Motion made, and Question proposed,
''That a sum, not exceeding £29,400, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1897, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Department of Her Majesty's Secretary of State for the Colonies, including a Grant in Aid of certain Expenses connected with Emigration,
§ * SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT (Monmouthshire, W.),
who, on rising, was received with cheers, said: It is now nearly three months since there has been in the House of Commons any considerable discussion upon the affairs of South Africa. Upon that occasion the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for the Colonies made to the House a full statement of the situation of things as they then existed—a declaration which, I think, on the whole, gave great satisfaction to both sides of the House. The right hon. Gentleman mentioned with 885 reference to the future certain things which it would be necessary to inquire into and discuss, and one was:—The administration and complicity of the Chartered Company with what is called the Jameson raid,And he stated that the object of that Inquiry would be to see whether the Company are fit and proper persons to continue to be intrusted with the administration of their territories. And the right hon. Gentleman added, what is very much to the purpose to-day, that:—''This and other questions might depend more or less upon the result of the inquiry into the case of Dr. Jameson, but he attached more importance to the trial at Pretoria than he did to that of Dr. Jameson.The trial at Pretoria has taken place, and important circumstances have come into view. We are now in possession of a knowledge of facts that were developed at that trial. There was another very important statement made at that time that may influence the House in its conduct in reference to this question, and that was the statement made, I need not say in perfect good faith, by the right hon. Gentleman. The right hon. Gentleman said:—I say, to the best of my knowledge and belief, that everybody, that Mr. Rhodes, that the Chartered Company, that the Reform Committee at Johannesburg, and the High Commissioner were all equally ignorant of the intention or the action of Dr. Jameson. That is the belief that I express to the House after having carefully examined all the statements and all the persons concerned.That was the conclusion at which the right hon. Gentleman arrived after having heard the statements of Mr. Rhodes, and, I suppose, of the Chartered Company. With those statements of the right hon. Gentleman before us, I do not think that it can be said that any Party or any section of this House have unduly pressed Her Majesty's Government in reference to this question. [''Hear, hear!"] I think that we have all exercised a proper, prudent, and patriotic reserve with regard to this subject. [Cheers.] On the other hand, I believe that Her Majesty's Government themselves are not averse from making such explanations on the situation of affairs in South Africa as it is possible for them to make. ["Hear, hear!"] A great deal has happened, 886 and much further knowledge has come to the Government and to the country than they were in possession of last February, and I think that it is due, not only to the Government but to the public, that we should have an authoritative statement from the Government as to the present condition of affairs in South Africa. The point to which I desire to direct such observations as I wish to make, is the present position of the Chartered Company in South Africa. That Inquiry seems to be absolutely necessary, because it materially and vitally affects the relations of the British Government with the Government of the Transvaal; it affects, and vitally affects, the relations between the English and Dutch populations in Cape Colony; and it affects, almost in an equal degree, our position in Matabeleland and in Mashonaland, and in all the other territories which have been intrusted to the administration of the Chartered Company. It is quite true that, in consequence of the action of Dr. Jameson, the Government have withdrawn what may be called the military and police authority of the Chartered Company, but it must nevertheless be remembered that at the present time the whole civil administration of those great territories still remains in the hands of the Chartered Company. It is admitted by the right hon. Gentleman that there must be an Inquiry into the complicity of the Chartered Company with Dr. Jameson's raid. The assumption of the right hon. Gentleman was that the Chartered Company and its directors were not responsible for the Jameson raid, that the collection of the Company's forces on the borders of the Transvaal was of an innocent character, and had been so reported to Sir Hercules Robinson and to the right hon. Gentleman the Colonial Secretary. It was assumed at the time, as far as the Company were concerned, they were ignorant of any intention on the part of Dr. Jameson to make war upon the Transvaal for the purpose of overthrowing the Government of that State, and that what was done was done without the knowledge and contrary to the wishes of Mr. Rhodes. Under these circumstances, we were quite content to await the result of the inquiry which the right hon. Gentleman said was about to be entered 887 upon. Now, however, all the circumstances have been entirely changed, and the view that was taken of the matter by the right hon. Gentleman has been shown to have been entirely erroneous by the publication of the cipher telegrams put in evidence at the trial at Pretoria. ["Hear, hear!"] The publication of those telegrams throws the conduct of Dr. Jameson and his companions entirely into the background. [Cheers.] What we have now to deal with is the action of the principals in this matter, and with the instructions under which Dr. Jameson and his companions were acting. [Cheers.] Now, Sir, it is obvious from those telegrams, and I think I shall satisfy the House of this statement, that the whole of this affair was conducted in Johannesburg and in Cape Town by the persons who are the principal and responsible directors of the Chartered Company; that they were the only real authors and conductors of this movement; that Dr. Jameson was a subordinate agent in the matter; and that it is consequently with the directors of the Chartered Company that we have to deal. As to these cipher telegrams, there is no question about their authenticity, they are admitted by everybody; anyone who has seen that extraordinary correspondence which has been published this morning by the Solicitor to the Chartered Company, on which I shall have something further to say, will observe that it is not denied by the Company that the telegrams are authentic, but that they accept them really as the basis for action. There are plenty of people in Pretoria, in Cape Town, and in London who might have challenged the authenticity of those telegrams. Mr. Beit is in London, and appeared at the meetings of the Chartered Company this week. No one has pretended for a moment that those telegrams are not genuine, and, therefore, we are entitled, and we are bound, to deal with them as authentic. Now, Sir, what is the Chartered Company, and what are its relations to the Executive Government and the English nation? They are a body who have been granted and who exercise the delegated authority of the British Crown. Whether that system of delegation is a good or a bad one I do not propose to discuss to-day. There is a great deal to be said upon that subject. But they do 888 exercise, and are charged with, the authority of the British Crown and with the honour of the English nation. That is the situation of the Chartered Company. We, as a nation and as a Government, are responsible for their conduct; we have made, and we can unmake, their authority. [Opposition cheers.] The Government can give what directions they please to the Chartered Company, and they are bound to obey the directions of the Government. That Company is the responsible representative of the British nation, answerable to us, aye, answerable to the world, for our conduct. If their conduct is dishonourable it is we who are dishonoured, and if we are willing accomplices in that dishonour it is upon us and upon our heads that the dishonour must fall. And now, Sir, I must ask leave—it is a painful task, especially painful to me—to call attention to the true history of these transactions. That there was a body in Johannesburg called the Reform Committee is a matter of common knowledge. The right hon. Gentleman on February 13th spoke on that subject; he said that it was not in the least likely that, any one would have supposed beforehand that Dr. Jameson's raid would take place, because there was nothing that would have led anybody to suspect that the existence or action of that Reform Committee was going to lead to an armed insurrection. I need not repeat at length the arguments the right hon. Gentleman used upon that subject. The mythical account of that Reform Committee was that it was a justifiable combination for the constitutional redress of grievances. It was supposed that it consisted of a number of independent Uitlanders who had no object in view but the attainment of peaceful reforms; that the Chartered Company was a stranger to its action, though it might sympathise with its objects; and that Dr. Jameson's raid was the accidental result of a generous impulse to save from outrage and violence a peaceable population who were in danger, and had appealed to him for protection. That, Sir, was the story which the friends of the Chartered Company and their organs in the Press—[Opposition cheers]—have sought to impose on the credulity of the British public. Let us read the true history of the business as it was told in these 889 telegrams. It will appear that this laudable and constitutional agitation was, in fact, all unlawful conspiracy, conducted and wirepulled and financed from the offices of the Chartered Company in Cape Town, and under the auspices of the Prime Minister of the Cape Colony—["hear, hear!"]—and that its promoters were aided in that by all the resourcs of the De Beers Company and the Gold Fields Company in Pretoria—a conspiracy which had for its object the overthrow by an armed insurrection of the Government of a friendly state. There is something, I think, inexpressibly revolting to any high-minded man in the low morality and the vulgar shiny of these communications. ["Hear, hear!'] It is a sordid and a squalid picture of stockjobbing Imperialism; you cannot say of it as the Roman Emperor said, non olet; there, is a most noisome odour of the Stock Exchange about it. The very lingo is the language of the company promoter, and you might think you were reading the prospectus of a set of croupiers. [Laughter and Opposition cheers.] You read about a "flotation," that is the word for an armed insurrection; a flotation of the "new company;" the "shareholders' meeting;" the "weak partners"—that is the men who are not ready to enter upon this illegal enterprise, or at least are fainthearted about it. You have the "foreign shareholders." Who are the foreign shareholders? They are the directors of the Chartered Company, the heroes of whom the supply is in excess of the demand. And then the De Beers Company is brought upon the scene. Sir, there has been a great deal of, I think, very unjust abuse heaped upon these poor-spirited Uitlanders, and their treachery in not supporting the raid. ["Hear, hear!"] The real charge against them is that they could not and would not be stimulated by bribery, and every other method, to enter upon an insurrection against the Government, which the great majority of them had no desire to overthrow. Really, Sir, they are treated like the needy knifegrinder of Canning, as "wretches whom no sense of wrong could rouse to vengeance," and then they are denounced in the English Press and elsewhere as "sordid, unfeeling, reprobate, degraded, spiritless outcasts," because they did not 890 come up to the point of what was expected of them by the directors of the Chartered Company. Let us see what these telegrams are, and who they come from. The first telegram that I will call attention to is that from "Stevens, Cape Town, December 13, to Colonel Rhodes." Stevens, I believe I am right in saying, is one of the secretaries of the Chartered Company at Cape Town, and he says:—Dr. Jameson wires most strongly to urge, no postponement of shareholders' meeting, and let J. H. Hammond"—who is a leading member of the Reform Committee—Inform weak partners any delay most injurious. Dr. Wolff will explain fully reasons at directors' meeting.This is on the 13th, about a fortnight before the actual attack took place—an attack which, it is pretended, was a spontaneous impulse on behalf of women and children who were in danger. [Laughter.] The "shareholders' meeting" is the meeting which was to take place at Johannesburg, and it is important to observe that Dr. Wolff was the man sent by the Chartered Company to explain their views to the "weak partners" at Johannesburg. Now comes the next telegram, on the 19th, and that is from "Beit, Cape Town, to Lionel Phillips, Johannesburg"—Mr. Beit is one of the most active directors of the Chartered Company:—Hammond wires that company flotation must await my arrival. Cannot come at present owing to health. Wire where is the hitch.It was not going as fast as Beit and the Chartered Company wished. Then comes a sentence which is not very intelligible, and I will not attempt any explanation of anything that is not clear upon the face of it. Beit was the gentleman who financed this insurrection. Then comes "Hammond, Johannesburg, to C. J. Rhodes"—that is Mr. Cecil Rhodes, the Prime Minister of the Cape, the managing director of the Chartered Company:—Cannot arrange respective interests without Beit. Flotation must be delayed until his arrival.They had to telegraph to Mr. Cecil Rhodes in regard to the financial arrangements. Then comes a very 891 important telegram from "Wolff, Johannesburg, to Bobby White, Pitsani"—Dr. Wolff is the accredited agent of the Chartered Company, and he telegraphs to the officer at Pitsani:—Would suggest that you at once instruct Major Raleigh Grey forward as soon as possible two hundred thousand his surplus ammunition to Gardner F. Williams.I am informed that the latter is a gentleman in charge of the De Beers mines in Kimberley, and that he would forward the ammunition to him—"There is not likely to be postponed." Then, on December 18, it was expected that the insurrection for which these arms were to be supplied would immediately take place, and they wore to come from the De Beers mines. First of all Dr. Jameson's ammunition was to be sent to the De Beers mines, and from the De Beers mines was to be forwarded to Johannesburg. Then comes a telegram from Harris, Cape Town—that is, Mr. Harris whose resignation is announced to-day as principal secretary to the Chartered Company:—Harris, Cape Town, to Jameson, Pitsani.—Mr. Rhodes says, 'Send me registered at once copy of that letter from Charles Leonard.'This question of this letter is very important, because it may be in the recollection of the House that when the Jameson raid took place a letter appeared signed apparently, or pretending to have been signed, by certain persons in Johannesburg who were imploring assistance from Dr. Jameson on account of the danger in which they were. Let us see the history of that letter. Harris telegraphs for a copy of that letter, and then comes a telegram from Colonel Frank Rhodes on December 21st to "Charter"—that is obviously the Chartered Company at Cape Town:—Please inform C. J. Rhodes that it is stated that chairman will not leave unless special letter inviting him.The right hon. Gentleman explained to us yesterday what I think most people had discovered—that "chairman" was Dr. Jameson. Now, mark these words:—Definite assurance has been given by all of us that on the day of flotation you and he will leave"—892 that is, you, Mr. Cecil Rhodes, and he, Dr. Jameson, will leave; that is to say, the Prime Minister of the Cape, the managing director of the Chartered Company, was to take part in this affair, and was to appear upon the scene as an assistant and an abettor of this insurrection.A definite assurance has been given by all of us that on the day of flotation you and he will leave. There must be no departure from this, as many subscribers have agreed to take shares on this assurance.That is the way that company was floated. [Cheers.]If letter necessary it can still be sent, but it was agreed that document sent by J. A. Stevens was sufficient, and that you are responsible for the chairman's departure.This is addressed to Mr. Rhodes himself by his brother, Colonel Frank Rhodes, and he tells him that the flotation had been founded, and the shares of this insurrectionary company had been floated on the assurance that Mr. Cecil Rhodes would come with Dr. Jameson on this expedition, and that no letter was necessary because the departure of Dr. Jameson depended on Mr. Cecil Rhodes himself:—You are responsible for the chairman's departure. It is very important to put this right.Then comes the 21st of December:—"Harris, Cape Town"—that is again direct from the Chartered Company—Beit has telegraphed Lionel Phillips last night to urge start of the flotation of the new company. You must see that wire that I may advise Dr, Jameson.Then comes:—Harris, Cape Town, December 21st, to Jameson, Pitsani.—A. Beit has telegraphed Lionel Phillips urging instant flotation of new company. I have telegraphed also to Col. F. A. Rhodes to the same effect.Why was this urged? Because "Paul Kruger, the President, is returning." That is to say, the flotation was to be hurried on because they heard that President Kruger was returning, and no time was to be lost in precipitating the insurrection. There is another telegram of the 23rd from Harris, Cape 893 Town, in Colonel Rhodes, Johannesburg:—A. Beit has telegraphed Lionel Phillips assuring him that chairman starts immediately flotation takes place; no invite necessary.Of course, this letter, which was quoted in England as the ground of the Jameson raid, was concocted there and then by these people who had prepared this insurrection, and the pretence that the attack and assault took place upon the ground of this invitation is repudiated by these very telegrams. Now comes the most material of all—the telegram of Monday, the 23rd, the first day of the week in which the assault upon Johannesburg took place. This is—"From Harris, Cape Town, December 23, to Jameson, Pitsani." These are the direct orders given by the principal agent of the Company to Dr. Jameson to invade Johannesburg:—Company will be floated next Saturday at 12 o'clock at night. They are very anxious you must not start before 9 o'clock. Secure telegraph office silence. We suspect Transvaal is getting aware slightly.That was the order coming straight from the Prime Minister of the Cape to Dr. Jameson to go in upon the next Saturday at 12 o'clock at night and cut the telegraph wire; and why? "We suspect the Transvaal is getting aware slightly." These are the orders:—Harris, Cape Town, December 24, to Jameson, Pisani.—We are freely confident.'I suppose that means "fully"—'This will take place Saturday night. Since Dr. Wolff left the feeling of our subscribers greatly improved.'So that their emissary, Dr. Wolff, apparently had improved the feeling in Johannesburg, and they thought the moment apparently had come to strike the blow. Then on the 26th Harris telegraphs to Colonel Rhodes—Five diamonds were sent you yesterday from the De Beers Consolidated Mine.Everybody knows what is the predominant influence and authority in the De Beers Consolidated Mine. And we may conjecture what the diamonds meant. Then, "Colonel Rhodes, Johannesburg, December 26, to Charter." This is a remarkable date also. The Committee will 894 observe that on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday orders from Mr. Cecil Rhodes, representing the Chartered Company, were in full force to Dr. Jameson to go on and make his attack and cut the telegraph, and even naming the hour at which he was to start. But on Thursday, December 26, he gets a telegram, "It is absolutely necessary to postpone flotation." That comes from Johannesburg, and on December 26, "Harris, from Cape Town, to Jameson, Pitsani, the following from Colonel Rhodes"—he repeats the telegram, and says—"You must not move until you hear from us again. Too awful. Very sorry." That is the message to Dr. Jameson from the headquarters of the Chartered Company. Observe the orders are not revoked; he is told to hold his hand until they could settle their affairs in Johannesburg. Then,Jameson, Johannesburg, to Jameson, Pitsani, December 26,—It is absolutely necessary to postpone flotation through unforeseen circumstances altogether unexpected, and until we have C. J. Rhodes's absolute pledge that authority of Imperial Government will not be insisted upon.I will not attempt to explain that; the House will find in the Blue-book the account given of that by Mr. Rhodes before the invasion had taken place. It is set forth by Sir Hercules Robinson:—On Sunday. December 29th, 1895, Sir Graham Bower called on me and informed me that he had learned from Mr. Rhodes on the previous day that all prospect of a rising at Johannesburg was at an end. It had, as Mr. Rhodes remarked, 'It had fizzled out as a damp squib.' The capitalists financing the movement had made the hoisting of the British flag a sine qua non."Who were the capitalists? ["Hear, hear!"]This the National Union rejected, and issued a manifesto declaring for a Republic. The division had led to the complete collapse of the movement, and it was thought that the leaders of the National Union would now probably make the best terms they could with President Kruger.This was not quite consistent with the telegram from Harris, December 27th, to Jameson, Pitsani—You must wait patiently and I will do my very utmost; but am beginning to see our shareholders in Matabeleland concession were very different to these in Secheland matter.895 There was no revocation. They were going to do their very best still to carry out the insurrection. I come now to what I consider the worst part of the whole matter. There is a telegram from Harris, December 27th, to Jameson, Pitsani. It is clearly in answer to a telegram which had been sent by Dr. Jameson. We have not got that telegram, but we can gather its purport from the answer. You can see plainly that Dr. Jameson, on being told to hold his hand, asked how he could explain the concentration of forces at Mafeking, and this is the explanation which was sent by Mr. Cecil Rhodes to Dr. Jameson as to the account he was to give of his being there—Mr. Rhodes says no; not be blamed at our having 600 men at Pitsani. We are sorting the B. A. Police for eventual distribution, and if they are so foolish as to think you are threatening Transvaal we cannot help that. B. S. A. Company's Police at Mafeking will cost half what they do in Matabeleland, and horses do not die. At the same time, as you know, we must keep up a certain B. S. A. Company's Police Force as our agreement with imperial Government.Now that is the account Dr. Jameson was to give, and it is the very account which was given to the Colonial Secretary and Sir Hercules Robinson to blindfold them as to the character of this expedition. It is almost in the very words which were conveyed to the House by the Colonial Secretary upon this matter, and it was in that way that the Prime Minister at the Cape deceived the High Commissioner and the Government of the Cape Colony as to that concentration, and deceived the British Government at home, as we know from the account given of it by the Colonial Secretary on February 13. It is impossible to regard this matter, to look at the falsehood and the fraud by which the whole of it was carried out, without a feeling of the deepest condemnation. On December 28:—Harris, Cape Town, to Jameson, Pitsani.