« PreviousContinue »
meet at Government House, Pietermaritzburg, the then Commander-in-Chief in South Africa, who had just returned from an inspection of Majuba. With fiery indignation he described how the reports which had been given of the physical conditions of the approaches to that position were lies, absolute lies. The approach to it had been represented as covered with boulders and scrub, while to use his own expression, 'I could see a terrier run from the bottom to the top, so smooth was it.' He asked, “How can we learn the lessons which our past mistakes and disasters should teach us if, to ease our national pride, we are not allowed to know the truth?' Our errors in South Africa must be known if we are to learn the lessons which they should convey to us. The best prophet of the future is the history of the past.'
The book has run to far greater length than I could wish, and for this I owe an apology to my readers; but in my defence I can only say that the materials are voluminous and are extremely difficult of access—much is also in manuscript. It has been my object to place my readers in a position to judge for themselves by allowing the principal actors to speak in their own words. The great importance of the subjects of Responsible Government, Confederation, and Sir Bartle Frere's governorship have rendered brevity impossible. These subjects were also highly controversial.
I have not attempted to deal by separate notices with the errors into which Mr. Martineau in his Life of Sir Bartle Frere has fallen as regards matters of fact-such, for instance, as his description of Mr. Molteno's attitude towards the annexation of Damaraland (at p. 191, vol. ii.), or as to his alleged concurrence in asking for reinforcements (p. 208, vol. ii.), or as to his alleged refusal to take the Attorney-General's opinion (p. 209, vol. ii.), and many others. Mr. Martineau unfortunately possessed no local or special knowledge of South Africa or its history, and it was natural for him to fall into error. In regard to the dismissal of Mr. Molteno's Ministry, he makes no attempt to deal adequately with what he admits was a step unprecedented in colonial constitutional government. He devotes two pages to this subject, a treatment which he would hardly venture to assert was adequate.
I have received most valuable aid, which I desire to acknowledge, from the late SIR HENRY BARKLY, whose death has prevented him from carrying out his intention of expressing in a fuller manner than he does, at p. 457, vol. ii., his appreciation of Mr. Molteno's services. The Hon. C. ABERCROMBIE SMITH, Auditor and Controller of the Cape Colony, has most kindly assisted me in the compilation of figures from the public and official documents connected with the public accounts, and the expenditure on war as well as on defence.
Mr. ERNEST KILPIN, Clerk of the Legislative Assembly, has given me most valuable aid in rendering available the materials under his charge connected with the history of the early sessions of the Cape Parliament. It remains for me to add that the text was completed before the outbreak of the war which is now proceeding in South Africa.
P. A. MOLTENO.