Demetrius Charles de Kavanagh Boulger.

The life of Gordon, major-general, R. E. C. B.; Turkish field-marshal, Grand cordon Medjidieh, and pasha; Chinese titv (field-marshal) yellow jacket order online

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with the sub-residents. These minor councils can be appealed against by
any non-content to the Supreme Council.

"Art. 6. A hut-tax will be collected of ids. per hut by the chiefs, and will
be paid to the Resident and sub-resident. The sum thus collected will be
used in paying the Resident ;^20oo a year, all included : the sub-residents
^1200 a year, all included; in providing for the education of people (now
costing ^^3320 a year) ; in making roads, etc.

"Art. 7. The chiefs collecting hut-tax will be paid lo per cent, of the sums
they collect.

"Art. 8. The frontier line will be placed under headmen, who will be
responsible that no thieving be permitted, that spoors are followed up. For
this these headmen will be paid at the rate of ^20 to ^60 per annum,
according to the length of frontier they are responsible for.

"Art. 9. All passes must be signed by Residents or sub-residents for the
Orange Free State, or for the Cape Colony.

" Quoj — Would it be advisable to add chiefs and missionaries after sub-
residents ?

" Art. 10. Colonial warrants will be valid in Basutoland, the chiefs being
responsible that prisoners are given up to Resident or sub-residents.

"Art. II. All communications between Basutoland and the Orange Free
State to be by and through the Resident.

"Art. 12. This Convention to be in quadruplicate, two copies being in
possession of the Colonial Government, and two copies in possession of the
Basuto chiefs.

"Art. 13. On signature of this Convention, and on the fulfilment of Art.
I, amnesty clause, the Colonial Government agrees to withdraw the military
forces and the present magisterial administration."

To this important communication no answer was ever vouchsafed, but
on 7th August, long after it was in the hands of Ministers, Mr Thomas
Scanlan, the Premier, wrote a long reply to the earlier memorandum of
26th May. The writer began by quoting Lord Kimberley's remarks on
that memorandum, which were as follows : —

" I have received the memorandum on the Basuto question by
Major-General Gordon. I do not think it necessary to enter upon a
discussion of the policy suggested in this memorandum, but it will
doubtless be borne in mind by your Ministers that, as I informed you
by my telegram of the 6th of May last, H.M.'s Government cannot
hold out any expectation that steps will be taken by them to relieve the
colony of its responsibilities in Basutoland."

The interpretation placed, and no doubt correctly placed, on that
declaration of Government policy was that under no circumstances was
it prepared to do anything in the matter, and that it had quite a

246 The Life of Gordon.

sufficient number of troubles and worries without the addition of one in
remote and unimportant Basutoland. Having thus got out of the
necessity of discussing this important memorandum, under the cloak of
the Colonial Office's decision in favour of inaction, the Premier went on
to say that he was " most anxious to avoid the resumption of hostilities
on the one hand or the abandonment of the territory on the other."
There was an absolute ignoring in this statement of Gordon's deliberate
opinion that the only way to solve the difficulty was by granting Basuto-
land semi-independence on the terms of a Convention providing for
the presence of a British Resident, through whom all external matters
were to be conducted. At the same time Mr Scanlan informed Gordon
that he was sending up Mr Sauer, then Secretary for Native Affairs,
who was a nominee of Mr Orpen, the politician whose policy was
directly impugned.

On Mr Sauer reaching King William's Town, where Gordon was in
residence at the Grand Depot of the Cape forces, he at once asked him
to accompany him to Basutoland. Gordon at first declined to do this
on two grounds, viz. that he saw no good could ensue unless the con-
vention were granted, and also that he did not wish Mr Sauer, or any
other representative of the Cape Government, as a companion, because
he had learnt that " Masupha would only accept his proposed visit as
a private one, and then only with his private secretary and two

