HC Deb 07 August 1877 vol 236 cc545-67

, who had given Notice to call attention to the circumstances of the annexation of the South African Republic; and to move— That, in the opinion of this House, the annexation of the South African Republic is unjustifiable, and calculated to be injurious to the interests of the United Kingdom and of its Colonies in South Africa, said, that though in all probability the House had heard almost enough on this question, there were some points which he thought deserved attention. One of the principal points was that the action which had been taken seemed to have been indicated, if not dictated, by Sir Theophilus Shepstone, who, having been concerned in African politics for many years, had become possessed by certain fixed ideas which were unsound in their character, and which certainly could not be regarded as dealing with the question from a calm and judicial point of view. The war which resulted in the annexation of the Transvaal originated in a dispute connected with land, and the present measure was founded upon some apprehended danger of its renewal; but there was no real foundation for that apprehension. [The hon. Member proceeded to read numerous extracts from the Blue Book to show the groundlessness of the fear that a fresh outbreak of hostilities might occur between the inhabitants of the Transvaal and the Natives.] It had been suggested that the Natives might prove most formidable not only to the inhabitants of that State but to ourselves; but that idea was not entertained by Sir Theophilus Shepstone, and, in fact, the Natives under Secocoeni had already shown their inability to contend with the small force of the Transvaal before we annexed the latter territory. It had been denied that the annexation had been secured by force, and much had been made of the alleged peaceable consent of the Transvaal Republic; but the facts did not bear out that view of the case. When Sir Theophilus Shepstone went to the Transvaal he was received with great cordiality, because the people all thought that he came to negotiate a Treaty offensive and defensive which might be mutually beneficial; but they had no conception that he came to override the feelings of the inhabitants and annex the Republic by force. It was known that Sir Theophilus Shepstone kept on negotiating, and then, to the surprise of the Transvaal Republic, he issued his Proclamation annexing the Transvaal. He had been told to obtain the concurrence of the Governor General before proclaiming annexation, but he obtained no such concurrence. The Proclamation was received in Natal with astonishment, and the opinion of the English Press there was strongly condemnatory of the manner in which the annexation had been made. He contended that there was no justification for what had been done by Sir Theophilus Shepstone. The annexation would be injurious to the interests of the United Kingdom and of the Colonies of South Africa. It would be injurious to the interests of those Colonies for this reason—we had formerly agreed not to carry our arms into the middle of Africa and to allow the Dutch Boers themselves to go into the interior. We had reversed that policy. We had taken upon ourselves the immense burden of administering the affairs of the Transvaal. We had made ourselves responsible for what that Republic had done, and would have to take up its quarrels with the Native Chiefs. The cost would not be borne by the Colonies, and would have to be borne by us at home. The Vote of to-night was the first symptom of the considerable expenditure which this country would have to bear for many years to come in connection with this matter. That was not the worst of this annexation. It would entail upon us recurrent war, for we must have all the wars and dangers of war hitherto arising between the Dutch and the Natives. At this moment there was a rumour of war with a Native Chief who had become irritated at the annexation of the Transvaal, and who had threatened to quarrel with the British; and it was the opinion of Englishmen at Natal that it would be advisable for us to begin the war rather than allow the Native Chief to commence it. He must confess that at the present moment he did not understand how the Government of the Transvaal was to be maintained. The danger which was great in the event of its annexation to Natal would be very much greater if it were to be left alone. Perhaps the Under Secretary for the Colonies would tell the House how the Transvaal was to be governed. It appeared to him (Mr. Courtney) that the government of it would be nothing less than a despotism. Sir Theophilus Shepstone, or somebody else, would probably introduce there the extreme defects of rule which existed in Natal. For these reasons, he (Mr. Courtney) ventured to submit to the House that this annexation was not justifiable on any plea of danger to the Transvaal. Not only was it not justifiable, but it was likely to be injurious to the interests of the South Africa Colonies and of this country.


