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crease the population, to develop the resources of the country, to restore the constitution, to fulfil the promises made in the annexation proclamation, and thereby to appease the maddening discontent which now threatens to drag it through anarchy to destruction.
Justified or mot?—A Court of Appeal—Slaves to theories—Froude on the Free States—Proconsuls—Conclusion.
“It is not easy to justify what we have done in the Trans“vaal. If there be any laws of right and wrong by which “nations should govern themselves in their dealings with “other nations, it is hard to find the law in conformity with “which that act was done. But for that act expediency can “be pleaded.” (Trollope's ‘South Africa, vol. ii. p. 251.) I have now but to show that neither expediency nor even temporary convenience, much less the obtaining of strikingly or even fairly beneficial results, have as yet justified the high-handed proceeding by which 50,000 people were converted into enemies; and a most deplorable state of feeling between English and Dutch South Africans engendered: a feeling that may be the cause of tears and misery, if not of blows and blood, in years to come. I am firmly convinced that the British public knew nothing of the Transvaal and its circumstances before the annexation; and that, even now, they are not over well informed about the country they have acquired. I am equally well assured that the intentions of the Colonial Office towards South Africa and South Africans were most kind; and that the “Office” intended to be just, and even liberal, in its treatment of the Dutch. I am prepared to go still further, and to agree with Lord Carnarvon, that the Transvaal “has neither been sought nor coveted by him; ” but I am also in a position to prove that the Earl and the Colonial Office were deceived and “bustled” by their South African agents and proconsuls into hasty and unfortunate actions; and that it will be well for the name and reputation of English officials, and well also for the honour of the English people, if the annexation is reconsidered, and the representations on which it was based authoritatively repudiated. Mr Anthony Trollope's defence of the annexation is perhaps the jauntiest and most pleasant of his late literary efforts—no—triumphs 1 - Yet he deplores, in his pages, the unfortunate constitution of the Colonial Office; and while very properly ascribing to every living and dead worthy who has filled the post of Secretary of State for the Colonies, credit for the possession of public virtue of no inferior order, he, with equal propriety and truth, points out that each individual office-bearer was likely to be distinguished by some different virtue from his immediate predecessor, if not from all his official forbears. The economist is succeeded in office by the ambitious enlarger of imperial responsibilities, who, in his turn, makes way for some patron of the close Crown colony system, only to be quickly followed by a minister with a firm belief in the virtues of petty parliaments and in colonial imitations of representative government. All this is injurious to colonists, who, in the meantime, suffer from experiments in administration, which are only saved from being dangerous by their being, as a rule, short-lived. Would it not be well if this system, or rather no system, were to be altered or abolished? It appears to colonists most unreasonable that the ruler of the colonies should go in and out of office with the British Ministry, in whose overthrow or triumph colonial public men have no part. This is indeed the origo et fons malorum— the reason of ever-recurring colonial discontent. Some reform in our system of colonial administration is wanted, and that immediately." It is impossible to expect
* “The obstacle which lies in the way is the existing Colonial Office. Over that department there has always hung a veil of the profoundest mystery. . . . The colonial dependencies of Britain are by far too large and too important to be worked by such machinery; and the first step towards placing them in their proper position should be the abolition of the Colonial Office as at present constituted, and the substitution in its place of a Colonial Board of Control.”—“Blackwood's Magazine,’ vol. lxxxii., July 1857, p. 122.
A COURT OF APPEAL NEEDED. 277
the colonies to remain contented with a method of rule by which their destinies are handed about from one experimentalist to another, to suit the exigencies of strictly English political parties. It is still worse when the experimentalists, who are in no way amenable to colonial opinion, deal with territories over which they have but a colourable right, if any right of rule at all. Great satisfaction would be given to colonists and subject (colonial) populations by the construction of a council sitting in England, which would form a court of appeal against colonial rulers, as well as against the Colonial Office itself. This council should be a standing committee on colonial questions, and might easily be so constituted as to include a few distinguished colonists living in England; and could be even further qualified for special investigations by having added to it, from time to time —temporarily—men technically acquainted with particular subjects under examination or appeal. It should, however, not consist wholly of ex-governors, retired high commissioners, and the like; for these would undoubtedly bring to its deliberations prejudices and previously formed ideas, which could not fail to obstruct the course of justice. This council should be a deliberative committee, acting for colonies and subject populations in much the same way as Parliament is supposed to act as between the English people and the Executive; and its recommendations and reports should have weight and authority sufficient to arrest the Colonial office in any of its actions at any moment. The peoples subject to and dependent on England, whether foreign or English born, have a most wonderful belief in the justice of their English rulers, and are to be found constantly appealing to her Majesty's Government against the misrule and arbitrary actions of her proconsuls; but when they find, as they too often do, that their appeals are unheeded—that the Colonial Office blocks the way—that they can never get forward because of circumlocution, forms, and routine,—then they not unfrequently say, “England rejects our petitions —refuses to hear us; her ears are only open to the reports of her governors and clerks; we must do something to prove that we are in earnest, or we will continue to be ignored.” Then comes a demonstration more or less forcible, and described by the proconsuls as more or less criminal; prosecutions are put in action, troops are moved, vast expenses incurred, and, finally, redress is given, the offending governor pensioned off, and the 'people pacified. This thing has occurred very often. Australasia, Mauritius, Canada, the Cape Colony, and, more recently, the Diamond Fields” have had to make very forcible appeals indeed to the public mind before they could secure inquiry and redress. It must be remembered that a Colonial Secretary is, to a terrible extent, at the mercy of his colonial subordinates, who are, as a rule, men filled with their own self-importance, slaves to their own theories, or utterly blinded to facts by official traditions—traditions which have grown up with and around them during their longer or shorter periods of official employment. In colonies more than at home are the officials a class; their surroundings are “society"—a society that is utterly foreign to the people amongst whom it is planted, and by whom, as a rule, it is despised. Whatever the guiding prejudice of this society may be, that will almost invariably be the rule, belief, and official religion of the local Government whose opinions, in turn, react on the society amongst which it festers, which shines by a light reflected from its petty dignity, and which would not be “society” if it were not semi-official. Now this is an unmixed evil. It is only very rarely that a colony can get free from this “society” incubus. I think, of the present colonial rulers (in Africa, at all events), Colonel Lanyon is the only one free from the wretched influences I refer to. He went in to the Diamond Fields as a purge; and although he had about him men who would gladly have used their positions to warp his mind into the traditions they lived amongst, yet they failed, and that only because, on his first arrival, they tried to do too much
1 “Three years ago there was nearly a revolution at the Diamond Fields. What was the cause of it? The people represented the case to the Imperial Government, and very fortunately the Government sent out a British soldier and a gentleman, Colonel Crossman. That gentleman investigated matters and restored order, and the unpopular Governor then administering the Government was superseded by Major Lanyon. The present happy result is a proof of his administration.”—Mr BEKKER, at Mr Moodie's Lecture before the United Service Institute.