J.P. Fitzpatrick.

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A Private Record of Public Affairs



_Written August, 1896.
Privately circulated June, 1899.
Supplemented and published September 1899._


It was originally designed to compile a statement of the
occurrences of 1895-6 in the Transvaal and of the conditions
which led up to them, in the hope of removing the very grave
misunderstandings which existed. Everybody else had been heard and
judged, the Uitlander had only been judged. It therefore seemed
proper that somebody should attempt to present the case for the
Uitlander. The writer, as a South African by birth, as a resident
in the Transvaal since 1884, and lastly as Secretary of the Reform
Committee, felt impelled to do this, but suffered under the
disability of President Kruger's three years' ban; and although it
might possibly have been urged that a plain statement of facts and
explanations of past actions could not be fairly regarded as a
deliberate interference in politics, the facts themselves when set
out appeared to constitute an indictment so strong as to make it
worth while considering whether the Government of the Transvaal would
not regard it as sufficient excuse to put in force the sentence of
banishment. The postponement of publication which was then decided
upon for a period of three years appeared to be tantamount to the
abandonment of the original purpose, and the work was continued with
the intention of making it a private record to be printed at the
expiry of the term of silence, and to be privately circulated among
those who were personally concerned or interested; a record which
might perhaps be of service some day in filling in a page of South
African history.

The private circulation of that work during June of the present
year led to suggestions from many quarters that it should be
supplemented by a chapter or two dealing with later events and
published; and the present volume is the outcome of these

It is realized that much of what might properly appear in a private
record will be considered rather superfluous in a book designed for
wider circulation. For instance, a good deal of space is given to
details of the trial and the prison life of the Reformers, which are
of no interest whatever to the public, although they form a record
which the men themselves may like to preserve. These might have been
omitted but that the writer desired to make no alterations in the
original text except in the nature of literary revision.

The writer may be charged by the "peace" party with deliberately
selecting a critical and anxious time as opportune to contribute a
new factor to those already militating against a peaceful settlement.
Two replies could be made to this: one an excuse and one an answer.
It would be an excuse that the writer did not deliberately select
the time of publication, but that the Transvaal Government in its
wisdom chose to impose silence for three years, and that the project
with which their action had interfered was resumed at the earliest
possible moment. The coincidence of another crisis with the date of
emancipation may be an unlucky coincidence, or it may be a result.
But there is neither necessity nor intention to offer excuses. The
responsibility is accepted and the answer is that a case so sound
needs only to be understood, that a recital of the facts must help
to dispel the mists of race prejudice and misunderstanding which are
obscuring the judgment of many; and that a firm but strictly just
and dignified handling of the question by the Imperial Government
is the only possible way to avert a catastrophe in South Africa. It
is essential therefore that first of all the conditions as they are
should be understood; and this record is offered as a contribution
to that end. Let the measure of its truth be the measure of its

The reader is not invited to believe that the case is presented in
such form as it might have been presented by an impartial historian.
It is the Transvaal _from within_, by one who feels all the
injustice and indignity of the position. With the knowledge, however,
that a good case is spoiled by overstatement and with the desire to
avoid injustice to others an earnest attempt has been made to state
the facts fairly. In how far that attempt has been successful the
reader must decide for himself.

_July, 1899._


It has been impossible to avoid in this volume more or less pointed
reference to certain nationalities in certain connections; for
instance such expressions as "the Boers," "the Cape Dutch," "the
Hollanders," "the Germans," are used. The writer desires to say once
and for all that unless the contrary is obviously and deliberately
indicated, the distinctions between nationalities are intended in the
political sense only and not in the racial sense, and if by mischance
there should be found something in these pages which seems offensive,
he begs the more indulgent interpretation on the ground of a very
earnest desire to remove and not to accentuate race distinctions.

General references are also made to classes - "the civil service,"
"the officials," &c. There are officials in the Transvaal service
who would earn the confidence and esteem of the public in any
administration in the world. It is hardly necessary to say that there
is no intention to disparage them.