was anxious to lose no time in stating the reasons why he was prepared to give Her Majesty's Government a candid and cordial support in the matter of this annexation. His hon. Friend would have moved, if the Forms of the House had permitted, that the annexation was unjustifiable and calculated to be injurious to the interests of the United Kingdom and of its Colonies in South Africa; and he (Mr. Knatchbull-Hugessen) very much regretted that the Forms of the House did not allow him to move that, so that the opinion of the House might be fairly taken. He had a perfect conviction that when this subject was calmly and deliberately considered the House would by a large and overwhelming majority support the policy of the Government. The Under Secretary for the Colonies, under the weight of responsi- bility which must attach to him, might well feel some delicacy and difficulty in speaking of past transactions, and in alluding to the slavery which had been practised by those who had now become British subjects, and over whose past misdeeds he would doubtless be glad to draw a veil. But as he (Mr. Knatchbull-Hugessen) spoke without that official responsibility, no such feeling would prevent him from stating the impression which the whole narrative in the Blue Books had made upon his mind. It had been said, and might be said again, that this annexation had been made in violation of Treaties. Now, he was anxious to show—first, that there had been no violation of Treaties at all; and, secondly, that annexation had become absolutely necessary. The question of slavery bore on the violation of Treaties in a very direct manner, and could not therefore be ignored. We had guaranteed to the emigrating Boers the right to manage their own affairs without interference. That was one Article of the Convention of 1852. Another Article was that no slavery should be permitted or practised by the emigrating Boers. But it was well-known that from that time the system of slavery had been going on ever since. There could be no doubt that the Treaty had been violated in that respect, and being violated by the one party its correlative obligations were no longer binding on the other. The existence of slavery had been vainly denied. No remonstrance on the part of the British Government had availed to check it. There had been public sales of slaves in Potchefstroom, the chief town of the Transvaal State. In a debate which took place during the last Parliament, upon a Motion of Mr. Fowler, Member for Penrhyn, allegations were made without contradiction as to the slavery prevalent in the Transvaal Republic, and Mr. Monsell, Under Secretary for the Colonies, corroborated the fact of its existence. But there was other evidence which he would adduce, and which came from a quarter nearer to the Transvaal. On the 10th August, 1868, the Legislative Council of Natal passed resolutions setting forth that ever since 1848 the emigrant farmers who had formed the South African Republic Have carried on a system of slavery, under the guise of child-apprenticeship; such children being the result of raids carried on against Native tribes, whose men are slaughtered, but whose children and property are seized… That the existence of this system of slavery is a notorious fact; that the attendant evils were fully admitted by persons officially cognizant of them, at a public meeting held in Potchefstroom, the chief town of the Republic, in April, 1868, and the whole subject was brought before the High Commissioner; but that he replied he could not interfere, that— There can scarcely be a doubt that the President, if referred to, would strenuously deny the existence of such traffic—a bonâ fide inquiry would be almost impracticable; and, moreover, it would be beyond the power of the Transvaal Republic, admitting it to have the inclination, to put down a trade which the Boers must find to be very tempting and profitable. They went on to say— That so long as this traffic in children was suffered to exist there could be no hope for the progress of civilization in the Native tribes living in the Transvaal Republic, while the prevalence of such practices in the immediate neighbourhood of independent and Colonial tribes had a most pernicious and injurious effect, and tends to lower the position and influence of the whole race. An address, containing these resolutions, was presented to the Lieutenant Governor, but no answer was made by the Boers to these charges. Sir Philip Wodehouse called the attention of the then President of the Republic, Pretorius, to the practical slavery, and sale of slaves, then existing, and pointed out that it was— A clear violation of one of the most important stipulations of the Treaty between the Transvaal Republic and Her Majesty. He demanded the repeal of the laws permitting the sale of these "apprentices;" but Pretorious evaded the question, and no satisfaction was given. Now, some hon. Gentlemen talked as if the South African Republic, as it at present existed, had been established and recognized in 1852. It was no such thing. All that was done was to give a licence to the Boers to manage their own affairs. He quoted a remarkable document presented by the President of the Transvaal Republic himself to the Earl of Carnarvon, which would be found in the Papers relating to South Africa, presented to Parliament 6th August, 1875. It was entitled, A memorandum relating to the condition of Natives in the South African Republic. In this statement, put forward in vindication of his Government, he made some admissions worthy of notice In the first place, he said that— When, in 1852, the South African Republic was recognized by Her Majesty's Government, in the Treaty of Sand River, the emigrant farmers to the North of the Vaal were not united under one government, but followed their respective Chiefs in three different parts of the Transvaal territory. This, therefore, further established the position (if, indeed, it required additional evidence), that what the British Government did in 1852 was not to recognize any definite Government with defined territorial boundaries, but to simply give to the emigrant farmers "the right to manage their own affairs and to govern themselves without interference." But President Burgers went on to admit in so many words that two out of the three parties of emigrant farmers did permit and practise slavery, and the inhuman traffic in "black ivory"—that was, in Native children—was carried out until the third party, that of Pretorius, was finally triumphant in the civil war of 1865, and all parties united under one Republic. But note his language. He said— Ever since the final union of these parties with the Republic these illegitimate and inhuman practices have been to a great extent suppressed. But, he said further— However good the intention of Government, experience soon proved that something more is required in a country than good laws in order to prevent evil practices, and with their best endeavours Government could not always prevent abuses of the apprenticeship system. However, he said, things have been better since the amalgamation, and— in a late inquiry made by the Government of the South African Republic to ascertain the truth of the accusation of slavery against themselves, not a single instance could be named in which slavery was carried on in the Republic with the sanction of the Government."