—You are quite right with regard to cause of delay of flotation, but Charles Leonard and Hamilton, of Star, inform us that movements not popular in Johannesburg.No, they were not popular with the Uitlanders of Johannesburg. They were the machinations, from first to last, of this syndicate, of the Chartered Company, connected with the gold speculators 896 in Johannesburg and in the Cape Colony:—When you have seen Captain Maurice Heany let us know by wire what he says. We cannot have fiasco.That was the date upon which the Prime Minister of the Cape informed the High Commissioner that the whole thing was at an end, and he is telling Dr. Jameson to find out from Maurice Heany by wire, and says:—"We cannot have fiasco," obviously implying that if he received encouragement from Captain Maurice Heany he was to go on. What was to be a fiasco? The failure of an armed assault upon a friendly Government? [Cheers.] Now, on the 28th there was a telegram from Dr. Jameson to Wolff, the representative of the Chartered Company at Johannesburg:—Meet me as arranged before you leave 9 Tuesday night, which will enable us to decide which is best destination.What destination? Everybody knows the question was whether they were to go to Johannesburg or straight to Pretoria. And this is the generous excursion which was intended to save the people who were in danger at Johannesburg! [Cheers.] On December 28:—Harris to Jameson.—Lionel Phillips telegraphs A. Beit the following: 'It is absolutely necessary to delay flotation. If foreign subscribers insist on floating without delay anticipate complete failure.'Who were the foreign subscribers? They were the syndicate at Cape Town who were trying all throughout to force this enterprise upon the people of Johannesburg. Then:—Dr. Jameson to S. A. Jameson, Johannesburg.—'Dr. Wolff will understand the distant cutting.'That means, I suppose, the cutting of the communication with Cape Town, so as, if possible, to destroy the authority of the British Government in stopping this lawless enterprise.British Bechuanaland police have already gone forward; guarantee already given.That is the end of these telegrams. There is only one thing more I have to add to that, and that is as to the manner in which the matter was treated by the managing directors of the Chartered Company when it had taken place. Here are 897 the letters at page 117 of this Blue-book. There is a letter from the Imperial Secretary, Mr. Graham Bower, to Mr. Cecil Rhodes. This on December 30, on the Monday after they had started:—With reference to the verbal communication made by you to me at 11 o'clock last night that Dr. Jameson contemplated entering the Transvaal that evening with an armed force for the purpose of protecting life and property at Johannesburg, I am directed by his Excellency the High Commissioner to acquaint you that Dr. Jameson's action is repudiated by Her Majesty's Government; that the violation of the territory of a friendly State lays the offender open to severe penalties; and that, the proceeding being a breach of the Charter, will probably involve the cancellation of that instrument.[Cheers.] Now, mark this:—I have called several times at your office this morning for the purpose of conveying to you his Excellency's instructions for the immediate recall of Dr. Jameson, but you have not, so far as is known, been at any of the public offices or at the British South Africa Company's offices.Therefore, on that day, after Mr. Cecil Rhodes knew that this expedition had started, he, the Prime Minister of the Cape and the head of the Chartered Company, was out of the way; he was not accessible to the High Commissioner or to anybody who desired to stop Dr. Jameson on his road or to interfere with his lawless enterprise. There comes later on in the day another communication from the Imperial Secretary at the Cape to Mr. Cecil Rhodes:—As you have not been in Cape Town to-day, the High Commissioner desires me to send you the paraphrase of a cablegram received from the Secretary of State this morning, dated 29th December.That was the means taken by Mr. Cecil Rhodes to prevent the High Commissioner interfering with this outrage which had been committed against public law, against a friendly State, and against the honour of the English nation. That is the simple history of this transaction, and I venture to say it is the duty of the House of Commons and of the Government to declare what, under these circumstances, ought to be done. The situation is a totally different one from that in which we stood on the 13th of February with the knowledge we then had. The situation is a terrible one. I am perfectly aware of all the difficulties by which it is surrounded. I can assure the right hon. Gentleman 898 it is not my object, or, I believe, the object of any man in this House, to make that position of his more difficult than it already is. [Cheers.] We have shown, and we have felt, confidence in the manner in which he has dealt with the whole of this subject. [Cheers.] He has displayed courage and decision in this matter worthy of the position which he holds. [Renewed cheers.] It is quite right, and it is for that purpose that this Assembly exists, that in the presence of the country we should deal with matters that so deeply affect its interest and its honour. The Jameson raid and the consequential rising in Matabeleland have greatly damaged, if they have not destroyed, the future of that country—["hear, hear!"]—they have led to the loss of many valuable and innocent lives. The relations between England and the Government of the Transvaal and the Orange Free State have been most injuriously affected by this transaction. More serious still, a social animosity has been engendered at the Cape and throughout South Africa between the Dutch and the British races, most perilous to our colonial empire. These are the consequences of this conduct and of this transaction. A feeling of distrust has been engendered throughout the whole of South Africa in regard to the good faith and the honour of those by whom British rule has been administered up to this time. The reputation of the English name has been most grossly compromised in the face of the world by those who have been intrusted with our authority; and the question is—What are we going to do in that situation? ["Hear, hear!"] It has been accepted from the first by the right hon. Gentleman that there should be a complete and searching inquiry into the whole status and conduct of the Chartered Company, and of the policy of its continuance. The histories of chartered companies when left to their own devices and without control have not been fortunate. They have been defined as a valuable instrument for the cheap extension of Empire. We have been told that they are a means of obtaining power without responsibility and wealth without expenditure, but we may find that we pay too dear a price for this. There is no power in the world which is not accompanied by responsibility. The 899 fact is that, from the first, these private adventurers in dominion have been very much like what was formerly used in ancient warfare—privateers. Privateering has been abolished by the consent of most nations, because it has been found generally to degenerate into piracy. ["No, no!"] What is it you deny? [Mr. GIBSON BOWLES: "Both!"] The hon. Gentleman the Member for King's Lynn is an authority upon pirvateering. [Laughtar.] However, this is a large question and it is a question for the future. I do not ask the House to enter upon it to-night. It is for the determination ultimately of Parliament, and we can wait for that. I do not raise the question now as to whether the Chartered Company is to be continued, at all events for the present, but, assuming that the Chartered Company is to continue to exist, are we justified in continuing it in the hands of those who have so grossly misused and abused their power? That is the particular question upon which I invite the opinion of the Government. What would you do and what would you say if any head of a Government in your Empire, spread all over the world, had been guilty of such conduct as this? The governor of any colony—for after all the Chartered Company are the governors, constituted by the charter under delegated authority, of this great district, I believe as great as France and Germany put together—the governor of any colony, if guilty of such conduct, you know very well, you would dismiss, or you would at all events suspend him immediately. You would not allow him to control the destinies or to administer the fortunes of a large portion of the Queen's dominions. You would feel you were disgracing yourselves if you did. You cannot, in my opinion, postpone a decision upon this subject. You may reserve the subject of the Chartered Company; that may be a very proper subject for a Committee of Parliament, but the question is, Who is to administer to-day and to-morrow the delegated authority of the Chartered Company? That is a question for the Executive Government of the day. They have exercised their authority in removing a great part of the power of the Chartered Company, and the dealing with the men who now have the authority of the 900 Chartered Company is within their province, and belongs to their jurisdiction. Mr. Rhodes, when he left England, left his resignation in the hands of the Chartered Company here. Why did he leave his resignation in their hands here? ["Hear, hear!"] He left it because he knew of all these facts, because he knew that, sooner or later, they must become known, and that when they became known it would be impossible for him to remain in his present position. It is stated by the solicitor to the Company, in a letter which he wrote, that the very condition of things which had been contemplated had arisen. He says:—As I stated to the Board on Thursday, Mr. Rhodes before leaving England for Rhodesia last February reminded me of the offer of resignation he made to the Board, and empowered me to resign his office as managing director of the Company if in my judgment occasion arose.And then this solicitor to the Company, judging, upon telegrams received, that occasion had arisen, says this at the same time:—I deeply regret that so grave a responsibility is cast upon me, but I feel that it is my duty, in the best interests to the Company, and in obedience to what I cannot doubt would be Mr. Rhodes's desire were he here, to now formally tender to you Mr. Rhodes's resignation of the office of managing director.This gentleman considered the occasion had arisen for tendering the resignation, and he tendered it. I can only express my astonishment at the conduct of a set of gentlemen calling themselves the Board of Directors of the Chartered Company in London. ["Hear, hear!"] What do they do? They meet and consider the question of whether upon these telegrams Mr. Rhodes is to remain the managing director of the Company at the Cape. They say that though the resignation was placed in their hands they hesitated to accept the resignations of Mr. Rhodes and Mr. Beit before communicating with Mr. Rhodes, and it was determined to cable to Mr. Rhodes on the subject. That was on May 1st, and they delayed to do even that. They could not even make up their minds to send a message to Mr. Rhodes until May 4. A nice set of men to be intrusted with the Government of such a country in such a crisis! 901 [Cheers]. So they go on during the whole of this week, meeting over and over again, and not being able to make up their minds. As far as I can see, they had no minds to makeup. [Laughter.] Anyone reading this correspondence will arrive at that conclusion. The great difficulty now is to determine in whose hands you are going to leave this authority, because there seem to me to be two sets of men—one set of men who are capable and not honest, and another set of men who are honest but entirely incapable. [Cheers, and Sir E. ASHMEAD-BARTLETT: "Who are dishonest?"] Having had the resignation placed in their hands, what do they do? What would the board of any ordinary company do if it came to their knowledge that their managing director had treated them with the most supreme contempt, not allowing them to know anything that was being done, had broken their trust, had used their funds for illegitimate purposes, had endangered the whole property with which they were intrusted, and his resignation was offered? Would they have gone on a week before they had accepted the resignation, and would they have telegraphed to the managing director asking "What is your view?" [Laughter.] The directors of the Chartered Company, however, had no view, and they asked Mr. Rhodes what his view was. [Laughter.] When they had obtained from him an opinion that he would not like his resignation at present to be acted upon, even then they had not any view upon the matter, and they came to the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for the Colonies and asked him what his view is. [Laughter.] This is a board who are to be intrusted with the management of this territory in. South Africa, and who are to help in restoring the situation which has been so grievously endangered. [Cheers.] The question now is, what ought the Government to do? I venture to suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that if the Chartered Company is to go on—and I know all the difficulties that might arise at the present time from removing the Chartered Company—it must be placed in capable and trustworthy hands, which in my opinion are not the hands that have now the disposal of these matters. [Cheers.] Of course up to this time the Chartered 902 Company have been nothing but Mr. Rhodes and Mr. Beit. That is quite plain. They have treated the figureheads at home as persons of no importance and not to be consulted. At this moment Mr. Rhodes is the managing director of the Company in South Africa, and has absolute authority except in the matter of police, and even in that, I gather from the instructions to Sir Richard Martin, that the Rhodesian Volunteers are still more or less under the control of the Company, who still appoint the officers. I have said before, and I say again, that in the course pursued by Mr. Rhodes I do not believe that he was personally actuated by the desire of gain. [Cheers.] Yes, but the lust of dominion may lead men quite as much astray as the greed of gold—[cheers]—and, unfortunately, here we have the combination of both. [Cheers.] I do not say the men by whom he was surrounded were free from these influences. I am afraid it was very much the reverse. On the contrary, the whole spirit of this transaction has been the spirit of Mammon. As Milton said, "Mammon the least erected spirit that fell." If you look carefully at the transaction I think you will recognise the truth of this description. I have seen with the greatest regret what I must call the deterioration of the moral tone in the English Press. ["Hear, hear!"] To my mind, it is the most dangerous of all the features of this transaction. I have seen palliations; I have seen apologies, even eulogies, upon transactions at which the mind of every honest man must revolt; I have seen appeals to the basest and most sordid motives to induce people to accept a condition of things which every man of honour ought to repudiate and condemn. A few days ago I saw a letter in the leading journal signed "Festina Lente," in which it was recommended that Mr. Rhodes should be continued as the manager and controller of this Imperial concern. Why? "Because it was felt that Mr. Rhodes alone could bring the enterprise to a successful issue, and it was commonly said that to invest money in the Chartered Company was equivalent to staking money on the life of Mr. Rhodes. All that was said on the subject of Mr. Rhodes's life applies now to Mr. Rhodes's resignation. Mr. 903 Rhodes is the most valuable asset of the Company." Here is a description of the Company by itself:—There will be the more ground for complaint on their part—that was, the part of the shareholders—that the immediate prospects of the Company have undergone a change which will make it a task of no common difficulty to find men of standing and ability willing to accept the position of Directors on a reconstructed Board.I think that very likely. The letter goes on:—At the beginning of the year the Company was in a strong financial position. The expenses of the Matabele rising and the indemnity which will presumably be claimed in connection with the Jameson raid represent a charge which has already converted that strong financial position to one of considerable prospective embarrassment. On other occasions in the history of the Company when financial difficulties have had to be faced, Mr. Rhodes's private purse has supplied the deficiency. More than once he has paid large sums which must otherwise have fallen upon the charges of the shareholders. Mr. Beit also,it is said,represents a financial support which may in the coming crisis be of the utmost value to the Company.So that it does not signify what the men in this position do or what their position is. They have got the money. Let us keep them at all events. To my mind, one of the most serious matters for us to consider is to see how far this accursed thirst for gold has eaten into the spirit of the English people. The world will judge of that when they see how we deal with it. If you continue the Chartered Company under the control of the men who have done these things, how can you expect to make a reasonable and friendly settlement with the Government of the Transvaal and with President Kruger? If this is the treatment that he has received from those who exercise the powers of that State which calls itself its Suzerain, how can you complain that he should look for support elsewhere? ["Oh, oh!" and cheers.] If he is to be attacked by his Suzerain, and the people who attack him are to be continued in their authority, how can you expect to make a reasonable settlement? ["Hear, hear!"] What chance have you of restoring 904 peace in the Cape Colony between the two races when you continue there the very men who have caused this animosity between them? I see it stated in the papers to-day that there is a chance of getting up a Rhodes Party in the Cape. Supposing you did, what would you accomplish? Are you going to send back there to conduct the party in the Cape, the people who have treated the High Commissioner, the representative of the British Crown, as Sir Hercules Robinson has been treated by the late Prime Minister of the Cape? ["Hear, hear!"] If the English Government are about to condone a transaction of this kind, to treat it as if it was a matter of small importance, what a lesson in public morals you will read to your colonies. If you are going to say that these are the sort of men, and that is the sort of spirit which is treated with indifference by the House of Commons and by the Government—if they are to say: "Well, after all, if we are too hard upon them we shall lose money; we may suffer by it; and therefore let us condone and compound it"—if we are to tell our colonies, we are to tell the world, that the spirit by which we are actuated is only this: "Put money in thy purse," and then call it expansion of the Empire and the progress of civilization —[cheers]—what effect is such a doctrine going to have in our Empire itself? No, Sir, I do not know whether the injury which these men have done to South Africa can be repaired; but there is a great deal more than South Africa that is at stake to-day. It is the character of the British Empire throughout the world—[Cheers]—the character of Parliament as evidenced in the spirit in which it deals with these matters, the character of the English Government which has given this authority, and which has the power to revoke it or to compound this offence. Do you suppose that the attention of the world as to our attitude in this matter is not fixed upon us? Do you not know that it is transactions of this kind that enables our enemies to cast in our teeth the taunt of la perfide Albion? [Cheers and Ministerial laughter.] What do you say? Do you say that the conduct shown in those telegrams is not perfidious? Are you going to condemn it or to condone it? Upon 905 that decision will depend the judgment that will he formed in the world upon us. What we have got to do, in my opinion, is to make it plain by the manner in which we deal with these transactions that we do not desire to extend empire or gain wealth per fas et nefas—by fraud, falsehood, and by crime; but that when we find that the authority we have given has been abused, and the trust violated, we will repudiate those acts whatever it may cost us. No doubt we are in a situation of great difficulty. There is only one path of safety in that difficulty, and that is to behave in it like honest men—[Cheers]—to prove to our enemies that, above all things and beyond all things, what we desire to do is to take an upright course, and to stand before the world as an upright nation. That is what I think is the main consideration that ought to determine our conduct in this matter. The Government have those issues in their hands. We rely upon them with confidence to perform this primary duty without fear, without affection, and without favour. The right hon. Gentleman has shown, as I have already said, decision and courage in this matter. [Cheers.] We desire to support him in the course which he has taken, and I do not doubt that in this matter, with the full knowledge he possesses and the weight of responsibility that he has upon him, we shall receive from him such declarations as we are entitled to have, and of which we stand in great need to-day. [Cheers.]
