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The Political Situation. Schreiner, Olive, 1855–1920.
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LET us glance first at the conditions of this Retrogressive Movement, and see if its cause be discoverable.

That such a movement has taken place admits of no doubt.

Many of the measures passed have not only shown no tendency to accord with the movement known as Liberal or Progressive in all countries inhabited by Europeans; but they have shown a persistent tendency to page: 10 move in a contrary direction, and even to undo the more advanced and progressive legislative enactments of the past.


While in all civilised countries where representative institutions prevail the tendency is to move without intermission in the direction of a broadened electoral basis, so that in several of the English colonies to-day we find manhood suffrage, or one man one vote, or adult suffrage; and while even the most backward of European countries are rapidly tending year by year towards these page: 11 conditions—we, I believe, alone among civilised people have deliberately, during the last few years, narrowed our basis,¹ and undone the progressive work of the last generation.

So also while in all enlightened countries during the past sixty years public opinion has been steadily advancing in the direction of doing away with the lash as a punishment for minor offences, we in this country have not only, during the last years, possessed certain individuals in our Legislative

¹ The Franchise Act, introduced and voted for unanimously by the last Ministry, Mr. Rhodes being Premier, raised the monetary qualification from £25 to £75 per annum.

page: 12 Councils who have striven to introduce an Act making legal the infliction of corporal punishment for the smallest offences towards master or mistress on the part of household or other servants, and which, if passed would be merely a recurrence to slavery under a new name—but this Act was voted for by three members in the last Ministry, two of them being Englishmen, and one the Premier, Mr. Cecil Rhodes.

Again, while in all civilised countries the tendency, as each country advances, is to consider more and more the welfare of its labouring classes; to remove oppressive restrictions; to en- endeavour page: 13 deavour by every lawful means to increase their wages; and to regard the labourer, not merely as a means for increasing the wealth of other sections of the community, but to legislate for his welfare, and to regard his happiness as one of the pressing considerations of the State—we in this country have, under the Glen Grey Act of last year, brought in and supported by Mr. Cecil Rhodes and his following, an enactment which compels even the self-supporting and industrious native to work for the white man for a certain time every year, whether he will or no; laying himself open to imprisonment or fine page: 14 if he refuse, even though his going out to labour for the white man should entail the neglect of his own cultivated lands.

So again, with regard to land tenure; while in all progressive countries there is a tendency to obtain and retain as large a part as possible of lands, mines, and great public works as the property of, and to be worked for the benefit of, the nation as a whole—we, in this country, are for ever and completely alienating our public lands, our minerals, our precious stones, and even our public works.

And further, not only are we alienating them within our own page: 15 boundaries, and allowing almost without a struggle a small band of Monopolists to gain possession and control of that wealth which should be ours and our children's to employ for the benefit of the nation that shall be, but we are enabling them to grasp adjacent territories still uninhabited by the white man, so that when the mass of civilised men shall enter into occupation there, they will find nothing of value left for themselves in that state which, by their labour, they will have to build up; the alien will already have set his grasp upon all that is fair or rich. For not as in other countries has the Monopolist risen up page: 16 among us, a growth of our own; he comes from a foreign clime, and sweeps bare the virgin land before him like the locust; and, like the locust, leaves nothing for his successors but the barren earth.

While in New Zealand and other advanced colonies every legislative effort is being made to retain the land for the people, we are quietly allowing ourselves to be stripped bare session after session, and are confiding our possession into the hands of the Speculator and Monopolist.

Lastly, while in enlightened countries there is a continually increasing tendency to raise the revenue, not by taxing the page: 17 primary necessaries of life, upon which almost the whole income of the labouring classes is necessarily expended, but to raise it through the taxation of luxuries, whether by means of Excise or Import dues, we in this country find that not only are our necessaries of life already taxed to an appalling extent,¹ but a heavy additional tax on wheat and flour, and an almost prohibitive tax on imported meat,² is being levied upon

¹ For instance, wheat 38 per cent., flour 59 per cent., unrefined sugar 107 per cent., butter 20 per cent., cheese 43 per cent., candles 59 per cent., paraffin 202 per cent.