After some weeks' hesitation Gordon was induced by Mr Sauer
to so far waive his objection as to consent to accompany him to
Letsea's territory. This Basuto chief kept up the fiction of friendly
relations with the Cape, but after Gordon had personally interviewed
him, he became more than ever convinced that all the Basuto chiefs
were in league. Mr Sauer was of opinion that Letsea and the other
chiefs might be trusted to attack and able to conquer Masupha. There
was no possibility of reconciling these clashing views, but Gordon also
accompanied Mr Sauer to Leribe, the chief town of Molappo's territory,
north of, and immediately adjoining that of, Masupha. Here Gordon
found fresh evidence as to the correctness of his view, that all the
Basuto leaders were practically united, and he wrote a memorandum,
dated i6th September, which has not been published, showing the
hopelessness of getting one chief to coerce the others. Notwithstanding
the way he had been treated by the Cape Government, which had
ignored all his suggestions, Gordon, in his intense desire to do good,
and his excessive trust in the honour of other persons, yielded to Mr
Sauer's request to visit Masupha, and not only yielded but went with-
out any instructions or any prior agreement that his views were to

The Mau7'itms, the Cape, and the Congo. 247

prevail. The consequence was that Mr Sauer dehberately resolved to
destroy Gordon's reputation as a statesman, and to ensure the triumph
of his own policy by an act of treachery that has never been sur-

While Gordon went as a private visitor at the special invitation of
Masupha to that chief's territory, Mr Sauer, who was well acquainted
with Gordon's views, and also the direct author of Gordon's visit at
that particular moment, incited Letsea to induce Lerothodi to attack
Masupha. At the moment that the news of this act of treachery
reached Masupha's ears, Gordon was a guest in Masupha's camp, and
the first construction placed upon events by that chief was, that
Gordon had been sent up to hoodwink and keep him quiet, while a
formidable invasion was plotted of his territory. When Masupha
reported this news to Gordon, he asked what he advised him to do,
and it has been established that the object of the question was to
ascertain how far Gordon was privy to the plot. Gordon's candid
reply — "Refuse to have any dealings with the Government until the
forces are withdrawn," and his general demeanour, which showed
unaffected indignation, convinced Masupha of his good faith and
innocence of all participation in the plot.

A very competent witness, Mr Arthur Pattison (letter in The Times,
20th August 1885), bears this testimony: "Gordon divined his char-
acter marvellously, and was the only man Masupha had the slightest
regard for. Masupha, if you treat him straightforwardly, is as nice a
man as possible, and even kind and thoughtful ; but, if you treat him
the other way, he is a fiend incarnate."

Had Masupha not been thus convinced, Gordon's death was decided
on, and never in the whole course of his career, not even when among
the Taepings on the day of the Wangs' murder in Soochow, nor among
Suleiman's slave-hunters at Shaka, was he in greater peril than when
exposed by the treacherous proceedings of Sauer and Orpen to the
wrath of Masupha. On his return in safety he at once sent in his
resignation, but those who played him false not merely never received
their deserts for an unpardonable breach of faith to a loyal colleague,
but have been permitted by a lax public opinion at the Cape to
remain in the public service, and are now discharging high and
responsible duties.

Gordon's mission to the leading Basuto chief, and the policy of
conciliation which he consistently and ably advocated from the
beginning to the end of his stay at the Cape, were thus failures, but
they failed, as an impartial writer like Mr Gresswell says, solely because
"of Mr Bauer's intrigues behind his back." It is only necessary to add

248 The Life of Gordon.

what Gordon himself wrote on this subject on his return, and to record
that practically the very policy he advocated was carried into force,
not by the Cape Government, but over its head by the British Govern-
ment, two years later, in the separation of Basutoland from the Cape
Colony, and by placing it in its old direct dependence under the
British Crown.

"I have looked over the Cape papers; the only thing that is misrepre-
sented, so far as I could see in a ten minutes' glance at them, is that Sauer
says I knew of his intentions of sending an expedition against Masupha.
He puts it thus : ' Gordon knew that an expedition was being organised
against Masupha.' He gives apparently three witnesses that I knew well.
It is quite true ; but read the words. / kftezu Saner -was gohtg to try the
useless expedient of an expedition against Masupha, and before he did so
we agreed 1 should go and try a?id make peace. While carrying on this
peace mission, Sauer sends the expedition. So you see he is verbally
correct; yet the deduction is false; in fact, who would ever go up with
peace overtures to a man who was to be attacked during those overtures,
as Masupha was .'' Garcia knew well enough what a surprise it was to
him and me when we heard Sauer was sending the expedition. Garcia was
with me at the time."

