When we speak of injustice done to the natives by the South African Republics, we are apt to be met with the reproach that the English have also been guilty of cruelty to native races. This is unhappily true, and shall not be disguised in the following pages;—but mark this,—that it is true of certain individuals bearing the English name, true of groups of individuals, of certain adventurers and speculators. But this fact does not touch the far more important and enduring fact that wherever British rule is established, slavery is abolished, and illegal.
This fact is the ground of the hope for the future of the Missionaries of our own country, and of other European countries, as well as of the poor natives themselves, so far as they have come to understand the matter; and in several instances they have shown that they do understand it, and appreciate it keenly.
Those English persons, or groups of persons, who have denied to the native labourers their hire (which is the essence of slavery), have acted on their own responsibility, and illegally. This should be made to be clearly understood in future conditions of peace, and rendered impossible henceforward.
That future peace which we all desire, on the cessation of the present grievous war, must be a peace founded on justice, for there is no other peace worthy of the name; and it must be not only justice as between white men, but as between white men and men of every shade of complexion.
A speaker at a public meeting lately expressed a sentiment which is more or less carelessly repeated by many. I quote it, as helping me to define the principle to which I have referred, which marks the difference between an offence or crime committed by an individual against the law, and an offence or crime sanctioned, permitted, or enacted by a State or Government itself, or by public authority in any way.