Wherever gold is to be found, there is a rush from all sides; among some honest explorers with legitimate aims, there are always found, in such a case, a number of unruly spirits, of scheming, dishonest and careless persons, the scum of the earth, cheats and vagabonds. The Outlanders who crowded to the Rand were of different nations, French, Belgians and others, besides the English who were in a large majority. The presence and eager rush of this multitude of gold seekers certainly brought into the country elements which clouded the moral atmosphere, and became the occasion of deeds which so far from being typical of the spirit of “England” and the English people at large, were the very reverse, and have been condemned by public opinion in our country.
But, admitting that unworthy motives and corrupting elements were introduced into the Transvaal by the influx of strangers urged there by self-interest, it is strange that any should imagine and assert that the “corrupting influence of gold,” or the lust of gold told upon the British alone. The disasters brought upon the Transvaal seem to be largely attributable to the corrupting effect on President Kruger and his allies in the Government, of the sudden acquisition of enormous wealth, through the development, by other hands than his own, of the hidden riches within his country.
What are the facts? In 1885 the revenue of the Transvaal State was a little over L177,000. This rose, owing to the Outlanders’ labours, and the taxes exacted from them by the Transvaal government to L4,400,000 (in 1899). Thus they have increased in the proportion of 1 to 25. “If the admirers of the Transvaal government, who place no confidence in documents emanating from English sources, will take the trouble to open the Almanack de Gotha, they will there find the financial report for 1897. There they will read that of these L4,400,000, salaries and emoluments amount to nearly one-quarter—we will call it L1,000,000,—that is, L40 per head per adult Boer, for it goes without saying that in all this the Outlanders have no share. If we remember that the great majority of the Boers consist of farmers who do not concern themselves at all about the Administration, and who consequently get no slice of the cake, we can judge of the size of the junks which President Kruger and the chiefly foreign oligarchy on which he leans take to themselves. The President has a salary of L7,000—(the President of the Swiss Confederation has L600)—and besides that, what is called “coffee-money.” This is his official income, but his personal resources do not end there. The same table of the Almanack de Gotha shows a sum of nearly L660,000 entitled “other expenses.” Under this head are included secret funds, which in the budget are stated at a little less than L40,000 (more than even England has), but which always exceed that sum, and in 1896 reached about L200,000. Secret Service Funds!—vile name and viler reality—should be unknown in the affairs of small nations. Is not honesty one of the cardinal virtues which we should expect to find amongst small nations, if nowhere else? What can the chief of a small State of 250,000 inhabitants do with such a large amount of Secret funds?