IN the same year that the English Parliament cut off the head of Charles I, the Dutch East India Company planted a station at the northern end of the peninsula which ends to the south in the Cape of Good Hope. Settlers were sent there to grow vegetables for the Dutch ships trading with the East. Their descendants, who are known to history as the ‘Boers,’ gradually spread to the interior and became as impatient of the government at Cape Town as were the American farmers of governments at Boston or New York. A revolt against Cape Town was actually threatening at the time Napoleon was trying to unite Europe against England and was dominating Holland.
In the course of that long struggle the British occupied Cape Town and, because it controlled the route to India, retained it after the Congress of Vienna in return for a payment to Holland of £6,000,000. But a British government at Cape Town was not likely to be more congenial to the Boers than its Dutch predecessor had been. They deeply resented its native policy, which was influenced by the antislavery movement. As their numbers rapidly increased they began to trek northward to the territories beyond the Orange and Vaal rivers. The British Government, interested merely in controlling the sea route to India, allowed the emigrants to found republics in the interior. But the young communities had difficulty in holding their own against hostile natives. About the middle of the nineteenth century the Orange Free State applied to Sir George Grey, the Governor of the Cape, for protection. Grey then advised that the settlements in the interior should be federated with the Cape Colony and Natal under the British flag. The British Government, however, vetoed the proposal, and the Boer republics thenceforward began to develop the ideal of uniting South Africa from the Cape to Zambesi under a republican flag. South Africa was a national unit and, as subsequent events were to prove, the relations of the white to the black races could not be settled on any permanent basis so long as the country was parceled out into separate states. The question at issue was whether those states were to unite as a separate republic or as a self-governing dominion of the British Commonwealth like Canada or Australia. This issue was settled in the Boer War which lasted from 1899 till 1902 and ended in the annexation of the Orange Free State and the Transvaal. For the next five years these two territories were ruled as crown colonies, first by Lord Milner and then by Lord Selborne. When in 1907 responsible government was granted. General Botha became Prime Minister of the Transvaal with General Smuts as his lieutenant. In the Orange Free State a ministry was formed by General Hertzog.
In 1910 the Cape Colony, Natal, the Transvaal, and the Orange Free State were all united under one government. This amazing achievement was the joint work of the two outstanding leaders of the Dutch and British races, General Botha and Dr. Jameson, the man who had headed the notorious raid on the Transvaal Republic in 1906. No indictment of his conduct on that occasion was ever so scathing as that which he himself once delivered in the hearing of the present writer. His cooperation with Botha in bringing about the Union was a conscious and deliberate act of reparation. In more senses than one it proved to be a labor of love. In the conference at which the constitution of South Africa was framed there developed between the Boer and the British leader a mutual admiration and a friendship which were never for a moment dimmed in the few years of life which remained to them.
When Lord Gladstone landed at Cape Town as Governor-General he had to decide forthwith whether to call upon John X. Merriman, the Prime Minister of the Cape Colony, or on General Botha to form the first South African ministry. The Cape Colony was the largest as well as the oldest partner in the new Union; Mr. Merriman had held ministerial office when Botha had been a boy in knickerbockers. Yet the Englishman’s claims were passed over, and the Boer general, who had earned that title in fighting the British army, was preferred. It was Jameson’s influence which turned the scale.
Had Botha been able to consult his own feelings, he would have formed his first South African ministry from the leaders of both parties with Jameson as his colleague. But the tide of enthusiasm which had carried the Union to port had begun to ebb, and Botha said to Jameson, ‘What is the use of my coming to meet you until I can bring my people with me?’ The doctor’s breezy comment to his friends was characteristic. ‘The fat man is right. He always is.’ So Jameson cheerfully headed the British party in opposition to the ministry of the Boer leader whom he loved and admired as once he had loved and admired Rhodes. The seeds of ill health sown in imprisonment after the raid were fast bringing Jameson’s career to a close, and he was soon compelled to retire from politics.
In the three years that they had governed the Transvaal, from 1907 to 1910, Botha and Smuts had developed the ideal of fusing the Dutch and British races into one South African nation. Their experience in the course of the four following years as the virtual rulers of all South Africa led them to believe that its true interests could be realized only within the circle of the British Commonwealth. As ministers of the crown, they found themselves in actual practice freer from interference than Kruger or Steyn had ever been. As presidents of the Boer republics, Kruger and Steyn had had to consider the views of the British Government to the same extent that the presidents of Mexico or Colombia have to consider those of the United States. For reasons of geography as well as of politics the Union of South Africa, like Canada, Australia, or New Zealand, now goes its way with less feeling of restraint even than the nations of Europe, let alone the Latin American republics.
Botha and Smuts were so powerful in combination that no one doubted that so long as both were alive they would jointly rule South Africa. Botha was a farmer, who could read and write, but never did so unless he was obliged to. A born leader of men, he ended by making the British, against, whom he had fought in elections and war, trust and believe in him. He divined rather than reasoned, and seemed to know what was best to do by a kind of intuition. Smuts, on the other hand, was a lawyer with a first class in honors at Cambridge. His tutors described his mind as the finest they had ever taught. It is difficult to mention a book which he has not read and remembered. He has just published a book, Holism, which some philosophers say will constitute a landmark in metaphysics.
