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A Closer Union: A Letter on the South African Union and the Principles of Government. Schreiner, Olive, 1855–1920.
page: verso

Publisher's Note

THE following letter was written by Mrs. Cronwright Schreiner (Olive Schreiner) in October, 1908, in reply to twelve questions submitted to her by the Editor of the Transvaal Leader, and it appeared in that journal on December 22.

On February 9, 1909, the National Convention for the Union of the four South African Colonies, after four months' deliberation at Durban and Cape Town, published a draft of the suggested Constitution (printed here in The Times of February 10), on which the several Parliaments of the South African States will deliberate on March 30. In May the Convention reassembles, and in June it submits its final draft to the Parliaments, after which a Committee of Delegates proceeds to England to facilitate the passing of the Act.

The opinion of a South African authority of such high repute as Olive Schreiner cannot fail to be of interest at this time, and it will be seen that on several capital matters (the Native Question, Federation, the Seat of Government, to mention the principal) her views differ from the draft Constitution. And wise as that is, and widely as it has been praised, there is still time and room for beneficial alteration in the respects mentioned. The fate of the native question alone involves the fate of South Africa, possibly the fate of the British Empire; and it is before all things imperative that the rights and liberties of the native shall be fully safeguarded.

But it is principally in the belief that the general principles of sound and honourable government herein expressed will have importance and value when the Unification or Federation of the South African States has long passed into history, that this letter is now presented to the English public, by special arrangement with the author.