—(June 5, 1875.) It must be remembered that this was the statement of the accused parties them-selves. He would, however, give still later evidence, and refer to page 15 of the last Blue Book presented upon this subject, which, under date 12th December, 1876, contained the following passage in a letter from the Special Correspondent of The Cape Argus:— The whole world may know it, for it is true and investigation will only bring out the horrible details, that through the whole course of this Republic's existence it has acted in contravention of the Sand River Treaty; and slavery has occurred not only here and there in isolated cases, hut as an unbroken practice has been one of the peculiar institutions of the country, mixed up with all its social and political life. It has been at the root of most of its wars. It has been carried on regularly even in the times of peace. It has been characterized by all those circumstances which have so often roused the British nation to an indignant protest, and to repeated efforts to banish the slave trade from the world. The Boers have not only fallen upon unsuspecting kraals simply for the purpose of obtaining the women and children and cattle, but they have carried on a traffic through Natives, who have kidnapped the children of their weaker nèighbours and sold them to the white man. Again, the Boers have sold and exchanged their victims among themselves. Waggon loads of slaves have been conveyed from one end of the country to the other for sale, and that with the cognizance of and for the direct advantage of the highest officials of the land. The writer has himself seen in a town situated in the south of the Republic the children who had been brought down from a remote northern district. According, then, to his (Mr. Knatchbull-Hugessen's) opinion, it was proved to demonstration that, either from their unwillingness or their inability to prevent it, the Transvaal Boers had, in violation of the Convention of 1852, "permitted and practised" slavery, and had thus caused an irritation in the minds of the independent tribes which could not but be productive of serious consequences, and had directly led to the present result. So much for slavery; but there was something else to which attention must be called. His hon. Friend had talked of "some inevitable dispute about land." They could not read these Blue Books without coming to the conclusion that annexation had become absolutely necessary, and that it was really the Boers' own policy of annexation which had recoiled upon themselves, although he believed that very many of them heartily rejoiced at the result, which afforded them better hope of secure and peaceful lives. It appeared from the Papers that the Natives desired to live free from molestation on their own lands, but that a process of encroachment and appropriation was continually carried on by the Dutch Boers, so that it had become impossible for the Natives to have any sympathy with them and their Government. If that Government had been satisfied with a moderate portion of land, quite sufficient for its people, it might have got on well enough with the surrounding tribes of Natives, but its per- petual encroachments had produced a spirit of hostility to the Boers, which had resulted in the recent war and in our annexation of that State. Now, he would state to the House the general method of procedure on the part of the Boers with respect to this annexation. In a despatch of Sir Henry Barkly, dated October 2, 1876, would be found the first extract which he would venture to read— 17. The following graphic description of this process is extracted from a letter in the Transvaal 'Advocate' of a few weeks ago: 'Frontiers are laid down, the claim to which is very doubtful. These frontiers are not occupied, but farms are inspected (guessed at would be nearer the mark), title deeds for the same are issued, and, when the unlucky purchaser wishes to take possession, he finds his farm (if he can find it) occupied by tribes of Kaffirs, over whom the Government has never attempted to exercise any jurisdiction.' 'Their Chief,' it adds, 'is rather bewildered at first to find out that he has for years been a subject of the Transvaal.' He would read the House another extract (page 196 in the Blue Book) from an able letter written by Mr. Osborn, resident magistrate of Newcastle in Natal. He said— From all I have been able to learn, it seems that the natives have no wish to prosecute the war or to avail themselves of advantages derived by them since its commencement. Their only desire appears to be left unmolested in the possession of their land, which the Boers are endeavouring to deprive them of. I would point out here that this war arose solely out of dispute about land. The Boers— as they have done before in other cases and are still doing—encroached by degrees upon native territory, commencing by obtaining permission to graze stock upon portions of it at certain seasons of the year, followed by individual graziers obtaining from native headmen a sort of right or license to squat upon certain defined portions, ostensibly in order to keep other Boer squatters away from the same land. These licenses, temporarily extended as friendly or neighbourly acts by unauthorised headmen, after a few seasons of occupation by the Boer construed by him as title, and his permanent occupation ensues. Damage for trespass is levied by him upon the very men from whom he obtained right to squat, to which the natives submit out of fear of the matter reaching the ears of the paramount Chief, who would, in all probability, severely punish them for opening the door to encroachment by the Boer. After a while, however, the matter comes to a crisis, in consequence of the incessant