The recent death of Sir Starr Jameson reminded the public of the South African War, which was such an engrossing subject to the British public at the close of the ’nineties and the first years of the present century. Yet though it may seem quite out of date to reopen the question when so many more important matters occupy attention, the relationship between South Africa and England is no small matter. It has also had its influence on actual events, if only by proving to the world the talent which Great Britain has displayed in the administration of her vast Colonies and the tact with which British statesmen have contrived to convert their foes of the day before into friends, sincere, devoted and true.
No other country in the world could have achieved such a success as did England in the complicated and singularly difficult task of making itself popular among nations whose independence it had destroyed.
The secret of this wonderful performance lies principally in the care which England has exercised to secure the welfare of the annexed population, and to do nothing likely to keep them in remembrance of the subordinate position into which they had been reduced. England never crushes those whom it subdues. Its inbred talent for colonisation has invariably led it along the right path in regard to its colonial development. Even in cases where Britain made the weight of its rule rather heavy for the people whom it had conquered, there still developed among them a desire to remain federated to the British Empire, and also a conviction that union, though it might be unpleasant to their personal feelings and sympathies, was, after all, the best thing which could have happened to them in regard to their material interests.
Prosperity has invariably attended British rule wherever it has found scope to develop itself, and at the present hour British patriotism is far more demonstrative in India, Australia or South Africa than it is in England itself. The sentiments thus strongly expressed impart a certain zealotism to their feelings, which constitutes a strong link with the Mother Country. In any hour of national danger or calamity this trait provides her with the enthusiastic help of her children from across the seas.
The Englishman, generally quiet at home and even subdued in the presence of strangers, is exuberant in the Colonies; he likes to shout his patriotism upon every possible occasion, even when it would be better to refrain. It is an aggressive patriotism which sometimes is quite uncouth in its manifestations, but it is real patriotism, disinterested and devoid of any mercenary or personal motives.