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694

CHARTERED

companies often act successfully. They have proved more potent than the direct action of governments. This may be seen in Africa, where France and England have of late acquired vast areas, but have developed them with very different results, acting from the opposite principles of private and State promotion of colonization. Apart from national characteristics, the individual has far more to gain under the British system of private enterprise. A strong point in favour of some of the British companies has been that their undertakings have been practically extensions of existing British colonies rather than entirely isolated ventures. But a chartered company can never be anything but a transition stage of colonization; sooner or later the State must take the lead. A company may act beneficially so long as a country is undeveloped, but as soon as it becomes even semi-civilized its conflicts with private interests become so frequent and serious that its authority has to make way for that of the central Government. The companies which have been formed in France during recent years do not yet afford material for profitable study, for they have been subject to so much vexatious interference from home owing to lack of a fixed system of control sanctioned by Government, that they have not been able, like the British, to develop along their own lines. In the sketch which follows of certain chartered companies which have existed since 1880, or still exist, the application of the principles stated above may be seen. The British South Africa Company. At the time when this company received its charter of incorporation, October 1889, South Africa was inhabited by three races exclusive of native tribes—the South British, the Portuguese, and the Dutch. The f*rjggg first named held roughly the south, the Portuguese retained little more than the eastern coast-line from Beira to Delagoa Bay, while more in the centre lay the Dutch republics of the Transvaal and Orange Free State. Germany had shortly before established herself on the west. Meanwhile in the central portion of the country north of the Transvaal and Bechuanaland lay the extensive territories of various native tribes, among whom the Mashonas and the warlike Matabele occupied the richest and largest areas. These tribes were under the sway of one powerful chief, LoBengula, whose royal kraal was situated at Bulawayo. The portion of these territories known as Matabeleland had before 1889 only been traversed by explorers such as Kirk, Baines, and Livingstone, but the reports they had brought back of its fertility, and especially its mineral wealth, had excited the cupidity and enterprise of white people, and the prompt action of Mr Cecil Rhodes and others alone saved them for the British flag. Mr Rhodes, after consolidating the conflicting interests of different owners into the great diamond-mining company of De Beers, had devoted his energies to the development of South Africa, and had become the life and soul of its financial enterprises. His was the guiding hand which directed British adventure into these vast fields of promise. Before 1888 Lo-Bengula had had frequent relations with foreign “ prospectors.” Among them two Englishmen, Mr Baines in 1871 and Sir John Swinburne in 1872, had obtained concessions of mineral rights, but little effort had been made to put them in force. Now the neighbouring nations began to move, but in 1888 the British Government, at the instance of Sir Sidney Shippard, K.C.M.G., then administrator of British. Bechuanaland, took steps which for ever excluded other nationalities from acquiring control over the country. On the 11th February of that year Lo-Bengula signed a treaty of peace and amity with Great Britain, under which he agreed that he would

COMPANIES refrain from entering into any correspondence or treaty with any foreign State or Power without the previous knowledge and sanction of H.B.M.’s high commissioner for South Africa. Shortly after the conclusion of this treaty, representatives of influential syndicates directed by Mr Rhodes were sent, with the knowledge of the British Government and the high commissioner, to negotiate with Lo-Bengula, and on Origin the 30th October of the same year he concluded °company. an arrangement with Messrs Rudd, Rochfort Maguire, and Thompson, by which, in return for the payment of ,£100 a month made to him by the syndicate, together with 1000 Martini-Henry rifles and 100,000 rounds of ammunition, he gave the syndicate complete control over all the metals and minerals in his kingdom, with power to exclude from his dominions “all persons seeking land, metals, minerals, or mining rights therein,” in which action, if necessary, he promised to render them assistance. This concession once obtained, Mr Rhodes proceeded with rapidity to prosecute his great enterprise. He extinguished the interests of earlier concessionaires by purchase (giving, for instance, £10,046 for the Baines and Swinburne interests), and then formed “The Central Search Association,” with a capital of £121,000. Of this total, £92,000 was represented by shares of £1, which were distributed to the shareholders in payment of rights they had surrendered or advances made, while the rest, to the number of 29,000 shares, was subscribed in ready money to be employed in preparing the ground for future operations. This pioneer company soon merged in “ The United Concessions Company.” The latter undertook to explore and develop, the former bought its concessions, and they were to share equally the profits. Before long these companies became the “British South Africa Company,” commonly known as the “ Chartered Company.” On 30th April 1889 Lord Gifford addressed to the British Government, on behalf of the founders, an outline of a scheme for the formation of a company to develop the Bechuanaland Protectorate and the territories lying to the north. It may be stated that Bechuanaland is native territory lying north of Cape Colony, between it and what was then Lo-Bengula’s land, and west of the Transvaal. Bechuanaland had been occupied by England a few years previously and divided into two parts—the south a Crown colony and the north a protectorate only. The Government, having ascertained the substantial nature of the company’s resources and the composition of the proposed directorate, and also that they were prepared to begin immediately the development of the country, granted the charter which bears date 29th October 1889. The Charter.—A few points in the charter itself deserve to be noted. In the first place, it gives a considerable extension to the terms of the original concessions by Lo-Bengula. In short, it transforms the rights of working minerals and metals, and preventing others from doing so, into rights practically sovereign over the regions in which the company’s activity is to be employed. These rights the Crown grants directly itself, not merely confirming a previous grant from another source. In this it differs from charters granted to other companies. By Article X. the company was empowered to “make ordinances (to he approved by our secretary of state), and may establish and maintain a force of police.” A strict supervision is provided for, to he exercised by the secretary of state over the relations between the company and the natives. It is worth noting that in clause 1 (where the sphere of the company’s operations is defined) its limits are very clearly laid down on all sides but the north, where it was left by implication entirely free. The British Government reserved to itself entire power to repeal the charter at any time that it did not consider the company was fulfilling its obligations or endeavouring duly to carry out the objects for which the charter was granted. The share capital of the company was fixed at £1,000,000 in shares of £1 each. The original directors were the duke of Abercorn, the duke of Fife, Lord Gifford, Mr (afterwards Earl) Grey, Mr Cawston, Mr Rhodes, and Mr A. Beit.