will not give more away. 
Although our independence has once been taken away, God had 
restored it.' He spoke with sincerity, no doubt, but it is hard to 
hear God invoked with such confidence for the system which 
encouraged the liquor traffic to the natives, and bred the most 
corrupt set of officials that the modem world has seen. 

A despatch from Sir Alfred Milner, giving his views upon the 
situation, made the British public recognise, as nothing else had 
done, how serious the position was, and' how essential it was 
that an earnest national effort should be made to set it right. 
In it he said: 

' The case for intervention is overwhelming. The only at- 
tempted answer is that things will right themselves if left alone. 
But. in fact, the policy of leaving things ^one has been tried 
for years, and it has led to their going from bad to worse. It 
is not true that this is owing to the raid. They were going 
from ted to worse before the raid. We were on the verge of 
war before the raid, and the Transvaal was on the verge of revo- 
lution. The effect of the raid has been to give the policy of 
leaving things alone a new lease of life, and with the old conse- 
quences, 

' The spectacle of thousands of British subjects kept perma- 
nently in the position of helots, constantly chafing under un- 
doubted grievances, and calling vainly to Her Majesty's Govern- 
ment for redress, does steadily undermine the influence and repu- 
tation of Great Britain within the Queen's dominions. A section 
of the press, not in the Transvaal only, preaches openly and 
constantly the doctrine of a republic embracing all South Africa, 
and supports it by menacing references to the armaments of the 
Transvaal, its alliance with the Orange Free State, and the active 



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THE NEGOTIATIONS 35 

sympathy wliicli. in case of war, it would receive from a section 
of Her Majesty's subjects. I regret to say that this doctrine, 
supported as it is by a ceaseless stream of malignant lies about 
the intentions of Her Majesty's Government, is producing a great 
effect on a large number of our Dutch fellow -colonists. Lan- 
guage is frequently used which seems to imply that the Dutch 
have some superior .right, even in this colony, to their fellow- 
citizens of British birth. Thousands of men peaceably disposed, 
and if left alone perfectly satisfied with tlieir position as British 
subjects, are being drawn into disaffection, and there is a corre- 
sponding exasperation upon the part of the British. 

' I can see nothing which will put a stop to this mischievous 
propaganda but some striking proof of the intention of Her Maj- 
esty's Government not to be ousted from its position in South _ 
Africa.' 

Such were the grave and measured words with which the 
British pro-consul warned his countrymen of what was to come. 
He saw the storm cloud piling in the north, but even his eyes had 
not yet discerned how near and how terrible was the tempest. 

Throughout the end of June and the early part of July much 
, was hoped from the mediation of the heads of the Afrikander 

§ond, the political union of the Dutch Cape colonists. On the 
le hand, they were the kinsmen of the Boers; on the other, 
tftpy were British subjects, and were enjoying the blessings of 
th&se liberal institutions which we were anxious to see extended 
to.khe Transvaal. "Only treat our folk as we treat yours!' 
Our whole contention was compressed into that prayer. But 
nothing came of the mission, though a scheme endorsed by 
Mr. Hofmeyr and Mr. Herholdt, of the Bond with Mr. Fischer 
of the Free State, was introduced into the Raad and applauded 
by Mr. Schreiner, the Africander Premier of Cape Colony. In 
its original form the provisions were obscure and complicated, 
the franchise varying from nine years to seven under different 
conditions. In debate, however, the terms were amended until 
the time was reduced to seven years, and the proposed represen- 
tation of the Goldfields placed at five. The concession was not 
a great one, nor could the representation, five out of thirty-one, 
be considered a generous provision for half the adult male popu- 
lation ; but the reduction of the years of residence was eagerly 
hailed in England as a sign that a compromise might be effected. 
A sigh of relief went up from the country. ' If,' said the Colonial 
Secretary, ' this report is confirmed, this important change in the 
proposals of President Kruger, coupled with previous amend- 
ments, leads Government to hope that the new law may prove to 



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36 THE WAR : ITS CAUSE AND CONDUCT 

be the basis of a settlement on the Hnes laid down by Sir Alfred 
Milner in the Bloemfontein Conference.' He added that there 
were some vexations conditions attached, but concluded, ' Her 
Majesty's Government feel assured that the President, having 
accepted the principle for which they have contended, will be 
prepared to reconsider any detail of his scheme which can be 
shown to be a possible hindrance to the full accomplishment of 
the object in view, and that he will not allow them to be nullified 
or reduced in value by any subsequent alterations of the law or 
acts of administration.' At the same time, the ' Times ' declared 
the crisis to be at an end: ' If the Dutch statesmen of the Cape 
have induced their brethren in the Transvaal to carry such a 
bill they .will have deserved the lasting gratitude, not only of 
their own countrymen and of the English colonists in South 
Africa, but of the British Empire and of the civihsed world.' 
The reception of the idea that the crisis was at an end is surely 
. a conclusive proof how little it was desired in England that that 
crisis should lead to war. 

But this fair prospect was soon destined to be overcast. Ques- 
tions of detail arose which, when closely examined, proved to be 
matters of very essential importance. The Uitlanders and British 
South Africans, who had experienced in the past how illusory the 
promises of the President might be, insisted upon guarantees. 
The seven years offered were two years more than that which 
Sir Alfred Milner had declared to be an irreducible minimum. 
The difference of two years would not have hindered their ac- 
ceptance, even at the expense of some humiliation to our repre- 
sentative. But there were conditions which excited distrust when 
drawn up by so wily a diplomatist. One was that the alien who 
aspired to burghership had to produce a certificate of continuous 
registration for a certain time. But the law of registration had 
fallen into disuse in the Transvaal, and consequently this pro- 
vision might render the whole bill valueless. Since it was care- 
fully retained, it was certainly meant for use. The door had 
been opened, but a stone was placed to block it. Again, the con- 
tinued burghership of the newcomers was made to depend upon 
the resolution of the first Raad, so that should the mining mem- 
bers propose any measure of reform not only their bill but 
they also might be swept out of the house by a Boer majority. 
What could an Opposition do if a vote of the Government might 
at any moment unseat them all? It was clear that a measure 
which contained such provisions must be very carefully sifted 
before a British Government could accept it as a final settlement 
and a complete concession of justice to its subjects. On the other 



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THE NEGOTIATIONS 



hand, it naturally fell loth to refuse those clauses which offered 
some prospect of an amelioration in their condition. It took the 
course, therefore, of suggesting that each Government should 
appoint delegates to form a joint commission which should in- 
quire into the working of the proposed bill before it was put 
into a final form. The proposal was submitted to the Raad upon 
August 7, with the addition that when this was done Sir Alfred 
Milner was prepared to discuss anything else, including arbitra- 
tion without the interference of foreign powers. 

The suggestion of this joint commission has been criticised 
as an unwarrantable intrusion into the internal affairs of another 
country. But then the whole question from the beginning was 
about the internal affairs of another country, since there could be 
no rest in South Africa so long as one race tried to dominate the 
other. It is futile to suggest analogies, and to imagine what 
France would do if Germany were to interfere in a question of 
French franchise. Supposing that France contained nearly as 
many Germans as Frenchmen, and that they were ill-treated, 
Germany would interfere quickly enough and continue to do so 
until some fair modus vivendi was established. The fact is 
that the case of the Transvaal stands alone, that such a condi- 
tion of things has never been known, and that no previous pre- 
cedent can apply to it, save the genera! rule that white men 
who are heavily taxed must have some representation. Sentiment 
tnay incline to the smaller nation, but reason and justice are all 
on the side of Britain. 

A long delay followed upon the proposal of the Secretary of 
the Colonies. No reply was forthcoming from Pretoria, But 
on all sides there came evidence that those preparations for war 
which had been quietly going on even before the Jameson Raid 
were now being hurriedly perfected. For so small a State enor- 
mous sums were being spent upon military equipment. Cases of 
rifles and boxes of cartridges streamed into the arsenal, not only 
from Delagoa Bay, but even, to the indignation of the English 
colonists, through Cape Town and Port Ehzabeth. Huge pack- 
ing-cases, marked ' Agricultural Instruments ' and ' Mining Ma- 
chinery,'' arrived from Germany and France to find their places 
in the forts of 'Johannesburg or Pretoria. As early as May the 
Orange Free State President, who was looked »upon by the 
simple and trustful British as the honest broker who was about 
to arrange a peace, was writing to Grobler, t!ie Transvaal official, 
claiming his share of the twenty-five million cartridges which 
had then been imported. This was the man who was posing as 
mediator between the two parties a fortnight later at Bloemfontein. 



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38 THE WAR : ITS CAUSE AND CONDUCT 

For three years the Transyaal had been arming to the teeth. 
So many modem magazine -rifles had been imported that there 
were enough to furnish five to every male burgher in the country. 
The importation of ammunition was on the same giganfic scale. 
For what were these formidable preparations? Evidently . for a 
war with Great Britain, and not for a defensive war. It is not in 
a defensive war that a State provides sufficient rifles to arm 
every man of Dutch blood in the whole of South Africa. No 
British reinforcements had been sent during the years that the 
Transvaal was obviously preparing for a struggle. In that one 
eloquent fact lies a complete proof as to which side forced on a 
war, and which side desired to avoid one. For three weeks and 
more, during which Mr. Kruger was silent, these preparations 
went on more energetically and more openly. 

But beyond them, and of infinitely more importance, there was 
one fact which dominated the situation and retarded' the crisis. 
A burgher cannot go to war without his horse, his horse cannot 
move without grass, grass will not come until after rain, and it 
was still some weeks before the rain would be due. Negotiations, 
then, must not be unduly hurried while the veldt was a bare, 
russet-coloured, dust-swept plain. Mr. Chamberlain and the 
British public waited week after week for an answer. But there 
was a limit to their patience, and it was reached on August 26, 
when the Colonial Secretary showed, with a plainness of speech 
which is as unusual as it is welcome in diplomacy, that the 
question could not be hung up forever. ' The sands are running 
down in the glass,' said he. ' If they run out we shall not hold 
ourselves limited by that which we have already offered, but, 
having taken the matter in hand, we will not let it go until we 
have secured conditions which once for all shall establish which, 
is the paramount power in South Africa, and shall secure for our 
fellow -subjects there those equal rights and equal privileges 
which were promised them by President Kruger when the inde- 
pendence of the Transvaal was granted by the Queen, and which 
is the least that in justice ought to be accorded them.' Lord 
Salisbury, a short time before, had been equally emphatic r ' No 
one in this country wishes to disturb the conventions SO long as 
it is recognised that while they guarantee the -independence of 
the Transvaahon the one side, they guarantee equal political and 
civil rights for settlers of all nationalities upon the other. But 
these conventions are not like the laws of the Medes and the 
Persians. They are mortal, they can be destroyed . . . and 
once destroyed they can never be reconstructed in the same 



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THE NEGOTIATIONS 39 - 

shape.' The long-enduring patience o£ Great Britain was begin- 
ning to show signs of giving way. 

Pressure was in the meanwhile being put upon the old Presi- 
dent and upon his advisers, if he can be said ever to have had 
any advisers, in order to induce him to accept the British offer of 
a joint committee of inquiry. Sir Henry de Villiers. representing 
the highest Africander opinion of the Cape, wrote strongly 
pleading the cause of peace, and urging Mr. Fischer of the Free 
State to endeavour to give a more friendly tone to the negotia- 
tions. ' Try and induce President Kruger to meet Mr. Chamber- 
lain in a friendly way, and remove all the causes of unrest which 
have disturbed this unhappy country for so many years.' Similar 
advice came from Europe. The Dutch minister telegraphed as 
follows : 

'August 4, 1899. — Communicate confidentially to the Presi- 
dent that, having heard from the Transvaal Minister the English 
proposal of the International Commission, I recommend the 
President, in the interest of the country, not peremptorily to re- 
fuse that proposition.' 

'August 15, 1899. — Please communicate confidentially to the 
President that the German Government entirely shares my opin- 
ion, expressed in my despatch of August 4, not to refuse the 
English proposal. The German Government is, like myself, con- 
vinced that every approach to one of the Great Powers in this 
very critical moment will be without any results whatever, and 
very dangerous for the Republic' 

But neither his Africander brothers nor his friends abroad 
could turn the old man one inch from the road upon which he 
had set his foot. The fact is, that he knew well that his fran- 
chise proposals would not bear examination ; that in the words 
of an eminent lawyer, they ' might as well have been seventy 
years as seven,' so complicated and impossible were the condi- 
tions. For a long time he was silent, and when he at last spoke 
it was to open a new phase of the negotiations. His ammunition 
was not all to hand yet, his rifles had not all been distributed, the 
grass had not appeared upon the veldt. The game must be kept 
going for a couple of months. ' You are such past-masters in 
the art of gaining timet ' said Mr. Labouchere to Mr. Montague 
White. The President proceeded to prove it. 

His new suggestions were put forward on August 12. In 
them the Joint Commission was put aside, and the proposal was 
made that the Boer Government should accede to the franchise 
proposals of Sir Alfred Milner on condition that the British 



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4 THE WAR: ITS CAUSE AND CONDUCT 

Government withdrew or dropped her claim to a suzerainty, 
agreed to arbitration by a British and South African tribunal, and 
promised never again to interfere in the internal affairs of the 
Republic. To this Great Britain answered that she would agree 
to such arbitration; that she hoped never again to have occasion 
to interfere for the protection of her own subjects, but that with 
the grant of the franchise all occasion for such interference would 
pass away; and, finally, that she would never consent {o abandon 
her position as suzerain power. Mr. Chamberlain's despatch 
ended by reminding the Government of the Transvaal that there 
were other- matters of dispute open between the two Govern- 
ments apart from the franchise, and that it would be as well to 
have them settled at the same time. By these he meant such 
questions as the position of the native races and the treatment 
of Anglo-Indians. 

For a moment there seemed now to be a fair prospect of peace. 
There was no very great gap between the two parties, and had 
the negotiations been really bona Me it seems incredible that it 
could not be bridged. But the Transvaal was secure now of the 
alliance of the Orange Free State; it believed that the Colony 
was- ripe for rebellion; and it knew that with 60,000 cavalry and 
100 guns it was infinitely the strongest military power in Africa. 
One cannot read the negotiations without being convinced that 
they were never meant to succeed, and the party which did not 
mean them to succeed was the party which prepared all the time 
for war. De Villiers, a friendly critic, says of the Transvaal 
Government : ' Throughout the negotiations they have always 
been wriggling to prevent a clear and precise decision.' Surely 
the sequel showed clearly enough why this was so. Their mili- 
tary hand was stronger than their political one, and it was with 
that that they desired to play the game. It would not do, there- 
fore, to get the negotiations into such a stage that a peaceful 
solution should become inevitable. What was the use of all those 
rifles and cannon if the pen were after all to effect a compromise? 
' The only thing that we are afraid of,' wrote young Blignant, 
' is that Chamberlain with his admitted fitfulness of temper should 
cheat us out of our war and, consequently, the opportunity of 
annexing the Cape Colony and Natal, and forming the Republi- 
can United States of South Africa '—a legitimate national am- 
bition perhaps, but not compatible with bona Me peaceful negotia- 
tions. 
' It was time, then, to give a less promising turn to the situation. 
On September 2 the answer of the Transvaal Government was 
returned. It was short and uncompromising. They withdrew 



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THE NEGOTIATIONS 



their offer of the franchise. They reasserted the non-existence 
of the suzerainty. The negotiations were at a deadlock. It was 
difficult to see how they could be reopened. In view of the arm- 
ing of the burghers, tJie small garrison of Natal had been taking 
up positions to cover the frontier. The Transvaal asked for an 
explanation of their presence. Sir Alfred Milner answered that 
they were guarding British interests, and preparing against 
contingencies. The roar of the fall was sounding loud and 
near. 

On September 8 there was held a Cabinet Council — one of 
the most important in recent years. The military situation was 
pressing. The handful of troops in Africa could not be left at 
the mercy of the Sarge and formidable force which the Boers 
could at any time hurl against them. On the other hand, it was 
very necessary not to appear to threaten or to appeal to force. 
For this reason reinforcements were sent upon such a scale as 
to make it evident that they were sent for defensive, and not for 
offensive, purposes. Five thousand men were sent from India 
to Natal, and the Cape garrisons were strengthened from 
England. 

At the same time that they took these defensive measures, a 
message was sent to Pretoria, which even the opponents of the 
Government have acknowledged to be temperate, and offering 
the basis for a peaceful settlement. It begins by repudiating 
emphatically the claim of the Transvaal to be a sovereign inter- 
national State in the same sense in which the Orange Free State 
is one. Any proposal made conditional upon such an acknowl- 
edgment could not he entertained. The status of the Transvaal 
was settled by certain conventions agreed to by both Govern- 
ments, and nothing had occurred to cause us to acquiesce in a 
radical change in it. 

The British Government, however, was prepared to accept the 
five years' franchise as stated in the note of August 19, assuming 
at the same time that in the Raad each member might use his 
own language. 

' Acceptance of these terms by the South African Republic 
would at once remove tension between the two Governments, 
and would m all probability render unnecessary any future inter- 
vention to secure redress for grievances which the Uitlanders 
themselves would be able to bring to the notice of the Executive 
Council and the Volksraad. 

' Her Majesty's Government are increasingly impressed with 
the danger of further delay in reheving the strain which has 
already caused so much injury to the interests of South Africa, 



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42 THE WAR: ITS CAUSE AND CONDUCT 

and they earnestly press for an immediate and definite reply to 
the present proposal. If it is acceded to they will be ready to 
make immediate arrangements ... to settle all details of 
the proposed tribunal of arbitration. ... If, however, as they 
most anxiously hope will not be the case, the reply of the South 
African Republic should be negative or inconclusive, I am to 
state that Her Majesty's Government must reserve to themselves 
the right to reconsider the situation de novo, a'nd to formulate 
their own proposals for a final settlement.' 

This despatch was so moderate in form and so courteous in 
tone that press and politicians of every shade of opinion were 
united in approving it, and hoping for a corresponding reply 
which would relax the tension between the two nations. Mr. 
Morley, Mr. Leonard Courtney, the ' Daily Chronicle ' — all the 
most strenuous opponents of the Government policy — were satis- 
fied that it was a message of peace. But nothing at that time, save 
a complete and abject surrender upon the part of the British, 
could have satisfied the Boers, who had the most exaggerated 
ideas of their own military prowess and no very high opinion of 
. our own. The continental conception of the British wolf and 
the Transvaal lamb would have raised a laugh in Pretoria, where 
the outcome of the war was looked upon as a foregone conclu- 
sion. The burghers were in no humour for concessions. They 
knew their own power, and they concluded with justice that 
they were for the time far the strongest military power in South 
Africa. ' We have beaten England before, But it is nothing to 
the licking that we shall give her now 1 ' said one prominent citi- 
zen. ' Reitz seemed to treat the whole matter as a big joke,' 
remarked de Villiers. ' Is it really necessary for you to go ? ' said 
the Chief Justice of the Transvaal to an English clergyman. 
'The war will be over in a fortnight.' We shall take Kimberley 
and Mafeking and give the English such a beating in Natal that 
they will sue for peace.' Such were the extravagant ideas which 
caused them to push aside the olive-branch of peace. 

On September 18 the official reply of the Boer Government 
to the message sent from the Cabinet Council was published in 
London. In manner it was unbending and unconciliatory ; in 
substance, it was a complete rejection of all the British demands. 
It refused to recommend or propose to the Raad the five-years' 
franchise and the other provisions which had been defined as the 
minimum which the Home Government could accept as a fair 
measure of justice towards the Uitlanders. The suggestion that 
the debates of the Raad should be bilingual, as they are in the 
Cape Colony and in Canada, was absolutely waved aside. The 



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THE NEGOTIATIONS 43 

British Government had stated in their fast despatch that if the 
reply should be negative or inconclusive they reserved to them- 
selves the ri^ht to ' reconsider the situation de novo, and to 
formulate their own proposals for a final settlement,' The reply 
had been both negative and inconclusive, and on September 22 
a council met to determine what the next message should be. 
It was short and firm, but so planned as not to shut the door 
upon peace. Its purport was that the British Government ex- 
pressed deep regret at the rejection of the moderate proposals 
which had been submitted in their last despatch, and that nov^, 
in accordance with their promise, they would shortly put forward 
their own plans for a settlement. The message was not an ulti- 
matum, but it foreshadowed an ultimatum in the future. 

In the meantime, upon September 21, the Raad of the Orange 
Free State had met, and it became more and more evident that 
this republic, with whom we had no possible quarrel, but, on the 
contrary, for whom we had a great deal of friendship and admira- 
tion, intended to throw in its weight against Great Britain. 
Some time before, an offensive and defensive alliance had been 
concluded between the two States, which must, until the secret 
history of these events comes to be written, appear to have been 
a singularly rash and unprofitable bargain for the smaller one. 
She had nothing to fear from Great Britain, since she had been 
voluntarily turned into an independent republic by her, and had 
lived in peace with her for forty years. Her laws were as liberal 
as our own. But by this suicidal treaty she agreed to share the 
fortunes of a State which was deliberately courting war by its 
persistently unfriendly attitude, and whose reactionary and nar- 
row legislation would, one might imagine, have alienated the 
sympathy of her progressive neighbour. The trend of events 
was seen clearly in the days of President Brand, who was a sane 
and experienced politician. ' President Brand,' says Paul Botha 
(himself a voortrekker and a Boer of the Boers), 'saw clearly 
what our policy ought to have been. He always avoided offend- 
ing the Transvaal, but he loved the Orange Free State and its 
independence for its own sake and not as an appendage to the 
Transvaal. And in order to maintain its character he always 
strove for the friendship of England. 

' President Brand realised that closer union with the turbulent 
and misguided Transvaal, led by Kruger's challenging policy, 
would inevitably result in a disastrous war with England. 

' IfPaul Botha] felt this as strongly, and never ceased fight- 
ing against closer union. I remember once stating these argu- 
ments in the Volksraad, and wound up my speech by saying. 



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44 THE WAR: ITS CAUSE AND CONDUCT 

" May Heaven grant that I am wrong in what I fear, because, 
if I am right, then woe, woe to the Orange Free State." ' 

It is evident tliat if the Free State rushed headlong to utter 
destruction it was not for want of wise voices which tried to 
guide her to some safer path. But there seems to have been a 
complete hallucination as to the comparative strength of the two 
opponents, and as to the probable future of South Africa. Under 
no possible future could the Free State be better off than it was 
already, a perfectly free and independent republic; and yet the 
country was carried away by race-prejudice spread broadcast 
from a subsidised press and an unchristian pulpit. ' When I 
come to think of the abuse the pulpit made of its influence,' says 
Paul Botha, ' I feel as if I cannot find words strong enough to 
express my indignation. God's word was prostituted. A relig- 
ious people's religion was used to urge them to their destruction. 
A minister of God told me himself, with a wink, that he had to 
preach anti-English because otherwise he would lose favour with 
those in power.' Such were the influences which induced the 
Free State to make an insane treaty, compelling it to wantonly 
take up arms against a State which had never injured it and 
which bore it nothing but good will. 

The tone of President Steyn at the meeting of the Raad, and 
the support which he received from the majority of his burghers, 
showed unmistakably that the two republics would act as one. 
In his opening speech Steyn declared uncompromisingly against 
the British contention, and declared that his State was bound to 
the Transvaal by everything which was near and dear. Among 
the obvious military precautions which could no longer be neg- 
lected by the British Government, was the sending of some 
small force to protect the long and exposed line of railway which 
lies just outside the Transvaal border from Kimberley to Rhode- 
sia. Sir Alfred Milner communicated with President Steyn as 
to this movement of troops, pointing out that it was in no way 
directed against the Free State. Sir Alfred Milner added that 
the Imperial Government was still hopeful of a friendly settle- 
ment with the Transvaal, but if this hope were disappointed they 
looked to the Orange Free State to preserve strict neutrality and 
to prevent military intervention by any of its citizens. They 
undertook that in that case the integrity of the Free State fron- 
tier would be strictly preserved. Finally, he stated that there 
was absolutely no cause to disturb the good relations between 
the Free State and Great Britain, since we were animated by the 
most friendly intentions towards them. To this the President 
returned a s(»newhat ungracious answer, to the effect that he 



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THE NEGOTIATIONS 45 

disapproved of our action towards the Transvaal, and tliat he 
regretted tlie movement of troops, which would be considered a 
menace by the burghers. A subsequent resolution of the Free 
State Raad, ending with tlie words, ' Come what may, the Free 
State will honestly and faithfully fulfil its obligations towards 
the Transvaal by virtue of the political alliance existing between 
the two republics,' showed hpw impossible it was that this coun- 
try, formed by ourselves, and without a shadow of a cause of 
quarrel with us, could be saved from being drawn into the whirl- 
pool. 

In the meantime, military preparations were being made upon 
both sides, moderate in the case of the British and considerable 
in that of the Boers. 

On August 15. at a time when the negotiations had already 
assumed a very serious phase, after the failure of the Bioem- 
fontein Conference and the despatch of Sir Alfred Milner, the 
British forces in Soutli Africa were absolutely and absurdly in- 
adequate for the purpose of the defence of our own frontier. 
Surely such a face must open the eyes of tliose who, in spite of 
all the evidence, persist that the war was forced on by the British. 
A statesman who forces on a war usually prepares for a war, and 
this is exactly what Mr. Kruger did and the British authorities 
did not. The o\'erbearing suzerain jjower had at that date, 
scattered over a huge frontier, two cavalry regiments, three field 
batteries, and six and a half infantry battalions— say six thou- 
sand men. Tbe innocent pastoral States could put in the field 
more than fifty thousand mounted riflemen, whose mobility 
doubled their numbers, and a most excellent artillery, including 
the heaviest guns which have ever been seen upon a battlefield. 
At this time it is most certain that the Boers could have made 
their way easily either to Durban or to Cape Town. The British 
force, condemned to act upon the defensive, could have been 
masked and afterwards destroyed, whiSe the main body of the 
invaders would have encountered nothing but an irregular local 
resistance, which would have been neutralised by the apathy or 
hostility of the Dutch colonists. It is extraordinary that our 
authorities seem never to have contemplated the possibility of the 
Boers taking the initiative, or to have understood that in that 
case our belated reinforcements would certainly have had to 
land under the fire of the republican guns. Thej' ran a great- 
military risk by their inaction, but at least they made it clear to 
all who are not wiSfidly blind how far from the thoughts or 
wishes of the British Government it has always been that the 
matter should be decided by force. 



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46 THE WAR: ITS CAUSE AND CONDUCl 



In answer to the remonstrances of the Colonial Prime Minister 
the garrison of Natal was gradually increased, partly by troopi 
from Europe, and partly by the despatch of 5,000 British troops 
from India. Their arrival late in September raised the iitimber 
of troops in South Africa to 22,000, a force which was inadequate 
to a contest in the open field with the numerous, mobile, and 
gallant enemy to whom they were to be opposed,. but which proved 
to be strong enough to stave off that overwhelming disaster 
which, with our fuller knowledge, we can now see to have, been 
impending. 

In the weeks which followed the despatch of the Cabinet 
message of September 8, the military situation had ceased to be 
desperate, but was still precarious. Twenty-two thousand regular 
troops were on the spot who might hope to be reinforced by some 
ten thousand Colonials, but these forces had to cover a great 
frontier, the attitude of Cape Colony was by no means whole- 
hearted and might become hostile, while the black population 
might conceivably throw in its weight against us. Only half the 
regulars could be spared to defend Natal, and no reinforcements 
could reach them in less than a month from the outbreak of 
hostilities. If Mr. Chamberlain was really playing a game of 
blufii, it must be confessed that he was bluffing from a very weak 
hand. 

