HC Deb 13 March 1883 vol 277 cc413-46

in rising to call attention to the position in the Transvaal of British subjects and persons of the Native race; and to move— That, in view of the complicity of the Transvaal Government in the cruel and treacherous attacks made upon the Chiefs Montsioa and Mankoroane, this House is of opinion that energetic steps should be immediately taken to secure the strict observance by the Transvaal Government of the Convention of 1881, so that these chiefs may be preserved from the destruction with which they are threatened, said, he was afraid that he had, to some extent, earned for himself a bad character in the House, for bringing forward Motions which were calculated to embarrass Her Majesty's present Government; but he hoped the House would believe, and he was quite sure that the Prime Minister would believe, that upon this particular occasion the Motion he had brought forward was an exception to the general rule. He had no intention whatever of expressing any censure, or any implication of censure, upon the past conduct of Her Majesty's Government; and his desire was a sincere one, to lay before the House, and especially before the Prime Minister himself, the condition of affairs in Bechuanaland, to which he had on previous occasions repeatedly called attention. In doing so, he found he had placed himself in the way of a Motion which was about to be launched from the Front Opposition Bench, and, had he been able, he would gladly have avoided such a position; but he did not think anything he said would prejudice the Motion of the right hon. Member for East Gloucestershire (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach). He wished, first, to remind the House that the Bechuana Natives were not to be confounded either with the Kaffirs or with the Zulus. They were not a warlike people governed by despotic Chiefs, but a peaceful, pastoral race, governed by headmen and popular assemblies, and had, during the 50 or 60 years in which they had been in contact with the White race, made considerable progress in civilization and knowledge. Except during the years 1854 to 1857 they had been at peace, and de facto subjects of Her Majesty, although they had never been so de jure. A cession of their territory was made to the Government in 1878, and for two years the country was actually administered by English officers, under a provisional Administrator. In 1880, without any intimation to the Chiefs, or any explanation or reason assigned, the provisional Administrator was withdrawn, and Bechuanaland again became de facto as well as de jure an entirely independent country. In the cession of the Transvaal to the Boers, the Natives of Bechuanaland were not consulted. He had already called the attention of the House to the fact that the Chief Montsioa was to be punished by the Transvaal Boers for the assistance he had rendered to the English refugees during the Transvaal War, and he had been told the hostilities would be stopped through the intervention of the Government, and that the Natives would, if necessary, receive protection. The Prime Minister, on the 25th of July, 1881, insisted on the necessity of protecting the Natives outside as well as inside the Transvaal, and declared that that object would be secured by the retention of the Suzerainty. Shortly after the Convention was signed, attacks were made upon the Chiefs Mankoroane and Montsioa, avowedly because of their loyalty towards the British Government in sheltering the refugees from the Transvaal. The House must also bear in mind that after the Award of Governor Keat, the Boers never ceased to lay claim to a large portion of that which acquired the name of the Keat Award country, founding their claim upon certain Treaties made between themselves and Massouw and Moshette. It would be unnecessary, however, to go into details on the subject. Sir Hercules Robinson said that, during the hostilities between the Boers and the Native Chiefs, Montsioa and Mankoroane had scrupulously respected the Transvaal line. Not so their opponents, who, aided by Boer freebooters, had had the Transvaal territory as a place for organizing expeditions. So much for the war which had gone on. When Questions had been asked in that House about the war, they were told throughout the year 1882 that it was a war merely carried on by freebooters, and that the Transvaal Government had no complicity whatever in the matter. That was, in effect, the answer he had received to a Question put by him in that House to the hon. Gentleman the Financial Secretary to the Treasury on the 13th of April, 1882, which had been repeated in the following month, and confirmed on the 5th of June—that was, that no action had been taken by the Transvaal Government, and that everything had been done entirely by freebooters without their knowledge. Did the Government not now know that the Boers had never made the slightest pretence of keeping to the Convention? In March, 1882, Joubert himself had written most extraordinary letters to two Chiefs living beyond Moshette; and in those letters he spoke of the British officer, Colonel Moysey, as a poison-strewer, and that he made it his business to set one Chief against another, and the result was that all those fights had been set down to him. He had said, too, that it was the old policy of the English adventurers to cause discord and dissension all over the world. That was the spirit in which the Convention had been observed by the Boers. On the 3rd of Juno, 1882, the Volks-raad had intervened in the matter, and adopted a Resolution that the existing boundary of the land established by the Convention was the cause of the disturbance, and appointed a Commission to put an end to the controversy, which Commission was to regard the boundary in accordance with the still existing Treaties between the Republic and Montsioa and Moshette—that was, Treaties made in dereliction of Governor Keat's Award. So far from their observing the Convention, they had announced at an early stage that the boundary line which it had fixed was the whole cause of the controversy going on. That, of course, was not the view of the High Commissioner, Sir Hercules Robinson, and he had made a most able and practical proposal, and he (Mr. Gorst) earnestly entreated the attention of the House to it. He had proposed that the war territory should be secured by mounted police, that the police should arrest all deserters and violators of the Neutrality Proclamations, and remove them for trial within their respective jurisdictions. As the cost of these police, about 200 of whom would be sufficient, would be but trifling, he proposed that the cost should be shared between the British Government, the Cape Government, the Orange Free State, and the Transvaal Government. The Cape Government had agreed at once, and the Orange Free State refused only on the ground that their Constitution forbade such a use of their forces. But when the proposal reached the Government of the Transvaal, the answer returned was that two of the Triumvirate were absent; but the one present took upon himself to express his surprise at the proposal of the British Government, and stated that the remedy was worse than the disease. Krüger said— The cause of the evil is the boundary line fixed by the Convention, and no measure will avail so long as that is not remedied. The High Commissioner at once pronounced an opinion which he (Mr. Gorst) thought would be the opinion of the House; he said— It is manifest that if the Transvaal Government is to take advantage of the lawless proceedings of freebooters, it is not probable that the disorders will be long confined to the West Border; and, apart from the serious objection on this and other grounds, that Government has quite enough to do to despatch adequately its existing responsibilities, without adding to the wide extent of country under its jurisdiction. About the same date, too, they heard from the British Resident, Mr. Hudson, who had visited the disturbed territory, that the condition of that part was a scandal to the Government, for bands of marauders plundered with impunity, while the Government were unable or unwilling to interfere. Now, about that date, the end of July last year, there was a peace made between Moshette and Montsioa. The terms included the repudiation of the English Government, and an agreement that in all future disputes they should call in the help of the "South African Republic." The evidence of complicity on the part of the Transvaal Government was very strong. On the 16th of October that Government themselves deliberately addressed letters to Mankoroane and Montsioa apart from the knowledge of the British Resident, and therefore contrary to agreement, and addressed them in those terms—that they had received the agreement relating to cession of their territory, and that they accepted it, and that they would send an official Commissioner to Christiana, out- side the Transvaal boundary, to settle the matter of boundary. When these letters came to the knowledge of the British Resident, he immediately addressed a despatch to the Transvaal Government, asking them what they meant, and pointing out that they had violated three Articles of the Convention—the Article which made the British Resident the sole medium of communication between the Transvaal State and the Natives outside the boundaries; that the cession of territory was a violation of the Convention; and, finally, that they had violated it by undertaking to send a Commissioner to Christiana, which was beyond their boundaries and jurisdiction. On the 6th of December the Transvaal Government answered the despatch, and what did the House think the answer was? Why they said simply that they had violated the Convention—that what they had done was a violation. A more bare-faced answer was never written by one Government to another. So much for