disputes between the Boers and the Natives; one or other of the disputants lay the case before the paramount Chief, who, when hearing both parties, is literally frightened with violence and threats by the Boer into granting him the land. Upon this the usual plan followed by the Boer is at once to collect a few neighbouring Boers, including a field cornet, or even an acting provisional field cornet, appointed by the field cornet or provisional cornet, the latter to represent the Government, although without instructions authorising him to act in the matter. A few cattle are collected among themselves, which the party takes to the Chief, and his signature is obtained to a written instrument alienating to the Republican Boers a large slice of or all his territory. The contents of this document are, so far as I can make out, never clearly or intelligibly explained to the Chief who signs it, and accepts of the cattle under the impression that it is all in settlement of hire for the grazing licenses granted by his headmen. This, I have no hesitation in saying, is the usual method by which the Boers obtain what they call cessions to them of territories by native Chiefs. In Sikukuni's case, they allege that his father, Seguato, ceded to them the whole of his territory (hundreds of square miles) for 100 head of cattle. But, to come from the general system of the Boers to particular cases, the Blue Books were perfectly full of them. In 1868 President Pretorius quietly issued a Proclamation annexing to the Republic the whole country to the East up to Delagoa Bay, giving him an outlet to the sea, and an enormous tract of land to the West. The Duke of Buckingham immediately wrote a despatch telling him that England would not recognize the validity of this Proclamation, and at the same time warning the Boers that if they continued to violate the anti-slavery Article, Great Britain would hold herself discharged from her obligations under the Convention. But the Blue Book last presented teemed with instances of this annexation policy, to some of which he would briefly refer. At page 54 was the case of the Amaswazi, who, being treated with by an officer who had formerly been in the service of the Natal Government, but had afterwards entered that of the Transvaal Boers, were led to sign a document which they believed to be the renewal of an old Treaty with Natal, and were afterwards told that it was a cession of their country to the Republic! At page 37 would be found the complaints of the Barolongs and Bataplins. At page 40, the complaint of Lopenguela, chief of the Matabeles. At page 65 that of Montsora; and at page 50 was told Cetywayo's case, how the Dutch Boers had claimed land for alleged gifts of cattle, and had "on several occasions tried by misrepresentations to get documents signed for grants of land." One letter from a Native Chief he could not refrain from reading to the House, as a sample of the complaints and wishes of the Natives, and he would commend it to the hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle (Sir Wilfrid Lawson), as it touched on a question which he had made his own. It was dated August 5th, 1876, and ran as follows:— I, KHAME, King of the Bagamangwato, greet Victoria, the great Queen of the English people. I write to you, Sir Henry, in order that your Queen may preserve for me my country, it being in her hands. The Boers are coming into it, and I do not like them. Their actions are cruel among us black people. We are like money: they sell us and our children. I ask Her Majesty to pity me, and to hear that which I write quickly. I wish to hear upon what conditions Her Majesty will receive me and my country and my people under her protection. I am weary with fighting. I do not like war, and I ask Her Majesty to give me peace. I am very much distressed that my people are being destroyed by war, and I wish them to obtain peace. I ask Her Majesty to defend me as she defends all her people. There are three things which distress me very much—war, selling people, and drink. All these I shall find in the Boers, and it is these things which destroy people to make an end of them in the country. The custom of the Boers has always been to cause people to be sold, and to-day they are still selling people. Last year I saw them pass with two waggons full of people whom they had bought at the river at Tanane (Lake Ngate). Again, I have made a law against the sale of drink; and, although I have made it known to the Boers, they continue to bring it, and thus destroy the law in my own town. But perhaps as bad a case as any was that from which arose the late war with Sikukuni. The President of the Republic alleged that this Chief's father had sold his land to the Boers in 1846, and had owned that he was no longer an owner of land. Yet it was admitted that the Republic made a Treaty with him in 1857, which they would have hardly done if he no longer possessed land. Sikukuni's country was shown by maps published in the Republic in 1868 to be outside the territories of the Republic. Thereupon the President repudiated these maps and said they were not official. Yet it was clearly shown that one of the two gentlemen who prepared them was at the time Postmaster General of the Republic, the maps were on the face of them stated to have been prepared from surveys and reports of the Surveyor General of the Republic, and the Parliament of the Republic voted each of the two gentlemen who had prepared them 6,000 acres of land as a recompense. Now, this annexation policy was fraught with danger to South Africa, and this view Lord Carnarvon had taken from the first. He had not acted hastily, but had written and spoken throughout as a British Minister ought to speak and write, and had fairly warned the Boers of the consequences of their acts. What could be more fair and open than his despatch of January 25, 1876—page 15 in the Blue Book? He said— I would strongly press upon the attention of the Republic that extension either of territory or influence (whether by way of protection, such as purports to be extended to the Amaswazi, or by way of the assertion of adverse rights, as appears to have been notified in the message and Proclamation to the Zulus) made without the previous concurrence of Her Majesty's Government, cannot be recognized by it. 4. As long as South Africa continues, as at present, split up into several Provinces having no common bond of union between them, Her Majesty's Government cannot accept or be a party to any extension of territory by the South African Republic, more especially