Skip to Content
Indiana University

Search Options




View Options


Native Races and the War. Butler, Josephine Elizabeth Grey, 1828–1906.
previous
next
page: 113

VII.

TRANSVAAL POLICY SINCE 1884. DELIMITATION OF BOUNDARY AGREED TO AND NOT OBSERVED. THE CHIEF MONTSIOA. HIS COUNTRY PLACED UNDER BRITISH PROTECTION. TRANSVAAL LAW. THE GRONDWET OR CONSTITUTION. THE HIGH COURTS OF JUSTICE SUBSERVIENT TO THE VOLKSRAAD OR PARLIAMENT. ARTICLE 9 OF THE GRONDWET REFERRING TO NATIVES. NATIVE MARRIAGE LAWS. THE PASS SYSTEM. MISPLACED GOVERNMENTAL TITLES,—REPUBLIC, EMPIRE, ETC.

THE Boer policy toward the natives did not undergo any change for the better from 1881 and onwards.

At the time of the rising of the Boers against the British Protectorate, which culminated in the battle of Majuba Hill and the retrocession of the Transvaal, a number of native chiefs in districts outside the Transvaal boundary, sent to the British Commissioner for native affairs to offer their aid to the British Government, and many of them took the “loyals” of the Transvaal under their protection. One of these was Montsioa, a Christian chief of the Barolong tribe. He and other chiefs took charge of Government property and cattle during the disturbances, and one had four or five thousand pounds in gold, the product of a recently collected tax, given him to take care of by the Commissioner of his district, who was afraid that the money would be seized by the Boers. In every instance the property entrusted to their charge was returned intact. The loyalty of all the native chiefs under very trying circumstances, is a remarkable proof of the page: 114 great affection of the Kaffirs, and more especially those of the Basuto tribes, who love peace better than war, for the Queen’s rule. I will cite one other instance among many of the gladness with which different native races placed themselves under the protection of the Queen.

In May, 1884, in the discharge of his office as Deputy Commissioner in Bechuanaland, and on behalf of Her Majesty, the Queen, Mr. Mackenzie entered into a treaty with the chief, Montsioa, by which his country (the Barolong’s country) was placed under British protection, and also with Moshette, a neighbouring chief, who wrote a letter to Mr. Mackenzie asking to be put under the same protection as the other Barolong.*

Mr. Mackenzie wrote:— “Whatever may have been the feelings of disapproval of the British Protectorate entertained by the Transvaal people, I was left in no manner of doubt as to the joy and thankfulness with which it was welcomed in the Barolong country itself.

“The signing of the treaty in the courtyard of Montsioa, at Mafeking, by the chief and his headmen, was accompanied by every sign of gladness and good feeling. The speech of the venerable chief Montsioa was very cordial, and so cheerful in its tone as to show that he hoped and believed that the country would now get peace.

“Using the formula for many years customary in proclamations of marriages in churches in Bechuanaland, Montsioa, amid the smiles of all present, announced an approaching political union, and exclaimed with energy. “Let objectors now speak out or henceforth for ever be silent.” There was no objector.

“I explained carefully in the language of the people, the nature


* Parliamentary Blue Book, 4194, 42.

† Austral Africa. Chap. 4, pages 235-250.

page: 115 and object of the Protectorate, and the manner in which it was to be supported.

“Montsioa then demanded in loud tones: “Barolong! what is your responses to the words that you have heard?”

“With one voice there came a great shout from one end of the courtyard to the other, “We all want it.”

“The chief turned to me and said, “There! you have the answer of the Barolong we have no uncertain feelings here.” As I was unfolding the views of Her Majesty’s Government that the Protectorate should be self‐supporting, the chief cried out, ‘We know all about it, Mackenzie, we consent to pay the tax.’ I could only reply to this by saying that that was just what I was coming to; but, inasmuch as they knew all about it, and saw its importance, I need say no more on the subject.

“Montsioa, in the first instance, did not like the appearance of Moshette’s people in his town. I told him I was glad they had come, and he must reserve his own feelings, and await the results of what was taking place. I was pleased, therefore, when in the public meeting in the courtyard, just before the signing of the treaty, Montsioa turned to the messengers of Moshette and asked them if they saw and heard nicely what was being done with the Barolong country? They replied in the affirmative, and thus, from a native point of view, became assenting parties. In this manner something definite was done towards effacing an ancient feud. The signing of the treaty then took place, the translation of which is given in the Blue Book.