And again, when at Jaffa, General Gordon adds further^ on the
27th of July 1883:—

" I saw Masupha one day at 10 A.M., and spoke to him ; Sauer was
twenty miles away. At i P.iNi. I came back, and wrote to Sauer an account
of what had passed ; before I sent it off I received a letter from Sauer. I
believe it is wished to be made out that Sauer wrote this letter after he had
heard what had passed between Masupha and me. This is not the case, for
Sauer, having let me go to Masupha, changed his mind and wrote the letter,
but this letter had nothing to do with my interview with Masupha."

With this further quotation of Gordon's own words I may conclude
the description of the Basuto mission, which, although deemed a failure
at the time, was eventually the direct cause of the present administra-
tive arrangement in that important district of South Africa.

"In order you should understand the position of affairs, I recall to your
memory the fact that Scanlan, Merriman,and yourself all implied to me doubts
of Orpen's policy and your desire to remove him ; that I deprecated any
such change in my favour ; that I accepted the post of Commandant-General
on Merriman's statement that the Government desired me to eradicate the
red-tape system of the colonial forces ; that I made certain reports to the
Government upon the settlement of the Basuto question in May and July,
showing my views ; that the Government were aware of the great difference
between my views and those of Orpen, both by letter and verbally to
Merriman ; also to my objections to go up. Sauer was told by me the
same thing'. I conversed with him cti roi//e, and I told him if I visited
Masupha I could not afterwards fight him, for I would not go and spy upon
his defences. Sauer asked me to go to Masupha ; he knew my views ; yet
when I was there negotiating, he, or rather Orpen, moved Lerothodi to attack
Masupha, who would, I believe, have come to terms respecting the accept-

The Mmtritms, the Cape, and the Congo. 249

ance of magistrates, a modified hut-tax, and border police. The reported
movement of Lerothodi prevented my coming to any airangement. 1 told
Masupha, when he sent and told me of Lerothodi's advance, not to answer
the Government until the hostile movements had ceased. The Government
sent me up, knowing my views, and against my wish, and knowing I was
not likely to mince m.atters. There are not more than two Europeans in
Basutoland who believe in Orpen or his policy, while the natives have lost
all confidence in him. Sauer shut his eyes to all this, and has thrown in his
lot with Orpen. Masupha is a sincere man, and he does not care to have
placed with him magistrates, against whom are complaints, which Sauer
ignores. To show you I was in earnest, I offered to remain as magistrate
with Masupha for two years, so much did I desire a settlement of the Basuto
question. I did not want nor would I have taken the post of Governor's
Agent. The chiefs and people desire peace, but not at any price. They
have intelligence enough to see through wretched magistrates like some of
those sent up into the native territories. They will accept a convention like
the one I sent down to the Colonial Secretary on the 19th of July, and no
other. I do not write this to escape being a scapegoat — in fact, I like the
altar — only that you may know my views. As long as the present magis-
trates stay there, no chance exists for any arrangement. As to the Premier's
remark that I would not fight against Masupha, is it likely I could fight
against a man with whom I am life and soul .? Would I fight against him

because he would not be controlled by some men like and ? Even

suppose I could sink my conscience to do so, what issue would result from
the action of undisciplined and insubordinate troops, who are difficult to
keep in order during peace-time, and about whom, when I would have made
an example of one officer, a Minister telegiraphs to me to let him down easy.
1 beg to recall to you that Her Majesty's Government disapproved of the
former Basuto war ; therefore, why should I, who am an outsider to the
colony, even pretend I could make war against a noble people, who resist
magistrates of no capacity ? The Government were well warned by me, and
they cannot, therefore, plead being led astray."

Intimately connected with the Basuto question was the larger one
of the right treatment to be generally extended to the natives, and on
that subject General Gordon drew up, on 19th October 1882, the
following masterly note, which elicited the admiration of one of the
Cape Premiers, Mr Merriman, who said—" As a Colony we must try
to follow out the ideas sketched by General Gordon."

The following is the full text of this interesting and valuable
state paper: —

The Native Question.

" I. The native question of South Africa is not a difficult one to an out-
sider. The difficulty lies in procuring a body of men who will have strength
of purpose to carry out a definite policy with respect to the natives.