the Chief Mankoroane; and now he would say one or two words about Montsioa. That Chief did not fail to appeal to the Government from time to time to point out that these infringements of the Convention were going on. On the 22nd of June last he stated that— After the messages he had received he expected to see the Boers go away from his country, but, instead of that, more Boers than ever came from both the Transvaal and the Free State; that they had come to join his enemies; that he hoped the English Government would not always allow their word to fall to the ground; and that they would take some steps to preserve him and his people from the Boers, whose intention was to steal their land and join it to their own country. On the 28th of July, Montsioa instructed his European adviser to address a very remarkable letter to the Government, pointing out that— He had four times driven his enemies into the Transvaal State, and he said that each time those freebooters crossed the line he could have followed them and destroyed them, but that he had trusted to the promises of Her Majesty's Government in the Convention. Then he added a very significant sentence—namely, "I have now lost confidence in the promises of the Pretoria Convention." Montsioa not only pointed out the evil, but he suggested a remedy. He proposed to the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister three courses to pursue, each of which he thought the House would admit was sensible and deserved consideration. The first course he proposed was the annexation to the British Dominions of all the country to the south of the local river in the Bechuana country. He proposed to return to the status quo of 1880, and suggested that the country should be governed by British officers, and that the expenses of these officers and of the police should be defrayed by the Natives themselves. He (Mr. Gorst) did not say this was a course which the Government ought to have adopted, but it was a reasonable and practical suggestion which was deserving of consideration. Montsioa also proposed the expulsion of the freebooters from the territory, and this might have been done by the 200 mounted police proposed by Sir Hercules Robinson. The third course Montsioa proposed was that, if they would not do either of those two things, they should at least allow him to buy powder and shot to defend himself. And this last proposal was as fair as it was simple, because Montsioa was in this unfair and unfortunate position—that while his enemies could get any amount of powder and any number of arms from the Transvaal State, which was free and open to them, so strictly and rigidly was neutrality enforced in the Orange Free State and in Griqualand West, that he could not buy any powder or arms at all. An effort had been made to get powder for this Chief, but the Cape Government had stated that they could not depart from the Griqualand neutrality. At last, when abandoned by the British Government, unable to obtain arms or ammunition, and overwhelmed by the freebooters, Montsioa had been compelled almost by his Tribe and his sons to make peace, and he sent an officer of the Transvaal Government to make that peace. So it came to this—that an officer of the Transvaal Government undertook on behalf of Montsioa to mediate and to settle the terms between those Boer freebooters and the unhappy Chief. Lord Kimberley might well say that he awaited explanations as to the action of the Transvaal Commission; but he did not know that the noble Lord had received that explanation up to the present day. If the allegations in Montsioa's letters were well-founded, it was obvious that the neutrality agreed upon had been broken. The Transvaal Government had refused, on a very frivolous pretext, to join a Commission appointed to inquire into the state of things complained of, and Mr. Rutherford had been obliged to go alone. In 1880 this unhappy country was in a condition of peace and contentment; now it was in a very deplorable state; and if any hon. Member desired to see to what the country had been reduced by two years of Boer aggression—contrary to the distinct terms of the Convention—he had only to read the Papers produced. Dreadful atrocities had been committed in the country from time to time; and though he did not, of course, blame the Government for refusing to accept as accurate the statements of cruelty made to them without first investigating the charges themselves, he earnestly hoped the Government would lose no time in making full inquiries. There was one other point. He asked once whether two cannon had not been brought from the Bechuana country, and whether these had not been supplied by a well-known Boer burgher? Mr. Rutherford actually saw those two cannon pointed at Montsioa's stronghold by the Commandant of the South African Republic. There was an almost affecting account given of the attempts which were made to induce Montsioa to renounce Her Majesty's Government, and how he had refused to sign the document of renunciation which was placed before him, in spite of the threats of the Boers that there would be no peace if he did not sign. At the end of his visit to the country, Mr. Rutherford was asked by the Chief Mankoroane a question which he would like to hear answered by Her Majesty's Government— Why," said this old savage, "do you Engglish take so much trouble and come down so far from time to time to make inquiries, and see with the eyes and hear with the ears, if nothing is to come of it? He felt quite certain that the Prime Minister did not like the contrast between the case of the Natives outside the Transvaal boundary, which he imagined and pictured to himself when he delivered that speech in the House of Commons, in July, 1881, and the picture of the condition of the same Natives which was drawn so graphically by Mr. Rutherford. But where was this to end? That question had been clearly and prominently brought before Her Majesty's Government by the High Commissioner, Sir Hercules Robinson. Mr. Hudson had made a suggestion, that if the terms insisted upon by the Transvaal Government were acceded to, and if the boundaries of the Transvaal were extended, arrangements might be proposed that would more effectively regulate its extension proclivities, and at the same time strengthen the power and authority of that Government over its own subjects. Sir Hercules Robinson said— I confess I am unable to conceive what more effective treaty arrangements against extension proclivities can be devised than those which already exist. The Transvaal Government have already also quite sufficient power over their own subjects. What appears to be wanted is the willingness to exercise it.…The Convention line through the Keate territory was the best and fairest compromise between the two sides that could be devised. Mr. Keate had assigned the whole of the territory in dispute to the Natives. The South African Republic subsequently tried to get behind that award by cessions, the validity of which Her Majesty's Government refused to acknowledge.…If the Transvaal Government had been willing to control their marauding subjects, who almost immediately after retrocession began to cross the Convention line with the view of despoiling the Natives beyond it and the lands which had been assigned to them, that boundary would have answered perfectly; and so long as the Government are not willing to undertake such an obvious duty there will he the same trouble with any other line which can be laid down. If Montsioa and Mankoroane were now absorbed, Bonoquani, Mokobi, and Bareki would soon share the same fate. Gassisibi and Sechele would come next. So long as there were native cattle to be stolen, and native land worth appropriating, the absorbing process would be repeated. Tribe after tribe would be pushed back and back upon other tribes, or would perish in the process until an uninhabitable desert or the sea were reached, as the ultimate boundary of the State. That was the picture of the Government's own Commissioner. He hoped some such cruel mercy as that indicated in the closing words of Sir Hercules Robinson's despatch did not commend itself to the Government. When Faust had determined upon the destruction of Marguerite, even Mephistopheles consented to shorten the period of her agony. He hoped the Government would not be more cruel than the Fiend himself, and that they would at least take no measures which would prolong fruitless contests, and would embark those unhappy Natives in struggles which could have but one end. It was no business of his—having laid before the House and the Government the deplorable condition of these unhappy peoples, who were once British subjects, amen- able at least de facto to our rule, and loyal and friendly to Her Majesty to the last—to devise the remedy. He had heard it suggested that the terms of his Resolution pointed to a fresh South African war. He repudiated any such suggestion. The Resolution merely pointed to energetic action on the part of the Government. He had scrupulously endeavoured to take out of the Resolution everything which might seem to make it one of Censure on the Government, or which would in any way embarrass their action. The Amendment of the hon. Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Cartwright) embodied a truism which seemed in this connection to be out of place. He should have thought this was a case of "absolutely unavoidable obligations." He was grateful to the House for having allowed him, as temperately as possible, to indicate the plain facts of this most painful case. Such were the plain facts of this case, and he trusted they might have on the part of the Government an assurance that it recognized the serious nature of these questions to the Natives, and that they would immediately take some active measures to put a stop to the lamentable condition of things he had described.


