Page images

be the expedient of the Transvaal Boer; and when we consider the engagements, tacit or expressed, which we have in the course of a century entered into with the black population, forming the tie of a sovereign race to a subject population, we must recognise in their interests and political future one of many considerations which forbids the acquiescence of the British people in any failure of the great purpose of this war. The Bishop of Zululand recently sent to the London 'Spectator' a letter written by an educated native to the 'Natal Mercury,' expressing what the bishop declares is the opinion of the greater number of the native people, whether educated or uneducated, in his part of South Africa. The writer says the natives are loyal to British rule in recognition of England's just policy towards them; because they are more impressed by England's justice in peace even than by her prowess in war. They refuse, he says, to avail themselves of this supreme opportunity to rise and hurl themselves on the defenceless Cape, on Natal, and on Rhodesia. "There is an almost universal hope," he says, "that the Imperial arms will be victorious; and that a Government which, by its inhumanity and relentless injustice, and apparent inability to see that the native has any rights a white man should respect, has forfeited its place among the civilised Governments of the earth; and should therefore be deprived of power so scandalously abused—

formerly by slavery, and in later years by disallowing the native to buy land, and utterly neglecting his intellectual and spiritual needs." The fears expressed in the home press on every reverse to the British arms that the Cape Dutch will rise, may be tempered by the reflection that if they do there is a vast native population on our side, whom at present it is right as well as politic to restrain from hostilities. "Speaking "Speaking for the Zulus," says the writer, "I believe that if any emergency arise in which England would be willing to put their loyalty to the test, they would respond with readiness and enthusiasm equal to that with which they fought under Cetywayo, only fighting then under the British flag." It is these Zulus whom Sir Bartle Frere crushed in the interests of the Boers; it was terror of them which led to the Boer cession of the Transvaal to us in exchange for protection; it was their annihilation at Ulundi which led to the Boer demand for retrocession. To this day it is contended by many that the Zulu war was a mistake of Sir Bartle Frere's.

This native question is one of the most urgent in the whole of South Africa. The native population is more than four times the amount of the white population. It does not die out as in America, North and South, in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Only Bushmen and Hottentots disappear. The remaining native races are sturdy, grow swiftly by natural increase, and

are reinforced by a steady stream of immigration from beyond the Zambesi and even from British India,―a stream which will in all probability increase as time goes on and the roads Capewards, by rail or water, are multiplied. Such a question will task the powers of responsible government, even when a Government is alive to its responsibility, and has had vast experience in dealing with subject and conflicting races. It is impossible that such a question can be abandoned by us, without grave dereliction of duty, to the Boers. From first to last in their proceedings there is no trace of any enlightened aims, or of any conscious capacity for the work of administration, which to the Anglo-Saxon is a trade which he learns by instinct. All that they have done hitherto is to import a worthless Hollander clique, with brains, no doubt, but without character, who have fattened on corruption, exploited the Uitlanders, and forced upon the Boers a military tyranny culminating in their staking their lives and their independence in the hope of stemming the tide of civilisation which they are too much of savages to appreciate.

Notwithstanding the gravity of the native question, it is the white question which is now the predominant one-the question who is to rule in South Africa, Boer or Briton. The native question is kept at present in the background; though it is difficult to believe that a vast resident population can be excluded from all voice in the VOL. CLXVII.-NO. MXI.


ultimate determination of an issue in which they are SO vitally interested. We trust that the issue will be confined within the present limits, and that the home Government will be left to settle it with the two republics, without directly summoning to the conflict a portion even of the native regiments in India. But whatever may happen, however many reverses or difficulties may be before us, the question raised by the Boer ultimatum must be fought out to the bitter end. The struggle cannot, with any regard to the safety either of South Africa or of the British empire, be compromised. can only be terminated by the establishment of British power over the two republics, for the sole and sufficient reason that we cannot be conterminous in South Africa with a Power which is at the same time of great military strength always available on the spot, and also for all purposes of government wholly uncivilised. If the issue at stake was one of freedom, if the Boers were people rightly struggling to be free, one would say that if a whole nation down to boys of sixteen is willing to take the field and fight it out for that end, their determination should be respected and their freedom allowed. But this is not a fight for freedom. The whole history of the Orange Free State for half a century shows that Great Britain never wanted to interfere with its freedom. Nor does she want to interfere with the freedom of the Transvaal or to take over its government and ad