“After the treaty had been signed, the old chief requested that prayer might be offered up, which was accordingly done by a native minister. The satisfaction of the great event was further marked by the discharge of a volley from the rifles of a company of young men told off for the purpose; and the old cannon of page: 116 Montsioa, mounted between the wheels of an ox‐waggon, was also brought into requisition to proclaim the general joy and satisfaction.

“But alas! such feelings were destined to be of short duration. While we were thus employed at Mafeking, the openly‐declared enemies of the Imperial Government, and of peace and order in Bechuanaland, had been at their appropriate work elsewhere within the Protectorate. Before sunset the same evening, I was surprised to hear the Bechuana war cry sounded in Montsioa’s Town, and shortly afterwards I saw the old chief approaching my waggon, followed by a large body of men.

“‘Monare Makence!’ (Mr. Mackenzie), ‘the cattle have been lifted by the Boers,’ was his first announcement. I shall never forget the scene at that moment. The excitement of the men, some of whom were reduced to poverty by what had taken place, and also their curiosity as to what step I should take, were plainly enough revealed on the faces of the crowd who, with their chief, now stood before me.

“‘Mr. Mackenzie,’ said Montsioa, ‘you are master now, you must say what is to be done. We shall be obedient to your orders.’ ‘We have put our names on your paper, but the Boers have our cattle all the same,’ said one man.

Another shouted out with vehemence, ‘please don’t tell us to go on respecting the boundary line. Why should we do so when the Boers don’t?’

‘Who speaks about a boundary line?’ said another speaker, probably a heavy loser. ‘Is it a thing that a man can eat? Where are our cattle?’

“As I have already said, I shall never forget the scene in which these and similar speeches were made at my waggon as the sun went down peacefully—the sun which had witnessed the page: 117 treaty‐signing and the rejoicings at Mafeking. Its departing rays now saw the cattle of the Barolong safe in the Transvaal, and the Barolong owners and Her Majesty’s Deputy Commissioner looking at one another, at Mafeking.”*

Mr. Mackenzie then resolved what to do, and announced that he would at once cross the boundary and go himself to the nearest Transvaal town to demand redress. There was a hum of approval, with a sharp enquiry from Montsioa,—did he really mean to go himself? “Having no one to send, I must go myself,” Mackenzie replied. The old Chief, in a generous way, half dissuaded him from the attempt. “The Boers cannot be trusted. What shall I say if you do not return?” “All right, Montsioa,” replied Mackenzie, “say I went of my own accord. I will leave my wife under your care.”

“Poor old fellow.” writes Mackenzie, “brave“‐hearted, though ‘only a native,’ he went away full of heaviness, promising me his cart and harness, and an athletic herd as a driver, to start early next morning.”

Mr. Mackenzie had little success in this expedition. He was listened to with indifference when he represented to certain Landdrosts and Field Cornets that he had not come to talk politics, but to complain of a theft. Those to whom he spoke looked upon the cattle raid not as robbery, but as “annexation” or “commandeering.” A man, listening to the palaver, exclaimed: “Well, anyhow, we shall have cheap beef as long as Montsioa’s cattle last.” At the hotel of the place Mr. Mackenzie met some Europeans, who were farming or in business in the Transvaal. They said to him: “Mr. Mackenzie, we are sorry to have to say it to you, for we have all known you so long, but, honestly speaking, we hope you won’t succeed; the English Government


* Austral Africa, p. 233 and on.

page: 118 does not deserve to succeed after all that they have made us—loyal colonists—suffer in the Transvaal. For a long time scarcely a day has passed without our being insulted by the more ignorant Boers, till we are almost tired of our lives, and yet we cannot go away, having invested our all in the country.”

“Many such speeches were made to me,” says Mackenzie, “I give only one.”