in seconding the Motion, reminded the House that on the first night of the Session he had called the attention of the Under Secretary for the Colonies to certain statements which had appeared in a newspaper published at the Diamond Fields containing accounts of atrocities such as had seldom been seen in the history of the world. His hon. Friend answered that he was going to lay Papers on the Table of the House, and, having done so, the Papers were found to confirm the newspaper reports, and to rest upon no less authority than that of Mr. Rutherford, Assistant to Mr. Hudson, the English Resident. But it was said the argument was merely a tu quoque argument; that the Conservative Party had left a damnosa hereditas to the Liberal Party, and were themselves responsible for what had occurred. To that he replied that the annexation of the Transvaal by the late Government was a measure of which they were proud. Who were the Boers? They were a body of men who had left the Cape Colony in consequence of the abolition of slavery in that country, and from that time forward their career had been a career of rapacity, cruelty, and murder. He was aware that they had a patron in that House in the Secretary to the Treasury, and he wished the hon. Member had been present to defend them, because in the whole world there was nothing to equal the atrocities committed by the Transvaal Republic. Two years ago he had listened for two hours to the hon. Member for Carnarvonshire (Mr. Rathbone) on that subject, but without being able to discover that the hon. Member was aware that there were any but White inhabitants in the Transvaal, whereas its inhabitants consisted of 40,000 Whites at the outside, 5,000 being Englishmen, and 750,000 Natives; and he thought that to annex the State in which 750,000 Natives were oppressed by 35,000 Dutch Boers was a measure of which Her Majesty's late Government had every reason to be proud. Two years ago they were told a great deal about blood-guiltiness. Now, he was a man of peace, who detested war, but if ever there was a just and righteous war in this world, it was the war in the Transvaal. But the Prime Minister had been persuaded that it was not right to continue it, and had made an ignominious peace. He (Mr. R. N. Fowler) did not wish to put a question of this kind upon the same footing as a monetary transaction; but he was convinced that, as he predicted at the time, for the sake of saving 5,000 human lives, 50,000 had been sacrificed. It was all very well for gentlemen at home to suppose that the Boers thought they had not defeated the English. He had travelled through the Free State since the war, and he constantly heard it asserted that we were beaten in the war, and that we would never have surrendered if we had not been defeated at Majuba Hill. While that impression remained, while we were despised by our late subjects, the power of influencing the Boers was practically nothing. It was a miserable business; no Englishman could think of it without blushing. Two years ago the people were living contented and happy, and now they were being oppressed, driven from their homes, and murdered by the Boers; and where was it to stop? There was no prospect of such a thing unless the Chiefs consented to give up their land to the Boers and to retire towards the Desert, only to be driven out once more when it became convenient to the Republic to make fresh acquisitions of territory. There was only one course to pursue, and that was to take a decided line, and to vindicate the power of England. When they made peace with traitors, and those who believed in nothing but physical force, they must expect such horrors and atrocities as those which had been so forcibly depicted by the hon. and learned Member for Chatham.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That, in view of the complicity of the Transvaal Government in the cruel and treacherous attacks made upon the Chiefs Montsioa and Mankoroane, this House is of opinion that energetic steps should he immediately taken to secure the strict observance by the Transvaal Government of the Convention of 1881, so that these chiefs may he preserved from the destruction with which they are threatened."—(Mr. Gorst.)


said, he feared the House would think him somewhat presumptuous in venturing, so soon after his admission to that distinguished Assembly, to intrude upon its deliberations; but as he listened to the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Chatham (Mr. Gorst), he could not help feeling that the sooner another side was represented to the House than the picture he painted the more advantageous it would be for the veracity of the discussion. The hon. and learned Member had told the House a great deal about the Native Chief Mankoroane, and he endeavoured to show that we had, in some way or other, bound ourselves to the protection of Mankoroane; but the fact was, that in the despatches of Lord Kimberley and Sir Hercules Robinson in April last year, the latter especially thought that Mankoroane was himself alone to blame for the troubles that had come upon him. In truth he left his home, where he was living unmolested, to take part in hostilities without reason. With reference to Montsioa, very much the same story might be told, and he was as little deserving of the sympathy of this House or of the English people as Mankoroane. In addition to this, the action of the Agents, both the Transvaal Agents and the Boer Agents, had produced bad results. One of our own Representatives wrote that he did not consider that our Agents were of any assistance to the Government; they were mainly active in egging on several of the Chiefs in hostilities which might result in very serious consequences. With reference to the attitude of the Boers, it was worth remembering that they had always held seriously, and not merely out of a desire to defy the British Government, that the disturbances arose from the impracticable way in which the boundaries were defined. [A laugh.] Hon. Members might laugh, but the Boers of the Transvaal were not the only persons who took that view; for when Sir George Colley, whose tragical death all Englishmen deplored, visited the territory, he made an official Report, which led Lord Kimberley to say that he believed Sir George Colley was of opinion that it was out of the question to maintain the boundary laid down in 1871. A new line of territory was required; and when we were responsible for the government of the Transvaal we had the same views of the impracticability of the Transvaal frontier line. [Mr. GORST: The Transvaal Government had a new line.] After the disturbance arose which resulted in the war, it would be found that as late as February last Sir Hercules Robinson wrote to say that, up to that date, the Transvaal Government appeared to have done their best to maintain neutrality; and, so far as he (Mr. John Morley) had read and understood the transactions, from the beginning to the end the Transvaal Government did nothing of which we had any right to complain. ["Oh, oh!"] That he would seriously maintain. They published proclamations, they issued warrants for the arrest of marauders, they sent Joubert as commandant to the frontier, they stationed guards, they did all that a Central Government could do—a poor and weak Government—to maintain the peace on a difficult frontier, with a number of freebooters on the borders. Those freebooters were not all from the Transvaal; they came also from the Orange Free State, from Griqualand West, and from Cape Colony itself. He believed, moreover, that it was perfectly clear that most of the ammunition came from the Orange Free State and the Transvaal. In one place in the Blue Book it would be found that Mr. Hudson himself, the British Representative and Resident, said he should like to be allowed by Sir Hercules Robinson to make representations to the Orange Free State Government to induce them to act against the constant flow of ammunition. Now, it seemed a very bold thing to assert that the Transvaal Government on the whole had done its duty; but, in fact, all the terms of the Convention could not possibly be maintained. Here the fault lay not with the Transvaal Government, but with the Convention. He, for one, wished that the Convention had never been made. He wished that the present Government, within a month of their coming into Office, had come out of the Transvaal "bag and baggage." The fault of the Convention was that it imposed on the Transvaal Government the duty of maintaining peace on a borderland where nobody could maintain peace. Why did the Cape Colony refuse to accede to the proposition that they should take possession? Because they knew perfectly well the trouble and expense of keeping a peaceful frontier made it impracticable. The Transvaal Government found this incessant disorder on the frontier, and they found that the British Government were doing nothing, and they knew that practically nothing could be done by us. It was indispensable that the Transvaal Government should somehow get peace on the frontier. Letters were written that these Chiefs were willing to make peace and to cede their territory nominally to the Transvaal Government. But there could be no doubt to anyone who carefully read the letter of Mr. Bok to Mr. Hudson, on page 44 of the last Blue Book, that the Boer Government intended to submit these arrangements to the British Resident at Pretoria for the approval of Her Majesty's Government. Apart from all this, the question, after all, was what could be done to put an end to these disturbances in Bechuanaland? It seemed the High Commissioner tried to get the Free State, Cape Colony, and the Transvaal to institute some sort of police; but they declined, and therefore there was nothing left but annexation by Great Britain, or leaving it to be absorbed by the Free State, or else, finally, leaving it to its own devices. He hoped this country would not interfere in any way, and would not send a single man to clear away the marauders. It was not our affair. If hon. Members thought we were under any obligation to the Chiefs of Bechuanaland, he would refer them to the despatches of Lord Kimberley in July last year in reference to the proposal to send a joint force into the country, and it would be there found that Lord Kimberley expressly repudiated all obligations to these Chiefs or to the Transvaal Government. On July 13, 1882, Lord Kimberley, in his despatch to Sir Hercules Robinson, said that in consenting to take part in sending police, Her Majesty's Government did so only on this occasion as an exceptional measure to facilitate the action of the Local Government, and could not undertake the duty of preserving tranquillity, which properly belonged to the Government of the adjoining territory. Lord Kimberley thus expressly repudiated any obligation on our part, and he hoped that we should still maintain that attitude.


