A friend who has lived in South Africa, and who has had natives working for and with him, tells me of this confusion of ideas among some of the more vulgar stamp of white colonists, who, my friend observes, amuse themselves by assuming a familiarity in intercourse with the natives, which works badly. It does not at all increase their respect for the white man, but quite the contrary, while it is as little calculated to produce self-respect in the native. My friend found the natives naturally respectful and courteous, when treated justly and humanely, in fact as a gentleman would treat them. Above all things, they honour a man who is just. They have a keen sense of justice, and a quick perception of the existence of this crowning quality in a man. Livingstone said that he found that they also have a keen eye for a man of pure and moral life.
The natives in the Transvaal have never asked for the franchise, or for the smallest voice in the Government. In their hearts they hoped for and desired simple legal justice; they asked for bread, and they received a stone. It does not seem desirable that they should too early become “full fledged voters.” Some sort of Education test, some proof of a certain amount of civilization and instruction attained, might be applied with advantage; and to have to wait a little while for that does not seem, from the Englishwoman’s point of view at least, a great hardship, when it is remembered how long our agricultural labourers had to wait for that privilege, and that for more than fifty years English women have petitioned for it, and have not yet obtained it, although they are not, I believe, wholly uncivilized or uneducated.
The Theology of the Boers has been much commented upon; and it is supposed by some that, as they are said to derive it solely from the Old Testament Scriptures, it follows that the ethical teaching of those Scriptures must be extremely defective. A Swiss Pastor writes to me: “It is time to rescue the Old Testament from the Boer interpretation of it. We have not enough of Old Testament righteousness among us Christians.” This is true. Those who have studied those Scriptures intelligently see, through much that appears harsh and strange in the Mosaic prescriptions, a wisdom and tenderness which approaches to the Christian ideal, as well as certain severe rules and restrictions which, when observed and maintained, lifted the moral standard of the Hebrew people far above that of the surrounding nations. When Christ came on earth, He swept away all that which savoured of barbarism, the husk which often however, contained within it a kernel of truth capable of a great development. “Ye have heard it said of old times,” He reiterated, “but I say unto you”—and then He set forth the higher, the eternally true principles of action.