any appropriation of lands now ruled over by Cetywayo, with which the Colony of Natal has so many direct and indirect relations. Any such action on its part, tending, as it undoubtedly would, to produce a Native war on our frontier, could not but have a dangerous and disturbing effect upon the enormous Native population of Natal. The Kaffirs of Natal being of the same race as the Zulus, would probably sympathize with their kinsmen in Zulu-Land, and a war between the Republic and the Zulus would inevitably draw this country and its South African dependencies into serious complications, the character and extent of which could not be foreseen, and might endanger the lives and property of the European settlers not only in Natal but probably in every part of South Africa. And again at page 46, under date 12th July, 1876— 4. Her Majesty's Government deem it necessary that the President of the Transvaal Republic should be informed without delay that they cannot consent to view passively, or with indifference, the engagement of the Republic in foreign military operations, the object or necessity of which have not been made apparent; and they desire that he should be strongly warned that in adopting an aggressive policy he is subjecting Her Majesty's possessions to the danger of very grave evils, for which, if they arise, the Transvaal Republic must necessarily be held responsible. And further on in the same despatch came a clear and emphatic statement— 6. The freedom and independence conceded in 1857 by Her Majesty to the two Republics in South Africa has necessarily been limited by considerations affecting the welfare, and possibly even the existence, of those British communities. Her Majesty's Government have had no desire to interfere with their absolute independence and freedom of self-government within their boundaries. But they have been, and are compelled to reserve the right of objecting to any alteration or extension of those recognized frontiers which may affect the British Colonies, and to any proceedings or policy interfering with territory or tribes not heretofore under the Government of the State, which thus enters upon a new line of action. But now let the House ask what was the actual cause of the recent war, and what was the conduct of the Boers in waging it? They went to war to establish their claim to Sikukuni's country, and they began by attacking his relative Johannes, who was very probably in a place where he had no right to be. But what did the Boers do? They stayed behind and sent their allies, the Swazis, forward to the attack, in which a number of women and children were killed. The Swazis, disgusted at their cowardice, retired to their own country, and the Boers then attacked Sikukuni's stronghold and were ignominiously repulsed. During the war there were frequent instances of women being killed, and although the captain of the Transvaal forces, Von Schlickmann, denied the charge, the evidence went to show that women were killed by his express orders. He himself had fallen in fight, and the President had appointed in his place one Aylward, who had been concerned in lawless opposition to British authority in the Diamond Felds. At page 217 was given another account of the capture of women and children, and the distribution of the latter as slaves by the Boers, and at page 17 of the Blue Book last presented was to be found an account of the attack of Meld Cornet Erasmus upon a kraal of friendly Natives, when he killed three old men who were sitting round a fire, and whom "he stalked like partridges,'' and captured six women and 18 children. The President, in his defence of his government against these and similar charges, admitted the cruelty practised in the slaughter of women in the attack upon Johannes, but excused it as owing to "the neglect of the commanding officer," and attempted to make out that there had been in this war less cruelty towards women and children than in former Native wars. But evidence to the contrary was strong, and one account given by an eye-witness, writing, it was true, anonymously, but whose statement had not been contradicted, spoke of cruelties perpetrated in the sight of the President himself. Here was the account, given in a letter to a Transvaal newspaper— Mr. Editor.—This is a true account of how two prisoners were murdered by the Transvaal Commando, under President Burgers. The prisoners (one a Zulu, the other one of Sikukuni's men) were sentenced to be shot. They were taken out of the laager handcuffed, and chains on their legs, and each had a long rein tied to his wrists, the rein being held by a Boer, when some Kaffirs, who were in readiness, stabbed them to death with assegaies. Each man had no less than twelve stabs, and every time he tried to rise he was pulled on his face by the man who held the rein. The General, President, and members of the Council of War were within thirty yards of the murder—you can call it nothing else. After the men were dead our Kaffirs had orders to chop their feet off to get the chains off, which they did. This is a true, unvarnished account by myself, who saw the whole thing. (Signed) "AN AFRIGANDER. Pretoria, August 20, 1876. He (Mr. Knatchbull-Hugessen) did not wish to weary the House with quotations, or he could greatly amplify his case. These proceedings of the Boers had excited against them the bitterest feelings of animosity on the part of the Natives. Let it be noted, moreover, that these feelings did not only exist among the warlike and powerful tribes of the Zulus. The Natives dwelling in and around the Transvaal were mostly of a peaceful and quiet character, and would have lived quietly enough with the Boers if they had been well treated. But, as it was, there was a general hatred and distrust of the powers, contrasting strongly with a favourable and friendly feeling towards the English. He would not deal with the precise manner of the annexation, because that would doubtless be fully dealt with by the Under Secretary for the Colonies, whose official duty it would be to defend it. But as to the condition at which the Transvaal Republic had arrived, he would simply quote two passages from despatches of Sir Theophilus Shepstone (pages 107 and 125). He said, March 6th 1877— 5. It was patent, however, to every observer that the Government was powerless to control either its white citizens, or its native subjects; that it was incapable of enforcing its laws, or of collecting its taxes; that the Treasury was empty; that the salaries of officials had been and are for months in arrear; that sums