I cannot find it in my heart to criticize the character of the Boers at a time when they have held on so bravely in a desperate war, and have suffered so much. There are Boers and Boers,—good and bad among them,—as among all nations. We have heard of kind and generous actions towards the British wounded and prisoners, and we know that there are among them men who, in times of peace, have been good and merciful to their native servants. But it is not magnanimity nor brutality on the part of individuals which are in dispute. Our controversy is concerning the presence or absence of Justice among the Boers, concerning the purity of their Government and the justice of their Laws, or the reverse.

I turn to their Laws, and in judging these, it is hardly possible to be too severe. Law is a great teacher, a trainer, to a great extent, of the character of the people. The Boers would have been an exceptional people under the sun had they escaped the deterioration which such Laws and such Government as they have had the misfortune to live under inevitably produce.

A pamphlet has lately been published containing a defence of the Boer treatment of Missionaries and Natives, and setting forth the efforts which have been made in recent years to Christianize and civilize the native populations in their midst. This paper is signed by nine clergymen of the Dutch Reformed Church, and includes the name of the Rev. Andrew Murray, a page: 119 name respected and beloved by many in our own country. It is welcome news that such good work has been undertaken, that the President has himself encouraged it, and that a number of Zulus and Kaffirs have recently been baptized in the Dutch Reformed Church of the Transvaal. But the fact strikes one painfully that in this pleading, (which has a pathetic note in it,) these clergymen appear to have obliterated from their mind and memory the whole past history of their nation and to have forgotten that the harvest from seed sown through many generations may spring up and bear its bitter fruit in their own day. They do not seem to have accepted the verdict, or made the confession, “we and our fathers have sinned.” They seem rather to argue, “our fathers may have sinned in these respects, but it cannot be laid to our charge that we are continuing in their steps.”

No late repentance will avail for the salvation of their country unless Justice is now proclaimed and practised;—Justice in Government and in the Laws.

Their Grondwet, or Constitution, must be removed our of its place for ever; their unequal laws, and the administrative corruption which unequal laws inevitably foster, must be swept away, and be replaced by a very different Constitution and very different Laws. If this had been done during the two last decades of Transvaal history, while untrammelled (as was desired) by British interference, the sincerity of this recent utterance would have deserved full credit, and would have been recognized as the beginning of a radical reformation.

The following is from the last Report of the Aborigines Protection Society (Jan., 1900). Its present secretary leans towards a favourable judgment of the recent improvements in the policy of page: 120 the Transvaal, and condemns severely every act on the part of the English which does not accord with the principles of our Constitutional Law, and therefore this statement will not be regarded as the statement of a partisan:—“It is laid down as a fundamental principle in the Transvaal Grondwet that there is no equality of rights between white men and blacks. In theory, if not in practice, the Boers regard the natives, all of whom they contemptuously call Kaffirs, whatever their tribal differences, pretty much as the ancient Jews regarded the Philistines and others whom they expelled from Palestine, or used as hewers of wood and drawers of water, but with added prejudice due to the difference of colour. So it was in the case of the early Dutch settlers, and so it is to‐day, with a few exceptions, due mainly to the influence of the missionaries, whose work among the natives has from the first been objected to and hindered. It is only by social sufferance, and not by law, that the marriage of natives with Christian rites is recognised, and it carries with it none of the conditions as regards inheritance and the like, which are prescribed by the Dutch Roman code in force with white men. As a matter of fact, natives have no legal rights whatever. If they are in the service of humane masters, mindful of their own interests and moral obligations, they may be properly lodged and fed, not overworked, and fairly recompensed; but from the cruelties of a brutal master, perpetrated in cold blood or a drunken fit, the native practically has no redress.”

The Rev. John H. Bovill, Rector of the Cathedral Church, Lorenço Marquez, and sometime Her Majesty’s Acting Consul there, has worked for five years in a district from which numbers of natives were drawn for work in the Transvaal, has visited the Transvaal from time to time, and is well acquainted with Boers of all classes and occupations. He has given us some details page: 121 of the working out—especially as regards the natives—of the principles of the Grondwet or Constitution of the Transvaal.

To us English, the most astonishing feature, to begin with, of this Constitution, is that it places the power of the Judiciary below that of the Raad or Legislative Body. The Judges of the Highest Court of Law are not free to give judgment according to evidence before them and the light given to them. A vote of the Raad, consisting of a mere handful of men in secret sitting, can at any time override and annul a sentence of the High Court.