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE COLONIES (Mr. J. CHAMBERLAIN,), Birmingham, W.
whose rising was greeted with loud Ministerial cheers, said: I feel, Sir, that it is due to the right hon. Gentleman and to the Committee that I should rise immediately to reply to the speech which he has addressed to us, and to the appeals which he has made to the Government. At the same time I feel that the course I am taking is one accompanied by some disadvantage. The recent events to which the right hon. Gentleman has referred have reopened the whole of that great South African Question which has been said, I am afraid truly, to have been the grave of many reputations. The right hon. Gentleman has devoted the greater part of his speech to only one 906 phase of that question—[Ministerial cheers]—to the position which has been created for us by the inroad into the Transvaal, upon which light has recently been thrown by the cipher telegrams. But there is another and much wider question—[cheers]—with which I feel confident the Committee will desire to deal. I anticipate that other aspects of this question will be put before the Committee in the course of this Debate, and I feel it would be inconvenient if I were to rise again and again to reply to each question as it arises, and that it will be better, therefore, while giving the fullest information in my power to the right hon. Gentleman, to take something in the nature of a general review to explain the policy of the Government as a whole. [Cheers.] The right hon. Gentleman said that he proposed to confine himself on the present occasion to the position of the Chartered Company in South Africa. I think it must be said that the right hon. Gentleman has made a speech for the prosecution—[Cheers]—a very powerful, a very able indictment—but it was a speech for the prosecution not only of the Chartered Company, but also of the prisoners who are at present under sentence in Pretoria—[Cheers]—and of the men who are under trial in this country. [Cheers.] I cannot follow the right hon. Gentleman into that part of his case. I cannot deal in detail with the telegrams; will only say this as to their general character. I imagine there is but one feeling in the Committee, and that, if the sole object were to get a condemnation of those telegrams and of the policy which they indicate, there would be no dificulty whatever in obtaining it without further discussion. (Cheers.) But we shall, I am convinced, make a serious mistake if we treat these telegrams—sensational as they are, important as they are—as if they were of supreme importance, and if we lost sight for a moment of the main principles which are involved, and of the policy which has been pursued, not by this Government alone, but by all preceding Governments in regard to this South African Question. Therefore, I appeal to the House, and ask for consideration in what I feel, and I think it must feel, is a difficult situation. [Cheers.] This is not a question, as the right hon. Gentleman himself has seen, 907 which can be treated altogether without reserve. I speak to the audience who hear me, but outside this House there are many listeners who are at least equally interested. There are our Dutch and our English fellow-subjects in Cape Colony; there are the Dutch of the Orange Free State and of the Transvaal; and I suppose I may assume that the developments of the situation are being anxiously and carefully watched by foreign nations. [Cheers.] In these circumstances, and having regard also to the fact that the consideration of the sentences on the prisoners of whom I spoke just now has not been completed, there are many things I feel which might be said at some future time, but which it will not be desirable to mention now. [Cheers.] The task I have set myself is to deal with this matter as a whole, but in such a spirit that I cannot be accused of having fanned in any way the irritation which undoubtedly exists, or of having prejudiced in any way the solution. The right hon. Gentleman towards the close of his speech indicated very clearly the main objects which every British Government must have in view in South Africa. Our first object is to preserve our position as the paramount State. [Cheers.] It matters not whether we call ourselves suzerain or paramount, but it is an essential feature in our policy that the authority and influence of this country should be predominant in South Africa. [Cheers.] The second object is to bring about a better state of feeling, union, and concord between the two great races that now inhabit that country. I think one of the most deplorable results of the recent raid has been that to a certain extent it placed in jeopardy the first of those great objects, and that it has undoubtedly delayed the realisation of the other. But they remain the objects of British policy. [Cheers.] As regards the first of them, I say that we have earned our position in South Africa by a lavish expenditure of blood and of treasure. There would hardly be a South Africa in the ordinary sense of the word but for our efforts. The Transvaal itself owes much of its present security to the action of this country in connection with the Zulu War, and the great contest with Secocoeni. Upon this point I say that, in my opinion, the country is absolutely unanimous. No 908 Government could resist the trend of public opinion in this regard, and yet I ask the Committee—Is there any one who can confidently say that the supremacy, which is a first object, an essential part of our policy, has not been threatened? It is a point upon which I will not dwell, but it is a point which I keep always in my mind. [Cheers.] As to the second of our great objects, without which there can be no permanent prosperity and happiness in South Africa, the realisation of the same state of things which we have successfully attained in Canada—in Canada two races less closely allied than the English and the Dutch stand and work and fight and live side by side in perfect peace and harmony and good feeling—is there any inherent reason in the nature of things why the same result should not be achieved in South Africa? The Dutch and the English are nations closely allied in blood, in religion, in character. The Dutch in times past have been in turn foemen worthy of our steel and loyal and trustworthy allies, and even in South Africa there is nothing in the nature of a clear division. In Cape Colony the Dutch Afrikander population are amongst the most loyal of the Queen's subjects. With the Orange Free State we have had and have still the most friendly and cordial relations, and that in spite of the fact that the Orange Free State burghers fought against us at Majuba Hill and Laings Nek. The memories of those fights have not been allowed to interfere with, or to prevent the races in the Orange Free State from living in harmony together, and at this very time the Dutch and the English Afrikander, whether of the one blood or the other, are fighting together against the hordes of savages by which Buluwayo and Salisbury are threatened. [Cheers.] It is only in the Transvaal that we have failed to secure this desirable result. What is the reason? In a fair and impartial review of the circumstances, it must be borne in mind that there are faults on both sides, and it is not until we have sot to the root of the cause of the feeling that exists that we can hope to deal with it. I was a member of the Government that consented to the retrocession of the Transvaal after the defeat at Majuba Hill. I remember as if it were yesterday, the Dispatch coming from Sir Evelyn Wood, in which he said 909 that, humanly speaking, the Boer army was at his mercy, and that he awaited the instructions of the Government to go on and to attack, and we, withheld those instructions, and, instead, we accepted an armistice, which resulted in the Convention of 1881. Why did we take that step? Because, in the first place, we believed that the annexation of the Transvaal had been made involuntarily by this House under a misapprehension of the facts. This House was told when the annexation was made, that the Boers were themselves in favour of it. It appeared afterwards that the House had been entirely misinformed, and under those circumstances, the Government came to the conclusion that the annexation ought to be annulled, and, having come to that conclusion, we did not think that it was worthy of a great and powerful nation to use its strength, to shed further blood, to pursue the war, when the object for which the war had been waged had been conceded. Since then, there have been many and different opinions as to the policy of the course which we took. Many have condemned us—["hear, hear!"]—although I am inclined to remind the Committee that one of those who condemned us most severely, the late Lord Randolph Churchill, when he afterwards visited South Africa, came to the conclusion that that policy was as wise as it was magnanimous, because he convinced himself that if we had gained the victory which was within our grasp, we should have left behind such bitter feelings between the races inhabiting South Africa, that we should have had greater troubles in the future than any I caused by the policy which was pursued. But, whatever else may be thought of that policy, at all events it cannot be denied that it was a magnanimous policy, such as I believe no other nation in similar circumstances had pursued. I wish sometimes the foreign critics, the gentlemen who talk of perfide Albion, who accuse us of being invariably assertive and aggressive, would look with an impartial eye upon the history of these transactions and would ask themselves whether there has been any satisfactory return for such generosity. [Cheers.] Gratitude, perhaps, is not to be asked for as between nations, but at least we might ask for the faithful and loyal observance of the conditions which have 910 been arranged. [Cheers.] That has not been the case. I do not want to go in any detail into the history of the past 15 years, but I say that from 1881 down almost to the present day, there have been continued invasions or threats of invasion upon the territories outside the Transuaal, and upon British territories. which have all been breaches both of the spirit and the letter of the Convention. [Cheers.] The Committee will have observed among the telegrams in this Blue-book a message from President Kruger, in which he, on behalf of his Government, disclaims any similarity between Dr. Jameson's raid and some of the raids of which we have complained as against the Transvaal, and he says that these raids were not breaches of the Convention. That forces me to say that, with regard specially to the Bechuanaland raid, Sir Hercules Robinson, who is a man of the greatest moderation of language and character, was moved to indignation by the proceedings of the Transvaal Boers, domiciled in the Transvaal, armed in the Transvaal, and proceeding from the Transvaal into British territory. He was moved to indignation against them, and in one of his Dispatches he said their action was an "impudent breach of the Convention." I do not say that this should be in our minds except so far as it is necessary to enable us to understand that there are two sides to this question, and that if there be race hatred or race suspicion on the one hand, there is also some cause for race suspicion on the other. I will mention, in passing, the grievances of the British subjects, the majority of the Uitlanders in the Transvaal. I have never made, and I do not now make, myself responsible for, nor do I adopt all the complaints that have been made on behalf of the Uitlanders, but I say that they have admitted grievances, and as that expression has also been explained by President Kruger, let me say that their grievances have been admitted by public opinion, Dutch and English, in South Africa, and not only that, but also by public opinion in Europe. [Cheers.] And it is a fact that these admitted grievances are due to successive laws passed one after another since the Convention of 1881, every one of which has had the object and the effect of depriving the majority of the present population 911 of the Transvaal of all share in the control of their public affairs. Lastly, I would also mention, as it was a question which, although it did not arouse a great deal of attention here, was of the utmost importance in South Africa—I would mention the subject of the closing of the drifts. The closing of the Vaal drift the other day was pronounced by the law officers of the Crown to be a breach of the Convention of 1881, and on representations made by Her Majesty's Government President Kruger consented to withdraw his proclamation. ["Hear, hear!"] Yes, but I am speaking of the irritation caused by the proclamation, a proclamation which was distinctly directed against the greatest interests of the Cape Colony, and which, if it had been allowed to continue, might have destroyed the prospects of their railways, and might have placed the finances of the colony in a most distressing position. All these points to which I have referred are matters which have resulted from a condition of things which I deplore. ["Hear, hear!"] On the one hand you have the burgher of the Transvaal State, who still dwells on the wrongful annexation of his territory, whose mind has been filled from childhood upwards with bitter traditions of the former persecutions of his people, who entertains now a suspicion—I am sorry to say, not altogether unreasonable ["Hear, hear!"]—that he may still be subject to attacks on his independence; and, on the other hand, you have the Englishman considering—also, I am afraid, not without reason—that the Dutch in the Transvaal are animated by a hostile feeling to the British flag and British subjects. That is the state of things which exists, that is the difficult and painful state of things with which we have to deal, and until it is changed there can be no real assurance of peace in South Africa. ["Hear, hear!"] Let it be borne in mind that at one time to effect this change was the dearest ambition of Mr. Rhodes. [Cheers.] I believe I am right in saying that when he was over here about two years ago he explained to his friends and, I think, to the then Government, his views in this respect and his desire for the ideal which, though he did not think it capable of immediate attainment, 912 yet in the course of time could be peaceably secured, and under which all those great States in South Africa, while enjoying, untrammelled and without interference, their own chosen institutions, might yet be united for common objects under the protection of the British flag. [Cheers.] That, unfortunately, he has not been able to carry out. I suppose that President Kruger and Mr. Rhodes are still, or were, at any rate, two months ago, undoubtedly the strongest men in South Africa, and if they could only have put their forces together, if they could have agreed, I think there is little doubt that they might have accomplished this difficult task, and might have given to South Africa greater blessings than could possibly be otherwise attained. ["Hear, hear!"] But they have failed for the present. Still, the object must be the object of any British Government and of any Minister in my position [Cheers]; and it was because of that that I earnestly desired the visit of President Kruger to this country. If he had come to this country I had hoped that in the course of personal discussion many suspicions might have been removed, that many misunderstandings might have been done away with, that we could have commenced a better era, and that we might have been able to place the relations between the two races on a better footing. ["Hear, hear!"] Well, Sir, President Kruger was unable to accept. I shall not dwell on the incidents that are contained in this Blue-book, but a word of explanation might be desirable. I have seen it stated that this result constitutes a failure of what is called the new diplomacy. I wish to remind the Committee that these words are not mine ["Hear, hear!"], that I have never said that I was doing anything novel; on the contrary, I am not aware that I have done anything my predecessors would not have done if they had been in my place. [Cheers.] I am not speaking of the details of the negotiations in the course of which I may have made mistakes which they, perhaps, would not have made; but I am speaking of the object I have had in view and the main lines of policy that I pursued. [Cheers.] It is said that President Kruger declined the invitation because 913 he was offended at the premature publication of the Dispatch in which I made certain suggestions for his consideration The papers will show clearly that that is an entire misapprehension. [Cheers.] The invitation was addressed to him on January 27th. It was addressed to him because I had at that time the positive assurance of two private gentlemen, independent of one another, both personal friends of the President, that he desired such an invitation and would accept it, and that information was confirmed subsequently by a minute which appears in the Blue-book, in which her Majesty's Government is urged to send the invitation and to say they had reason to believe that President Kruger would accept it. The President said that these friends of his must have been under a misappehension as to the terms on which he would consent to accept the invitation. I accept that statement, and I only regret I was misinformed; but on the 27th, and acting on the intimation I have mentioned, I sent the invitation. On 6th February, I sent the President a summary of the Dispatch. On 12th February he complained of the publication of that Dispatch and of the terms in which he thought it was couched; but I sent an explanation on 14th February, and on the 25th President Kruger replies:—"I find my fears were not justified. I am perfectly prepared to accept your invitation." [Cheers.] But he went on to say that his acceptance of the invitation would be conditional on our being able to arrange a basis of discussion before he started. I am sorry to say that when we came to arrange the basis of discussion, I found that President Kruger was unwilling to discuss the matter which I claimed to discuss, and that he claimed to discuss a particular matter which I had informed him on sending the invitation that it was impossible for her Majesty's Government to discuss—["hear, hear!"]—that is to say, he refused to discuss the grievances of the Uitlanders, and he desired to discuss a modification of Article 4 of the London Convention. Under these circumstances I endeavoured in the first instance to remove what I thought might be a misunderstanding on his part. I endeavoured to make our meaning absolutely clear; and on 26th March, having failed in this, I wrote to tell him that I was aware 914 that he could not give me, a positive answer until the Volksraad had given him permission, but that I hoped he would give his personal assurance that he would ask for permission, and that if he failed to do that the invitation would be reluctantly withdrawn. ["Hear, hear!"] On 20th April he said that in his judgment it would be wiser not to press the invitation; and accordingly, on 27th April, in accordance with his own wish, the invitation was withdrawn. I go into these particulars because I think he was a little capricious about the use of the word "withdrawn," but that actually represents the state of affairs up to that time. The President himself being unable to give the assurance I had asked for, asked that the matter should not be pressed. He did not refuse the invitation, and accordingly the invitation was withdrawn. ["Hear, hear!"] I have no complaint whatever to make with regard to President Kruger's action. I think he was himself sincerely desirous of coming, if he could have made beforehand any arrangement which he thought would satisfy the wishes and feelings of his burghers, and I have never myself hesitated to admit that the President throughout this business, not only with reference to this question of his visit, but with reference also to his treatment of the prisoners and all other matters under discussion between us, was himself in a position of great difficulty. ["Hear, hear!"] He is not an autocrat—["hear, hear!"] —on the contrary, he is largely dependent on the goodwill and support of his Volksraad, and I do not blame him in the least for seeking to carry their opinion with him. ["Hear, hear!"] Then the question arises, having failed to bring President Kruger to this country what is to be the next step? In some quarters the idea is put forward that the Government ought to have issued an ultimatum to President Kruger, an ultimatum which would certainly have been neglected, and which must have led to war. Sir, I do not propose to discuss such a contingency as that. [Cheers.] A war in South Africa would be one of the most serious wars that could possibly be waged. [Hear, hear!"] It would be in the nature of a civil war. It would be a long war, a bitter war and a costly war, and, as I have pointed out already, it would leave behind it the embers of a 915 strife which I believe generations would hardly be long enough to extinguish. [Cheers.] Of course there might be contingencies in which a great Power has to face even such an alternative as this. If some of those wild rumours, which grow like mushrooms on the soil of South Africa, and which are one of the most disturbing factors in any negotiations—if some of those wild rumours which were attributed to President Kruger a design to break the Convention or actually to make an armed attack on Natal were true, we should have been on the defensive—[Cheers]—but to go to war with President Kruger in order to force upon him reforms in the internal affairs of his State with which successive Secretaries of State, standing in this place, have repudiated all right of interference —[cheers]—that would have been a course of action as immoral as it would have been unwise. [Cheers.] If we were not to contemplate such a thought as this, I need not say it would have been extremely undignified to make any threats. ["Hear, hear."] I may be told, like every one in my position—I am criticised impartially from the two extreme sides of the question. On the one hand I am told I am the puppet of President Kruger; and on the other hand I am told I am bullying him on every occasion. In regard to this matter of internal reforms I have not said one word to President Kruger which could possibly be construed into a threat. I think, in the last communication I sent to the President, I defined what I conceived to be our rights in the matter. I said that we did not claim and never had claimed the right to interfere in the internal affairs of the Transvaal, but that we did claim, both as representing the interests of our fellow-subjects in the Transvaal and as the paramount Power in South Africa, responsible for the security of the whole country, to make friendly representations to him and to give him friendly advice as much in his interest as in our own. ["Hear, hear!"] I think the Committee will observe that President Kruger calls attention once more to his promise to listen to the complaints of the Uitlanders that may be brought forward constitutionally, and to his proclamation of December 30th. The Volksraad is now meeting, we have taken note of his promise, and we await with confidence the result. ["Hear, 916 hear!"] In the meantime we have thought it necessary and desirable to ask Sir Hercules Robinson to pay a short visit to this country in order that we may have the benefit of his experience and knowledge in connection with this subject. It has been supposed, I think it has even been stated, that there have been serious differences between Sir Hercules Robinson and myself with regard to the policy to be pursued in South Africa. That is not correct. [Cheers.] There may have been such differences between us as are inevitable in great negotiations conducted at a distance and by means of the telegraph, but I believe that the objects which Sir Hercules Robinson has in view are my objects, and that the policy that he proposes to pursue is and will be my policy. ["Hear, hear!"] Therefore I can only add this—that even if there are or were any differences of the kind referred to, I am perfectly certain that Sir Hercules Robinson, who is one of the oldest and most distinguished members of our Diplomatic Service, is so thoroughly imbued with the conditions of that service that he will loyally carry out the policy he is instructed to pursue, whatever his own view of that policy may be. [Cheers.] I ought further to say that Sir Hercules Robinson occupies an exceptional position in South Africa. This morning the latest telegram I received from South Africa conveys the intelligence of a unanimous vote by the Cape Parliament of confidence in Sir Hercules Robinson, and expresses an earnest desire that he may not be long detained in this country. ["Hear, hear!"] He also possesses in a great degree the confidence of President Kruger; he has been on the warmest and most friendly terms with the President of the Orange Free State. I do not hesitate to say, in these circumstances, that there is no foundation whatever for the rumours which I have seen quoted in the newspapers, that it is the intention of the Government to recall Sir Hercules Robinson. ["Hear, hear!"] I hope, on the contrary, that lie will shortly be able to go back to complete the work he has undertaken. ["Hear, hear!"] When he comes here I have no doubt we shall be able to profit by his knowledge and experience, and between us to concert a plan of action for the future. ["Hear, hear!"] Much 917 must depend—and this is the real crux of the situation—upon the drift of Dutch public opinion in the Cape Colony, in the Transvaal, and in the Orange Free State, with regard to the position of the Uitlanders. The Uitlanders at one time enjoyed the confidence of the majority of the Afrikanders, and, if we are able to bring back that confidence to back up our efforts in the direction in favour of securing the necessary reforms, I believe that we may be successful in our endeavours; but I cannot pretend that our policy in the future can be dealt with entirely by telegram. ["Hear, hear!"] It is a policy which will require patience, and I am inclined to say that breathing-space is what is most wanted. [Cheers.] If we are able to give time during which these recent and still open wounds may be healed, a better feeling may prevail, and I am pretty well confident that public opinion will support an arrangement which will enable the whole country to profit by its vast resources, and to enter on an assured course of peace and prosperity. [Cheers.] There is only one other point in connection with Sir Hercules Robinson that I will say a word upon. An hon. Member from Ireland asked me whether, in view of the growing interest in the Transvaal, any change is to be made in our representation in Pretoria. Sir Jacobus De Wet is an old gentleman—[Cheers and laughter]—well, a gentleman of advanced years ["Hear, hear"!], and he has himself expressed a desire to retire if he were asked to do so by the Government. The Government are prepared, I am sure, to treat him fairly. ["Hear, hear!"], and I am inclined to think that he has earned his rest. ["Hear, hear!" and laughter.] I must point out that the Committee will find in the Blue-book a testimonial from Sir Hercules Robinson to Sir Jacobus De Wet, speaking in the highest terms of his services. ["Hear, hear!"] Of course, the question, of the appointment of his successor is one which will require very careful consideration and the Government do not propose to deal with the matter until they have had an opportunity of consulting Sir Hercules Robinson in reference to it. ["Hear, hear!"] I think that I have now said all that I have to say as to the general policy of the Government. Now I come to the 918 situation created by the telegrams as they affect Mr. Rhodes and the Chartered Company. I agree with the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition that we have no reason to doubt the authenticity of these telegrams, but at the same time I am bound in my position to guard myself by saying that we have at present no legal proof of it. They have not all been published in this country, and from a telegram from Sir Hercules Robinson it appears that 54 telegrams were published in South Africa, and we have not had nearly so many, but I assume that those which have not been published are unimportant. We also hear that President Kruger has still more telegrams. ["Hear, hear!" and laughter.] Certainly that creates an additional difficulty in the situation. ["Hear, hear!" and laughter.] We never know when we get to the end. ["Hear, hear!" and laughter.] He has, of course, a perfect right—a right which I do not dispute—to produce, his information at his own time, and he chooses that time with singular acuteness. [Cheers and laughter.] Taking these telegrams as they stand, I cannot enter into anything like the exhaustive and detailed examination to which the right hon. Gentleman has subjected them, and I must deal with them in very general terms. I think it may be said that they indicate three things. They indicate first that Mr. Rhodes and one at any rate of the directors of the Chartered Company knew and approved of the proceedings of the Reform Committee at Pretoria. They indicate, in the second place, that the same gentleman knew and approved of the preparations for the entry into the Transvaal in certain eventualities; and, in the third place, that seem to me to prove that Mr. Rhodes disapproved and tried to stop the invasion at the moment at which it actually took place. ["Hear, hear!"] The right hon. Gentleman said that there was no revocation of the order to Dr. Jameson. I can only say that I am informed that Mr. Rhodes was not only content merely with sending messages through the telegraph, but that he sent a special messenger to Dr. Jameson urging him on no account to cross the frontier. As we are discussing matters which are, to a certain extent, still sub judice, I cannot do more 919 than indicate my own belief that as regards the actual invasion, it was not only disapproved by Mr. Rhodes, but that he tried to stop it. ["Hear, hear!"] The right hon. Gentleman referred to what I said on February 13th—namely, that to the best of my belief neither Mr. Rhodes nor the Chartered Company had any knowledge of the intention or action of Dr. Jameson. Clearly, if I had had these telegrams before me then, my statement would have been very materially modified. [Cheers.] It must be said still that Mr. Rhodes did not know and did not approve of the actual invasion. I think that that is a fair statement of the case. ["Hear, hear!"] The right hon. Gentleman appeals to the Government to say what they are going to do in the matter. I found it very difficult, when I listened to what the right hon. Gentleman was saying, to know upon what principle he himself would propose to proceed. Is it punishment that he calls for, or is it prevention? ["Hear, hear!"] There is a great difference between the two. ["Hear, hear!"] I am bound to say that, if I have rightly interpreted the right hon. Gentleman's present speech and still more his speech of February 14th, he is not of those who calls for the vindictive treatment of Mr. Rhodes. ["Hear, hear!"] On that occasion he said:—At all events we ought to do justice to Mr. Rhodes and at least I may say that, whatever errors he may have committed—and we are not in a position to judge of them—and knowing Mr. Rhodes as I do, I am certain that he has not been actuated by what the poet calls 'the last infirmity of noble minds,' and ha s not been actuated by any mean or sordid motives.[Cheers.] I find that, now that he has the facts before him, the right hon. Gentleman has very generously, and I think at the same time very rightly, purposely repeated that statement. Sir, I associate myself with that language, and I am prepared to go further and say that whatever errors—or you may give it a worse name if you like—Mr. Rhodes has committed, he has also rendered great services. [Ministerial Cheers.] It is to Mr. Rhodes more than any other man, by his energy and capacity, that Cape Colony enjoys the enormous development of its resources and the increase in its prosperity which we have watched with admiration during 920 the last few years. Mr. Rhodes, as I have pointed out, more than any other man, was able for a time, at any rate, to bring together the Dutch and the English races, both for the good government of Cape Colony and the advantage of the whole of South Africa. And lastly, and above all, by his sole action, Mr. Rhodes anticipated and made impossible projects which would have most seriously limited the expansion of our dominion in South Africa [Cheers], to the great prejudice of the Cape Colony and of the population there. Well, Sir, I do not think because Mr. Rhodes is now universally condemned for his recent action, I do not know why that is any reason why we should entirely forget his past action. [Cheers.] But for Englishmen like Mr. Rhodes our English history would be much poorer—[loud Ministerial cheers]—and our British dominions would be much smaller. [Renewed cheers.] Well, Sir, the right hon. gentleman made another observation which is also of great importance. He said the question of the position of Mr. Rhodes in South Africa was a very difficult one, and that, in his opinion, it must depend to a great degree upon what the feelings of the great majority of the people there were upon this subject. Sir, I think that is a very suggestive observation, and one that it is important to bear in mind. I do not know—I could not state to the Committee authoritatively—what is the present judgment of the people of the Cape, for instance, upon Mr. Rhodes. I believe that his recent action there, as here, has been universally condemned, but it is clear to me that there are many people—and not the least influential—both among the English and among the Afrikanders who still see in him the greatest benefactor that the Cape Colony has ever had—["Hear, hear!"]—and who on that account are not inclined to treat him with personal harshness. And I confess that, in a crisis like the present, when our authority in South Africa has been shaken by our own subjects, and when it is universally believed in South Africa itself that our authority is being undermined from outside—["Hear, hear!"]—I say, under those circumstances we are bound to pay some attention to the views of that section of the population who, at all events, are well-wishers to the British rule. [Cheers.] 921 I say again, what is it that the right hon. Gentleman thinks that we ought to do, and asks us to do? He has confined himself in his speech to what I will show is a very small matter.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
if the right hon. Gentleman will allow me—I do not think I can have made myself quite clear. What I did suggest was this—that after what has happened, Mr. Rhodes should not be the managing director of a company which governs a great English province; and, secondly, that the government and the direction of the Chartered Company should be reformed and changed. ["Hear, hear!"]