² Frozen meat 2d. per lb., wheat an additional 38 per cent.

page: 18 us; while diamonds (forming a monopoly of which the Prime Minister is the head) and the intoxicating liquors, inferior in quality, so largely produced in this country, are allowed to go untaxed.

So also in small matters.

In Australia, where the material welfare of the country largely depends on its wool, it has been clearly seen that to allow the land to be partially ruined by the existence of an easily eradicated disease in the stock was scandalous and immoral; and they have legislated so successfully that in certain Australian colonies the insect which causes the disease has page: 19 been exterminated. It has been felt in those countries that the man who refuses to exterminate scab in his flocks inflicts a merciless wrong and injustice upon his fellows whose flocks his own infect; and the Australians have, by stringent legislation, made such conduct impossible.

It is not necessary to say that in this country all attempts to legislate in defence of the man who endeavours to keep his flocks healthy have been crushed or emasculated.

Many other matters will suggest themselves to every one in which our legislation has shown this retrograde tendency. We have no time now to enter into page: 20 details with regard to such measures as Haarhoff's Bill, which, as introduced, was intended to make it culpable for any aboriginal native, whether a domestic servant, householder, newspaper editor, or clergyman, to be found walking on pavements in our towns; and also to make it punishable for any aboriginal native to be found out of doors within a township after nine o'clock at night unless he or she had been given a pass by the Magistrate or other authorised person—a Bill which also received the support of the existing Government.

On the whole, it is evident that no impartial mind can page: 21 look at the course of our legislation during recent years without realising the fact that while the wheels of legislation in other civilised and Anglo-Saxon communities are tending to propel the car of state forwards, ours are slowly but surely running us backwards.



Now, when we turn to inquire of ourselves what the reason of this Retrogressive Movement may be, I think the superficial reply, given when we glance merely at the surface of our public life, would be this: that the Retrogressive page: 22 Movement of late years has been entirely the work of that organisation known throughout South Africa as the Afrikander Bond; and which has in recent years attained to such influence that it apparently coerces Ministry after Ministry, bending them to its will. But a deeper examination will, I think, show us that the Bond alone would not have been able to produce this movement. Another influence, working into the hands of the Bond, has given it for a moment the power of forcing this retrogression upon the country.

But before we turn to consider this secondary influence, page: 23 let us glance at the Bond itself.

The Afrikander Bond was in its origin one of the most beneficent and desirable institutions that have appeared in South Africa. It banded together, and aroused to healthy interest in the affairs of the State, a large body of men who, hitherto unorganised and isolated, had not taken that share in the government of the State which their numbers would have justified, and who were therefore unduly disregarded and possibly even unjustly dealt with.

Started originally (as was inevitable under the circumstances) as a more or less racial page: 24 organisation, and opposing Boer as Boer to Englishman as Englishman, this tone, nevertheless, as time passed, quickly modified itself. To-day the organisation is merely an organisation which draws together and unites for common purposes a number of the early colonists and others holding certain views on social and political matters, and in no way is it a merely racial organisation. To this extent it forms a healthy and desirable element in our public life. Left to itself, and having no adventitious power given it by an extraneous intervention, I believe that, so far from being an evil, the existence of the page: 25 Bond would awaken and maintain that healthy friction and interaction of opposing views which is necessary to keep pure and healthy the stream of political life.

But what has this extraneous influence been which has acted upon the Bond, removing it from its healthy position, and enabled it to obtain for the moment an undue power of enforcing its retrogressive views and methods upon the whole Cape Colony?

To explain this influence it will be necessary to examine carefully the nature and power of that small band of Monopolists to whom we before referred.

