Sidebilder
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors][ocr errors]

) of the Transvaal. 142 a large surplus. But, now, things have stronger than any I have used, and will reached such a state that society has be condemned wherever the English been resolved back to its original ele- name is known or the English tongue ments. There is no law which the ma. spoken. This is not the way in which gistrates can enforce. Property is dis- the English Empire was won; nor is appearing throughout the country. Here this the way in which it will be mainand there a store may be open; but tained. I wish I could think that by banks and shops are closing. Loyalists this unhappy measure you will secure are outraged, pillaged, obliged to flee the the object you have in view. But, my country. The Natives threaten to rise Lords, there is no peace in this settleagainst the Boers. And what of the ment. It is a house built upon the sand, Boer leaders ? They are powerless. It and very soon to be swept away by the requires very little foresight, indeed, to rising flood. You will find that this settleprophesy what must happen under these ment wiil lead not only to the strife of circu:nstances. Hardly anyone who races, but to further troubles and even knows anytbing about the state of things bloodshed. But all this is now in a cercan doubt that as soon as your troops tain sense a thing past and irremediable. are withdrawn - perhaps sooner-you But one thing remains-and, as to this, will have a fresh rising. The same with no Party feeling, I entreat Her state of anarchy will result in the same Majesty's Government to be firm in their dangers and the same horrible outrages. dealings with the Boers. They have, But it may be said we shall gain the wisely or unwisely, committed themDutch. While I was in Office nothing selves to certain terms. Those terms are was nearer my heart, as far as Colonial laid down in certain telegrams, and in policy was concerned, than to win the the Instructions to the Commission just Dutch back to loyalty and affection ; issued. I do entreat Her Majesty's Goand I venture to say, without egotism, vernment, having laid down those terms, that, circumstances favouring me, I did to adhere to them. There is a feeling more in that direction than any other abroad that all concessions will be in Minister ever had done. I had then vain, and that anything may be wrung just as great a difficulty to solve with and extorted out of the Government the Orange Free State as Her Majesty's provided it is only pursued with suffiGovernment have now. But I solved it, cient pertinacity. I can conceive noPresident Brand was satisfied; and if thing so dangerous; nothing, to put you now enjoy his loyal co-operation it on the lowest ground, so expensive. and help it is to that settlement with When credit is lost, even the National me that you owe it. I should be the Exchequer itself suffers. Dangerous it last man to quarrel with conciliation ; certainly is; because if once the imbut this is not the way to win the Dutch. pression gets rooted abroad that you can And there is something above the mere be driven from pillar to post, and that conciliation of any section of the com- any concession may be wrung out of you munity. Something is due to those by pertinacity and force of arms, then Natives to whom you have pledged the before long you will have to fight not good faith, honour, and protection of only in the Transvaal and South Africa, the Crown.

Something is due to those but in India-anywhere and everywhere loyalists who stood by us, shoulder to-for Empire and for very existence. shoulder, in the Zulu War, and to whom THE EARL OF KIMBERLEY: My we have made promises ever since we Lords, the noble Earl has stated that the have been in possession of the Trans- house we are laboriousiy endeavouring vaal. Something is due to the English to build is crumbling away. I will reresidents there, who have accepted the mind my noble Friend that the house assurances of two successive Govern. which he built has crumbled away, and ments, three successive Secretaries of it is because it has crumbled away enState, and two Governors, and on the tirely that we find ourselves involved in faith of those assurances built houses the difficulties we are now discussing. and bought farms, and invested their I have always admitted that my noble capital in the country. Something is Friend was actuated by motives of the due also to the English Colonists of most honourable kind in what he at. South Africa. And by all of these this tempted to do, and that he believed the action is condemned in language far policy he was pursuing would conduce to our interest in that part of the world. I than that three years after the annexaBut when my noble Friend says that I tion its reversal was pursued by a great entirely approved his policy, he is over- portion of the Dutch population with as stating the case. I have already ex- much energy and determination as in any plained in the House what I did say; insurrection I ever heard of? But then for but as my noble Friend has referred to this my noble Friend has an explanation the subject, I may be again allowed to of his own. He says the failure is owing