said, he felt bound by the interest he felt in South Africa and the Native races amongst whom he had spent so many pleasant years to raise his protest against the neglect of duty on the part of the Government, which had reduced this country to the despicable position we now occupied with reference to the Bechuana Chiefs. The hon. Member for Newcastle (Mr. John Morley) had laid down several premises without making deductions from them, and had drawn a variety of conclusions without premises. The fact was, we had remained during a year and a-half passive spectators of the outrages; and so far from our raising one finger to enforce the Articles of the Convention to restrain, or to force the Transvaal Government to restrain, the lawless bands of Boer Banditti—the scum of the Transvaal—who had attacked our old Bechuana allies, we had proved ourselves as helpless to save, and as powerless to protect, as if the Transvaal Convention had been so much waste paper, or as if Majuba Hill had brought about an unconditional surrender to the Boers. Not only had we been passively neutral, but we had been actively and malevolently neutral, for when these loyal Chiefs Montsioa and Mankoroane implored our assistance we simply sent them an official messenger. When they begged that, at least, the prohibition to purchase powder for the defence of their lives should be relaxed, we wrote them a page on neutrality and the intricacies of the Foreign Enlistment Act, and explained that ammunition could only be supplied to persons who did not require it for such an unrighteous purpose as the defence against freebooters of their lives, and the lives of their wives and their children. There was no more sickening and disheartening reading than that which was to be found in those Blue Books, which contained a long and dreary record of official impotence. What terms of reprobation would be too strong for a London magistrate to use to a big hulking policeman, who should be found to have confined the discharge of his duty to mere verbal remonstrance, while a brutal ruffian was robbing and beating to death some innocent man, woman, or child, before his very eyes? Well, our position as between the Transvaal Boers and those outlying Tribes was precisely that of a policeman. When our Government handed over 750,000 Natives within the Transvaal boundaries to the Boers, whose mode of dealing with them had throughout their history been written in three words, slavery, ill-treatment, extermination, it undertook to protect the Native Tribes outside those boundaries from the encroachments of the Boers and the Boer Government. If it was said that the Boer Government could not prevent those encroachments on the outlying Native Tribes, why, then, was the Transvaal handed over to a Government which was unable to govern? He appealed to Her Majesty's Ministers to shake off their apathy, and endeavour to repair the errors of the past. All these outrages would have ceased at once if they had only sent a few companies of soldiers last year to Montsioa's territory, to show that they were in earnest, and meant to maintain the Convention. If this could only be done by armed intervention, let it be done now. If those marauders were allowed to take any of that territory, they would only be encouraged to go on attacking other neighbouring Chiefs; they would extend their attacks to the lands of Secheli and Khame on the West, and then to the more fertile slopes of Swaziland and Zululand; in short, wherever there was grass and water to take and Boers to covet them we should have repetitions of those outrages, and, sooner or later, this country would be forced into intervention. If, however, the intervention came later, it would assume the proportions of a very serious Transvaal war. Was British honour, then, to continue to be dragged through the mud as it had been in South Africa? And not only was that the case with the honour of England, but also with the reputation of Christianity. Was Christianity, identified as it was in Bechuanaland with 50 years of English missionary labour, to be identified also with the cowardice of England and of Englishmen? Let Her Majesty's Government say at once whether they intended to abandon their allies, Montsioa and Mankoroane? If they grudged the expenditure which their own disastrous policy had entailed, and must entail on the country—if they refused that armed intervention which they knew that but for the expense they would adopt themselves, and which both honour and humanity demanded—let them at once say that they had neither the courage nor the resolution to repress with a strong hand those murderous marauders, and that filibustering and private warfare were in those regions to become the order of the day, or at least to have the tacit sanction of their impotence in its repression. Then, there was many an Englishman in the Diamond Fields, and throughout South Africa, and many a man also in England who, if he realized that national disgrace, would be ready to give up a few months of the London season or a few months' sport on the Rocky Mountains to become one of a band of volunteers in a righteous cause, of a band of volunteer allies of the Bechuana Chiefs, in order to do what an individual could do to repair the default of his Government, and to fire an English bullet in defence of that English honour which—none the less shamefully because done in that distant corner of the world—had been prostituted in so shameful a manner by the carelessness or by the cowardice of the Government.


