“I am sure that the present proposal is made bona fide in order to establish the rights of British subjects once for all; and the Government of the South African Republic need not entertain any fear that we should wish to intervene in its internal affairs in future.”
On August 28th, Mr. Chamberlain speaks the same language; at the same time justly observing, that only a portion of the Englishmen residing in the Transvaal would seek to become naturalised.
In point of fact when in February, 1896, the British Government demanded autonomy for the Rand, and on this proposition being refused, demanded at Bloemfontein the Franchise for Uitlanders, it was neither bent upon a policy of absorption nor of conquest. They desired to place self-government in the hands of the Uitlanders, in order to be able to say to them: “Now manage your own affairs with the Boers, obtain respect for your rights by constitutional measures. We are no further concerned in the matter.”
It was not the conquest of the Transvaal that was desired by the British Government, it was the establishment of an autonomous Republic.
The Uitlanders of British, Australian, German and American extraction, inter-mixing with the Boers, would soon have merged their national characteristics, and have become simply citizens of the South African Republic.
The Boers might have constructed a vast, wealthy and powerful State in which for generations to come, they would have held the supremacy. As a conquered people they will be compelled to accept the constitution they might have granted, and granted the more readily as they would have reaped the largest share of the benefits.
THE SUZERAINTY OF ENGLAND AND THE SOUTH AFRICAN REPUBLIC.
1.—Who raised the Question of Suzerainty?
Nine persons out of ten, when speaking of the Transvaal question, say: “Why did Chamberlain, at the last moment, raise the question of suzerainty? When everything had been settled, that question ruined all.”
The more thoughtful men base their opinion on an article in Le Temps of September 15th, in which occurs this hypothetical paragraph:—
“Moreover it is possible, that, in the dim recesses of his brain, the Colonial Minister treasures, as a supreme hope and shadowy idea, the half-formed design of profiting by the discussion he is raising in order to excite fresh disputes, such as the complex question of suzerainty.”
This insiduous and disloyal conjecture has been reproduced and utilised; the absolutely unfounded insinuation of Le Temps, has been turned into an accusation against Mr. Chamberlain.
Some people who fancy they can gauge the motives of statesmen better than their neighbours, add: “If he raised the question of suzerainty, it was because he wanted to bring about a war.” Facts prove, however, that the suzerainty question was not raised by England, but by the Government at Pretoria.