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The Political Situation. Schreiner, Olive, 1855–1920.
page: 72


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.