I state it. What I did say was that if my to the speeches of Mr. Gladstone and the noble Friend was correctly informed that appointment of Mr. Courtney as Under the Boers were disposed to acquiesce, Secretary at the Home Office. The latter the annexation of the Transvaal would it is impossible to connect with the ques. be a boon to the Empire. But every- tion, for Mr. Courtney was not appointed thing depended on their acquiescence. Under Secretary until after the insurrecI entirely depended on the information tion broke out. Well, Mr. Gladstone did possessed by the Government. I always undoubtedly make speeches on the questhought it a disadvantage that there tion, and condemned the policy pursued. should be an absence of union among But anyone who has read the Blue Book the States in South Africa, and I re- on the subject and other publications joiced that there should be an oppor- must know that there was a continuous tunity if based upon good reasons for protest on the part of the Transvaal, uniting a largo portion of South Africa showing itself in deputations to this to the Crown. But the result has shown country and in remonstrances addressed that my noble Friend committed a most to Sir Michael Hicks-Beach; and there serious error of judgment. I can scarcely is no reason to date the disaffection of conceive a policy which has more com- the Boers from the time Mr. Gladstone pletely and totally failed than the policy made the speeches referred to. I am he pursued. I freely admit that we owe perfectly free to admit, if we are to be him a debt of gratitude for settling the blamed, that we did not foresee that difficulty with regard to the Diamond those discontents would culminate in a Fields and Griqualand West; but I am serious outbreak against the Governprofoundly convinced that the whole of ment. If I am to be blamed, it is for his policy in South Africa with that ex. that. But those who will take the trouble ception was the most complete and to read the despatches I received will lamentable failure that could be. My find that there was a most remarkable noble Friend endeavoured to initiate a and continuous expression of opinion on very wise policy if it could be effected the part of those best qualified to judge, a policy of Confederation. I told him from their position in the country, that at the time that I thought his action the state of things was gradually growon the question premature, and that he ing better. It was said, I think, in some employed a very unwise agent in Mr. despatches that time and patience alone Froude. Anybody who has followed the were required to bring about a happy course of Mr. Froude in South Africa result. There was a very interesting must be convinced that if anyone could and important despatch from Sir Garnet have wrecked a policy, Mr. Froude would Wolseley, dated in 1879, as to which he have done so. Another mistake was the drew my attention to the fact that it had annexation of the Transvaal. When my been omitted in the Papers laid before noble Friend announced that he had Parliament, and I complied with his recommitted himself to the Confederation quest to produce it. In that despatch policy, I thought it advisable that every there was a strong expression of opinion effort should be made for its success. that the Boers had a rooted dislike to But my point is this--that in that policy, English rule, and it has been argued and also in the annexation of the Trans- that we ought to have inferred from vaal, he committed an error of judgment that that Sir Garnet Wolseley's opi. by forcing on a policy for which the nion was that there was danger in country was not ripe. The policy was our position in the Transvaal. But based on sand. With regard to the there were later despatches from Sir annexation of the Transvaal, I should Garnet Wolseley which by no means have thought my noblo Friend would bore out his former opinion. I will rerequire no proof that his policy has fer to one of those despatches, the oue failed. What proof can be stronger dated April 10, 1880; which I take in

The Earl of Kimberley

[ocr errors]

preference to the others, because it was which has been so readily challenged, I written either just before or just after I come to the question underlying the came into Office. In it Sir Garnet phrase "blood-guiltiness.” My noble Wolseley says

Friend seems to think it a most ag“Reports from all quarters of the Transvaal

tonishing expression, and one that resustain the opinion that the people, being tho-quires explanation ; but, as it appears roughly weary of the uncertainty and the to me, the statement made in the letter troubles attendant upon opposition to the Go. of my right hon. Friend is little more vernment, and seeing no hope of any successful than a truism. What he said may be issue from the dangerous measures in which said, with certain limitations, of every they have been induced to place confidence, have determined to renounce all further dis. war that ever was begun. If you go on turbing action, and to return to the peaceful with a war and unnecessarily prolong cares of their rural life, which was already it, you are undoubtedly shedding blood beginning to suffer from the continuance of

guiltily. But I suppose my noble political irritation."