in moving, as an Amendment— That, in view of the very grave complication, that must attend intervention in the affairs of the native populations on the Western Fontier of the Transvaal, this House is of opinion that the action of British authorities in those regions should be strictly confined within the limits of absolute unavoidable obligations, said, that the hon. Member who had just sat down had made a very valuable comment upon the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Chatham (Mr. Gorst), who had said that in regard to these energetic measures which he called upon the Government to pursue he would not enter into any detail, but would merely indicate what should be done. The hon. Member had emphasized that indication with the word "intervention." It was desirable that the energetic action to which the hon. and learned Member invited the Government should receive some attention, and should be considered fully in its meaning and bearing. For himself, he held that the difficulty and the evils with which they had now to contend had arisen out of the Convention with the Transvaal Government. The hon. and learned Member for Chatham's description of the border warfare between the Transvaal and Bechuanaland was, he believed, quite correct with some unimportant exceptions. That land was a land of lawlessness, of warfare, and of robbery, peopled by freebooters; and the Native Chiefs, not with standing much that was said in their favour, were little better than the marauders who were invading that territory. Again, nothing could be truer than the demonstration given by the hon. and learned Member for Chatham, that in regard to the Convention the action of the Boers had been in absolute violation of its terms. But the principal question which the House bad now to consider was, what were the practical means at our disposal to cope with the difficulty which confronted us? The Convention was violated within 24 hours by the illegal raising of the flag of the South African Republic. The mode in which the boundary line was settled was illustrative of the manner in which our South African policy was carried out. That boundary line was drawn by Colonial officials who were ignorant of the subject with which they were dealing, and the result was the exclusion of a large number of Transvaal citizens. The Blue Book contained from first to last records of the protests on the part of the Transvaal Government and the impotent rejoinder of the Commissioner at Cape Town. The point at which they had arrived was the absolute violation of the Convention by an act perfectly illegal according to the terms of the Convention. The Transvaal Government had annexed portions of territory outside their boundary. The question was, what was to be done? The hon. and learned Member for Chatham (Mr. Gorst) had asked the Government to take immediate steps to secure the safety of the Tribes on the borderland. But this involved serious responsibilities. It behoved the Liberal Party to be well upon their guard before they endorsed a political principle which must inevitably lead to the same consequences against which they protested two years ago. He was convinced that if they pursued the principle advocated by the hon. and learned Member for Chatham, they must not only annex, but they would be obliged by the inevitable force of circumstances to establish a permanent police force; in other words, to assume the responsibility of an African Empire which would extend from sea to sea. It was not, however, possible to exercise any real restraining authority through a hollow Suzerainty; but they could still draw back, and if they drew back they must do so absolutely, and not in a halfhearted manner. If they did not seize this opportunity, they would be involved in further complications; and the course he recommended, which would be a far more dignified course for the Government to pursue than that proposed by the hon. and learned Member for Chatham (Mr. Gorst), was that they should make a frank and free reversal of the policy of this country in that part of South Africa, that they should undo the Convention as 30 years ago the annexation of the Orange State had been undone by the Sand River Treaty, and wash their hands of any interference other than was absolutely unavoidable in those regions. The hon. Member concluded by moving the Amendment of which he had given Notice.

Amendment proposed, To leave out from the first word "the" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "very grave complication that must attend intervention in the affairs of the native populations on the Western Frontier of the Transvaal, this House is of opinion that the action of British authorities in those regions should be strictly confined within the limits of absolutely unavoidable obligations,"—(Mr. Cartwright,) —instead thereof.

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."


said, that, in his opinion, the speech just delivered contained the strongest possible arguments in favour of the Motion of the hon. and learned Member for Chatham. It was perfectly clear that three things had resulted from the mixture of sham sentimentality and pusillanimity which had been the policy of the Government towards the Transvaal—namely, the oppression of the Natives of the Transvaal and its neighbourhood, the breach of the Convention by the Boers, and the humiliation of the British Flag. In the speeches on the other side of the House no really successful effort had been made to deal with the case raised by the Motion. The statement of the hon. Member for Newcastle (Mr. John Morley), that the Boers had done everything in their power to maintain the observance of the Convention, was not supported by a single fact. The proposal of Sir Hercules Robinson that a force of 200 police should be organized to maintain order on the Western borders of the Transvaal had been called a reasonable proposal by the hon. and learned Member for Chatham (Mr. Gorst), and the Prime Minister had assented to that view. Yet the Transvaal Government had refused to join hands in such a humane and sensible plan. He agreed that it would have been better for the honour of the British Government and British Flag if the Government had, when they first came into Office, renounced the Transvaal rather than conduct so inglorious a war and conclude so ignominious a peace. But the Government were now bound to carry out the Convention, which they had assured Parliament in 1881 would protect the loyal Colonists and the Natives also. Was not the plighted word of the Government to bind the nation? The Convention had been violated in the grossest way by the Boers, and the men who had been loyal to the Queen had been abandoned to the grossest outrages. The Boers of the Transvaal were, as the hon. Member for the North Riding of Yorkshire (Mr. Guy Dawnay) had said, the scum of South Africa. They were adventurers, who trekked from the Cape Colony, where slavery was abolished, in order to continue the practice of slavery elsewhere. They had plundered and enslaved the Natives, and had been known to shoot them down for mere practice. They might be Protestant, as they were described to be in the Mid Lothian speeches, but only in the sense that they protested against right, justice, and mercy. They certainly were not God-fearing. Under the Sovereignty of the Queen, Bechuanaland was peaceful. The inhabitants lived undisturbed between 1877 and 1880, when a change of policy was effected in deference to the opinions of a few philosophical and academical Radicals, who were the friends of every country save their own. He wished to know why the despatches of the Royal Commission had not been fully published? Was the country not to know the evidence given by the Natives in the summer and autumn of 1881? To Lord Wolseley, one of the Chiefs, when he heard of the proposed surrender, said—"If the British rule dies, we die also." The Blue Book lately published showed how true those words were. A gentleman had told him that morning that in Pretoria, shortly after the capitulation, he met an old white-headed Kaffir weeping. On being asked the cause of his distress, the old man said— My father was slain by the Boers; my brother was slain by them; and I have had my cattle stolen by them. I did hope that the Queen was going to protect me for the future; but now you are going to give me back to my enemies. Another Chief said— Our backs had been sore for 20 years, when our White Mother came and healed them. Now you are opening our sores again. The honour of the country demanded that the Government should take efficient measures to secure these unfortunate Natives against the gross and unjust oppression to which they were being subjected in consequence of our ungenerous and inhuman abandonment of them. Chiefs like Montsioa had courageously sheltered and defended our brethren, British Colonists, in the Transvaal during the struggle in 1881. Thereby these loyal Natives had incurred the hatred of the Boers who were now exterminating them. It should not be forgotten that it was our intervention in 1877—an intervention which was not protested against by the present Prime Minister, and which was approved by many of his followers—which saved the Natives from oppression for several years, and which also saved the miserable slave-driving Boers themselves from bankruptcy and ruin. The present Government had reversed, wherever they could, the wise and statesmanlike policy of their Predecessors, and the consequence was to be seen in the state of Ireland, of Egypt, and of the Transvaal. Everywhere they had produced the same results—disturbance, anarchy, and ruin.