For purposes of comparison we may give some idea of the 
forces which Mr. Kruger and Mr. Steyn could put in the field. 
Tht general press estimated the forces of the two r^ublics varied 
from 25,000 to 35,000 men. Mr. J. B. Robinson, a persona! 
friend of President Kruger's and a man who had spent much 
of his life among the Boers, considered the latter estimate to be 
too high. The calculation had no assured basis to start from. 
A very scattered and isolated population, among whom large 
families were the rule, is a most difficult thing to estimate. Some 
reckoned from the supposed natural increase during eighteen 
vears, but the figure given at that date was itself an assumption. 
Others took their calculation from the number of voters in the 
last presidential election ; but no one could tell how many absten- 
tions there had been, and the fighting age is five years earlier 
than the voting age in the republics. We recognise now that all 
calculations were far below the true figure. It is probable, how- 
ever, that the information of the British Intelligence Department 
was not far wrong. No branch of the British Service has come 
better out of a very severe ordeal than this one, and its report 
before the war is so accurate, alike in facts and in forecast, as to 
be quite prophetic. 



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THE NEGOriA IIONS 47 

According to this the fighting strength of the Transvaal alone 
was 32,000 mon. and of the Orange Free State 22,000. With 
mercenaries and rebels from the colonies they would amount to 
60,000, while a considerable rising of the Cape Dutch would 
bring them up to 100,000. Our actual male prisoners now amount 
to 42,000, and we can accoimt for 10,000 casualties, so that, 
allowing another 10,000 "for the burghers at large, the Boer force, 
excluding a great number of Cape rebels, would reach 62,000. 
Of the qualitj- of this large force there is no need to speak. The 
men were brave, hardy, and fired with a strange religious enthu- 
siasm. They were all of the seventeenth century, except their 
rifles. Mounted upon their hardy little ponies, tliey possessed 
a mobility which practically doubled their numbers and made it 
an impossibility ever to outflank them. As marksmen they are 
supreme. Add to this that they had the advantage of acting 
upon internal lines with shorter and safer communications, and 
one gathers how fonnidable a task lay before the soldiers of the 
Empire. When we turn from such an enumeration of their 
strength to contemplate the 12,000 men, split into two detach- 
ments, who awaited them in Natal, we may recognise that, far 
from bewailing our disasters, we should rather congratulate our- 
selves upon our escape from losing that great province which, 
situated as it is between Britain, India, and Austraha, must be 
regarded as the very keystone of the imperial arch. 

But again one must ask whether in the face of these figures 
it is still possible to maintain that Great Britain was deliberately 
attempting to o e tl o by force the independence of the 
republics. 

There wa a 1 11 n he political exchanges after the receipt 
of the Tran al !e pat h of September i6, which rejected the 
British propo al of Sep ember 8. In Africa all hope or fear of 
peace had ende 1 Tl e Raads had been dissolved an<l the old 
President's la o d 1 ad been that war was certain, with a 
stern invocation ot the Lord as the final arbiter. Britain was 
ready less obtrusively, but no less heartily, to refer the quarrel 
to the same dread judge. 

On October 2 President Steyn informed Sir Alfred Milner that 
he had deemed it necessary to call out the Free State burghers — 
that is, to mobilise his forces. Sir A. Milner wrote regretting 
these preparations, and declaring that he did not yet despair of 
peace, for he was sure that any reasonable proposal would be 
favourably considered by Her Majesty's Government. Steyn 's 
reply was that there was no use in negotiating unless the stream 
of British reinforcements ceased coining into South Africa. As 



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^8 THE WAR: ITS CAUSE AND CONDUCT 

eur forces were still in a great minority, it was impossible to 
stop the reinforcements, so the correspondence led to nothing. 
t)n October 7 the army reserves for the First Army Corps were 
ealled out in Great Britain, and other signs shown that it had 
been determined to send a considerable torce to South Africa. 
Parliament was also summoned, that th^ formal national assent 
might be gained for those grave measures which were evidently 
pending. 

It has been stated that it was the action of the British in 
calling out the reserves which caused the ultimatum from the 
Boers and so precipitated the war. Such a contention is absurd, 
for it puts the cart before tlie horse. The Transvaal commandos 
had mobilised upon September 27. and those of the Free State on 
October 2. The railways had been taken over, the exodus from 
Johannesburg had begun, and an actual act of war had been com- 
mitted by the stopping of a train and the confiscation of the gold 
which was in it. The British action was subsequent to all this, 
and coidd not have been the cause of it. But no Government 
could see such portents and .delay any longer to make those mili- 
tary- preparations which were called for by the critical situation. 
As a matter of fact, the Boer ultimatum was prepared before the 
date of the calling out of the reserves, and was only delivered 
later because the final details for war were not quite ready. 

It was on October 9 that the somewhat leisurely proceedings 
of the British ColoniiJ Office were brought to a head by the 
arrival of an unexpected and audacious ultimatum from the Boer 
Government. In contests of wit, as of arms, it must be confessed 
that the laugh has up to now been usually upon the side of our 
simple and pastoral South African neighbours. The present in- 
stance was no exception to the rule. The document was very 
firm and explicit, but the terms in which it was drawn were so 
impossible that it was evidently framed with the deliberate pur- 
pose of forcing an immediate war. It demanded that the troops 
upon the borders of the Republic should be instantly withdrawn, 
that all reinforcements which had arrived within the last year 
should leave South Africa, and that those who were now upon 
the sea should be sent back without being landed. Failing a 
satisfactorj' answer within forty-eight hours, ' The Transvaal 
Gnvcrnment will with great regret be compelled to regard the 
action of Her Majesty's Government as a formal declaration of 
B-ar, for the consequences of which it will not hold itself respon- 
sible." The audacious message was received throughout the em- 
pire with a mixture of derision and anger. The answer was des- 
patched next day through Sir Alfred Milner. 



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THE NEGOTIATIONS 49 

' October 10.— Her Majesty's Goveniment iiave received with 
great regret tlie peremptory demands of the Government of the 
South African Repubhc, conveyed in your telegram of the 9th 
October. You will inform the Government of the South Africaw 
Repubhc in repij- that the conditions demanded by the Govern- 
ment of the South African Republic are such as Her Majesty's 
Government deem it impossible to discuss.' 



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chapter IV: Some Points Examined 

SUCH is a general sketch of the trend of the negotiations 
and of the events which led up to the war. Under their 
different headings I will now examine in as short a 
space as possible the criticisms to which the British Gov- 
eniment has been subjected. Various damaging theories 
and alternate lines of action have been suggested, each of which 
may be shortly discussed. 

I, That Mr. Chamberlain icas personally concerned in the raid 
and that out of revenge for that failure, or because he iivs in the 
poiv'cr of Mr. Rhodes, he forced on the war.-^The theory that 
Mr. Chamberlain was in the confidence of the raiders, has been 
already examined and shown to be untenable. That he knew 
that an insurrection might probably result from the despair of 
the Uitlanders is very probable. It was his business lo know 
what was going on so far as he could, and there is no reason why 
his private sympathies, like those of every other Englishman, 
should not be with his own ill-used people. But tliat he con- 
templated an invasion of the Transvaal by a handful of police- 
men is absurd. If lie did, why should he instantly take the 
strongest steps to render the invasion abortive? What could he 
possibly do to make things miscarry which he did not do? And 
if he were conscious of being in the power of Mr. Rhodes, how 
would he dare to oppose with such vigour that gentleman's pet 
scheme? The very facts and the very telegrams upon which 
critics rely to prove Mr. Chamberlain's complicity will really, 
whfii looked at with unprejudiced eyes, most clearly sbow his 
entire independence. Thus when Rhodes, or Harris in Rhodes's 
na:!ic, telegraphs, ' Inform Chamberlain that I shall get through 
ail right if he will stipport me, but he must not send cable like he 
sent to the High Commissioner,' and again, ' Unless you can 
make Chamberlain instruct the High Commissioner to proceed 
at once to Johannesburg the whole position is lost,' is it not 
perfectly obvious that there has been no understanding of any 
sort, and that the conspirators are attempting to force the 
Colonial Secretary's hand? 

Again, critics make much of the fact that shortly before 
the raid Mr. Chamberlain, in his official capacity, sold to the 



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SOME POINTS EXAMINED 51 

Chartertii Company tlic strip of land from which the raid started, 
and that he made a hard bargain, exacting as much as 200,000/. 
for it. Surely the perversion of an argument coiiid hardly go 
further, for if ilr. Chamberlain were hi their confidence and ni 
favour of their plan it is certain that he wouid have givai them 
easy and not difficult terms for the land for which they asked. 
The supposition that Mr. Chamberlain was the tool of Rhodes in 
declaring war, presupposes that Mr. Chamberlain could impose 
his will without question upon a Cabinet which contained Lord 
Salisbury, Lord Lansdowne, Arthur Balfour, Hicks-Beach, and 
the other ministers. Such a supposition is too monstrous to 
discuss. 

2. That it is a ca/'ilalisls' n'ar, engineered by company pro- 
motors and Jirzi's. — After the Jameson Kaid a large body of the 
public held this view, and it was this which to a great extent 
tied the hands of the Government, aiid stopped them from taking 
that strong line which might have prevented the accumulation of 
those huge armaments which coukl only be intended for use 
against ourselves. It took years to finally dissipate the idea, but 
how thoroughly it has been- dissipated in the public mind is best 
shown by the patient fortitude with which our people have borne 
the long and weary struggle in which few families in the land 
have not lost either a friend or a relative. The complaisance of 
the British public towards capitalists goes no further than giving 
them their strict legal rights — aiid certainly does not extend to 
pouring out money and blood like water for their support. Such 
a supposition is absurd, nor can any reason be given why a body 
of high-minded and honourable British gentlemen like the 
Cabinet should sacrifice their country for the sake of a number 
of cosmopolitan financiers, most of whom are German Jews. The 
tax which will eventually be placed upon the. Transvaal mining 
industry, in order to help pay for the war, will in itself prove 
that the capitalists have no great voice in the councils of the 
nation. \Vc know now that the leading capitalists in Johannes- 
burg were the very men who most strenuously resisted an agita- 
tion which might lead to war. This seems natural enough when 
one considers Iiow much the capitalists had at stake, and how much 
to lose by war. The agitation for the franchise and other rights 
was a bond Me liberal agitation, started by poor men. employes 
and miners, who intended to live in the country, not in Park 
Lane. The capitalists were the very last to be drawn into it. 
When I say capitalists I mean the capitalists with British sym- 
pathies, for there is indeed much to be said in favour of the war 
being a capitahsts' war, in that it was largely caused by the anti- 



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52 THE WAR: ITS CAUSE AND CONDUCT 

British attitude and advice of the South African Netherlands 
Company, the Dynamite Monopoly, and other leeches which 
drained the country. To them a free and honest government 
meant ruin, and they strained every nerve, even to paying bogus 
English agitators, in order to liinder the cause of reform. Their 
attitude undoubtedly had something to do with stiffening the 
backs of the Boers and so preventing concessions. 

3. That Britain ivanted the gold mines.— ^o possible accusa- 
tion is more popular or more widely believed upon the Continent, 
and yet none couki be more ridiculous when it is examined. The 
gold mines are private companies, with shares held by private 
shareholders, German and Frencli as well as British. Whether 
the British or the Boer flag flew over the country would 
not alienate a single share from any holder, nor would tlie 
wealth of Britain be in any way greater. She will be the 
poorer by the vast expense of the war, and it is unlikely that 
more than one-third of this expenditure can be covered by taxa- 
tion of the profits, of the gold mines. Apart from this limited 
contribution towards the war, how is Britain the richer because 
her flag flies over the Rand? The Transvaal will be a self- 
governing colony, like all other British colonies, with its own 

. finance minister, its own budget, its own taxes, even its own 
power of imposing duties upon British mi^rchandise. They will 
pay a British governor 10,000/., and he will be expected to spend 
15,000/. Il'e know all this because it is part of our British sys- 
tem, but it is not familiar to those nations who look upon colonies 
as sources of direct revenue to the mother country. It is the most 
general, and at the same time the most iintenable. of all Con- 
tinental comments upon the war. The second Transvaal war was 
the logical seejuel of the iirst, and the first was fought before 
gold was discovered in the countrj'. 

4. That it ivas a monarchy against a republic. — This argument 
undoubtedly had weight with those true republics like the United 
States, France, and Switzerland, where people who were ignor- 
ant of the facts were led away by mere names. As a matter of 
fact Great Britain and the British colonies are among the most 
democratic communities in the world. They preserve, partly 
from sentiment, partly for political convenience, a hereditary 
chief, but the will of the people is decisive upon all questions, 
and every man by his vote helps to mould the destiny of the 
State. There is practically universal suffrage, and the highest 
offices of the State are within reach of any citizen who is com- 
lieteiit to attain them. On the other hand, the Transvaal is an 
oligarchy, not a democracy, where half the inhabitants claim to 



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SOME POINTS EXAMINED 53 

be upon an entirely different footing from the otiier half. This 
rule represents the ascendancy of one race over the other, such 
an ascendancy as existed in Ireland in the eighteenth century. 
Technically the one country is a republic and the other a mon- 
archy, but in truth the empire stood for liberty and the republic 
for tyranny, race ascendancy, corruption, taxation without repre- 
sentation, and all that is most opjMsed to the broader conception 
of freedom. 

5. That it li-as a strong nation attacking a ivcak one. — That 
appeal to sentiment and to the sporting instincts of the human 
race must always be a powerful one. But in this instance it is 
entirely misapplied. The preparation for war, the ultimatum, 
the invasion, and the first shedding of blood, all came from the 
nation which the residt has shown to be the weaker. The reason 
why this smaller nation attacked so audaciously was that they 
knew perfectly well that they were at the time far the stronger 
power in South Africa, and all their infonnaticn led them to 
_ believe that they would continue to be so even when Britain had 
put forth all her strength. It certainly seemed that they were 
justified in this belief 11 h f m litary critics of the Continent 
had declared that 100 000 m n as the outside figure which 
Britain could place 1 fi Id Against these they knew that 
without any rising ot 1 k n n in the Cape they could place 
fifty or sixty tliousa d n nd heir military history had un- 
fortunately led them I 1 hat such a force of Boers, 
operating under thei n d ns with their own horses in 
their own country, \ a f ] nor to this number of British 
soldiers. They knew 1 11 n was their artillery, and how 
complete their prepa n \ 1 en extracts could be given to 
show how confident they were of success, from Bligtiant's letter 
with his fears that Chamberlain would do them out of the war, 
to Esselen's boast that he would not wash until he reached the 
sea. What they did not foresee, and what put out their plans, 
was that indignant wave of public opinion throughout the British 
Empire which increased threefold— as it would, if necessary, 
have increased tenfold— the strength of. the army and so enabled 
it to beat down the Boer resistance. When war was declared, 
and for a very long time afterwards, it was the Boers who were 
the strong power and the British who were the weak one, and 
any sympathy given on the other understanding was sympathy 
misapplied. From that time onwards the war had to take its 
course, and the British had no choice but to push it to its end. 

6. That Ike British refusea to arbitrate. — This has been re- 
peated ad nauseam, but the allegation will not bear investigatir:.. 



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54 THE WAR: ITS CAUSE AND CONDUCT 

There are some subjects which can be settled by arbitration, and 
all those Great Britain freely consented to treat in this fashion, 
before a tribunal which should be limited to Great Britain and 
South Africa. Such a tribunal would by no means be necessarily 
■drawn from judges who were committed to one side or the other. 
There were many men whose moderation and discretion both 
sides would admit. Such a man, for example, was Rose Innes 
amongst the British, and de Villiers among those ' who had 
Africander sympathies. Both the Transvaal and the British 
Governments agreed that such a tribunal was competent, but 
they .disagreed upon the point that the British Government de- 
sired to reserve some subjects from this arbitration. 

The desire upon the part of Great Britain to exclude outsiders 
from the arbitration tribunal, was due to the fact that to admit 
them was to give away the case before going into Court. The 
Transvaal claimed to be a sovereign international state. Great 
Britain denied it. If the Transvaal could appeal to arbitration 
as a peer among peers in a court of nations, she became ipso facto 
an international state. Therefore Great Britain refused such a 
court. 

But why not refer all subjects to such a South African court 
as was finally accepted by both sides? The answer is that it is 
a monstrous hypocrisy to carry cases into an arbitration court, 
■when you know beforehand that by their very nature they cannot 
possibSy be settled by such a court. To quote Milner's words, 
' It is, of course, absurd to suggest that the question whether the 
South African Republic does or does not treat British residents in 
that country with justice, and'tlie British Government with the 
ironside rati on and respect due to any friendly, not to say suzerain 
power, is a question capable of being referred to arbitration. 
You cannot arbitrate on broad questions of policy any more 
than on questions of national honour.' On this point of the 
limitation of arbitration the Transvaal leaders appear to have 
been as unanimous as the British, so that it is untrue to lay the 
blame of the restriction upon one side only, Mr. Reitz, in his 
scheme of arbitration formulated upon June 9, has the express 
clause ' Tliat each side shall have the right to reserve and exclude 
points which appeai to it to be too important to be submitted to 
arbitration.' To this the British Government agreed, making the 
further very great concession that an Orange Free Stater should 
not be regarded as a foreigner. The matter was in this state 
when the Transvaal sent its ultimatum. Up to the firing of the 
first shot the British Government still offered the only form of 
arbitration which was possible without giving away the ques- 



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^ SOME POINTS EXAMINED 55 

tion at issue. It was the Transvaal which, after agreeing to such 
.1 Court, turned suddenly to the arbitrament of the Mauser and 
the Creusot. 

7. That the u-ar ivas fo avenge Majifba.— There can be no 
<Ioubt that our defeat in this skirmish had left considerable heart- 
burnings which were not allayed by the subsequent attitude of 
the Boers and their assumption, testified to by Bryce and other 
friendly observers, that what we did after the action was due not 
lo a magnanimous desire to repair a wrong but to craven fear. 
From the outset of the war there was a strong desire on the part 
of the soldiers to avenge Majuba, which was fully gratified when, 
upon the anniversary of that day, Cronje and. his 4,000 brave 
companions had to raise the white flag. But that a desire to 
avenge Majuba swayed the policy of the country cannot be upheld 
in view of the fact that eighteen years had elapsed ; that during 
that time the Boers had again and again broken the conventions 
by extending their boundaries ; that three times matters were 
in such a position that war might have resulted and yet that 
peace was successfully maintained. War might very easily have 
been forced upon the Boers during the years before they turned 
their country into an arsenal, when it would have been absolutely 
impossible for them to have sustained a long campaign. That it 
was not done and that the British Government remained patient 
until it received the outrageous ultimatum, is a proof that Majuba 
may have rankled in our memory but was not allowed to influence 
our policy. 

8. IVliat proof is there that the Boers ever had any aggressive 
ilcsisiiis upon the British? — It would be a misuse of terms to call 
the general Boer designs against the British a conspiracy, for it 
was openly advocated in the press, preached from the pulpit, and 
sustained upon tlic platforrh that the Dutch should predominate 
in South Africa, and that the portion of it which remained under 
the British flag should be absorbed by that which was outside it. 
So widespread and deep-seated was this ambition, that it was 
evident that Great Britain must, sooner or later, either yield 
to it or else sustain her position by force of anns. She was pre- 
pared to give Dutch citizens within her borders the vote, the 
]iower of making their own laws, complete religious and political 
freedom, and everything which their British comrades could have, 
without any distinction whatever; but when it came to hauling 
down the flag, it was certainly time that a stand should be made. 

How this came about cannot be expressed more clearly than 
in the words of Paul Botha Avho, as I have already said, was a ■ 
voortrekkcr like Kruger himself, and a Boer of the Boers, save 



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56 THE WAR: ITS CAUSE AND CONDUCT 

that he seems to have been a man with wider and more libera! 
views than his fellows. He was member for Kroonstadt in the 
Free State Raad, 

' I am convinced,' he says, ' thatr Kruger's influence completely 
changed the character of the Afrikander Bond — an organisation 
which I believe Hofmeyr started at the Cape with the legitimate 
purpose of securing certain political privileges, but which, under 
Kruger's henchmen — Sauer, Merriman, Te Water, and others — 
raised unrest in the Cape Colony. 

' This successful anti-British policy of Kruger created a num- 
ber of imitators — Steyn, Fischer, Esselen, Smuts, and numerous 
other young educated Africanders of the Transvaal, Orange 
Free State, and the Cape Colony, who, misled by his successes, 
ambitiously hoped by the same means to raise themselves to the 
same pinnacle. 

' Krugerism under them developed into a reisrn of terror. If 
you were anti-Kruger you were stigmatised as " Engelschgezind," 
and a traitor to your people, unworthy of a hearing. I have 
suffered bitterly from this -taunt, especially under Steyn 's regime. 
The more hostile you were to England the greater patriot yoa 
were accoimted. 

'This gang, which I wish to be clearly understood was spread 
over the whole of South Africa, the Transvaal, the Orange Free 
State, and the Cape Colony, used the Bond, the press, and the 
pulpit to further its schemes. 

' Reitz, whom I believe to have been an honest enthusiast, set 
himself up as second sponsor to the Bond and voiced the doctrine 
of this gang: "Africa fof the Africanders. Sweep the English 
into the sea." \yith an alluring cry like this, it will be readily 
understood how easy it was to inflame the imagination "of the 
illiterate and uneducated Boer, and to work upon his vanity and 
prejudices. That pernicious rag, Carl Borckenhagen's " Bloem- 
fontein Express," enormously contributed to spreading this doc- 
trine in the Orange Free State. T myself firmly believe that 
the " Express " was subsidised by Kruger. It was no mystery to 
me from where Borckenhagen, a full-blooded German, got his 
ardent Free State patriotism. 

' In the Transvaal this was done by the " Volksstem.'t written 
by a Hollander and subsidised by Kruger : by the " Rand Post." 
also written by a Hollander, also subsidised by Paul Kruger: and 
in the Cape Colony by the " Patriot," which was started by 'in- 
trigues and rebels to their own Government, at the Paarl— a 
hot-bed of false Africanderism. " 0ns Land " may be an honesl 
paper, but by fostering impossible ideas it has done us incal- 



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SOME POINTS EXAMINED 57 

vitlable harm. It grieves me to think that my 'poor people, 
through want of education, liad to swallow this poison undiluted. 

' Is it possible to imagine that Steyn, Fischer, and the other 
educated men of the Free State did not know that, following 
Kruger's hostile poUcy of eUminating the preponderating power 
in South Africa, meant that tliat power would be forced either to 
fight in self-preservation or to disappear tgnominiousiy ? For I 
maintain that there were only two courses open to England in 
answer to Kruger's challenging policy— to fight or to retire from 
South Africa. It was only possibie for men suffering from 
tremendously swollen heads, such as our leaders were suffering 
from, not to see the obvious or to doubt the issue.' 

So much (or a Boer's straightforward account of the forces at 
work, and the influences which were at the back of those forces. 
It sums the situation up tersely, but the situation itself was evi- 
dent and dominated Cape politics. The ambitions of African- 
derdom were discussed in the broad light of day in the editorial, 
in the sermon, in the speech, though the details by which those 
ambitions were to be carried out were only whispered on the 
Dutch stoeps. 

Here are the opinions of Reitz, the man who- more than all 
others, save' his master, has the blood of the fallen upon his con- 
science. It is taken from the ' Reminiscences ' of Mr. Theophilus 
Schreiner, the brother of the ex-Prime Minister of the Cape : 

' I met Mr. Reitz, then a judge of the Orange Free State, in 
Bbemfontein between sc-(-cnteen and eighteen years ago, shortly 
after the retrocession of the Transvaal, and when lie was busy 
establishing the Afrikander liond. It must be patent to every- 
one that at that time, at all events. England and its Government 
had no intention of taking away the independence of the Trans- 
vaal, for she had just " magnanimously " granted the same; no 
intention of making war on the republics, for she had just made 
peace; no intention to seize the Rand goldfields, for they were 
not yet discovered. At that time, then, I met Mr. Reitz. and 
he did his best to get me to become a member of his Afrikander 
Bond, but, after studying its constitution and programme, I re- 
fused to do so, whereu]>on the following colloquy in substance 
took place between ns, which has been indelibly imprinted on 
mv mind ever since : 

'' Reits: Why do you refuse? Ts the object of getting the 
people to take an interest in political matters not a good one ? 

'Myself: Yes. it is: but I seem to see plainly here between 
the lines of this constitution much, more ultimately aimed at than 
that. 



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58 THE WAR: ITS CAUSE AND CONDUCT 

' Reiis :Whst7 

' Myself: I see quite clearly that the ultimate object aimed at 
is the overthrow of the I'ritish power and the expulsion of the 
British flag from Soiitli Africa. 

' Keitz (with his pleasant conscious smile, as of one -^'hose. 
secret thought and purpose had been discovered, and who li'as not 
altogether displeased that such was the case): Well, what if it 
is so? 

' Myself: You don't suppose, do you, that that flag is going- 
to disappear from South Africa without a tremendous struggle 
and fight? 

' Rcitz (with the same pleasant self-conscious, self-salisticd. 
ond yet semi-apologetic smile) : Well, I suppose not ; hut even so 
what of that? 

' Myself: Only this, that when that struggle takes place you 
and I will be on opposite sides ; and what is more, the God who 
was on the side of the Transvaal in the late war, because it had 
right on its side, will be on the side of England, because He must 
view with abhorrence any plotting and scheming to overthrow 
her power and position in South Africa, which have been ordained 
by Him. 

' Reits: We'll see. 

' Thus the conversation ended, but during the seventeen years 
that have elapsed I have watched the propaganda for the over- 
throw of British power in South Africa being ceaselessly spread 
by every possible means — the press, the pulpit, the platform, the 
schools, the colleges, tlie Legislature— until it has culminated in 
the present war, of which Mr. Reitz and his co-workers are the 
origin and the cause. Believe me, the day on which F. W. Reitz 
sat down to pen his ultimatum to Great Britain was the proudest 
and happiest moment of his life, and one which had for long 
years been looked forward to by him with eager longing and 
expectation.' 

Compare with these utterances of a Dutch politician of the 
Cape, and of a Dutch politician of the Orange Free State, tl:o 
following passage from a speech delivered by Kruger at Eloem- 
fontein in the year 1887, long before the Jameson raids or fran- 
chise agitations : 

' I think it too soon to speak of a United South Africa under 

' one flag. Which flag was it to be? The Queen of England 

would object to having her flag hauled down, and we. the 

burghers of the Transvaal, object to hauling ours down. AVliat 

is to be done? We are now small and of little importance but 



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SOME POINTS EXAMINED 59 

we are growing, and are prqiaring the way to take our place 
among the great nations of tlie world.' 

■ The dream of our life,' said another, ' is a union of tlie 
States of South Africa, and this has lo come from within, not 
from without. When that is accomplished, South Africa will 
he great.' 

Always the same theory from all quarters of Dutch thought, 
to be followed hy many signs that the idea was being prepared 
for in practice. I repeat, that the fairest and most unbiassed 
liistorian cannot dismiss the movement as a myth. 

And to this one may retort, Why should they not do so? 
Why siiould they not have their own views as to the future of 
South Africa? Why should they not endeavour to have one 
universal flag and one common speech? Why should they not 
win over our colonists, if they can, and push us into the sea? I 
see no reason why they should not. Let them try if they will. 
And let us try to prevent them. But let us have an end of talk 
about British aggression, of capitalist designs upon the goldfields. 
of the wrongs of a pastoral people, and all the other, veils which 
have been used to cover the issue. Let those who talk about 
British designs upon the republics turn their attention for a 
moment to the evidence which there is for republican designs 
upon the colonies. Let them reflect that in the British system all 
white men are equal, and that in the Boer one race has perse- 
cuted, the other; and' let them consider under which the truest 
freedom lies, which stands for universal liberty, and which for 
reaction and racial hatred. Let them ponder and answer all 
this before they determine where their sympathies lie. 

