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MTowite on September 1 2th, 1899


Y and landed in

, The war broke out on October 11th, on the expiration of the forty-eight hours allowed by the Transvaal ultimatum. During that month I had exceptional opportunities of gaining an insight into the difficulties of the problem, not only in meeting the representatives of British policy or opinion in South Africa, but in interviewing President Kruger in Pretoria and President Steyn in Bloemfontein, and other Boer leaders, as well as influential gentlemen like Mr. Schreiner, the Cape Prime Minister, and Mr. Hofmeyr, of the Afrikander Bond, besides other very prominent men and politicians, with more or less British or more or less Boer leanings. I was in Ladysmith on the day of the declaration of war, and in Natal for three weeks after it had been invaded. Travelling by sea to Beira we then visited Rhodesia, leaving there at Christmas, and returning direct to England by January 26th.

This book has been almost entirely written during part of the months of January and February, 1900, and I have thought it usually best to leave any surmises or anticipations which it contains as they originally stood. In dealing with a very critical moment of South African history, extending over the period just before and just after the outbreak of war, uncorrected ideas are much more interesting than ideas watered down to suit later events.

Many books will be published giving a history or incidents of the war itself, but there will probably be none from the same point of view as this one. It endeavours to state political aspects of the crisis of last autumn, intertwined as far as is justifiable with personal bearings and reminiscences.

E. C.

February 27th, 1900.







F England fights," said a prominent

leader in Cape politics to me when I I landed at the Cape just before the war, " she will create for herself a sullen dependency among the Dutch in South Africa.” “If England had delayed fighting for another year,” declared to me a well-known man in a different part of South Africa shortly after the war had begun, “we would have severed our connexion with the mother-country, like the Americans, and formed another United States to fight or absorb the Transvaal.”

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The two observations indicate well the widely divergent complexions of the Transvaal dispute.

It is a platitude to say that the Dutch element in Cape Colony has been a very important factor in the South African crisis of 1899, but the full meaning of such a remark varies entirely according to the point of view of the speaker. Some thinly disguise their belief that the Dutch Afrikanders of Cape Colony are nothing but rogues

and disloyal conspirators. Some were satisfied as to their genuine and honest desire for peace consistently with loyalty, but think their methods were bad, and that they continually played the part of warning President Kruger what proposals he ought not to accept, rather than advising him, with all the weight which he would attach to their advice, what reforms he ought freely and voluntarily to initiate. Perhaps Dutch Afrikanders would themselves say that they had striven for peace, against the unscrupulous devices of the party led by


Mr. Cecil Rhodes; that personal animosity was the watchword of that party ; that a money-making gang of Semitic capitalists was its mainspring, with the ultimate object of ousting the peaceful farmer whenever he happened to be in their way; and that personal animosity had successfully imbued that party with the policy of war. It is true, they would add, that at the last moment Mr. Rhodes reiterated again and again that there would be no war, but they condemned this false prophecy as mere hypocrisy. I have no doubt that that would be accepted by many a Dutch Afrikander as an accurate statement of his views. If so, it is only fair to say that personal animosity does not appear to be one-sided. Mr. Rhodes, doubtless, cannot tolerate Mr. Kruger, and Mr. Kruger cherishes an uncompromising hatred for Mr. Rhodes. “Why is President Kruger not a bicyclist?” asks a popular riddle. And the answer precisely expresses the situation, “Because he cannot get over 'roads.'”

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