"2. The strained relations which exist between the colonist and the
native are the outcome of employing, as a rule, magistrates lacking in tact,
sympathy, and capacity to deal with the natives, in the Government not
supervising the action of these magistrates, and in condoning their conduct,
while acknowledging those faults which come to their cognisance.

" 3. The Colonial Government act in the nomination of native magistrates

250 The Life of Goi'don.

as if their duties were such as any one could fulfil, instead of being, as they
are, duties requiriny the greatest tact and judgment. There can be no doubt
but that in a great measure, indeed one may say entirely, disturbances among
the natives are caused by the lack of judgment, or of honesty, or of tact, on
the part of the magistrates in the native territories. There may be here and
there good magistrates, but the defects of the bad ones re-act on the good
ones. Revolt is contagious and spreads rapidly among the natives.

" 4. One may say no supervision, in the full sense of the term, exists over
the actions of magistrates in native territories. They report to headquarters
what suits them, but unless some very flagrant injustice is brought to light,
which is often condoned, the Government know nothing^ The consequence
is that a continual series of petty injustices rankle in the minds of the
natives, eventually breaking out into a revolt, in the midst of which Govern-
ment does not trouble to investigate the causes of such revolt, but is
occupied in its suppression. The history of the South African wars is
essentially, as Sir G. Cathcart puts it, "Wars undertaken in support of
unjustifiable acts." Sir Harry Smith was recalled for supporting an in-
efficient official of the now Free State Territory. Any one who chooses can
investigate the causes of the late wars, and will find out that they arose in
a great measure from the ignorance of the Government, their support of
incapable officials, and their weakness in not investigating causes before
they proceeded to coercion.

" 5. Government by coercion is essentially rotten. The Duke of Welling-
ton said that any fool could govern by that means. And it is still more
rotten when Government governs by the rule of coercion without the power
of coercion except at great expense.

"6. A properly constituted Commission of independent men proceeding
to the native territories, not accepting the hospitality of those whose con-
duct they go to investigate, not driving through the territories in hot haste,
as is the manner of some Ministers, but a Commission who would patiently
and fearlessly inquire into every detail of administration, into every griev-
ance, is the sine qua no7i of any quiet in the native territories. This Com-
mission should detail on brass plates the modus vivcndi, the limits of
territory of each district chief, and a body of trustees should be appointed
to watch over any infraction of such charter.

"7. It must be borne in mind that these native territories cost the
Colony for administration some ;/^90oo per annum for administration of
magistracies ; the receipts are some ^3000, leaving a deficit of some £6000
per annum. To this deficit has to be added some 7^150,000 for regular
troops. The last rebellion of Transkei ended in capture of some /6o,ooo
worth of cattle, and that from natives of Colony driven into rebellion, and
cost Government of Colony with Basuto war nearly ^4,000,000 It is surely
worth while, from a financial point of view, to investigate the administration
of the Transkei.

" 8. The present state of the Transkei is one of seething discontent and
distrust which the rivalry of the tribes alone prevents breaking out into
action, to be quelled again at great expense and by the ruin of the people,
and upset of all enterprise to open up the country. Throughout the Transkei
is one general clamour against the Government for broken promises, for
promises made and never kept. Magistrates complain no answers are given
to their questions ; things are allowed to drift along as best they can. A
fair open policy towards the Pondos would obtain from them all the Colony
could require, lout as things are now, the Pondos are full of distrust, and only
want the chance to turn against the Colony. There are in Transkei 399,000
natives, and 2800 Europeans. Therefore, for the benefit of these 2800

The Mattritius, the Cape, and the Congo. 2 5 1

Europeans, 399,000 natives are made miserable, and an expenditure of
;ii2io,ooo is incurred by the Colony with the probability of periodical

"9. However disagreeable it might be, the Commission of Investigation
should inquire into the antecedents of each magistrate, and also his

" 10. With respect to Basutoland, it is understood that no revenue from
that country is to go to the Colony, therefore it can be no object to Colony
to insist on the installation of magistrates in that country. If the magis-
trates of Transkei are the cause of discontent among the natives, then what
object is there in insisting on their installation in Basutoland? The Pondos,
a far inferior people, are happy under their own chiefs — far happier than the
natives of Transkei. Why should the Colony insist on sending men who
are more likely to goad the liasutos into rebellion than anything else .'' The
administration of Basutoland is on a scale costing £2,0,000 per annum.