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South Africa is a country of vast resources. In spite of the dryness of much of our climate, the rocky nature of certain tracts of our soil, taking the whole of South Africa together from east to west, I do not hesitate to assert that not many countries equally desirable and suitable for human habitation will be found. More than a compensation for the dryness of our climate is the absence of the numbing cold of extreme northern and southern lands, which for months in the year renders outdoor labour difficult; page: 27 yet more important is the absence of that moist heat which in tropical countries renders exertion almost impossible to the white man, and exhaustive to the dark. A country with temperate, stimulating climate, which favours the health and energy of Europeans, physically and mentally; which is favourable to the constitution of every species of domestic animal, and is adapted to the cultivation of almost every plant of the temperate and tropical zones; which, above all, is one of the richest, if not the richest, country in the world in precious stones and minerals of all kinds, and which was originally peopled page: 28 only by barbarians—this country has always been attractive to Europeans. For 200 years, Boer and Englishman, we have been populating and steadily taking possession of the land, moving steadily northwards. Our progress has not been made by a series of world-striking coups d'état, it has been slow, but it has been the more healthy, the more sure, the more deeply rooted, because of its gradual and natural development.

Those superb pioneers of South Africa, its Boers, have continued to move, as they have always moved, northward: our English colonists have been steadily building up their vil- villages page: 29 lages, founding their educational institutions, and establishing a liberal and progressive Government. We have not exhausted or even yet opened up many of the mineral resources of our country; they are still here for the use of our own and future generations; but so far as the colonists, Dutch and English, have populated the land, our progress, though slow, has been wholesome; and the land as a whole has been kept free from many of those crushing evils which afflict the older civilisations of Europe, and even affect some of the younger dependencies.

There is a sense in which we page: 30 have been a poor people. We have had no mass of surplus wealth wrung from the labour of a working class, but we have been a very rich people, perhaps one of the richest on the earth, in the fact that grinding poverty, and the enormous and superfluous wealth of individuals, were equally unknown among us. Our people as a whole led a simple but comfortable life; our labouring classes were engaged in no unhealthy occupation; starvation and want were unknown among us; we were progressing steadily, if slowly, and keeping our national wealth for the people as a whole, and for all who should labour among us.

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But a new element has burst into South African life.



When diamonds were first discovered here, in the true old South African manner, the find was considered as one for the people at large. For years there flocked to the Diamondfields colonists from every part of the country, and the wealth discovered went back to the homes of the people. That wealth rebuilt many a Colonial homestead; it educated many a Colonial child; it enabled landowners to carry out improvements otherwise impos- impossible page: 32 sible; it saved from insolvency many a Colonial firm which had sent members to dig; it spread throughout the country a glow of well-being, owing to the general diffusion in small sums of the wealth made by South Africa from the diamonds. Something analogous took place in the early days at the Transvaal gold-fields; and gold-digging has never yet become quite so complete a monopoly in the hands of a few as the diamond industry.

Time forbids that I should enter into a detailed account of the way in which these industries passed from their early and healthy condition; the page: 33 facts are well known to you all. There were in South Africa certain men from Europe, of great shrewdness, and with large abilities for speculation, who saw at once the possibilities our natural industries opened out before them. The many small original possessors of the wealth of South Africa were not men of vast means, and were rather hard workers than sharp financial speculators; and the keen-sighted strangers quickly discerned that, could they buy out the small interests one by one and then amalgamate among themselves, slowly but surely the wealth of the country would pass into their hands.

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It needed no vast capital to buy out the original possessors.

To-day a small, resolute, and keen body of men, amalgamated into Rings and Trusts, are quickly and surely setting their hands round the mineral wealth of South Africa. Our diamonds are already a complete monopoly in their hands; our gold, our coal, the richest portions of our soil, and even our public works, are tending to fall into the grasp of our great amalgamators. Not only are these men not South Africans by birth, which would in itself matter nothing, but in the majority of cases they are men who regard South Africa merely page: 35 as a field for the making of wealth and the furthering of their own designs. When they have attained their end they do not feel themselves bound to the spot which has enriched them, but in most cases retire to Europe to expend the wealth of South Africa in the purchase of social distinction and in the luxuries of old-world life, or in further increasing their command over South African resources.

And South Africa grows poorer!

Yet, were this all, we should be inclined to say, What ground have we for complaint? These men are but taking advantage page: 36 of that competitive system which we to-day still uphold. If the men of South Africa are not skilled enough in the methods of gathering together the wealth of a people; and if they have not that fellow-feeling to be able to defeat them, which would enable them to combine, and so retain the land for the people at large; can we blame the men who take advantage of our ignorance and disunion? They are but carrying out their operations on the most approved financial principles! In truth, were this all, we should merely be suffering in a most exaggerated degree from a disease common to many other countries.

