Page:Dictionary of National Biography, Second Supplement, volume 2.djvu/298

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Hofmeyr
Hofmeyr
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was 'the leader of militant Afrikanderdom,' difference of view was inevitable (The Times Hist. of War in South Africa, i. 291). In 1894 Hofmeyr again represented the Cape Colony at the colonial conference held at Ottawa to consider the question of trade and communication among the different colonies and between the colonies and the mother country.

Until the Jameson Raid of 1895 Hofmeyr was a close friend and supporter of Cecil Rhodes [q. v. Suppl. II]. 'People have disputed,' Rhodes is reported to have said, 'whether I led Mr. Hofmeyr or Mr. Hofmeyr led me' (Edmund Gabrett, The Story of a South African Crisis, 1897, pp. 158-9). Mr. Schreiner, in his evidence before the select committee on British South Africa, stated that Hofmeyr 'has been during the six years of Mr. Rhodes's tenure of office as prime minister his constant confidant on every matter of pubhc importance' (Second Report from the Select Committee on British South Africa, H. of C. paper 311, 13 July 1897, 'Minutes of Evidence,' p. 177). From the date of the raid Hofmeyr's relations with Rhodes were permanently broken off. At the time of the raid Hofmeyr urgently advised the high commissioner. Sir Hercules Robinson (afterwards Lord Rosmead) [q. v. Suppl. I], to issue the proclamation of 31 Dec. 1895, which disowned and condemned the movement (The Times History, i. 169). Hofmeyr, who had been the adviser and friend of British governors and ministers in the Cape Colony, and was at the same time the powerful and trusted leader of the Dutch party, was placed in a difficult position by the bitterness which thenceforth divided the British and the Dutch. In May 1899 he was largely responsible for initiating the Bloemfontein conference between Lord Milner and President Kruger (C. 9345, June 1899, p. 239), and at the beginning of July in that year, on the eve of the Boer war, he went to Bloemfontein and Pretoria in the hope of promoting a peaceful settlement. During the earlier part of the war he was in South Africa, and acted as chairman of the committee of the fund for the relief of Boer widows and orphans and of wounded Boers. During its later stages he was absent from South Africa on the ground of health, but was in South Africa again at the time of Mr. Chamberlain's visit, and at a deputation to Mr. Chamberlain at Capetown in February 1903 he made a speech in favour of conciliation. He took no very prominent part in advocating the South African Union. He was more in favour of federation than of unification, for he was essentially a citizen of Cape Colony and much concerned to maintain the position of the colony in a united South Africa. He was, however, one of the delegates who came to England in 1909 to effect the final settlement. After seeking medical treatment at Nauheim he died of angina pectoris in London on 16 Oct. 1909. Hofmeyr married twice : (1) in 1880, Aleda Hendrikz (d. 1883) of Somerset West ; (2) on 1 Sept. 1900, her sister, Johanna Hendrikz. He left no children. He was buried among his wife's people in the Dutch reformed churchyard at Somerset West.

Hofmeyr had no gift of eloquence, but was on occasion an effective speaker. He wrote English well, had an excellent memory for both books and men, encouraged games, and was wide in^his sympathies in normal times. He is credited with having helped through the Cape parliament an Act desired by the leaders of the Anglican church of South Africa, which was not his own communion (Wirgman's History of the English Church and People in South Africa, 1895, p. 273). He was not rich, and coveted neither money nor distinction. Disinterested, and seeking no personal aggrandisement, he exerted very great personal influence on behalf of his people as a diplomatist and organiser behind the scenes. 'Mr. Hofmeyr,' said Mr. Schreiner in July 1897, 'is practically the leader of something very like half the popular house, although he is not now in the house' {Second Report from the Select Committee an British South Africa, as above). By means of the Afrikander Bond, which he moulded and controlled, he educated the Dutch of South Africa, and more especially of the Cape Colony, gave them pohtical cohesion, and made them a political force. His Dutch fellow-countrymen felt unbounded confidence in his leadership and cherished strong personal affection for 'Onze Jan.' Despite the racial rancours which the Boer war aggravated and which for the time coloured his political views, Hofmeyr was a conspicuous advocate of the doctrine that nationalism within the empire is compatible with and not antagonistic to cohesion of the whole.

A bronze bust of him stands in the Parliament Buildings at Capetown, and when he retired from the legislature he was presented by his fellow members with a life-size portrait. A fund for a memorial to him is now being raised in South Africa.