Long before' the war, when the British public and the British 
Government also had every confidence that the solution wouU! 
be found in peace, every burgher had been provided with his 
rifle, his ammunition, and his instructions as to the part which 
he was to play in that war which 'they looked upon as certain. 
A huge conspiracy as to the future, which- might be verbally 
discussed but which must not be written, seems to have pre- 
vailed among the farmers. Curious evidence of it came into my 
own bands in this fashion. After a small action at which I was 
present I entered a deserted Boer farmhouse which had been part 
of the enemy's position, and desiring to carry away some souvenir 
which should be of no value. I took some papers which appeared 
to be children's writing-exercises. They were so, but among' 
them were one or two letters, one of which I append in all its 
frankness and simplicity. The date is some fourteen weeks befor': 



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6o THE WAR : ITS CAUSE AND CONDUCT 

liie cicclaration of war, when the British were anxious for and 
fOTifKlcnt in a peaceful sohition: 

■ Paradys, June 25, 1899. 
■ Mv DEAR HiiNHY, — I taking my pen up to write you these 
few^ lines. That we all are in good health hoping to hear the 
same from you all. And the letter of the i8th is handed to me. 
And I feel very much obliged that i hear you are all in good 
health. . . . Here by us are the fields very dry, and the 
dams just by dry also. Dear Henry, the war are by us very 
much. How is it there by you. News is very scarce to write, 
but much io speak by ourselves. I must now close with my letter 
because I see that \-ou will be tired out to read it. With best 
love to you and your family so I remain your faithfully friend, 

' PlETER WiESE.' 

Here is. in itself, as it seems to me, evidence of that great 
conspiracy, not of ambitions (for there was no reason why they 
should not be openly discvissed) but of weapons and of dates 
for using them, which was going on all tlie time behind that 
cloud of suspicious negotiations with which the Boer Govern- 
ments veiled their resolution to attack the British. A small straw, 
110 doubt, but the result has shown how deep and dangerous was 
the current which it indicates. Here is a letter from one of the 
Snymans to his brother at a later period, but still a month be- 
fore the war. He is talking of Kruger: 

' The old chap was nearly raving about it, and said that the 
burghers wanted to tie his hands, and so, brother, the thing is 
simply war and nothing else. He said we had gone too far, and 
help from oversea was positively promised, only unanimity of 
opinion must reign here or we could neither expect nor obtain 
assistance. Brother, the old man and his Hollander dogs talk 
very easily about the thing ; btit what shall we do, because if one 
speaks against it one is simply a rebel? So I remain dumb. 

" On the stoep it is nothing but war, but in the Raad every- 
thing is peace and Queen. Those are the politics they talk. I 
have nothing more to say here, but I can tell you a good deal. 
Brother, old Reitz says Chamberlain will have a great surprise 
one of tiiesc days, and the burghers must sleep with one eye open. 

' It is rumoured here that our military officers work day and 
night to send old Victoria an ultimatum before she is ready.' 

' On the stoep it is nothing but war, but in the Raad every- 
thing is peace.' No wonder the British overtures were in vain. 



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chapter V: The Negotiations for Peace 

THIS is not an attempt to write the history of the war, 
which I have done elsewhere, but only to touch upon 
those various points upon which attempts have been 
made to mislead continental and American opinion. I 
will endeavour to treat each of these subjects in turn, 
not in the spirit of a lawyer preparing a brief, but with an honest 
endeavour to depict the matter as it is, even when I venture to 
differ from the action either of the British Government or of the 
generals in the field. In this chapter I will deal with the ques- 
tion of making peace, and examine how far the British are to 
blame for not having brought those negotiations which have 
twice been opened to a successful conclusion. 

The outset of the war saw the Boers aggressive and victorious. 
They flocked into British territory, drove the small forces op- 
posed to them into entrenched positions, and held them there at 
Ladysraith, Kimberley, and Mafeking. At the same time they 
drove back at Colenso and at Magersfontein the forces which 
were sent to relieve these places. During this long period of 
their predominance from October, 1899 to February, 1900, there 
was no word of peace. On the contrary, every yard of British 
territory which was occupied was instantly annexed either by the 
Transvaal or by the Orange Free State. This is admitted and 
beyond dispute. What becomes then of the theory of a defensive 
war, ^nd what can they urge against the justice which awarded 
the same fate to the land of the Boers when it in turn was 
occupied by us? The Boers did not use their temporary victory 
in any moderate spirit. At the end of January 1900, Dr. Leyds, 
while on a visit to Berlin, said : 

' I believe that England will have to give us back a good part 
of the territory formerly snatched away from us. . . . The 
Boers will probably demand the cession of the strip of coast 
between Durban and Delagoa Bay. with the harbours of Lucia 
and Kosi. The Orange Free State and the Transvaal are to be 
united and to form one State, together with parts of Natai and 
the northern districts of Cape Colony.'— (' Daily News' Berlin 
correspondent, February i, March 16, 1900.) 



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6a THE WAR: ITS CAUSE AND CONDUCT 

Tliey were to go to the sea, and nothing but going to the sea 
would satisfy them. The war would end when their flag flew 
over Cape Town. But there came a turn of the tide. The re- 
sistance of the garrisons, the tenacity of the relieving forces, and 
the genius of Lord Roberts altered the whole situation. The 
Boers were driven back to the first of. their capitals. Then for 
the first time there came from them those proposals for peace, 
which were never heard when the game was going in their favour. 
Here is President Kruger's telegram : 

' THE PRESIDENTS OF THE ORANGE FREE STATE AND OF THE SOUTH 
AFRICAN REPUBLIC TO THE MARQUIS OF SALISBURV. 

' Bloemfontein : March 5, tgoe. 

' The blood and the tears of the thousands who have suffered 
by this war, and the prospect of all the moral and economic ruin 
with which South Africa is now threatened, make it necessary 
for both belligerents to ask themselves dispassionately, and as in 
the sight of the Triune God, for what they are fighting, and 
whether the aim of each justifies all this appalling misery and 
devastation. 

' With this object, and in view of the assertions of various 
British statesmen to the effect that this war was begun and is 
being carried on with the set purpose of undermining Her Maj- 
esty's authority in South Africa, and of setting up an Admin- 
istration over all South Africa independent of Her Majesty's 
Government, we consider "it our duty solemnly to declare that 
this war was undertaken solely as a defensive measure to safe- 
guard the threatened independence of the South African Re- 
public, and is only continued in order to secure and safeguard the 
incontestable independence of both Republics ^s Sovereign Inter- 
national States, and to obtain the assurance that those of Her 
Majesty's subjects who have taken part with us in this war shall 
suffer no harm whatsoever in person or property. 

' On these conditions, but on these conditions alone, are we 
now, as in the past, desirous of seeing peace re-established in 
South Africa, and of putting an end to the evils now reigning 
over South Africa ; while, if Her Majesty's Government is deter- 
mined to destroy the independence of the Republics, there is 
nothing left to us and to our people but to persevere to the end 
in the course already begun, in spite of the overwhelming pre- 
eminence of the British Empire, confident that that God who 
lighted the unextinguishable fire of the love of freedom in the 



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THE NEGOTIATIONS FOR PEACE 63 

hearts of ourselves and of our fathers will not forsake us, but will 
accomplish His work in us and in our descendants. 

' We hesitated to make this declaration earlier to Your Ex- 
celkncy, as we feared that as long as the advantage was always 
on our side, and as long as our forces held defensive positions 
far in Her Majesty's colonies, such a declaration might hurt the 
feelings of honour of the British people; but now that the prestige 
of the British Empire may be considered to be assured by the 
capture of one of our forces by Her Majesty's troops, and that we 
are thereby forced to evacuate other positions which our forces 
had occupied, that difficulty is over, and we can no longer hesjtate 
clearly to inform your Government and people in the sight of 
the whole civilised world why we are fighting, and on what 
conditions we are ready to restore peace.' 

Here is Lord Salisbury's reply: 

' Foreign Office : March ii, 1900. 

' I have the honour to acknowledge Your Honours' telegram 
'dated the 5th of March from Bloemfontein, of which the pur- 
port is principally to demand that Her Majesty's Government 
shall rect^nise the " incontestable independence " of the South 
African Republic and Orange Free State " as Sovereign Inter- 
national States," and to offer, on those terms, to bring the war 
to a conclusion. 

' In the beginning of October last peace existed between Her 
Majesty and the two Republics under the conventions which then 
were in existence. A discussion had been proceeding for some 
months between Her Majesty's Government and the South 
African Republic, of which the object was to obtain redress for 
certain very serious grievances under which British residents 
in the South African Republic were suffering. In the course of 
those negotiations the South African Republic had, to the knowl- 
edge of Her Majesty's Government, made considerable arma- 
ments, and the latter had, consequently, taken steps to provide 
corresponding reinforcements to the British garrisons of Cape 
Town and Natal. No infringement of the rights guaranteed by 
the Conventions had up to that point taken place on the British 
side. Suddenly, at two days' notice, the South African Republic, 
after issuing an insulting ultimatum, declared war upon Her 
Majesty, and the Orange Free State, with whom there had not 
even been any discussion, took a similar step. Her Majesty's 
dominions were immediately invaded by the two Republics, siege 
was laid to three towns within the British frontier, a large por- 
tion of the two colonies was overrun, with great destruction to 



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64 THE WAR: ITS CAUSE AND CONDUCT 

property and life, and the Republics claimed to treat the in- 
habitants of extensive portions of Her Majesty's dominions as 
if those dominions had been annexed to one or other of them. 
In anticipation of these operations, the South African Republic 
had been accumulating for many years past military stores on 
an enormous scale, which by their character could only have been 
intended for use against Great Britain. 

' Your Honours make some observations of a negative character 
upon the object with which these preparations were made. I do 
not think it necessary to discuss the question you have raised. 
But the result of these preparations, carried on with great secrecy, 
has been that the British Empire has been compelled to confront 
an invasion which has entailed upon the Empire a costly war and 
the loss of thousands of precious lives. This great calamity has 
been the penalty which Great Britain has suffered for having in 
recent years acquiesced in the existence of the two Republics. 

' In view of the use to which the two Republics have put the 
position which was given to them, and the calamities which their 
unprovoked attack have inflicted upon Her Majesty's dominions. 
Her Majesty's Government can only answer Your Honours' tele- 
gram by saying that they are not prepared to assent to the in- 
dependence either of the South African Republic or of the Orange 
Free State.' 

Is there any sane man of any nation who can contend that 
a British statesman could possibly have taken any other view? 
From the firing of the first shot the irresistible logic of events 
showed that either the Republics must dominate Africa or they 
must cease to exist. For the 'sparing of the Orange Free State 
there might, I think, be a fair argument, but they had put them- 
selves out of court by annexing every foot of British territory 
which they could lay their hands upon. For the sparing of the 
Transvaal there could be no possible reason. Had that State 
been reconstituted we should instantly have been faced once more 
with the franchise question, the Uitlander question, the corrupt 
oligarchy, the anti-British conspiracy, and everything which we 
had spent so much blood and money to set right. The desperate 
situation from which the British power was only just emerging 
was so fresh in our minds that we could not feel justified in 
leaving the possibility— indeed the certainty— of its recurrence 
to our children. Remember, you who judge us, that we had done 
all this before. Once before within our own memories we bad 
patched up an inconclusive peace, and left these people the 
power to hurt us. And what had come of it? Eternal trouble 
ending in a great war which strained the resources of the Empire. 



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THE NEGOTIATIONS FOR PEACE 6; 

Could we be asked to do tlie same again ? Would any nation on 
earth have done the same again? From the day of the signing 
of peace we should know that we had an implacable and formid- 
able foe to the north of us, nursing his wrath and preparing his 
strength for the day when he might strike us at an advantage. 
Our colonies would lie ever in the shadow of its menace. Who 
can blame us for deciding that the job should be done now in 
such a way that it should never, so far as we could help it, need 
to he done once more? 

Such was the end of the first negotiations for peace. The 
war was resumed, and in time the second capital of the Boers 
was taken and President Kruger withdrew to Europe, leaving 
South Africa in the welter to which he had reduced it. Then, 
for the second time, negotiations for peace were opened on the 
initiative of General Botha, which led to a meeting upon Febru- 
ary 28, 1901. between Kitchener and Botha. Kitchener had al- 
ready explained that for the reasons given above the restoration 
of independence was impossible, and the negotiations were carried 
througn on that understanding. Here is Lord Kitchener's own 
account of the interview and of the points at issue : 

[Telegram,'] 'Pretoria: March I, igol, 2:20 P. M. 

' 2&th February.—! have had a long interview with Botha, who 
showed very good feeling and seemed anxious to bring about 
peace. He asked for information on a number of subjects which 
he said that he should submit to his Government and people, and 
if they agreed lie should visit Orange River Colony and get 
them to agree. They should all then hand in their arms and 
finish the war. He told me that they could go on for some 
time, and that he was not sure of being able to bring about 
peace without independence. He tried very hard for some kind 
of independence, but I declined to discuss such a point, and said 
that a modified form of independence would be most dangerous 
and likely to lead to war in the future. Subject was then 
dropped, and — 

' Firstly.— The nature of future government of Colonies asked 
about. He wanted more details than were given by Colonial 
Secretary, and I said that, subject to correction from home, I 
understooil that when hostilities ceased military guard would 
be replaced by Crown Colony administration, consisting of 
nominated Executive, with elected assembly to advise administra- 
tion, to be followed after a period by representative government. 
He would have liked representative government at once, but 
seemed satisfied with above. 



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66 THE WAR: ITS CAUSE AND CONDUCT 

' Secondly. — Whether a Boer would be able to have a rifle to 
protect him from native? 1 said 1 thought he would be by a 
licence and on registration. 

' Thirdly.— He' asked whether Dutch language would be al- 
lowed? I said that English and Dutch would, I thought, have 
equal rights. He expressed hope that officials dealing with 
farmers would know Dutch. 

' Fourthly.— The Kaffir question. This turned at once on fran- 
chise of Kaffirs, and a solution seemed to be that franchise should 
not be given to Kaffirs until after representative government 
was granted to Colonies. Orange Free State laws for Kaffirs 
were considered good. 

' Fifthly. — That Dutch Church property should remain un- 
touched. * 

' Sixthly. — Public trusts and orphan funds to be left intact. 
He asked whether British Government, in taking over the assets 
of Republics, would also take over legal debts. This he made 
rather a strong point of, and he intended it to include debts 
legally contracted since the war began. He referred to notes 
issued amounting to less than a million. 

' Seventhly. — He asked if any war tax would be imposed 6n 
farmers? I said I thought not. 

' Eighthly, — When would prisoners of war return ? 

' Ninthly.— He referred to pecuniary assistance to repair burnt 
farms, and enable farmers to start afresh. I said I thought some 
assistance would be given. 

' Tenth ly.— Amnesty to all at end of war. -We spoke of 
Colonials who joined Republics, and he seemed not adverse to 
their being disfranchised. 

' I arranged with him that I should write and let him know the 
view of the Government on these points. All I said during the 
interview was qualified by being subject to confirmation from 
home. He was anxious to get an answer soon.' 

There followed some correspondence between Lord Kitchener, 
Sir Alfred Milner, and Mr. Chamberlain upon the exact terms 
which could be given to Botha. They ended in the following 
offer, which was submitted to him upon March 7. That, in con- 
sideration of a complete military surrender, 

' 1. There should be a complete amnesty for all bona Ude acts 
of war for all burghers of the Republics. In the case of Colonial 
rebels, if they returned to their Colonies some inquiry must be 
held on their conduct. 

' 2. All prisoners to be at once sent back. 



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THE NEGOTIATIONS FOR PEACE 67 

' 3, Crown Colony government to be given as soon as possible; 
this in liim to change to representative governrnent, as in all 
other free British possessions. The courts of law to be inde- 
pendent of the government. 

' 4. The Dutch and English languages to be put upon an 
equality. 

' 5. That the Government should help to replace the farmers 
on their farms, to restore their buildings, should pledge itself not 
to specially tax them, and should pay as an act of grace one million 
pounds to meet the debt incurred by the Republican governments 
to their own people during the war. 

' 6. That the burghers be allowed sporting fire-arms. 

' 7. That the Kaffirs should have the protection of the law, 
but should not have the vote. 

' In conclusion.' says Lord Kitchener, ' I must inform Your 
Honour that if the terms are not accepted after a reasonable delay 
for consideration, they must be regarded as cancelled.' 

But the wise and chivalrous Botha was overruled by 
the men around him, many of whom had little to lose by a 
continuance of the struggle. It was evident that he did not 
himself consider independence vital, since he had gravely dis- 
cussed terms which were based upon loss of independence. But 
other influences had been brought to bear upon him, and this 
was his reply— a reply which has already cost the lives of so 
many of each side : 

' I have the honour to acknowledge receipt of Your Excellency's 
letter stating what steps Your Excellency's Government is pre- 
pared to take in the event of a general and total cessation of 
hostilities. I have advised my Government of Your Excellency's 
said letter; but, after the mutual exchange of views at our 
interview at Middelburg on 28th February last* it will certainly 
not surprise Your Excellency to know that I do not fee! dis- 
posed to recommend that the terms of the sad letter shall have 
the earnest consideration of my Government. I may add also 
that my Government and my chief officers here entirely agree to 
my views* 

It will be observed that in this reply Botha bases his refusal 
upon his own views as expressed in the original interview with 
Kitchener; and we have his own authority, therefore, to show 
that they were not determined by any changes which Chamberlain 
may have made in the terms — a favourite charge of that gentle- 
man's enemies. 

It is impossible to say how, short of independence. Great 
Britain could have improved upon these terms, and it has already 



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68 THE WAR : ITS CAUSE AND CONDUCT ■ 

been shown that to offer independence would mean having to 
fight the war over again. It has been suggested that Great 
Britain might have offered a definite date upon which represent- 
ative institutions should come in force, but such a promise must 
be disingenuous, for it must evidently depend not upon a date, 
but upon the state of the country. The offers of loans to the 
farmers towards the stocking and rebuilding the farms were 
surely generous to our defeated foes, and, indeed, it is clear now 
that in some respects our generosity went too far, and that the 
interests of the Empire would have suffered severely had these 
terms been accepted. To have given more would certainly seem 
not to have offered peace, but to have implored it. 

Whatever the final terms of peace may prove to be, it is to be 
earnestly hoped that 40,000 male prisoners will not be returned, 
as a matter of right, without any guarantee for their future con- 
duct. It is also much to be desired that the bastard taal lan- 
guage, which has no literature and is almost as unintelligible to a 
Hollander as to an Englishman, will cease to be officially recog- 
nised. These two omissions may repay in the long run for weary 
months of extra war since, upon Botha's refusal, the British 
Government withdrew these terms and the hand moved onwards 
upon the dial of fate, never to turn back. 

De Wet had said in reference to Kitchener's terms of peace, 
' What is the use of examining all the points, as the only object 
for which we are fighting is our independence and our national 
existence ? ' It is evident, however, that Botha did not consider 
this an absolute bar to renewing the negotiations, for upon May 
ro, two months later, he wrote the following letter to Lord 
Kitchener : 

' Commandant-General's Camp, May 10, 1901. 

' Excellency, — As I have already assured Your Excellency 
I am very desirous of terminating this war, and its sad conse- 
quences. It is, however, necessary, in order to comply with the 
'" Grondwet " of this Republic and otherwise, that, before any 
steps are taken in that direction, the condition of our country and 
our cause be brought to the notice of His Honour, State President 
Kruger. in Europe; and I therefore wish to send two persons to 
him in order to acquaint him fully with that condition. 

' As speed in this matter is of great consequence to both con- 
tending parties, and as such despatch without Your Excellency's 
assistance would take a considerable time, I should like to hear 
from Your Excellency whether Your Excellency Js, prepared to 
assist me in expediting this matter by allowing such person or 



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THE NEGOTIATIONS FOR PEACE 69 

persons to journey there and back unhindered, if necessary by the 
traffic medium within Your Excellency's control. — I have, &c., 
' Louis Botha, Commandant-General.' 

To this Kitchener answered : 

'Army Headquarters, South Africa, Pretoria, May i6, 1901. 

' Your Honour, — I have the honour to acknowledge the re- 
ceipt of Your Honour's letter of loth instant, and, in reply, beg 
to state that I can only deal ^yith you and your superior officers 
in the field in regard to the cessation of hostilfties, and that I do 
not reco^ise the official status of any other persons in the laje 
Republics of the Orange River and Transvaal. 

' If, however, Your Honour desires, with the object of bring- 
ing hostilities to a close, to consult with any person in Europe, I 
wil! forward any telegram Your Hono^l^ desires on the subject, 
and let you have the reply. Should, however. Your Honour still 
desire to send messengers, and will inform me of their names 
and status, I wiH refer the matter to His Majesty's Government 
for decision.— I have. Sic, ' Kitchener, General, 

' Commanding- in -Chief, British Troops, South Africa.' 

At this period, the second week of May, the Boer cause was 
in very low water, as on the same date we have Botha reopening 
negotiations which he had declared to be definitely closed, and 
Reitz (the man who used to regard the whole matter as a great 
joke) writing a despairing letter to Steyn to the effect that the 
game was up and that it was lime to take the final step. A 
reply was received from Kruger encouraging the Boers to con 
tinue their hopeless and fatal resistance. His reply was to the 
effect that there were sti!! great hopes of a successful issue of 
the war, and that he had taken steps to make proper provision 
for the Boer prisoners and for the refugee women. These steps, 
and very efficient ones, too. were to leave them to the generosity 
of that Government which he was so fond of reviling. There are 
signs that something else had occurred to give them fresh hope 
and also fresh material supplies. It looks, upon the face of it, 
as if, about that time large supplies of rifles, ammunition, and 
possibly recruits must have reached them from some quarter, 
either from German Damaraland or the Portuguese coast. At any 
rate there has been so much ammunition used since, that either 
Reitz must have been raving or else large supplies have reached 
the Boers from some unknown source. 

So much for the official attempts at peace. 



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70 THE WAR: ITS CAUSE AND CONDUCT 

They have been given in some detail in order to prove how 
false it is fkat the British Government has insisted upon an un~ 
comiiiional surrender. Far from this being so, the terms offered 
by the British Government have been so generous that they have 
aroused the strongest distrust and criticism in this country, where 
they have seemed to be surrendering by the pen all that had 
been won by the sword. Nothing has been refused the enemy, 
save only independence, and that can never be given, if the war 
has to continue until the last Boer is deported out of Africa. 

It is only nece_ssary to refer briefly to the unofficial Boer 
attempts at peace. A considerable body of the Boers, including 
many men of influence and of intelligence, were disposed to accept 
the British flag and to settle down in peace. The leaders of this 
party were the brave Piet 'de Wet, brother of Christian, Paul 
Botha of Kroonstad, Fraser of Bloemfontein, and others. Piet 
de Wet. who had fought against us as hard as any man, wrote 
to his brother : ' Which is better, for the Republics to continue 
the struggle and run the risk of total ruin as a nation, or to 
submit? Could we for a moment think of taking back the coun- 
try, if it were offered to us, with thousands of people to be sup- 
ported by a Government which has not a farthing. Put passion- 
ate feeling aside for a moment and use common-sense, and you 
will then agree with me that the best thing for the people and 
the country is to give in, to be loyal to the new Government, 
and to get responsible government.' Such were the sentiments of 
many of the best of the burghers, and they endeavoured to per- 
suade their fellows. Both in the Transvaal and in the Free State, 
Peace Committees were formed among the burghers, who sent 
deputies to lay the facts of the situation before their brethren 
on commando. The results were tragic. Two of the envoys, 
Morgendaa! and de Koch, were shot in cold blood, the former 
having been first beaten. Several of the others were beaten, and 
all were ill-used. 

This severity did not, however, stop the movement, but gave 
it a fiercer turn. The burghers who were in favour of peace, 
finding it useless to argue with their fellow-countrymen and 
knowing that their country was being hopelessly ruined by the 
insensate resistance, took the extreme course at last of bearing 
arms against them. There are at present three strong commandos 
of burghers fighting upon the British side, commanded by three 
Boer Generals— Marais, Ceiliers, and the younger Cronje. all of 
whom had made their names in fighting against us. This fact 
alone goes far to dispel those stories of British barbarity with 
which I shall presently deal. They are believed in by political 



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THE NEGOTIATIONS FOR PEACE 71 

fanatics in England and by dupes abroad, but the answer which 
many of the Boers upon the spot make to them is to enHst and 
fight under the British flag. They are in the best position for 
knowing the truth, and how can they show in a stronger way 
what they beheve that truth to be? 



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Chapter VI :. The Farm-Burning 

IN the official correspondence which is published between the 
Boer and British leaders in South Africa "may very clearly 
be traced the way in which this practice came to assume 
proportions which shocked public opinion. It must be ad- 
mitted that the results have not justified it, and that, putting 
all moral questions apart, a bumed-out family is the last which 
is likely to settle down, as we hope that the Boers may eventually 
settle down, as contented British citizens. On the other hand, 
when a nation adopts guerilla tactics it deliberately courts those 
sufferings to the whole country which such tactics invariably en- 
tail They have been the same in all wars and at all times. The 
army which is stung by guerillas strikes round it furiously and 
occasionally indiscriminately. An army which is continually 
sniped and harassed becomes embittered, and a General feels 
called upon to take those harsher measures which precedent and 
experience suggest. That such measures have not been pushed 
to an extreme by the British authorities is shown by the fact that 
the captured guerilla has been made a prisoner of war — unlike 
his prototype, the franc-tireur. The general question of guerillas 
may be discussed later. At present we will confine our attention 
to the burning of farms. 

The first protest from the Boer side is dated February 3, 
1900. In it the two Presidents accuse the British troops 'of 
burning and blowing up with dynamite the farmhouses, and of 
the devastation of farms.' The document _ also includes an ac- 
cusation of having used armed natives against the Boers. 

Lord Roberts replied upon February 5 to the effect that strin- 
gent instructions had been given to the British troops to respect 
private property. ' All wanton destruction or injury to peace- 
ful inhabitants is contrary to British practice and tradition, and 
will, if necessary, be rigorously repressed by me.' He added 
that it was an untrue statement that natives had ever been en- 
couraged by British officers to commit depredations. The charge, 
which has been the subject of many effective cartoons upon the 
Continent, is as absurd as most of the other works of the same 
artists. Why should the State which refused the aid of its own 



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THE FARM-BURNING 73 

highly trained Indian army of 150,000 men, avail itself of that 
of savages? Lord Roberts denied the assertion with befitting 
warmth, and it is not again repeated in the course of the des- 
patches. 

Lord Roberts in this document was not content with denying 
the Boer allegations, but carried the war into the enemy's country. 

' I regret to say that it is the Republican forces which have 
in some cases been guilty of carrying on the war in a manner 
not in accordance with civilised usage. I refer especially to the 
expulsion of loyal subjects of Her Majesty from their homes in 
the invaded districts of this Colony, because they refused to be 
cdmmandeered by the invader. It is barbarous to attempt to 
force men to take sides against their own Sovereign and country 
by threats of spoliation and expulsion. Men, women, and chil- 
dren have had to leave their homes owing to such compulsion, 
and many of those who were formerly in comfortable circum- 
stances arc now being maintained by charity.' 
" He adds : ' I beg to call Your Honours' attention to the wanton 
destruction of property by the Boer forces in Natal. They not 
only have helped themselves freely to the cattle and other 
property of farmers without payment, but they have utterly 
wrecked the contents of many farmhouses. As an instance I 
would specify Mr. Theodore Wood's farm " Longwood " near 
Springfield. I point out how very different is the conduct of the 
feritish troops. It is reported to me from Modder River that 
farms within the actual area of the British Camp have never even 
been entered, the occupants are unmolested, and their houses, 
gardens, and crops remain absolutely untouched.' 