ministration. This war arises because the Transvaal has raised, and induced the Orange State to join in raising, contrary to the tenor of its past history and to its present interests, the flag of tyranny, corruption, and of deadly hatred and animosity to this country. It wants to establish a domination over the two British colonies, and even over the Orange Free State, and to eject the authority of Great Britain. The only alternative to our ascendancy being completely vindicated is our retirement from the country, and with it the relaxation of our hold on other portions of our empire, which means our decline in the scale of nations. Any compromise which left to the Transvaal the semblance of independence, would enable it to begin all over again the work of creating a great military Power, with an accumulation of war material and the pursuit of war machinations which we could not interfere with, except by the renewal of hostilities on a still larger scale. We must battle it out now or never. To compromise would be to abandon all the advantages of our pres


ent greater resources in men, arms, and money, and of the isolated position of our tagonist, cut off while hostilities last from all except surreptitious communications by sea. We trust that there will be no paltering at any time with the tremendous issue which lies before us. It is a struggle which we believe will collapse at no distant period from the exhaustion of our foe.

But we must not rely on that. We have, unfortunately, foes at home in the shape of a Little Englander party, the growing dissatisfaction which will result from a long war, the relaxation of national resolve. We must put forward all our strength; and if there is some sense of indignity, a latent feeling that the occasion is not worthy of the effort, we at all events escape the imputation of being a strong Power oppressing a weak one. That idea has vanished. We are confronted in this war by a foe of unexpected strength and resources, under circumstances which render it of literally vital importance that we should prevail; and we must, at whatever cost, stick to it till we do.

Printed by William Blackwood and Sons.

[blocks in formation]

"LE feu est tout, le reste n'est rien." So spoke that absolute master of war, Napoleon. Such words a hundred years ago were rather more apposite to a genius, a seer, a prophet, than to the eagle-eyed general who had personally proved again and again the power of l'arme blanche in the hands of his trusty veterans. But the time has now come when these words may be taken as soberly stating an undoubted and incontrovertible fact. Slowly but surely the missile, which always had its place in war as long as war has existed, has asserted its ascendancy until it literally occupies the whole field. Whether or no cold steel will ever lose its moral power is not for me to prophesy, but none will deny that its material effect in battle has practically passed away.


Battles being won and lost, and the fate of nations depending, under God, on this same fire so eulogised by Napoleon, I propose, at this time of national stress, when all thoughts are following those who are so nobly contending for the empire, to set forth as briefly as I can certain facts explaining and illustrating the nature, character, and properties of the projectiles used at the present day.

The first point to which it is necessary to call attention is, that there is no special scientific mystery veiling the behaviour and effect of the modern fire-impelled projectile. It is quite true that its energy is imparted to it by blazing gases, which start it on its journey with much noise, flame, and shock; but the flight of the most modern shell or bullet has


very much in common with that of the smooth stone which, impelled by the muscular force of the shepherd lad of Bethlehem, was the immediate means of the death of Goliath, and the deliverance of the sorely tried Israelites, thousands of years ago. Moreover, a fair fair understanding of the whole matter is not beyond the compass of the ordinary man in the street, provided that he is made aware of certain controlling facts.

In the sacred narrative of the death of Goliath we have three essential facts with reference to the projectile which David used, which facts apply with equal force to the fighting material of the present day. We read, David ran to meet the Philistine that is to say, he took up a range suitable to the missile that he was using. did not waste his energies by attempting to obtain an effect at an impossible range. nor did he come unnecessarily close: at the right distance he took a stone and slang it. The first and all-important point in fighting with missiles in all ages is the distance at which they can be effectively used.


The second point is the necessity of so controlling the missile that it will strike the mark intended. "David smote the Philistine in his forehead." Of supreme importance is the accuracy of the aim.

But neither a proper choice of the range nor accuracy of aim will produce any material result unless the projectile has the energy necessary for its deadly work. "The stone sank into

his forehead, and he fell upon his face to the earth."

Of course all these three considerations are interdependent. The effective range is governed by the attainable accuracy and by the energy remaining at the end of the flight. The necessary accuracy depends in great measure on the energy of the projectile. Had David had at his disposal a more powerful missile, capable of piercing the Philistine's armour, such precise accuracy would not have been necessary, -he need not have hit the unprotected forehead. Again, with greater accuracy he might have slung his stone from a greater distance, always supposing the striking energy to be sufficient to bring the Philistine to the earth; and so the problem may be infinitely varied.

But now, as in David's time, the three desiderata in attacking an enemy by the use of projectiles are long range, accuracy, great effect. There are of course other considerations, such as rapidity of discharge, which is, however, closely allied to accuracy, because an inaccurate weapon may compensate for its inaccuracy by the rapidity with which it delivers its projectiles. Again, mobility is of the first importance, otherwise it may not be possible to engage the enemy when and where desired, or to avoid his assault when it is advisable to do so. Nor is the moral effect to be despised. A battle is lost, not because so many on the losing side are killed or wounded, but because those left alive and fit for fighting are for fighting are demoralised:

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »