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approving of the annexation of a large territory across the Kei, swarming with natives. Was that indicative of widely extended dissatisfaction’? Do we not know that the very reverse is the case; that the natives of South Africa are so well pleased with our rule, are so thoroughly satisfied of the beneficial results of our native policy, when of their own accord they come by thousands and ask to be annexed to this Colony?
It was pointed out that, in the case of Canada, the question of confederation had been mooted in the Colonies themselves, and not forced upon them by the Home Government, and the sincerity of the British Government in desiring a confederation was laid open to doubt, for it was feared that it was merely the desire to rid itself of the troubles in connection with Griqualand West and Natal, and the disputes with the Independent States, which had led it to propose this conference.1
The position was very admirably summed up by Mr. Sprigg :
Of all the colonies and states of South Africa this Colony has the least to gain and the most to lose by a confederation, for the certain result of that confederation would be to increase our expenditure and to lessen our revenue. What have we at present to gain by a confederation? We have the command of the sea, the natural heritage of the British race. The Colony is wide enough to meet our utmost desires. We are at peace with every native tribe upon our border. I ask the House, then, not to be led away by high phrases about extending the bounds of the British Empire, and throwing the shield of England over the coloured races of Africa-phrases indulged in by certain speakers in this House, in Port Elizabeth, and in some other parts of the Colony, and by Lord Carnarvon in a recent speech in the House of Lords; for these phrases only express confused visionary ideas that disappear before the touch and examination of practical men. Let us say, rather, to the Imperial Government-arrange your difficulties and complications with the Dutch Republics yourselves, and you must accept the responsibility; and not, by pressing the conference, try to cast them upon us. You are in trouble with the affairs of Natal, brought about by your own mismanagement, and by the course you are taking in that Colony you are sowing the seed of a more plentiful crop of troubles for the future, for you are not trusting the people of that Colony, but you are striking down its representative institutions, and setting up instead thereof a despotic kind of government, which will create still greater difficulties than those you now have to encounter. You are in trouble in Griqualand West, because you established there a form of government unfit for Englishmen in any part of the world, and because you sent to carry it out men who showed by their past career that they were disqualified to make the best of even a bad form of government. Let us say to the Imperial Government that when all these differences are adjusted, and all these difficulties removed, and when there is a general intelligent feeling throughout South Africa that a union of all the colonies and states is desirable, then will be the time for the representatives of the people in the Legislature and for the Government at their head to make certain proposals. And it is because I find the question beset with difficulties, because I do not believe that there is any great consensus of public opinion in favour of a confederation of all the Colonies and States of South Africa, that I beg to move the resolution in my name.
| This was well put by Mr. Solomon : 'I believe that there are questions and difficulties which the present Home Government are anxious to escape from, let them say what they like about the integrity of the British Empire, and their duty of fulfilling the responsibilities attaching thereto. They may send out Sir Garnet Wolseley, and renowned warriors, and regiments of soldiers to the Cape, if they wish to coax and seduce us to agree to their terms. The statesmen of England know how to manage these matters when they have once set their hearts on carrying its plans. Sir Garnet Wolseley has not been sent to Natal simply to protect Natal.'
The questionable character of Lord Carnarvon's action was pointed out by Mr. Solomon :
It was maintained that Mr. Gladstone's Ministry was favourable to the breaking up, as it was called, of the British Empire, and one of the advantages I supposed to result from the Government of the present Conservative Ministry was that it was supposed to be favourable to consolidating and preserving the integrity of the Empire. I would ask, then, are we to look on Lord Carnarvon's despatch as an illustration of the desire of the Conservative Government to preserve the integrity of the Empire, and as indicative of the way in which this is to be done? Mr. Gladsto ne's Ministry, and the Liberal Party generally, gave the Colonies large powers of self-government, and their policy was seldom or never to interfere in their domestic affairs. Are we to regard this despatch of Lord Carnarvon's as indicating a reversal of this policy, and as proving that the present Government are determined to interfere, and that largely, with the domestic policy of this Colony? I feel, therefore, that there is a large question connected with this subject, and I, for one, sir, am not of opinion that this House should give its adherence to any such principle as that, or should entertain for a moment the doctrine that we are to be governed from Downing Street, and that the Home Government is to interfere in the domestic affairs of this country. Those who have read the articles on the colonies by Mr. Froude—and here let me say that I speak of that gentleman with respect, for I have a very high opinion of his character and abilities-will know that he has considered that the colonies have too much power of self-government granted to them, and that in some things, as in the Crown lands in the colonies, the British people have been deprived of what is their heritage, and that the disposal of them should not be left in the hands of the colonists alone. I mention this as an indication-seeing that Mr. Froude is to be Imperial Commissioner at this Conferenç -of what seems to be the policy of the present Conservative Government, which is, in my opinion, a policy of interference with the domestic concerns of this Colony, and perhaps of other colonies.
