Page images

of events, and foresee consequences. There is, of course, the Colonial Secretary, who is generally an eminent and capable statesman. He comes to the Office not because he has any special knowledge of colonial affairs, but because he is one of the party which is in power. He has his parliamentary duties, and however able and industrious he may be, he can hardly hope to master the affairs of the numberless colonies with which he has to deal. The tradition of the Office is to let things slide, to leave the colonies as much as possible to themselves. Unless he is compelled by parliamentary pressure to interfere, and that pressure is not always wise or convenient, he will follow the tradition and be guided by precedent.

This method may be very appropriate to the colonies which have been founded by our own people and have gradually worked their way out of a state of tutelage. It may suit small dependencies like the Straits Settlements or Ceylon, which have strong local administrations. But it is illadapted to the wants of a growing country with complex problems and numerous provinces, each in a different stage of growth; and a large population of savage tribes who must be controlled, yet cannot be left unprotected in the hands of the white settlers. The governing of South Africa is a very big business, and is rapidly growing. It is not possible for a Colonial Secretary to do justice to it. After

the war is over, the work will be of still greater magnitude and difficulty. If mistakes are made, the troubles caused may be endless.

For these reasons it appears necessary to take South African affairs out of the hands of the Colonial Office, and to constitute a separate department for their administration under a separate Secretary of State. If it is necessary for the Secretary of State for India to be assisted by advisers who are thoroughly experienced in Indian affairs, it is still more necessary that the Secretary of State for Africa should have similar aid. The Council of

India is not perhaps a model institution in all respects. There can be no doubt, however, that it is most wise in its conception, and a great safeguard against the mistakes which might be made by an India Office from which local experience was excluded. For one thing, it strengthens the hands of the Secretary of State when parliamentary influence is brought to bear upon him. His voice would not carry so much weight, when he opposes parliamentary meddling, if it were not for the knowledge that he is backed by men of long and varied Indian experience. It is reasonable and necessary that in the case of Africa also local knowledge should be utilised, and that the Secretary of State for South Africa should be aided by a council composed of three or more men of ripe African experience. One of them might be a retired official, and the

others chosen from amongst the most prominent colonists and men largely interested in the mining industries. They should be appointed by the Crown, on the nomination or recommendation of the Governor-General of Africa. Their duty should be to advise the Secretary of State on such matters as he might refer to them. If he chose to act without their advice, he should be at liberty to dispense with it. In that case he would take a heavy responsibility on himself, and he would rarely forego their assistance in important matters unless secrecy and great promptitude were necessary. As the conditions of South Africa are changing so rapidly, these councillors should be appointed for a term not longer than three, or at most five, years.

To recapitulate these proposals, but in a different order. The following measures are advocated for the better government of South Africa :

Firstly, The amalgamation of the Dutch Republics with the British territory, and the division of the whole into several provinces.

Secondly, Each province to be administered by a Governor appointed by the Crown, with elective Assemblies for legislative purposes. The constitu

tions of Cape Colony and Natal to be left unchanged, except in so far as it may be necessary to bring their governments under the control of the GovernorGeneral.

Thirdly, The appointment of a Governor-General, aided by a council, with supreme control over the civil and military affairs of all the provinces, and with powers generally similar to those vested in the "GovernorGeneral in Council" in India.

Fourthly, The appointment of a Secretary of State for Africa, with a small advisory Council, to control South African affairs.

Since this paper was written the cheering news of Lord Roberts's well-planned advance has arrived, of General French's brilliant and successful march, and of the relief of Kimberley. The nation will know how to reward the gallant men who have lifted the anxiety which has pressed upon her for the last five months. We rejoice to add our tribute of praise and gratitude to the gallant old soldier who has permitted neither the burden of years nor the heavier weight of private sorrow to impair his vigour, or the skill with which he has obeyed his country's call to lead her armies.


[ocr errors]

THE present year is likely to be long memorable in the political history of the British empire-for good or for evil. It has already made its mark in the history of our literature. Within a few weeks of its opening, four names of more or less note have been blotted out from the roll of the living. Of George Steevens we have ere now spoken. A consummate and brilliant journalist, a very "deacon of his craft,' he lays claim to the applause of posterity less, perhaps, in virtue of performance than of promise. His more popular works-the books which made his name familiar in the mouth of the average man-were, no doubt, distinguished by an extraordinary keenness of observation and a marvellous gift of seizing upon the salient points of "things seen." In these respects he has scarcely ever been equalled in the annals of the calling to which, after a brilliant Oxford career, he devoted himself. The "Balliol Prodigy (ominous appellation!) developed into the man of the world, in constant touch with high affairs and high action. But he had given his readers a foretaste of even better things to come. Those who recall the sensations with which they read the 'Monologues of the Dead' on their first appearance sensations rivalled in the last twelve years only by those which the perusal of each new 'Barrack

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

room Ballad' aroused in every appreciative breast-can have little doubt that Mr Steevens would ultimately have attained to a far loftier eminence than he was permitted to reach. Dis aliter visum. There is no more to be said.