This will perhaps be better understood if we picture to ourselves some great trial before Lord Russell and other of our eminent judges, in which any laws bearing on the case were carefully tested in connection with the principles of our Constitution; that this supreme Court had pronounced its verdict, and that the next day Parliament should discuss, with closed doors, the verdict of the judges, and by a vote or resolution, should declare it unjust and annul it.

Let us imagine, to follow the matter a little further on the lines of Transvaal justice, that our Sovereign had power to dismiss at will from office any judge or judges who might have exercised independence of judgment and pronounced a verdict displeasing to Parliament or to herself personally! Such is law and justice in the Transvaal; and that country is called a Republic! “This is Transvaal justice,” says M. Naville; “a mockery, an ingenious legalizing of tyranny. There are no laws, there are only the caprices of the Raad. A vote in a secret sitting, that is what binds the Judges, and according to it they will administer justice. The law of to‐day will perhaps not be the law to‐morrow. The fifteen members of the majority, or rather President Kruger, who influences their votes, may change their opinion from one day to the next—it matters not; their opinion, formulated by a vote, will page: 122 always be law. Woe to the judge who should dare to mention the Constitution or the Code, for there is one: he would at once be dismissed by the President who appointed him.”

It was prescribed by the Grondwet that no new law should be passed by Parliament (the Volksraad) unless notice of it had been given three months in advance, and the people had had the opportunity to pronounce upon it. This did not suit the President; accordingly when desirous of legalizing some new project of his own, he adopted the plan of bringing in such project as an addition or amendment to some existing law, giving it out as no new law, but only a supplementary clause. Law No. 1 of 1897 was manipulated in this manner. By this law, the Judges of the High Court were formally deprived of the right to test the validity of any law in its relation to the Constitution, and they were also compelled to accept as law, without question or reservation of any kind, any resolution passed at any time and under any circumstances by the Volksraad. This Law No. 1 of 1897 was passed through all its stages in three days, without being subjected in the first instance to the people.

But I am especially concerned with what affects the natives.

Article I of this section says:—A native must not own fixed property.

(2) He must not marry by civil or ecclesiastical process.

(3) He must not be allowed access to Civil Courts in any action against a white man.

Article 9 of the Grondwet is not only adhered to, but is exaggerated in its application as follows:—“The people shall not permit any equality of coloured persons with white inhabitants, neither in the Church, nor in the State.”

“These principles” says Mr. Bovill, “are so engrained in the mind of an average Boer that we can never expect anything page: 123 to be done by the Volksraad for the natives in this respect. It appears inconceivable,” he continues, “that a Government making any pretence of being a civilized power, at the end of the nineteenth century, should be so completely ignorant of the most elementary principles of good government for such a large number of its subjects.”

As to the access by the natives to the Courts of Law.

“If you ask a native he will tell you that access to the law‐courts is much too easy, but they are the Criminal Courts of the Field Cornets and Landdrosts. He suffers so much from these, that he cannot entertain the idea that the Higher Courts are any better than the ordinary Field Cornets’ or Landdrosts’. However, there are times when with fear and trepidation he does appeal to a Higher Court. With what result? If the decision is in favour of the native, the burghers are up in arms, crying out against the injustice of a judgment given in favour of a black against a white man; burghers sigh and say that a great disaster is about to befall the State when a native can have judgment against a white man. The inequality of the blacks and superiority of the white (burghers) is largely discussed. Motions are brought forward in the Volksraad to prohibit natives pleading in the Higher Courts. Such is the usual outcry. Summary justice (?) by a Landdrost or Field Cornet is all the Boer would all a native. No appeal should be permitted, for may it not lead to a quashing of the conviction? The Landdrost is the friend of the Boer, and he can always “square” him in a matter against a native. “It was only to prevent an open breach with England that these appeals to the Higher Courts were permitted in a limited degree.”*

No. 2.—The Native Marriage Laws. “Think,” says Mr. Bovill, “what it would mean to our social life in England if we


* Natives under the Transvaal Flag. Revd. John H. Bovill.

page: 124 were a conquered nation, and the conquerors should say: ‘All your laws and customs are abrogated; your marriage laws are of no consequence to us; you may follow or leave them as you please, but we do not undertake to support them, and you may live like cattle if you wish; we cannot recognise your marriage laws a binding, nor yet will we legalise any form of marriage among you.’ Such is in effect, the present position of the natives in the Transvaal.