payable for the ordinary and necessary expenditure of Government cannot be had; and that payment for such services as postal contracts were long and hopelessly overdue; that the white inhabitants had become split into factions, that the large native populations within the boundaries of the State ignore its authority and laws, and that the powerful Zulu king, Cetywayo, is anxious to seize upon the first opportunity of attacking a country, the conduct of whose warriors at Sikukunis mountain has convinced him that it can be easily conquered by his clamouring regiments. And in his second despatch he more fully set forth the financial bankruptcy and hopeless condition of the Republic, beginning as follows:— March 12, 1877. My Lord, I think it necessary to explain, more at length than I was able to do in my last Despatch, dated 6th instant, the circumstances which seem to me to forbid all hope that the Transvaal Republic is capable of maintaining the show even of independent existence any longer, which induced me to consider it my duty to assume this position in my communications with the President and Executive Council, and which have convinced me that if I were to leave the country in its present condition I should but expose the white inhabitants to anarchy among themselves, and to attack from Natives, that would prove not only fatal to the Republic, but in the highest degree dangerous to Her Majesty's possessions and subjects in South Africa. This was the opinion of Sir Theophilus Shepstone, and no one who read the Blue Books with unbiased judgment and impartial mind could arrive at any other conclusion than that the Transvaal Republic had drifted into such a condition as to render it impossible that the existing state of things should be allowed to continue. It was no answer to say that Sir Theophilus Shepstone might have made some mistake. The state of things was such as to render interference an absolute necessity in the interests of the Colonies themselves. Nor was it true to speak of these Colonies as being almost entirely Dutch. According to the best information he could obtain, the Dutch, some two years since, numbered as something less than four out of six of the White population in the Transvaal, and two out of seven in Natal. And it must be remembered that as the English were the great emigrating nation of the world, this proportion was annually diminishing. Moreover, he held in his hand a Transvaal newspaper containing addresses to Sir Theophilus Shepstone proving that many of the inhabitants heartily rejoiced at the annexation. It was a mistake to say that the annexation in question had been accomplished only for the sake of British interests; it had been accomplished for the benefit of the whole of South Africa, and in the interests of civilization and humanity. It had been said by the hon. Member for Liskeard that there was danger from Cetywayo. No doubt — there always would be danger from savage and uncivilized tribes, and that danger might have been increased by the defeat of the Boers by a Chief of far inferior strength to the Zulu King. But it would soon be known throughout the length and breadth of South Africa that the policy of England had replaced that of the Boers. There might be outbreaks from time to time among the savage tribes of South Africa; but from the course which the British Government had adopted it would be known to the Native population that the policy to be pursued towards them would no longer be one of cruelty and annexation, and that the nation which would henceforth rule the Transvaal country was a nation which steadfastly set its face against slavery. He trusted that the policy of Her Majesty's Government in this matter would have the result which he believed they had in view from the first—not of the aggrandizement of the British Empire, but of the consolidation of South African interests, the promotion of the welfare of the South African Colonies, and the general advancement of civilization in a country where Europeans had a great duty to perform.


said, it appeared to him that the hon. Member for Liskeard (Mr. Courtney) had put his case on rather narrow grounds. Perhaps the House had not yet realized the vast number of Natives who would be brought into direct and indirect relations with Her Majesty's Government under this Bill. He would endeavour briefly to describe the position of affairs at the end of the year 1874, when the difficulties began. The relations between the Zulus and the Amaswasi tribe were of an unfriendly character, and the Boers, taking advantage of that circumstance, behaved with extreme cruelty towards the Natives, and committed great excesses in the territory of Secocoeni. These Boers were the persons from whom his hon. Friend expected so much. He could not understand those hopes; for, though there were outward signs of Christianity among them, their policy towards the Natives was characterized by an utter disregard of humanity. It was impossible for us to have allowed that state of things to continue, and, at last, the crisis came, in which the Government had not acted too strongly, though they were anxious not to interfere unnecessarily with the freedom assigned to the Boers. Considering, then, the facts adduced and the circumstances he had mentioned, there could be no doubt that the situation was grave enough to require the interposition of Her Majesty's Government. When the Boers came into collision with the Natives it was absolutely necessary for their existence that they should conquer. At least 80,000 guns had been distributed among the Zulus at the Diamond Fields, and very possibly there were not so many Whites in the Colony capable of bearing weapons. One of the Native Chiefs had even had the audacity to ask for a brass cannon, as he (Mr. Jenkins) supposed, to do more mischief. In short, the more he considered the circumstances in which the war was begun, the more certain he felt of the necessity for some stronger measures from without. In his opinion, the circumstance that 300 or 400 Englishmen had been left untouched at Pilgrim's Rest proved that the Natives, however much they might hate the Boers, were on good terms with our countrymen. He would, however, take broader grounds, and argue that, according to all our advancing notions of national duty, we could not let a civilized population be neglected by the Empire from which it sprang. Our position compelled up to recognize our responsibilities; and he could not but feel that the course taken by the Government was not only expedient, but also just and lawful.