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But our evil has not stopped here. Owing to the mental capacity of some of these speculators, and to certain conditions in South African public life, the conception suggested itself to them: that were it possible to obtain complete control of the political machinery in any African State (notably of the Cape Colony), and could they hold the reins of Government in their own hands, their power for increasing their wealth, for resisting taxation upon those industries of which they possessed monopolies, and for ex- extending page: 38 tending their commercial exploitations into adjoining territories, would be immeasurably increased.

This conception has been seized and carried out.

The means of its accomplishment in the Cape Colony has been through the complete control gained by the Monopolists over the only group in South Africa whom they could hope to guide, and whom, in view of their extra-colonial plans, it was necessary to keep pacified and well in hand.

It is this command of the political machinery of the country by the Monopolist, owing to his union with one page: 39 section, which constitutes the real disease from which the Cape Colony is suffering. It is this which lies at the back of our Retrogressive Movement.

For the Monopolist Party, determined to obtain control of the political machinery, could only do so by purchasing the co-operation of some truly South African body. The more shrewd and modern section of South Africans—professional men, merchants, go-ahead newspaper-reading farmers—are, very many of them, unpurchasable; and those who are not would demand a high price in concessions local and personal, and even then could page: 40 not be blindly led. Our working population being mainly native, and very slightly enfranchised, is not at the present day, and will not be for a long time to come, a party powerful enough to make its support a strength to any leader. Then there remained for the Speculatist and Monopolist Party but one body to whom it could turn with any hope that it would place it in power. This body was the Retrogressive Element in the Bond Party. It was purchased, not by the outlay of capital, nor by offers of place and power to its members, but, much more cheaply for the Monopolist, by the simple page: 41 expedient of offering to support those Retrogressive measures which without his aid could never have found a place on our Colonial Statute-book.

The Kafir's back and the poor man's enhanced outlay on the necessaries of life pay the Monopolist's bribe.

On the other hand, the Retrogressive Element, once enabled to pass such measures as lay nearest its heart by the cooperation of the Monopolist with his skill and intelligence, is willing to give him a perfectly free hand, and support him in all measures which do not touch its Retrogressive instincts. We thus have the page: 42 Retrogressive Party supporting the Monopolist in carrying out measures in which he has no interest or concern, and the Monopolist assisting the Retrogressive Party in setting upon the Statute-book measures which are repugnant to his own common sense and shrewd modern outlook. Taking advantage of that childlike simplicity which is at once the weakness and the greatest charm of the Boer, he leads him whither he would and also whither he would not.

It is from this unnatural marriage that are born those evils under which the Colony groans to-day. It is a marriage which must end in rupture page: 43 when the Retrogressive Party discover how, instead of a union of affection, they have been led into one of convenience, and that the bridegroom is quite ready to forsake his bride when she has nothing more to give him.

Nevertheless, to-day it is this coalition which is unpicking the progressive enactments of the past, which is enabling the Monopolist Party to carry out unhampered its financial depredations here and in the Northern Territories. It is this coalition which, by giving political power to enormously wealthy individuals, is corroding our public life, till the principle that every page: 44 man has his price and can be squared, if you can only find his figure, is becoming an established dogma.

Worse than any of those retrogressive measures which the Bondsman, in simplicity and sincerity, desires to see enacted are those measures which he allows others to take, who are neither simple nor sincere.


But I am aware it may be contended: “Granting what has been stated as being exactly true; allowing that the Monopolist has filched away the page: 45 wealth of South Africa; and granting that his party, by coalescing with the extreme Retrogressive Party, has given it for the time being an unhealthy preponderance; granting, further, that to retain control over the Colonial Legislature squaring in all its multiple forms has been, and is, a necessity on the part of the Monopolist Party; granting that this is disastrous to our public and social life—yet is it not worth our while to connive at all these conditions, and to abstain from disturbing them, as long as the Monopolist Party is quietly and persistently moving in a direction which tends to annihilate page: 46 the independence of two adjoining States, which shall ultimately render the Englishman dominant throughout South Africa? At the cost of whatever evils or injustice, is it not well to see extending northward the territory more or less under British rule?”