“I occasionally took my holidays in Johannesburg, and assisted the Vicar, during which time I could take charge of Christian native marriages, of which the State took no cognisance. A native may marry, and any time after leave his wife, but the woman would have no legal claim on him. He could marry again as soon as he pleased, and he could not be proceeded against either for support of his first wife or for bigamy. and so he might go on as long as he wished to marry or could get anyone to marry him. The same is applicable to all persons of colour, even if only slightly coloured—half‐castes of three or four generations if the colour is at all apparent. All licenses for the marriage of white people must be applied for personally, and signed in the presence of the Landdrost, who is very cautious lest half‐castes or persons of colour should get one. Colour is evidently the only test of unfitness to claim recognition of the marriage contract by the Transvaal State.

“The injustice of such a law must be apparent; it places a premium on vice.* It gives an excuse to any ‘person of colour’


* It is stated on the authority of The Sentienel (London, June, 1900), that Mr. Kruger was asked some years ago to permit the introduction in the Johannesburg mining district of the State regulation of vice, and that Mr. Kruger stoutly refused to entertain such an idea. Very much to his credit! Yet it seems to me that the refusal to legalize native marriages comes rather near, in immorality of principle and tendency, to the legalizing of promiscuous intercourse.

page: 125 to commit the most heinous offences against the laws of morality and social order, and protects such a one from the legal consequences which would necessarily follow in any other civilised State.”

Mr. Bovill has an instructive chapter on the “Compound system,” and the condition of native compounds. This is a matter which it is to be hoped will be taken seriously to heart by the Chartered Company, and any other company or group of employers throughout African mining districts. “The Compound system of huddling hundreds of natives together in tin shanties is the very opposite to the free life to which they are accustomed. If South African mining is to become a settled industry, we must have the conditions of the labour market settled, and also the conditions of living. We cannot expect natives to give up their free open‐air style of living, and their home life. They love their homes, and suffer from homesickness as much as, or probably more than most white people. The reason so many leave their work after six months is that they are constantly longing to see their wives and children. Many times have they said to me, ‘It would be all right if only we could have our wives and families with us.’”

“The result of this compound life is the worst possible morally.” ....

“We must treat the native, not as a machine to work when required under any conditions, but as a raw son of nature, very often without any moral force to control him and to raise him much above the lower animal world in his passions, except that which native custom has given him.”

The writer suggests that “native reserves or locations should be established on the separate mines, or groups of mines, where the natives can have their huts built, and live more or less under page: 126 the same conditions as they do in their native Kraals. If a native found that he could live under similar conditions to those he has been accustomed to, he will soon be anxious to save enough money to bring his wife and children there, and remain in the labour district for a much longer period than at present is the case.

“It would be a distinct gain to the mining industry as well as to the native.”

Mr. Bovill goes into much detail on the subject of the “Pass Laws.” I should much desire to reproduce his chapter on that subject, if it were not too long. That system must be wholly abolished, he says: “it is at present worse than any conditions under which slavery exists. It is a criminal‐making law. Brand a slave, and you have put him to a certain amount of physical pain for once, but penalties under the Pass Law system mean lashes innumerable at the direction of any Boer Field Cornet or Landdrost. It is a most barbarous system, as brutal as it is criminal‐making, alone worthy of a Boer with an exaggerated fear of and cowardly brutality towards a race he has been taught to despise.”

Treating of the prohibition imposed on the Natives as to the possession in any way or by any means of a piece of land, he writes: “Many natives are now earning and saving large sums of money, year by year, at the various labour centres. They return home with every intention of following a peaceful life; why should they not be encouraged to put their money into land, and follow their ‘peaceful pursuits’ as well as any Boer farmer? They are capable of doing it. Besides, if they held fixed property in the State, it would be to their advantage to maintain law and order, when they had everything they possessed at stake. With no interest in the land, the tendency must always be to a page: 127 nomadic life. They are as thoroughly well capable of becoming true, peaceful, and loyal citizens of the State as are any other race of people. Their instincts and training are all towards law and order. Their lives have been disciplined under native rule, and now that the white man is breaking up that rule, what is he going to give as a substitute? Anarchy and lawlessness, or good government which tends to peace and prosperity?