said, the question was whether Her Majesty's Government were in their South Africa action and legislation actuated by a sound policy? He considered that the Government should have proceeded not hastily, but cautiously, and not on a haphazard policy. The Empire of Britain and the Empire of Borne were the theme of frequent comparisons, but questions of this kind would have been tried in old Borne, so that the injured parties should have a fair hearing and fair consideration. The South Africans sent over their delegates to London to represent their ease, and after having been referred from one Minister to another, they left England without having had a single opportunity of representing and making their grievances known. He felt, if only out of respect for the Transvaal Government, there should have been more consideration and due attention manifested in reference to their case. There was a despatch of Lord Carnarvon's in which it was stated that no annexations would be tolerated on the part of the Transvaal Republic in the unconfederated condition of South Africa; but as soon as the pet scheme of the Colonial Office came to be accepted and confederation was agreed to, the Government would be perfectly ready to waive all their delicate scruples on the subject. The history of British scruples in dealing with South Africa was, in short, one of the greatest illustrations of political casuistry which had ever been known. The Colonial Office had raised some questions of disputed boundaries to cover their designs of annexation; but he was sure that it was not the Transvaal Republic which had refused to have those questions decided by a fair Board of Commissioners, consisting of Members appointed on each side. The Government, however, did not, it seemed, care about arbitration except where the aggrieved nation happened to have some 40,000,000 of people at its command, and could appeal to other modes of settlement. The history of the British position in South Africa was one of annexation on annexation. With one exception every foot they had had been annexed, or, as it would be perhaps called by the lawful proprietors of the soil, robbed from them. They had not refrained from arming the Natives so long as they had thought the arms would be used against the Transvaal Republic. Their policy had been one of studied hostility and systematic bad faith. Did hon. Members choose to recall the history of the Transvaal Republic? A very large number of Dutch farmers left the Cape territory and settled in the neighbourhood of Natal. They were welcomed by the King or Chief of the Zulus, who invited them to a banquet, which the Natives made the occasion to fall upon them treacherously with their arms and as- sassinate them. Was it to be wondered at that bitter traditions had come down? All the territory occupied by those Boers had been declared British territory. Our Colonial Office was loud in denouncing the seizure of Native lands by the Boers, but the British had thought it to be quite compatible with British honour to be the receivers of the stolen goods. The emigrant farmers had removed again, and again the British had followed them. Instructions had long ago, in Lord Grey's time, come out from the Colonial Office recommending the British Governor to enter into a confederation with the Natives urging them to unite among themselves to check the advance of the Boers. That was the way in which they had carried out the previous Convention by which they had bound themselves to the emigrant farmers at the Sand River. The hon. Member criticized the conduct of the Colonial Office in supporting Cetywayo, the Zulu Chief, in his acts of oppression towards neighbouring tribes. This noble savage, the especial protégé of the Colonial Office, rewarded his Native bodyguards by allowing them to choose wives from the subject people without any regard to the feelings of the intended brides or their families. It was stated in a despatch of Sir Henry Bulwer of last year that in order to avoid these compulsory marriages various devices were resorted to by the women, upon discovering which the King ordered a large number of them to be killed, and their bodies placed along the highways in order that his displeasure might become known. Sir Henry Bulwer said he had despatched a remonstrance to Cetywayo; but the Colonial Office confined themselves to the remonstrance only. They reserved their vigorous action for the Boer Republic; but Cetywayo was spoken of with almost affectionate reverence, and had licence to slay and oppress at will, and one of the main charges against the Boers was that they had ventured to interfere with his proceedings. He complained that the Sand River Convention, entered into in 1852 between the Colonial Office and the emigrant farmers beyond the Vaal River, had been violated by Her Majesty's Government. They had permitted the Natives to arm themselves, and had thereby forced the Transvaal Republic to take measures of self- defence. He contended that they had no right to condemn the Transvaal Legislature for passing severe vagrant laws against the Kaffirs, who came from British territory carrying with them arms to be used in some frontier war, or in wanton aggression on the Boers. 70,000 or 80,000 stand of arms had been sold within Natal to the Native opponents of the Boers. It was at the moment when the Republic was driven to despair by the state of things due in a great measure to the policy pursued by the Colonial Office, that Her Majesty's Government determined to break their plighted faith and annex the Transvaal territory. A mass of incredible things had been forced on the House by Her Majesty's Government; and if the rights of the case were understood, if instead of the matter being left to a few volunteer Members, it had been thoroughly discussed, and if the decision were left to an independent tribunal, instead of depending on the crack of the Government Whip, the Transvaal Republic would come out in a very different light from that in which it had been represented by the right hon. Member for Sandwich (Mr. Knatchbull-Hugessen), and in which it would be presently represented by the Under Secretary for the Colonies. This was not the case of Her Majesty's Government forcing the Transvaal Republic to enter into a treaty of peace with the neighbouring tribes, which they might properly have done, but it was the wiping out of an independent Government which had been solemnly guaranteed before Europe. He thought that at the very least the people of the Transvaal Republic ought to be allowed to carry out their Republican institutions in all domestic and internal affairs as far as was compatible with connection with the British Government.