APPENDIX A. Pretoria Convention. 369
APPENDIX B. London Convention. 377
APPENDIX C. President Kruger's Affairs in the Raads. 385
APPENDIX D. Volksraad Debates. 387
APPENDIX E. Malaboch. 395
APPENDIX F. The Great Franchise Debate. 396
APPENDIX G. Terms of Dr. Jameson's Surrender. 404
APPENDIX H. Sir John Willoughby's Report to the War Office. 411
APPENDIX I. Manifesto. 422
APPENDIX K. The Case of the Chieftainess Toeremetsjani. 432
APPENDIX L. Report on the Letter written on a Torn Telegram Form
signed "F.R.," by Mr. T.H. Gurrin, Expert in Handwriting. 438




When, before resorting to extreme measures to obtain what the
Uitlanders deemed to be their bare rights, the final appeal or
declaration was made on Boxing Day, 1895, in the form of the
manifesto published by the Chairman of the National Union, President
Kruger, after an attentive consideration of the document as
translated to him, remarked grimly: 'Their rights. Yes, they'll get
them - over my dead body!' And volumes of explanation could not better
illustrate the Boer attitude and policy towards the English-speaking

'L'État c'est moi' is almost as true of the old Dopper President as
it was of its originator; for in matters of external policy and in
matters which concern the Boer as a party the President has his way
as surely and as completely as any anointed autocrat. To anyone who
has studied the Boers and their ways and policy - who has given more
than passing consideration to the incidents and negotiations of the
present year{01} - it must be clear that President Kruger does
something more than represent the opinion of the people and execute
their policy: he moulds them in the form he wills. By the force of
his own strong convictions and prejudices, and of his indomitable
will, he has made the Boers a people whom he regards as the germ of
the Africander nation; a people chastened, selected, welded, and
strong enough to attract and assimilate all their kindred in South
Africa, and then to realize the dream of a Dutch Republic from the
Zambesi to Capetown.

In the history of South Africa the figure of the grim old President
will loom large and striking - picturesque, as the figure of one who
by his character and will made and held his people; magnificent, as
one who in the face of the blackest fortune never wavered from his
aim or faltered in his effort; who, with a courage that seemed, and
still seems, fatuous, but which may well be called heroic, stood up
against the might of the greatest empire in the world. And, it may
be, pathetic, too, as one whose limitations were great, one whose
training and associations - whose very successes - had narrowed, and
embittered and hardened him; as one who, when the greatness of
success was his to take and to hold, turned his back on the supreme
opportunity, and used his strength and qualities to fight against the
spirit of progress, and all that the enlightenment of the age
pronounces to be fitting and necessary to good government and a
healthy State.

To an English nobleman, who, in the course of an interview, remarked,
'My father was a Minister of England, and twice Viceroy of Ireland,'
the old Dutchman answered, 'And my father was a shepherd!' It was not
pride rebuking pride; it was the ever-present fact which would not
have been worth mentioning but for the suggestion of the antithesis.
He too was a shepherd, and is - a peasant. It may be that he knows
what would be right and good for his people, and it may be not; but
it is sure that he realizes that to educate would be to emancipate,
to broaden their views would be to break down the defences of their
prejudices, to let in the new leaven would be to spoil the old bread,
to give unto all men the rights of men would be to swamp for ever the
party which is to him greater than the State. When one thinks on the
one-century history of the people, much is seen that accounts for
their extraordinary love of isolation, and their ingrained and
passionate aversion to control; much too that draws to them a world
of sympathy. And when one realizes the old Dopper President hemmed in
once more by the hurrying tide of civilization, from which his people
have fled for generations - trying to fight both fate and
Nature - standing up to stem a tide as resistless as the eternal
sea - one sees the pathos of the picture. But this is as another
generation may see it.

To-day we are too close - so close that the meaner details, the
insincerity, the injustice, the barbarity - all the unlovely touches
that will by-and-by be forgotten - sponged away by the gentle hand of
time, when only the picturesque will remain.

In order to understand the deep, ineradicable aversion to English
rule which is in the heart and the blood and the bones of every Boer,
and of a great many of their kindred who are themselves British
subjects, one must recall the conditions under which the Dutch came
under British rule. When, in 1814, the Cape was finally ceded to
England, it had been twice acquired and held by conquest. The
colonists were practically all Dutch, or Huguenots who had adopted
Dutch as their language, and South Africa as their home. In any case
they were people who, by tradition, teaching and experience, must
have regarded the English as their enemies; people in whom there must
have been roused bitter resentment against being handed over with the
land to their traditional enemies. Were they serfs or subjects? has
been asked on their behalf. Had Holland the right, the power, over
freemen born, to say to them, 'You are our subjects, on our soil, and
we have transferred the soil and with it your allegiance to England,
whose sovereignty you will not be free to repudiate.' The Dutch
colonist said 'No.' The English Government and the laws of the day
said 'Yes.'