On March 26 Lord Roberts's Proclamation spoke with no 
uncertain voice upon the subject of private property. It says: 

' The following Proclamation, issued by me in the name of 
Her Majesty's Government on the 26th March, begins; Notice 
is hereby given that all persons who within the territories of 
the South African Republic or Orange Free State shall authorise 
or be guilty of tJie wanton destruction or damage or the counsel- 
ling, aiding, or assisting in the wanton destruction or damage 
of public or private property, such destruction or damage not 
being justified by the usages and customs of civilised warfare, 
will be held responsible in their persons and property for all such 
wanton destruction and damage.' 

This was during the period of the halt at Bloemfontein. I 
can well remember that then and for long afterwards the con- 
sideration which was shown upon this point seemed to those who 
were at the spot to be exaggerated and absurd. I can remember 



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74 THE WAR: ITS CAUSE AND CONDUCT 

that when we applied for leave ■ to use the deserted villas to 
put our sick soldiers into — the hospitals being full — we were told 
that it could only be done by private treaty with the owners, 
who were at that time on commando against us. I remember 
also suggesting that the corrugated-iron fencing round the cricket 
field should be used for making huts, and being told that it was 
impossible as it was private property. 

The same extreme respect for personal property was shown 
during Lord Roberts's advance. The country through which he 
passed swarmed with herds and flocks, but, with as scrupluous a 
regard for the rights of property as Wellington showed in the 
south of Frsince, no hungry soldier was allowed to take so much 
as a chicken. The punishment for looting was prompt and stem. 
It is true that farms were burned occasionally and the stock 
confiscated, but this was as a punishment for some particular 
offence and not part of a system. The limping Tommy looked 
askance at the fat geese which covered the dam by the roadside, 
but it was as much as his life was worth to allow his fingers to 
close round those tempting white necks. On foul water and 
bully beef he tramped through a land of plenty. 

A most striking example of British discipline and forbearance 
was furnished at this period, while the war could still be called 
regular upon the Boer side, by Ruiidle's Division, christened the 
' Hungry Eighth ' by the Army. This Division had the misfortune 
to be stationed for several months some distance from the rail- 
way line, and in consequence had great difficulty in getting 
supplies. They were on half-rations for a considerable period, 
and the men were so reduced in strength' that their military 
efficiency was' much impaired. Yet they lived in a land of plenty 
— a land of large farms well stocked with every sort of food. 
Why it was impossible to get this food for the men I do not 
know, but I do know that the prices for bread, eggs, milk, and 
other such things were kept very high by the wives of the farmers 
who were away upon commando; and that the hungry soldiers 
were quite unable to buy, and were not permitted to take, the 
nourishment which was essential. 

On May 19, while Lord Roberts's force was advancing on 
Pretoria, De Wet sent in a despatch to complain of the destruc- 
tion of two farms, Paarde Kraal and Leeuw Kop. Lord Roberts 
replied that these two farms were destroyed because, while a 
white flag was flying from the houses, the troops were fired upon 
from the farmsteads. ' I have had two farms near Kroonstad,' 
he adds. ' destroyed for similar reasons, and shall continue to 
punish all such cases of treachery by the destruction of the farms 



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THE FARM-BURNING 75 

where they occur.' Here is a definite declaration of policy, quite 
distinct from wanton destruction, and it is difficult to see 
how any General could lake any other steps, with justice to his 
own men. These farms, and all which are included in this 
category, were justly and properly destroyed— the families being 
removed without violence to a place of safety. 

The next representations from the Boer Commander were more 
definite in their nature. 

' Complaints are repeatedly reaching me,' he writes, ' that 
private dwellings are plundered, and Jn some cases totally 
destroyed, and all provisions taken from women and children, so 
that they are compelled to wander about without food or cover- 
ing. To quote several instances: It has just been brought to my 
notice by way of sworn affidavit that the house of Fieid-Cornet 
S. Buys on the farm, Leeuwspruit district, Middeiburg, was set 
on fire and destroyed on 20th June last. His wife, who was at 
home, was given five minutes' time to remove her bedding and 
clothing, and even what she took out was again taken from her. 
Her food, sugar, &c., was all taken, so that for herself and her 
children she had neither covering nor food for the following night. 
Shf was asked for the key of the safe, and after it was given 
up by her she was threatened with a sword, and money was de- 
manded. All the money that was in the house was taken away, 
all the papers in the safe were torn up, and everything at the 
homestead that could not be taken away was destroyed. The 
house of Field-Comet Euys's son was also destroyed, the doors 
and windows broken, &c. 

' It has also been reported to me that my own buildings, on 
the farm Varkenspruit, district Standerton, as 'well as the house 
of Field-Comet Badenhorst, on the adjoining farm, have been 
totally destroyed, and such of the stock as was not removed was 
shot dead on the farm. 

' Further, there is the swora declaration of Mrs. Hendrik 
Badenhorst, which speaks for itself. 

,' I cannot believe that such godless barbarities take place with 
Your Excellency's consent, and thus I deem it my solemn duty 
to protest most strongly against such destruction and vindictive- 
ness as being entirely contrary to civilised warfare.' 

The greater part of these alleged outrages had occurred on 
General Bulier's side of the Transvaal, so the'matter was referred 
to him. He acknowledged that he had ordered six farmhouses 
to be destroyed : 

' The following circumstances induced me to give the order. 
On entering the Transvaal I caused the attached Proclamation 



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76 THE WAR: ITS CAUSE AND CONDUCT 

(A) to be widely distributed along my line of route. We 
marched from Volksrust to Standerton practically unopposed. 
Shortly after our arrival at Standerton our telegraph line was 
cut on several nights following, and attempts were made to 
damage the military line by placing dynamite cartridges with 
detonators attached upon it. These attempts were al! made on 
or in close vicinity to the estates above named. A watch was 
kept and it was found that tlie attempts were made not by any 
formed force of the enemy, but by a few scattered banditti who 
were given shelter during the night in the houses I afterwards 
had destroyed, and who thence, when they could, tried to murder 
our patrols, and sallied out at night to damage the line. It was 
further ascertained that these men came and usually returned 
through Varkenspruit. I directed that copies of Proclamation 
(A) should be personally left at each house, and the inmates of 
each should be warned that these depredations could not be per- 
mitted, and that if people living under our protection allowed 
this sort, of men to resort to their houses without informing us, 
they must take the consequences, and their houses would be 
destroyed. This warning had some effect for a day or two, but 
on tst and and of July the nuisance recommenced, and on fhe 
7th July, having acquired full proof that the houses were being 
regularly used as shelters for men who were hostile to us, and 
who were not under any proper command, in fact,' who were only 
acting as banditti, I had the houses destroyed. 

' The women and children occupying the farms were removed 
elsewhere with as little inconvenience to themselves as we could 



arrange. 

Here again it is impossible to doubt that the British com- 
manders were well within their rights. It is true that Article 
XXIIl. of the Hague Conventions makes it illegal to destroy the 
enemy's property, but it adds : ' Unless such destruction be im- 
peratively demanded by the necessities of war.' Now nothing 
can be more imperative in war than the preservation of the com- 
munications of the army, A previous clause of the same Article 
makes it illegal to ' kill or wound treacherously individuals be- 
longing to the hostile army.! It is incontestable that to take the 
cover of a farmhouse which flies the white flag in order to make 
attacks is to ' kill or wound treacherously.' and so on a double 
count the action of the British becomes legal, and even inevitable. 
Lord Roberts's message to De Wet upon August 3, 1900, restates 
both his intentions and his reasons for it : 

' Latterly, many of my soldiers have been shot from farm- 
houses over which the white flag has been flying, the railway and 



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THE FARM-BURNING 77 

telegraph lines liave been cut, and trains wrecked. I have there- 
fore found it necessary, after warnins; Your Honour, to take such 
steps as arc sanctioned by the customs of war to put an end to 
these and similar acts, and have burned down the farmhouses at 
or near which such deeds have been perpetrated. This I shall 
continue to do whenever I'coiisider the occasion demands it. 

' The remedy lies in Your Honour's own hands. The destruc- 
tion of property is most distasteful to me, and I shall be greatly 
pleased when Your Honour's co-operation in the matter renders 
it no longer necessary.' 

This raises the question of the legality of the burning of farm- 
houses in the vicinity of the place where the railway is cut. The 
question presented itself forcibly to my mind when I saw with 
my own eyes the tall plumes of smoke rising from six farm- 
houses, De Wet's among them, in the neighbourhood of Roode- 
val. There is no doubt whatever that in the war of 1870 — the 
classic type of modern war— the villages and populations near 
the scene of a cut railway were severely punished. But The 
Hague Conventions bad not then been signed. On the one hand, 
it may be urged that it is impossible without such disciplinary 
measures to preserve a iinc of 1,000 miles running ail the way 
through a hostile or semi-hostile country. Also that it is ' im- 
peratively demanded by the necessities of war.' On the other 
band, there is Article L.. wliich says, ' No general penalty can 
be inflicted on the population on account of the acts of individuals, 
for which it cannot be regarded as collectively responsible.' An 
argument might be advanced for either side, but what will actu- 
ally determine is the strongest argument of ai! — that of self- 
preservation. An army situated as the British Army was, and 
dependent for its supplies upon its communications, musl keep 
them open even if it strains the Conventions in doing so. As a 
matter of fact, farm-burning bad no effect in checking the railway- 
cutting, and bad a considerable effect in embittering the popula- 
tion. Yet a Genera! who was cut off from bis base tiiirty times 
in a month was bound to leave the argimient of legality to the 
jurists, and to adopt the means which seemed most likely to stop 
the nuisance. The punishment fell with cruel injustice upon 
some individuals. Others may have been among the actual 
raiders. 

On September 2 Lord Roberts communicated his intentions 
to General Botha: ^ 

' Sir, — I have the honour to address Your Honour regarding 
the operations of those comparatively small bands of armed 
"Boers wlio conceal themselves on farms in the neighbourhood 



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78 THE WAR: ITS CAUSE AND CONDUCT 

of our lines of communication and thence endeavour to damage 
t!ie railway, thus endangerhig the lives of passengers travelling 
by train who may or may not he comljatants. 

' 2. My reason for again referring to this subject is that, ex- 
cept in the districts occupied by the, Army under the personal 
command of Your Honour, there is now no formed body of Boer 
troops in the Transvaal or Orange River Colony, and that the 
war is degenerating into operations carried on by irregular and 
irresponsible guerillas. This would be so ruinous to the country 
and so deplorable from every point of view, that I feel bound to 
do everything in my power to prevent it. 

' 3- The orders I have at present issued, to give effect to these 
views, are tiiat the farm nearest the scene of any attempt to 
injure the line or wreck a train is to be burnt, and that all farms 
within a radius of lo miles are to be completely cleared of al! 
their stock, supplies, &c.' 

Granting that the penalty is legal at all, it must be aliovyed 
that it is put in a minimum form, since only one farm in each case 
is to be destroyed: and the further clearing of stock is undoubt- 
edly justified, since it would tend to cripple the mobility of Boer 
- raiders approaching the line. Yet one farm for each attack be- 
comes a formidable total when the attacks are on an average of 
one per day. 

We have treated two causes for which farms were burned : ( i ) 
For being used as cover for snipers ; (2) as a punishment for the 
cutting of railways. A third cause now comes to the front, A 
large number of burghers had taken the oath of neutrality and 
had been allowed to return to their farms by the British. These 
men were persuaded or terrorised by the fighting commandos 
into breaking their parole and abandoning those farms on which 
they had sworn to remain. The farmhouses were their bail, and 
Lord Roberts decreed that it was forfeited. On August 23 he 
announced his decision to General Botha : 

' Your Honour represents that well-disposed families living on 
their farms have been driven from their houses, and that their 
property has been taken away or destroyed. This no doubt is 
true, but not in the sense which your letter would imply. Burgh- 
ers who are well-disposed towards the British Government, and 
anxious to subtnit to my authority, have had their projierty seized 
by the Boer commandos, and have been threatened with death if 
they refused to take up arms against the British forces. Your 
Honour's contention that a solemn oath of neutrality which the 
burghers have voluntarily taken in order to remain in unmolested 
occupation of their farms is null and void, because you have not 



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THE FARM-BURNING 79 

consented to it, is hanlly open to discussion. I shall punish those 
who violate their oath and confiscate their property, no burgher 
having been forced to take the oath against his will.' 

It is quite certain that the Boer Government committed a very 
clear breach of the Conventions of the Hague in compelling, or 
even in permitting, these men to rejoin the ranks. ' In such 
cases,' says Article X., ' their own government shall not require 
of, nor accept from, them any service incompatible with the 
parole given.' This is clear as regards the government. But in 
the case of the men it is different. Their promise was in a sense 
conditional upon effective protection from our troops. We had 
no right to place a man in so terrible a position that he had to 
choose between breaking his parole and death at the hands of 
his own countrymen. If we were not sure that we could protect 
them, we could have retained them in guarded camps, as we 
eventually did. If we chose to turn them loose upon the wide 
veldt, then it was our fault more than theirs that they were forced 
into the ranks of the enemy. To their credit be it said that even 
under such pressure many of them were true to their oath. 

But if their guilt is indeed-no greater than our own, then how 
are we justified in burning down their houses? It seems to me 
that these cases are very different from those in the two other 
categories, and that the question of compensation to these men 
should be at least considered. I take it that the numerous 
cases where ' on commando ' is marked against a burned farm 
on the official list, means that he had returned to commando after 
giving his parole. The destruction of his house under those cir- 
cumstances is, in the peculiar conditions of the case, a harsh 
measure, but if ' on commando ' means simply that the man was 
away doing his duty to his country, without any question of 
parole, then our conscience can never permit that man to go with- 
out compensation. 

We can trace in this accoimt of the communications between 
the leaders the growth of those harsher measures which have 
been so generally deplored in this country. So long as the war 
was regular it is certain that nothing could be more regular than 
the British conduct. When. Iiowever, the war became irregular 
upon the part of the Boers, and their army dissolved into small 
bands which harried the hnes of communications, the small posts, 
and the convoys, there was a corresponding change tipon the 
part of the troops. Towards the end of the year 1900 that change 
was pushed to considerable lengths. Certain districts which had 
been Boer centres, where they habitually collected time after 
time, were devastated and destroved. Such districts were those 



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8o THE WAR : ITS CAUSE AND CONDUCT 

of Kroonstad, Heilbron, Ventersburg, and Winburg. In these 
four districts about one hundred and seventy houses were 
destroyed. The village of Bothaville, which was a depot of the 
enemy, was also destroyed. It consisted of forty-three houses. 
in the Transvaal the number of houses actually destroyed for 
strategic purposes seems to have been very much smaller. In 
the official returns only about twelve houses are so mentioned.. 
Altogether the houses which have been burned for reasons which 
are open to dispute, including those of the men upon commando, 
do not appear to exceed two hundred and fifty. 

It must be confessed that the case of these houses is entirely 
different from the others which have been destroyed, because 
they were used for active warlike operations. Of the 630 build- 
ings which we know to have been destroyed, more than half have 
been used by snipers, or in some other direct fashion iiave brought 
tliemselves within the laws of warfare. But it cannot be said 
that these others have done so. The cost of the average farm- 
house is a mere trifle. A hundred pounds would build a small 
one, and 300/. a large. If we take the intermediate figure, then 
the expenditure of 50,000!. would compensate for those cases 
where military policy and international law may have been at 
variance with each other. The burning of houses ceased in the 
year 1900, and, save in very special instances, where there was 
an overwhelming military necessity, it has not been resorted 
to since. In the sweeping of the country carried out by French 
in the Eastern Transvaal and by Blood to the north of the 
DeSagoa Railway, no buildings appear to have been destroyed, 
although it was a military necessity to clear the farms of every 
sort of supply in order to hamper the movements of the com- 
mandos. The destruction of the crops and herds of the Boers, 
distasteful as such work must be, is exactly analogous to the 
destruction by them of our supply trains on which the army 
depended for their food. Guerilla warfare cannot enjoy all its 
own advantages and feel none of its own defects. It is a two- 
edged weapon, and the responsibility for the consequences rests 
upon the combatant who first employs it. 



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chapter VII: The Concentration Camps 

WHEN considerable districts of the country were 
cleared of food in order to hamper the movemcnis 
of tlie commandos, and when large numbers of 
farmhouses were destroyed under the circum- 
stances already mentioned, it became evident tliat it 
was the duty of tlie British, as a civilised people, to form camps 
of refuge for the women and children where, out of reach, as we 
hoped, of all harm, tliey could await the return of peace. There 
were three courses open. The first was to send the Boer women 
and children into the Boer lines— a course which became impos- 
sible when the Boer army broke into scattered bands and hail no 
longer any definite lines ; the second was to leave them where 
they were ; the third was to gather them together and care for 
them as best we could. 

It is curious to observe that the very people who are most 
critical of the line of policy actually adopted, were also most 
severe when it appeared that the alternative might be chosen. 
The BritisJi nation would have indeed remained under an in- 
effaceable stain had they left women and children without shelter 
upon the veldt in the presence of a large Kaffir population. Even 
Mr. Stead could hardly have ruined such a case by exaggeration. 
On some rumour that it would be so. he drew harrowing pictures 
of the mora! and physical degradation of the Boer women in the 
vicinity of the British camps. No words can be too strong to 
stigmatise sucJi assertions unless the proof 6f them is over- 
whelmingly strong — and yet the only ' proof ' adduced is the 
bare assertion of a partisan writer in a partisan paper, who does 
not claim to have any personal knowledge of the matter. It is 
impossible without indignation to know that a Briton has written 
on such evidence of his own fellow-countrymen that they have 
' used famine as- a pander to lust.' 

Such language, absurd as it is, shows very clearly the attacks 
to which the British Government would have been subjected had 
they not formed the camps of refuge. It was not merely that 
burned-out families must be given a shelter, but it was that no 
woman on a lonely farm was safe amid a black population, even 
8i 



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82 THE WAR : ITS CAUSE AND CONDUCT 

if she had the means of procuring footl-^ Then, again, we had 
learned our lesson as regards the men who had given their 
parole. They should not again be offered the alternative of 
breaking their oaths or being punished by their own people. The 
case for the formation of the camps must be admitted to be com- 
, piete and overwhelming. They were formed, therefore, by the 
Government at convenient centres, chiefly at Pretoria, Johannes- 
burg, Krugersdorp, Middelburg, Potchefstroom, Rustenburg, 
Heidelburg, Standerton, Pietersburg, Klerksdorp, and Volksrust 
in the Transvaal ; Eloemfontein, Kroonstad, Bethulie, and Eden- 
burg in the Orange Free State. 

Such camps as refuges were no new things, for the British 
refugees from Johannesburg have been living for over a year in 
precisely such places. As no political capita! and no international 
sentiment could be extracted from their, sufferings, and as they 
have borne their troubles with dignity and restraint, we have 
heard little of the condition of their lives, which is in many ways 
more deplorable than that of the Boers. 

Having determined to form the camps, the authorities carried 
out the plan with great thoroughness. The sites seem to have 
been well chosen, and the arrangements in most cases all that 
could be wished. They were formed, however, at an unfortunate 
moment. Great strain had been placed upon our Commissariat 
by the large army, oyer 200,000 men, who had to be supplied by 
three tiny railways, which were continually cut. In January 
igoi De Wet made his invasion of Cape Colony, and the demand 
upon the lines was excessiv^. The extraordinary spectacle was 
presented at that time of the British straining every nerve to feed 
the women and children of the enemy, while that enemy was 
sniping the engineers and derailing the trains which were bring- 
ing up the food. 

The numbers of the inmates of the refugee camps increased 
rapidly from 20,000 at the end of the year 1900, up to more than 
100,000 at the end of igoi. Great efforts were made by the mili- 
tary authorities to accommodate the swelling tide of refugees, 
and no money was spared for that purpose. Early in the year 
1901 a painful impression was created in England by the report 
of Miss Hobhouse, an English lady, who had visited the camps 
and criticised them unfavourably. The value of her report was 
discounted, however, by the fact that her political prejudices 
were known to be against the Government. Mr. Charles Hob- 
house, a relation of hers, and a Radical member of Parliament, 
has since then admitted that some of her statements will not bear 
examination- With the best will in the world her conclusions 



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THE CONCENTRATION CAMPS 83 

would Iiave been untrustworthy, since slie could speak no Dutch, 
had 110 exiiericiicc of the Uocr character, and knew nothing of 
the nortnal conditions of South African life. I believe I 
have done the lady an injustice, and that she has some 
knowledge of Dutch. 

Her main contentions were that the diet was not sufficient, 
that there was little bedding, that the water-supply was short, 
that the sanitation was bad. that there was overcrowding, and 
that there was an excessive death-rate, especially among the 
children. 

As to diet the list which she gives agrees roughly with that 
which is officially quoted as the daily allowance at Irene Camp, 
near Pretoria, in July. It is as follows: 

Meat . . . . 4 lb. 

Coffee 2 oz. 

Flour i \h. ' 

Sugar 2 oz. 

Salt i oz. 

To every child under six, a bottle of milk. 

It must be confessed tliat the diet is a spare one. and that as 
supplies become more plentiful it might well be increased. The 
allowance may, however, be supplemented by purchase, and there 
is a considerable outside fund, largely subscribed by British peo- 
ple, which is used to make the scale more liberal. A slight 
difference was made at first between the diet of a family which 
had surrendered and of that the head of which was stilt in arms 
against us. A logical distinction may certainly be made, but in 
practice it was felt to be unchivalrous and harsh, so it was speedily 
abandoned. 

As to the shortness of the water-supply, it is the curse of all 
South Africa, which alternately suffers from having too much 
water and too little. With artesian wells and better arrange- 
ments this difficulty is Ijeing overcome, but it has applied as 
Strongly to our own camps as to those of the Boer refugees. 

There seems to be a consensus of opinion from all the camps 
that the defects in sanitation are due to the habits of the inmates, 
against which commandants and doctors are perpetually fighting. 
Camp life without cleanliness must become unhygienic. The 
medical reports are filled with instances of the extreme difficulty 
which has been experienced in enforcing discipline upon those 
\vho have been accustomed to the absolute lihertv of the lonely 
veldt. 

On the question of overcrowding, the demand for tents in 
South Africa has been excessive, and it may well have taxed all 



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84 THE "WAR: ITS CAUSE AND CONDUCT 

the power of the authorities to find accommodation for the crowds 
of women and children. The evil has been remedied since the 
time of Miss Hobhouse's report. It is well known that the Boers 
in their normal life have no objection to crowded rooms, and that 
the inmates of a farmhouse are accustomed to conditions which 
would be unendurable to most. To overcrowd a tent is hygieni- 
cally almost impossible, for the atmosphere of a tent, however 
crowded, will never become tainted in the same sense as a room, 

;\ll these things are of human contrivance, and the authorities 
were doing their best to set them right, as Miss Hobhouse herself 
acknowledged. ' They are. I believe, (loing their best with very 
limited means ' said she, and in so saying reduced her whole 
report to nothing. For if they are really doing their best, then 
what more can be said? The only alternative is the breaking up 
of the camps and the dispersal of the women. But in that case 
Mr. Stead is waiting for us with some ' Blood and Hell ' broad- 
sheet to tell us of the terrible fate of those women upon the veldt. 
It must be one or the other. Of the two I prefer Miss Hobhouse 
and the definite grievances which she reports, to the infinite possi- 
bilities of Mr. Stead. As to the suggestion that this enormous 
crowd of women and children should be quartered upon their 
kinsmen in the Colony, it is beyond all argument. There has 
been no offer of such wholesale hospitality nor have we any 
means for enforcing it. 

But then we come to the great and piteous tragedy of the 
refugee camps, the mortality, and especially the mortality among 
ilie children. That is deplorable — more deplorable even than the 
infant mortality in Mafeking, -Ladysmith, and Kimberley. But 
is it avoidable? Or is it one of those misfortunes, like that 
enteric outbreak which swept away so many British soldiers, 
which is beyond our present sanitary science and can only be 
endured with sad resignation? The nature of the disease which 
is mainly responsible for the high mortality shows that it has 
no direct connection with the sanitary conditions of the camps, 
or with anything which it was in our power to alter. Had the 
deaths come from some filth-disease, such as typhus fever, or 
even from enteric or diphtheria, the sanitation of the camps might 
be held responsible. But it is to a severe form of measles that 
the high mortality is due. Apart from that the record of the 
camps would have been a very fair one. Now measles when 
once introduced among children runs through a community with- 
out any regard to diet or conditions of life. The only possible 
hope is the segregation of the sufferer. To obtain this early 
quarantine the co-operation of the parent is needed : but in the 



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THE CONCENTRATION CAMPS S5 

case in point tiie J'.oer niolliers, with a natural instinct, preferred 
to cling to the children anil to make it difficult for the medical 
men to remove them in the first stages of the disease. Tlu* 
result was a rapid spread of tlie epidemic, which was the more 
fatal as many of the sufferers were in low health owing to tbo 
privations miavoidably endured in the journey from their own 
homes to the camps. Not only was the spread of the disease 
assisted by the mother, hut in her mistaken zeal she frequentlv 
used remedies which were as fatal as the disease. Children died 
of arsenical -poisoning, having heen covered from head to foot 
with green paint; and others of opium-poisoning, having quack 
drugs which contained laudanum administered to them. ' In 
Potchefstroom as at Irene,' says Dr. Kendai Franks, ' the death- 
rate is attributable not so much to the severity of the epidemic 
as to the ignorance, perverseness, and dirty habits of the parents 
themselves." But whatevt* the immediate cause the death of 
these numerous children lies heavy, not upon the conscience, but 
upon the heart of our nation. It is some mitigation to know that 
the death-rate among children is normally quite remarkably high 
in South Africa, and that tlie rate in the camps was frequently 
not higher than that of the towns near which the camp was 
situated. 

Be this as it may, we cannot deny that the cause of the out- 
break of measles was the collection of the women and children 
by us into the camps. But why were they collected into camps? 
Because they could not be left on the veldt. And why could they 
not be left on the veldt? Because we had destroyed the means 
of subsistence. And why had we destroyed the means of sub- 
sistence? To limit the operations of the mobile bands of gueril- 
las. At the end of every tragedy we are forced back to the 
common origin of all of them, and made to understand that the 
nation which obstinately perseveres in a useless guerilla war pre- 
pares much trouble for its enemy, but absolute ruin for itself. 

We have pushed our humanity in tliis matter of the refugees 
so far that we have looked after our enemies far better than our 
friends, t recognise that the two cases are not on all fours, since 
the Boers are compelled to be in camps and the loyalist refugees 
are not. But the fact remains that the loyalists are in camps, 
'through no fault of their own, and that their condition is a worse 
one than that of our enemies. At East London, for example. 
there are two refugee camps, Boer and British. The former has 
350, the latter 430 inhabitants. The former are by far the better 
fed, clad, and housed, with a hospital, a school, and a washhouse. 
all of which are wanting in the British camp. At Port Elizabeth 



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86 THE WAR: ITS CAUSE AND CONDUCT 

there is a Boer camp. A Dutch deputation came with 50/. to 
cxpeud ill improving their condition, but returned witliout spend- 
ing the money as nothing was needed. The Boer refugees ainl 
tlie Uritisk are catered for Ijy the same man at I'ort EHzabeth.' 
He is allowed 15^, per head for the Boers per day, and 8d. for 
the British. These are the ' Methods of Barbarism.' 

I shall now take a few opinions of the camps from British 
sources and from Boer. I have oniy seen one British witness 
who was in sympathy witli Miss Hobhouse, and that is a lady 
(name not mentioned) who is quoted in the appendix of Mr. 
Methuen's ' Peace or War.' She takes much the same view, in- 
sisting mainly upon the insufficient diet, the want of fuel and 
of bed-clothing. Against these two ladies I shall very shortly 
and in condensed form cite a few witnesses from both sides. 

Mr. Seaton, of Johannesburg (Secretary of the Congregational 
Church and of the burgher camp), says: ' The reports you send 
make our blood boil. They are frightfully exaggerated, and in 
many instances not only misleading but untrue. ... A more 
healthy spot it would be difficult to find. . . . There is no over- 
crowding. 