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
Perhaps I was wrong in saying that the point was a small one; in one sense I admit that it is a very important one, but that is from the sentimental side. The right hon. Gentleman spoke of the effect upon foreign opinion and upon opinion in South Africa of Mr. Rhodes remaining as the managing director of this Company. That, though it is a sentimental question, is no doubt a question of very considerable importance. But the difference between Mr. Rhodes as the managing director and Mr. Rhodes as the founder of the company, even though holding no official position, is very small indeed, and either in the one capacity or in the other Mr. Rhodes has been rightly deprived of any possible power of further mischief, because nothing can be clearer to the House, if they read the instructions which have been issued to Sir Richard Martin, than that the Government have taken every step to secure that not an armed man in the whole of that territory can be moved without what is practically the authority of the British Crown. I believe that if any weak spot can be pointed out in those instructions we are perfectly willing to revise them, and our intention and belief is that we have absolutely secured the Transvaal against any such proceedings as those of which it justly complains, and we are quite willing to give to President Kruger any guarantee that he can reasonably ask for which can remove even a shred of suspicion from his mind. But the question is whether Mr. Rhodes is to remain in an official capacity in connection with the Chartered Company. As the correspondence which is published this morning, and which I only received this 922 morning, shows, I have refused to advise, the directors of the company upon a matter which at this stage, at any rate, I consider they should decide upon their own responsibility, in their own interests, and in what they consider to be the interests of themselves and their shareholders. The communication from the company contains two statements. The first is that the directors present at the meeting, with the exception of the director incriminated, were absolutely without any knowledge of the transactions to which the cipher telegrams referred. The second statement is that the directors knew of a telegram received from Mr. Rhodes deferring acceptance of his resignation. [Opposition laughter.] I interpret that to mean that the directors were in favour of accepting Mr. Rhodes's resignation, but that on the receipt, of the telegram they hesitated, and postponed their decision for a time. The words "deferred resignation" of course convey a different meaning to what would have been conveyed if they had "declined" to accept the resignation. Is it, altogether unreasonable that they should take a little further time to consider a matter of such great importance? [Cheers.] It must be remembered that at the present moment, the territory which bears Mr. Rhodes's name is in a most disturbed condition, and I suppose that it is true, as he has stated, that this day there will probably have taken place a conflict with the Matabele. Is it not fairer, in this disturbed condition of the territory, without any power of finding out what is the opinion of the settlers in the territory, and what would be the effect upon public opinion at Buluwayo and at Salisbury of any determination taken here, to give at all events a short time for consideration? ["Hear, hear!"] At all events I do not feel that it is my duty at the present moment to offer any opinion, except that I will say this, which is independent of the Question which has been put to me by the right hon. Gentleman, that, whether as a director or a shareholder and founder of the Company, I believe Mr. Rhodes's proper place is in South Africa. After all, it is not because of his money, as the right hon. Gentleman suggests, that it is suggested that he should continue to retain an official place in connection with the Company. It is because he has shown the capacity, and 923 the energy, and the ability which are requisite in the development of a new territory, and if it be the fact—
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
I decline to take up that suggestion, which I do not think is as generous as the original speech of the right hon. Gentleman. [Ministerial cheers] If it be true, as I think it is, that Mr. Rhodes in South Africa will be powerless to commit the offence which he has committed in the past, then I myself, and I believe the majority of people will, think he can best atone for his conduct by doing something to bring into speedy development and to secure the prosperity of the great territory which he has added to the British Crown. ["Hear, hear!"] Then, Sir, as regards the Chartered Company, it is quite true, as the right hon. Gentleman has pointed out, that the Government have promised full and searching inquiry. The hon. Member for Northampton the other day put down a Question, which he withdrew in view of this Debate, asking whether that inquiry might not be commenced now. The Government have come to the decided conclusion that all the objections which presented themselves before, and which I should think would present themselves to any one, as to carrying on Parliamentary or other inquiries at the same time as judicial proceedings, apply now as they did in February. I may say that we have been advised that a proceeding of that kind would not only be unusual, but certainly undesirable. Therefore I say that we are still of opinion that the judicial proceedings must come to an end before the further inquiry is instituted; but when those proceedings are terminated the Government will review the situation in the light of the information which has been obtained, and as at present advised they are of opinion that the proper course, having regard to all the precedents which bear at all upon such a matter, will be that a Joint Committee of both Houses should sit. [An HON. MEMBER: "Oh!"] Why not? I suppose the hon. Gentleman who says "Oh!" is not well acquainted with the Parliamentary history of his country. [Ministerial cheers.] On such occasions a Joint Committee has usually been appointed, and such a Committee would, of course, 924 have to examine the charter granted to the British South Africa Company and the operations of its provisions, and would have to consider whether any improvements in it are desirable. An inquiry of that kind will go into the whole subject, not only of recent events, but of the whole administration from top to bottom which the Government may consider fair matter of criticism and inquiry. We have to look into this matter not merely in connection with these recent events and the genesis of the Matabele war and the detailed complaints; we shall also have to consider the future destiny of the British sphere of influence which it was intended to hand over to the Chartered Company, and which is now retained, for the decision of Parliament, in the hands of the Government. I do not propose to anticipate in the slightest degree what will be the result of this full and complete inquiry. One thing is perfectly evident—that administration by charter, as the right hon. Gentleman pointed out, is open to grave inconvenience and serious dangers; but, on the other hand, I have no doubt that such a Committee will take into account the equally serious inconvenience and equally grave dangers which may attend any acceptance of full responsibility by the Imperial Government. The Chartered Company have not been very long in existence, but find from the statement of public, accounts that has been presented that already they have spent on our railways, telegraphs and roads nearly half a million sterling. The cost of the Matabele war was £120,000, and the general expenditure for the administration of the Company is over one million sterling; and I must say that I look forward with some alarm both to the position of the British taxpayer and the position of these territories if all this money is to be taken from the pockets of the former or, if that is possible, if the territories are to be starved and their developments to be stayed. Still, the Government will come to this inquiry with an open mind, and I must not be considered as pledging them either for or against the rescission of the charter or the conclusions to which they will come. I venture in two or three words to summarise the main points I have endeavoured to put before the House. It is the policy 925 of the Government, in the first place, to prevent absolutely any recognition of the proceedings which we all regret and condemn. In the second place, it is the proposal of the Government that there should be a full Inquiry, to go much further and be much wider than any Inquiry into these events, and to include in its purview the whole administration of the Chartered Company; and, lastly, it is the general policy of the Government to continue by every legitimate means, especially by the pressure of public opinion in South Africa, their efforts to secure fair and equal treatment of British subjects in the Transvaal and restore confidence and amity between the two great races in South Africa. [Cheers.] I must express the gratitude I owe to the Opposition and to all the Parties in the country for the support which they have given to the Government in this very critical situation. ["Hear, hear!"] I venture to hope that that confidence and support may continue to be accorded to us in our efforts to pursue and complete the policy which we have adopted.
§ MR. LEONARD COURTNEY (Cornwall, Bodmin)
said, it was with reluctance he rose to take part in the discussion. The right hon. Gentleman had referred to the want of gratitude on the part of the Boers for the magnanimity displayed by the British Government in restoring the Transvaal. The annexation was done against the wishes of the Boers, who resented being brought back under the dominion of the British Crown. The right hon. Gentleman said that England had given up the position they had acquired, but that was not quite the whole truth. ["Hear, hear!"] Mr. Gladstone, at the General Election of 1880, in Scotland, spoke of the injustice of the annexation, but it was not till after Majuba Hill that the country was restored. ["Hear, hear!"] In his opinion the delay was responsible in some degree for all that had followed. He was not blaming the then Prime Minister. He might have been hampered by reluctant colleagues. But surely the moral was the impolicy of not acting at once when they saw the line of conduct which morality and justice demanded. ["Hear, hear!"] They could not, therefore, complain of the Boers if they had not been so grateful as they 926 could wish. He was afraid the Government were repeating the error made then. They were hesitating to do the right thing, and they might have to pay, as in 1880, a severe interest on that delay. His right hon. Friend's policy had hitherto been admirable, but there was now a sort of paralysis. He would do nothing, he would wait. The facts ought to make him hasten, not delay. Did he think he would improve the position of the prisoners at Pretoria by showing hesitation, which might at least be misconstrued, if not resented, in the Transvaal? If they wanted to secure for these prisoners the most favourable, treatment, surely their first object should be to establish cordial relations with the people who had the prisoners in their hands. Would they render the restoration of amity more difficult or less difficult by delay in marking their true sense of the conduct of the English against the Dutch in South Africa? Let them try to realise what the Boers were thinking after their past history and recent experience. He always advocated the union of the two races, but now they had been set apart, and if they wanted to restore amity, they must not hesitate to make manifest what their feelings were. If the Government did wish to bring back that feeling they must surely do something at this moment to show that they were not in any degree approvers of the transaction, and they would not under any circumstances have accepted the fruits of it if it had been successful. They might not be able to do much, but they could do something to re-establish friendship between the English and the Dutch. Would the step recommend itself to the people of the Transvaal if her Majesty's Government allowed to remain in office and in the direction of the government of Rhodesia and Matabeleland those who had been—
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
That is not the state of the case at all. The Administrator is in command. The managing director had only to do with the commercial part of the country. (Sir W. HARCOURT was understood to dissent.) It is the Administrator, Lord Grey, who is responsible for the civil administration of the country, and Mr. Rhodes has nothing whatever to do with it.
§ SIR W. HARCOURT
Lord Grey is in the situation of Dr. Jameson, and Mr. Rhodes remains exactly in the situation in which he has been before.
§ MR. COURTNEY
said that Lord Grey was under the directors of the Chartered Company [Opposition cheers], and it was to them he must look for his orders. The whole question was whether there ought to be allowed to remain in office any person upon whom there was the implication that he had been a party to the invasion of a friendly State. Why should the Government hesitate to tell the directors of the Chartered Company that they thought it well they should remove from their council board and from their list of officers those who, on the face of the cipher telegrams, were parties to the plot against the Transvaal? The Chartered Company would be left intact, the honest men among them would be able to carry on their work; but her Majesty's Government would demonstrate to President Kruger and the Boers of the Transvaal that they had a serious horror of what had been done—[Opposition cheers]—and that they did not intend those to remain in authority who had been parties to the raid. Nobody could wish Mr. Rhodes to be disturbed in his present work, but the Government could have addressed a communication to him calling his attention to the telegrams and asking him for any explanation he might feel desirous of giving on the subject of those telegrams. It might also have been intimated to him that as soon as the present troubles allowed him it would probably be advisable for him to come back and explain his position. Painful as it might have been to do this, having regard to Mr. Rhodes's past history and to the great services he had done, the Government's own honour and that of the country demanded the making of some sacrifice. ["Hear, hear!"] If the Governor of a State bordering on the Canadian Dominion were to authorise and encourage a raid into Canada, what would be our feeling towards the Government of the United States—[Opposition, cheers]—if they, having authority, allowed that Governor to remain in authority? It seemed to him his right hon. Friend did not wish to show that promptness, that readiness, which he had displayed up to the present. He did not want the right 928 hon. Gentleman to take any step which would at all embarrass or prejudge the trial of Dr. Jameson; but let them suppose they found some other person who had not yet been thought of who was a partner in the affair, would they be prejudging the trial of Dr. Jameson by putting that other man in the same position? These persons, so far as their public authority was concerned, ought to be suspended. An intimation might well have been given to the directors of the company that it would have been prudent to accept the resignations, and to Mr. Rhodes there should be addressed without delay an invitation to give an explanation of his conduct. Delay at this moment was fatal to the Government's own policy.
