James Cappon.

Britain's title in South Africa, or, The story of Cape colony to the days of the great trek online

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Online LibraryJames CapponBritain's title in South Africa, or, The story of Cape colony to the days of the great trek → online text (page 21 of 21)
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benefits of British administration to the trade of Cape
Colony. After having covered up and disguised the fact as
much as possible for many years in his various histories, he
permits himself at length to express it in the following un-
gracious manner ; the italics are mine :

To produce an effect there must be a cause. Setting aside the few
individuals within the official circle, what cause had the South African
colonists in 1803 for attachment to Great Britain? .... They had
a larger market for their produce, but it unfortunately happened that
during a considerable portion of the first English period the seasons
were so bad that there was little or nothing to sell. A so-called senate,
composed entirely of burghers, instead of mixed burghers and officials,
was a gain, but its power was extremely limited. That the reform in
the method of paying civil servants, relief from the irritating auction
tax on petty accounts, and the abolition of a few monopolies, such as
the sale of meat, combined with the better market, surely did not form
sufficient cause to turn the affections of the people from their own
mother country to another land where sympathy with them was entirely
wanting. {Records, 1803 — 1806, p. loi.)



Perhaps not ; but one may be excused for asking if this is
the proper manner for a historian of South Africa who
claims to be impartial to acknowledge the great reforms intro-
duced into Cape Colony by British rule ?

The reader will notice Dr. Theal's method of handling
very important facts, the whole gamut, indeed, of civil and
economic reforms, so as to belittle them. They had a
larger market, but — "during a considerable period''^ ....
*' there was little or nothing to sell," &c. They had got a
new popular body, the burgher senate, to represent their
views \a very effective body, indeed, in coJistant co-operatiofi
2vith the governor, its vieivs always receiving cofisideralion,
and generally, as appears from the Records complied wit}i\,
but — its official power was limited. They had got reforms in
the Civil Service, removing extensive corruptions which in-
fected the whole state ; they had got relief from oppressive
taxation ; they had been freed from the oppression of
monopolies in their staple trades ; they had got practically
a free market ; but, what was that to turn the affections of
a people, &c. ? And in spite of all the reforms he admits in
this paragraph to have been made, Dr. Theal seems not to
have the slightest difficulty in stating on the previous page
of the same work that " in the colony itself the effect of the
English administration was almost imperceptible.^''

A universally corrupt system of levying taxes and paying
officials banished to make room for a pure one ; just taxation
substituted for oppressive taxation ; monopolies abolished
and a freer and larger market afforded a rapid increase in
trade and revenue ; and the effects of it, Dr. Theal says,


clearly against the testimony of these Records, " almost
imperceptible ! "

It may be prejudice on my part, but it seems to me there
is a kind of daring duplicity in Dr. Theal's way of stating
things, which reminds one strongly of the worst side of the
Boer character. But at any rate a historian who is so
obviously bent on stating one side only of the case should
certainly withdraw, at the first opportunity, that solemn
declaration in his preface to the Story of tlie Nations volume,
that he was "guided by the principle that truth should be
told regardless of nationalities or parties," and " strove
to the utmost to avoid anything like favour or prejudice."




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Online LibraryJames CapponBritain's title in South Africa, or, The story of Cape colony to the days of the great trek → online text (page 21 of 21)