The other men of letters to whom we have referred had passed the allotted span of human life, and had finished their "darg" in the world. It seems as though the dying century, jealous of its successor, had determined to keep their fame, whatever its degree, whatever its likelihood of permanence, exclusively to itself. On one of the group we cannot but look back with feelings of peculiar esteem and affection. Not many months ago the last novel of Richard Doddridge Blackmore was begun and carried to a triumphant conclusion in these pages. It would be affectation to pretend that 'Dariel' as a whole was equal to 'The Maid of Sker' or 'Lorna Doone.' Yet some of the opening chapters contain a picture of English rural life which their author never bettered. Of his immense influence on contemporary fiction the proofs are abundant. The innumerable heroes who, during the last thirty years, have been so awkward in love and so dauntless in war, and who, with all modesty and many disclaimers of the gift of fluent narrative, have communicated

perversity of genius-or (let us rather say) with the instinctive delicacy of a true gentlemanhe declined to be exploited by interviewers of either sex. Νο man in his generation more scrupulously maintained the best traditions of the vocation of letters. None have more systematically violated them than those who have clamoured most loudly about the emoluments and the deference due as of right to the "profession" of authorship.

their adventures to the public, are the lineal descendants, sure enough, of John Ridd. Micah Clark is one of the least unworthy of them. But at the present moment we are not much concerned to weigh the merits of Mr Blackmore's novels with any great nicety. Some little time ago1 we ventured to attempt an estimate of his place in current literature, to which we have now nothing to add, and from which we have now nothing to withdraw. Our thoughts at this juncture turn rather to the man than to the Dr Martineau was spared to novelist. In him we have lost reach an extreme old age, reone of the true old English taining his faculties almost unstamp: tenacious, it may be, impaired to the very end. His of old English prejudices, but great work, the 'Types of Ethitenacious also of old English cal Theory,' did not appear until virtues and of old English after he was eighty, and he notions of self-respect and survived its publication for more honour. To say that he than fourteen years. It may detested the craving for noto- be that his speculations were riety displayed by so many of more successful and convincing his younger fellow-craftsmen is on the critical than on the congrievously to understate the structive side. So are those case. Self-advertisement in all of many philosophers. But he its forms was abhorrent to his will always be remembered with nature. He firmly declined to gratitude as one of those who make capital out of his private did most to explode the colosaffairs; nor did he choose that, sal system of quackery known for the chance of pocketing a as the "Synthetic " philosophy. few additional guineas, the No one has demonstrated more privacy of his domestic life conclusively than Martineau the should be violated. The fact absolute worthlessness of any of early failure and neglect is sort of "hedonistic calculus," it sometimes pleaded in extenua- matters not how subtle and retion of the conduct of those fined, as a basis of ethics; and who, when success has arrived, no one in our time has illustrated take the public to their bosoms more nobly by his own life the and revel in the gaping admira- excellence of plain living and tion of fools. That plea would high thinking. Unlike Richard have been open to Mr Black- Hutton, who also was bred more. But with the strange a Unitarian, he was never able

1 'Maga,' September 1896.

to accept the message of Christianity in all its fulness; but of him, if of any, we may surely say that he was not far from the kingdom of God. It is difficult to resist comparing him with his celebrated sister. Mr Ruskin, in his most gracious vituperative manner, somewhere describes that lady as "a vulgar and foolish infidel." Such language is of course reserved for the sole use of the wholly polite, wise, and good. But with every desire to deal mercifully with the authoress of 'The Crofton Boys' and 'Feats on the Fjord,' we cannot deny that Miss Martineau possessed many of the qualities popularly attributed to the more spiteful and censorious of her sex. She was a rabid and malignant partisan. Rancour and envy too often held undisputed possession of her heart. There were an elevation of mind and a generosity of spirit in James to which Harriet was a total stranger.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

the winter sunset which coincided with his departure were fully and accurately catalogued for our edification. A grave in Westminster Abbey was offered for his last restingplace; our topical sonneteers rushed into verse ventre à terre; pulpits rang with his praises. We rather think that Mr Frederic Harrison has threatened to include him in the Positivist calendar of Saints (that Almanac de Gotha of true greatness), a compliment which we doubt if the "Master" himself would have much relished. In short, but for the fact that the war in South Africa occupies the lion's share of space in every newspaper, we should have had a repetition on an equally gigantic scale of the nauseating cant which deluged us after the death of Mr Gladstone.

In this there is nothing surprising; for Mr Ruskin was one of those unhappy authors who become the centre of an adoring clique or coterie, and grow to be dependent upon its adoration. "There is nothing more lowering, nothing more dangerous, to a great man, or, let us say, a great writer, than the little circle of adulators which is so apt to grow round any distinguished person who will permit it." So wrote one whose judgment was as sound as her life was noble, with direct reference to the sage of Brantwood.1 Foolish fellows combined to form Ruskin societies. University Extension lecturers declaimed upon his goodness

1 'Maga,' November 1887, p. 705.

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »