Page images

The Labour Importation Ordinance was subsequently passed through all its stages by the Transvaal Legislative Council with a closing clause declaring it was “not to take effect until the Governor proclaims his Majesty's pleasure not to disallow the same." This was in order to enable the House of Commons to have its say, and as we have recorded elsewhere the question of Chinese labour was made the subject of an abortive Amend. ment to the Address.

[ocr errors]

We recorded last month the earlier results of the Cape Elections, viz., the unopposed returns, which gave a substantial lead to the Bond. But the complexion of the new House and the political future of the Colony depended on the contested constituencies, of which the majority polled on February 10. Their verdict was naturally awaited with the keenest anticipation, not unmixed with anxiety, throughout the British Empire, as a Bond victory at the present critical juncture, or a Sprigg victory, would perpetuate the unrest in Cape Colony, and might permanently frustrate the Federation of South Africa. Happily we have been spared this calamity. The Progressives gained a brilliant triumph, thanks in no small measure to the energy and devotion of their very capable leader, Dr. Jameson. The closeness of the contest was indicated by the fact that the first go seats of a House containing 95 Members were equally divided between Progressives and Bondsmen, 45 Members of each Party being returned, but fortunately the remaining five seats were all carried by the former, who thus secure what sounds to English ears as the very narrow majority of five, but we must remember that a majority of five in a House which is numerically one-seventh of the House of Commons, is equivalent to a House of Commons majority of 35, a figure which would have appeared luxurious to the Gladstone Government in office from 1892 and 1895. Moreover, it is announced that one Bond Member will secede to the Progressives, which would raise the Progressive majority in the new House of Assembly to seven, which is equal to a House of Commons majority of 49, or within two of the magical number 51 which now stands between Mr. Balfour's Ministry and defeat. As the Progressives also secured a majority of one at the Legislative Council Elections last November, they should be in a position to carry their programme, of which by far the most important item is that measure of electoral justice for which the underrepresented British population living in the towns of Cape Colony have waited so patiently and so hopelessly. The grotesque anomalies of the present system may be thus illustrated : Cape Town, with 17,000 voters, returns five Members, or one for every 3400 electors ; Port Elizabeth, with 10,900 voters, röturns four Members, or one for every 2700. On the other hand, the 944 voters at Vryburg return two Members, or one for every 472 electors; while 779 voters at Victoria East also return two Members, or one for every 390 electors. This gross disparity places the Colony at the political mercy of the Boer of the backwoods, who enjoys from seven to ten times the power of the people at the centres of intelligence and industry.

We may be sure that Dr. Jameson and his friends will bend their entire energies to redressing this injustice, though it is suggested that they may, in that spirit of generosity which invariably characterises the British victor, abstain from pursuing their advantage to the point of introducing absolute electoral equality into Cape Colony, and may adopt the highly ingenious theory which Mr. Gladstone propounded as an excuse for conferring over-representation upon Ireland, viz., that remote country constituencies should possess rather more voting power in proportion to population than the people of the distant capital, who have abundant opportunities of exercising political influence. But the Progessives of Cape Colony should remember that the Mother Country has suffered dearly from Mr. Gladstone's disastrous doctrine, which has made our politicians the hewers of wood and drawers of water to the overrepresented Irish Nationalists, just as Cape politicians have been the humble servants of the Boer Bond. Dr. Jameson and his colleagues will be just to their own people before being magnanimous to opponents who have abused their excessive power scandalously. Every legitimate step must be taken to secure the Colony against a recurrence of a domination which has been the curse of South Africa. In all probability as soon as the Dutch, who are anything but fools, realise that the British mean business, they will be only too willing to co-operate in passing a reasonable Redistribution Bill, and will acquiesce in the fact that South Africa is now permanently united to the British Empire. This hardly-earned Progressive victory simply spells salvation for Cape Colony, and we cannot believe that the winners will jeopardise the future for the beaux yeux of the Daily News or the Westminster Gazette.

Not less remarkable than the victory of the Progressive Party has been the series of humiliating personal defeats sustained by its opponents. The foremost victim of the debacle was Sir Gordon Sprigg, the Premier of the Colony, who has played fast and loose with every party in turn, and has now forfeited the confidence of his constituents in East London. No less encouraging was the defeat of Mr. Douglass, Commissioner of Public Works in the Sprigg Ministry, who was as little trusted as the Premier, while the fall of such poisonous politicians as Mr. Merriman and Mr. Sauer, who have lived and thrived on racial hatred, is intensely satisfactory to all who desire real peace in South Africa. Equally significant was the failure of the so-called Independents, who could never make up their minds as to whether they were British or Bondsmen, and who would, if successful, have been a disturbing factor in the new House, all the more as their Leader, Mr. W. P. Schreiner, though an able and conscientious man, is unfortunately possessed with the idea that he can pass his life on the point of a needle. All the Progressives of any prominence, such as Dr. Jameson, Sir H. Juta, Sir L. Mitchell, Dr. Smartt, Sir P. Faure, Mr. Theo. Schreiner, and Mr. Walton, were successful at the polls. As Sir Gordon Sprigg has displayed more tenacity in clinging to office than any limpet in sticking to a rock, it was imagined that he might conceivably discover some ingenious method of evading the common lot of rejected politicians, but after a little hesitation he bowed to the inevitable, and tendered his resignation to the Governor, who at once invited Dr. Jameson to form a new Administration, which has been constituted as follows :