"11. It is argued that should the Colony go to war with Masupha the
other chiefs would hold aloof. This is quite erroneous. A war with
Masupha means a war with the Basuto nation, with a rising in the Transkei,
and perhaps in Pondoland, and would affect Natal and Her Majesty's

" 12. The only remedy is the sending up of his Excellency the Governor,
or of some high neutral officer, to Basutoland, and the calling together of
the people to decide on their future government and connection with Colony.
Or, should the British Government refuse this small concession, which could
not involve it, then the Colony should send up an independent Commission
to meet the Basuto people, and arrange a /nodus vive/idi. Whichever
course is followed it is a sine qua iion that the present officials in Basuto-
land should be relieved at once, as they have lost the confidence both of
Europeans and natives. The Basutos desire peace, and it is an error to
describe their demeanour as aggressive. It is not unnatural that after what
they have suffered from the hands of Colonial Government they should
desire at least as nearly as much self-government as the Pondos enjoy.
Certainly the present magisterial administration of the Transkei is very far
from being a blessing, or conducive to peace.

" 13. Nothing can possibly be worse than the present state of affairs in
native administration, and the interests of the Colony demand a vertebrate
government of some sort, whoever it may be composed of, instead of the
invertebrate formation that is now called a government, and which drifts
into and creates its own difficulties. C. G. GORDON.

"October 19, 1882.

*■'■ P.S. — Should Her Majesty's Government manage to arrange with
Basutos in a satisfactory manner, 10,000 splendid cavalry could be counted
on as allies in any contingencies in Natal, etc."

The vital part of Gordon's Cape experiences was the Basuto mission,
and as it is desirable that it should not be obscured by other matters,
I will only touch briefly on his work as Commandant-General, apart
from that he performed as Adviser to the Cape Government in the
Basuto difficulty. The post of Commandant-General was forced upon
him in the first weeks of his arrival from the Mauritius by the combined
urgency of Sir Hercules Robinson, the Governor, and Mr Merriman.

252 The Life of Gordon.

then Premier. Much against his inclination, Gordon agreed to fill the
post thus thrust upon him, but only for a time. It entailed an infinity
of work and worry. His instructions were to break up a red-tape
system, and such a task converted every place-holder into his enemy.
Still that opposition rather made his task attractive than otherwise, but
in a little time he found that this opposition would not stop short of
insubordination, and that to achieve success it would be necessary to
cashier a good many officers as a wholesome example. It was while
matters were in this preliminary stage that Mr Merriman's ministry
went out of office, and was succeeded by another under Mr Scanlan.
The measures which were favoured by the one were opposed by the
other, and Gordon soon saw that the desire for a thorough reorganisa-
tion of the Cape forces, which, if properly supported, he could have
carried out, was no longer prevalent among the responsible Ministers.
Still he drew up an elaborate programme for the improvement of the
Colonial Regular forces, by which they might be increased in numbers
and improved in efficiency, at the same time that the annual expenditure
was reduced. This document shows that mastery of detail which was
one of his most striking characteristics, and if his advice had been taken,
the Cape would have acquired nearly 4000 troops at no greater cost
than it already expended on 1600. In a second memorandum, he not
only showed the necessity existing for that larger force, but also how, by
administrative alterations in the Transkeian provinces, its cost might be
diminished and most conveniently discharged. Although I do not
quote these two documents, I cannot help saying that Gordon, in the
whole course of his life, never wrote anything more convincing than the
advice he gave the Cape Government, which, owing to local jealousies
and the invincible bulwark of vested interests, was never carried into
effect, although the Basuto question was subsequently composed on
Gordon's lines by the Imperial Government, and there has been peace
there during all the other South African troubles.

The closing passages between Gordon and the Cape Ministers need
only be briefly referred to. Gordon resigned because he saw he
could do no good in Basutoland ; the Cape Premier accepted his
resignation because Gordon " would not fight the Basutos." The

Online LibraryDemetrius Charles de Kavanagh BoulgerThe life of Gordon, major-general, R. E. C. B.; Turkish field-marshal, Grand cordon Medjidieh, and pasha; Chinese titv (field-marshal) yellow jacket order → online text (page 29 of 40)