said, he was able to begin by saying that, however he might have to controvert certain statements made by the hon. Member who opened the discussion, and by others, he could fully join in all the expressions they had given vent to in condemnation of the acts which had been going on on this Western border; and he had no desire, nor did he believe it to be necessitated either by his views or position to minimize the events which had there occurred. They were, undoubtedly, a disgrace to humanity. But they had not to consider them as abstract propositions; they had to view them in relation to the responsibilities, the capacities, the obligations, and last, though not least, in relation to the interests of the Empire for which they were, for the time, responsible. He would like, first of all, to very considerably modify the picture the hon. and learned Member for Chatham (Mr. Gorst) had presented to the House of the state and condition of Bechuanaland. The hon. and learned Member had represented it as perfectly Arcadian, and the inhabitants as a pastoral and industrious people who had never engaged in any warfare, and had at one time been loyal and peaceable subjects of the Queen. He (Mr. Evelyn Ashley) was sorry to be obliged, in the interests of truth, to shatter that picture. He must inform the House—which the hon. and learned Member for Chatham had not done—that the disturbances and internecine feuds of these Bechuana Chiefs had been going on ever since we had had any knowledge of the country, and that was since 1851; and it was the culmination of those disturbances which brought about the application to Governor Keate—of which they had heard to-day—to come forward and settle the difference among the Tribes and their neighbours by making awards. As to what the hon. and learned Member had said about the Natives having at one time been de facto though not de jure placed under the British Crown, he would, first of all, tell him that it was the act of Colonel Warren, who was in no way authorized by his superiors to enter into such negotiations; and he would appeal to the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach), who was in Office at the time, whether he had not declined to ratify what had been done. One of the causes which led to this subordinate officer interfering in these territories was that these peaceable friends of the hon. and learned Member for Chatham made war in 1878 upon Griqualand West, and were concerned in the murder of Mr. Thompson. The Tribe was dispersed by force, and then Mankoroane offered himself and his people as British subjects. The reason assigned for making that offer was that it was done in consequence of his having lost control over his people, so many of its Chiefs having broken out in revolt against him. In a great number of individual instances, however, the people, he was happy to say, had profited by the lessons of civilization. There was no doubt that missionary efforts had been to a considerable extent successful in this territory; but they had only been individual efforts, and they were like scattered drops in the ocean. The normal condition of this territory was one of perpetual struggle for pre-eminence, one Chief being banded against another, and availing himself of any assistance or any allies to carry on the war. Why, if these Chiefs were united, and they all formed one happy family, did anyone suppose that the Boers, even armed as they were, would be able to carry on successful invasions of this sort? No; the Boers were profiting by the condition of the Tribes themselves, and, as a matter which threw considerable light on this district, he would refer—if he would not be out of Order in quoting from a document which was not before the House—to a passage he had seen in the Report of the Civil Commissioner at Kimberley, written four months ago, and sent to the Secretary for Native Affairs at Cape Town. The Civil Commissioner, writing from a thoroughly impartial standpoint, complained very much of the state of things in Bechuanaland, but said his belief was that the Boers were so fearful lest the Tribes should combine together, and make a descent on the Transvaal, that they were taking the bull by the horns and going into this territory to stir up the Tribes and dis- turb Native domination. That was a striking opinion from an impartial observer. He wished to show that these Natives were a fighting race who did inspire some sort of terror in the Boers, and who, if they were united, would be able to hold their own much better than they did. The Chiefs had at their kraals European White advisers—alluded to by the hon. and learned Member for Chatham. Now, these White advisers were, in nine cases out of ton, not a whit better than the wandering Boers. They had been frequently charged with being the causes of these wars, and they were the gentlemen who signed those pathethic documents that were sent into the Colonial Office and the Capo Government, alluding in legal and Parliamentary language to the different clauses of the Convention of Pretoria. These men went into the country to mate their fortune, and having attached themselves to the various Chiefs, were naturally most anxious for British intervention, because, as they well knew, the value of any land they might have acquired would instantly be doubled. The House must not allow itself to be misled by the language of these addresses. He did not wish to run down the Chiefs in question, but only asserted that one side was about as good as the other; that the allies of the Boers were neither better nor worse than those of the British. It was open to argument that the men mentioned in the Resolution had a special personal claim on the English Government, for he did not don't that some of our superior officers, including Sir Bartle Frere and Sir George Colley, had made certain promises to these Chiefs. The Government owned that, and hoped to be able to show in a substantial way their belief that the claim existed; but the moral claim of Mankoroane and Montsioa and that set of Native Chiefs was disposed of by the fact that they had not joined us with the intention of making sacrifices for the English Government, but because it was necessary for them to take one side or the other, and because they thought our alliance more likely to profit them than that of the Boers. Without following the hon. Member for Eye (Mr. Ashmead-Bartlett) into a discussion on the rights or wrongs of annexation and retrocession—a question for which neither the time nor place was suitable—he wished to say one word on the subject. The other day, in answering a Question in the House, he had frankly stated that during our occupation of the Transvaal these outrages on the Natives had ceased. That statement had been met from the other side of the House by a loud cheer, which expressed the view taken by hon. Gentlemen opposite, that the Government, having given up the Transvaal, were practically responsible for all that had since occurred there. But hon. Gentlemen opposite had entirely forgotten that the Transvaal was annexed while they were in Office, and in order to protect the Boers from the Natives. It was his opinion that the Zulu War, and that against Secocoeni had, by the destruction of the Native Forces, done more than anything else to hand over the Natives to the power of the Boers. It was the action of the late Government, not of the present, that had improved the condition of the Boers. Now, the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Chatham (Mr. Gorst) had read a passage of the Blue Book, in which the High Commissioner had given certain pledges to certain persons at the time of the retrocession. He (Mr. Evelyn Ashley) wished to draw attention to this—that the address of Sir Hercules Robinson was made to refer only to the Natives of the Transvaal.


What I read was part of a speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister, and not the address of the High Commissioner.