Friend's interpretation of the matter is Therefore, it is clear that Sir Garnet that if there was blood-guiltiness in Wolseley, although he pointed out the going on with the war at the moment rooted dislike entertained by the Boers when we stopped it, there was also for the English, was of opinion that blood-guiltiness in ever beginning it. there was no serious danger. And more Now, as a matter of fact, we did not than this, it was with his concurrence begin it, but were ourselves attacked. that the late Government reduced the We found an insurrection in the coungarrison in the Transvaal to only three try, and all our garrisons were beregiments. I have said that this accu- leaguered; there was the affair of sation is the most difficult for me to Bruncker's Spruit, and we had nothing meet; but I ask the House to consider to do but to collect our forces and vinthe state of things that my noble dicate the Queen's authority. Then, Friend has described. Notwithstanding having collected our forces, it is sugthat you have improved the revenue and gested that we were bound to prosecute the administration of the Transvaal, and the war to the bitter end. But are we in spite of all the advantages which your to be placed in this dilemma-to be rule may have brought into the country, bound either to submit to the insurgents 80 violent is the feeling of the popula- and to grant all their demands, or, if we tion in favour of independence that they do not give them all they ask, to go on are determined to rise and cast away all fighting till they are entirely subdued ? those advantages, and at the expense of That is a dilemma into which no Goa severe contest, in order, if possible, to vernment ought to be forced. The real emanicipate themselves from your rule. question was-was it, at the time when The fact is, that our rule failed in one we made peace, in the interests of the essential condition-namely, in lacking country that we should do so? the consent of the population. Every question of blood-guiltiness is one of thing turns on that. If the Transvaal conscience, though the noble Marquess had been a conquered country, or if the opposite may deny that conscience enannexation had been effected on grounds ters into such questions as this. It other than the willing acquiescence of seems to be assumed throughout that the people, then the policy that we have if we had taken no steps to collect pursued might have been questioned ; our forces, and had made no effort to but if you have taken possession of a resist the insurgents, we might still country on the express grounds that the have made the same terms with them. White population are willing to accept But that is not at all the case. Anyyour rule, and if you find them violently one who reads the despatches will find hostile to you after an experience of that the demand was made that wo three years, the only question that you should withdraw our garrisons; but we have to consider is how you may most did nothing of the kind. And more than satisfactorily divest yourself of your ac- that, in the present state of things, the quisition. There can be no doubt that present question is this-Is peace tinally the grounds on which my noble Friend concluded now ? Not at all. What we opposite annexed the Transvaal have concluded was an agreement preliminary proved to be entirely false. Having to peace. And does it not make a condealt with that portion of our policy siderable difference when you have to carry into effect certain terms whether noble Friend opposite should have taken you have a force at your back or not? a rery early opportunity of saying someDoes my noble Friend suppose that, if thing in vindication of the policy that we had taken no steps to vindicate the ho pursued in the Transvaal, and of Queen's authority, we should now be in repudiating the charges which have a position to make peace ?. Certainly been leve led against him and against not. It is a settlement which may be the Government with which he was con. carried through; but it is one of very nected. I confess, however, that, in my great difficulty. I concur with my noble opinion, my noble Friend has not taken Friend opposite that some firmness may a very convenient course in raising this be requisite; but I deny that it is the great question on a letter written by the same thing now to negotiate as to have Prime Minister in respect to certain submitted to the insurgents at the first electioneering proceedings in England. outbreak without making any movement Having been myself procul negotiis for at all to show that we were in a position some weeks, I have not yet seen the to uphold our authority in South Africa. letter; but when my noble Friend read My noble Friend spoke of his desire to it, I was glad to find that the words, conciliate the Dutch. I do not think though sharp and severe, fairly reprethat we should be actuated simply by a sented the grounds on which the present desire to conciliate the Dutch, but by a Government have acted. I was predesire for the good and prosperity of vented from taking part in the debate South Africa generally; and if a war of raised some weeks ago by the noble and this kind be allowed to degenerate into learned Earl opposite (Earl Cairns), and a war of races, a state of things will be I shall not endeavour to answer the elabrought about which will make it almost borate speech he made on that occasion. impossible to maintain the Queen's I am going to take a very simple course. authority in that country. When my There are some advantages in being out noble Friend speaks of the possibility of of Office, for one can speak the argumaintaining the Queen's authority in ments that are in his own mind and the Transvaal, I reply that it was pos- need not be afraid of committing others sible till we had the insurrection ; but with regard to any of the arguments so after it we were placed in this position--- used. I wish to explain briefly to my we could have maintained it permanently noble Friend the course of argument only by conquering the Transvaal Boers, which I pursued in my own mind when and then we must have maintained a I assented to the course the Government large force to keep them in subjugation. took on this most difficult and delicate But would the country have borne the question. In the first place, let me say expense of such a force, and would it that during tho conduct of the Oppohave been possible to avoid difficulties sition in the winter before last I never of the most serious kind with the Dutch took any part in blaming the late Gopopulation elsewhere? I think not; and, vernment for their transactions in the therefore, I regard the course that has | Transvaal. I believed that their policy been taken as just, and right, and sound, was dictated by a sincere desire to proand conducive to the permanent interests mote the good of South Africa ; and, of South Africa. As regards the present what is more, I believed that the action position of affairs, I am far from saying of my noble Friend was taken upon that I am without hope of a satisfactory such evidence as was procurable by him, settlement; but I am aware of the diffi- that the annexation of the Transvaal culties and dangers of the whole ques. was really either desired, or at least tion, and will not speak in a too sanguine acquiesced in, by the great majority of tone. But I am certain that the policy the population. I will venture to say initiated by my noble Friend opposite that there is no public man in this could not have been maintained. Whe-country, belonging to any Party, be it ther ours will be permanently success- Whig, Radical, or Conservative, who ful, I cannot say; but our motives are as would have cared to annex the Transgood as his, and I hope the chances of vaal if be had believed that it was success are greater for our policy than against the assent of the population. for that which he pursued.