' Some weeks ago there was an epidemic of measles in camp 
of a very severe type, and naturally there were many deaths 
among the children. The doctor and nurses worked to the very 
utmost, and I am pleased to say the epidemic is stamped out. 
No doubt this is wltat caused the talk by the pro-Boers in the 
House of Commons and elsewhere, but it is one of those epidemics 
which could not be prevented among the class of people we have 
here. They had absolutely no .regard for sanitary conveniences, 
and the officials had the greatest difficulty in enforcing the most 
ordinary rules of cleanliness. Another difficulty we had was to 
get them to bring their children when sick into the hospital, 
where there is every convenience. They prefer to disobey the 
doctor and try the old women's remedies, which, as you know, 
are very plentiful among such people. The doctor has had a 
most trying position, and has worked like a slave. Nearly all 
the deaths have been from measles. We are liaving a fairly mild 
winter. About three montlis ago it was .bitterly cold, but they 
are used to outdoor life, and this is no worse than they have 
always been used to. The tents are all military tents, and there 
is no sign of leakage. I know they all want tents- when they 
come here, if it is possible to get them. On the whole, the in- 
mates are contented, and the children are particularly happy. 
They skip and play about from morn till eve.' 

The Rev. R. Rogers (Wesleyan minister) writes: 



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THE CONCENTRATION CAMPS 87 

'' What is tlie use of persons ignorant of the life and customs 
of the Boers coming to investigate these burgher camps ? I have 
seen, and do not liesitate to say, that most of them are better 
housed, belter clothed, and better fed than in their own homes 
of wattle and daub, and mud floors.' 

Mr. Howe of the Camp Soldiers' Homes says: 

' We do not pass judgment ; wc only state facts. 

' When the first concentration camp was formed we were 
on the spot, and also saw others spring up. We admit that there 
has been suffering, but we solemnly affirm that the officers in 
charge of the several camps known to us were only too anxious 
to make the helpless people as comfortable as possible. We have 
seen the huge cases and bales of comforts for the inmates, and 
know that, in order to expedite the despatch of these things, mili- 
tary stores and ordnance have been kept back.' 

the Rev. R. B. Douglas (Presbyterian minister), writes: 

• I am glad to see that you are not giving credence to the tales 
of brutality and cruelty which are being freely circulated by dis- 
loyal agitators about the treatment of the Boer refugees. But 
one point on which you ask for more information .is worth being 
noticed — the difference of treatment between families of those 
on commando and others. T am in a position to state that the 
whole difference made amounted to two ounces of coffee and four 
ounces of sugar per week, and that even this distinction totally 
disappeared by the middle of March. As a set-off to this, the local 
Dutch Committee, in distributing some sixty cases of clothing, 
^c, sent out by the charitable, refused to give any help to the 
families of some who w'ere not on commando, on the ground that 
these articles were for the benefit of those who were fighting 
for their cotmtry.' 

Mrs, Gauntlett. of Johannesburg, writes: 

■ I have read certain statements you sent me from English 
papers on cruelty to Boer refugee families. I am amazed at the 
vniquity of men who circulate such lies, and the credulity of those 
. 'ho believe them. The opinion of Germans, French, Americans, 
and even manv Dutch, here on the spot, is that the leniency and 
amazing liberality of the Government to their foes is prolonging 
the war. A Dutch girl in the Pretoria Camp declared to the 
nurse that for seven months they had not been able to get such 
good foo<l as was given them by the British.' 

Mr, Soutar, Secretary of the Pretoria Camp, writes : 

' The Boer women and children get as much food as they re- 
quire, and have all sorts of medical comforts, such as beef-tea. 
extracts of meat, jellies, brandy and wine, and the advantage of 



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88 THE WAR: ITS CAUSE AND CONDUCT 

fully qualified attendants. Not only are their absolute require- 
ments provided for, but even their "fads" are considered." 
Mr. Scholtz, Inspector of Camps for the Transvaal, reports : 
' Many of the children, when they first arrived at the camp, 
were little better than skin and bone, and, being in so emaciated 
a condition, it was not surprising that, when they did catch 
measles, they could not cope with the disease. Many of the 
women would not open their tents to admit fresh air, and, in- 
stead of giving the cliildren the proper medicines supplied by the 
military, preferred to give them home remedies. The mothers 
would not sponge the children, and the greatest difficulty was 
experienced in inducing them to send the patients to hospital. 
The cause of the high death-rate among children from measles 
is due to the fact that the women let their children out as soon 
as the measles rash has subsided. Pneumonia and bronchitis 
naturally svipervene. Another cause is that the mothers persist 
in giving their children meat and other indigestible foods, even 
when the doctors strictly prohibit it, dysentery resulting as a 
matter of course. In other respects tl'.e health of the cami> is 
good, there being only one case of typhoid. out of 5,000 residents 
in camp.' 
Here is light on the Krugersdorp Camp: 

'Johannesburg, July 31st.— {Renter's Special Service.) — 
Commandant Alberts, commanding the Boers near Krugersdorp, 
has sent a letter to the ofiicer commanding the British forces at 
Krugersdorp, stating that as he has with him on commando 
several families whose male relatives haVe recently surrendered. 
he wishes to know if he will receive these families, as they would 
like to go to Krugersdorp. The officer replied that he would be 
pleased to receive them, and they are expected to arrive to-day. 

' This action on the part of the Boers clearly shows that the 
families themselves have no longer any objection to the Refugee 
Camps, where everything is done to promote their comfort, or 
any disinclination to being placed under our care and. protection." 

From Renter's agent at Springfontein : 

' I to-day visited the Boer Refugee Camp here, containing 
2,700 inmates. The camp is splendidly situated, and well laid 
out. I spoke to several refugees, and met with no complaint, all 
being satisfied with the treatment received. The hospital arrange- 
ments are excellent, and there is very little sickness in the camp.' 

From Mr. Celliers, Dutch Minister from Aberdeen, Cape 
' Colony, sent to inspect the Port Elizabeth Refugee Camp: 



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THE CONCENTRATION CAMPS 89 

■ He was writing this to show that the British Government 
were doing everything in their power to help the exiles, and to 
show that, although these exiles' relatives and friends were still in 
the field, yet the powers were merciful and kind to the exiles, 
showing them no enmity, for which they felt grateful He wished 
the, people to understand that he was at liberty to speak to them 
privately, and that he had a fair opportunity to hear any com- 
plaints, if there were any to be made. Mr. Hess allowed him to 
go roimd, placing full confidence in him, and he felt satisfied that 
if there had been anything wrong he shoidd have heard of it. It 
had been his opinion all along that the Mihtary, in sending these 
exiles down there, had done so for their own safety and advan- 
tage ; and that it had preserved them; and been a blessing in dis- 
guise, which would be acknowledged by all in time to come.' 

Major Harold Sykes's (and Dragoons) evidence is reported as 
follows : 

He arranged the first of the Refugee Concentrated Camps, 
and when he left he had a camp of about six thousand women 
and children under his care. Al! charges of cruelty and inhu- 
manity were vile and calumnious falsehoods. Nay, worse, they 
were miserable, despicable concoctions. Both women and chil- 
dren were better off, the great bulk of them, than ever they were 
in their lives. The only thing approaching cruelty to them was 
that the authorities insisted upon cleanliness and proper attention 
to sanitary regulations, which the average Boer, being a stranger 
to, utterly disliked. He had seen all the workings' of these camps. 
He could give an unqualified denial to all the villainous allega- 
tions that had recently been made in public meeting and in the 
House of Commons. 

Under date November i, an officer of the Kroonstad Camp 
writes : 

' We have cricket, tennis, and croquet for them and they are 
all jolly well treated. Besides other amusements, they have a 
tand twice a week, and the other day they got up a concert.' 

This is what Mr. Stead calls ' doing to death by slow torture 
all the women and children whom we have penned behind the 
barbed wire of our prison camps.' Can a cause be a sound one 
which is pleaded in such terms ! 

Now for some Boer voices. 

Commandant Alberts writes: 

' Major Walter, Boksburg. — Honoured Sir,— I must express 
to you and the other officers of Boksburg my heartfelt thanks 
for the great kindness shown towards my wife, and at the same 



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90 THE WAR: ITS CAUSE AND CONDUCT 

time for the message, and I hope that this kindness may some 
time he repaid to you. 

■ May yon and I be spared to have a personal meeting. 

' I have the honour to be Your Honour's servant. 

' (Signed) H. Alberts, Commandant.' 

A Dutch minister writes to Captain Snowden, O.C. of Boer 
Camp Johannesburg : — ' Sir, — I am directed by the Committee of 
the Dutch Reformed Churclies here to convey to yoit the appre- 
ciation of the Committee for the kindly interest and sympatliy 
shown by you to the women and children under your charge." 

One himdred male refugee Boers in the camp at Kroonstad 
sign the following sentiment: 

' We also wish to tender Your Excellency our heartiest thanks 
for the interest you take in the education of our youth, and we 
trust you will succeed in your endeavours, and that the growing- 
up generation will be taught to be God-fearing, honest, and loyal 
citizens under the British flag. We regret, however, to state 
that, notwithstanding the highly appreciated efforts of our 
worthy superintendent and doctors, still so many cases of sick- 
ness and deaths occur daily in this camp, still we hope and trust 
Your Excellency will do all in your power for the health in this 
camp. 

' We trust that the efforts of our worthy superintendent to- 
wards promoting our welfare under trying circumstances will 
be appreciated by Your Excellency, We are happy to state that 
the spirit of loyalty is daily increasing in this camp, and that 
the majority of the male refugees have taken the oath of 
allegiance.' 

Mr. Dudley Keys, a surrendered burgher, writes to his brother : 

' I have been in camp now for more than seven months — a 
sufficient time, you will allow, for reflection — and the immuta- 
bility of the life provides ample scope for indulgence in that 
direction. How we long for the settlement you cannot imagine, 
nor can you imagine with what disgust and impatience we regard 
every endeavour on the part of the pro-Boers, as thej' are called, 
to divert the natural and inevitable course of things. You will 
not be surprised at hearing this from a one-time Dutch Repub- 
lican when you take into consideration that all of us who have 
surrendered are fully aware of the fact that we were the aggres- 
sors, and that our statesmen are to blame for our present predica- 
ment, A lai^e number of Boers, of course, will never come to 
view the matter in this light. That, of course, is not the result 
of thought and reflection, but utter and total ignorance. When 



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THE CONCENTRATION CAMPS 91 

Miss Hobliousc was lierc I frequently saw her priming herself 
or being primed. Some of our women would tdl her anything 
for a dress or a pair of hoots. If slie knew our countrymen and 
women as well as we know 'them, her story would have been a 
short one. Now the Home Government are despatching this 
commission. Well, when they see the women and children in 
camp they will naturally feel sorry for them. Who would not? 
But if they only remember that this is war and not a picnic, they 
will satisfy the people of England on their return that all we want 
is peace, and plenty of it.' 

He adds : 

' In spite of the lack of gratitude shown by our people, the 
authorities continue to make improvements and to lessen the 
hardships. That this entails enormous expenditure you will see 
by the statistics frequently published in the English papers. 
When I hear our people grumble, I often wonder how they would 
have treated the Britishers if the positions were reversed, and 
I am bound to acknowledge tliat it would not compare favour- 
ably with the treatment we receive. 

A Boer woman, writing from Pietermaritzburg, says: 

' Those who complain of anything must lie, for we are in good 
circumstances,' 

In a second letter she says : 

' I can make no complaint at all.' 

Mrs. BHgnant, writing from the Port Elizabeth Refugee Camp, 
says: 

' If we had to complain it would be false complaint, and all 
the stories about ill-treatment are untrue as far as I can find out.' 
Among the women cared for in this camp was one from Jagers- 
fontein, who boasted — and with truth — that she had shot two 
unarmed British soldiers with a revolver. 

Such is some of the evidence to be placed against Miss Hob- 
house'S report, and that of the unnamed lady in Pretoria. In 
justice it must l>e acknowledged that some camps may have 
been more open to criticism than others, and that (as we should 
expect) they became more perfect with time. But I cannot be- 
lieve that any impartial mind can read the evidence without 
seeing that the British Government was doing its best under 
difficult circumstances to carry out the most humane plan possi- 
ble, and that any other must involve consequences from which 
a civilised nation must shrink. 

Towards the end of 1901 an attempt was made to lessen the 
mortality in the camps by bringing them down to the sea-coast. 
The problem Was complicated by the fact that many of the 



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92 THE WAR: ITS CAUSE AND CONDUCT 

refugees were averse from leaving their own country, and had 
come ill upon a promise that they would not be asked to do so. 
Those who wouliJ were moved down, and the camps at East 
London, Port Elizabeth, and Merebank, near Durban, largely 
increased. ' No expense must be allowed to stand in the way,' 
said Mr. Chamberlain in an official message. In Blue Book (Cd. 
853) we find Lord Milner and the Colonial Secretary discussing 
e\'ery means by which the mortality might be lessened and the 
comfort of the camps increased. 

It is worthy of record that the portrait of an emaciated child 
has been circulated upon the Continent and in America as a proof 
positive of the horrors of the concentration system. It is only 
too probable that there are many emaciated children in the camps, 
for they usually arrive in that condition. This particular por- 
trait however was, as I am credibly informed, taken by the 
British authorities on the occasion of the criminal trial of the 
mother for the ill-usage of the child. The incident is character- 
istic of the unscruplous tactics which have been used from the 
beginning to poison the mind of the world against Great Britain. 



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Chapter VIII: The British Soldier in 
South Africa 

WHEN Lord Roberts desired to sum up the character 
of the soldiers whom he had led, he declared that 
they had behaved like gentlemen. I believe that 
statement to be no exaggeration, and I think that 
Virlien the bitter animosities of warfare have sub- 
sided, it will be acknowledged by the Boers themselves that it is 
true. They liave had some unsavoury work to do — for guerilla 
warfare brings much in its train which is hateful— but officers 
and men have ameliorated and softened the asperities of warfare 
wherever it has been possible to do so. Their character has hscn 
most foully attacked by politicians at home, and by the ignorant 
or malevolent abroad. Let us examine the evidence. 

There were many military attaches present with our army. 
Have any of them reported against the discipline of our soldiers ? 
So far as their reports are known, nothing of the sort has been 
alleged. Captain Slocum, the American representative, writes 
from Bloemfontetn : 

' The British have been too merciful, and I believe, had a 
more rigorous course been adopted when the Army first entered 
this capita! and the enemy thoroughly stampeded, the war would 
have been materially shortened.' 

The French military attache said : ' What I admire most in 
this campaign is the conduct of your soldiers. Here they are 
trekking and fighting daily in an ^in in (cresting country, scorched 
by day, cold by night, without drink, without women. Any other 
soldiers in Europe would have mutinied long ago.' 

There were several foreign war-correspondents with our army. 
Of these the only Frenchman, M, Carrere of the ' Matin ' was an 
ardent pro-Boer. Read his book, ' En pleine Epopee.' He is 
bitter against our policy and our politicians. His eyes are very 
keenly open for flaws in our Army. But from cover to cover he 
has nothing but praise for the devoted Tommy and his chivalrous 
officer. 

Three American correspondents were there — there may have 

been more, but three I knew. These were Messrs. Julian Ralph, 

93 



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94 THE WAR: ITS CAUSE AND CONDUCT 

James Banies, and Unger. The first two were much impressed 
by the humanity and discipUne of the British troops, though Mr, 
Ralph was, I believe, like Captain Slocum, of the opinion that 
it was occasionally pushed too far. Mr, Unger's published im- 
pressions of the war confirm the same idea. 

Here, then, is practical unanimity among all the impartial 
witnesses. On the opinions of our own correspondents I will not 
dwell. I have the advantage of knowing nearly all of them, and 
though among them are several gentlemen who havft a chivalrous 
and idealistic sympathy for the Boers, I cannot recollect that I 
have ever once lieard one of them record a single instance 
where they had been shocked by the conduct of a soldier. 

I may, perhaps, be permitted to add my own testimony. I 
went to South Africa with great sympathy for the individual 
Boer, and with a belief that I should find soldiers in the field 
very different from soldiers in peace. I was three months in 
Bloemfontein when there were from ten to thirty thousand men 
encamped round the town. During that time I only once saw a 
man drunk, I never saw a man drunk during the short time that 
I was in Pretoria and Johannesburg. I once heard of a soldier 
striking a Boer. It was because the man had refused to raise his 
hat at the burial of the soldier's comrade. I not only never saw 
any outrage, but in many confidential talks with officers I never 
heard of one. I saw twenty Boer prisoners vvfithin five minutes 
of their capture. The soldiers were giving them cigarettes. Only 
two assaults on women came to my ears while I was in Africa. 
In each case the culprit was a Kaffir, and the deed was promptly 
avenged by the British Army. 

Miss Hobhouse has mixed with a great number of refugees, 
many of whom are naturally very bitter against us. She is not 
reticent as to the tales which they told her. Not one of them 
all has a story of outrage. One woman, she says, was kicked 
by a drunken soldier, for whicfi, she adds, he was punished. 

An inmate of the Springfontein Refugee Camp, Mr. Maltman, 
of Philippolis, writes : ' All the Boer women here speak in the 
highest terms of the treatment they have received at the hands 
of soldiers,' 

Here is the testimony of a burgher's wife, Mrs. Van Niekirk; 

' Will you kindly allow me to give my testimony to the kindly 
treatment of the Dutch women and children by the British troops? 
As the wife of a Transvaal burgher, I have lived in Krugersdorp 
since 1897, until three weeks ago. The town was taken in June 
last, and since then there has always been a fairly large force of 



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The BRITISH SOLDIER IN SOUTH AFRICA 95 

men in, or quite near it; indeed, on several occasions the num- 
bers have amounted to ten thousand, or more, and have been of 
many different regiments, English, Scotch, Irish, and Colonial. 

' At such times the streets and the few shops open were thronged 
with soldiers, while even when the town was quietest, there were 
always numbers of them about. The women were at first afraid, 
but they very soon discovered that they could move about as 
freely as in ordinary times, without fear of any annoyance. Dur- 
ing the whole six months I never saw or heard of a single in- 
stance where a woman was treated with the slightest disrespect; 
the bearing of both officers and men was invariably deferential to 
all women, and kindly to children. 

' Last July a detachment of Gordon Highlanders was camped 
on the veldt for a week in front of my house, which stands almost 
alone on the outskirts of the town. My husband was away 
during the time, and I was alone with my young children. The 
nearest camp-fires were not a dozen yards from my gate, yet I 
never experienced the least annoyance, nor missed from my 
ground even so much as a stick of wood. 

'I could multiply instances, but after this little need be said; 
if I had not seen it I could not have believed that a victorious 
army would behave with such humanity and consideration in the 
territory of a people even then in arms against them ; and if they 
behave so in Krugersdorp— a place mind you, where during the 
last six months their doings could not be openly criticised — is 
it likely that their conduct in other places will be so entirely 
different? — I am, &c.' 

This is the testimony of a woman. Here it is from a man's 
point of view— an old burgher who had very special opportunities 
for studying the conduct of British troops : 

' Allow me to state here, once for all, that throughout the 
entire war all, the English officers — and a great many of all ranks 
came to see us — treated us with the greatest kindness and cour7 
tesy. They knew, too, that I was a burgher, and that I had 
several sons who were doing their duty in fighting for the inde- 
pendence of our country. 

' I return once more to the conduct of " Tommy Atkins." 
We saw numbers of convoys, some of which were more than 
sixteen kilometres long, bringing a great many Boer prisoners 
and their families to Pretoria. Tommy was everywhere, watch- 
ing the wagons, marching without a word in clouds of dust, 
frequently in mud to the ankle, never rough towards women or 
children, as has been so often repeated. We have heard the 
contrary stated by our tried friends and by our own children. 



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96 THE WAR : ITS CAUSE AND CONDUCT 

' During halts, Tommy was the best and readiest creature 
imaginable; he got the water boiled, laid himself out to attend to 
the children in a thousand ways, and comforted the broken- 
hearted mothers. His hand was ready with help for every 
invalid. At our farm he helped of his own free will in saving a 
drowning beast, or in removing a fat pig that had been killed, 
sometimes even in rounding-in cattle that had strayed out of 
bounds, and so on, giving help in a thousand ways. For al! tliat 
lie wanted no reward. Rewards he refused altogether simply 
because it was good-feeling which made him do'these things. 

' Sir, these are indisputable facts, which I have repeated as 
accurately as I could, leaving your readers to draw their own 
conclusions. ' Old Burgher of the Transvaal. 

' Rustenburg, Transvaal: July, iqoi. ' 

A iong and curious letter appears in the ' Suisse Liberate ' 
from a young Swiss who spent the whole time of the war upon 
a farm in the Thabanchu district of the Orange Free State. It 
is very impartial in its judgments, and remarks, among other 
things — talking of the life of the local garrison: 

'They make frequent visits, send out invitations,. and organise 
picnics. In the town they get up charity concerts, balls, sports, 
and horse-races. It is a curious thing that the English, even 
when they are at war, cannot live without their usual sports, and 
the conquered do not show the slightest repugnance to joining 
the victors in their games or to mixing in society with them.' 

Is this consistent with stories of military brutality? It ap- 
pears to be a very modified hell which is loose in that portion of 
Africa. 

Mr, and Mrs. Osbom Howe were the directors of the Camp 
Soldiers' Homes in South Africa. They have seen as much of 
the army in South Africa as most people, and have looked at it 
with critical eyes. Here are some of their conclusions: 

' Neither we nor our staff, scattered between De Aar and 
Pretoria, have ever heard of a single case of outrage or ill- 
treatment. One and all indignantly denied the accusations 
against our soldiers and have given us many instances of great 
kindness shown by the troops towards helpless women and chil- 
dren. 

' We ourselves saw nothing which we could not tell to a gather- 
ing of schoolgirls. 

' When living in the Orange River Colony we were in the 
midst of the farm-burning district, and witnessed Lord Roberts's 
efforts to spare the people suffering by issuing warning prod am a- 



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The BRITISH SOLDIER IN SOUTH AFRICA 97 

tions. We saw how the officers waited till the farmers had had 
time to digest these repeated warnings, and then with what re- 
luctance both officers and men went to carry out the work of 
destruction, but we never heard of a case where there had not 
first been some overt act on the part of the enemy. 

' A story of reported outrage at a Dutch mission-house in the 
slums of a large town was found after personal investigation to 
have been anything but an outrage as the result proved. The 
young soldiers who entered the house when the door was opened 
in answer to their knock, withdrew after they had discovered that 
the ladies who occupied the house were missionaries, nor had 
anything been removed or injured. But the garbled story, with 
its misuse of the word "outrage," reached a district in Cape 
Colony where it did no little mischief in fanning the flames of 
animosity and rebellion. Thus the reported "outrage" was not 
even a common assault. 

' It may be said that our love for the soldiers has warped our 
judgment. We would say we love God, and we love truth more 
than the honour of our soldiers. If there was another side we 
sliDuld not hide it.' 

So much for the general facts. But it is notoriously difficult 
to prove a negative. Let us turn then to particular instances 
which have been raked together, and see what can be made of 
them. One of them occurred early in the war, when it was stated 
that there had been two assaults upon women in Northern Natal. 
Here are the lies duly nailed to the counter. 

The Vicar of Dundee. Colony of Natal, on being requested by 
the Bishop of Natal to inquire into the truth of a statement that 
four women of a family near Dundee, named Bester, were out- 
raged by English soldiers, reported that he had had an interview 
with the father-in-law of Bester, Jacobus Maritz, who is one of 
the most influential farmers in the district. Maritz said to 
him: 

' Well, Mr. Bailey, you do right in coming to me, for our 
family ( Mrs. Bester is his daughter) is the only family of Bester 
in the district, and you can say from me, that the story is nothing 
but a pack of lies." 

The other case, alleged at Dundee, furnished no names. The 
only thing specified was that one of the men was 'in the uniform 
of a Highlander. The Vicar replies to this ' As you are aware, 
no Highland regiment has been stationed at Dundee during the 
war.' 

The weapons of slander were blunted by the fact that about 
May 1900 the Transvaal Government, wishing to allay the fears 



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98 THE WAR: ITS CAUSE AND CONDU CT 

of the women in the farms, published an announcement in the 
' Volksstem ' advising every burgher to leave his family upon 
the farms as the enemy were treating women and children with 
the utmost consideration and respect. We know that both Presi- 
dent Kruger and General Botha acted up to this advice by leaving 
their own wives under our protection while they carried on their 
campaign against us. At the. very instant that Kniger was 
falsely stating at Marseilles that we were making war on women 
and children, his own infirm wife was being so sedulousiy guarjJed 
by British soldiers that the passer-by was not even allowed to 
stare curiously at the windows or to photograph the hbuse. 

There was a lull in the campaign of calumny which was made 
up for by the whole hearted effort of M. van Broekhuizen. 
This man was a minister in Pretoria, and, like most of the Dutch 
ministers, a red-hot politician. Having given his parole to re- 
strain his sentiments, he was found to be still preaching in- 
flammatory political sermons ; so he was advised to leave, and 
given a passage gratis to Europe. He signalised his arrival by 
an article printed in the ' Independence Beige,' declaring among 
other statements that 30 per cent, of the Boer women had been 
ruined by the British troops. Such a statement from such a 
source raised a feeling of horror in Europe, and one of deep 
anger and incredulity on the side of those who knew the British 
Army. The letter was forwarded to Pretoria for investigation, 
and elicited the following unofficial comments from M. Con- 
stan^on, the former Swiss Consul in that city, who had been 
present during the whole British occupation: 

' I am more than astonished, 1 am disgusted, that a Lausanne 
paper should print such abominable and filthy lies. 

' The whole article from the beginning to the end is nothing 
but a pack of lies, and the writer, a minister of the Gospel, of all 
men, ought to know better than to perjure himself and his office 
in the way he does. 

' I have lived for the last eighteen years in or around Pretoria, 
and know almost every Boer family in the district. The two 
names mentioned by Broekhuizen of women assaulted by the 
troops are quite unknown to me, and are certainly not Boer 
names. 

'Ever since 'the entry of the troops in the Transvaal, I have 
travelled constantly through the whole of Pretoria district and 
part of the Waterberg. I have often put up at Boer houses for 
the night, and stopped at all houses on my road on my business. 
In most of these houses the men were away fighting against the 
British ; women and children atone were to be found on the 



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The BRITISH SOLDIER IN SOUTH AFRICA 



99 



farms. Nowhere and in no instance liave I heard a single word 
of complaint against the troops ; here and there a few fowls 
were missing and fencing poles pulled otit for firewood ; but this 
can only be expected from troops on the march. On the other 
hand, the women could not say enough in praise of the soldiers, 
and their behaviour towards their sex. Whenever a camp was 
established close to the homestead, the officers have always had a 
picket placed round the house for the object of preventing all 
pilfering, and the women, rich or poor, have everywhere been 
treated as ladies. 

' Why the Boer women were so unanimous in their praises is 
because they were far from expecting such treatment at the 
hands of the victors. 

'Our town is divided, into wards, and every woman and child 
has been fed whenever they were without support, and in one 
ward we have actually five hundred of these receiving rations 
from the British Government, although in most cases the men 
are still fighting. In the towns the behaviour of the troops has 
been admirable, all canteens have been closed, and in the last 
six months I have only seen two -cases of drunkenness amongst 
soldiers. 

' We are quite a little Swiss colony here, and I don't know 
one of my countrymen who would not endorse every word of my 
statement. 

' Many may have sympathies with the Boers, but in all justice 
they will always give credit to the British troops and their 
officers for the humane way this war is carried on, and for the 
splendid way in which Tommy Atkins behaves himself.' 

