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Cape Colony

disloyalty and mistaken aspirations in one section of the Cape inhabitants, it is equally certain that it caused a great wave of loyal and patriotic enthusiasm to pass through another and more enlightened section. A pamphlet written in 1885 for an association called the Empire League by Mr Charles Leonard, who afterwards consistently championed the cause of civil equality and impartial justice in South Africa, maintained as follows:—

“(1) That the establishment of the English government here was beneficial to all classes; and (2) that the withdrawal of that government would be disastrous to every one having vested interests in the colony … England never can, never will, give up this colony, and we colonists will never give up England … Let us, the inhabitants of the Cape Colony, be swift to recognize that we are one people, cast together under a glorious flag of liberty, with heads clear enough to appreciate the freedom we enjoy, and hearts resolute to maintain our true privileges; let us desist from reproaching and insulting one another, and, rejoicing that we have this goodly land as a common heritage, remember that by united action only can we realize its grand possibilities. We belong both of us to a home-loving stock, and the peace and prosperity of every home, in the land is at stake. On our action now depends the question whether our children shall curse or bless us; whether we shall live in their memory as promoters of civil strife, with all its miserable consequences, or as joint architects of a happy, prosperous and united state. Each of us looks back to a noble past. United, we may ensure to our descendants a not unworthy future. Disunited, we can hope for nothing but stagnation, misery and ruin. ls this a light thing?”

It is probable that many Englishmen reading Mr Leonard's manifesto at the time regarded it as unduly alarming, but subsequent events proved the soundness of the views it expressed. The fact is that, from 1881 onwards, two great rival ideas came into being, each strongly opposed to the other. One was that of Imperialism—full civil rights for every civilized man, whatever his race might be, under the supremacy and protection of Great Britain. The other was nominally republican, but in fact exclusively oligarchical and Dutch. The policy of the extremists of this last party was summed up in the appeal which President Kruger made to the Free State in February 1881, when he bade them “Come and help us. God is with us. It is his will to unite us as a people”—“to make a united South Africa free from British authority.” The two actual founders of the Bond party were Mr Borckenhagen, a German who was residing in Bloemfontein, and Mr Reitz, afterwards state secretary of the Transvaal. Two interviews have been recorded which show the true aims of these two promoters of the Bond at the outset. One occurred between Mr Borckenhagen and Cecil Rhodes, the other between Mr Reitz and Mr T. Schreiner, whose brother became, at a later date, prime minister of Cape Colony. In the first interview Mr Borckenhagen remarked to Rhodes: “We want a united Africa,” and Rhodes replied: “ So do I.” Mr Borckenhagen then continued: “There is nothing in the way; we will take you as our leader. There is only one small thing: we must, of course, be independent of the rest of the world.” Rhodes replied: "You take me either for a rogue or a fool. I should be a rogue to forfeit all my history and my traditions; and I should be a fool, because I should be hated by my own countrymen and mistrusted by yours.” But as Rhodes truly said at Cape Town in 1898, “The only chance of a true union is the overshadowing protection of a supreme power, and any German, Frenchman, or Russian would tell you that the best and most liberal power is that over which Her Majesty reigns.” The other interview took place at the beginning of the Bond's existence. Being approached by Mr Reitz, Mr T. Schreiner objected that the Bond aimed ultimately at the overthrow of British rule and the expulsion of the British flag from South Africa. To this Mr Reitz replied: “Well, what if it is so?” Mr Schreiner expostulated in the following terms: “You do not suppose that that flag is going to disappear without a tremendous struggle and hard fighting?” “Well, I suppose not, but even so, what of that?” rejoined Mr Reitz. In the face of this testimony with reference to two of the most prominent of the Bond's promoters, it is impossible to deny that from its beginning the great underlying idea of the Bond was an independent South Africa.

Mr Hofmeyr's Policy.—In 1882 an act was passed in the Cape legislative assembly, empowering members to speak in the Dutch language on the floor of the House, if they so desired. The intention of this act was a liberal one, but the moment of its introduction was inopportune, and its effect was to give an additional stimulus to the policy of the Bond. It was probably also the means of bringing into the House a number of Dutchmen, by no means well educated, who would not have been returned had they been obliged to speak English. By this act an increase of influence was given to the Dutch leaders. The head of the Afrikander Bond at this time in Cape Colony, and the leader of Dutch opinion, was Mr J. H. Hofmeyr, a man of undoubted ability and astuteness. Although he was recognized leader of the Dutch party in Cape Colony, he consistently refused to take office, preferring to direct the policy and the action of others from an independent position. Mr Hofmeyr sat in the house of assembly as member for Stellenbosch, a strong Dutch constituency. His influence over the Dutch members was supreme, and in addition to directing the policy of the Bond within the Cape Colony, he supported and defended the aggressive expansion policy of President Kruger and the Transvaal Boers. In 1883, during a debate on the Basutoland Dis-annexation Bill, Rhodes openly charged Mr Hofmeyr in the House with a desire to see a “United States of South Africa under its own flag.” In 1884 Mr Hofmeyr led the Bond in strongly supporting the Transvaal Boers who had invaded Bechuanaland (q.v.), proclaiming that if the Bechuanaland freebooters were not permitted to retain the territories they had seized, in total disregard of the terms of the conventions of 1881 and 1884, there would be rebellion among the Dutch of Cape Colony. Fortunately, however, for the peace of Cape Colony at that time, Sir Charles Warren, sent by the imperial government to maintain British rights, removed the invading Boers from Stellaland and Goshen—two so-called republics set up by the Boer freebooters—in March 1885 and no rebellion occurred. Nevertheless the Bond party was so strong in the House that they compelled the ministry under Sir Thomas Scanlen to resign in 1884. The logical and constitutional course for Mr Hofmeyr to have followed in these circumstances would have been to accept office and himself form a government. This he refused to do. He preferred to put in a nominee of his own who should be entirely dependent on him. Mr Upington, a clever Irish barrister, was the man he selected, and under him was formed in 1884 what will always be known in Cape history as the “Warming-pan” ministry. This action was denounced by many British colonists, who were sufficiently loyal, not only to Great Britain, but also to that constitution which had been conferred by Great Britain upon Cape Colony, to desire to see the man who really wielded political power also acting as the responsible head of the party. It was Mr Hofmeyr's refusal to accept this responsibility, as well as the nature of his Bond policy, which won for him the political sobriquet of the “Mole.” Open and responsible exercise of a power conferred under the constitution of the country, Englishmen and English colonists would have accepted and even welcomed. But that subterranean method of Dutch policy which found its strongest expression in Pretoria, and which operated from Pretoria to Cape Town, could not but be resented by loyal colonists. From 1881 down to 1898, Mr Hofmeyr practically determined how Dutch members should vote, and also what policy the Bond should adopt at every juncture in its history. In 1895 he resigned his seat in parliament—an action which made his political dictatorship still more remarkable. This influence on Cape politics was a demoralizing one. Othewas a demoralizing one. Other well-known politicians at ther well-known politicians at the Cape subsequently found it convenient to adapt their views a good deal too readily to those held by the Bond. In justice to Mr Hofmeyr, however, it is only fair to say that after the Warren expedition in 1885, which was at least evidence that Great Britain did not intend to renounce her supremacy in South Africa altogether, he adopted a less hostile or anti-British attitude. The views and attitude of Mr Hofmeyr between 1881 and 1884—when even loyal British colonists, looking to the events which followed Majuba, had almost come to believe that Great Britain had little desire to maintain her supremacy—can scarcely be wondered at.