§ MR. GEORGE WYNDHAM (Dover)
remarked that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bodmin was famous for discovering points of view which were not obvious to his fellows. ["Oh, oh!" and cheers.] He, however, was fully convinced that in South Africa they would not find any very great majority of the Dutch who entertained vindictive feelings towards Mr. Rhodes; if there be that majority now, it would speedily be turned into a minority. What was the case which had been put before them to-day? The Leader of the Opposition mourned the deterioration in the tone of the Press of the country, and denied hon. Members almost every virtue because they would instantly attack Mr. Cecil Rhodes. The right hon. Gentleman had been told that when the present judicial proceedings were over an Inquiry would be given into the action of the Chartered Company. They might rest assured that that Inquiry would be, as the Leader of the House said earlier in the year, a full Inquiry; it would go into the whole history of the Chartered Company, and into all their actions in South Africa, as this was not a question of money, as the Leader of the Opposition would have them suppose. In this matter, money or the interests of shareholders counted for nothing; but what did count was the great work which had been achieved in South Africa for the Empire, and for the future happiness of countless people in this country, and for the descendants of Englishmen in distant years. Mr. Cecil Rhodes's guilt had been, assumed by the Leader of the Opposition; but there 929 could be no doubt that the work Mr. Rhodes had done in the past had caused the happiness of thousands of people up to now, and would provide for the happiness of millions of people in 10, or 20, or 50 years hence. The Colonial Secretary might rest assured that he would continue to win loyal support in the House and in the country for the way in which he had met the difficulties which had confronted him. ["Hear, hear!"] The right hon. Gentleman had referred to the fact that in South Africa all had not been plain sailing politically, and that one of the chief actions of Mr. Rhodes was to secure for England a territory seven and a-half times as great as the island in which we lived. Mr. Rhodes had rendered signal service to this country in South Africa, and the charge that in the performance of this service he had created strife between the Dutch and the English races was not true. In half-born lands, into which men of different nationalities were pushing forward for possession or occupation, differences must arise. This had been the common experience hitherto in most undeveloped countries, and, in a similar way, differences had arisen in South Africa between the Dutch and the English people in connection with the work of Mr. Rhodes. But to say that the policy and action of Mr, Rhodes had engendered serious strife and bitterness between the two peoples was contradicted by facts. When Dr. Jameson in 1892 prevented, even by display of force, the famous trek of the Dutchmen northwards, they were sore for a time; but afterwards large numbers of them took service with him, and marched side by side with Englishmen forward into the lands which Mr. Rhodes had opened up, not for the English alone, but for all mankind. [Cheers.] The work of expansion and development effected by Mr. Rhodes and the Chartered Company could not have been so well done by any other means, and, the work having been done, it remained for the nation to step into its inheritance, and not to sacrifice it. Surely, then, credit should be giver to the men who had done this great work. [Cheers.] Moreover, this question of extension and expansion was one of life and death to the people of Great Britain. It was idle for them now to bring the fetish of Free Trade 930 and hope to do in the future what they had done in the past. ["Hear, hear."] The food supply of the country had become a serious question. ["Hear, hear"] In presence of the fact that many parts of the world were being shut against the enterprise of this country by the tariff war, and that the full tide of Protection was running abroad, it was of supreme importance to this country and to the Empire that new markets abroad should be opened up. [Cheers.] The policy and action of Mr. Rhodes had been in this direction in South Africa, where he had opened up lands the possibilities of which for the advantage of Africa and Great Britain alike could not be overestimated. [Cheers.] Some idea of this might be gathered from the fact that while our trade with the 60 millions of people in America was at the rate of £40,000,000 a year, it was at the rate of more than £15,000,000 a year with only the 640,000 white people in Africa. [Cheers.] Now it was generally accepted that Mr. Rhodes had done good work in South Africa, and that England should take advantage of the work if it could do so honourably. Then on what ground were they now asked to repudiate the work? It had been urged—though not in that House—that the events which bad taken place were merely Stock Exchange transactions, and that on financial grounds alone the country ought to repudiate the whole affair. Much unjust suspicion and ill-feeling had been thus caused. On this point he wished to make a positive and serious statement to the House in defence of men who were not there to defend themselves. It was this—that the charges that had been levelled against Mr. Rhodes and Mr. Beit regarding their having made financial capital out of the late incursion of Dr. Jameson were absolutely false, and that, if necessary, they courted the fullest investigation. [Cheers.] He gave that statement on the authority of Mr. Beit himself. [Cheers.] He was also authorised to say that the charge made against the Board officials of the Chartered Company to the effect that a syndicate was formed by them with the same object was equally false. [Cheers.] He made those statements to the House with the endorsement that he had done the best he could to ascertain the truth in those matters, and he could only say that he was perfectly 931 satisfied that those men had not been actuated by sordid motives. [Cheers.] That a number of the small fry that hung round the fringes of the Stock Exchange had endeavoured to make money out of those events, as they did out of all other matters, he did not doubt; but the sting of this charge was that Mr. Rhodes sympathised with the revolution because it was conducted, not for the purposes of reform, but to fill the pockets of himself and his friends. But the assumption was utterly false, and that being so the sting of the charge of financial corruption was extracted. [Cheers.] Now, they had been told in effect that they ought to endanger all the good work that Mr. Rhodes had done in South Africa in order to vindicate their national righteousness. For that was really the effect of what the Leader of the Opposition said when he stated that unless we insisted upon Mr. Rhodes being excluded from the sphere of action in South Africa in which he had done so much we should, as a nation, be guilty of moral turpitude. [Laughter.] It might be going too far to say that Mr. Rhodes should be judged by what was called the "moral meridian." of South Africa; he should, of course, be judged by the standard which obtained in England to-day. ["Hear, hear!"] The hard things that were said of Mr. Rhodes could not be justified if he were judged by ordinary standards, and if we accepted this attempt at revolution as we had accepted revolutions which had occurred in other countries. The Leader of the Opposition had interpreted these telegrams, pieced them together, and edited them as a lawyer might do in a Court of Law; and it was not fair to import prejudice of that kind into the Debate. Until the contrary was proved, why should we not believe that admitted grievances evoked in Johannesburg, as they had in other countries, sympathy with the action of men as they had with the similar action of great men in times past? You could judge of a revolutionary movement only by the motives of those who took part in it, and he would add by the methods they employed. ["Hear, hear!" from the Opposition.] If they had received adequate provocation, if they had eschewed methods of a treacherous character entailing punishment, hardship, and cruelty upon innocent persons who were in no way connected 932 with the grievances; and which would, of course, alienate all sympathy, if their methods were open methods, then, under these conditions, they had had our sympathy. The right hon. Gentleman talked of the perfidy there was in this matter. But a revolutionary committee did not send its plans to the Government. When there was a revolution in Italy, with which many friends of the right hon. Gentleman sympathised, did those who took part in it post up the Italian Government from day to day with their arrangements and take care that nobody lost any money on the Stock Exchange? Yet it was now put forward that the Transvaal Government should have been informed of all that was happening, and that care should have been taken that nobody in London should lose money in consequence. You could only judge of motives by assuring yourself whether there was sufficient provocation. We knew from the remarkable speech of Lord Loch in the House of Commons, and from the letter he sent to the papers two days afterwards, that, in his opinion, 18 months before these lamentable occurrences the atmosphere of Johannesburg was so explosive that the mere appearance of a representative of Her Majesty the Queen would have acted as a spark which would have led to an outbreak. What became then of the talk of an artificial revolution in which Johannesburg took little interest? We knew, upon the authority of the Colonial Secretary, of Lord Ripon, and of the present High Commissioner, that these grievances existed, and that they constituted a menace to the permanence and stability of the Transvaal Government. The morality of a revolution was decided by the motives of those who took part in it, and the legality of it was decided by its success. If the Leader of the Opposition was absolutely convinced of the morality of this revolution, he would not vex his soul about its legality, any more than Lord Palmerston did when the question of foreign enlistment came up in 1860, because Englishmen had gone out to fight with Garibaldi, or, as Lord Palmerston said, see "what Mount Etna was doing." In reply to an attack made upon his Government in this House, Lord Palmerston said:—It is the fault and fortune of Governments when their subjects have revolted that they 933 appeal to all friendly Powers for assistance to remove the men who are the authors and instigators of the revolution. These Governments forget that they are the real and original authors and instigators of these revolutionary movements; and if their prayer were granted, the first, most effectual, and only necessary step would be their own removal.The hon. Member for Northampton had assisted, in the French sense of the word, in revolutions that had taken place in various parts of the world. It was clear, from the speeches and meetings now reaching this country, that there was a great body of Dutch Afrikander opinion which regarded Mr. Rhodes as the saviour of South Africa, and held that, even if he sent Dr. Jameson into the Transvaal, one mistake could not undo his services. Another reason given for the course advocated of ruining Mr. Rhodes and destroying his work was that we should thereby conciliate other Powers. Should we conciliate the Dutch by destroying a work in which many of them were engaged? Should we conciliate Dutch opinion in South Africa by ruining the greatest Statesman South Africa had yet brought forward? There was a great body of Dutch Afrikander opinion in South Africa which still held that Mr. Rhodes was the only man who was able to save the country. This was indicated by the following quotation from a speech by the Hon. P. Bellingan, a Dutchman, a member of the Afrikander Bond, and of the Upper Chamber in the Cape Parliament, as reported in The Port Elizabeth Telegraph of 22nd March 1896:—He wished as an Afrikander to express his views about Mr. Rhodes. Me spoke with great force upon the invaluable services rendered by Mr. Rhodes to South Africa in general, and the Cape Colony in particular. He declined to be a party to the outcry against Mr. Rhodes which some Afrikanders had recently raised, and he said that if even the worst could be proved, and if it were discovered that Mr. Rhodes had sent Dr. Jameson into the Transvaal, one mistake could not undo all his previous great services to South Africa. Mr. Rhodes was a great man, and he admired him, and could not forget what he had done for the Colony.In a letter recently written (dated 25th March 1896) by a prominent member of the Bond may be read this:—People here of all nationalities are not eager to throw over the man (Mr. Rhodes) who has opened up the interior and found them new 934 markets. Rhodes will have the solid support of the Dutch, for I am sure there are quite as many Dutch for him in the Colony as there are EnglishThere were numbers of letters coming over all to the same effect. This problem was a problem for South Africa as a whole. It was said that, unless we hounded down Mr. Rhodes, we should estrange all Dutch opinion, but he was maintaining that this was an absolutely unfounded apprehension. Mr. Hoffman had addressed two crowded meetings of his constituents, which endorsed the high opinions he expressed as to the value of the services of Mr. Rhodes. This was before the recent disclosures, but still the whole matter had been canvassed at the Cape on the assumption that Mr. Rhodes was behind it all. [Cheers.] At the Cape there was no doubt, he meant, that Mr. Rhodes knew of and sympathised with the action of the Johannesburg Committee. The Colonial Secretary had said that Mr. Rhodes, with these telegrams, must have had a knowledge of this revolutionary movement, and must have known that, in certain contingencies, Dr. Jameson's force would be available for the purpose of preventing a greater loss of life. [Opposition laughter.] That was all. The other thing which was known was that Mr. Rhodes did his utmost to prevent Dr. Jameson crossing the border —["Oh, oh!"]—because the contingencies had not arisen. [Cheers.] He left hon. Members to deduce any other view from the telegrams. Of course, it was generally believed at the meeting that Mr. Rhodes sympathised with the attempts of the Uitlanders to obtain the redress of their grievances. Even in the Transvaal itself he believed it would be found that we should get no credit by ignoring the grievances under which the Uitlanders suffer. An idea was prevalent that if we only held our tongues and said nothing for an indefinite period the Dutch of the Transvaal would be disposed to take a much more charitable view of their grievances. There was no foundation whatever for that. In the Transvaal there was a Liberal party, and no one had been more outspoken than Dr. Eugene Marais, editor of Land en Volk. In August last he criticised the Government of the Transvaal in terms more severe than were 935 to be found in Dispatches or the speeches of the Colonial Secretary. Dr. Marais spoke of the unholy monopolies under which the country groaned, and attacked the Government for the corrupt sale of mining rights. Great wrong had, he said, been done to the mining community and to an industry in which all had some stake. The hon. Member for Caithness might say all this had been changed since the raid. He himself believed not. Dr. Marais was one of the men who came to Johannesburg bearing the olive branch, and he believed his part in all these difficulties had been on the side of coming to a real arrangement recognising the grievances under which his fellow-subjects suffered. "Whence," he said, have these evils arisen?" They are not "through any vice or defect in the character of my fellow-countrymen, but because we are a Hollander-ridden nation." On September 26th he gave an account of some great State ceremony, and said that wherever he went, instead of finding a Boer he met a Hollander. He asked, "Do we live in a free Republic?" Could it be wondered that Englishmen who lived alone had in their desperation been driven to revolt. [Opposition cries of "Revolution!"] Attempts to define the word revolution were idle and beside the mark. When a town was held by a revolutionary committee for nine days, the representatives of the Government having retired, and subsequently they handed that town back to the Government, he considered a revolution had taken place, even if a single shot had not been fired. A bloodstained revolution was not wanted. A revolution meant that the representatives of constitutional Government were overturned either by force or other means. But it was sometimes said that by speaking of these matters they were guilty of discourtesy to President Kruger. He had heard that President Kruger liked plain speech, and after reading the Blue-book issued that morning he was convinced that he used it himself. If we were to be courteous we could not found our courtesy on anything but courage and self-respect. No one would thank you for politeness if they thought it sprang from fear. On the contrary, they would despise you for it, and it was not for us in the matter of Mr. Rhodes to adopt an attitude which would estrange the loyalty 936 of our British fellow-subjects in the Transvaal and lose us also the respect of the Dutch races who lived in South Africa. The whole point of the preceding speeches had been that an attack by us on Mr. Rhodes would solve our differences in South Africa. No one in South Africa would thank us for destroying that work of expansion, and progress in which all took pride, and hoped to reap the profit of, for ruining the greatest statesman South Africa had produced. On the contrary, we should lose South Africa instead of gaining it. It was often thought that those who discussed the grievances of the Uitlanders were anxious to criticise the past policy of the country, or make suggestions as to our course for the future. That was not his view. He held that public Dispatches were not printed for private circulation only, or kept in a locked bookcase. They should be put before the people of this country that they might be seized of existing facts in South Africa, so that when the Government of the day announced their policy the people of this country might be in a position to pronounce upon it. It was clear from the Blue-Book just issued that we had reached a diplomatic deadlock in South Africa. But amidst the darkness that baffled and the difficulties that hampered our immediate course they had one ray of light and hope—a statesman at the Colonial Office in whom they had confidence. Even if he had not won it by the able conduct of a game in which he had few cards; even if he had not won it by ability as he had won it by personal sacrifice on behalf of the Empire—if these things were not which were—he stood for England to-day, and before all things it was necessary we should show to friends and enemies alike an undivided front. The Colonial Secretary had been the officer of the watch during the strenuous hours of a sudden storm, and as such, even if they attempted to criticise the orders he might think fit to issue, they could rest, knowing that the port for which he was making was the haven they all hoped to reach. [Cheers.]
§ DR. CLARK (Caithness)
said, he had not heard of a single grievance which would justify menacing the safety of South Africa. He did not know of one in the South African Republic. All the present troubles had been of a mining 937 character. The bulk of the Uitlanders were in the mining industry. What was the grievance with reference to the mining laws of the Transvaal? He had been in mining camps in South Africa. He laid the foundation stone of the first house in Johannesburg. He had been, in mining camps in Australia and California. He knew the mining lands of South Africa, and he contended that the mining lands of that Republic wore more advantageous than in any other colony or country in the world. In the Transvaal where millions were being extracted from the mines, all a man had to do was to mark out his acre, register his name as possessor, and pay 10s. or £1 a month, whether he was a burgher or Uitlander. If a British subject went further north to Mashonaland he had to pay 50 per cent. to the Chartered Company. In Wales they could not go and mark out claims. Rights had to be bought from the landlords and after that a royalty had to be paid to the Government for all the gold obtained. These royalties had been reduced from time to time, but the lower grade ores could not be worked in Wales because of the royalties demanded by the British Government. Contrast that position of affairs with the gold law in the Transvaal which proclaimed as a gold field any district where gold was discovered, where anyone could go and work a mine for 10s. an acre, without paying any royalty, or way-leaves, or anything else. There was no grievance so far as the condition of the gold laws or gold mining were concerned in the Transvaal. There was no country in the world which, in this respect, had shown the same liberality as the Transvaal Government. As to the grievances of the Uitlanders, the first was that the full and complete franchise was not obtained at once by every Uitlander who went into the country. As far as the constitutional position of the Transvaal was concerned, it would compare very favourably with any other country in the world. In England no alien could acquire any political rights until he had been here for five years. He would then have a vote for one Chamber, but, being an alien, he could not be made a Member of that Chamber. What was the position in the Transvaal? After 938 two years any alien in the Transvaal could be naturalised, could vote for a member of the Second Chamber, and after five years he could be a Member of that Chamber. It was said that this Second Chamber in the Transvaal had no power. Had hon. Members ever looked at the Act constituting it? This Second Chamber had power over mines, woods, forests, posts, telegraphs, roads, civil and criminal procedure, bankruptcy and company law, patents, copyright, public health, sanitation, and other matters. It had, indeed, full power over everything in reference to the mining industry and commerce of the country, and the Act constituting it had now been in operation for nearly six years. Certainly the First Chamber had the right of veto as the House of Lords had in this country, but the First Chamber had only exercised this power of vetoing a Bill of the Second Chamber on one occasion. This was in regard to the Penny Postage Bill, which the First Chamber vetoed for one Session, but agreed to in the next. He asserted that there was no grievance in the Transvaal such as would justify the Colonial Secretary or the Government in bringing pressure to bear on the Transvaal Government. He agreed that the powers of the Second Chamber ought to be increased, but urged that its constitution was a fair and honest attempt to meet the necessities of the case, and President Kruger adopted a statesmanlike method of conferring constitutional privileges on the inhabitants of the Transvaal which, after a residence of five years, would enable them to obtain the redress of grievances if they had been brought in a proper fashion before the Government. He was told there was a railway monopoly, a dynamite monopoly, and a tax upon food coming into the country. It was not a Free Trade country, and he should like to ask, when it was said that food was taxed, who began it? It was the Cape Colony who began it a dozen years ago. The Transvaal was comparatively poor, but her people were good growers of tobacco. The Cape Government put a tax of 2s. upon every pound of tobacco coming from the Transvaal into Cape Colony. So far as Cape Colony was concerned, therefore, they had no right to complain. Did not that policy of Protection obtain in America, 939 in every one of our Colonies, in Germany, France, and nearly every civilised State in the world, and yet because the poor South Africans adopted Protection it was a bitter grievance requiring the aid of the Colonial Secretary! He was not himself a Protectionist, but if anything could be said for Protection in any country, then it was that of the South African Republic, because they were surrounded by British territory on three quarters, by Portuguese on the fourth, and they had got to pay heavy taxes to all these surrounding countries to permit goods to come in, and they adopted the policy of granting concessions for the purpose of developing the various industries of the country. The first of these concessions, given in 1881, was for liquor. It was given to an English firm, Messrs. Lewis and Marks, who for the first six or seven years incurred a great loss, having invested a large capital in the enterprise, but who were now reaping a large profit. There was then this celebrated dynamite concession, about which he could speak with some knowledge. It was granted to an English syndicate, who formed a company to work it, known as the South African Pioneer Powder Company. They gave a concession of the sole right to manufacture explosives to a British company on condition that it formed powder mills for the manufacture of explosives in that country. The company, which was established in London, went on for two or three years and then became bankrupt. The Transvaal Government had a large number of shares in it, as it had in all these concessions. These were handed to him on behalf of the Transvaal Government, and when the company went into liquidation he was appointed the liquidator. He wanted to sell the concession, but he could not find anyone to buy it. Ultimately Mr. Kynoch, formerly a Member of that House, bought the powder and cartridge portions and took over the factory. Ho surrendered it to the Transvaal Government, and then a friend of Mr. Beit thought it worth while to take it up, and with Mr. Beit's influence and capital they made a good deal out of it. Then he might take the railways. In 1884, when President Kruger, the Vice President, and the Minister of Education was here, they tried to get money 940 for the purpose of making a railway from Delagoa Bay to Pretoria. The only persons they could get were some not very strong men, who offered to carry through the transaction for 7 per cent., but there was no security that they could complete their contract. The President then crossed over to Amsterdam, and got some satisfactory concessionaires to take it up at 6 per cent. Yet that was one of the very serious grievances they had urged by some aliens in the Transvaal. The Government held a large portion of the shares, and derived a large portion of the income from the company. Being in a position to do it, they adopted the same system of Protection and the same method of developing their home industries as had been adopted by all their own colonies and the United States. It was no grievance in their colonies, and it was no grievance in the United States, and why on earth should it be a grievance in the Transvaal? There were grievances in that country no doubt, but they were not different to what they had in their colonies, in the United States, and in other foreign countries. The Colonial Secretary had argued that the South African Republic had broken the Convention as much as Dr. Jameson and the Chartered Company by reason of its action in regard to Stellaland, Goschen, and Zululand. He did not think the right hon. Gentleman had ever looked into this question, or he would not have brought forward such a very flimsy pretext. The Stellaland case was a very old one. It existed before the annexation of the Transvaal in 1877. It occurred first in 1871. The war broke out in 1881, but it was not then British territory. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to be under the impression that Bechuanaland was then British territory.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
I never said anything of the kind. What I did say was that this incursion was made after Bechuanaland became British territory. That was the time when Sir Hercules Robinson described it in the words I used.
