Page images
PDF
EPUB

Beyond the expression of opinion therein conveyed it is certainly not my wish to interfere with or fetter your freedom of action.

It rests entirely with yourself to decide upon the course to be pursued in regard to the proposed dinner.

Believe me,

Yours very faithfully,

J. A. Froude, Esq.

Mr. Froude at the same time pressed upon the Governor the desirability of immediately forwarding the invitations to the other parties to the proposed Conference, and this course was followed. Mr. Molteno raised no objection provided they were signed by Sir Henry Barkly not as Governor only, but as High Commissioner.1

Not only did Mr. Froude persist in pressing this matter, but, after finding that a policy of wholesale adulation was lost upon Mr. Molteno, he permitted himself to hint both to him and to the Governor, that notwithstanding the abstention of the Cape Colony, a Conference would be held, and that the Colony might be made to repent its decision. In regard to this the Governor ventured very respectfully, but most earnestly, to express the hope to Lord Carnarvon that such counsels would not be listened to, and urged that the effect of such a manifestation of anger would be most prejudicial to the real interests of that Federation under the British flag which he hoped some day to see accomplished in South Africa. On the other hand, if Lord Carnarvon were to adopt the same conciliatory tone as in the Langalibalele affair, there was reason to hope that the question of the Diamond Fields annexation would be reconsidered in the next Parliament, and possibly a proposal for a Conference might be originated with a prospect of success. How futile were the Governor's representations will be seen by the terms of Lord Carnarvon's second despatch.

' I. P., C-1399, p. 12.

J. C. MOLTENO.

Notwithstanding the warnings which had been conveyed to Mr. Froude of the danger of the course upon which he was about to enter, and after it was pointed out to him that his representation of Lord Carnarvon in public would be committing a constitutional offence, he determined to make use of the dinner to further the objects which he had in view. It had been arranged by a committee composed of Messrs. Barry, Christie, Marquard, Goodliffe, and R. W. Murray, junior. Of these, Dr. Christie was one of Mr. Molteno's bitterest political and personal opponents. Mr. Barry was a brother of Mr. Recorder Barry, whose name had been mentioned in the despatch, and Mr. Marquard officially represented the Transvaal in Cape Town. Mr. Murray was connected with the Standard and Mail,' the bitterest press opponent of Mr. Molteno's Ministry and of the High Commissioner's policy. There could be no question of the party character of the committee.

Having handed himself over to the parties opposed to Mr. Molteno, and to the policy of the High Commissioner, Mr. Froude attended the dinner, and made a speech. He began by giving an explanation of his previous visit, which he stated was due to his desire to understand the Griqualand West question and to this alone, a version of the reason for his visit which was scarcely in correspondence with that which he had confessed in his letter to Mr. Molteno, and he repudiated the suggestion that he had come out because he had found out a particular policy for South Africa.' I am sorry,' he said, 'that anyone should have so bad an opinion of my intelligence as to suppose me capable of anything so foolish.' After referring to Mr. Molteno's opinion that he should address the country only through the recognised channels of responsible government, he admitted that his position was ambiguous, and he expressed his sense of the importance of deferring to Mr. Molteno's views. He said, I was

(

[ocr errors]

charged with certain messages to the Colonial Secretary of an extremely confidential nature, but these have fallen through also.' He however expressed his sense of the important services rendered to the country by Mr. Molteno, and especially in the Langalibalele affair; and he stated, 'Her Majesty herself and her Ministers had a most grateful sense of the true patriotism, wisdom, and loyalty shown by Mr. Molteno on that occasion,' and that it would therefore be exceedingly wrong for me to neglect or at all go against the feelings and opinions of a statesman whom her Majesty had such confidence in as Mr. Molteno.' He admitted that the latter was quite right in jealously guarding their privileges in connection with the newly established responsible government, and he said he would therefore conform to his views and would make no new communication to the audience, but would only deal with the despatch which was already before them. If he did otherwise, he was sure Ministers at home and the Queen would greatly disapprove of his going against Mr. Molteno's views,' thus admitting the constitutional objection to his conduct.