acknowledged that the hon. Member for Liskeard (Mr. Courtney) had done good service in bringing forward this important subject at a time when the House could approach it without those sentiments of languor which might have prevailed when the Vote was called on in the ordinary course. He quite agreed with the hon. Member that it was unadvisable to go into the original causes of the separation of the Transvaal from the British Colonies. The question of race was also one about which he did not think it well to enter into any controversy at the present moment, when the Dutch and the English might be expected to lay all animosity aside and unite in advancing the civilization of South Africa. The first part of the hon. Member's speech to which he would refer, therefore, was his contention that the present Bill was a reversal of the policy of 1854. Now, as he (Mr. Lowther) said on a former occasion, he did not look back with any feeling of satisfaction to the policy of 1854. The policy of the abandonment of our Colonies, which was at that time fashionable in some quarters, was not, in his opinion, a really popular one, but was merely put forward by a small minority, which, in the absence of any distinct expression of popular opinion, was supposed to represent the country. That policy had been distinctly repudiated by Her Majesty's Government, and whatever criticism might be passed upon their conduct, they were certainly not open to the reproach of having diminished the possessions of Her Majesty the Queen. Well, the hon. Member for Liskeard commenced by discrediting the testimony of his (Mr. Lowther's) principal witness, Sir Theophilus Shepstono. As to the antecedents of that distinguished public servant, he would only say that the opinion formed of him by his noble Friend the Secretary of State, and by all those associated with him in the government of South Africa, was precisely the opposite to that arrived at by the hon. Member. So far from Sir Theophilus Shepstone having mismanaged the affairs entrusted to him, he had, in the opinion of the Government, throughout his long career, been a most valuable and estimable public servant, and had performed his duties in a manner which entitled him to the thanks, not only of the Government, but of the House and the country; and that opinion was shared by Sir Henry Barkly, Sir Bartle Frere, and all those most capable of arriving at a just conclusion on the subject. A good deal had been said on the subject of slavery. Now, with the internal affairs of the Transvaal Her Majesty's Government had no concern, and his contention was that the policy of the Government was in no shape founded on the internal transactions of the Transvaal, but on those measures which tended to interfere with Her Majesty's Possessions. The external policy of the Transvaal State was the sole cause of the difficulty which was felt by Her Majesty's Government; and all the authorities showed that throughout South Africa the inevitable result of the policy of the Transvaal was calculated to lead to a Native war, which must have extended to Her Majesty's Possessions. In fact, to make the internal misgovernment of that State a pretext for intervening and acquiring territory or political influence would have been a most unjust policy, and would have constituted a grave international crime. The idea that we should invade a friendly State upon a pretext of that kind was one which he most distinctly and emphatically repudiated. The position of the Transvaal had long been a subject of consideration by Her Majesty's Government. The Committee would remember that 40,000 Whites were confronted by an innumerable body of Natives, and that to oppose threatened invasion there were not more than 5,000 or 6,000 men available. This was a danger to which the Government could not be indifferent, because if successes were gained over this handful of Whites it would be the duty of the Government to take steps to protect the interests of British subjects in that part of the world. The excitement which prevailed along the frontier and also in Natal produced great depression of trade and industry and great want of public confidence. These were circumstances which the Government were bound to consider. Her Majesty's Government could not avoid taking steps—it was their duty to do so—to restore commercial stability and public confidence. The Transvaal State was in a condition of complete bankruptcy. They had no means of equipping a force for their own defence, nor were they in a condition to carry on the government of the country, and it was high time that some efficient steps should be taken. A good deal had been said by the hon. Member for Dungarvan (Mr. O'Donnell) as to the delegates who came to this country and entered certain protests against the annexation of the Republic; and he added that it was greatly to be regretted that further time was not given to those delegates to place their opinions before the House in a tangible form. He was happy to be able to inform the hon. Member that his noble Friend the Secretary for the Colonies, had received the delegates most cordially, while he informed them that he could not receive from them any communication which would open up any question as to actually accomplished facts, but was prepared to consider any matter that could be urged or laid before him as to the future government of the country. The delegates altogether assented to that condition, and brought forward practical suggestions, couched in the most temperate language, as to the future government of the Transvaal. Those representations, he could assure the House, had not been lost upon Her Majesty's Government. The hon. Member had said that the delegates had left London dissatisfied. Such was so far from being the case that one of those gentlemen had been in friendly communication with his noble Friend that day. Well, he had been asked what was to be the future government of the country. That was a subject which should manifestly and would assuredly receive the most careful attention of Her Majesty's Government. If the hon. Gentleman thought that on that important subject the feelings of those who were most deeply interested in it would not be consulted, he was entirely wrong. All the information which they had received, and were continually receiving, led them to the conclusion that a general feeling of satisfaction prevailed in the Transvaal—that it was going on increasing—and that a most friendly feeling existed towards Her Majesty's Government. Then, as to the finances of the country, he could say that it was matter of considerable congratulation that its condition in that respect was not unsatisfactory. It was not possible to fix with perfect accuracy the sum that would be required in connection with the annexation scheme; and the figures he was about to give as to details must, of course, be taken as merely approximate; nor was it necessary to ask the House to vote a sum for the discharge of the liabilities under which the Transvaal lay. The Vote of £100,000 for which the Government intended to ask was made up in the following way:—£25,000 to meet the expenditure for the movement of troops necessary for taking over the country; £25,000 for salaries and to maintain the Government in working order; £20,000 already incurred by the late Government of the Transvaal in the war with the Native tribes; £10,000 debt upon railway loans, which become due in the course of the current year; £9,000 interest on bank advances; £15,000 repayment of capital to the bank, and a few other items. The resources of the Transvaal State, which were considerable, were pastoral, agricultural, and mineral, and quite adequate to warrant us in looking forward to a time when the Transvaal would be not only self-supporting, but able to extinguish its own debt, and repay us the £100,000.


characterized the speech of the hon. Member for Dungarvan (Mr. O'Donnell) as one that might be listened to, if not with amusement, at least with indifference. It exhibited the extraordinary licence with which hon. Gentlemen who represented Fenian sentiments had thought fit to assume on this question. He (Mr. Whalley) defended the conduct of Sir Theophilus Shepstone as a diplomatic servant of the Grown, and denied that his policy had been actuated by desire for personal aggrandizement. For 80 years peace and prosperity had been secured to the South of Africa by the conduct of Sir Theophilus Shepstone. The time had come when Her Majesty's Government might fairly assume the position of preservers of the peace in South Africa, and it was hoped their policy would encourage the introduction of capital for the promotion of legitimate trade in that country. He warmly supported the proposal of the Government.