§ DR. CLARK
said, the fight began in 1881, and they proclaimed it British territory in 1884. When the fight was over, the British volunteers and the Boer volunteers united and formed the 941 Republic of Stellaland. The chief members of the Republic were not Boers at all, but British subjects. He wrote some articles and several pamphlets at the time, and brought pressure to bear on the British Government to do something to stop the civil war that was raging there, and, he was glad to say, ultimately something was done to stop it. The same thing occurred in Goschen between two chiefs. Then he would like to ask the right hon. Gentleman why, if there had been any breach of the Convention in the formation of the new Republic of Zululand, did his predecessor, a Conservative and Unionist Colonial Secretary, at once recognise it, at once enter into terms with it, and receive its Consul and officers. The fact of the matter was that either the right hon. Gentleman did not know the facts of the case or he had been imposed upon by his advisers when he made that statement. He was glad the right hon. Gentleman had not repeated in the House the charge of corruption which he brought against the Transvaal Government in another place. He should like to hear some of the facts upon which he made that charge of corruption. He should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman which or how many of the six members of the Transvaal Government were corrupt? If the right hon. Gentleman had got any information to show that either the President or the Commandant-General, who were elected by the people, were corrupt, the sooner the people of the Transvaal knew the better, and he would undertake to say that they would not be elected again. Or if some corruption could be urged against the four members of the Executive elected by the Volksraad, then the sooner the Volksraad knew the better During the last 10 years, when gold had been found and developed in the country, two members of the Executive had died. One had died a poor man, and the other, General Smidt, died last year a poorer man than he was when he became Vice President. He hoped that if they were to hear anything more about this alleged corruption, the right hon. Gentleman would not make vague accusations, but would give them facts in support of his statement. He quite agreed with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bodmin that if they 942 expected gratitude from the Transvaal Government they ought to be able to show some reason for that gratitude. They made a treaty recognising the independence of the Republic in 1851; in 1877, on false pretences, they annexed the country, and in 1881, by the Convention of London, they gave them back, grudgingly, some portion of their independence. Until this country replaced the Transvaal in the same position as it occupied in 1877 it could not expect anything like gratitude to be shown by the Boers.
* MR. FRANCIS NEWDIGATE (Warwickshire, Nuneaton)
said, he interposed in the Debate first, because he had returned from a second visit to South Africa; and secondly, because he neither had a pecuniary interest in the Transvaal nor in the Chartered Company's territory. In listening to the speech of the hon. Member one would imagine that the Transvaal Government was an ideal body; that there was all the freedom of the Newcastle Programme in force in that country; that there was no discontent, and that all this agitation had been got up by capitalists. He denied that this was the genesis of the agitation, and insisted that a great deal needed to be rectified in the Transvaal. He should like to see the Transvaal Republic put on such a basis that Englishmen and Dutchmen could live side by side, that there should be a free exercise of the Constitution, and that all cause for future disturbance should be taken away. No one could doubt that grievances existed at Johannesburg calling for redress, and that on December 30 last President Kruger promised, in reply to a deputation, to redress certain grievances to which his attention had been called. Whatever might be the faults of Mr. Rhodes, and granted that he was at the bottom of the Jameson raid, it should be borne in mind that when it came to the point Mr. Rhodes did his best to prevent Dr. Jameson from entering the Transvaal. [Mr. J. B. ROBERTS: "Only to postpone it."] The hon. Member had not heard Mr. Rhodes's explanation, and it was assumed that the conduct of this man, who had done more than any other man for colonial expansion during the last century, was to be judged by a few telegrams, and as 943 if the country did not otherwise owe him a debt of gratitude. It was said that the Transvaal Government had not broken the conditions of its independence of 1881, by which the Republic was not to increase its boundaries. He recalled the raid into Bechuanaland in 1884, which cost this country £2,000,000, not a penny of compensation being asked from the Dutch. There was an incursion of 500 Boers in 1891 into Rhodesia, and this raid was prevented from crossing the Limpopo by an armed force, and in 1894 the Boers were credited with designs on Amatongaland. Surely hon. Members would not contend that the spirit, if not the letter of the Convention, had not been broken by the intrigues of the Boer Government with foreign Powers. He had himself been told in South Africa by many people, including a gentleman holding a high position in the Transvaal, that the policy of the Boer Republic was to have an understanding with foreign Powers, under which understanding assistance would be given to the Republic in an emergency. The spirit of section 13 of the Convention of 1884, which said that British interests as compared with foreign interests should not suffer in matters of trade, had been violated. As lately as December 28 a Government contract was given for electric lighting in Pretoria, and in the contract the use of English-made plant was forbidden. If a Uitlander gave a receipt he had to put a stamp upon it, but a Boer was not required to do so. Lately it had been proposed to levy a war tax of £20 on every farm owned in partnership. As Boers never owned farms in that way the tax would fall exclusively on the Uitlanders, who did. Then articles which were commonly used by the Boers were not taxed, whilst those which were necessary to the Uitlanders were taxed. In fact, the incidence of taxation was so arranged that nineteen-twentieths of the taxes were contributed by the Uitlanders, who maintained that the taxation was excessive, that no public accounts relating to it were kept, and that it was greatly in excess of the needs of the country. Before a Uitlander could obtain full civil rights he must have been in the country for 14 years. Surely hon. Members opposite who were always advocating the extension of the Franchise, 944 could not approve a law of that kind. Time after time the Uitlanders had asked that their grievances should be redressed. In 1892 the Transvaal National Union was formed, and it was not until 1895 that the capitalists joined in the movement. In 1894 13,000 people, and in 1895 38,500, signed petitions asking for public rights. That disposed of the theory that the agitation was due to the capitalists only. In the Volksraad last year a Member said openly that if the Uitlanders wished to have redress they must fight for it. The only way to insure peace was to declare firmly that this country would not recede from the position taken up in 1884, and that we would do our best to promote the interests of our fellow-subjects in the Transvaal. If we had only the Boers to deal with, a good understanding could be arrived at immediately. It was to the attitude of the Hollanders that the existing difficulties were due, and if we once convinced them that we intended to stand firm, a friendly settlement would result before very long.
§ On the return of the CHAIRMAN, after the usual interval,
MR. BRYN ROBERTS (Carnarvon, Eifion)
said, that he had never heard a more extraordinary proposition put forward in that House than the one in which it was suggested that the existence of a political grievance in one country was a justification, for an inroad by a neighbouring country. There was no country in existence in which there was not some grievance, and if the mere existence of grievances was any justification or extenuation for conduct of this kind, under what principle could we keep the Fenians in gaol? They had rebelled in consequence of grievances which were deeply felt. What were the grievances which the hon. Member made so much of? They were grievances which were involved in the political disputes of all countries. In regard to the question of defective duties, there were a great many people in this country who were utterly opposed to the principles of Free Trade—were they justified in taking violent and hostile action on questions of this kind? The duties that the hon. Member spoke of were simply 945 protective duties on behalf of farmers, and it appeared that in this country we were entitled to pass legislation for the purpose of protecting the interests of farming and agriculture; but that, if any legislation of that kind was passed in the Transvaal, then we were entitled to make an armed incursion with a view of upsetting the Government. Then, the greatest grievance of all was the question, of the Franchise. The hon. Member seemed to think that hon. Members on that side of the House ought to agree with the Jameson raid on that account, and that it was impossible for people to be in favour of the Franchise and yet to be opposed to the methods adopted by Dr. Jameson. The men who complained that they were excluded from the Franchise in the Transvaal had not been in the country ten years; and because aliens who had come into the country in the last ten years had not the full electoral rights, it was argued that they were entitled to rebel. Whole classes of this country had been, not for ten years, but for generations, excluded from the Franchise, even after the question had become a burning question. The first Reform Bill of 1832 was a case in point. The Uitlanders of the Transvaal were fully entitled to work out their political rights, but it must be by political means. It was said that it was admitted that their grievances existed; that might be so to some extent with respect to this Franchise question, but there was a good deal to be said for the position of the Boers even on that point. He thought any country was entitled to pass a law excluding persons from the franchise who had not come with the intention of making that country their permanent home, and the class of people who went to the Transvaal for gold mining purposes went there for the purpose of speculating in mining claims, in order to get as rich as they could in a few years, and then return to England to enjoy their wealth. Men of that class ought never, he contended, to be allowed the Franchise in any country. It was to secure certainty in this respect, that the Boers wished to maintain this long period. If the Transvaal were a purely agricultural country, he thought it might be more reasonable to have a shorter period, because when a man went to a country to 946 farm the land and make improvements upon it, he generally acquired an affection for the land, and went there to stay. Thousands of men had gone from this country to America as agricultural settlers, and he did not think that one per cent., or one per thousand had returned. Supposing the United States were to pass a law enacting that the Franchise should only be given to native born men—a condition which already existed in regard to the eligibility for the office of President—would this country have the slightest right to intervene? Would they even,—as the Colonial Secretary thought they had—have the right to expostulate or advise? Nothing of the kind. The only case in which we should have had the right to remonstrate with the Transvaal Government would have been if there were special laws directed against the English as such—for instance, if the Franchise were given in the Transvaal to incomers from other nations in five years, while Englishmen had to wait 14 years for it—but this was not the case. It was an absurd complaint that the Reform Union had not been able in its four years of existence to obtain the reform of the Franchise: in this country the Liberation Society had been in existence for 40 years, and had not yet been successful in its efforts to remove a grievance which was deeply felt, but its members were not, therefore justified in starting a rebellion and calling in the assistance of France or the United States. They were told by the Colonial Secretary that Mr. Rhodes tried to stop the incursion at the last moment. If he had tried to stop it because he repented of the evil that he was going to do, because he saw the infamy of his proceeding, that would be a reason for showing leniency. But he did not try to stop it, but simply to postpone it, and that was because he discovered facts which disclosed the possibility of a fiasco occurring. Then it was said we owed a debt of gratitude to Mr. Rhodes. Assuming that was so, it was only ground for mitigation of punishment. Why should it be taken as a defence of a man who had been guilty of a gross and public breach of trust which had compromised this country in the face of the whole world? But was this country as much indebted to Mr. Rhodes as was represented? We 947 were indebted to Mr. Rhodes for one thing for which this country ought to be for ever ashamed, and that was the raid upon the Matabele, than which the history of crime recorded no blacker page. The evidence was clear and indisputable of the complicity of Mr. Rhodes and the Chartered Company. He did not say that the Directors in London knew of what was going to take place, for they were mere dummies, who were afraid of acting even now, except with the consent of Mr. Rhodes, but the Company itself were responsible for its managing director, and it was absurd to refer the question, to a Joint Committee of the two Houses. On the question of sordid motives, the hon. Member for Dover said he was commissioned on behalf of Mr. Rhodes and Mr. Beit to deny that they were actuated in any way by financial considerations. What was the denial of these two men worth? Did not Mr. Rhodes give assurances to the Colonial Secretary when in this country that he knew nothing whatever about the raid, and were not those assurances lying assurances? ["Oh!"] If he lied in one case why were they to believe him now? He regretted the decision come to by the Colonial Secretary. The right hon. Gentleman's speech came to a weak and impotent conclusion; he gave himself away completely. He was afraid the right hon. Gentleman had lost his courage, and that he had been cowed by the opposition of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen beside and behind him. He had failed to show the strength he was believed to possess, and which he hoped he might again show in the future, though he had failed on this occasion.
§ * MR. C. J. DARLING (Deptford)
thought the Colonial Secretary showed far more courage in the line he had taken than if he had yielded to the noisy clamour which always assailed a person who had done an unsuccessful thing in a particularly daring way. As for the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, it was one which any barrister of three years' standing could have made, supplied with letters half as incriminating as those which he had at his disposal. Most people would come to the conclusion that the Colonial Secretary showed the truest courage in not at the moment resolving to reverse the whole policy of Ministry 948 after Ministry—namely, to maintain the claim of this country to be the paramount Power in South Africa. The late Government were in office three years ago, and "extra-legal" was the word applied by their Leader to every kind of outrage that could be committed. The most interesting question was that with which the right hon. Gentleman's speech did not deal. He had not said one word about the grievances of the Uitlanders, and after listening to the speech one would never suppose that there were any grievances. He did not care to argue the matter on a priori grounds. He should take from the Blue-book a much more authoritative declaration than that of the hon. Member below the Gangway, who, he understood, was not wholly independent. In this Blue-book there is a communication dated January 4th, from Sir W. F. Hely-Hutchinson:—I think it may be safely said that when the Manifesto was issued by the National Union on the 27th ultimo the feeling in Natal in favour of the Uitlanders and their claims was practically unanimous. All the people of British race were certainly convinced of the justice, in the main, of the Uitlanders' claims, and the Dutch farmers in Natal felt that the removal of the crushing food duties, at all events, would be in their interests. There are not a few people of Dutch extraction, both in the Transvaal and in Natal too, who highly disapprove of the policy adopted by president Kruger towards the Uitlanders. With regard to Dutch opinion in Natal, I forward a translation of an article from the Naval Afrikander of the 1st instant, written before the news of Dr. Jameson's incursion had been received, which unreservedly condemns the altitude adopted by President Kruger towards the Uitlanders, and recommends him to yield to their demands.On the other side of the page there was the translation of the article addressed by Dutchmen to Dutchmen, and it was headed "Do Be Careful." This article recognised the grievances which the hon. Member opposite said did not exist, and it implored President Kruger to be careful, lest he might bring about an armed revolution. That was before the raid, which he would not and could not justify. It is perfectly well known that President Kruger expressed himself willing to remedy the grievances, but there is always some excuse—just as he found an excuse for not coming to London—for not doing an awkward and inconvenient thing.
§ * MR. DARLING
asked, was it "a good thing too" not to remedy admitted grievances? When grievances were shown to exist, when they were admitted by the highest authority, they ought to be removed.
§ * MR. DARLING
said he should not be drawn into that discussion, but he remembered that when an outrage was committed in the interest of Home Rule it was likened to ringing the chapel bell to call attention to things which needed redress. It could not be denied that the Uitlanders had grievances, for in the Blue-book President Kruger said that "he hoped to remedy some of them, but now he dare not do it." They were told they should look with extreme horror on the raid into neutral territory of a friendly State. Well, technically the Transvaal was a friendly State, just as one lawyer was the friend of another—[laughter]—but it was friendly in a technical sense and no other. There was not the slightest attempt to loyally observe the Convention signed in 1884. He denied the raid was unprecedented. He remembered to have read of a certain Mazzini, and who was his friend here? Sir James Stansfeld, who supported him through thick and thin, and was the treasurer of the fund.
§ * MR. DARLING
True, he resigned his position in the Government, but that Liberal Government declared that they did not in the least see why he should. ["Hear, hear!"] He found in Mr. Justin McCarthy's book the statement that in 1860 Lord John Russell admitted in the House of Commons that it would be impossible to put into execution our laws against foreign enlistments, for every political party was concerned in breaking them at one time or another, that while he was speaking a legion might be formed in one place to fight for Victor Emmanuel against the Pope, and in another place a legion might be formed to fight for the Pope against Victor Emmanuel. Every refugee was free to make this country the base of operations against the 950 Government which caused his exile. That was the statement of so unimpeachable an authority as the hon. Member for Longford, in his "History of Our Own Times." No doubt, for London to be a base of operations against several foreign Powers was dishonourable; but we had survived it; and the person who urged the taking up of arms on behalf of Greece against Turkey was only regarded now as a great poet. If anyone in the Daily News wrote a poem or a prose article urging the taking up of arms against Turkey, hon. Members thought it was quite right. Yet, why was it not just as much a violation of our duty to a friendly State, as a raid into the Transvaal? But we had real interests at stake; and it was important that in a moment of natural indignation we should not do that which we might afterwards regret. The question must be approached with a knowledge of those with whom we were dealing. While the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Mon mouth was quoting Canning, why did he not remember the lines:—In matters of commerce, the fault of the Dutch Is in giving too little and asking too much.The Dutch were likely to exhibit the same fault in matters of politics. Indeed, they did give far too little to the Uitlanders, and not only did they ask too much, but they took it by making the Uitlanders pay all the taxes. It was to forget a great deal of history to believe that the question of South Africa lay between Great Britain and the Transvaal. If, in a moment of exasperation with those who certainly had shown no regard for our interests and difficulties, we absolutely threw over the Chartered Company because they had been badly served by some of their men, it would not be regarded as an act of magnimity by any foreign Powers; but as an act of downright folly. And no sooner should we have acted on the noble sentiment which only the right hon. Member for Bodmin professed, and on which no foreign Statesman ever acted, than we should find another Power ready to take what we left, and with no regard for the independence of the Transvaal and the rights of Treaties. This was no notion of his own. He had no tenderness for the Chartered Company, except as far 951 as their abandonment might be injurious to the country. What did hon. Members opposite think would happen if we let the Africanders think that at the first gust we were going to throw up the whole South African game as too big for us to play? He would refer hon. Members to Vol. 56 of "Accounts and Papers," dated 1884, and labelled "South Africa." There they would find a Dispatch from Sir Bartle Frere to Lord Kimberley, dated July 19, 1880, transmitting the translation of an article by Ernst von Weber, published in Berlin in 1879, and described as having attracted much attention in South Africa. This article contained a clear and well-argued statement in favour of a plan of German colonisation in South Africa, much discussed in German political and commercial circles even before the Franco-German war. It stated that a new empire, possibly more valuable and brilliant even than the Indian Empire waited in the newly-discovered central Africa for the Power which should possess sufficient power and courage to acquire it; that it would make a magnificent recruiting-ground for Germany; that the aversion of the Boers for the English Government was intense; and that the rumour of the Russian acquisition of Delagoa Bay was hailed with delight by the Boers. That was transmitted to Prince Bismarck. Did anyone imagine that this scheme of acquiring South Africa for Germany had been abandoned? Why did Dr. Leyds go to Berlin? At the moment when he was ostensibly consulting an oculist, the agitation in Johannesburg somehow became acute. The people in South Africa knew what was meant. And what was the first result of the raid? The German Emperor's telegram was not so much an impulsive expression of the German Emperor's feelings, as an indication of the hope that at last the well-matured plan of von Weber was within a measurable distance of realisation. Prince Bismarck would never have sent that telegram; he was not an admirer of al fresco diplomacy, and neither was he (Mr. Darling). But the telegram was sent, and it was a remarkable thing that that telegram was the first notice taken by any foreign Power of an event which fell in very well indeed to help forward the views of those who had submitted 952 to the rulers of Germany that the proper thing for Germany to do was by every means in their power to oust the influence of England from South Africa. This was a much bigger question than merely what should be done; to Mr. Rhodes. We had to deal with business people, and we had to deal with the Germans, who were ready to take advantage of any slip that might be made. We knew from that Dispatch what was the Germans' view with regard to South Africa. What was done was unwise, and, from the point of view of this country, most deplorable and regrettable. It had put us in one of the greatest difficulties England had ever been placed in, but that was no reason why we should lose our heads, why we should make a present of South Africa to the Germans. He rejoiced, therefore, to find the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Colonies had chosen to take a courageous course and not to yeid to the clamour which had such fascination for the Leader of the Opposition and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bodmin.
