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An honest attempt had been made by the Parliament of the country to get the Government to retrench, but so far from succeeding they had met with obstacles in every direction, and had eventually been unable to effect any saving whatever. Mr. Molteno had pointed out the impossibility of forcing the Government to retrench by action of the Parliament, and he therefore maintained that Parliament could not assume the responsibility of the Executive, and it was upon his motion that the estimates were voted for six months only. It was felt that the position was serious. The finances year after year had showed large deficiencies, notwithstanding the liberal manner in which the Parliament had met the demands for fresh taxation put forward from time to time.

The Governor's speech proroguing Parliament gave great offence. It was resented by the whole of the press and the public of South Africa. He said he would call Parliament together again in a few months, when the occurrences of the present Parliament would be less vivid, and members would be able to give their attention to the business of the session without being disturbed by the remembrance of the contests of the past session. Upon opening Parliament in the succeeding session he apologised for this curt speech.

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CHAPTER VII

DEFENCE OF THE CONSTITUTION. 1867-69

Sir P. Wodehouse-Views of Colonial Government-Dissatisfaction general

Reactionary Proposals-Hostile Reception-Mr. Molteno moves for Respon. sible Government-Work of Session-Session of 1868—Session of 1869— Collision between Governor and Parliament-New Reactionary Proposals— These negatived-Mr. Molteno's reply–His proposition carried by overwhelming majorities--Great Struggle-Letter to his Constituents-Allow. ance to Imperial Troops-Mr. Molteno's Retrenchment Resolutions carried -Public Excitement-Governor's Counter-Proposals—Direct Conflict--Governor refuses Resolutions of Parliament-Cuts short Proceedings by Prorogation-Basuto War-Mr. Molteno's Motion on it-Native attacks on Northern Border—Mr. Molteno defends Farmers—Governor dissolves Par. liament-Mr. Molteno's action approved-General Election-Opposed at Beaufort-Re-elected-Governor's fourth Constitution.

FROM what has gone before it is abundantly clear that Sir Philip Wodehouse was altogether out of sympathy with representative institutions in general, and with responsible government in particular. He regarded the latter as unsuited for any dependency, and as especially likely to work great mischief in the Cape Colony. He believed the colonists were not to be trusted to take care of their own interests. The second or debased period of colonial policy was personified in him.

The mother-country was to fight for and pay for the defence of the colonies, and in return was to be absolute ruler of their destinies through its governors. He was a high-minded man whose conduct and actions were dictated by pure and generous motives, but he shared with Earl Grey the fundamental error of believing that on the English Cabinet as represented by himself had devolved the task of exercising a paternal control over the people; thus depriving the latter of the function of self-administration and placing

VOL. I.

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them under a system very fatal in its effects upon the vigour and self-reliance of those to whom it is applied, while it has the further disadvantage of causing the affairs of the Colony to be treated as ground for the materials of party struggles in England. We may quote the very pertinent remarks of Sir George Grey to the Duke of Newcastle, who had stated that he feared the former's ideas were not quite in accord with his own :

During the five years that had elapsed since he was appointed to the Cape, there had been at least seven Secretaries of State for the Colonial Department, each of whom had different ideas on some important points of policy connected with the country. It was impossible for him to agree in opinion with each of these, and difficult to modify proceedings which he knew were in accordance with the wishes of one so as to suit the views of each of his successors as they rapidly followed one another.

It was inevitable that, holding such views as these, Sir Philip Wodehouse should be found in constant and serious conflict with the popularly elected Parliament. No direct progress could be made under his auspices towards responsible government. The effect of his period of rule was to demonstrate indubitably the unsatisfactory character of the régime then in force, and to show the necessity for its immediate reform. Sir Philip very soon admitted the drawbacks of the existing system, and with a view to ameliorating the condition under which the government was carried on he proposed during his governorship no less than four different constitutions, each more despotic than the preceding

Before he had acquired a sufficient knowledge of the country, and the objects and aspirations of the various parties contained in it, he proposed a scheme for two separate governments, one for the eastern province and one for the western province, with a supreme or central government over both; but on communicating his views to the Duke of Newcastle, the latter replied that he could not

approve a policy which gave undue prominence to separation. Her Majesty's Government desired to see the whole Colony as well as Kaffraria welded into one harmonious whole. This scheme was abandoned, and with a view to creating greater harmony between the Governor, his advisers, and the Legislature, he informed his Executive Council that he would no longer occupy the position of sole autocrat to whose bidding they must yield, but that on all measures to be submitted to Parliament he would take and be guided by their advice.

This gave the Parliament no further control over the Executive than it previously possessed, and no improvement took place in the relations between the Parliament and the Executive. Mr. Gibbon Wakefield's views were amply justified; the system could not last, the parliamentary opposition had all the power to thwart the Executive, without the responsibility of carrying out the measures which they advocated. The system was quite foreign to our constitution, and out of accord with the genius of the English people.

It was the theory of Earl Grey put in practice, a statesman who, as Lord Blachford tells us, ‘was possessed with the idea that it was practicable to give representative institutions and then to stop without giving responsible government, something like the English constitution under Elizabeth and the Stuarts. He did not understand either the vigorous independence of an Anglo-Saxon community, or the weakness of an Executive which represents a democracy, so things took their own course and left his theories behind.' 1

Bad seasons and misfortunes occurred to deepen the feeling of dissatisfaction with the limited constitution. The Governor's position was not improved by the course taken by him in regard to British Kaffraria. The Cape was taken unawares by the proposal of the Governor and the Secretary

| Letters of Lord Blachford, p. 297.

of State, and their action was regarded as a violation of its constitutional rights. It may have seemed good policy under the circumstances to carry the annexation by the exercise of the high power of the Imperial Parliament, but the effect was to create the gravest suspicion of the motives and intentions of the Home Government; and when Lord Carnarvon came to propose his celebrated Conference, the suspicion with which his action was received was in a large measure due to the circumstances of the annexation of British Kaffraria. It was felt moreover that the Governor preferred to effect his objects by secret means and utterly regardless of the inhabitants of the Colony, instead of working in harmony with them, and carrying out his policy through the deliberate and well-tried means of constitutional government.

Sir Philip Wodehouse next proposed his second constitution—the abolition of the existing representative institutions, and the establishment in their place of a single Legislative Chamber of twenty-one members, of whom eighteen were to be elected by six electoral circles, and three were to be Government officers. This scheme was placed before the country in the opening session of the Parliament of 1867, and the Governor at the same time proposed a reversion to alternate Parliaments to assuage the feelings between east and west. He admitted that responsible government might cause greater unanimity of action: but he insisted that local prejudices and parliamentary obstruction were very detrimental to the country and must be obviated.

The project met with a most unfavourable reception. As was said at the time, in the local press :

This proposal might be fitted for the West Indies, or Demerara coolies, or a state of Spanish political exiles ; but to propose such a thing to the Cape Parliament is an insult to the intelligence and common-sense of the country. It is ill conceived, ill advised, and impractical. If the Colony is to move at all, it will prefer taking a step forward to half a dozen backwards.

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