With this was printed in the ' Gazette de Lausanne,' which 
instituted the inquiry, a letter from Mr. Gray, Presbyterian 
minister in Pretoria, which says : 

' A few days ago I received an extract from your issue of 
November 17 last entitled " La Civilisation Anglaise en Afrique." 
It consisted mainly of a letter over the signature of H. D. van 
Broekhuizen {not Broesehuizen as printed) Boer pastor of Pre- 
toria. Allow me, sir, to assure you that the wholesale statements 
with regard to the atrocities of British soldiers contained in that 
letter are a tissue of falsehoods, and constitute an unfounded 
calumny which it would be difficulty to parallel in the annals of 
warfare. It is difficult to conceive the motives that actuate the 
writer, but that they have been violent enough to make him 
absolutely reckless as to facts, is evident. 

' When I got the article from your paper I immediately went 
out to make inquiry as to what possible foundation there was for 



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loo THE WAR: ITS CAUSE AND CONDUCT 

the charges hurled so wildly at the British soldier. Having lived 
in Pretoria for the last eleven years I am acquainted with many of 
the local Boers. Those "of them whom I questioned, assured me 
that they had never known a case in which British soldiers had 
outraged a woman. One case was rumoured, but had never been 
substantiated, and was regarded as very doubtful. Let it be 
granted that sonic solitary cases of rudeness may have occurred, 
that would not be surprising under the circumstances. Still it 
would not furnish a ground for the libelling of a whole army. 
The astonishing fact is, however, that in this country one only 
hears of the surprise everywhere felt that the British soldier has 
been so self- re strained and deferential towards women.' 

To this M. van Broekhuizen's feeble reply was that there was 
no ex-consul of the name of Const an ^on in Pretoria. The 
' Gazette de Lausanne ' then pointed out* that the gentleman was 
well known, that he had acted in that capacity for many years, 
and added that if M. van Broekhuizen was so ill-informed upon 
50 simple a matter, it was not likely that he was very correct . 
upon other more contentious ones. Thus again a false coin was 
nailed to the counter, but only after it had circulated so widely 
that many who had passed it would never know that it was 
proved to be base metal. Incredible as it may seem, the infamous 
falsehood was repeated in 1902 by a Dr. Vallentin, in the 
' Deutsche Rundscliau,' from which it was copied into otlier lead- 
ing German papers without any reference to its previous disproof 
in 1901. 

Now we will turn for a moment to the evidence of Miss Alice 
Bron, the devoted Belgian ntirse, who served on both sides dur- 
ing the war, and has therefore, a fair standard of comparison. 
Here are a few sentences from her reports : 

' I have so often heard it said and repeated that the British 
soldiers are the dregs of London and the scum of the criminal 
classes, that their conduct astounded me.' 

This is the opinion of a lady who spent two years in the service 
of humanity on the veldt. 

Here are one or two other sidelights from Miss Bron : 

' How grateful and respectful they all are! I go to the hos- 
pital at night without the slightest fear, and when a sentry hears 
mv reply, " Sister," to his challenge, he always humbly begs my 
pardon. 

' I have seen the last of them and their affectionate attentions, 
their respect, and their confidence. On this head I could relate 
manv instances of exquisite feeling on the part of these poor 
soldiers. 



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The BRITISH SOLDIER IN SOUTH AFRICA loi 

' A wounded Englisli soldier was speaking of Cronje. " Ah, 
sister," said he, " 1 am glad that we liave made so many prison- 
ers." 

■ " Why ? " I asked, fearing to hear words of hatred. 

' " Oh," he said, " I was glad to hear it because I know that 
they at least would be neither wounded nor killed. They will 
not leave wife nor children, neither will they suffer what we 
are suffering." ' 

She describes how she met General Wavell : 

' " You see I have come to protect you," he said. 

' We smiled and bowed, and I thought, " I know your soldiers 
too well, General. We don't need any protection," ' 

But war may have brutalised the combatants, and so it is 
of interest to have Nurse Bron's impressions at the end of igoi. 
She gives her conversation with a Boer. 

' " Ail that I have to say to you is that what you did down 
there has never been seen in any other war. Never in any coun- 
try in the world has such a dastardly act been committed as the 
shooting of one who goes to meet the white flag." 

' Very pale, the chief, a true " gentleman " fifty-three years old, 
and the father of eleven children, answered, " You are right, 

'"And since we talk "of these things," I said, "I will say 
that I understand very well that you are defending your country, 
but what I do not excuse is your lying as you do about these 
English." 

' " We repeat what we are told." 

' " No," I said " you all of you lie, and you know that you are 
lying, with the Bible on your knees and invoking the name of 
God, and. thanks to your lies, all Europe believes that the Eng- 
lish army is composed of assassins and thieves. You see how 
they treat you here ! " ' 

She proceeds to show how they were treated. The patients, 
it may be observed, were not Boer combatants but Cape rebels, 
liable to instant execution. This is the diet after operations: 

' For eight or ten days, the patient has champagne of the 
choicest French brands (her italics), in considerable quantity, 
then old cognac, and finaily port, stout, or ale at choice, with 
five or siK eggs a day beaten up in brandy and milk, arriving 
at last at a complete diet of which I. though perfectly well, could 
not have absorbed the half.' 

'This,' she says, 'is another instance of the "ferocity" with 
which, according to the European press, the English butchers 
have conducted the war.' 



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102 THE WAR: ITS CAUSE AND CONDUCT 

The Sisters of Nazareth in Soutli Africa are a body who are 
above political or racial prejudice. Here are the published words 
of the Mother Superior; 

' I receive letters by every mail but a word that would imply 
the least shadow of reproach on the conduct of the soldiers has 
never been written. As for the British soldier in general, our 
sisters in various parts of the colony, who have come a great deal 
in contact with the military of all ranks, state that they can 
never say enough of their courtesy, politeness, and good' be- 
haviour at all times.' 

These are not the impressions which the Boer agents, with 
their command of secret-service money and their influence on the 
European press, have given to the world. A constant stream of 
misrepresentations and lies have poisoned the mind of Europe 
and have made a deep and enduring breach between ourselves 
and our German kinsmen. 

The British troops have been accused of shooting women. It 
is wonderful that many women have not been shot, for it has 
not been unusual for farmhouses to be defended by the men 
when there were women within. As a matter of fact, however, 
very few cases have occurred where a woman has been injured. 
One amazon was killed in the fighting line, rifle in hand, outside 
Ladysmith. A second victim furnished the famous Eloff myth, 
which gave materia! for many cartoons and editorials. The accu- 
sation was that in cold blood we had shot Kruger's niece, and a 
Berlin morning paper told the story with many artistic embellish- 
ments, as follows : 

' As the Boer saw his wife down, just able to raise herself, he 
made an attempt to run to her assistance, but the inhumans held 
him fast. The officer assured him that she was shot through the 
temples and must anyhow die, and they left her therefore lying. 
In the evening he heard his name called. It was his wife who 
still lived after twelve hours' agony. When they reached Rusten- 
but^ she was dead. This woman was Frau Eloff, Kruger's niece. 
In addition to the sympathy for the loss Kruger has suffered, this 
report will renew the bitter feeling of all against the brutality of 
English warfare.' 

This story was dished up in many ways by many papers. Here 
is Lord Kitchener's plain account of the matter: 

' No woman of that name has been killed, but the report may 
refer to the death of a Mrs. Vandermerve, who unfortunately was 
killed at a farmhouse from which her husband was firing. Mrs. 
Vandermerve is a sister-in-law of Eloff. The death of a woman 
from a stray bullet is greatly to be regretted, but it appears clear 



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The BRITISH SOLDIER IN SOUTH AFRICA 103 

that her husband was responsible for the fighting which caused 
the accident.' 

So perished another myth. I observe, however, now (Christ- 
mas 1901), a continental journalist describing an interview with 
Kruger says, ' he wore mourning on account of his niece who 
died of a gun-shot.' Might not his wife's death possibly account 
*for the mourning? 

And yet another invention which is destined to the same fate, 
is the story that at the skirmish of Graspan, near Reitz, upon 
June 6, the British used the Boer women as cover, a subject which 
also afforded excellent material for the caricaturists of the Father- 
land. The picture of rows of charming Boer maidens chained in 
the open with bloodthirsty soldiers crouching behind them was 
too alluring for the tender-hearted artist. Nothing was wanting 
for a perfect cartoon — except the original fact. Here is the report 
as it appeared tn a German paper: 

' When the English on June' 6 were attacked by the Boers, they 
ordered the women and children to leave the wagons. Placing 
these in front of the soldiers, they shot beneath the women's arms 
upon the approaching Boers. Eight, women and two children 
fell through the Boers' fire. When the Boers saw this they 
stopped firing. Yelling like wild beasts, they broke through the 
soldiers' lines, beating to death the Tommies like mad dogs with 
the butt ends of their rifles.' 

The true circumstances of the action so far as they can be 
collected are as follows: Early on June 6 Major Sladen, with 200 
mounted infantry, ran down a Boer convoy of lOO wagons. He 
took forty-five male prisoners, and the wagons were full of women 
and children. He halted his men and waited for the main British 
force (De Lisle's) to come up. While he was waiting he was 
fiercely attacked by a large body of Boers, five or six hundred, 
under De Wet. The British threw themselves into a Kaffir kraal 
and made a desperate resistance. The long train of wagons 
with the women still in them extended from this village right 
across the plain, and the Boers used them as cover in skirmishing 
up to the village. The result was that the women and children 
vere under a double fire from either side. One woman and two 
children appear to have been hit, though whether by Boer or 
Briton it must have been difficult to determine. The convoy and 
the prisoners remained eventually in the hands of the British. It 
will be seen then that it is as just to say that the Boers used their 
women as cover for their advance as the British for their defence. 
Probably in the heat of the action both sides thought more of the 
wagons than of what was inside them. 



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1Q4 THE WAR: ITS CAUSE AND CONDUCT 

These, with one case at Middelburg, where in a night attack 
of the Boers one or two inmates of the refugee camp are said to 
have been accidentally hit, form the only Icnown instances in the 
war. And yet so well Itnown a paper as the German ' Kladdera- 
datsch ' is not ashamed to publish a picture of a ruined farm with 
dead women strewed round it, and the male child hanging from 
tJie branch of a tree. The ' Kladderadatsch ' has a reputation as ' 
a comic paper, but there should be some limits to its facetious- 
ness. 

In his pamphlet on ' Methods of Barbarism,' Mr. Stead has 
recently produced a chapter called ' A Glimpse of the Hellish 
Panorama,' in which lie deals with the evidence at the Spoelstra 
trial. Spoelstra was a Hollander who, having sworn an oath of 
neutrality, afterwards despatched a letter to a Dutch newspaper 
without submitting it to a censor, in which he made libellous 
attacks upon the British Army. He was tried for the offence and 
sentenced to a line of looL, his imprisonment being remitted. 
In the course of the trial he called a number of witnesses for 
the purpose of supporting his charges against the troops, and it 
is on their evidence that Mr. Stead dilates under the characteris- 
tic headline given above. 

Mr. Stead begins his indictment by a paragraph which speaks 
for itself : ' It is a cant cry with many persons, by no means 
confined to those who have advocated the war, that the British 
Army has spent two years in the South African Republics with- 
out a single case of impropriety being proved against a single 
soldier. I should be very glad to believe it ; but there is Rudyard 
Kipling's familiar saying that Toriimy Atkins is no plaster saint, 
but a single man in barracks, or, in this case, a single man in 
camp, remarkably like other human beings. We all know him 
at home. There is not one father of a family in the House or 
on the London Press who would allow his servant girl to remain 
out all night on a public common in England in time of profound 
peace in the company of a score of soldiers. If he did, he would 
feel that he had exposed the girl to the loss of her character. 
This is not merely admitted, but acted upon by all decent people 
who live in garrison towns or in the neighbourhood of barracks. 
Why, then, should they suppose that when the same men are 
released from all the restraints of civilisation, and sent forth to 
bum, destroy and loot at their own sweet will and pleasure, 
they will suddenly undergo so complete a transformation as to 
scrupulously respect the wives and daughters of the enemy. It 
is very unpopular to say this, and I alreadv hear in advance the 
shrieks of execration of those who will declare that I am calum- 



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The BRITISH SOLDIER IN SOUTH AFRICA 105 

mating the gallant soldiers who are spending their lives in the 
defence of the interests of the Empire. But 1 do not say a word 
against our soldiers. I only say that they are men.' 

He adds: 

■ It is an unpleasant fact, but it has got to be faced hke 
other facts. No war can be conducted — and this war has not 
been conducted — without exposing multitudes of women, married 
and single, to the worst extremities of outrage. It is an inevit- 
able incident of war. It is one of the normal phenomena of the 
military Inferno. It is absolutely impossibie to attempt any 
comparative or quantitative estimate of the number of women 
who have suffered wrong at the hands of our troops.' 

Was ever such an argument adduced in this world upon a 
serious matter. When stripped of its rhetoric it amounts to this, 
' 250,000 men have committed outrages. How do I prove it ? 
Because they are 250,000 men, and therefore mtfst commit out- 
rages.' Putting all chivalry, sense of duty, and every higher 
consideration upon one side, is Mr. Stead not aware that if a 
soldier had done such a thing and if his victim couid have 
pointed him out. the man's life would be measured by the time 
that was needed to collect a military court to try hira. Is there 
a soldier who does not know this? Is there a Boer who does not 
know it? It is the one offence for which there would be no 
possible forgiveness. Are the Boers so meek-spirited a race that 
they have no desire for vengeance? Would any officer take the 
responsibility of not reporting a man who was accused of such 
a crime? Where, then, are the lists of the men who must have 
suffered if this cruel accusation were true? There are no such 
lists, because such things have never occurred. 

Leading up to the events of the trial Mr. Stead curdles our 
blood by talking of the eleven women who stood up upon oath to 
testify to the ill-treatment which they had received at the hands 
of our troops. Taken with the context, the casual reader would 
naturally imagine that these eleven women were all complaining 
of some sexual ill-usage. In the very next sentence he talks 
about ' such horrible and shameful incidents.' But ,on exami- 
nation it proves that eight out of the eleven cases have nothing 
sexual or. indeed, in many of them, anything criminal in their 
character. One is, that a coffin was dug up to see if there were 
arms in it. On this occasion the search was a failure, though it 
has before now been a success. Another was that the bed of 
a sick woman was searched — without any suggestion of indeli- 
cacy. Two others, that women had been confined while on the 
trek in wagons. ' The soldiers did not bother the women during 



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io6 THE WAR: ITS CAUSE AND CONDUCT 

or after the confinement. They did not peep into the waeon/ 
said the witness. These are the trivialities which Mr. Stead 
tries to blutf us into classifying as ' horrible and shameful inci- 
dents.' 

But there were three alleged cases of. assault upon women. 

One of them is laid to the charge of a certain Mr. E ^n, ' of 

the Intelligence Department. Now, the use of Mr. and the descrip- 
tion ' Intelligence Department ' make it very doubtful whether 
this man could be called a member of the British Army at all. 
The inference is that he was a civilian, and further, that he was a 
Dutch civilian. British names which will fit E ^n are not- 
common, while the Dutch name Esselen or EnsHn is extremely 
so. ' I have never been to the Intelligence Department to find out 
whether he really belonged to that Department,' said the woman. 

She adds that E n acted as an interpreter. Surely, then, he 

must have been a Dutchman. In that case, why is his name the 
only name which is disguised? Is it not a little suggestive? 

The second case was that of Mrs. Gouws, .whose unfortunate 
experience was communicated to Pastor van Broekhuizen, and 
had such an effect upon him as to cause him to declare that 30 
per cent, of the women of the country had been ruined. Mrs. 
Gouws certainly appears by her own account to have been very 
-roughly treated, though she does not assert that her assailant 
went to the last extremity — or, indeed, that he did more than use 
coarse terms in his conversation. The husband in his evidence 
says : ' I have seen a great deal of soldiers, and they behaved well, 
and I could speak well of them.' He added that a British officer 
had taken his wife's deposition, and that bothihe Provost- Marshal 
and the Military Governor were interesting themselves in the 
case. Though no actual assault was committed, it is to be hoped 
that the man who was rude to a helpless woman will sooner or 
later be identified and punished. 

There remains one case, that of Mrs. Botha of Rustenburg, 
which, if her account is corroborated, is as bad as it could be. 
The mystery of the case lies in the fact that by her own account 
a British force was encamped close by, and yet that neither she 
nor her husband made the complaint which would have brought 
most summary punishment upon the criminal. This could not 
have been from a shrinking from publicity, since she was ready 
to tell the story in Court. There is not the least indication 
who this solitary soldier may have been, and even the date 
was unknown to the complainant. What can be done in such a 
case? The President of the court-martial, with a burst of in- 
dignation which shows that he at least does not share Mr. Stead's 



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The BRITISH SOLDIER IN SOUTH AFRICA 107 

views upon the frequency of sucli crimes in South Africa, cried : 
' If such a most awful thing happened to a woman, would it 
not be the first thing for a man to iJo to rush out and bring 
the guilty man to justice? He ought to risk his hfe for that. 
There was no reason for him to be frightened. We English are 
not a barbarous nation.' The husband, however, had taken no 
steps. We may be very sure that the case still engages the 
earnest attention of our Provost- Marshal, and that the man, if he 
exists, will sooner or later form an object-lesson upon discipline 
and humanity to the nearest garrison. Such was the Spoelstra 
trial. Mr. Stead talks fluently of the charges made, but deliber- 
ately omits the essentia! fact that after a patient hearing not one 
of them was substantiated, 

I cannot end the chapter better than with the words of the 
Rev. P. S. Bosman, head of the Dutch Reformed Church at 
Pretoria : 

' Not a single case of criminal assault or rape by non-com- 
missioned officers or men of the British Army in Pretoria on 
Boer women has come to my knowledge. I asked several gentle- 
men in turn about this point and their testimony is the same 
as mine.' 

But Mr. Stead says that it must be so because there are 
250,000 men in Africa, Could the perversion of argument go 
further? Which are we to believe, our enemy upon the spot or 
the journalist in London? 



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Chapter IX: Further Charges Against 
British Troops 

Expansive and Explosive Bullets 

WHEN Mr. Stead indulges in vague rhetoric it is diffi- 
cult to corner him, but when he commits himself 
to a definite statement he is more open to attack. 
Thus, in his ' Methods of Barbarism ' he roundly 
asserts that ' England sent several miilion rounds 
of expanding bullets to South Africa, and in the North of the 
Transvaal and at Mafeking for the first three months of the war 
no other bullets were used.' Mr. Methuen, on the authority of a 
Setter of Lieutenant de Montmorency, R.A., states also that from 
October 12, 1899, up to January 15, 1900, the British forces north 
of Mafeking used nothing but Mark IV. ammunition, which is 
not a dum-dum but is an expansive bullet. 

Mr, Methuen's statement differs, as will be seen, very widely 
from Mr. Stead's; for Mr. Stead says Mafeking, and Mr. Meth- 
uen says north of Mafeking. There was a very great deal of 
fighting at Mafeking, and comparatively little north of Mafeking 
during that time, so that the difference is an essential one. To 
test Mr. Stead's assertion about Mafeking, I communicated with 
Genera! Baden-Powell, the gentleman who is most qualified to 
speak as to what occurred there, and his answer lies before me: 
' We had no expanding buDets in our supply at Mafeking, unless 
you call the ordinary Martini-Henry an expanding bullet. I 
would not have used them on humane principles, and moreover, 
an Army order had been issued against the use of dum-dum 
bullets in this campaign. On the other hand, explosive bullets 
are expressly forbidden in the Convention, and these the Boers 
used freely against us in Mafeking, especially on May 12.' 

I have endeavoured also to test the statement as it concerns 
the troops to the north of Mafeking. The same high authority 
says: 'With regard to the northern force, it is just possible that 
a few sportsmen in the Rhodesian column may have bad some 
sporting bullets, but I certainly never heard of them,' A friend 



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FURTHER CHARGES AGAINST BRITISH 109 

of mine who was in Lobatsi during the first week of the war 
assures me that he never saw anything but the soHd bullet. It 
must be remembered that the state of things was very exceptional 
with the Rhodesian force. Their communications to the south 
were cut on the second day of the war, and for seven months they 
were dependent upon the long and circuitous Beira route for any 
supplies which reached them. One could imagine that under 
such circumstances uniformity of armament would be more diffi- 
cult to mainlain I'-m in the case of an army with an assured base. 

Since publishing the above I have had a letter from a 
gentleman who served out the ammunition of the Rhodesian 
force, to the effect that the bullets were all solid. It would 
be interesting to know if Mr. Montmorency did make the 
statement quoted, and if so, what he meant by it. 

The expansive bullet is not, as a matter of fact, contrary to 
the Conventions of The Hague. It was expressly held from be- 
ing so by the representatives of tlie United States and of Great 
Britain. In taking this view I cannot but think that these two 
enlightened and humanitarian powers were ili-advised. Those 
Conventions were of course only binding on those who signed 
them, and therefore in fighting desperate savages the man-stop- 
ping bullet could still have been used. Whatever our motives 
in talving the view that we did, a swift retribution has come upon 
us, for it has prevented us from exacting any retribution, or even 
complaining, when the Boers have used these weapons against 
us. 

Our soldiers have been more merciful than our Hague diplo- 
matists, for in spite of the reservation of the right to use this 
ammunition, every effort has been made to exclude it from the 
firing line. An unfortunate incident early in the campaign gave 
our enemies some reason to suspect us. The facts are these. 

At the end of the spring of 1899 some hundreds of thousands 
of hoi low -headed bullets, made in England, were condemned as 
unsatisfactory, not being true to gauge, &c,, and were sent to 
South Africa for target practice only. A quantity of this ammu- 
nition, known as ' Metford Mark IV,,' was sent up to Dundee by 
order of General Symons for practice in field firing. As Mark 
IV. was not for use in a war with white races all these cartridges 
were called in as soon as Kruger declared war, and the officers 
responsible thought they were every one returned. By some 
blundering in the packing at home, however, some of this Mark 
IV. must have got mixed up with the ordinary, or Mark II., 
ammunition, and was found on our men by the Boers oti October 
,•^0. Accordingly a very careful inspection was ordered, and a 
lew Mark IV. bullets were found in our men's pouches, and at 



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no THE WAR: ITS CAUSE AND CONDUCT 

once removed. Their presence was purely accidental, and un- 
doubtedly caused by a blunder in the Ordnance Department long 
before the war, and it was in consequence of this that some 
hollow-headed bullets were fired by the English early in the war 
without their knowledge. 

What is usually known as tiie dum-dum bullet is a ' soft- 
nosed ' one : but the regulation Mark II. is also made at the 
dum-dum factory, and the Boers, seeing the dum-dum label on 
boxes containing the latter, naturally thought the contents were 
the soft-nosed, which they were not. 

It must be admitted that there was some carelessness in per- 
mitting sporting ammunition ever to get to the front at all. When 
the Derbyshire Militia were taken by De W^t at Roodeval, a 
number of cases of sporting cartridges were captured by the 
Boers (the officers had used them for shooting springbok). My 
friend, Mr. Langman, who was present, saw the Boers, in some 
instances, filling their bandoliers from these cases on the plausible 
excuse that they were only using our own ammunition. Such 
cartridges should never have been permitted to go up. But in 
spite of instances of bungling, the evidence shows that every 
effort has been made to keep the war as humane as possible. I 
am inclined to hope that a fuller knowledge will show that the 
same holds good for our enemies, and that in spite of individual, 
exceptions, they have never systematically used anything except 
what one of their number described as a ' gentlemanly ' bullet. 

Conduct to Prisoners on the Field 

On this count, also, the British soldiers have been exposed to- 
attacks, both at home and abroad, wliich are as unfounded and 
as shameful as most of those which have been already treated. 

The first occasion upon which Boer prisoners fell into our 
hands was at the Battle of Elandslaagte, on October 21, 1899.. 
That night was spent by the victorious troops in a pouring rain, 
round such fires as they were able to light. It has been recorded 
by several witnesses that the warmest comer by the fire was 
reserved for the Boer prisoners. It has been asserted, and is 
again asserted, that when the Lancers charged a small body of 
the enemy after the action, they gave no quarter — ' too well 
substantiated and too familiar,' says one critic of this assertion. 
I believe, as a matter of fact, that the myth arose from a sensa- 
tional picture in an illustrated paper. The charge was delivered 
late in the evening, in uncertain light. Under such circumstances 
it is always possible, amid so wild and confused a scene, that a 
man who would have surrendered has been cut down or ridden 
over. But the cavalry brought back twenty prisoners, and the 



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FURTHER CHARGES AGAINST BRITISH iii 

number whom they killed or wounded has not been placed higher 
than that, so that it is certain there was no indiscriminate slay- 
ing. I have reatl a letter from the officer who commanded the 
cavalry and who directed tlie charge, in which he t-ells the whole 
story cortfidentially to a brother officer. He speaks of his pris- 
oners, but there is no reference to any brutality upon the part 
of the troopers. 

Mr. Stead makes a great deal of some extracts from the 
letters of private soldiers at the front who talk of bayoneting 
their enemies. Such expressions should be accepted with con- 
siderable caution, for it may amuse the soldier to depict himself 
as rather a terrible fellow to his home-staying friends. One 
such instance has been actually brought to my notice, where 
a man who had been holding horses during the action, wrote 
a vivid and much-quoted account of the number of Boers 
whom he had bayoneted. Even if isolated instances could be 
corroborated, it would merely show that men of fiery tempera- 
ment in the flush of battle are occasionally not to be restrained, 
either by the power of discipline or by the example and 
exhortations of their officers. Such instances, I do not doubt, 
could be found among all troops in all wars. But to found 
upon it a- general charge of brutality or cruelty is unjust in the 
case of a foreigner, and unnatural in the case of our own people. 

There is one final and complete answer to all such charges. 
It is that we have now in our hands 42,000 males of the Boer 
nations. They assert, and we cannot deny, that their losses in 
killed have been extraordinarily light during two years of warfare. 
How are these admitted and certain facts compatible with any 
general refusal of quarter? To anyone who. like myself, has 
seen the British soldiers jesting and smoking cigarettes with 
their captives within five minutes of their being taken, such a 
charge is ludicrous, but surely even to the most biassed mind 
the fact stated above must be conclusive. 

In some ways I fear that the Conventions of The Hague will 
prove, when tested on a large scale, to be a counsel of perfection. 
It will certainly be the extreme test of self-restraint and discipline 
— a test successfully endured by the British troops at ElandslaAgte, 
Bergendal, and many .other places — to carry a position by assault 
and then to give quarter to those defenders who only surrender 
at the last instant. It seems almost too much to ask. The assail- 
ants have been terribly punished; they have lost their friends 
and their officers, in the frenzy of battle they storm the position, 
and then at the last instant the men who have done all the mis- 
chief stand up unscathed from behind their rocks and clai-n 
their own personal safety. Only at that moment has the soldier 



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M2 THE WAR: ITS-CAUSE AND CON DUCT 

seen his antagonist or been on equal terms with him. He must 
give quarter, but it must be confessed that this is trying human 
nature rather higli. 

But if this holds good of an organised force defending a 
position, how about the solitary sniper? The position of such"a 
man has. never been defined by the Conventions of The Hague, 
and no rules are laid down for his treatment. It is riot wonderful 
if llie troops who have been annoyed by him should on occasion 
take the law into their own hands and treat him in a summary 
Sash ion. 

Tl\e very first article of the Conventions of The Hague states 
Ifiat a. belligerent must (i) Be commanded by some responsible 
person: (2) Have a distinctive emblem visible at a distance; 
(3) Carry arms openly. Now it is evident that the Boer sniper 
who draws his Mauser from its hiding-place in order to have a 
shot at the Rooineks from- a safe kopje does not comply with' any 
one of these conditions.. In the letter of the law, then, he is 
undoubtedly outside the rules of warfare. 