§ MR. HENRY LABOUCHERE (Northampton)
said the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Deptford was, he believed, a devoted follower of the Government. Had it not been so, he should have been under the impression that the speech just delivered was intended to have an obstructive effect—indeed, he believed that was the object of it. The fact was the case of the Government was so bad that they were exceedingly anxious the Committee should have as little time as possible to expose it. Now, he approached this subject in no spirit hostile to the right hon. Gentleman the Colonial Secretary. He admired the energy and decision with which the right hon. Gentleman acted when we first heard of the raid. He was aware of the influences and the difficulties the right hon. Gentleman had to contend with, not only in South Africa, but in England. The fact was that in the last two or three years exceedingly shady financiers had carried on a gambling establishment with the Union Jack flying over it—[laughter]—and society, the aristocracy of the country, had rallied to that establishment and punted at it. [Renewed laughter.] Naturally, now when they found the police were inclined to take them in 953 hand, they banded themselves together and wanted their shop to continue to carry on its most remunerative business. He had always said that, this Chartered Company was one of thy most disgraceful and scandalous companies that ever existed—[laughter and Cheers.]—and, considering what companies were, that was saying a good deal. [Renewed laughter.] But in the last Parliament he was in the position of Cassandra—he prophesied evil, he said what would happen, how our good name would be injured if steps were not taken to put an end to this company, and no one would listen to him. Now, however, everybody practically admitted the truth of all he said. ["No, no!"] The Colonial Secretary said the raids which had been committed in times past by the inhabitants of the Transvaal might be regarded as a set off against the raid which had just taken place into the Transvaal. But the raids of times past were the raids of private individuals of a very doubtful order. If President Kruger had got up a revolution in Cape Town, had attempted to change the Government and had kidnapped Sir Hercules Robinson, then, perhaps, the one might have been set off against the other. He had no complaint to make in regard to the right hon. gentleman's contemplated action towards the Transvaal. He was sure the right hon. gentleman as a practical business man would give excellent advice to President Kruger, but whether President Kruger would follow it, when he was told that if he did not follow it nothing would happen, was another matter. [Laughter.] The hon. member for Dover had started him by declaring that revolutions were always right.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said, there was a good deal of concession for a Conservative in that view. [Laughter.] He for one was always in favour of revolution when people had not got their rights and were unable to obtain them by constitutional means. [Ministerial cheers and counter-cheers.] But this revolution in Johannesburg was not attempted for the sake of the rights of the people. It was got up by a gang of financiers many of whom resided either in England or at 954 the Cape, and most of the Uitlanders declined to join it on discovering the secret objects of these financiers. Some hon. gentlemen opposite were fond of boasting of what a glorious thing it was to be an Englishman; and he wondered what they thought of those Uitlanders who had declared that they were ready to throw off their allegiance to this country and become citizens of the Republic if they only got votes. [Cheers and laughter.] The main grievance of the Uitlanders seemed to be that they objected to indirect taxation. He had always been opposed to indirect taxation; but he confessed that he had not the slightest intention of descending to the streets with a rifle and inaugurating a revolution—[laughter.]—in order to exchange indirect for direct taxation. The fact was, that those men were making enormous profits: the taxes they had to pay were exceedingly small in proportion to the profits, and therefore, while he admitted that they had certain grievances, he had not much sympathy for them in regard to those grievances. ["Hear, hear."] The second section of the speech of the Colonial Secretary had not pleased him so much as the first part. The right hon. gentleman appeared to him to be a good man struggling under difficulties. There was a hollow ring about the right hon. gentleman's praises of Mr. Rhodes; and he was inclined to think that if the right hon. gentleman had been given a free hand by his colleagues not much more would be heard of Mr. Rhodes as an employé of the Chartered Company. [Cheers.] It was said that Mr. Rhodes had done good work by expanding the area of the Empire. The expansion of which so much was heard was a mere incident in an endeavour on the part of a gambling gang, of which Mr. Rhodes was the head [Ministerial cries of "Oh, oh!"], to get money from the public by floating rotten companies. [Renewed cries of "Oh, oh!"] How was the Chartered Company formed? A mining concession was obtained from Lobengula, and then Rhodes and Rudd came to England and asked for a charter. The answer of the Government was,We know very little of you, and what we do know does not lead us to trust you; therefore, if we give you the charter, we must add a certain number of directors as evidence of good faith.955 Accordingly two Dukes (Fife and Abercorn), Earl Grey, and that eminent banker the member for West Marylebone (Sir H. Townsend Farquhar), were added to the Directors, and the charter was then given to "our truly beloved" Rhodes and Rudd. [Laughter.] The concession was afterwards repudiated by Lobengula, but that was a mere detail. But no sooner had these gentlemen obtained this vague concession of mining rights than they got up a company. The capital was set down as one million sterling. He need not say that no money passed, the million being divided in shares among the promoters of the company, of which Mr. Rhodes was one. They were allowed to look for gold in Mashonaland; they borrowed money in an extraordinary fashion of the De Beers Company, of which, again, Mr. Rhodes was a member, and built a fort in the country. But, notwithstanding the inducements put forth, the public did not take kindly to the shares, which consequently fell from £1 to 10s. It was soon discovered that there was absolutely no gold in Mashonaland, and the shares became worthless. Then came the Matabele war. He would not go into that matter, but he was confident that every Member who carefully read the Blue-books which had been published would agree with him in thinking that there never was a more disgraceful episode in the history of our country than that war. [Cheers and Ministerial laughter.] That war, which resulted in the massacre of a large number of natives and the conquering of the country for the benefit of the Chartered Company, cost England £80,000. The company then established themselves in Matabeleland, and the same game was played. Matabeleland was declared to be a perfect El Dorado—to be full of gold. A few settlers went there, and they were mostly of that kind of people who seek to prey upon others—lawyers—[laughter]—auctioneers, prospectors, and gin-sellers—[laughter]—and these people built houses at Bulawayo for the reception of those who were to rush in on the search for gold. But, unfortunately, it turned out that there was no more gold to be found in Matabeleland than in Mashonaland. [Laughter.] What did the promoters do? As soon as the war was over and chey had obtained Matabeleland, they 956 pointed out to their subservient company that, besides the shares they had given themselves in the commencement, they had certain founders' shares, for which they called on the company to give them one million ordinary shares of the company. Therefore, they got not only the greater part of the first million, but they got this second million, and, as they required a certain amount of money, 500,000 more shares were issued at an enormous percentage. Let hon. Members consider what those gentlemen gained by their self-sacrificing patriotism. Owing to the disgraceful conduct of the English Press—[Cries of "Oh, oh!"]— the £1 shares of the company rose at one time to £9, so that, putting aside the first million, the second million of the shares came to be worth nine millions sterling. [Cheers and laughter.] Patriotism in this case was singularly blessed with financial success. [Laughter.] Well, when those gentlemen found there was no gold to be had in Matabeleland, and that the prices of the shares they still held must be kept up, they resolved that something must be done. They cast their eyes on the Transvaal. [Laughter] The first step, then, was to obtain a slice of Bechuanaland, because no part of Matabeleland absolutely touched the Transvaal frontier. Having done this, they proceeded to conspire with the view of getting hold of something in the Transvaal. With the help of a number of the Uitlanders, most of whom were confederates of the Rhodes gang of financiers, they started an agitation in the Transvaal ostensibly on behalf of the Uitlanders. At the same time, those men—some in the Transvaal and some in Cape Town., and elsewhere, but all connected with the Chartered Company in some way—agreed to purchase arms; the De Beers Company, the Chartered Company, and the Goldfields Company purchased arms. Mr. Rhodes and Mr. Rudd were managing directors of this Goldfields Company, and he might incidentally mention, to show how financial considerations operated in these matters, that he had seen in the newspapers that a meeting of the company was held in order to accept their resignations. But the resignations were to be paid for. They were given shares that they could sell at that time for £1,200,000. Was there ever known such 957 guinea-pigging in excelsis? [Laughter.] Well, having got up an agitation in the Transvaal, those persons collected their men together. Then we had the letter with the story of the danger of the women and children in Johannesburg. A revolution was to break out in Johannesburg, and Dr. Jameson and his force were to rush across the frontier on the pretext that he was going to protect the women and children from the Boers. He should like to know something more about that letter. As The Times devoted so much attention to South African affairs, perhaps it would be good enough to state how it obtained that letter on the day of the raid. ["Hear, hear!"] That would be a very great deal more interesting to the country than the longwinded eulogiums of Mr. Rhodes that appeared in that paper. Although the men were collected, their policy broke down at last. The confederates of Mr. Rhodes were anxious that Dr. Jameson should arrive with the Union Jack flying, and that the Transvaal should be annexed to the Chartered Company's territory. The mass of the Uitlanders were not in favour of this; they wished to remain under the flag of the Republic; they simply desired that their grievances should be remedied Rightly or wrongly, they thought they had a right to fight for that; but they had no desire to be separated from the Transvaal and to become Chartered Company's men. The Colonial Secretary said Mr. Rhodes had mitigated his crimes by not expressing his approval of Dr. Jameson forcing the frontier; but it was not quite clear that Mr. Rhodes did express his disapproval. What he expressed his disapproval of was the forcing of the frontier on a particular day; the raid was not to be stopped entirely, but it was to be put off to a more convenient season. What did the telegrams reveal? That he, the Premier of the Cape, telegraphed to his subordinate a number of lies—a number of lies that were to be told in order to escape complicity in this movement. ["Oh, oh!" and cheers.] He suggested the putting forward of certain pleas and excuses that were absolutely false. Thus Mr. Rhodes used his position to promote his personal sordid interests.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
I do not care; I have got no Leader. [Great laughter.] It was not a question of who said Yes or No; it was a question of fact. They knew perfectly well that Mr. Rhodes was an enormous holder of Chartered Company's shares. They knew that if the raid had succeeded the shares would have gone up by leaps and bounds. Mr. Rhodes would have benefited, and therefore he acted for his own sordid interests. He, a Premier of the Cape, a Privy Councillor, who had taken the oath to do nothing injurious to his Queen and country, concealed the truth from Sir Hercules Robinson. In this he acted in a most base manner; and he did more; when he was asked whether he had any connection with this raid he denied it, and that was a deliberate falsehood on his part. ["No!"] Did that "No" mean that Mr. Rhodes did not make the denial, or that he was in no way connected with the raid? As a matter of fact it was proved he was one of the promoters of the raid. He came to England and had an interview with the Colonial Secretary, to whom he stated that he had nothing to do with the matter.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
No, Sir; he said nothing to me about it. I had the statements which have been published in the Blue-book, but he said nothing to me.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
continued that that was much the same thing. ["No, no!"] The right hon. Gentleman stated that he believed—and probably he should have done the same thing—that Mr. Rhodes had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with this movement. The incredible meanness of the man was seen in one thing. Dr. Jameson being under arrest for trial in this country, Mr. Rhodes did not come forward and say, "I am in England; I am responsible; bring your charges against me and I will answer them." There was not an hon. Gentleman opposite who, if he had been in the same position as Mr. Rhodes, would have acted in the same mean and despicable manner. He did not mind wolves, but he objected to them in sheep's clothing. He knew 959 nothing more contemptible than for a man to pose as a great patriot, and from there to be found at the bottom of his plans and schemes devices to obtain money from other people for himself. [Ministerial cries of "Oh!"] But it was a matter of hard arithmetic. If there was an honourable tradition amongst English statesmen it was that they never made money by their position. Mr. Rhodes had disgraced and dishonoured that high and holy tradition of which we were proud as a nation. How did Mr. Rhodes gain by the conspiracy? There was no gold in Mashonaland, but there was a great deal in many parts of the Transvaal, and the object of the conspiracy was to-day hold of those parts where there was gold and annex them to the Chartered land. The company, would, therefore, have an opportunity of taxing the people who already had mines and imposing conditions upon all others who opened mines. The condition in the Chartered land was the enormous royalty of 50 per cent. to the Chartered Company. It was easy to understand that if there was no gold in the Chartered land and they could get hold of the gold in the Transvaal and charge 50 or even 25 per cent., the Chartered Company's shares would have gone up enormously and Mr. Rhodes and his confederates would have reaped a large profit. The board of directors were the poorest creatures that ever ran on two legs. [Laughter.] They advised the resignation of Mr. Rhodes. But before doing so they decided to ask Mr. Rhodes himself. Fancy! They might as well ask a criminal in the dock: "Shall we discharge you or not?" Mr. Rhodes treated them with the utmost contempt; he knew them, and said, "Let resignation wait," and—so like Mr. Rhodes, who was always playing to the gallery—[Ministerial cries of "Oh!"]—he ended with Napoleonic swagger, "We fight Matabele to-morrow." [Ministerial cheers.] Mr. Maguire was the representative of Mr. Rhodes in this country and on the board of directors. He asked the hon. Member for Marylebone, whom he saw present, whether at the meeting of directors that day it was elicited from Mr. Maguire that he went behind his brother directors and telegraphed to Mr. Rhodes "Don't resign"? Then Mr. Hawksley, solicitor 960 to the company and Dr. Jameson, and private solicitor to Mr. Rhodes, in a letter to "My dear Duke" gave a certificate of virtue to Mr. Rhodes. If every one were to benefit by a 6s. 8d. certificate to his virtue from his solicitor there would be no wicked men in the world. [Laughter.] Mr. Hawksley in his letter to "My dear Duke"—[laughter.]—said:—I know Mr. Rhodes in doing so"—he supposed the raid was alluded to—''was actuated by the supreme desire to preserve the Chartered Company, for he regards Rhodesia with its white population, of almost exclusively English subjects, as the bulwark of Imperial interests in South Africa, and his life work has been devoted to the extension of the Empire.[Laughter and Ministerial cheers.] It was to be left to the directors to say whether Mr. Rhodes should resign or not. The Government should insist upon his resigning. Was Mr. Beit to remain a director of the Company? The hon. Member for Dover read a sort of declaration from Mr. Beit that Mr. Beit was actuated by the noblest motives and made no money by being so actuated. [Laughter.] For himself he did not believe it. Whether Mr. Beit—who seemed to be a shade worse than Mr. Rhodes—was to remain on the Board of the Company he did not know. His "noblest motives" could not have been patriotic because he was a German, and, therefore, presumably not eager for the extension of the British Empire. He should like to know something about these noble dukes and earls. He did not wish to charge any men with anything which they did not really do. He did not know which directors were honest and which dishonest, but he would say this—that, honest or dishonest, they were everyone of them most unquestionably guilty of culpable negligence, seeing what they had done and what they allowed to be done. It was also culpable negligence on the part of the Government itself, to leave this vast territory, with the troubles surrounding us in South Africa, under the rule and administration of this particular company. He was told, and he believed, that when the Committee to which the right hon. Gentleman had alluded was established it would be proved that Mr. Beit, Dr. Rutherford Harris, and several other gentlemen of that kidney 961 met together in the city. They considered that although they might eventually gain by laying hold of this portion of the Transvaal, undoubtedly the first effect of a raid there would be that there would be a heavy fall in all the shares of the South African market. They therefore, confederated together and employed a gentleman to sell for them—what was called in the City an enormous "bear" in these securities, in order that they might gain. But there was a little coldness among these gentlemen themselves, because, although they had all agreed to sell on a joint account, it was found that the worthy Dr. Rutherford Harris had anticipated them and quietly effected a little sale of 10,000 shares for himself before the fall. Why, there was not even honour among thieves! The Colonial Secretary said that before taking action himself regarding Mr. Rhodes he was desirous to learn what was the opinion in South Africa. With all respect to the right hon. Gentleman, he would point out that, important as opinion in South Africa was, the matter concerned primarily the honour of this country. He had shown how Mr. Rhodes deliberately and dishonourably concealed what was going on from Sir Hercules Robinson, how he urged his subordinates to tell lies to cover his track, how he denied all connection with the matter, and left Dr. Jameson here as his scapegoat to suffer for him. Would any statesman in this country against whom one-half of this could be shown have been continued by any Government or House of Commons in a position of public trust? He should fancy the opinion of South Africa would pronounce against him, and he hoped, if it did, the right hon. Gentleman would act with the energy he showed at the commencement of these proceedings, and would see that Mr. Rhodes and Mr. Beit ceased all connection with the Company. They had had allusions to public opinion abroad. He thought it was exceedingly important in this matter they should have regard to public opinion abroad. Supposing this had been Germany, that the leading director of the company had been stepson to the heir of the German Throne, and an eminent duke of great social position had been the president of 962 the Company. Supposing the Government of Damaraland had been found connected with the matter and a raid had been arranged by a company with these people, the directors, and that the Governor of Damaraland was also managing director of the company, would not our newspapers say that, unless the Government of Germany acted with energy in the matter, and put an end to the connection of all these people with this country, they should believe to the end of all time that the German Government was connected with the raid? He did not for a moment suggest or believe that the Government, directly or indirectly, knew of this raid; but it seemed to him they were bound, for the honour of the country and also for their own, absolutely to put an end to all sort of connection of the Government with these people associated with the Chartered Company. Remember, this Chartered Company was acting under a Charter from the Queen. It was assuming responsibilities there. Its responsibilities were the same as those of the Government, and the great administrative powers which had been conferred upon the Company ought not, in the interests of the honour of the country, to be left in their hands any longer. It should also be insisted that Mr. Rhodes and Mr. Beit should sever their connection with the Company. They knew perfectly well that there must be a race feeling existing on the part of the Afrikanders, and when the Republic which represented the kingship, as it were, of their race in Africa was so basely attacked as it had been in the present instance, the Afrikanders would feel that this country ought in no way, directly or indirectly, to support the man who abused the position which the Afrikanders had put him into as Premier of the Cape, in order to make this attack on his brother Afrikanders. He asked, how could they possibly, with any force, urge on their legal officers the trial of Dr. Jameson, who admittedly was the mere instrument of Mr. Rhodes, when they said that Mr. Rhodes, taking him altogether, was so noble a patriot that, not only was he not to be prosecuted, but he was to be permitted to retain his position of trust? Was he to remain 963 a Privy Councillor too? Dr. Jameson, his instrument, was to be put in the dock, whilst Mr. Rhodes was not only to be beslavered with praise in the English newspapers and by some hon. Gentlemen in that House, but he was to remain in the honoured position of a Privy Councillor of this country. He deeply regretted the decision of the Colonial Secretary in this matter, and was sorry he had not followed out the determined, wise, and energetic action that so distinguished his conduct when this raid was first announced. With respect to the investigation, whilst he had not the slightest objection to a Committee, he did object to a Joint Committee of the House of Commons and the House of Lords, which was, he believed, contrary to the precedent set in the case of the inquiries into the East India Company's Charter. This was a matter which concerned the Commons. Let the Lords have their Committee if they liked, but let the Commons have their Committee. He admitted fully there was something in the plea the right hon. Gentleman urged in regard to Dr. Jameson's trial. He had asked for years for an investigation into the affairs of the Chartered Company, and he was glad that they were to have that investigation, although it was to be put off. There was, however, one point which he would like to mention to the Colonial Secretary. When was the trial of Jameson going to take place? He had read that the police court proceedings had been adjourned until June, so that the trial would not take place until Parliament rose. They would, in all probability, not have the Committee till next year. He would not even complain of that if the right hon. Gentleman would provisionally suspend, so to say, the Chartered Company—[Ministerial laughter]—and particularly those officials of whom they had a right to complain. He did gather from the right hon. Gentleman that the Chartered Company was to pay all the expenses of the war, and also the indemnity which would most legitimately be demanded by President Kruger. But the Chartered Company, he understood, had only got £500,000 or £600,000. It seemed to him that the indemnity could not be under £1,000,000—he hoped it would be more—[laughter]—and they knew perfectly well how 964 much these wars had frequently cost. He did not see, therefore, how the Company could meet these demands out of the £600,000. He would suggest that the Colonial Secretary should lay his hands upon all the moneys of the Chartered Company—[Ministerial laughter]—because he exceedingly distrusted these people, and he suspected that when the right hon. Gentleman sent in his bill he would find that there was nothing with which to pay. He would also ask the right hon. Gentleman whether they might hope that he would notify the telegraph company that the telegrams which passed between Mr. Rutherford Harris and Mr. Beit on this side and some one on behalf of Mr. Rhodes on the other side in May and June of last year must be kept, as they might come in very useful in connection with the contemplated investigation. [Cheers.] He admitted that he was a Little Englander; but he accepted facts, and he perfectly agreed with the right hon. Gentleman that, taking things as they were at present, they ought to be absolutely paramount south of the Zambesi river. He perfectly agreed with the right hon. Gentleman that they ought not to allow Germany or any other country to interfere as regarded the foreign relations of the Transvaal Republic—[cheers.]—but he would also point out that if that country was to get on it must absolutely depend upon harmony and good feeling between the Dutch population and the English population. Let them never forget, putting aside the Transvaal and the Orange Free State, that in the Cape Town Colony itself there was a majority of Afrikanders, and it was to him a horrible idea that possibly they might be engaged in a great war there. They would have to send 50,000 or 60,000 men, and he had no doubt they would prove successful in putting down all resistance, but what a heritage of woe they would leave there. [Cheers.] That was why he was so anxious in regard to this question, and he could assure hon. Gentlemen opposite he was in no sort of way speaking as a Little Englander. He considered that the honour of England and of the British Empire, and especially of South Africa, was concerned, and that they should take at once the most determined 965 steps to put an end to a connection with a Company which had been a disgrace to them for many a year. [Cheers.]