We are all aware that this is often put forth plainly and in so many words as a reason for abstaining from interference with the Monopolist Party. It is said frequently, “I am for Rhodes, because, whatever he may or may not be, he is slowly but surely undermining the Bond. Rhodes, and he only, will within our lifetime so page: 47 manipulate, that the neighbouring Republics shall fall into our hands, and the English Party in South Africa be dominant. And, after all, is not this extension to the northward a very fine thing for the Colony?”

To this I would first reply: Is the undermining and breaking up of the Bond, even if this should result from the alliance, worth the continual passing of such measures as we shall have in the future to undo? Is the breaking up of the Bond itself wholly to be desired? And if it were, is splitting the Bond worth causing deep racial unrest and suspicion where none before existed, be- between page: 48 tween ourselves and our native fellow-inhabitants, the labouring class of South Africa, by the passing of laws which seem to express an animus towards them which we do not feel; and which constitute a course which, though for the moment it can work us no practical evil, may in years to come, when too late, be the cause of bitter regret? Is it worth while so vitiating the streams of our public life that we have to look back with regret and almost incredulity at the nature of our public life in years gone by, feeling its tone something almost too high ever to have existed in South Africa? Is page: 49 all this worth paying, even if we are undermining the Bond?

I, for one, hold strongly that it is not. I do not wish to see the Bond broken.

What I wish to see is the Bond holding its own manfully on all subjects, social and political, and exercising that influence upon the Legislature and public life of this colony which is proportionate to its numbers and intelligence; thereby preventing legislation from taking a course which might in any respect be unjust, or opposed to the benefit of an important and respected section of the community.

Is the forced annexation of page: 50 the neighbouring States worth the price we are paying for it? If it be true, which I question, that the union of the South African States can only be attained by keeping at the head of affairs the Monopolist Party, is it worth keeping them there?

I, for one, assert emphatically that it is not. I believe the confederation of the South African States to be a desirable consummation; and I believe further that it is one which will inevitably take place sooner or later. Confederation now might have its advantages, and it would have its disadvantages; but no confederation, however much we desire it, would pay page: 51 us for the internal disintegration we are producing within our own State, through the support of the Monopolist Party. When confederation does take place I believe it will be desirable that it should take place, not as the result of skilful manipulations analogous to those by which one shrewd speculator outspeculates another, but through the gradual growth of a consciousness in the people of South Africa that their interests are one, and that in union lies their strength. Such a confederacy will, I believe, be as healthful, as strong, as beneficent as a union brought about by sleight-of-hand and dis- dissimulation page: 52 simulation will be unstable and pernicious.


Further, and finally: Is it worth while for us, as Cape Colonists, to submit to the dominion of the Monopolist, with all that pertains to it, simply because we believe that that party, in annexing and apportioning the lands north of the Transvaal and the Cape Colony, is thereby extending the territories under the British flag?

I, for one, have not only a cordial affection for my own nation, but also for British rule. I believe that, with all its page: 53 faults, it is often a beneficent and a generous rule; and were it possible to annex to-morrow, without injustice to others, or heavy moral and social loss to ourselves, the whole of Africa, from the Straits of Gibraltar and the Isthmus of Suez to the Cape Colony, and place it under the English rule, I, for one, should cordially welcome that possibility.

But a nation, like an individual, may pay too dearly for desirable objects. It is highly probable that Naboth's vineyard, lying as it did contiguous to the domains of Ahab, formed an exceedingly desirable adjunct to that property. The mistake page: 54 in Jezebel's calculation lay in the fact that the price ultimately to be paid for the annexation somewhat exceeded the value of the land.

I hold, much as I desire to see the extension of the British Empire, that the Colony is in this case paying too dearly for this extension. I hold that no possible accretion of kudos and racial gratification can ever repay us for the heavy price in the demoralisation of our institutions, and the retrogression in our legislation, which the Cape Colony is paying to support the Monopolist Group, and enable it to undertake its annexations.