Such assent as was given at the time by The Duke of ARGYLL: No Member my noble Friend who is now Secretary of the House need be surprised that my of State for the Colonies, was, as I very

The Earl of Kimberley

well recollect, for I sat next to him on with a view to peace. The question then the occasion, qualified by the suppo- arose, were those negotiations or comsition and assumption that the evidence munications with the view to peace to and reports of our officers in South he stopped on account of the defeat at Africa were true, and that the great Laing's Nek? That was the question majority of the population were in which came before Her Majesty's Gofavour of the annexation. I believe vernment. I do not deny that there that the late Government took part in were great difficulties in this question. that transaction under the belief that I know that the feeling of military men that evidence was sound, and I think was universally, and I believe it is that their action was perfectly justified. now almost universally, in favour of Therefore, I never uttered one word retrieving that defeat hefore the negoblaming the foreign policy of the late tiations were completed. I do not put Government in regard to the transac-aside the opinion of soldiers. It ought tions in South Africa. I, therefore, always to be deeply respected. The come to the discussion of this question honour of the Army is not to be lightly with a mind not only entirely unprepos- treated, and the sentiment of the Army bessed against the late Government, but ought to be respected; but, on the rather prepossessed in favour of the other hand, the opinion of soldierspolicy they took. A great deal has been the feeling and sentiments of soldiers said of the fact that when the present on such occasions-is not always a safe Government became responsible for the guide in political affairs. I confess Speech from the Throne, a paragraph that the evidence of fact in regard to was inserted declaring our determi- the non-assent of the Boer population nation to re-assert the authority of the affected my own conscience deeply. I Crown in South Africa. Well, up to a felt it might be said that we had taken period later than that, I myself saw no the country of these people, as it were, adequate ground for doubting the con- by stealth. I could not for a moment clusion that the majority of the Trans- feel that allegiance in the true sense of vaal Boers were in favour of our an- the word—that duty which men owe to nexation. It was the universal report of the Government under which they have all our officers that the malcontents been born and bred—was owing to us by were a small though active minority, the Boer population. Therefore, I felt that things would soon settle down, and it was more than probable that there that the annexation was popular in the was a great majority of that population country. My belief in these statements who might honestly say—“England has was not shaken until shortly before the taken our country from us under a misaction at Laing's Nek. Reports came take; but she obstinately shuts her eyes to the Government before that date to the evidence we have produced, and showing that the Boers, to the number the deputations we have sent, and she of 4,000 men at least, had been congre- will own to no wrong although she is gated in various parts of the Transvaal committing a great wrong." Under these for the purpose of asserting their inde- circumstances, I think it was not the pendence. I believe that the whole duty of England to stop the negotiations tighting force of the Transvaal Boers for peace in consequence of the check at could not be more than 8,000 men at Laing's Nek. There were two other the very outside; and when you have actions which followed that engagement; the fact that upwards of 4,000 men had and let us look at the circumstances in congregated in arms to resist the autho- which they took place. I believe Sir rity of the Queen in that country, it George Colley was a most gallant man became perfectly evident that our offi- and a most able and accomplished officer; cers who sent the reports had been but I have heard no soldier speak on this deceived, and that the idea of the gene- subject who did not admit that he handled ral acquiescence in our dominion was his forces with great rashness on those wholly a mistake. It was under these two occasions. He exposed small bodies circumstances, and before the action at of men unsupported in situations where Laing's Nek, that indirect negotiations, they could not be supported to overor-if that word should be considered whelming forces of the enemy armed in too formal, and perhaps it is so-indi- a manner that our men were not skilled rect communications were entered into to meet. In such circumstances, these

« ForrigeFortsett »