The illogical position taken up by Lord Carnarvon in regard to the native policy was further very clearly shown by the same speaker :
Lord Carnarvon in this despatch lays down the new native policy to be adopted there, and surely it is putting the cart before the horse to send out Sir Garnet Wolseley to introduce a new native policy at Natal, and to state what it is, and then to suggest a conference of delegates to decide upon a native policy for the whole of South Africa. It seems most extraordinary that Lord Carnarvon should first introduce a system of native policy, publish it to the world, and then suggest a conference to deliberate what that native policy should be. That, I think, introduces an enormous difficulty, for how is it possible that the British Government can run counter to its own policy—if we suppose the conference to report in favour of a policy of its own, and opposed to that introduced into Natal-after England had sent one of its ablest men to initiate a new policy and to overturn the constitution of Natal in order to carry out effectively that policy? How is it possible that the Home Government could agree to reverse that policy after such proceedings as these? From all points a con
ference, in my opinion, is unnecessary, and can be productive of no good ; I go further, and say it will be productive of harm, for agitation of these questions cannot be carried on without a considerable amount of strong and perhaps bitter feeling, and it is for us to tell Lord Carnarvon that he ought not to have proposed a question which can be productive of no good, and may cause much mischief.
This forecast was amply fulfilled by events.
The amendments which were moved merely proposed to thank Lord Carnarvon for the interest which he had taken in the Colony; but none of them agreed in any way to enter upon a conference, or to recommend its being called at an early date. Mr. Philip Watermeyer, the member who had been regarded as representing largely the interests of the Free State and the Transvaal, supported the amendments because he believed that Lord Carnarvon was exhibiting a genuine desire to meet the wishes of the Independent States in the controversies which had been carried on between the High Commissioner and those States since the discovery of the diamond fields. Mr. Paterson, who had been largely associated with Mr. Froude, naturally supported Lord Carnarvon's proposals, as did Mr. Laing and Mr. De Wet. Mr. Molteno pointed out that this premature action was likely to throw back and retard confederation more than anything else, and this opinion has been amply proved by what has since happened.
We are going on very comfortably, and our affairs are in a very good way. Our native policy is exceedingly successful, and we are perfectly satisfied with it. We do not see what occasion there is for a conference to discuss a new native policy. I maintain that the Government here, if it does its duty, cannot advise a conference being called together to consider such a subject. There is nothing pressing upon this Government just now as a reason for going into anything of that sort. I believe that this premature action will do more to retard confederation than anything else. This is a delicate subject, and a false step at this particular time may throw back such a thing tremendously. I hold it was most inopportune to throw down a question of this sort just now. VOL. I.
Reverting to the nomination of delegates he exclaimed:
Surely the Free State and the Transvaal, where the delegates were not named, will consider it a most extraordinary thing that in this Colony, with responsible government, the Imperial Government should take upon itself to name our representatives.
This remark shows the wide view which the speaker took of all these questions It was the hope of South African statesmen that responsible government was to prove a solution of all South African troubles; but it must be real, and not a sham; and Lord Carnarvon, in this despatch, as in his subsequent conduct towards South Africa, clearly showed that he was ready to treat it as a sham and a delusion, so far as local control was concerned. And in a few words he explained why he thought it unnecessary for the Colony to go into the question of confederation at present :
I wish to be clearly understood on that point. The Colony does not set its face against confederation, but it says we are not ready for it yet, and when we are we will thank you, the Imperial Government, to consider certain things and to make certain provisions before you propose this scheme again; and perhaps you will have the kindness to make a note of that, so that on the next occasion you may avoid these complications. I think the unsettled state of affairs in South Africa at present a sufficient reason against going into the matter now. What would be the good of our being drawn into all these complications ? Confederation is all very well as an outlet for the ideal fancies of certain folks at home, but these instructions or suggestions of Lord Carnarvon are expressed very vaguely and guardedly in this despatch, for in it he said plainly you must consult your own interests. Now, I ask, once more, how it can possibly be to the interest of this Colony to go into this question under existing circumstances, and what possible good or advantage can accrue ? Are we going to reverse that native policy which the Home Government have acknowledged to be successful? Certainly not. If any of the neighbouring states want to join us and will give up their native policy, that will be a different thing altogether.
With reference to the proposal to give the Free State a