said, he referred to the earlier part of the hon. and learned Member's speech, in which the hon. and learned Member alluded to the pledges given when the Convention of Pretoria was signed. The terms of that Convention were familiar enough to the House; but that Convention, let him begin by asserting, imposed no obligations on Her Majesty's Government. There might be obligations on Her Majesty's Government in reality, but that Convention placed no obligation on Her Majesty's Government; it only gave them a right to remonstrate when circumstances justified it, and when our interests were imperilled. As soon as the Convention was signed, Her Majesty's Government appointed a Resident at Pretoria, and he would venture to assert that if the hon. and learned Member looked at the Blue Book, h would find that the Resident had done his duty by reporting to the British Government all that occurred and remonstrating with the Transvaal Government. These remonstrances had not been entirely fruitless, because, as the hon. Member for Newcastle (Mr. John Morley) had pointed out, the Government of the Transvaal, as soon as the disturbances broke out, issued a declaration of neutrality at the instance of our Resident, Mr. Hudson, in October, 1881. General Joubert went to Montsioa's frontier; and he (Mr. Evelyn Ashley) appealed to the fairness of all Members who had looked at the Blue Books which gave an account of the proceedings of General Joubert, to say whether they did not think that General Joubert was bonâ fide and straightforward in what he did. He (Mr. Evelyn Ashley) believed he was. He believed the General intended to enforce the programme of neutrality; but what happened? Why, directly he left the frontier, the very frontier guards he had left there turned round and joined in the fray. But they could not make General Joubert responsible for that. The fact was, that no one realized what the state of things in the Transvaal was now. The whole population, not only in the Transvaal, but their brethren in the Orange Free State and in the Cape, sympathized with the Boers in the Native territory—they had a small knot of men in the small capital of Pretoria, with no large population to create or foster a public opinion, struggling by themselves against the universal feelings of sympathy of all the people. Well, they could not hold men too tight when that was the case. At any rate, they could not go to war with them for not doing what they were perfectly unable to do. The Triumvirate at Pretoria, whether they were willing and desirous or not—and he would not enter into that question—of prosecuting the men subject to the State who were violating the law, had neither the money, nor the men, nor the power to do it. Her Majesty's Government had continued to make remonstrances; but they had not contented themselves with that. Sir Hercules Robinson suggested to the Secretary of State that a proposal should be made for a joint expedition of police. That proposal was made in all earnest- ness and bonâ fides by Her Majesty's Government; but how was it received? The Cape said—"Oh! yes; we will join with you, but only on the condition that the Orange Free State and the Transvaal will join also"—knowing perfectly well that neither of them would. They went to the Orange Free State, who said—"No; we do not think it constitutional to go beyond the border." The Transvaal followed up the example of the Orange Free State, and, as a matter of fact, they were in such a peculiar state that he did not suppose they could afford the money even for 100 policemen. That meant that there was no assistance to be got from any of these territories—that the Dutch element at the Cape, which was two-thirds of the whole, would not give Her Majesty's Government any assistance in carrying out any repressive measures. But they had made a second attempt since the Papers which had been laid on the Table of the House had been distributed to Members. Having found that they could get no assistance in the general suppresion of the marauders in Bechuanaland, they made another proposal three weeks or a month ago, to the effect that they would be willing to pay the whole expense of a mounted police force to go into this Bechuana territory in order to arrest any British marauders and bring them back to trial, and the Cape were asked to give facilities or assistance, not pecuniary, but such as allowing them to pass through their territory. The answer that came back was— You will do no good by merely arresting your British subjects, because they are but a small proportion o£ the total number, and the effect would be inconsiderable. Besides, Sir Hercules Robinson said— You must not imagine you are going to do this with a small force, because the moment you come by yourselves into these territories and not joined by the Transvaal or the Orange Free State Government, it will be the signal for the Dutch element in every part of South Africa to flock in shoals to the assistance of the Dutch. An hon. Member opposite (Mr. Guy Dawney) seemed to think that volunteers would go out from this country to fight on the other side. Well, it was not unnatural, if persons so many thousands of miles from the scene of the conflict were inspired with a desire to volunteer, that the Dutch at the Cape and in the Orange Free State should join those who were so much nearer to them who had sprung from the same race and who spoke the same tongue. It was clear that this was a large undertaking; therefore, Her Majesty's Government had said at once that they could not incur the responsibility of an enterprize of such magnitude, seeing that it would have to be supplemented by further operations. The Resolution of the hon. and learned Member for Chatham assumed the complicity of the Transvaal Government in the cruel and treacherous attack made upon the Natives of Bechuanaland—which assumption he (Mr. Evelyn Ashley) ventured to say and believe was far beyond what the evidence presented to them warranted in taking as proved, though there was ample evidence that the Transvaal Government had benefited by the action of the marauders, and were willing to take advantage of it. The failure of the Convention was a matter that commanded the serious consideration of Her Majesty's Government; but there was no evidence that the Transvaal Government had participated in any of the cruel and treacherous attacks made on the Natives. The hon. and learned Member asked them to resolve that the House was of opinion that some energetic steps should be immediately taken to secure the observance by the Transvaal of the Convention of 1881, so that the Native Chiefs might be preserved from the destruction with which they were threatened. He (Mr. Evelyn Ashley) wished the hon. and learned Member had the courage to tell them in definite language what were the energetic measures he would propose. The hon. and learned Member had very wisely and diplomatically left that alone; therefore it became necessary to ask the House what he could possibly have meant? He (Mr. Evelyn Ashley) could only conceive two operations. Did the hon. and learned Member mean that we should declare war against the Transvaal? It seemed to him that, independently of the rashness and the wildness of such a proposal, it would be rather a hard measure to go to war with the Transvaal for not doing that which, in the opinion of Her Majesty's Government, the Transvaal hitherto had not had the power to do even if they had had the will. It might be said, as the other alternative, "You could send up a force into this territory;" but would the House consider what that implied? We might send out a force at considerable expense; we might clear the country of these marauders; but when we had done that, could we retire? Could we do the work once for all? No; for directly we withdrew, the marauders would come back again. Therefore we should have virtually to maintain a force there, and that meant the annexation of the country. Well, it might not be a very terrific thing to propose to the country and the House of Commons that we should annex a tract, the fee-simple of which, he supposed, would not be worth more than a third or half what the expense of the expedition would come to. But did they suppose that we could go and virtually annex this Bechuanaland, and remain there? It would be the old story of being led on from point to point. If we were to go and virtually annex this Bechuana territory, we should be beginning again to do what we decided at the time of the Sand River Convention not to do. At that time we resolved, as our settled policy, not to entangle ourselves North of the Vaal River. We reversed this in the annexation of the Transvaal; but the country very wisely undid that. If we annexed the Bechuana territory, or established a Protectorate, which was tantamount to annexation, we should have again to go North of the Vaal, and begin the pursuit of other conquests. There was an illustrative case in point he might mention. When the Boers went first to Natal, to escape from British authority, we formed a sort of protectorate over a Tribe called the Amapondos, on the borders of Natal. In process of time the Amapondos got hungry, crossed the border, and plundered the cattle of the Boers. Very naturally, the Boers, in self-defence, and to retaliate and punish the Amapondos, crossed the border and attacked them; whereupon the Natives applied to the British Government for protection. At that time we were not so experienced in South Africa as we are now, and did not know how soon one step would lead to another. We replied to the application for protection, certainly; and we forebade the Boers to attack the Amapondos. The Boers replied that they were not British subjects, and would do as they liked. What was the result? War broke out; great loss of life and great expense occurred; the Boers were defeated, and we found ourselves obliged to annex Natal, and the Boers flew off, first to the Orange Free State, and then to the Transvaal, where we followed them. Well, if we established a Protectorate over the Bechuanas, and substituted Transvaal for Natal and Bechuanaland for Amapondoland, history would repeat itself in the parallel. He would appeal to no less an authority than Sir Bartle Frere, who was himself, as they all knew, the apostle of the forward movement, and who, in a despatch of September, 1878, referring to a Report sent by Colonel Lanyon about his proceedings in these very territories, wrote as follows:— The narrative furnishes a graphic picture of the difficulty of our position along many hundred miles of the Colonial and Transvaal border. It will he seen by the Report that far beyond the Colonial boundary are to be found European settlements of traders, farmers, and missionaries, who have for years lived not only unmolested, but as honoured and valued guests of Native Chiefs. It is not till some time of exceptional excitement occurs that the protecting Chief finds his real power has long since departed; that, unless supported by the all-prevailing authority of the British Government, he has only the choice of taking part with the disaffected of his own class, who wish to plunder and drive out the White man, or of being punished for supposed complicity with the marauders and murderers. That, by some form of Imperial Protectorate, this painful dilemma should be avoided, is the natural desire alike of the extra-Colonial Chief and of the Europeans he harbours and is supposed to protect. How such Protectorate can be established, without indefinite extension of our responsibilities, is a problem difficult of solution. So difficult, that he (Mr. Ashley) advised them not to try. If they once undertook it, they would find themselves carried further and further. He had already alluded to the fact that if we used force against the Boer marauders, we should find ourselves surrounded by people all sympathizing with those we were going to oppose; and he would further submit this. Suppose we went to the territory of the Bechuanas, and kept the Boers within their own frontier, preventing them from attacking the Natives, saying, "You shall have nothing to do with these people; we take them under our protection, and you shall not come forward and attack or punish them;" would not the correlative also be that we must, if necessary, prevent the Natives from attacking the Boers? He believed those who were familiar with South African history would say that it was most likely that before many years had passed there would be an attack on the Boers by the Native Tribes; at any rate, he felt certain that if such an attack were made, and we had interfered to prevent the Boers from punishing the Natives, the Boers would have a perfect right to call upon us to protect them. [Mr. B. N. FOWLER: No, no!] The hon. Member who said "No!" belonged to the Corporation which possessed the best police force in England, and was perfectly willing to undertake the police management of the whole of the world. That was what it came to—that we must be prepared to undertake the duties of police throughout the whole of South Africa. Let them remember the peculiarity of these territories. None of them had natural boundaries—all the boundaries were artificial. There was nothing to stop us between Bechuanaland and the Equator, and if the hon. Member (Mr. B. N. Fowler) was prepared to go to the Equator with his constables. Her Majesty's Government declined to accompany him. The hon. and learned Member for Chatham (Mr. Gorst) had made allusion to the powder question, and said there was great one-sidedness in the arrangement. He (Mr. Evelyn Ashley) would draw the hon. and learned Member's attention to the fact that the Colonial Office had thought that the embargo on the sale of powder should be taken off, and had said so to the Cape Government; but that Government had declined to remove it. But the hon. and learned Member, if he thought over the matter, would see that there was another reason why powder had not been obtained. Reference to the Blue Books would show that the Chiefs neglected to pay for the powder.