Early in the century the Boers began to trek away from the sphere of
British rule. They were trekkers before that, indeed. Even in the
days of Van Riebeck (1650) they had trekked away from the crowded
parts, and opened up with the rifle and the plough new reaches of
country; pioneering in a rough but most effective way, driving back
the savage races, and clearing the way for civilization. There is,
however, a great difference to be noted between the early treks of
the emigrants and the treks 'from British rule.' In the former (with
few exceptions) they went, knowing that their Government would follow
them, and even anxious to have its support and its representatives;
and the people who formed their migrating parties were those who had
no or insufficient land in the settled parts, those who were starting
life on their own account, or those whose families could not be
located and provided for in the cramped circumstances of the more
occupied parts. In the other case, rich and poor, old and young,
went off as in the days and in the fashion of Moses or Abraham. They
went without leave or help of the Government; secretly or openly
they went, and they asked nothing but to be left alone. They left
their homes, their people, the protection of an established
Government and a rough civilization, and went out into the unknown.
And they had, as it appeared to them, and as it will appear to many
others, good reasons for taking so grave a step. For, although the
colonists of South Africa enjoyed better government, and infinitely
more liberty, under British rule, than they had under the tyrannical
_régime_ of the Dutch East India Company twenty years before
(against which the Boers had twice risen in rebellion) there were
many things which were not as they should have been. A generation
had grown up which knew nothing of the arbitrary and oppressive rule
of the old Dutch Company. Simple folks have long memories, and all
the world over injuries make a deeper and more lasting impression
than benefits; and the older generation of Boers, which could recall
a condition of things contrasting unpleasantly with British rule,
also remembered the executions of Slagters Nek - a vindication of the
law which, when all allowance has been made for disturbed times, and
the need of strong measures to stop rebellion in a newly-acquired
country, seems to us to-day to have been harsh, unnecessary, and
unwise in policy, and truly terrible in the manner of fulfilment.

The Boers have produced from their own ranks no literary champion to
plead or defend their cause, and their earlier history is therefore
little known, and often misunderstood; but to their aid has come Mr.
George McCall Theal, the South African historian, whose years of
laborious research have rescued for South Africa much that would
otherwise have been lost. In his 'History of the Boers' Mr. Theal
records the causes of the great emigration, and shows how the Boers
stood up for fair treatment, and fought the cause, not of Boers
alone, but of all colonists. Boers and British were alike harshly and
ignorantly treated by high-handed Governors, and an ill-informed and
prejudiced Colonial Office, who made no distinction on the grounds
of nationality between the two; for we read that Englishmen had been
expelled the country, thrown in gaol, had their property
confiscated, and their newspapers suppressed for asserting their
independence, and for trifling breaches of harsh laws. The following
extract gives the best possible synopsis of the causes, and should
whet an appetite which can be gratified by the purchase of Mr.
Theal's book:

Why, then, did these men abandon their homes, sacrifice whatever
property could not be carried away, and flee from English rule as
from the most hateful tyranny? The causes are stated in a great mass
of correspondence addressed by them to the Colonial Government, and
now preserved, with other colonial records, in declarations published
by some of them before leaving, in letters to their relatives and to
newspapers, and in hundreds of pages of printed matter, prepared by
friendly and hostile hands. The declaration of one of the ablest men
among them assigns the following as the motives of himself and the
party that went with him:

'_January 22, 1837_

'1. We despair of saving the colony from those evils which threaten
it by the turbulent and dishonest conduct of vagrants who are allowed
to infest the country in every part; nor do we see any prospect of
peace or happiness for our children in a country thus distracted by
internal commotions.

'2. We complain of the severe losses which we have been forced to
sustain by the emancipation of our slaves, and the vexatious laws
which have been enacted respecting them.

'3. We complain of the continual system of plunder which we have for
years endured from the Kaffirs and other coloured classes, and
particularly by the last invasion of the colony, which has desolated
the frontier districts, and ruined most of the inhabitants.

'4. We complain of the unjustifiable odium which has been cast upon
us by interested and dishonest persons, under the name of religion,
whose testimony is believed in England, to the exclusion of all
evidence in our favour; and we can foresee, as the result of this
prejudice, nothing but the total ruin of the country.

'5. We are resolved, wherever we go, that we will uphold the just
principles of liberty; but, whilst we will take care that no one is
brought by us into a condition of slavery, we will establish such
regulations as may suppress crime, and preserve proper relations
between master and servant.

'6. We solemnly declare that we leave this colony with a desire to
enjoy a quieter life than we have hitherto had. We will not molest
any people, nor deprive them of the smallest property; but, if
attacked, we shall consider ourselves fully justified in defending
our persons and effects, to the utmost of our ability, against every

'7. We make known that when we shall have framed a code of laws for
our guidance, copies shall be forwarded to this colony for general
information; but we take the opportunity of stating that it is our
firm resolve to make provision for the summary punishment, even with
death, of all traitors, without exception, who may be found amongst

'8. We purpose, in the course of our journey, and on arrival at the
country in which we shall permanently reside, to make known to the
native tribes our intentions, and our desire to live in peace and
friendly intercourse with them.

