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The Political Situation. Schreiner, Olive, 1855–1920.
page: 44


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.