That applies only to Mankoroane, and not to Montsioa.


said, he had no evidence in Montsioa's case. Across the borders of such territories as the Transvaal and the Orange Free State there were always traders going about selling powder. The Chiefs would experience little difficulty in getting powder if they would pay for it. Her Majesty's Government had done what they could to get the embargo removed from the introduction of gunpowder from the Cape; but the Cape Government had refused to remove it, saying that the policy of neutrality which they had adopted would prevent them as long as the war between the Native Chiefs lasted. The Home Government had said that they did not look upon what was going on in Bechuanaland as a war in the strict sense; but this had had no effect on the Government at the Cape. And now, he thought, he had touched upon all the main points of the hon. and learned Member's speech. He would sum up the case of the Government by saying that they did not think that either the interests of this country or the obligations they had imposed on them would justify their making an expedition into South Africa, with all its necessary consequences. They were of opinion that it would be unstatesmanlike, he might say almost a criminal act, to send, out such an expedition. Taking the construction of the Convention in its most exaggerated sense, it only gave the right, and did not impose a duty, to interfere. These Natives, however strong might be our sympathies, had never been received under our rule, and had no claim to our protection beyond that which he owned appealed strongly—namery, our common humanity. But statesmen could not afford to yield to the natural impulses of humanity. [Laughter.]Well, hon. Members knew perfectly well what he meant. An irresponsible individual, when he saw wrong being committed, might very well follow natural impulses; whereas the man with responsibilities resting upon him was bound not to follow every unregulated impulse. If he did, he might be doing more harm than good; ill-directed impulses might lead to very great evil. The view of Her Majesty's Government, as had been laid down by the Earl of Kimberley in a despatch to Sir George Colley, of May, 1880, was that whereas in the South African Colonies there was no natural boundary, the complications incident upon the contact of White Colonists with Native Tribes must arise wherever the border line was drawn, and that if British jurisdiction was to be continually extended further and further into the interior, on the plea of such complications, there was practically no limit to the operation. Some plan should be devised whereby the Native Chiefs in these parts, who, it was ad- mitted, had some claims upon the British Government, might be provided for with safety and comfort in some form or other. [Laughter.] Hon. Members opposite seemed convulsed with laughter at every observation he made which was not strictly in accordance with what they had hoped he would say. The operation to which he alluded was a simple one, and had been carried out with regard to certain Chiefs at the time of the retrocession of the Orange Free State. They had been provided with a place in which they could live in peace in Her Majesty's Dominions. There was nothing ridiculous in that. Her Majesty's Government had already communicated with Sir Hercules Robinson, and had asked him to let them know what proposals he would like to make in reference to this question. The larger policy of the employment of force was one which they did not think they wore called on to adopt. He would merely say, in conclusion, that the policy of the constant advance of British troops wherever there was suffering and wherever there was oppression, was a policy they could very well understand being advocated by those on the spot; but statesmen in this country were bound to take a broader view of the subject. Those on the spot, whose horizon was perforce narrow, were often inclined to parody Swift's advice to servants, and, having ascertained what were the resources of the Empire, claim to obtain the greater portion of them to be expended on their own concerns; but those who surveyed the scene from a more central standpoint were bound, unless they saw that they had obligations absolutely imposed upon them, and that they could do the thing effectually, not to imperil the interests committed to their charge by entering into ventures of this sort. There was, however, no such obligation, and those who were daily compelled to survey the burdens and responsibilities of the Empire would shrink from any such proposal. They would frankly acknowledge that we were only now reaping what we sowed by the original mistake of the annexation of the Transvaal, but they will decline to get out of one mistake by means of a greater. The Government had taken the measures which they thought best when they retired from the Transvaal, and remonstrances had been addressed to the Boers on this question, and as long as the Convention remained, remonstrances would continue to be made. Her Majesty's Government would not neglect their duties in this matter, but they would not go beyond them. He believed that the Boer Government were very much more amenable to the pressure of the public opinion of the civilized world than many people imagined; and it was a striking fact that during the 18 months or two years which had elapsed since they had been independent, there had been few or no complaints against them in connection with the Natives within their borders. The letter to which the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Chatham had called his attention to on a former occasion, and on the subject of which a telegram had been sent to Africa, did not appear, when read with care, to contain any charge against the Boers that could be sustained. He had expressed his belief that the Boer Government were very amenable to public opinion in this country, and he believed they would be much more so if we, who condemned the acts of their irresponsible citizens on the border were, at any rate, just in our judgment. He deprecated above all things, both in the interest of South Africa and in the interest of England, any attempt to blow up feeling between the people of this country and the Dutch; and he looked forward to the time when amongst the Natives the terms "Dutch" and "English" would be forgotten, and allegiance would be paid to those only who treated them with justice.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—(Mr. W. E. Forster.)


said, he would like to ask the hon. Gentleman one question. He gathered from his speech that the Government thought they would be able to provide for the Chiefs referred to in safety and comfort. He asked, when were those Chiefs to be provided for, and what was to be done with the lands on which they had hitherto lived?


said, he did not think he should be acting in conformity with the recently established Rules of the House, if he were to renew the debate on the Motion for adjournment now before the House. But the debate was likely to be adjourned, and there would be a further and more convenient opportunity of replying to the question of the right hon. Baronet when the debate was resumed. Explanations, he believed, had been given "elsewhere" on the subject. With regard to the adjournment, he wished to observe that the debate had been distinguished by its practical character, and the subject of it was altogether one of serious importance. That being so, he should be very sorry, as the debate could not be brought to a conclusion that evening, that it should drop. The House was aware of the difficulty in which it was placed with regard to Public Business, and the proposal he had to make was that there should be a Morning Sitting on Friday for the continuance of the debate, on which day, in view of the progress already made, he had no doubt that it would be practicable to bring it to a conclusion.


said, he should renew his question after the conclusion of the debate.

Question put, and agreed to.

Debate adjourned till Friday, at Two of the clock.