“We can only hope for better times, and a more humane Government for the natives, to wipe out the wrong that has been done to both black and white under a bastard civilization which has prevailed in Pretoria for the past fifteen years. The Government which holds down such a large number of its subjects by treating them as cut‐throats and outlaws, will one day repent bitterly of its sin of misrule.”*

Tyranny has a genius for creeping in everywhere, and under any and every form of government. This is being strikingly illustrated in these days. Under the name of a Republic, the traditions of a Military Oligarchy have grown up, and stealthily prevailed.

When a nation has no recorded standard of guiding principles of government, it matters not by what name it may be called—Empire, Republic, Oligarchy, or Democracy—it may fall under the blighting influence of the tyranny of a single individual, or a wealthy clique, or a military despot.

Too much weight is given just now to mere names as applied to governments. The acknowledged principles which underlie the outward forms of government alone are vitally important, and by the adherence to or abdication of these principles each nation will be judged. The Revered name of Republic is capable of


* Natives under the Transvaal Flag, by Rev. J. Bovill.

page: 128 being dragged in the mire as that of the title of any other form of government. Mere names and words have lately had a strange and even a disastrous power of misleading and deceiving, not persons only, but nations,—even a whole continent of nations. It is needful to beware of being drawn into conclusions leading to action by associations attaching merely to a name, or to some crystallized word which many sometimes cover a principle the opposite of that which it was originally used to express. Such names and words are in some cases being as rapidly changed and remodelled as geographical charts are which represent new and rapidly developing or decaying groups of the human race. Yet names are always to a large part of mankind more significant than facts; and names and appearances in this matter appeal to France and to Switzerland, and in a measure to the American people, in favour of the Boers.

Among the concessions made by Lord Derby in the Convention of 1884, none has turned out to be more unfortunate than that of allowing the Transvaal State to resume the title of the “South African Republic.” In South Africa it embodied an impossible ideal; to the outside world it conveyed a false impression. The title has been the reason of widespread error with regard to the real nature of the Transvaal Government and of its struggle with this country. If “Republican Independence” had been all the Mr. Kruger was striving for, there would have been no war. He adopted the name, but not the spirit of a Republic. The “Independence” claimed by him, and urged even now by some of his friends in the British Parliament, is shown by the whole past history of the Transvaal to be an independence and a freedom which involve the enslavement of other men.

A friend writes:—“In order to satisfy my own mind I have page: 129 been looking in Latin Dictionaries for the correct and original meaning of ‘impero,’, (I govern,) and ‘imperium.’ The word ‘Empire’ has an unpleasant ring from some points of view and to some minds. One thinks of Roman Emperors, Domitian, Nero, Tiberius,—of the word ‘imperious,’ and of the French ‘Empire’ under Napoleon I. and Napoleon III. The Latin word means ‘the giving of commands.’ All depends on whether the commands given are good, and the giver of them also good and wise. The Ten Commandments are in one sense ‘imperial.’ Now, I think the word as used in the phrase British Empire has, in the most modern and best sense, quite a different savour or flavour from that of Napoleon’s Empire, or the Turkish or Mahommedan Empires of the past. It has come to mean the ‘Dominion of Freedom’ or the ‘Reign of Liberty,’ rather than the giving of despotic or tyrannical or oligarchic commands. In fact, our Imperialism is freedom for all races and peoples who choose to accept it, whilst Boer Republicanism is the exact opposite. How strangely words change their weight and value!

“And yet there still remains the sense of ‘command’ in ‘Empire;’ and in the past history of our Government of the Cape Colony there has been too little wholesome command and obedience, and too much opportunism, shuffling off of responsibility, with self‐sufficient ignorance and doctrinaire foolishness taking the place of knowledge and insight. Want of courage is, I think, in short, at the bottom of the past mismanagement.”

The assertion is repeatedly made that “England coveted the gold of the Transvaal, and hence went to war.” It is necessary it seems, again and again, to remind those who speak thus that England was not the invader. Kruger invaded British Territory, being fully prepared for war. England was not in the least page: 130 prepared for war. This last fact is itself a complete answer to those who pretend that she was the aggressor.