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Further, leaving this point of view for a moment, and taking the lower and purely monetary standpoint, let us see what the Colony really has to gain commercially by these annexations south of the Zambesi.

It appears to me there is a good deal of misunderstanding upon this point. I cannot see, from this lower standpoint—nor have I ever yet met a man who could explain to me how he saw—that the taking over of Mashonaland and Matabeleland by the Chartered Company would increase the wealth of the men and women of the Cape Colony. It appears to me more than probable, when page: 56 we study the map, and other conditions of the problem, that the opening up of these territories, so far from increasing the wealth and influence of the Cape Colony, will ultimately subtract from both. If Rhodesia and the country north of the Transvaal should become populated and important, I cannot for a moment conceive that they will still continue to draw up their supplies from the very toe of South Africa; that new routes will not be formed, along which trade will make its way to Central and Eastern South Africa, without coming into contact with the extreme south of the Continent.

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Further, we as Cape Colonists have now more land than we require; our need is for men, and I do not see how the annexation of the Chartered Company tends to draw them into the Cape Colony. I take it that, however wire-pullings may avail for a few years, ultimately the traffic both in passengers and in goods to East and Central South Africa will find the shortest and cheapest routes, which will not be through the Cape Colony; and the Cape Colony, denuded to a large extent of its trade and its importance in South Africa, will have to depend solely upon its internal resources, which, page: 58 abundant though they be, are now allowed to lie undeveloped, while the people's eyes follow this northern will-o'-the wisp.

But it may be said, and said very truly: “Granting that the Cape Colony does not gain either directly or indirectly through the possession of Rhodesia by the Chartered Company, and even that it loses heavily in the material sense, there is yet no reason, from the broadest humanitarian standpoint, why it should not support the movement.”

Now, I fully allow that it may be right and desirable that a portion of a people should sacrifice itself for the benefit page: 59 of the whole, or that a whole nation should sacrifice itself for the benefit of humanity at large. That this has not yet been done in the history of the world by no means proves that it is undesirable or may not yet be done. But what I most strongly hold is that in this instance sacrifice on the part of the Cape Colony of its internal interests, social and material, if undertaken to enable the Chartered Company to obtain possession of the territories north of the Transvaal, will be sacrifice thrown away.

I know that it will be said, “But think of the terrible con- contingency page: 60 tingency had the Boers entered that country and started a new republic there!”


I believe I shall not be suspected of unreasonable advocacy of Boer rule; but I do contend that South Africa as a whole, and the English-speaking world at large, would have lost less by the civilisation of these countries under the auspices of the Boer flag than under that of the Chartered Company. Boer rule has its evils; the Boer is seldom just and considerate to the aborigines of a country which he annexes page: 61 (though, as a rule, I do not know whether they tend to disappear faster under his rule than under that of other white men); but as far as the European is concerned, the rule in a Boer republic is, in most respects, healthy and natural. The Cape Colonist or foreigner from Europe has never been refused admittance to these republics; and if in the Transvaal the civic franchise has been somewhat injudiciously withheld from certain newcomers, they possess every other privilege and right. As time passes the little racial line between English colonists and their forerunners will pass away page: 62 throughout South Africa; the English language will be universally used by all cultured persons; English manners and customs will prevail (Pretoria is to-day more English than Cape Town!); and in the long run, which in this case will only be a run of thirty or forty years, it will make no difference whether any part of this country was first civilised under the flag of the Boer or the Englishman. The incoming streams of English-speaking men and women will slowly but continuously mingle themselves with the body of earlier settlers, and in forty years' time, whether we wish it or do not, there will page: 63 be no Boer or Englishman as such in South Africa—only the great South African people, speaking the English tongue, following English precedents, and as closely united to England as Australia or Canada.

This process of amalgamation and growth was in progress long before the European speculator arrived among us, and it will go on were the Fates to remove him from us tomorrow.

