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CAPE

COLONY

Cape rebels. The rebels joined the invading forces of President Steyn, whose false assurances Mr Schreiner had offered to an indignant House of Assembly only a few months before. The war on the part of the Republics was evidently not to be merely one of selfdefence. It was one of aggression and conquest. Mr Schreiner ultimately addressed, as Prime Minister, a sharp remonstrance to President Steyn for allowing his burghers to invade the colony. He also co-operated with Sir Alfred Milner, and used his influence to restrain the Bond. The first shot actually fired in the war was at Kraipan, a small railway station within the colony, forty miles south of Mafeking, a train being derailed, and ammunition intended for Colonel Baden-Powell seized. The effect of this was entirely to cut off Mafeking, the northernmost town in Cape Colony, and it remained in a state of siege for over seven months. On 16th October Kimberley was also isolated. Proclamations by the Transvaal and Free State annexing portions of Cape Colony were actually issued on 18th October, and included British Bechuanaland and Griqualand West, with the diamond fields. On 28th October Mr Schreiner signed a proclamation issued by Sir Alfred Milner as High Commissioner, declaring the Boer annexations of territory within Cape Colony to be null and void. The battles of Belmont, Graspan, and Modder River were all fought by Lord Methuen in November, on colonial soil, in his endeavour to force a passage through to the relief of Kimberley. The heavy British losses at Modderfontein on 29th November were followed by a reverse in Cape Colony at Stormberg, where an expedition under General Gatacre from Queenstown marched into a Boer ambush and was defeated. On the following day Lord Methuen suffered a severe check and heavy losses at Magersfontein. The effect of these engagements at the very outset of the war, occurring as they did within Cape Colony, was to offer every inducement to a number of the frontier colonial Boers to join their kinsmen of the Republics. The Boers are prolific, and their families large. Many younger sons from the colony, with nothing to lose, left their homes with horse and rifle to join the republican forces. Meanwhile the loyal Cape colonists were chafing at the tardy manner in which they were enrolled by the Imperial authorities. It was not until after the arrival of Lord Roberts and Lord Kitchener at Cape Town on 10th January 1900 that these invaluable, and many of them experienced, men were freely invited to come forward. So strongly did Lord Roberts feel on the subject, that he at once made Colonel Brabant, a well-known and respected colonial veteran and member of the House of Assembly, a Brigadier-General, and started recruiting loyal colonists in earnest. On 15th February Kimberley was relieved by General French, and the Boer General, Cronje, evacuated Magersfontein, and retreated towards Bloemfontein. Mr Cecil Rhodes was shut up in Kimberley during the whole of the siege, and his presence there undoubtedly offered an additional incentive to the Boers to endeavour to capture the town, but his unique position and influence with the De Beers workmen enabled him to render yeoman service, and infused enthusiasm and courage into the inhabitants. The manufacture of a big gun, which was able to compete with the Boer “ Long Tom,” at the De Beers workshops, under Mr Rhodes’s orders, and by the ingenuity of an American, Mr Labram, who was killed a few days after its completion, forms one of the most striking incidents of the war. On 11th March Barkly East, a small town on the north-east frontier of the colony, which had been seized

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by the rebels, was reoccupied by British forces, and by the 18th of March, Burghersdorp, Aliwal North, Herschel, Lady Grey, Prieska, and other frontier towns reported that the rebel movement had collapsed. Mafeking, where the beleaguered garrison maintained their gallant defence under Colonel Baden-Powell till 1 i th May, was relieved by a force, chiefly colonial, sent up from Kimberley. With this incident the Cape rebellion ended, and the colony was at least for a time delivered of the presence of hostile forces. On 20th March Mr Rose-Innes, a prominent member of the House of Assembly, who for several years had held aloof fropa either party, and who also had defended Mr Schreiner’s action with regard to the passage of arms to the Free State, addressed his constituents at Claremont in support of the annexation of both republics; and in the course of an eloquent speech he stated that in Canada, in spite of rebellions, loyalty had been secured from the French Canadians by free institutions. In South Africa they might hope that a similar policy would attain a similar result with the Boers. In June, Mr Schreiner, whose recent support of Sir Alfred Milner had incensed many of his Bond followers, resigned in consequence of the refusal of some of his colleagues to support the Disfranchisement Bill which he was prepared, in accordance with the views of the Home Government, to introduce for the punishment of Cape rebels. The bill certainly did not err on the side of severity, but disfranchisement for their supporters in large numbers was more distasteful to the Bond extremists than any stringency towards individuals. Sir Gordon Sprigg, who after a political crisis of considerable delicacy succeeded Mr Schreiner, and for the fourth time became Prime Minister, was able to pass the Bill with the co-operation of Mr Schreiner and his section. Towards the end of the year 1900 the war entered on a new phase, and took the form of guerilla skirmishes with scattered forces of marauding Boers. In December some of these bands entered the Cape Colony and endeavoured to induce colonial Boers to join them. In this endeavour they met at first with little or no success ; but as the year 1901 progressed and the Boers still managed to keep the various districts in a ferment, it was deemed necessary by the authorities to proclaim martial law over the whole colony, and this was done on the 9th October 1901. On 4th January 1901 Sir Alfred Milner was gazetted Governor of the Transvaal and Orange River Colony, being shortly afterwards created a peer as Lord Milner, and Sir Walter Hely-Hutchinson, Governor of Natal, was appointed his successor as Governor of the Cape Colony. Since responsible government was first granted to Cape Colony it must be admitted that, in spite of the sinister Transvaal influence on the Bond, the system has, on the whole, worked smoothly and well. There have at least never occurred in the Cape Chamber such scenes as have disgraced more than one European legislative assembly in recent years, while the statute-book is evidence of the many useful and enlightened measures which have passed into law. Many writers have objected that much more ought to have been done by a body of educated men in matters of excise, remedial measures for a depressed agriculture, and other schemes of a similar character, but as against this there must be set an admirable system of colonial civil service, which administers and controls railways, post, telegraphs, education, and native affairs with excellent results, while the Customs Union is a real step towards a practical scheme of federation. The public life of Cape Colony has produced many men of singular ability and accomplishments, some having been of European and others of colonial birth. First and foremost stands the Bight Hon. Cecil J. Rhodes. While quite a young man, he was sent by the Cape Government in 1884 as Deputy-Commissioner to Bechuanaland. The policy he there adopted was that of maintaining the “Suez Canal” of South Africa—the Bechuanaland route to the north—for Great