In the spirit he' is. even more so. Prowling among the rocks 
and sEiooting those who cannot tell whence the bullet comes, 
there is no wide gap between him and the assassin. His victims 
never see him. and' in the ordinary course he incurs no persona! 
danger. I believe such cases to have been very rare, but if the 
jofdliers have occasionally shot such a man without reference to 
Elieofficers, can it be said' that it was an inexcusable action, or even 
Bliat it was outsidethestrict rules of warfare? 

I find in the ' Gazette' de' Lausanne ' a returned Swiss soldier 
aanred Pache, who had fought for the Boers, expresses his amaze- 
sient at the way in which the British troops after their losses 
m the stonning of a position gave quarter to those who had 
iiflicted those losses upon them. 

' Only once.' he says, ' at the fight at Tabaksberg, have I seen 
iTie Boers hold on to their position to the very end. At the last 
. nish of the enemy they oiiencd a fruitless magazine fire, and 
ihen threw down their rifles and lifted their hands, imploring 
quarter from those whom they had been firing at at short range, 
5 was astounded at the clemency of the soldiers, who allowed 
iiHTi to live. For my part I should have put them to death.' 

Of prisoners after capture there is hardly need to speak. 
T*-?re is a universal consensus of opinion from all, British or 
ffarergn. who have had an opportunity of forming an opinion, that 
die prisoners have been treated with humanity and generosity. 
The same report has come from Green Point, St. Helena, Ber- 
muda, Ceylon, Ahmednager, and all.otlier. camps. An outcry was 



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FURTHER CHARGES AGAINST BRITISH 113 

raised when Ahmed 11 age r in India- was chosen for a prison sta- 
tion, and it was asstrted, with tliat recklessness with which sffi 
many other charges have been hurled against the authorities, that 
it was a hot-bed of disease. Experience has shown tiiat there 
was no grain of truth in these statements, and the camp has becE 
a very healthy one. As it remains the only one which has ever 
been subjet:ted to harsh criticism, it may be of ase to append 
tile conclusions of Mr. Jesse Coliiiigs during a visit to it lasl 
month : 

' The Boer officers said, speaking for ourselves and men, \vc 
have nothing at all to complain of. As prisoners of war wc 
could not be better treated, and Major Dickenson (this tliejr 
wished specially to be inserted), is as liind and considerate as 
it is possible to be.' 

Some sensational statements were also made in America as to 
the condition of the Bermuda Camps, but a newspaper investi- 
gation has shown that there is no charge to be brought against 
them: 

Mr. John J. 0"Rorke writes to the ' New York Times,' saying, 
' That in view of the many misrepresentations regarding tire treat- 
ment of the Boer prisoners in Bermuda, be recently obtained a 
trustworthy opinion from one of his correspondents .there' 
. The correspondent's name is Musson Wainwright, and 
Mr. O'Rorke describes bini ' as one of the influential 'residents 
in the island.' He says, ' That the Boers in Bermuda are'better 
off than many residents in New York. They have plentyof beef, 
plenty of bread, plenty of everything except liberty. There are 
good hospitals and good doctors. It is true that some of the 
Boers are short of clothing, but these are very few, and the Gov^ 
emmeiit is issuing clothing to them. On the whole,' says Mr. 
Wainwright, ' Great Britain is treating the Boers far better than 
most people would.' 

Compare this record witli the undoubted privations, many ©i 
them imnecessary, which our soldiers endured at Waterval near 
Pretoria, tlie callous neglect of the enteric ])atients there, and 
the really barbarous treatment of British Colonia:! prisoners who 
were confined in cells on the absurd plea that in fighting far 
their flag they were traitors to the Africander cause. 

Executions 

The number of executions of Boers as distinguished from the 
execution of Cape rebels, has been remarkably few in a war whkfc 
has already lasted twenty-six months. So far as I have been abk 



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114 i'HEWAR: ITS CAUSE AND CONDUCT 

to follow them, they have been limited to the execution of Cordua 
for broken parole and conspiracy upon August 24, 1900, at 
Pretoria, the shooting of one or two horse-poisoners in Natal, and 
the shooting of three men after the action of October 27, 1900, 
near Fredericstad. These men, after throwing down their arms 
and receiving quarter, picked them up again and fired at the 
soldiers from behind. No doubt there have been other cases, 
scattered up and down the vast scene of warfare, but I can find 
no record of them, and if they exist at ail they must be few in 
number. Since the beginning of 1901 four men have been shot 
in the Transvaal, three in Pretoria as spies and breakers of 
parole, one in Johannesburg as an aggravated case of breaking 
neutrality by inciting Eoers to resist. 

At the beginning of the war go per cent, of the farmers in 
the northern district of Cape Colony joined the invaders. Upon 
ihe expulsion of the Boers these men for the most part sur- 
rendered. The British Governnient, recognising that pressure 
had been put upon them and that their position had been a diffi- 
cult one, inflicted no penalty upon the rank-and-file beyond de- 
priving them of the franchise for a few years. A few who, like 
the Douglas rebels, were taken red-handed upon the field of 
battle, were condemned to periods of imprisonment which varied 
irom one to five years. 

This was in the year 1900. In 1901 there was an invasion of 
the Colony by Boers which differed very much from the former 
one. In the first case the country had actually been occupied by 
the Boer forces, who were able to exert real pressure upon tbe 
inhabitants. In the second the ' invaders were merely raiding 
bands who traversed many places but occupied none. A British 
subject who joined on the first occasion might plead compulsion, 
on the second it was undoubtedly of his own free will. 

These Boer bands being very mobile, and never fighting save 
when they were at an overwhelming advantage, penetrated all 
parts of the Colony and seduced a number of British subjects 
from their allegiance. The attacking of small posts and the de- 
railing of trains, military or civilian, were their chief employ- 
ment. To cover their tracks they continually murdered natives 
whose information might betray them. Their presence kept the 
Colony in confusion and threatened the communications of the 
Army. 
. The situation may be brought home to a continental reader 
by a fairly exact parallel Suppose that an Austrian army had 
invaded Germany, and that while it was deep in German territory 
bands of Austrian subjects who were of German extraction began 



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FURTHER CHARGES AGAINST BRITISH 



"S 



to tear up the railway lines and harass the communications. 
That was our situation in South Africa. Would the Austrians 
under these circumstances show much mercy to those rebel bands, 
especially if they added cold-blooded murder to their treason? Is 
it hkely that they would? 

The British, however, were very long-suffering. Many hun- 
dreds of these rebels passed into their hands, and most of them 
escaped with fine and imprisonment. The ringleaders, and those 
who were convicted of capital penal offences, were put to death. 
I have been at some pains to make a list of the executions in 
1901, including those already mentioned. It is at least approxi- 
mately correct: 



..„., 


PU.. 


„... 


ReBBon 






1 901 
March 19 

]y}y 11 
13 
13 

Oct. 10 

15 
17 

N^v. S 

33 
26 

Dec. 3t 
27 


Train wrecking. 

Boers breaking oath of neutrality. 

Fighting. 

Boer spy. 
Fighting. 






3 
Several 


Middelbui^ 

Cape Town 

Cradock 

Middelburg 

Kenhardt 

Pretoria 

Colesburg: 

Middelburg 

Middelburg 

Vryburg (hanged). 
Tarkastad 


; 


Middelburg 

Cradock (I hanged, 


Train- wrecking and murdering 

native. 
Fighting. 
Shooting a native. 
Fighting, marauding, and assault- 
Persuading surrendered burghers 

to break oath. 
Cape Police deserter. 
Shooting wounded. 




V bur 


' 


M^eking 

Colesburg 

Johannesburg .... 

AHwal North 

Krugersdorp 









Allowing 3 for the ' several ' at Tarkastad on October 12, that 
makes a total of 34. Many will undoubtedly be added in the 
future, for the continual murder of inoffensive natives, some of 



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1 16 THE WAR : ITS CAUSE AND CONDUC V 

them children, calls for stern justice. In this list 4 were train- 
wreckers (aggravated cases by rebels), i was a spy, 4 were mur- 
derers of natives, 1 a deserter who took twenty horses from the 
Cape Police, and the remaining 23 were British subjects taken 
fighting and bearing arms against their own countiy. 

Hostages Upon Railiva^y Trains 

Here the military authorities are open, as it seems to me, to 
a serious charge, not of inhumanity to the enemy but of neglect- 
ing those steps which it was their duty to take in order to safe- 
guard their own troops. If all the victims of derailings and 
railway cuttings were added together it is not an exaggeration to 
say that it would furnish as many killed and wounded as a 
considerable battle. On at least five occasions between twenty 
and thirty men were incapacitated, and there are very numerous 
cases where smaller numbers were badly hurt. 

Let it be said at once that we have no grievance in this. To 
derail a train is legitimate warfare, with many precedents to 
support it. But to checkmate it by putting hostages upon the 
trains is likewise legitimate warfare, with many precedents to 
support it also. The Germans habitually did it in France, and the 
result justified them as the result has justified us. From the 
time {October 1901) that it was adopted in South Africa we 
have not heard of a single case of derailing, and there can be 
no doubt that the lives of many soldiers, and possibly of some 
civilians, have been saved by the measure, 

I will conclude this chapter by two extracts chosen out of many 
from the diary of the Austrian, Count Sternberg. In tlie first 
he describes his capture : 

' Three hours passed thus without our succeeding in finding 
our object. The sergeant then ordered that we should take a' 
rest. We sat down on the ground, and chatted good-humou redly 
with the soldiers. They were fine fellows, without the least sign 
of brutality— in fact, full of sympathy. Tiie^ had every right 
to be angry with us, for we had spoiled their sleep after they 
had gone through a trying day ; yet they did not visit it on us 
in anv way, and were most kind. They even shared their drink- 
ing-water ' with us. I cannot describe what my feelings were 
that night. A prisoner ! ' 

He adds: 'I can onlv repeat that the English officers and the 
English soldiers have shown in this war that the profession of 
arms does not debase, but rather ennobles man.' 



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Chapter X: The Other Side of the 
Qiiestion 

WRITING in November, 1900, after hearing an expres- 
sion of opinion from many officers from various 
parts of the seat of war, I stated in ' The Great 
Boer War ' : ' The Boers have been the victims of 
a great deal of cheap slander in the press. The 
men who have seen most of the Boers in the field are the most 
generous in estimating their character. That the white flag was 
hoisted by tlie Boers as a cold-blooded device for luring our men 
into the open, is an absolute calumny. To discredit their valour 
is to discredit our victory.' My own opinion would have been 
worthless, but this was, as I say, the result of considerable in- 
quiry. General Porter said : ' On a few occasions the white flag 
was abused, but in what large community wouldyou not find a 
few miscreants?' General Lyttelton said: 'The Boers are 
brave mai and I do not think that the atrocities which have been 
reported are the acts of the regular Dutch burghers, but of the 
riff-raff who get into all armies.' 

It is a painful fact, but the words could not possibly be written 
to-day. Had the war only ended when it should have ended, the 
combatants might have separated each with a chivalrous feeling 
of respect for a knightly antagonist. But the Boers having ap- 
pealed to the God of battles and heard the judgment, appealed 
once more against it. Hence came the long, bitter, and fruit- 
less struggle which has cost so many lives, so much suffering, 
and a lowering of the whole character of the war. 

It is true that during the first year there were many things 
to exasperate the troops. The Boers were a nation of hunters 
and they used many a ruse which seemed to the straightforward 
soldier to be cowardly and unfair. Individuals undoubtedly 
played the white-flag trick, and individuals were guilty of hold- 
ing up their hands in order to lure the soldiers from their 
cover. There are many instances of this — indeed, in one case 
Lord Roberts was himself a witness of it. Appended is his 
official protest ; 

' Another instance having occurred of a gross abuse of the 



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ii8 THE WAR: ITS CAUSE AND CONDUCT 

white flag and of the signal of holding up the hands in token 
of surrender, it is my duty to inform Your Honour that if sudi 
abuse occurs again I shall most reluctantly be compelled to order 
my troops to disregard the white flag entirely. 

' The instance occurred on the kopje east of Driefontein Farm 
yesterday evening, and was witnessed by several of my own staff 
■officers, as well as by myself, and resulted in the wounding of 
several of my officers and men. 

' A large quantity of explosive bullets of three different kinds 
was found in Cronje's laager, and after every engagement with 
Your Honour's troops. 

' Such breaches of the recognised usages of war and of the 
Geneva Convention are a disgrace to any civilised power.' 

But British officers were- not unreasonable. They understood 
that they were fightirtg against a force in which the individual 
was a law unto himself. It was not fair to impute to deliberate 
treachery upon the part of the leaders every slim trick of an un- 
scrupulous burgher. Again, it was understood that a coward 
may hoist an unauthorised white flag and his braver companions 
may refuse to recognise it, as our own people might on more 
than one occasion have done with advantage. For these reasons 
there was very little bitterness against the enemy, and most officers 
would, I believe, have subscribed the opinion which I have ex- 
pressed. 

From the first the position of the Boers was entirely irregular 
as regards the recognised rules of warfare. The first article of the 
Conventions of The Hague insists that an army in order to claim 
belligerent rights must first wear some emblem which is visible 
at a distance. It is true that the second article is to the effect 
that a population which has no time to organise themselves and 
who are defending themselves may be excused from this rule; 
but the Boers were the invaders at the outset of the war, and 
in view of their long and elaborate preparations it is absurd 
to say that they could not have furnished Uurghers on commando 
with, some distinctive badge. When they made a -change it was 
for the worse, for they finally dressed themselves in the khaki 
uniforms of our own soldiers, and by this means effected several 
surprises. It is typical of the good humour of the British that 
very many of these khaki-clad burghers have passed through our 
hands, and that no penalty has ever been inflicted upon them 
for their dangerous breach of the rules of war. In this, as in 
the case of the train hostages, we have gone too far in the direc- 
tion of clemency. Had the first six khaki-clad burghers been 
shot, the lives of many of our soldiers would have been saved. 



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THE OTHER SIDE OF THE QUESTION ng 

The question of uniform was condoned however, just as the 
white-flag incidents were condoned. We made allowance for the 
peculiarities of the warfare, and for the difficulties of our enemies. 
We tried to think that they were playing the game as fairly as 
.they could. Already their methods were certainly rough. Here, 
for example, is a sworn narrative of a. soldier taken in the fight- 
ing before Ladysmith : 

■ Evidence of No. 6418 Private F. Ayling, 3rd ^att. King's 
Royal Rifles. 

' Near Coletiso, February 25, igoa. 

' I was taken prisoner about 5 a. m. on 23rd instant by the 
Boers, being too far in front of my company to retire. I was 
allowed te go about 10 a.m. on the 25th, and rejoined my regi- 
ment. 

' During this time I was kept in the Boer trenches without 
food or drink. There were quite twenty of our wounded lying 
close to the trenches, and asking for water all the time, which 
was always refused. If any of the wounded moved they were 
shot at. Most of them died for want of assistance, as they were 
lying there two days and two nights. The Boers (who seemed to 
be all English) said. " Let them die and give them no water." ' 

Such instances may, however, be balanced against others where 
kind-hearted burghers have shown commiseration and generosity 
to our wounded and prisoners. 

As the war dragged on, however, it took a more savage 
character upon the part of our enemy, and it says much for the 
discipline of the British troops that they have held their hands 
and refused to punish a whole nation for the cruelty and treach- 
ery of a few. The first absolute murder in the war was that of 
lieutenant Neumeyer, which occurred at the end of November 
1900. The facts, which have since been officially confirmed, were 
thus reported at the time from Aliwal : 

' Lieutenant Neumeyer, commanding the Orange River Police 
at Smithfield, was driving here, unarmed, in a cart yesterday, 
when he was " held up " by two Boers. He was taken prisoner, 
handcuffed, and treacherously shot in the back with a revolver 
and again through the head. 

' The murderers stripped off the leggings which Lieutenant 
Neumeyer was wearing, searched his clothes for money, and 
aftenvards dragged the body to a sluit, where later in the day it 
was discovered by the Cape Police and brought here. Two na- 
tives were eye-witnesses of the murder. Lieutenant Neumeyer 
had served with distinction in the Rhodesian campaign.' 



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I20 THE WAR: ITS CAUSE AND CONDUCT 

At this latter period of tlie war began tliat systematic murder- 
ing of the Kaffirs by the Boers which has been the most savage 
and terrible feature in the whole business. On both sides Kaffirs 
have been used as teamsters, servants, and scouts, but on neither 
side as soldiers. The British could with the greatest ease have 
swamped the whole Boer resistance at the beginning of the war" 
by letting loose the Basutos, the Zulus, and the Swazis, all of 
whom have blood-feuds with the Boers. It is very certain that 
the Boers would have had no such compunctions, for when in 
1857 the Traiisvaalers had a quarrel with the Free State we 
have Paul Botha's evidence for the fact that they intrigued with 
a Kaffir chief to attack their kinsnien from the rear. Botha says : 

' I have particular knowledge of this matter, because I took 
part in the commando which our Government sent to meet the 
Transvaal forces. The dispute was eventually amicably settled, 
but, incredible as it may seem, the Transvaal had actually sent 
five persons, headed by the notorious Karel Gee're, to Moshesh, 
the Basuto chief, to prevail upon him to attack us, their kinsmen, 
in the rearl I was one of the patrol that captured Geere and 
his companions, some of whom I got to know subsequently, and 
who revealed to me the whole dastardly plot,' 

This will give some idea as to what we might have had to 
expect had native sympathy gone the other way. In the letter 
already quoted, written by Snyman to his brother, he asserts that 
Kniger told him that he relied upon the assistance of the Swazis 
and Zulus. As it was, however, beyond allowing natives to de- 
fend their own lives and propertv when attacked, as in the case 
of the Baralongs at Mafeking,,and the Kaffirs in the Transkei, 
we have only employed Kaffirs in the pages of the continental 
cartoons. 

As teamsters, servants, guides, and scouts the Kaffirs were, 
however, essential to us, and realising this the Boers, when the 
war began to go against them, tried to terrorise them into desert- 
ing us by killing them without mercy whenever they could in 
any way connect them with the British. How many hundreds, 
were done to death in tliis fashion it is impossible to compute. 
After a British defeat no mercy was shown to the drivers of 
the wagons and the native servants. Boer commandos covered 
their tracks by putting to death every Kaffir who might give 
information. Sometimes they killed even the children. Thus 
Lord Kitchener, in his report, narrates a case where a British 
column hard upon the track of a Boer commando found four little 
Kaffir boys with their brains dashed out in the kraal which the 
Boers had just evacttated. 



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THE OTHER SIDE OF THE QUESTION 121 

A case which particularly touched the feelings of the British 
people was that of Esau, the coloured blacksmith, who was a man 
of intelligence and education, living as a loyal British subject 
in the British town of Calvinia. There was no possible case of 
■ spying ' here, since the man had not left his own town. The 
appended documents will show why the nation will not have done 
its duty until justice has been done upon the murderers. A 
touching letter has been published from Esau to the governor of 
the district in which he says that, come what may, he would be 
loya! to the flag under which he was born. The next news of 
him was of his brutal murder: 

' Abraham Esau, a loyal coloured blacksmith, was mercilessly 
flogged for refusing to give information as to where arms were 
buried. Inflammation of the kidneys set in ; nevertheless he was 
again beaten through the village with sjamboks imtil he was 
unable to walk, and was then shot dead.'-— Calvinia, February 8 
('Times,' February 16, 1901, p. 7 [3])- 

' The district surgeon at Calvinia, writing to the Colonial 
Secretary, has fully confirmed the flinging and shooting of Esau 
by a Boer named Strydom, who stated that he acted in accordance 
with orders. No trial was held, and no reason is alleged for the 
deed. — ^Cape Town, February 19 ('Times,' February 20, 1901, 

p. 5 [3]). 

' The authority for the statement of the flogging by the Boers 
of a coloured man named Esau at Calvinia was a Reuter's tele- 
gram, confirmed subsequently by the report made to Cape Town 
by the district surgeon of Calvinia.' — From Mr. Brodrick's reply 
to Mr. Labouehere in House of Commons, February 21 (' Times,' 
February 22, 1901). 

' I had a telegram from Sir A. Milner in confirmation of the 
reports from various quarters that have reached me. The High 
Commissioner states that the name of the district surgeon who 
reported the mahtreatment of tJie coloured man is Foote. Sir A. 
Milner adds: " There is absolutely no doubt about the murder of 
Esau." ' — From Mr. Brodrick's reply to Mr. Dillon in House of 
Commons, February 22 ('Times,' February 23, 1901). 

The original rule of the British Service was that the black 
scouts should be unarmed, so as to avoid all accusations of arming 
natives. When it was found that they were systematically shot 
they were given rifles, as it was inhuman to expose them to death 
wiihout any means of defence. I believe that some armed Kaffirs 
\vho watch the railway line have also been employed in later 
phases of the war, the weapons to be used in self-defence. Con- 
sidering how pressed the British were at one time, and consider- 



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122 THE WAR : ITS CAUSE AND CONDUCT 

ing that by a word they could have thrown a large an<] highly 
disciplined Indian army into the scales, I think that their refusal 
to do so is one of the most remarkable examples of moderation 
in history. The French had no hesitation in using Turcos against 
the (lermans, nor did the Americans refrain from using Negro 
regiments agaiaet the Spaniards. We made it a white man's 
war, however, and I think that we did wisely and well. 

So far did the Boers carry their murderous tactics against the 
natives, that British prisoners with dark complexions were in 
imminent danger. Thus at a skirmish at Doom River on July 
27, 1901, the seven Kaffir scouts taken with the British were shot 
in cold blood, and an Englishman named Finch was shot with 
ihem in the alleged belief that he had Kaffir blood. Here is the 
evidence of the latter murder: 

No. 28284 Trooper Charles Catton, 22nd Imperial Yeomanry, 
being duly sworn, states: , 

' At Doom River on 27th July, 1901, I was one of the patrol 
captured by the Boers, and after we had surrendered I saw a man 
lying on the ground, wounded, between two natives. I saw a 
Boer go up to him and shoot him through the chest. I noticed 
the man, Trooper Finch, was alive. I do not know the n^me of 
the Boer who shot him/-;but I could recognise him again.' 

^'o- 33966 Troc F. W, Madams, Iravingbeoi duly sworn, 
states : 

' I was one of the patrol captured by the Boers on 27th July, 
1901, near Doom River. After we had surrendered I went to look 
for my hat, and after finding it I was passing the wounded man. 
Trooper Finch, when I saw a Poer, whose name I do not know, 
shoot Trooper Finch through the chest with a revolver. I could 
identify the man who shot him.' 

This scandal of the murder of the Kaffirs, a scandal against 
which no protest seems to have been raised by the pro-Boer press 
in England or the Continent, has reached terrible proportions, 1 
append some of the evidence from recent official reports from the 
front: 

Case at Magaliesberg. — About October or November 1900, the 
bodies of nine natives were found lying together on the top of 
the Magaliesberg. Of these five were intelligence natives, the 
remainder being boys employed by the. Boers, but suspected of 
giving information. The witnesses in this case are now difficult 
to find, as they are all natives; but it appears that the natives 
were tried by an informal court, of which B. A. Kloppcr, ex- 
President of the Volksraad, was president, and condemned to 



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THE OTHER SIDE OF THE QUESTION iij 

death. Hendrik Schoeman. son of the late general, and Piet 
Joubert are reported to have acted as escort. 

Case of five natives murdered near Wilge River.— -On capturing^ 
a train near Wilge River, Transvaal, on March ii, 1901, the 
Boers took five unarmed natives on one side and shot them, 
throwing their bodies into a ditch. Corporal Sutton, of the Hamp- 
shire Regiment, saw, after tlie surrender, a Boer put five shots 
into a native who was lying down. Other soldiers on the train 
vouch to seeing one man deliberately shoot five boys in cold 
blood. 

Case of eight Kaffir boys. — On or about July 17, 1901, eight 
Kaffir boys, between the ages of twelve and fourteen, went out 
from Uitkijk near Edenburg, to get oranges. None were armed. 
Boers opened fire, shot one, captured' six ; one escaped, and is 
now with Major Damant. Corporal Willett, Damant's Horse, 
afterwards saw boys' bodies near farm, but so disfigured that they 
could not be recognised. Some Kaffirs were then sent out from 
Edenburg and recognised them. One boy is supposed to have 
been spared by Boers, body not found. Lieutenant Kentish, 
Royal Irish Fusiliers, saw bodies, and substantially confirms 
murder, and states Boers were under Field-Cr et Dutoit. 

Case of Klass, Langspruit, Standerton. — ' ss's wife states 
that on August 3, 1901, Cornelius Laas, of gspruit, and an- 
other Boer came to the kraal and told Klas .0 go with them. 
On his demurring they accused him of giving information to the 
British, and C. Laas shot him through the back of the head as he 
ran away. Another native, the wife of a native clergyman at 
Standerton, saw the dead body. 

Case of Two Natives near Hopetown. — On August 22, 1901, 
Private C. P. Fivaz, of the Cape Mounted Police, along with two 
natives, was captured near Venter Hoek, Hopetown district, by 
a force under Commandant Van Reenan. He had oflE-saddled 
at the time, and the natives were sleeping in a stable. He heard 
Van Reenan give his men an order to shoot the natives, wliicli 
order was promptly carried out in his presence as regards one 
man, and he was told that the other had also been shot. The 
resident on the farm, A. G. Liebenberg. who warned Faviz at 5 
A. M., of the approach of the enemy buried both the bodies where 
he found them — viz., one about forty yards from the house and 
the other about five lumdred yards away. His statement is cor- 
roborated by his son, who saw one of the boys killed. 

Case of John Makran. — John Makran and Alfius Rampa {the 
witness) are unarmed natives living near Warmbaths, north of 



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124 THE WAR: ITS CAUSE AND CONDUCT 

Pretoria. On the evening of September 17, 1901, Andries Van 
<ler Walt and a party of Boers surrounded Makran's house. Van 
der Walt told the boy to come out, and when he did so two men 
seized him. While two men held Makran's hands up Van der 
Walt stood five yards behind him and shot him through the head 
with a Mauser rifle. When the boy fell he shot him again through 
the heart, and then with a knife cut a deep gash across his fore- 
hea*l. Both these boys formerly worked for Van der Walt. 

Case at Zandspruit. — On the night of October i, 1901, about 
11.30 p. M., a party of Boers surrounded a native house at Dassie 
Kli|), near Zandspruit, and killed four natives in or about the 
house. The party consisted of twenty-four, under the following 
leaders: Dirk Badenhorst, of Dassie Klip; Cornelius Erasmus of 
Streepfontein ; and C. Van der Merwe, of Rooi Draai. The wit- 
nesses in this case are all natives residing at Dassie Klip, who 
knew the assailants well. In one case a native called Karie was 
endeavouring to escape over a wall, but was wounded in the 
thigh. On seeing he was not dead.Stoffel Visagie of Skuilhoek 
<lre\v a revolver and shot hifti through the head. The charge 
against these natives appears to have been that they harboured 
British scouts. 

Case of Jim Zulu.— On or about October 18, 1901, V. C. Thys 
Pretorius (presumably of Pretoria), with seventy men, visited 
AVaterval North, on the Pretoria-Pietersburg line, and practically 
murdered two natives, wounding three others, one of whom 
afterwards died. The witnesses state that on the morning of 
October 18, 1901, Pretorius came to a colliery near Waterval 
North and called for Jim /^ulu, and on his appearance shot him 
through the face.. Three days later this native died of his wounds. 
.\t the same time he and another man, named Dorsehasmus, also 
shot three other natives. 

Here is a further list, showing how systematic has been this 
brutality. 

I reproduce it in its official curtness : 

Report of Resident Magistrate, Barkty West, January 28, 
1900. — Native despatch rider shot and mutilated. 

November or December 1900. — Near Virginia two natives 
were shot, being accused of showing the British the road to Ven- 
tersburg. 