Had Dutch Voortrekkers taken possession of the regions between the Zambesi and Transvaal there would not, on the whole, have been greater loss of native life, nor more perfidy in page: 64 dealing with them, than under the Chartered Company; and one gigantic evil which is now fixing itself upon those territories would not have come into existence. The Boer tradition, like that of the genuine English settler all over the world, has been this: that, in the new lands they inhabited, the soil and the valuable productions of the land should be apportioned fairly among the men who came personally to dwell and labour on it with their wives and families. Rare minerals have not even as a rule been regarded as the property of the individuals in whose lands they were page: 65 found, but they have been regarded as the property of the community, to any member of which it was open to obtain a share in that property if he were willing to expend his own labour upon it. In States founded in this manner the land and its wealth tended to be distributed with tolerable equality throughout the community. This will never be in Rhodesia. By the time the mass of men from the Colony or Europe enter the country they will find everything of value—mines, fertile lands, town properties—all in the hands of a small knot of men headed by the leaders of the Chartered page: 66 Company, consisting in part of persons who have never seen South Africa, such as the Duke of Fife and others.

The great evil is not that these men possess the country as shareholders and directors in the Chartered Company, nor that they retain the right to levy a tribute of 50 per cent. on all precious stones and minerals found in the entire territory, and that for many years to come they will hold extensive control over the whole government of the country; but, what is immeasurably more disastrous, before the country can be peopled by the ordinary colonist a small knot of men (not page: 67 the body of shareholders as a whole, but that small body in whose interest the Chartered Company was formed, and for whose benefit it is worked) will, either in their own persons or by means of their emissaries, have gone over the whole land, and whatever of real value these lands contain will be their private property. If the Chartered Company were in ten or fifteen years' time, or much sooner, to explode, and as a company to loosen its control over the land and people, it would yet be found that the whole real wealth of the country was appropriated and in the hands of a few private indivi- individuals page: 68 duals forming syndicates and trusts.

The worst social diseases which afflict the old countries of Europe will make their appearance full grown in this virgin African land at the outset of its career. That unequal division of wealth, which bestows vast riches upon some individuals while the majority of the community are in abject poverty, is, in those old countries, the outcome of institutions which are the growth of centuries, and it is often softened by traditions binding the owners of wealth to the land itself, and those who labour on it. In these new territories no tradi- traditions page: 69 tions will bind the owner to the land and soften his relations with the people; the financial possessors of the wealth of the country will exhibit on a colossal scale the worst evils of absentee ownership, or the possession of a country by men who regard land and people merely as a means for acquiring wealth.

The political life in these territories will be diseased. Even in the Cape to-day we have seen how disastrous are the effects of gigantic wealth held in a young country by a few individuals. There may be no deliberate intention to bribe, but the mere possession of wealth page: 70 which is enormous in comparison to the wealth of the whole community (if the possessors be not singularly large and impersonal in their aims, and if they interest themselves at all in politics) throws into their hands a power of conferring benefits or inflicting evils which will inevitably lead to an undue subjection to their will; to the vitiation of representative institutions, and the destruction of independent public life.

The colonist and the stranger from Europe will arrive and settle in these territories, but they will discover that its townships, its valuable mines, its richest lands have already been page: 71 taken possession of. They will find it a cake from which all the plums have been carefully extracted, or like a body when the vultures have visited it, leaving nothing but bare bones.

Is it for colonisation carried out on such lines as these that the Cape Colony is to be asked to sacrifice its internal political and social welfare? Is it to aid and abet a handful of men in gaining this disastrous control over South Africa and its resources that the Cape Colony is to obliterate itself? Is it to submit to any use which may be made of it, so it only affords a stepping-stone, and gives prestige in Europe by allowing page: 72 its public appointments to be held by them?

I think not.


