While in England Sir Bartle Frere was being censured and vilified, in South Africa an overwhelming majority of the colonists, of whatever race or origin, were declaring, in unmistakable terms, that he had gained their warmest approbation and admiration. Town after town and village after village poured in addresses and resolutions in different forms, agreeing in enthusiastic commendation of him as the one man who had grasped the many threads of the South African tangle, and was handling them so as to promise a solution in accordance with the interests of all the many and various races which inhabited it.
“In our opinion,” one of these resolutions (from Cradock) says, “his Excellency, Sir Bartle Frere, is one of the best Governors, if not the best Governor, this Colony has ever had, and the disasters which have taken place since he has held office, are not due to any fault of his, but to a shameful mismanagement of public affairs before he came to the Colony, and the state of chaos and utter confusion in which he had the misfortune to find everything on his arrival; and we are therefore of opinion that the thanks of every loyal colonist are due to his Excellency for the herculean efforts he has since made under the most trying circumstances to South Africa...."
Another, from Kimberley says:—“It has been a source of much pain to us that your Excellency’s policy and proceedings should have been so misunderstood and misrepresented.... The time, we hope, is not far distant when the wisdom of your Excellency’s native policy and action will be as fully recognized and appreciated by the whole British nation as it is by the colonists of South Africa."
At Pretoria, the capital of the Transvaal, a public meeting was held (April 24th), which resolved that:—
“This meeting reprobates most strongly the action of a certain section of the English and Colonial Press for censuring, without sufficient knowledge of local affairs, the policy and conduct of Sir B. Frere; and it desires not only to express its sympathy with Sir B. Frere and its confidence in his policy, but also to go so far as to congratulate most heartily Her Majesty the Queen, the Home Government, and ourselves, on possessing such a true, considerate, and faithful servant as his Excellency the High Commissioner.”
A public dinner also was given to Sir B. Frere at Pretoria, at which his health was drunk with the greatest enthusiasm; there was a public holiday, and other rejoicings.
Sir Bartle Frere was intending to go to Bloemfontein, in the
Orange Free State, to visit President Brand, with whom he was on cordial terms, and with whom he wished to talk over his plans for the Transvaal; but instructions came from Sir Michael Hicks-Beach to proceed to Cape Town. He therefore left Pretoria on May 1st. He was welcomed everywhere with the utmost cordiality and enthusiasm. At Potchefstroom there was a public dinner and a reception. On approaching Bloemhof he was met by a large cavalcade, and escorted into the township, where a triumphal arch had been erected, and an address was presented.