« EdellinenJatka »
Governor of the Cape Colony. . ... The moment is a critical one. The name of the person on whom the choice of the Colonial Office would fall has been looked for with more than usual interest. The wide experience of Sir Bartle Frere, his tried ability as an administrator, his high culture and still higher character, with the special distinction which he has already earned in connexion with African native races, combined at home to point to him as the fittest person for the office, if he could be prevailed upon to undertake it. The same instinct has led the Cape Colonists of all parties to the same conclusion, and for the last twelve months a unanimous wish has been expressed from every part of South Africa that Sir Bartle Frere might be Sir Henry Barkly's successor. So general a recognition of peculiar fitness is signally honourable to him, and is a happy augury for the success of his
Viewed in the highly respectable aspect of a party statement, this glowing prospectus seems to us ill advised. If Lord Carnarvon were on the point of leaving office, a sunny picture of what he left behind him would detract from the credit of a following Secretary of State if he were successful, or enhance his discredit if he got into difficulties. But in the present case Lord Carnarvon will probably have to give effect to his own plans, and to stand the recoil of prophecy. If he should obtain the results which his ability, courage, and public spirit deserve, and which we unfeignedly desire for him in his own interest as well as that of the public—if Sir Bartle Frere's administration should correspond with the eulogy passed upon him-in which we heartily concur--this premature note of triumph will have discounted success. In the contrary contingency it will show the inability of the Secretary of State to follow up the success which Mr. Froude had achieved. In either case it would have been wiser to wait till facts spoke for themselves.
The next observation is of a more general kind. An exposure of our country is only excusable when it is inevitable. An Englishman is scarcely called upon to construct a withering résumé of his country's iniquities for the last fifty years unless he has some object in view beyond historical exactitude. And in the present case what objects remain to be accomplished ? Difficulties (on the reviewer's showing) are overcome, grievances removed, malcontents satisfied ; nothing is needed but common justice and a delicate touch-say another compensa
tion' of 90,0001. And how can these be wanting when the direction of affairs is in the hands of our present Secretary of State, and the execution in those of our coming Governor? What more have we to do than to congratulate Lord Carnarvon and Sir Bartle Frere and Mr. Froude, and the colonists and the country, and then to rest and be thankful'? It does not seem impossible-rather it seems highly politic—to let bygones be bygones, and to allow the flagrant misconduct of all preceding Governments to be silently effaced by the superior methods now about to be introduced. Suppose all that is past as bad as it is represented to be, yet in the critical moment of reconciliation, when the leaf is turned and the new chapter · begun '—what public motive remains for invective? Why should the most just of men give himself the pain of placing before Dutch and English a careful compilation of all the quarrels which have ever arisen between them, artistically arranged to the disadvantage of his own country, and conducting to the conclusion that if the Dutch have anything to hope from the honesty or justice of England, it is due, not to the established character of the nation,
but to the happy accident that they are in the hands of a Secretary of State who has at last
remembered their existence'? It makes matters worse that the charges against Great Britain are such that while it is impossible to sit down under them, it is equally impossible to answer them without an unpleasant examination into the habits of the Dutch settlers. It will make matters worse still if it should turn out that the most disgraceful of the imputations brought against British statesmen are not merely gratuitous but untenable.
One more observation before plunging into the merits of this case.
As between independent countries, it is, we believe, well understood that Governments treat only with each other. Of course an ambassador may properly accept hospitality from persons of all parties, and express his opinions in private. But if the Russian ambassador had, a month ago,' starred it' at anti-Turkish meetings, and made speeches to his English audiences against the Ministerial policy, he would soon have ceased to reside in London. Now Colonies possessing responsible governments expect-and their comparative weakness increases their right to expect the same kind of dealing. They have a right to expect that the Parliament and Ministry which they have chosen to conduct their affairs shall, by the Government of the Mother Country, be taken to represent them; and that British Ministers—who can always make their sentiments fully known by publication in England, or by communication with the Colonial Government-shall not attempt to outflank or undercut that Government by direct appeals to the people of the Colony.
It is clear what mischief would follow if a Secretary of State thought himself at liberty to send out accredited agents to ally themselves with this or that Colonial party, and to prevail
on them to support this or that Imperial object in opposition to their own chosen authorities. A momentary advantage might be gained by thus organising what used to be called a • British party.' But such a detestable success—as detestable we are sure to Lord Carnarvon as to ourselves—would be gained at the expense of all that is wholesome or cordial in the relation between the Home and Colonial Governments, and, in particular, by the loss of the confidence now felt, that controversies will be carried on by direct means, and according to settled laws of warfare.
