HC Deb 26 October 1899 vol 77 cc747-8

I beg the House to permit me to make a very brief personal statement with reference to a sentence which I had the honour to address to the House in the very few words I said yesterday. I stated that the hon. Member for Caithness was not only chairman of the Transvaal Committee in this country, but also had been agent for the Transvaal Government up to 1891. But in addition to that I said that he was in the Boer camp at the fight at Majuba. Sir, the hon. Member is not chairman of the Transvaal Committee in this country, but he is the treasurer of the Transvaal Committee in this country. The hon. Member was agent for the Boer Government up to the year 1891. The hon. Member was not in the Boer camp during the fight at Majuba. I will explain to the House how my mistake arose. In March, I think it was, of 1894 I was one of a group to whom the hon. Member was relating the story of the fight at Majuba, and in the relation the hon. Member made the statement in the first person singular—the fact being that Piet Joubert had told him certain facts, and the hon. Member, repeating them, said, "I was up at two in the morning; I saw the redcoats in the kopje; I ordered the wagons to be un-laagered; I did this, that, and the other." So that, knowing nothing of Piet Joubert, I thought, and I was as certain of it till twenty-four hours ago as of my own existence, that the hon. Member was telling his own story. After the debate yesterday the hon. Member was good enough to take me into the lobby and explain the matter to me, and, having done so, I thought, as an honourable man, that the only thing I could do was to come down to the House and ask you to permit me to explain myself. I venture to hope that the House will accept my explanation, and that the hon. Member for Caithness will do the same.

DR. CLARK (Caithness)

I quite accept everything that has been said by the hon. and gallant Member. He misunderstood; probably the graphic way in which I told the story misled him.