'9. We quit this colony under the full assurance that the English
Government has nothing more to require of us, and will allow us to
govern ourselves without its interference in future.

'10. We are now leaving the fruitful land of our birth, in which we
have suffered enormous losses and continual vexation, and are about
to enter a strange and dangerous territory; but we go with a firm
reliance on an all-seeing, just, and merciful God, whom we shall
always fear, and humbly endeavour to obey.

'In the name of all who leave the colony with me,


But formal declarations such as the above are not in all instances to
be trusted. It is much safer to compare numerous documents written at
different times, by different persons, and under different
circumstances. For our subject this means of information is as
complete as can be desired. The correspondence of the emigrants with
the Cape Government was the work of many individuals, and extended
over many years. The letters are usually of great length, badly
constructed, and badly spelt - the productions, in short, of
uneducated men; but so uniform is the vein of thought running through
them all, that there is not the slightest difficulty in condensing
them into a dozen pages. When analyzed, the statements contained in
them are found to consist of two charges, one against the Imperial
Government, the other against the agents in South Africa of the
London Missionary Society.

The Imperial Government was charged with exposing the white
inhabitants of the colony, without protection, to robbery and murder
by the blacks; with giving credence in every dispute to statements
made by interested persons in favour of savages, while refusing to
credit the testimony, no matter how reliable, of colonists of
European extraction; with liberating the slaves in an unjust manner;
and generally with such undue partiality for persons with black skins
and savage habits, as to make it preferable to seek a new home in the
wilderness than remain under the English flag.

The missionaries of the London Society were charged with usurping
authority that should properly belong to the civil magistrate; with
misrepresenting facts; and with advocating schemes directly hostile
to the progress of civilization, and to the observance of order. And
it was asserted that the influence of these missionaries was all
powerful at the Colonial Office in London, by which the colony,
without a voice in the management of its affairs, was then ruled

In support of the charges against the Imperial Government, the
emigrants dwelt largely upon the devastation of the eastern districts
by the Kaffirs' inroad of December, 1834, which was certainly
unprovoked by the colonists. Yet Lord Glenelg, who was then Secretary
of State for the Colonies, justified the Kaffirs, and not only
refused to punish them, but actually gave them a large slip of land,
including the dense jungles along the Fish River, that had long
been part of the colony; and made no other provision against the
recurrence of a destructive invasion than a series of treaties with a
number of barbarous chiefs, who had no regard for their engagements.
This event is the most prominent feature in the correspondence of
the emigrants; it is fairly recorded, and the language used is in
general much more moderate than that employed by the English
frontier colonists when relating the same circumstance.

Next stands the removal of all restraint from the coloured population
of the colony, without the protection to the whites of even a Vagrant
Act. Several of the colonial divisions had been for ten or twelve
years overrun by fugitives from the Basuto and Betshuana countries,
who had been driven from their own homes by the troubles already
recorded. These people were usually termed Mantatees or Makatees,
from the supposition that they were all subjects of Ma Ntatisi.
Towards the eastern frontiers Kaffirs, and after the war Fingos,
wandered about practically wherever they chose. In the remainder of
the colony Hottentots, free blacks, and mixed breeds came and went as
they pleased. How is it possible, said the farmers, for us to
cultivate the ground, or breed cattle, with all these savages and
semi-savages constantly watching for opportunities to plunder
us - with no police, and no law under which suspicious characters can
be arrested and made to account for their manner of living?

Much is said of the reproofs of Sir Benjamin D'Urban by the Secretary
of State, and, after 1838, of the dismissal of that Governor, (1) The
emigrants asserted that he was the best Governor the colony had had
since it became subject to England; they dwelt upon his benevolence,
his ability, his strict justice, his impartiality to white and black,
his efforts to promote civilization; and then they complained, in
words more bitter than are to be found when they referred to any
other subject, that the good Governor had been reproved, and finally
deprived of his office, because he had told the plain truth,
regardless of the London Missionary Society; and had endeavoured to
mete out to black criminals the same justice that he would have meted
out had they been white. There is now no one in South Africa who does
not agree with the emigrants in this matter. Nearly half a century
has passed away since Sir Benjamin D'Urban was forced into retirement
by Lord Glenelg; and during that period the principal measures which
he proposed have been approved of and adopted, while the successors

Online LibraryJ.P. FitzpatrickThe Transvaal from Within A Private Record of Public Affairs → online text (page 1 of 45)