Now this understanding it is which Mr. Froude is accused of violating, and in fact did violate. He went out to the Colony to represent the Crown at the proposed Conference. He put himself forward as the accredited exponent of the views of the British Government. He styled himself,* we are told, “ the unworthy representative of Lord Carnarvon,' and in this capacity thanked a public meeting for the splendid support which it had rendered to Her Majesty's Secretary
of State.'† Occupying both from the nature of the case and in his own opinion this representative position, he recommended Lord Carnarvon's policy, not by a written exposition of his views, addressed once for all to whom it might concern, but by the process rudely described as “stumping '—that is, by a series of speeches made in different parts of the country, and, in the opinion of his accusers, by speeches calculated to revive certain sectional animosities between Dutch and English, East and West (we are trying to look at their story as they see it • themselves') which, since the establishment of Responsible Government, local legislation was in a way to efface. To represent all this as a' trespass on official etiquette' does not at all convey the real nature of the charge. What the Imperial representative seems really to have done was to violate publicly and perseveringly a constitutional obligation, which the Colonists have a right to view as one of the essential safeguards of constitutional right.
It might have proved rather unfortunate that about this time Lord Carnarvon recommended the Governor to dissolve the Parliament if he had reason to think that it did not represent the wishes of the people. If this had been done on the back of Mr. Froude's agitation (which it was not), a rhetorical reviewer of different politics might plausibly have denounced it hereafter as a dissolution, unconstitutionally dictated by the
• The South African Conference, p. 14.
Secretary of State, in the crisis of an excitement unconstitutionally got up by his agents, and, in that view, ' perhaps the most discreditable’ violation of the guaranteed rights of a free Colony which is recorded in British Colonial History.
Proceedings of this kind are sometimes done, disavowed, and rewarded. Lord Carnarvon * did not disavow; he did all that he could do, and indeed more than he ought to have done, to shield his representative.' He eulogised his character, ability, and earnestness-he justified his giving explanations, “such explanations as might appear to him to be necessary at ' a very critical moment;' he also, most unnecessarily, approved his ceasing to give them; he gently indicated his own position by pointing out that Mr. Froude was ‘ unfettered in the ex
ercise of his own discretion as to the events of the moment,' but expressed himself fully satisfied that no unconstitutional agitation had been carried on. Then he turned over a new • leaf and began a new chapter' by transferring the question from the dust of the Colony to the serener skies of Downing Street. There it might have rested, if Mr. Froude's apologist had not given so violent a stir to the subject.
Thus much for merely incidental matters. We now proceed to the main subject of this article—the discussion of British policy. And we have first to deal with a general presumption of neglect, disdain, or something worse, founded in the fact that many of our Dutch subjects broke up their homes and fled into the interior of the colony, to settle themselves, rifle in hand, among hostile tribes, rather than submit to a dominion so odious as ours had become to them.
In most matters quarrels between the Home Government and the Colonists are unnecessary. All that is required is good government, and if this is given everybody is pleased. But there are questions on which the principles or interests of the Mother Country conflict with those of the Colony, and on which no wisdom can prevent antagonism. These points of unpleasant contact during the last half century have principally related to the abolition of slavery, the management of aborigines, the terms of giving military protection, the location of convicts, and the distribution of political power.
The Cape has been affected by all these. We only intend to deal with those which affect our dealings with the natives, in the front of which stands Slavery.
The suppression of the slave trade and emancipation of the
* Parl. Papers, Correspondence respecting the proposed Conference of Delegates on the Affairs of South Africa. Feb. 1876; pp. 87-91.
slaves were accompanied by measures keenly and continuously but unavoidably irritating to the slave owners, and on the whole more annoying, though probably less ruinous, to the Dutch Boer than to the West Indian proprietor. By the suppression of the maritime slave trade the Cape Colonists were untouched. To send slaves by sea to the Cape would have been to send coals to Newcastle. In either case there was a black ' country' close at hand which rendered importation absurd. However they got their slaves, they were neither directly nor indirectly chargeable with the horrors of the middle passage.' Moreover, the slavery was not in its nature virtually manufacturing like that of the sugar-producing colonies, but domestic, agricultural, or pastoral. Instead of the grinding labour of the sugar-mill or the coal-field, when the gang could work almost under the whip of the overseer, the slave's lot was cast in the farm or the vineyard, or the pastoral valley, under the eye of an owner who was satisfied with comfort without engaging in a race for wealth. The evils therefore which had to be redressed were possibly less than those which existed elsewhere. But their removal was even more sharply felt. The slavery of the Cape, though in some degree patriarchal, was still slavery. And the British Government had to see that, when it was abolished in law, it was abolished in fact. This itself involved a more inquisitorial method where the slaves formed parts of scattered families, than where gangs were collected in great workshops; and it also involved the substitution, for this purpose, of magistrates imported from England for the Landdrosts or other Dutch functionaries, who could not be expected to understand the propriety of treating black servants as freemen.
All this was inevitably odious; and the sense of injury was heightened by what certainly seems to have been a piece of mismanagement. The mode of paying the 1,200,0001. due to the Colonists as compensation for their slaves was ill understood by the Boers, who, it is said, not knowing how to get their money, and not feeling very certain that they would get it at all, were induced to dispose of their certificates at a loss to sharp-set English speculators. When it appeared that the certificates were really worth their nominal value, the Dutchmen felt that they had been not only oppressed by the English Government but taken in by their English neighbours; and their anger was not probably less because their losses were due to their own want of penetration and misplaced suspiciousness.
Again, there was another important difference between the Dutch Boer and the West Indian proprietor. The latter was