In regard to the assertion that “England coveted the gold of the Transvaal,” what is here meant by “England?” Ours is a representative Government. Are the entire people, with their representatives in Parliament and the Government included in this assertion, or is it meant that certain individuals, desiring gold, went to the Transvaal in search of it? The expression “England” in this relation, is vague and misleading.

The search for gold is not in itself a legal nor a moral offence. But the inordinate desire and pursuit of wealth, becoming the absorbing motive to the exclusion of all nobler aims, is a moral offence and a source of corruption.

Wherever gold is to be found, there is a rush from all sides; among some honest explorers with legitimate aims, there are always found, in such a case, a number of unruly spirits, of scheming, dishonest and careless persons, the scum of the earth, cheats and vagabonds. The Outlanders who crowded to the Rand were of different nations, French, Belgians and others, besides the English who were in a large majority. The presence and eager rush of this multitude of gold seekers certainly brought into the country elements which clouded the moral atmosphere, and became the occasion of deeds which so far from being typical of the spirit of “England” and the English people at large, were the very reverse, and have been condemned by public opinion in our country.

But, admitting that unworthy motives and corrupting elements were introduced into the Transvaal by the influx of strangers urged there by self‐interest, it is strange that any should imagine and assert that the “corrupting influence of gold,” or the lust of gold told upon the British alone. The disasters brought upon page: 131 the Transvaal seem to be largely attributable to the corrupting effect on President Kruger and his allies in the Government, of the sudden acquisition of enormous wealth, through the development, by other hands than his own, of the hidden riches within his country.

What are the facts? In 1885 the revenue of the Transvaal State was a little over £177,000. this rose, owing to the Outlanders’ labours, and the taxes exacted from them by the Transvaal government to £4,400,000 (in 1899). Thus they have increased in the proportion of 1 to 25. “If the admirers of the Transvaal government, who place no confidence in documents emanating from English sources, will take the trouble to open the Almanach de Gotha, they will there find the financial report for 1897. There they will read that of these £4,400,000, salaries and emoluments amount to nearly one‐quarter—we will call it £1,000,000,—that is, £40 per head per adult Boer, for it goes without saying that in all this the Outlanders have no share. If we remember that the great majority of the Boers consist of farmers who do not concern themselves at all about the Administration, and who consequently get no slice of the cake, we can judge of the size of the junks which President Kruger and the chiefly foreign oligarchy on which he leans take to themselves. The President has a salary of £7,000—(the President of the Swiss Confederation has £600)—and besides that, what is called “coffee‐money.” This is his official income, but his personal resources do not end there. The same table of the Almanach de Gotha shows a sum of nearly £660,000 entitled “other expenses.”. Under this head are included secret funds, which in the budget are stated at a little less than £40,000 (more than even England has), but which always exceed that sum, and in 1896 reached about £200,000. Secret Service Funds!—vile page: 132 name and viler reality—should be unknown in the affairs of small nations. Is not honesty one of the cardinal virtues which we should expect to find amongst small nations, if nowhere else? What can the chief of a small state of 250,000 inhabitants do with such a large amount of Secret funds?

“We can picture to ourselves what the financial administration of the Boers must be in this plethora of money, provided almost entirely by the hated Outlander. An example may be cited. The Raad were discussing the budget of 1989, and one of the members called attention to the fact that for several years past advances to the amount of £2,400,000 had been made to various officials, and were unaccounted for. That is a specimen of what the Boer régime has become in this school of opulence.”* M. Naville continues:—“We do not consider the Boers, as a people, to be infected by the corruption which rules the administration. The farmers who live far from Pretoria have preserved their patriarchal virtues; they are upright and honest, but at the same time very proud, and impatient of every kind of authority..... They are ignorant, and read no books or papers—only the Old Testament; but Kruger knew he could rouse these people by waving before them the spectre of England, and crying in their ears the word ‘Independence.’ And this is what disgusts us, that under cover of principles so dear to us all, independence and national honour, these brave men are sent to the battlefield to preserve for a tyrannical and venal oligarchy the right to share amongst themselves, and distribute as they please, the gold which is levied on the work of foreigners.”


* La question du Transvaal, by Professor Ed. Naville, of Geneva.

previous
next