"

He next proceeded to explain the despatch as being intended broadly to enable the Home Government to carry out the principle of responsible government as far as possible in South Africa,

so as to withdraw the active interference of Downing Street and enable statesmen at home to guide themselves by the opinions and views of those whose better knowledge of this country had enabled them to see their way. The Imperial Government fully recognised that it would be extremely unjust to this Colony to throw on it the responsibility, expense, trouble, and difficulty of defending itself against any movement of the natives, and not allow them to dictate their own policy. That was Mr. Molteno's language to me, and it is undoubtedly sound and right. He said also that what we had done in Natal necessarily reacted on this Colony, and that it was impossible to act towards the natives in one part of the country without the action affecting every part

of it. (Hear, hear.) We in England immediately recognised the truth of this, and felt very keenly how extremely well and considerately the Cape Ministry and Parliament had acted in this matter. We immediately sent one of our ablest administrators and soldiers to Natal to provide against any possible danger.1 We increased the force there, and having recognised the fact also that the native policy so long misused in Natal at the instance of the Imperial Government had been the principal cause in bringing all this state of things about, we immediately felt that that policy must be reversed, and reversed consistently with the opinion of the people of South Africa themselves. . . . It was desirable to get wise people from the two free States, from Natal, and from the Cape Colony to talk over the native question, so as to prevent a recurrence of such an affair.

"

Turning to Griqualand West, he said that things were most unsatisfactory. There was the dispute about the seizure of arms and ammunition which had been the subject of a vigorous protest on the part of the Government of that territory. If we looked,' he said, 'at the relations between Griqualand West and the two States, they were not exactly what we should call friendly.' After the protest about the seizure of waggons, 'the Orange Free State did an exceedingly right thing, for instead of provoking a collision as they might have done, they paid the money demanded under protest, and that protest still remains, and their complaint is yet unanswered.'

With regard to the South African Republic,

We there find despatches and counter-despatches, and then unanswerable despatches and then unanswerable answers. You all know what that means in large communities-it means war and nothing else, and to send an ultimatum and put people into the position in which these despatches seem to place the British Government and the Government of the South African Republics, unless it was to end in war, seems nothing but a farce and an absurdity.

'Lord Carnarvon in his instructions to Sir Garnet Wolseley, said there was no danger to the peace of South Africa, adding that his duties were to be of a civil rather than a military nature.

And he thought the Cape might assist by agreeing to join in a friendly conference to discuss the questions. As to confederation, he wished people would be so good as to read what Lord Carnarvon had said.

He did not recommend confederation, but said it must be the work of South Africa itself. We wish only to leave South Africa to manage its internal affairs, as we have left Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, and to confine ourselves to their external defence.

As to the two Free States, they must come in only when they are prepared to give up their independence.

So long as the people of the Free States desire to retain their freedom, the English statesman is not born who will ever ask them to surrender it, or endeavour to entice them back under the British flag unless they are willing to come back, and consider it would be for their own benefit.

Mr. Froude at the same time declared that Lord Carnarvon was an intimate and honoured friend of his, and 'I know his mind on all this subject thoroughly well.' Had Lord Carnarvon deceived Mr. Froude, or was Mr. Froude attempting to deceive the Republics? Was it not Lord Carnarvon who annexed the Transvaal by force after failing to entice it into a Confederation?

He contended that there was really no dictation meant :—

That it is a mere question of asking advice-in point of fact what the English Government is doing is this. She is inviting the Free States and the Cape Colony to constitute themselves into a tribunal to try what the conduct of Great Britain has been in those countries in the past, and to guide and direct her for the future.

Was ever a more extraordinary proposition made by a man who told the audience he was Lord Carnarvon's chosen friend, who had been designated to represent Great Britain, and who allowed himself to be described by Mr. Watermeyer at this dinner as the 'representative of Lord Carnarvon, of the British Government, and of Queen Victoria.' But he

« PreviousContinue »