§ * MR. ROBERT YERBURGH (Chester)
said, that he did not propose to intervene at any great length in this Debate, but as a friend of the man who had been attacked in the House from the opposite side, he should like to raise his voice on his behalf. He thought the hon. Member for Northampton had distinguished himself in a manner that was not altogether congenial to the English mind. He had attacked a man in the strongest terms, picking out passages here and there to make the case against him as black as possible in his absence and when he was quite unable to defend himself.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
I said that Mr. Rhodes was said in the newspapers to have come over here "to face the music." Why is he not here to "face the music"?
§ * MR. YERBURGH
My friend, as I am proud to call him, is "facing the music.'' [Cheers.] When he has disposed of this trouble threatening our interests in Matabeleland he will again return to this country to "face the music" here. [Cheers.] He had known Mr. Rhodes from his earliest life. He had never held a share in any of the companies associated with the name of Mr. Rhodes, and, therefore, he could speak all the more freely on the subject. What had been Mr. Rhodes's career? He did not say that his career had been without faults; whose career has been? but he asserted that it had been a great one, animated throughout by a love of his country. If it was a sin to love one's country, then Mr. Rhodes was the most offending soul alive. Throughout his career Mr. Rhodes had given every proof of devotion to his country. He reminded the House of the part played by Mr. Rhodes in the Bechuanaland troubles of 1884, in the course of which he took a distinguished part in averting the calamities of war. After that he devoted his services to the promotion of the interests of the Cape, and the Secretary for the Colonies had borne witness to the marvellous improvement effected there by his genius and his ability. If anyone studied the map it would be seen that the great danger which had to be faced in South Africa 966 was the extension of German territory in the direction of the Transvaal. That contingency was foreseen by Mr. Rhodes, and he assisted in averting it, and, largely owing to his ability, this country stood, beyond dispute or fear of challenge, the paramount Power in South Africa. He did not wish to minimise the grave error that Mr. Rhodes might have committed—if they accepted the telegrams as establishing that error—but let the House consider what lay before him. There were two dangers to face. On the one hand there was the danger of German intrigues in conjunction with the policy of the Transvaal, a conjunction which might have threatened the paramount Power in South Africa. If hon. Members wished evidence on the point, let them note the speech of the President of the Transvaal Republic, made in celebration of the birthday of the German Emperor, in which he referred to the position of the English population, and made the declaration that the Boers looked to Germany "as a child regarded its father." In face of the admissions made on that occasion Mr. Rhodes was justified in believing in the fears of German intrigue and the consequent in jury to the interests of the paramount Power. The second danger was that the inhabitants of Johannesburg, dissatisfied through not receiving that friendly assistance from their own country which they had every right to expect, might have been led to come to terms with the Transvaal Government and thus to lay the foundation of a State which in its inception would be actuated by anything but kindly feelings to this country, and which, making common cause with the Dutch population in the other States and Colonies, would establish a Federation unfriendly to this country, with the possible result that Great Britain would be driven out of South Africa. What was the great need of South Africa at present? Was it not the commercial development of its territories? Who was the best man by his ability and knowledge to undertake the work? Was he not Mr. Rhodes? In the German White-book there was a passage in which the German Foreign Secretary intimated that the union of all the South African States under the united flag would not be favourable to German interests, as it would result in 967 a commercial monopoly for the Cape Colony, and in the exclusion of German trade. In his (Mr. Yerburgh' s) opinion, the disappearance of Mr. Rhodes from the sphere of South African politics would lead to the commercial advancement of Germany in that part of the world, and would consequently result in detriment to Great Britain. The right hon. Member for Bodmin had asked the Committee to be generous in its dealings with the Transvaal. He asserted that this country had been generous in its dealings with the Republic. The hon. Member for Northampton had alluded to the raid into Bechuanaland after the Convention of 1884. The ink used in the signatures to that instrument was hardly dry before the Boer freebooters went over the borders into Bechuanaland. That action was not disavowed by President Kruger, who went so far as to proclaim a Protectorate over a portion of Bechuanaland, and Lord Derby was constrained to send a Dispatch to the effect that this declaration of a Protectorate was a direct contravention of the London Convention. In many other instances this country had acted generously towards the Transvaal Boers. There was the case of the trek, which was stopped by the Bechuanaland police, and there was the question of the commandeering of British subjects. On all these points we had met the Boers generously with open hands. With reference to recent events, he would remind the Committee that:—There is some soul of goodness in things evil,Would men observingly distil it out.What had taken place, and the discussion thereupon, would not be without some good effect if it was thereby made plain to the world that we were, and intended to remain, the Paramount Power in South Africa. He recognised fully the necessity of developing the country, and the desirability, in the interests of all concerned, of promoting friendly relations between the English and Dutch populations. He could not think, however, that these objects would be helped forward by the banishment of Mr. Rhodes from South African territory. The time would come when they who sat in that House would pass away 968 into the land of shadows, when over the greater number of them and their poor efforts the tide of oblivion would sweep; but another fate awaited the work of Mr. Rhodes, for the record of his work was written with a pen of iron upon a rock, in characters which could never he effaced.
§ MR. SYDNEY BUXTON (Tower Hamets, Poplar)
said, they had all listened with great attention and great interest to the speech of the Secretary of State for the Colonies. That speech divided itself into two parts. As regarded the first part, he believed those on his side of the House cordially agreed with the policy the right hon. Gentleman had laid down, and they emphatically endorsed all that had been done; but with regard to the second part of the speech, many on his side of the House had been grievously disappointed, because the right hon. gentleman had not, as they thought, displayed the same courage in dealing with the questions which now confronted him as he had displayed in the previous phases of this question. It seemed to him that in the present emergency, in view of the questions that had arisen since the revelations of the other day, he had only one course to pursue, and that course had been laid down with great precision and clearness by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bodmin. He did not mean to suggest that the guilt of Mr. Rhodes must necessarily be assumed, but, in the first place, an explanation ought to be demanded from that Gentleman as Managing Director of the Chartered Company; and in the second place, until that explanation was forthcoming, Mr. Rhodes should be suspended from his functions as Managing Director. It was clear that Mr. Rhodes was so far implicated that Her Majesty's Government could not trust him to manage the affairs of the Company. Moreover, he thought the Government were not treating Mr. Rhodes himself fairly. Mr. Rhodes anticipated, and wisely anticipated, the course that ought to be pursued in tendering his resignation; but his co-directors had endeavoured to place the responsibility of acting upon it on the Government, and if the Government assumed that responsibility, he was sure that Mr. Rhodes would be the last man to complain. Mr. Rhodes had played 969 his game and he had lost, and he was not the man to shrink from the consequences. The hon. Member for Northampton had asked how the Government could reconcile their action in putting Dr. Jameson in the dock with their neglect to take any action against Mr. Rhodes, and the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for the Colonies said that Dr. Jameson had been placed in the dock because he had promised that he should be put on his trial. It certainly seemed to him that if the Government took action against Dr. Jameson, who had to a large extent acted under the directions of Mr. Rhodes, they ought to take action against the latter, who was unquestionably the greater wrongdoer. The Secretary for the Colonies had said that there was ample security against the recurrence of these events, and therefore there was no necessity for further action in the matter; but he looked upon them not only as a question of security, but also as a question of morality, and he did not think that public opinion throughout the country would endorse the action of the Government. With regard to Mr. Rhodes, he would only say that he had the honour of knowing him, and had always been a great admirer of him. Moreover, he felt that in the past, Mr. Rhodes had done a great deal for Imperial interests: but after all, however great his work might have been, if he had brought the national honour into disrepute in any way, he must abide by the consequences. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for the Colonies had said that it was his object that the two peoples of South Africa—the English and the Dutch—should be brought together, and should work together in harmony; but it was perfectly obvious that one of the mischiefs and of the evils that flowed from recent occurrences there had been to bring suspicion to the minds of the Boers as to the intention of the British Government, who, they thought, were not sincere in their expressed desire to bring the two peoples together. He was afraid that the consequence of the Government taking no action against the Chartered Company would do much to cause that suspicion to continue. It had been stated by the right hon. Gentleman that the Government proposed the appointment of a Committee to inquire into the whole 970 subject of the action of the Chartered Company in connection with Dr. Jameson's raid. That, however, was a matter of the future, because the Committee could not be appointed until the trials were over. The Opposition felt, moreover, that they could not allow the Government to throw their responsibility upon the Committee. With regard to the other matters referred to in the right hon. Gentleman's speech, all he could say was that he entirely agreed in the view which the right hon. Gentleman took of them. He entirely concurred in the declaration of the right hon. Gentleman that England must remain the Paramount Power in South Africa, and that steps should be taken in order to bring about a general union between the two races in that country. He could only express the regret which they must all feel that at the present moment the situation between the right hon. Gentleman and President Kruger had become more or less strained. They had all desired that President Kruger should have visited this country, and they all felt that had he done so he would have been warmly welcomed, and that everything would have been done to give him a friendly reception. In the present state of things the only policy which the right hon. Gentleman could offer the country was a policy of patience. It was generally acknowledged that the Uitlanders in the Transvaal had certain grievances that ought to be remedied; but their own action had rendered it impossible for the right hon. Gentleman to do more than he had done by making representations on the subject to President Kruger. He thought that everyone would agree with the right hon. Gentleman that this was a matter in respect of which England ought not to go to war, and there was no question of our sending an ultimatum to the Transvaal. On the contrary, we should pursue a policy of reconciliation towards that country as far as it was possible for us to do so, and thus to endeavour to bring the two races together and to settle the question between them, on lines that would be satisfactory both to the Transvaal and to England. Such a policy as that would certainly receive the full and cordial support of the Opposition. He was afraid, however, that when the right hon. Gentleman had to 971 deal with the Chartered Company he had not shown quite as much moral strength and backbone. They felt that our treatment of the Chartered Company in this matter was not consistent with the honour of England, and with her position as a great Power. While they all approved of the general policy of the right hon. Gentleman in reference to the Transvaal, he felt assured that the right hon. Gentleman's conduct with regard to the Chartered Company would not be endorsed by the public opinion of the country.
§ * SIR E. ASHMEAD-BARTLETT (Sheffield, Ecclesall)
thought that this discussion had taken place at a most inopportune time. It was most unfortunate that the Leaders of the Opposition had yielded to the pressure brought to bear upon them by a section of their supporters, and had forced this Debate upon the House, because it was obvious that the Debate must be inconclusive, in consequence of the critical position of the leaders of the reform movement in the Transvaal. The sentences upon these individuals had not yet been declared. The decision in respect of them had probably been held over with a view to this very Debate, and consequently great restrictions had been imposed upon the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for the Colonies in discussing this subject. The Blue-book had been only issued that morning, and for that reason also the Debate was inopportune. Moreover, it followed so closely upon the very adroit publication by the Boer Government of the telegrams to which reference had so largely been made. Those telegrams had served their purpose, they had diverted public attention from the real issues—viz., the maintenance of the Queen's Suzerainty and the redress of the Uitlander grievances, while they had told them very little that was riot generally known. Those telegrams informed the country practically of three facts—first, that Dr. Jameson was ready to make an inroad into the Transvaal; secondly, that there had been certain communications between him and the leaders of the Reform Committee; and thirdly, that Mr. Rhodes was to a certain extent cognisant of the preparations which had been made to deal with 972 the almost certain troubles in the Transvaal—all these facts were already known. The hon. Member for Northampton had made an attack upon Mr. Rhodes which he would briefly refer to. The interest which he himself took in Mr. Rhodes and the Chartered Company he would say was entirely political, and he had never had the smallest interest in that Company or in its subsidiary companies. The attack of the hon. Member for Northampton was based on the telegram alleged to be sent to Dr. Jameson with regard to the assembling of the Bechuanaland police. That telegram gave Dr. Jameson reasons for the massing of the police at Mafeking; but in those reasons there was nothing whatever that was criminal. Lord Loch in 1894, according to his own confession, did precisely what Mr. Rhodes did in 1896. There had been then, as now, grave troubles threatening in the Transvaal, the Uitlanders were labouring under serious and intolerable wrongs, and an outbreak was imminent. Lord Loch assembled British forces on the Transvaal frontier, and Mr. Rhodes had done the same thing with precisely the same justification. Lord Loch did more, for he used the assembling of these British forces on the Boer frontier as a direct threat to the Boer President to mend his ways. So far as they knew, nothing further had been proved against Mr. Rhodes than that he took the precautions which any leader of British power in South Africa would have taken in case of disturbance. Before the invasion took place the shares of the Chartered Company were quoted at 8 or 9, but after the invasion they were quoted somewhere about 2. It was evident, therefore, that the great financiers who helped the Uitlander cause did not profit so much as hon. Members insinuated. It was argued that if the raid had succeeded, the Chartered Company would have been master of the Transvaal. But did anyone in his senses believe that 600 men under Dr. Jameson could have made the Chartered Company master of the Transvaal? Did the right hon. Member for the Liskeard Division, who smiled in a superior way, believe it? The statement was absurd. The Uitlander movement existed for three years before the capitalists took any 973 part in it. He supported the cause of the British Uitlanders in the Transvaal two and a half years before the late movement, that of December 1895, commenced. He took up the Uitlander cause because he had received written appeals from all quarters of the Transvaal, not from capitalists, but from working men and small professional men, whose interest lay there and who only asked the elementary rights of free men. To say that this was a capitalist conspiracy was an absolute violation of every fact that had happened during the last two years. The grievances of the Uitlanders were great and intolerable, simply justified the efforts of the people of Johannesburg for their redress. The most serious feature of the situation in South Africa was the alienation of British feeling in consequence of the neglect of the interests of our countrymen there by the parent country. That feeling was spreading rapidly, not only to the Uitlanders in the Transvaal, but the whole of our countrymen in Cape Colony, Natal, and in Rhodesia were showing the same feeling. He was sorry to say the speech of the Colonial Secretary—though he made great allowances for the difficulties of the right hon. Gentleman's position—would not tend to diminish that feeling. The right hon. Gentleman had practically thrown over the Uitlanders. The Colonial Secretary had gone back from his Dispatch of the 13th of January, in which he made strong demands with reference to the grievances of the Uitlanders. [Mr. DALZIEL: "That Dispatch was withdrawn."] It was never withdrawn.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
What the hon. Gentleman probably refers to is the, proposal which has been described as ''Home Rule for the Rand.''
§ * SIR E. ASHMEAD-BARTLETT
No, no! That is not the Dispatch I am alluding to. That was dated February 4th, I mean the Dispatch of June 13th.
§ * SIR E. ASHMEAD-BARTLETT,
as the matter was in dispute, quoted from the Dispatch he referred to, in which the Colonial Secretary, addressing Sir Hercules Robinson, said:—It would be his duty to use firm language, and to tell the President that neglect to meet 974 the admitted grievances of the Uitlanders by giving a definite promise would have a disastrous effect upon the prospect of a lasting and satisfactory settlement.That was an admirable Dispatch, and he thought it embodied the feeling of the majority of the people of this country. He never heard it had been withdrawn. His contention was that the statement of the right hon. Gentleman to-night amounted to a practical abandonment of the Uitlanders' cause. ["No, no!"] Then he would be very glad if events proved he was wrong. The Colonial Secretary not only to-night told the Committee that we had no right of interference with the Uitlanders' grievances—a fact he disputed—but the right hon. Gentleman went so far as to give away the only final argument which a country possessed in dealing with another country, because he practically told President Kruger that under no conditions would this country support the demands of the Uitlanders by force of arms. He deprecated war as much as any Member of the House—["Oh!"]—but he believed that it was a great mistake, and not likely to achieve their object, if, when they entered into negotiations, they told their opponents that under no circumstances would they proceed to extremities. It seemed to him a serious blunder, as it hopelessly abandoned the Uitlanders' cause. One word with regard to another statement of the right hon. Gentleman which he heard with very great regret. He was exceedingly sorry to hear the right hon. Gentleman trying to justify the capitulation after Majuba. The right hon. Gentleman might have left that subject alone, especially in view of the fact that nearly every one of his present colleagues were men strongly opposed to that surrender, and that in the opinion of 90 out of every 100 Conservatives and Unionists that capitulation was the main cause of the present troubles in South Africa. He would have never attacked the right hon. Gentleman had not the right hon. Member, by defending what was one of the most infamous surrenders ever made, publicly challenged contradiction of his statement. He regarded the right hon. Gentleman's statement as a mistake in tactics, and also as grossly inaccurate. The right hon. Gentleman assumed in his speech that after the Boer war had 975 begun he and his colleagues became aware that the annexation of the Transvaal was contrary to the wishes of the Boers, and that then, realising the mistake, they decided upon the surrender of the Transvaal. What were the facts? In the summer of 1880 a deputation of Boers came to this country to negotiate with Mr. Gladstone's Government and to demand their independence in fulfilment of his electioneering pledges. The then Government, of which the present Colonial Secretary was a Member, distinctly rejected the demands of the Boer deputation. In December of the same year, after their demands had been fully considered, and rejected by the Government of Mr. Gladstone, the Boers rose in rebellion. Mr. Gladstone, as head of the Government which the right hon. Gentleman had defended to-night, solemnly promised Parliament to vindicate the Queen's authority in the Transvaal. The Government then allowed the war to be begun, they sent out large reinforcements. They allowed Laing' s Nek and Majuba to be fought, and it was not until three defeats that they discovered "bloodguiltiness" in this contest, and decided to capitulate to the Boers. The real truth was that an active cave was formed among the "Little England" Radicals, who threatened the Government to vote against them. That cave led to the surrender after Majuba. Such was the magnanimous conduct of which the Colonial Secretary had boasted.
§ And, it being Midnight, the Chairman left the Chair to make his Report to the House.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again upon Monday next.