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recede. We may depend upon it that the Governments of those two countries, if they attach any value whatever to their South African possessions, are keenly alive to the fact that whatever the unreasoning prejudices of their people and press, their permanent interests are bound up in the success of our arms. As far as European politics are concerned, our failure in South Africa and consequent loss of prestige would not promote the permanent interests of Europe. It would relatively increase the power, or rather the prestige, of France and Russia. That would, as the 'Cologne Gazette' points out, "bode no good for Germany." "It cannot be denied," that paper argues, "that a powerful England as a counterpoise to the Franco - Russian dual alliance-if it only be a passive counterpoise-cannot very well be spared, or we also might have one day some very sad experience ourselves." That sad experience is not likely to occur. Our fleet is far too formidable and our power is too widely established to admit of such a contingency. And as for commercial envy, which is really at the base of this international spite, a very little reflection would show them that our ascendancy means no trade-loss to them. Dutch colonial trade-policy is remarkable for its inhospitality to the foreigner; and the Transvaal Boer accentuates in his repugnance to all commerce whatever the worst features of his ancestral and national ex
clusiveness. On the other hand, it is a commonplace of colonial politics that Great Britain is the only colonising Power which proclaims the open door, and which offers no impediment in any part of the world to the traffic in our dependencies of our trade rivals.
It is undoubtedly an unhappy controversy to which we stand committed. It is due, however, as much to our own negligence and indifference, our unhappy party conflicts at the close of Lord Beaconsfield's Administration, and to the exigencies of Mr Gladstone's political position in 1881, as to any skill or resolution on the part of our antagonists. We have got into this scrape by allowing foreign policy to be made the subject of party strife and platform demonstrations. As a rule, Lord John Russell and Lord Palmerston, amongst Liberal leaders, abstained from so perilous a pastime. Mr Fox in the Napoleonic wars, and Mr Gladstone during the hated ascendancy of his rival, set no limits to their political animosity, and flung prudential considerations to the winds. The Boers were encouraged to insist upon the retrocession of the Transvaal, were defied into taking up arms, and then were yielded to in a manner which meant, in the eyes of South Africans generally, both white and black, a repudiation of the rights and obligations of ascendancy, and a surrender to the victorious arms of the Boer on our own soil. From that time to this their power has grown, and we-that
is, successive Governments at home-have done nothing to check it, or even to prepare for an eventual trial of strength. So ingrained in our political natures has been this supineness, that we cannot single out the present Ministry for special blame. On the contrary, they are the only Ministry who have acted: they have secured a remarkable uprising of patriotism and resolution both at home and in the colonies on this subject; they have cleared the ground for action by friendly arrangements with all Foreign Powers; they managed to get Indian reinforcements in time; they were ready with a magnificent expedition in a very short space; they will eventually assert the challenged ascendancy of this country. The great want of this country, the political expedient which must be made ready to our hand, is a force of say 30,000 or 40,000 men which can be despatched at once when circumstances require it, without the necessity of elaborate mobilisation, calling out of reserves, and summoning Parliament. These things, when they are resorted to, are a menace of war, and fatally handicap a Government which merely wants to show that at the back of diplomatic representation a military force is ready for action. A power analogous to that of sending forth a flying squadron, which was exercised a few years ago with significant expedition, is one which ought, from motives of public safety and prudence, to be intrusted to the Ministry of the day.