We all know what a bugbear to some even perfectly sincere minds is the conception of the possibility of Boer, Portuguese, German, or French occupation of African territories, and we all know what use is frequently made of this bugbear by those interested in annexations. But I think no practical man who carefully examines the question can really think that the Cape Colonists as such have anything to fear from the annexations page: 73 of other European Powers in Africa. And I would go further. I would say—If all English colonisation had been, or were in the future to be, carried out along the lines and according to the methods of the Chartered Company, that I cannot see wherein South Africa would gain by aiding and abetting such a form of colonisation over that inaugurated by other European nations. Colonisation by the British people is not the same thing as colonisation under the Chartered Company. The first is supposed to have as its object the development of the people it takes under its rule, and the page: 74 planting of a free and untrammelled branch of the Anglo-Saxon race upon the land; the aim of the Chartered Company is to make wealth out of land and people.

But last of all, it may be said (and this criticism appears to me profoundly just): “It is very well to blame the Monopolist, with his ready brains and his quick wit, for the uses which he is making of South Africa; it is very well to blame the Retrogressive Party for playing into his hands, and making possible his monopolies and increasing acquisitions, making him a permanent institution in the land, which the South page: 75 Africa of the future may hopelessly endeavour to rid herself of; it is very well to blame the Monopolist and Retrogressionist—but how did they gain, and how do they maintain, this absolute domination over the land? Do they comprise within themselves all the intelligence, all the determination of South Africa? Are they our only political units?”

I can but say in reply, I believe it is not just to throw the whole blame of our position either upon the Monopolist or the Retrogressionist. The Monopolist is simply the acute business man who has been enabled to carry out his plans page: 76 successfully and on a colossal scale, owing to the possession of tact and foresight, and, perhaps, unusual disregard of collateral issues. The high intellectual capacity shown by many of these men compels admiration and awakens our sympathy; and we can only regret that abilities which in some cases amount to genius should not be employed in a direction more productive of good to humanity. The Monopolist of genius is often like a great body of waters expending itself in causing inundations where it might produce fertility.

For the Retrogressionist there is yet more unlimited excuse. page: 77 He has been somewhat hardly dealt with in the past. That he should desire to make his influence felt when at last the opportunity offers itself, and that he should use his power without full consideration for the rights of others, is not unnatural. He alone among South Africans has, during the last years, shown a capacity for standing resolutely by his principles; and we can only feel regret that so much integrity and manly determination is not expended on our side, but against us.

But there are two other sections of our population upon whom it appears to me un- unlimited page: 78 limited blame rests, and for whom it is difficult to see an excuse.


Firstly. There is that section of the general public which, knowing that we are governed by representative institutions, and that every citizen, however humble, is more or less responsible for the well-being of the State, yet regards public affairs with apathy; and, absorbed in personal interests, is absolutely ungrateful of its citizens' duties.

Secondly (and for this section it appears to me that no reprobation can be too strong). We have a party of men through- throughout page: 79 out South Africa, by education and natural bias, Liberals; by public profession, Progressives; men who on their own showing see clearly the evils of Retrogressive and Monopolist principles, and who constitute part of our so-called Progressive Party. These men, in spite of their profession, are continually found, as public men and leaders, using the subtlest methods of the Monopolist, coquetting with any and every party which appears likely to aid them to office and power. Without the genius of the Monopolist, they sink to his opportunism for the attainment of the smallest ends; as page: 80 private individuals they oppose such progressive measures which would entail inconvenience upon themselves, personally or locally, and connive at certain retrogressive measures when doing so confers benefit upon themselves, without the true Retrogressive's excuse of earnest conviction. It is these men, whether politicians, progressive farmers, or enlightened commercial men, to whom we should naturally look for deliverance from the evils which oppress the Colony; yet it is exactly these men who in some instances have made possible the despotism of the Monopolist, and the triumph of the page: 81 Retrogressionist, by their complete absorption in their own small aims, and their wilful disregard of impersonal obligations. The Monopolist may be organically incapacitated for seeing further; the Retrogressionist, in spite of his sincerity, cannot see further; the so-called Progressive sees further, but refuses to act at any cost to himself. Such men are the bane of the country.

There is, however, yet another section of our community distinct from all those we have noticed. It is to this section, I think, that we must look to inaugurate a truly Progressive movement in Colonial affairs. page: 82 And this brings us back to the question with which we started: HOW IS THE RETROGRESSIVE MOVEMENT IN THE CAPE COLONY TO BE STAYED?