Dr. Jameson, Premier and Native Minster without Portfolio.
Sir Lewis Mitchell, Minister without Portfolio.
Colonel Crewe, Colonial Secretary.
Mr. Victor Sampson, Attorney-General.
Mr. Walton, Colonial Treasurer.
Dr. Smartt, Commissioner of Public Works and Railways.

Mr. Fuller, Secretary of Agriculture. It is generally recognised that Dr. Jameson has succeeded in forming a strong Ministry, far above the average ability. His own accession to the highest office which can be attained by the citizen of a self-governing Colony, is surely as remarkable a tribute to character as can well be conceived. It means that he has completely lived down a certain notorious episode, which may now, we trust, be decently and finally interred. The reappearance of Dr. Smartt in the office which he abandoned in the Sprigg Ministry, at great personal sacrifice, in order to advocate the suspension of the Constitution, is another significant incident. The general Progressive victory, may be regarded as a complete vindication by the electors of Cape Colony of those public-spirited men who desired, in the interests of the Empire, to suspend the Constitution.



No. 254.—April 1904


We called attention two months ago, i.e., before the outbreak of The British

the war in the Far East, to a striking article in the

Westminster Gazette, which we welcomed as an Sluggard.

indication that the British Sluggard was at last beginning to wake up to the gravity of the German naval menace to this country. We pointed out that the article derived special significance from its appearance in a newspaper which had countenanced pro-German writers such as “ Diplomaticus” and Mr. Frederick Greenwood, who have laboured strenuously for many years on behalf of the honest but mistaken belief that Germany is the natural ally of Great Britain. The Westminster Gazette has been by no means alone in encouraging such propaganda. Other organs whose insensibility to German hostility is all the more incomprehensible seeing that they are not handicapped by the cosmopolitan ideal which is dear to the Radical heart, have striven with unabated zeal for many years to popularise the German Legend. Whether their writers are blinded to British interests by the intellectual prestige of the German Professor, or whether they are simply mesmerised by the Kaiser, we know not. In either case their influence has been disastrous. The article in the Westminster Gazette was entitled “The Invasion of England by Germany-Is it practicable? The Plans of German Strategists,” and was described editorially as being the handiwork of a writer of “high naval authority," who in a serious and sober spirit examined " a question of great interest to naval students and to the public. Is an invasion of England by Germany among the factors to be reckoned with in the event of


I 2

war ? The writer is of opinion that it is, and that it has been considered by German strategists to the extent of making practical preparations for it in certain circumstances. Those preparations may, as he says, impose on us the necessity of taking steps to neutralise them." The argument of the “ High Naval Authority" was thus summarised by the Westminster Gazette :

Practically it comes to this—that in the opinion of some of the most eminent soldiers in Europe the invasion of Great Britain from oversea is, in certain circumstances, a practicable undertaking, and that this opinion is so far from being a mere theory that practical provision for giving effect to it is actually among the elaborate secret arrangements which the German Government has made in view of eventualities in European politics. The “High Naval Authority" of the Westminster Gazette pur

sued the reasoning long familiar to our readers. The

He pointed out that German strategists, including German

Moltke, had steadily entertained the view that the Objective.

invasion of Great Britain was a practical operation, and he declared what is a matter of common knowledge, that the pigeon-holes of the great General Staff of Germany are "full of elaborated schemes for an invasion.” This imposed the necessity upon the British Government, when framing a new naval programme, of taking into consideration the remarkable development of the German Imperial Navy under the Bill of 1900, which provides for the construction of no less than thirty-eight battleships, fourteen large cruisers, and thirty-eight small cruisers, with an increase in personnel from 23,000 officers and men to 59,000, at a total expenditure of over eighty-six million sterling. This huge undertaking is to be accomplished by the year 1916. The writer shrewdly predicted that even “this immense programme” would be enlarged before long if the sanction of the Reichstag could be obtained, as a further agitation was already beginning in Germany ostensibly in favour of strengthening the foreign fleet to meet the exigencies of German Weltpolitik, but, as he significantly observed, “the view is now generally accepted that the main object of German naval authorities is to keep a very strong fleet continually in home waters.” In the preamble of the Act of 1900, the German ideal is described as being “to have a fleet of such strength that even for the mightiest Power a war with Germany would jeopardise its own supremacy,” and the “High Naval Authority" of the Westminster Gazette thus dismissed those nincompoops who have laid the flattering unction to their soul that Germany is building her navy simply and solely as a measure of precaution against the Dual Alliance :

« PreviousContinue »