The tendency abroad when military reverses occur is to accuse the generals of treachery and the Administration of corruption. The English never go so far as that. But they are very ready to believe that they are attributable to the grossest carelessness, and to the neglect to take the most obvious precautions and expedients. In the fervour of the wisdom which comes after the event, we refuse to estimate the position and surrounding circumstances of both Ministers and generals at the time when they are called on to decide. We make no allowance for exceptional difficulties, and overlook what has been achieved in our eagerness to censure them. We had much better adjourn the consideration of those matters. The great thing to attend to now is to remedy mistakes and secure the successful prosecution of this war, and for that purpose to appoint and rely upon our best generals. We must go through with it; and whatever it costs in men, money, and resources, we must see it to the end, and the end must be successful and triumphant. The Boer collapse may come any day, and we believe that it will come within a reasonable period. But even if the struggle is prolonged, we must accept it, in loyalty to the colonies which have stood by our side, to the South African British whom we cannot desert without infamy, to the blacks whom we are bound to protect after conquering and disarming them,
to the permanent interests of the South African Dutch, who have everything to lose and nothing to gain from the ascendancy of the Transvaal Boers. A century ago our grandfathers were bearing the brunt of a deadly struggle with Napoleon and his colossal power. Three centuries ago we had just closed a mortal conflict with the whole power of Spain, at the zenith of its greatness, under Philip II. To-day we have only President Kruger and a limited force of peasant farmers to deal with; and that we are so engaged in a way
which jeopardises our empire is entirely our own fault. The struggle will not rank as one of the great enterprises which have made our empire. It is the Nemesis of Mid-Lothian oratory and of a popular statesman's portentous blunders. But such as it is, we owe it to the generations which have gone before us and to those which will succeed us to carry it to a successful end, and worthily maintain the empire which centuries of our ancestors have built up, and which it is our task not merely to enjoy but to defend and uphold.
Printed by William Blackwood and Sons.
WHAT is to be done with South Africa? How is that great territory to be governed when peace has been established by the sword? That is the question of the day, and not Home Rule, or Old Age Pensions, or another. It will be said that it is too soon to enter upon such a discussion at the present time, when our armies are held in check and victory seems so far off. It will be condemned as arrogant and presumptuous, and not in accord with that spirit of self-humiliation which is inculcated as necessary to national salvation. To us, however, it seems none too soon to begin the consideration of a problem which needs long and careful thought, nor is it in any spirit of undue confidence or assumption of success that it is put for
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ward. There is a condition subject to which all human designs and plans are conceived and laid. No wise man defers on that account to prepare himself for circumstances that may arise, and which he is striving to bring about. No one but the conventionally pious deems it necessary to be for ever proclaiming the limitation.
Moreover, apart from the difficulty of the problem, there are many strong reasons against delay in this matter. It is one thing to conquer a country and destroy its Government. It is another thing to devise and establish a new system of administration to replace it. And unless the scheme has been thought out and prepared beforehand, there must necessarily occur an interregnum of confusion and uncertainty, even if
positive anarchy does not follow. With the final defeat of the Boer armies will fall not merely the power of Mr Kruger and Mr Steyn and their councillors, but also the whole fabric of the present constitution, with the police and courts of the Republics. There must be some recognised authority to take the reins. At first, no doubt, that will be the chief military officer in command of her Majesty's troops and his subordinates in the various parts of the conquered territories. This, however, is only a temporary makeshift, and must be replaced as soon as may be by a well-organised system of civil administration. The sooner that system is in working order the better for the peace and prosperity of the country. The interests of vast industrial undertakings, in which the capital not only of our own but of other nations is embarked, depend upon the finding of the right solution.
Then again it is of great importance that no room for doubt as to our intentions, and as to the nature of the government which is to follow the assertion of British supremacy, should be left in the minds of the Boers, of the white inhabitants of our own colonies, or of the various native tribes and races.
The first question that has been put to the commander of an invading force more than once in our history is, "Are you going to remain? Many of us would welcome the Queen's Government and the Pax Britannica. But have you come to stay?" More than once in
Asia and in Africa the answer has been, "Yes. So long as the sun rises in the heavens, the British flag shall fly in the Transvaal. So long as the earth endures, the British Government will never leave Kandahar." Such promises, sincerely made no doubt, have in the past induced many to come to our side and help our cause. How have they been fulfilled? How have those fared who, trusting to them, have become our friends and given us help? What was the lot of those British subjects who, believing that England would keep the Transvaal, or, when that failed, that she would control it, made their homes there? What was the fate of such Afghan notables as showed themselves friendly to the the English in 1878?
There are undoubtedly some at least of our own kindred who have been compelled to take up arms against us, and who would gladly lay them down if they were sure of our intentions. There are probably many in the Orange Free State, even of Boer blood, who have no personal quarrel with England, and no rooted dislike to live under her rule, who might lay down their arms if they knew that the power of England would protect them. our armies advance into the enemies' country and the hopelessness of their cause becomes apparent, this class will become more numerous. If they have reason to think that the republican government will be maintained in any form, they will fight on, preferring the chance