Report of Resident Magistrate, Taungs. December 4, 1900. — 
Three natives murdered at Tiorder Siding. 

December 18, 1900, — Native, Philip, shot at Viakplaats, eight 
miles south-west of Pretoria, by J. Johnson and J. Dilmar, of 
J. Joubert's commando. 



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THE OTHER SID E OF THE QUESTION 125 

Report of Resident Magistrate, Taimgs, December 24, 1900.- — 
Native sliot by Boers at RLKlimoc. Three natives ki\led at Chris- 
Report of Resident Magistrate, Herschel, Januarj' 6, 1901,— 
Two natives shot as spies. 

Report of Resident Magistrate, Calvinia, January 29, 1901. — 
Esau case and ill-treatment of other natives. 

February 28, \goi.—7.u\u boy slioi dead at Zevenfontein, be- 
tween Pretoria and Johannesburg, charged with giving informa- 
tion to the British, by men of Field-Comet Jan Joubert"s com- 
mando. 

Report of Resident Magistrate, Cradock, March 21, 1901. — 
Murder of native witness, Salmon Booi. 

Report of Resident Magistrate, Taungs, May 8, 1901. — Natives 
shot by Boers at Manthe. 

Report of Resident ^Magistrate, Gordonia, May 23. 1901. — 
Native shot dead. 

May 25, i(>Oi. — District Harrismith. A native accused of 
laziness and insolence was shot by men in M. Prinsloo's com- 
mando. 

May 28, 1901. — At Sannah's Post three natives were captured 
and shot. 

June 5, 1901. — Three natives with Colonel Plumer's column 
captured and shot near Paardeberg. 

July 27, 1901. — -Seven natives captured with a patrol of Im- 
perial' Yeomanry near Doom River Hut were shot on the spot. 

Report of Intelligence, East Cape Colony. July 29, 1901. — 
Shooting of natives by Commandant Myburgh. 

Report of Resident Ms.gistrate, Aliwai North, July 30, 1901. — 
Shooting of natives at refugee camp. 

August 23, 1901.— Native captured with a private of the Black 
Watch near Clocolan and shot in his presence. 

September i, 1901.— Four natives with Colonel Dawkins's 
column captured in Fauresmith district and shot by order of 
Judge Hertzog. 

Report of Resident Magistrate, AHwal North,- September 4, 
1901. — Brutal treatment of natives bv Boers under Bester, J. P., 
of Aliwai North. 

Report of Resident Magistrate. Riversdale, September 4, 1901. 
— Two coloured despatch riders severely flogged. 

Report of Intelligence, South Cape Colony. September 18, 
1901.— Natives murdered by Theron's orders. 

Report of Chief Commissioner, Richmond, September 23, 1901. 
— Two unarmed natives shot by Commandant Malan, 



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126 THE' WAR: ITS CAUSE AND CONDUC T 

Report of Resident Magistrate, Prieska, September 26, 1901. — 
Murder of two unarmed natives. 

Report of Colonel Hickman, Ladysmith, October 1, 1901. — 
Shooting of two natives by Scheepers. 

Date uncertain.— A native in Petrusburg Gaol was shot in his 
cell by two Boers on the approach of the British troops. 

So much for the Kaffir murders. It is to he earnestly hoped 
that no opportunism or desire to conciliate our enemies at the 
expense of justice, will prevent a most thorough examination into 
every one of these black deeds, and a most stem punishment for 
the criminals. 

I return, however, to the question of the conduct of the Boers 
to their white opponents. So long as they were fighting as an 
army under the eyes of the honourable men who led them, their 
conduct was on the whole good, but guerilla warfare brought 
with it the demoralisation which it always does bring, and there 
was a rapid falling away from the ordinary humanity between 
civilised opponents. I do not mean by this to assert that the 
Boer guerillas behaved as did the Spanish guerillas in 1810, 
or the Mexican in 1866. Such an assertion would be absurd. 
The Boers gave quarter and they received it. But several iso- 
lated instances, and several general cases have shown the de- 
moralisation of their ranks. Of the former I might quote the 
circumstances of the death of Lieutenant Miers, 

The official intimation was as follows : 

' Pretoria : September 27. 

'Lieutenant Miers, Somerset' Light Infantry, employed with 
South African Constabulary, went out from his post at Rivers- 
draai, 25th September, to meet three Boers approaching under 
white flag, who. after short conversation, were seen to shoot 
Lieutenant Miers dead and immediately gallop away. Inquiry 
being made and evidence recorded.' 

A more detailed account was sent by the non-commissioned 
officer who was present. He described how the Boers ap- 
proached the fort waving a white flag, how a corporal went out 
to them, and was told that they wished to speak with an officer, 
liow Captain Miers rode out alone, and then: 

' As soon as the officer had gone but a short distance on the 
far side of the spruit, the Boer with the white flag advanced to 
meet him ; the officer also continued to advance till he came up . 
with the blackguard. At the end of three or four minutes we 
saw the two walking back to the two Boers (who were standing 
a good two miles off from this fort of ours). When they reached 



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THE OTHER SIDE OF THE QUESTION 127 

the two Boevs we saw the captain dismount, the group being 
barely visible owing to a rise in the ground. At the end of five 
or ten minutes we were Just able to distinguish the sound of a 
shot, immediately after which we saw the officer's grey mare 
bolting westwards across the veldt riderless, with one of the 
liocrs galloping for all he was worth after it.' 

Of :iie general demoralisation Jiere is the evidence of a witness 
in tliac very action at Graspan on June 6, which has been made 
so much of by the slanderers of our Army: 

No. 4703 La nee- Corporal James HansJiaw, 2nd Batt. Bedford- 
shire Regiment. Ijcing duly sworn, states : ' At Graspan on June 
6, 1901, I was present when we were attacked by the Boers, 
having previously captured a convoy from them. On going to- 
wards the wagons I found the Boers already there; finding we 
were outnumbered and resistance hopeless, we threw down our 
arms and held our bands up. Private Blunt, who was with me, 
shouted, " Don't shoot me, I have thrown down my rifle." The 
Boers then shot Private Blunt dead. He was holding his hands 
above his head at the time. Lieutenant Mair then shouted, " Have 
mercy, you cowar<Is." The Boers then deliberately shot Lieu- 
tenant Mair dead as he was standing with his hands above his 
head. They then shot at Privates Pearse and Harvey, who were 
both standing with their hands up, the same bullet hitting Private 
Pearse in the nose and killing Private Harvey. Two Boers then 
rushed from the wagons and threatened to shoot me, kicked me, 
and told me to lie down.' 

No. 3253 Private E. Sewell, 2nd Batt. Bedfordshire Regiment, 
being duly sworn, states: 'I was at the fight at Graspan on 
June 6, 1901. About noon on that date the Boers attacked the 
convoy. I retired to Lieutenant Mair's party, when, finding we 
were outnumbered and surrounded, we put our hands up. The 
Boers took our arms from us and retired round some kraals; 
shortly afterwards they came back, and two men shouted, 
" Hands up." We said we were already prisoners, and that our 
arms had been collected. Private Blnnt held up his hands, and 
at the same time said, " Don't shoot me, I am already hands up." 
The Boers then said, " Take that," and shot him through the 
stomach. Lieutenant Mair then stepped out from the wagons, 
and said, " Have mercy, you cowards." The Boer then shot him 
dead from his horse. The, Boer was sitting on his horse almost 
touching Lieutenant Mair at the time. The Boer then shot at 
Lance- Corporal Harvey and Private Pearse who were standing 
together with their hands up above their heads, the shot wound- 
ing Private Pearse and killing Lance- Corporal Harvey,' 



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128 THE WAR: ITS CAUSE AND CONDUCT 

Here is the evidence of the murder of the wounded at Vlak- 
fonteiii on May 29, 1901 : 

Private U. Chambers, H. Company, ist Batt. Derbyshire Regi- 
ment, being duly sworn, states : ' Whilst lying on the ground 
wounded I saw a Boer shoot two of our wounded who were lying 
en the ground near me. This Boer also fireci at me, but missed 

Privates W. Bacon and Charles Girling, ist Batt. Derbyshire 
Regiment, being duly sworn, state : ' Whilst lying wounded on. 
Uie ground with two other wounded men four Boers came up to 
HS, dismounted, and fired a volley at us. We were all hit again, 
and Private Goodwin, of our regiment, was killed. The Boers 
then took our arms away, and after swearing at us rode away.' 

Corporal Sargent, ist Batt. Derbyshire Regiment, being duly 
sworn, states: 'While lying wounded behind a rock I saw a 
Doer shoot a Yeomanry officer who was walking away, wounded 
in the hand.' 

Acting-Sergeant Chambers, 69th Company Imperial Yeomanry, 
being duly sworn, states : ' I saw a Boer, a short man with a dark 
heard, going round carrying his rifle under his arm, as one would 
carry a sporting rifle, and shoot three of our wounded.' 

Private A. C. Bell, 69th Company Imperial Yeomanry, being 
duly sworn, states: ' I heard a Boer call to one of our men to 
put" up his hands, and when he did so the Boer shot him from 
about fifteen yards off; I was about twenty yards off.' 

Private T. George, 69th Company, Imperial Yeomanry, being 
duly sworn, states : ' I was walking back to camp wounded, when 
I saw a Boer about seventeen years of age shoot at a wounded 
Derby man who was calling for water; the Boer then came up 
to me and took mv bandolier away.' 

Gunner W. H. Blackburn, 28th Battery Royal Field Artillery, 
being duly sworn, states: ' I saw a Boer take a rifle and bando- 
lier from a wounded Derby man, and then shoot him ; the Boer 
then came to me and asked me for my rifle; I showed it him 
where it was lying on the ground.' 

Things of this sort are progressive, Here is what occurred at 
ftrakenlaagte when the rear of Benson's column was destroyed, 

Major N. E. Young. D.S.O., Royal Field Artillery, sends the 
report to the Commander-in-Chief of Boer cruelty to the officers 
and men wounded in the action with Colonel Benson's column at 
Brakcnlaagte. It is dated Pretoria, November 7, and Lord Kitch- 
ener's covering letter is dated November g. 

Major Young, who made the inquiries into the charges of 
eruchy in accordance with Lord Kitchener's instructions, says: 



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THE OTHER SI DE OF THE QUESTION 129 

' Out of a total of 147 wounded non-commissioned officers and 
men seen by me fifty-four had not been in the hands of the Boers. 
Of the remaining ninety-three men, eighteen informed nie they 
had nothirig to complain of. 

■ Seventy-five non-commissioned officers and men made com- 
plaint of ill-treatment of a more or less serious nature ; nearly all 
of these bad been robbed of whatever money they possessed, also 
of their watches and private papers. 

' Many had been deprived of other articles of clothing, hats, 
jackets, and socks, in some cases being left with an old shirt and 
a pair of drawers only. 

' There is a consensus of opinion that the wounded lying 
round the guns were fired on by Boers, who had already disarmed 
them, for a long period after all firing in their neighbourhood 
from our side had ceased. 

' Even the late Colonel Benson was not respected, though he 
was protected for some time by a man in authority; eventually 
his spurs, gaiters, and private papers were removed.' 

Major Young, in Concluding his report, says: — 

' I was impressed with the idea that the statements made to 
me were true and not wilfully exaggerated, so Simply were they 
made. There seems no doubt that though the Boer commandants 
have the will they have no longer the power to repress outrage 
and murder on the part of their subordinates.' 

Lieutenant G. Acland Troyte, King's Royal Rifle Corps, 25th 
Mounted Infantry, states: 'I was woimded on October 25 in a 
rearguard action with Colonel Benson's force, near Kaffirstadt.' 
The Boers came up and stripped me of everything except my 
drawers, shirt, and socks, they gave me an old pair of trousers, 
and later a coat.' 

Lieutenant Reginald Seymour, ist Bait. King's Royal Rifle 
Corps, 25th Mounted Infantry:-— ' On October 30 my company 
was sent back to the support of Colonel Benson's rearguard. I 
was wounded early in the day. The Boers came up. They took 
my greatcoat, waiters, spurs, and helmet; they took the money 
and watthes from the other wounded, but left them their" 'clothes 
except the coat of one man.. They then left us without assist- 
ance. Two Boers afterwards returned and took away a great- 
coat belonging to one of our men which had been left over me. 
One of the party who stripped us was addressed by the remainder 
as Commandant.' 

Captain C. W. Collins, Cheshire Regiment : — ' I was signalling 
officer to Colonel Benson on October 30. I was wounded, and 
'-ving near the guns about a hundred yards in rear of them. A 



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I30 THE WAR: ITS CAUSE AND CONDUCT 

field-cornet came up and went away without molesting me. At 
about 5.30 p. M., or a little lat'er, the ambulances came and picked 
mc up ; my ambulance went on some distance farther, and Colonel 
Benson and some men were put in it. There seemed to be a. lot 
of delay, which Annoyed the Colonel, and he asked to be allowed 
to get away. The delay, however, continued till a Boer came and 
took away Colonel Benson's documents from his pocket, notwith- 
standing his protest that they were all private papers, and that 
they had been seen by a commandant earlier in the day, who said 
they were not required.' 

Private E. Kigby, 4th Batt. King's Royal Rifle Corps, states 
the Boers took all his clothes except his shirt. This man is not 
quite able to speak yet. 

Trooper Hood, 2nd Scottish Horse : ' While I was lying ■ 
wounded on the ground the Boers came up and stripped me of 
ihy liat and coat, boots, 15.1., and a metal watch. I saw them 
fire at another wounded man as he was coming to me for a drink.' 

Trooper Alexander Main, 2nd Scottish Horse; 'While lying 
on the ground, the Boers came close up and' stood about fifteen 
to twenty yards away from where we were lying wounded round 
the guns. All- were wounded at this time, and no one was firing. 
I saw the Boers there fire at the wounded. Captain Lloyd, a 
staff officer, was lying beside me wounded in the leg at this time; 
he received one or two more shots in the body, and shortly after- 
wards he died. I myself received three more wounds.' 

Trooper Jamieson, Scottish Horse : ' The Boers took off his 
boots and they hurt his shattered arm in a terrible manner- while 
getting off his bandolier. His arm has been removed.' 

Private Parrish, ist Batt. King's Royal Rifle Corps: 'Our 
ridge was not firing any more, but whenever a wounded man 
showed himself, they- fifed at him, in this way several were killed; 
one man who was waving a bit of blue stuff with the idea of 
getting an ambulance, received about twenty shots.' 

Private Prickett, 4th Batt. King's Royal Rifle Corps : ' On 
October 30 I was lying wounded. I saw the Boers come up, and 
an old Boer with black beard and whiskers, and 'wearing leggings, 
whom I should be able to recognise again, shot my friend. Private 
F. Foster. 4th Batt. King's Royal Rifle Corps, by putting the 
muzzle of his rifle to his side. Private Foster had been firing 
under cover of an ant-heap tili the Boers took. the position; he 
then threw away his rifle to put his hands up, but was shot all 
the same.' 

Private N. H. Grierson, Scottish Horse: ' I was wounded and 
h'ing by the side of Colonel Benson. When the Boers cam&iUp 



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THE OTHER SIDE OF THE QUESTION 131 

they wanted to begin to loot ; Colonel Benson stopped them, tell- 
ing them he had received a letter from Commandant Grobelaar 
saying the woniuled would be respected. Colonel Benson asked 
if he coujd see Grobelaar; they said they woidd fetch him, and 
brought up someone who was in authority, but I do not think it 
was Grobelaar. Colonel Benson told him the wounded were not 
to be touched, and he said he would do his best; he himself pro- 
tected Colonel Benson for about an hour, but he was still there 
when a Boer took off Colonel Benson's spurs and gaiters.' 

Sergeant KetJey, 7th Hussars : ' I was wounded in the head 
and hip just before the Boers rushed the guns. I was covered 
with blood. A Boer came up, took away my carbine and revolver 
and asked me to put up my bands. I could not do this, being 
too weak with the loss of blood. He loaded my owu carbine and 
aimed from his breast while kneeling, and pointed at my breast. 
He fired and hit me in the right arm Just below the shoulder.' 

Private Bell, 4th Batt. King's Royal Rifle Corps, 2Sth Mounted 
Infantry : ' When the Boers came up they took my boots off very 
roughly, hurting my wounded leg very much. I saw them taking 
watches and money off the other men.' 

Private C. Connor, Royal Dublin Fusileers : ' I was lying be- 
side the guns among a lot of our wounded, who were not firing. 
Every time one of our wounded attempted to move the Boers 
fired at them; several men (abou* ten or eleven) were killed in 
this way.' 

Lieutenant Bircham, 4th Batt. King's Royal Rifle Corps: 
' Was in the same ambulance wagon as Lieutenant Martin, King's 
Own Yorkshire Light Infantry (since deceased), and the latter 
told him that when he (Lieutenant Martin) was lying on the 
groimd wounded the Boers took off his spurs and gaiters. In 
taking off his spurs they wrenched his leg, the bone of which 
was shattere<l, completely round, so as to be able to get at the 
spurs more easily, though Lieutenant Martin told them where 
he was hit.' 

Corporal P. Gower. 4th Batt. King's Royal Rifle Cgrps, 25th 
Mounted Infantry: 'I was wounded and unconscious. When 
I came to, the Boers were stripping the men round me. A man, 
Private Foster, who was not five yards from me. put up his hands 
in token of surrender, but was shot at about five-yards range by 
a tall man with a black beard. He was killed.' 

Corporal Atkins, 84th Battery Royal Field Artillery : ' The 
Boers came up to me and said, " Can you work this gun?" I 
said "Yes." He said "Get up and show me.'' I said, "How 
can I? I have one hand taken away, and I am wounded in both 



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132 THE WAR: ITS CAUSE AND CONDUCT 

legs " — this last was not true. He then said, " Give us your 
boots " — he took them and my mackintosh. He took what money 
was in my belt One of our men. Bombardier Collins, got up to 
try and put up a white flag, as we were being fired at both from 
the camp and by the Boers ; as soon as he got up they began 
shooting at him. I saw a Kaffir fire three shots from about thirty 
yards off.' 

Bombardier Collins, 84th Battery Royal Field Artillery: 
' When lying wounded near the guns after the Boers had beei» 
up to them I tried to raise a white flag as our own people were 
dropping their bullets dose to us. When I did this they fired 
at me.' 

So long as an excuse could be found for a brave enemy we 
found it. But the day is rapidly approaching when we must turn 
to the world with our evidence and say. ' Are these the deeds of 
soldiers or of brigands? If tbey act as brigands, then, why must 
we for ever treat them as soldiers ? ' I have read letters from 
soldiers who saw their own comrades ill-treated at Brakenlaagte. 
I trust that they will hold their hands, but it is almost more that* 
can be asked of human nature. 



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Ch'apter XI: Conclusions 

I HAVE now dealt with the varied vexed questions of tht- 
war, and have, I hope, said enough to show that we have 
110 reason to blusli for our soldiers, but only for those of 
their fellow-countrymen who have traduced them. But 
there are a nuniber of opponents of the war who have 
never descended to such baseness, and who honestly hold 
that the war might have been avoided, and also that we might, 
after it broke out, have found some terms which the Boer,= 
could accept. At their back they have all those amiable and 
goodhearted idealists who have not examined the question ver}- 
critically, but are oppressed by the fear that the Empire is acting 
too roughly towards these pastoral republics. Such an opinion 
is just as honest as, and infinitely more respectable than, that of 
some Journalists whose arrogance at the beginning of the war 
brought shame upon us. There is no better representative of 
such views than 'Mr. Methuen in his ' Peace or War,' an able and 
moderate statement. Let us examine his conclusions, omitting 
the causes of the war, which have already been treated at some- 
length. 

Mr. Methuen draws a close comparison between the situation 
and that of the American Revolution. There are certainly points 
of resemblance — and also of difference. Our cause was essen- 
tially unjust with the Americans and essentially just with the 
Boers. We have the Empire at our back now. We have the 
command of the seas. We are very wealthy. These are all new 
andimpoWant factors. 

The revolt of the Boer States against the British suzerainty 
is much more like the revolt of the Southern States against the- 
Government of Washington. The situation here after Colenso- 
was that of the North after Bull Run. Mr. Methuen hjfe much 
to say of Boer bitterness, but was it greater than Southern 
bitterness? That war was fought to a finish and we see what 
has come of it. I do not claim that the parallel is exact, but it 
is at least as nearly exact as that from which Mr. Methuen draws 
such depressing conchisions. He has many gloomy remarks upoti 
our prospects, but it is in facing gloomy prospects with a high 
133 



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134 THE WAR : ITS CAUSE AND CONDUCT 

heart that a nation proves that it is not yet degenerate. Better 
pay all the price which he predicts ttiah shrink for one instant 
from our task. 

Mr, Methuen makes a good "deal of the foolish and unchival- 
Tous, even brutal, way in which some individuals and some news- 
papers have spoken of the enemy. I suppose there are few 
gentlemen who have not winced at such remarks. But let Mr. 
Methuen glance at the continental press and see the work of the 
supporters of the enemy. It will make him feel more charitable 
towards his boorish fellow-countrymen. Or let him examine the 
Dutch press in South Africa and see if all the abuse is on one 
«ide. Here are some appreciations from the first letter of P.S. 
■(of Colesburg) in the ' Times ' : 

' Your lazy, dirty, dnmken, lower classes.' 

' Your officers are pedantic scholars or frivolous society men.' 

' The major part of your population consists of females, 
cripples, epileptics, consumptives, cancerous people, invalids, and 
lunatics of all kinds.' 

' Nine-tenths of your statesmen and higher ofiicials are suffer- 
ing from kidney disease.' 

' We will not be governed by a set of British curs.' 

No great chivalry or consideration of the feelings of one's 
opponent there ! Here is a poem from the ' Volksstem ' on Au- 
gust 26. 1899. weeks before the war, describing the Boer pro- 
gramme. A translation runs thus : 

• Then shall our ears with pleasure listen 

To widow's wail anfl otphan's cry; 

And shall we gird, as joyful witness. 

The death-watch of your villainy. 

' Then shall we massacre and butcher 

Von, and swallow a:lad your hlood; . 

And count it ■' capital with interest " — 

Villain's interest— sweet and good. 
* And when the sun shall set in Heaven, 

Dark with the clouds of steaming blood, 
A ghastly, woeful, dying murmur 
Will be the Briton's last salute. 



JJo doubt a decent Boer would be as ashamed of this as we are 
cf some -oi our Jingo papers. But even their leaders,- Reitz, 



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CONCLUSIONS 135 



Steyn, and Kruger, have allowed themselves to use language 
about the British which cannot, fortunately, be matched upon our 
side. 

Mr, Methuen is severe upon Lord Salisbury for the uncom- 
promising nature of his reply to the Presidents' overtures for 
peace in March jqoo. But what other practical course could he 
suggest ? Is it not evident that if independence were left to the 
Boers the war would have been without result, since all the causes 
which led to it would be still open and unsolved ? On the morrow 
of such a peace we should be faced by the Franchise question, 
the Uitlander question, and every other question for the settling 
of which we have made such sacrifices. Is that a sane policy? 
Is it even tenable on the grounds of humanity, since it is per- 
fectly clear that it must lead to another and a greater struggle 
in the course of a few years? When the v^ork was more than 
half done it would have been madness to hold our hand. 

Surely there is no need for gloomy forebodings. The war has 
seemed Song to us who have endured it, but to our descendants 
it will probably seem a very short time for the conquest of so 
. huge a country and so stubborn a foe. Our task is not endless. 
Four-fifths of the manhood of the country is already in our hands, 
and the fifth remaining diminishes week by week. Our mobility 
and efficiency increase. There is not the slightest ground for 
Mr. Methuen's lament about the condition of the Army. It is 
far fitter than when it began. It is mathematically certain that a 
. very few months must see the last commando hunted down. 
Meanwhile civil life is gaining strength once more. Already the 
Orange River Colony pays its own way, and the Transvaal is 
within measurable distance of doing the same. Industries arc 
waking up, and on the Rand the roar of the stamps has replaced 
that of the cannon. Fifteen hundred of them will soon be at 
work, and the refugees are returning at the rate of 400 a week. 

It is argued that the bitterness of this struggle will never die 
out. but history has shown that it is the fights which are fought 
to an absolute finish which leave the least rancour. ■ Remember 
Lee's noble words : We arc a Christian people. We have 
fought this fight as long and as well as we knew how. We have 
been defeated. For us, as a Christian people, there is now but 
one course to pursue. We must accept the situation.' That is 
how a brave man accepts the judgment of the God of battles. 
So it may at last be with the Boer.s. These prison camps and con- 
centration camps have at least brought them, men and women, 
in contact with our people. Perhaps the memories left behind 
Avill not be entirely bitter. Providence works in strange ways. 



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APPENDIX 



' I look occasion at my interview wiih Commandam-General Louis Botha to bring 
Ihis matter before him, and Hold him that if he continued such acts ! should be forced 
. lo brire m all women and children and as much property as possible, to proiecl ihem 
from the acts of hiG burghers. I further inquired if he would agree to spare Ihe farms 
andfamihesof neutral or sunendered burghers, in which case lexptessed ray willing, 
ness lo leave undisturbed the farms and families of burghers who were on commando, 
provided ihey did nol actively assist their relalivea. The Commandant-General empha^ 
icaliy refused even to coneider any such arrangement. He said, " I am entitled by law 
to force every man to join, and if they do notdo so, to confiscate their property and leave 
their families on the veldt." 1 asked him what course 1 eouid pursue to protect surren- 
dered burghers and their families, and he then said, "Theonly thing you can do is to 
send them out of the coantry, as if I catch them Jhey must suffer." After this there was 
noihi.ng more lo be said, and as military operations do not permit of the protection of 
individuals, I had practically no choice but to continue my system of sweeping inhabit- 
ants of certain areas into the proieciion of our lines. M)^ decision was conveyed to the 
Commandant .General in my official letter dated Pretoria, April r6, 1901, from which 
(be fallowing is an extract : 

'"As I informed your Honour at Middelburg, owing lo the irregular manner in 
which yon have conducted and continue lo conduct boslilllies, by forcing unwilling and 
peaceful inhabitants lo join your commandos, a proceeding totally unauthoriied by ' 
the recogniied customs of war, I have no other course oiKn lo me, and am forced to 
lake Ihe very unpleasant and repugnant steps of bringing in the women and children." 

' " I have the greatest sympathy for the sufferings of these poor people, which I 
have done my best lo alleviate, and it is a matter of surprise to me, and 10 the whole 
eiviliied world, that your Honour consider! " ' " 



APPENDIX B. 

Count IliJRNER is an Austrian General, the son of Ihe late Baron Hilbner, who was 
an Austro -Hungarian Ambassador. On his return from South Africa he communicated 
his impressions to a representative of the ' Daily Telegraph.' 

'What struck me most,' said he, 'was the elaborate and generous system devoted lo 
the amelioration of the condition of the old men, women, and children in the Coocen- 

' I cannot form any opinion as to how far the necessities of warfare demanded the 
burning of the farms, but from all I heard I gather that military exigencies would have 
enacted the samekind of treatment by tboseincommandofanyciviliied army. What was, 
in my opinion, so exceptional was the remarkable humanity displayed by the British to 
these victims of warfare, i cannot think of anything which I could suggest as an improve- 
ment. 1 should like above all things to contradict most directly the statement that women 
and girls had been taken or brought from the camps for immoral purposes. Wherever 
I came in contact with the soldiers, and that was frequently, 1 was struck with the per- 
fect conduct and bearing of the men. I never, for example, saw one drunken soldier.' 

Count Hiibner was much distressed by Ihe calumnies which he read in the Conti- 
nental papers. ' I cannot understand,' said he, ' fronj what quarter they emanate, for 
-luring my stay in South Africa I never heard of Ihe esiitence of the correspondent of a 
lorfign paper. The whole conduct of the British civil and military authorities has been 

So spoke a truthful and loyal gentleman. 



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