§ LORD BRABOURNE
said, he wished to ask the Secretary of State for the Colonies a Question of which he had given him private Notice. He very much regretted that indisposition should have prevented him from addressing their Lordships in the course of the Transvaal debate last night. He wished to know whether his noble Friend could refer to any Parlia- 447 mentary Paper, or to any Paper that he proposed to lay upon the Table, which would corroborate the statement he had now twice made during the present Session that the system of slavery has ceased to exist amongst the Transvaal Boers during recent years? On February 21 he might observe that ho called their Lordships' attention to this matter; and he thought that he then laid before them an unbroken chain of evidence that slavery had existed in the Transvaal from the first trekking of the Boers in 1834 down to the year 1877, when annexation took place. He (Lord Brabourne) had quoted from authentic documents which had all been laid before Parliament—he had quoted the solemn Resolutions of the Natal Legislature in 1868, the opinions of British officials as late as 1875 and 1876, and the continuous complaints of the Native tribes—one in December, 1876, only three or four months before the annexation—wherein they said—"The Boers treat us like money, they sell us and our children." No answer had been made to that speech, which lie attributed to no merit of his, but to the fact that he had quoted from authentic documents which it was impossible to answer. On the other side, there stood only the statement of his noble Friend (the Earl of Kimberley), unsupported at present by any reference to any Papers in their Lordships' possession. It was a matter of great importance, for this reason. For several months past certain itinerant orators had been going about the country endeavouring to excite sympathy for the Boers, and advocating the independence of the Transvaal. This he (Lord Brabourne) supposed was what his noble Friend would call awakening the conscience of the country. Hitherto, he believed, they had had comparatively little success; but it might be different if their denial of the existence of slavery among the Boers received the impress of the authority of the Secretary of State for the Colonies. He (Lord Brabourne) was very ready to defer to the opinion of his noble Friend, if that opinion could be shown to be founded upon authentic documents; and, therefore, he asked him, in justice to himself and to all who took an interest in this question, whether such documents did actually exist, and whether he could refer their Lordships to any Papers 448 which justified his opinion. He also wished to ask a Question upon another point—namely, whether there was any foundation for the report in the daily papers that the British troops had been driven into Pretoria, and that those who did this were assisted by reinforcements from Potchefstroom, and aided by the two guns captured at that place? He need scarcely say that if this were so it constituted another primâ facie case against the Boers of having violated the conditions of the armistice; but upon this point he would express no opinion until the information was before their Lordships, and he merely asked whether such was in the possession of the Government? He should like to know also whether, upon the re-establishment of the South African Republic, it would be called upon to repay the whole or any part of the £100,000 voted by Parliament when we annexed the Transvaal and found the Exchequer empty; and also whether they would repay any portion of the war with Secocoeni and with the Zulus, which, if not actually undertaken in consequence of the annexation, had, at least, given the Republic its only chance of existence, by subduing its two most powerful enemies?
THE EARL OF KIMBERLEY
As to the Question of what is due from the Transvaal State to this country, that will be considered by the Royal Commission. The question of a contribution by the Transvaal to the Zulu War most certainly will not be considered by the Commission. I think that a demand of a contribution from the Transvaal towards the expenses of that war would be most extraordinary and unjustifiable. With regard to the reported attack on Pretoria, I have seen the Press telegram to which the noble Lord has referred; but Her Majesty's Government have no information whatever on the subject. As to the Question of the existence of slavery in the Transvaal, I can only say that, so far as I know, all the Papers relating to the subject have been presented to the House. I am not aware of the receipt of any other Papers since those which have been laid on the Table. The noble Lord asks whether I can refer to Papers which would confirm the statement made by me last night, that during the last few years slavery had practically ceased to exist in the 449 Transvaal Republic? I have before stated to your Lordships that it might have existed in some remote districts; but if your Lordships refer to the Papers of 1875, you will find a very interesting Memorandum, delivered to Lord Carnarvon in Juno of that year by the late President of the South African Republic, who was then in this country. The following is an extract from that Memorandum of President Burgers:—…..However good the intention of the Government, experience soon proved that something more is required in a country than good laws in order to prevent evil practices, and with their best endeavours the Government could not always prevent abuses of the apprenticeship system. As the different parties, however, in course of time gradually amalgamated, and law and order were better established, the cause which produced those unfortunate apprenticeships—namely, war and its evil consequences, gradually became of less force, and the evil subsided in proportion. These facts not being understood or known gave rise to the misapprehension which has thrown the stain of slavery upon the Government of the South African Republic. In a late inquiry made by that Government to ascertain the truth of this accusation, it was found that not a single instance could be named in which slavery was carried on in the Republic with the sanction of the Government. No doubt, as is always the case in new and sparsely populated countries, the intentions of the Government were frustrated, and, in spite of all precaution, the system of apprenticeship in many cases was abused. Since the memorable civil war of 1865, however, in which the Pretorius party finally triumphed, such abuses have been fairly put down.Of course, if Lord Carnarvon had considered it necessary to deal with the question of slavery in the Republic, having that Memorandum before him, he would have drawn attention to it; but on the 15th of June, 1875, he wrote this despatch to Sir Henry Barkly—Sir,—I enclose a copy of a very interesting Memorandum, which has been prepared at my request by President Burgers, on the present condition of the Natives in the South African Republic.I have received this communication with much satisfaction, indicating, as it does, a disposition to adopt those sound and humane principles of Native government without which the agreement on a common policy would be impossible; but as to which I entertain the hope that a complete and satisfactory understanding may be arrived at in the conference which I have proposed in my despatch of the 4th of May. "I am, &c., "CARNARVON.It would appear from that despatch that there was then no question of slavery, and that Lord Carnarvon acquiesced in 450 the Memorandum of President Burgers. My noble Friend (Lord Brabourne) shakes his head. I know that there was the system of apprenticeship, and the Government of the South African Republic admitted that there had been abuses of that system; but the same system exists also in the Cape Colony. After the war in the Transkei complaints were made when the late Government was in Office of the way in which it was applied; but I never heard that they asserted that slavery was allowed in the Colony. I maintain that I was quite justified in saying that slavery, in the true sense of the word, had practically ceased to exist in the Transvaal.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
Do I understand the noble Earl to say that he relies on the Memorandum from which he has quoted to prove that slavery did not practically exist in the Transvaal during the later years of the Republic? Is this the only proof he has of that, in contravention of all the facts and testimony on the other side?
THE EARL OF KIMBERLEY
What I say is, that the President presented the Memorandum to Lord Carnarvon, who pratically acquiesced in its truth, and that there is no evidence in the Colonial Office during the last few years of the existence of slavery. I have asserted that slavery had practically ceased in the South African Republic, and this assertion has not been disproved.
§ LORD BRABOURNE
reminded his noble Friend, that when he brought this subject forward on a former occasion he quoted from Reports made by resident British officials in 1875 and 1876, which stated distinctly that slavery did exist.
THE EARL OF KIMBERLEY
I do not say that there were no individual instances of White slavery; but what I do say is, that no system of slavery such as that described last night, when it was said that we were turning hundreds of thousands back into slavery, existed in the later years of the Transvaal Republic.