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THE relations existing between the British Government and that
of the South African Republic are now in a state of extreme and critical tension. The present crisis is not the event of a day; it is the direct and often-foretold outcome of a condition of affairs in South Africa, which has long been almost intolerable, and has now ended by becoming impossible. Its history is that of a contention between a free monarchy, which is virtually a republic, on the one hand, and a republic in name, which is, in simple fact, a rigorous oligarchy—all but an absolute despotism-on the other.
At the moment of publication has come the lull before the storm. The British Government, through Sir Alfred Milner, has made demands on the South African Republic, embodying the unalterable minimum of what can be accepted. President Krüger has replied by offering to concede something quite different.
On many hands, people are beginning to speak of peace as already, in sight. As a matter of fact, it is farther off than ever. We can accept nothing less than the five-year franchise: the Boer Volksraad will yield nothing more than a seven-year franchise. side must give way, or war will inevitably follow.
The seven-year franchise, we may take it, is the Boer ultimatum to England, and the ultimatum of the Afrikander Bond.
If our statesmen were so mad, or so cowardly, as to yield to the Boer ultimatum, they would be abandoning Sir Alfred Milner in the most shameful manner; but their betrayal of the Uitlanders, and of all loyalists at the Cape, would be still more ignominious. For these