These two Afrikanders, farmer and scholar, were utterly devoted and loyal to each other and also to the country from which they sprang. As colleagues in office, they were quick to grasp the realities of the situation and spared no effort to convince the burghers who had followed them in the Boer War that South Africa had now attained to a freedom fuller than a victory in arms could have given them.
In this policy Botha, with all his unparalleled prestige, was only partially successful. With many of the Boers who had fought in the war, and still more with the younger generation whose memories began in the concentration camps, the bitter memories of that time were still stronger than the kindlier realities of the present. The concentration camps were a costly expedient. When Kitchener realized that guerrilla war in a vast country teeming with cattle could be ended only by depriving the commandos of their means of subsistence, he also realized that the British public would not tolerate a policy which meant not only starving women and children but also abandoning them to the mercy of the natives. He decided, therefore, to collect the families on the veldt into camps. He warned the officers entrusted with the task that later on charges of neglect and ill treatment in the camps were certain to be made, and instructed them to spare no pains to provide the healthiest possible conditions.
To begin with, the infant death rate was reduced to a mere fraction of that which prevailed on the farms under peace conditions. Presently an outbreak of measles greatly increased the death rate, but never to the point at which it normally stood before the war. The Boers who live on isolated farms do not bury their dead in churchyards. When a child dies in the home another mound is added to the little group of graves on the veldt at the back of the homestead. Near the concentration camps cemeteries were started where the graves were dug in serried rows. To-day they are places of pilgrimage and the favorite sites of national monuments. And so the camps which were intended to save the lives of the women and children, and actually reduced the rate of infant mortality, gave rise to a legend that the British poisoned the babies. More serious still was the lasting effect on the minds of people now in middle life who remember their removal as children from the farms to the restraints inseparable from internment in a camp. For a year or more their minds at the most impressionable age were steeped in an atmosphere of bitterness and hate. This particular poison will run in the veins of South Africa so long as that generation survives. Incidentally the camps, by relieving the Boers on commando of anxiety for their families, enabled them to prolong the struggle by at least a year.
So great was the prestige of Botha that he was able to carry part of his people with him in his policy of fusing British and Boer as one South African nation under the Union Jack. A large section, however, were unable to forget their fifty-years-old dream of a South Africa united from the Cape to Zambesi under their own republican flag. As the gringo jars on a Spaniard whose ancestor first conquered the pampas, so the Uitlander jars on the Boer whose ancestors began to colonize South Africa in the time of Cromwell. Neither the peace of Vereeniging, the grant of self-government, nor the Act of Union can avail to remove this antipathy. A not inconsiderable section of his followers were unable to understand why General Botha did not use his majority to reverse the results of the Boer War and achieve the ideals for which he had led them throughout that struggle.
This unreconciled section of the Boers found their leader in General Hertzog, who represented the Orange Free State in Botha’s first union cabinet. Relations between Botha and Hertzog became so strained that Botha resigned and re-formed his government without Hertzog, who thenceforward became leader of a party that adopted secession as a goal to be reached by constitutional means.
There were others, however, who were merely awaiting their opportunity to reach that goal by a shorter cut. General Beyers, who commanded the South African forces quartered at Potchefstroom in the Transvaal, had an understanding with the General Staff at Berlin. When war burst on the world in 1914 and Beyers realized that Botha and Smuts were determined to throw in their lot with the British Commonwealth, he resolved on a military coup d’état. In this move he was set on securing the leadership of General Delarey, whose prestige with the Boer people was second only to that of Botha himself. This old Huguenot leader, with the blood of French kings in his veins, was devoted to Botha; but Beyers was able to use to his ends a soothsayer who had long ago acquired a paramount influence with Delarey. In the Boer War this soothsayer had one day told him that if he took a particular direction in his march he would achieve a great success. On that day he captured Methuen, and the influence of the soothsayer was firmly established by the lucky guess he had made. He maintained that influence by observing events and following the direction which he thought they were taking. In 1908, when the British and Dutch were combining to establish the Union, the civilized world had begun to realize the dangerous goal to which German militarism was tending. Anxious to allay the alarm to which his naval programme was giving rise, the Kaiser published his preposterous interview with ‘a distinguished diplomat’ in the Daily Telegraph. In this interview he informed the world that, so far from showing hostility to the British people in the Boer War, he had actually furnished their Government with the plan of operations which had led Lord Roberts to his first victories. The Kaiser’s telegram to Kruger at the time of the Jameson raid had naturally led the republics to expect that Germany would intervene on their side. His subsequent boast that he had helped the British during the war did nothing to conciliate England and naturally created in the Boer mind an impression of treachery. It did much to promote a growing feeling of friendship between Boer and British. Then came Sir Edward Grey’s frank statement that, as Germany had refused to modify her naval programme, the British Government was resolved to lay two keels to every one laid by Germany. At this juncture Delarey hurried to Pretoria to inform Botha that his soothsayer had warned him that war was about to break out with Germany and that Boer and British would be fighting on the same side.
In 1914, however, the prophet had changed his tune. South Africa, he pronounced, was now destined to declare her independence and God was commanding Delarey through his lips to fulfill the divine purpose.
Devoted as he was to his old comrade Botha, the mind of the old general must have passed through a terrible conflict. In the end his blind faith in his prophet prevailed and he agreed to go with Beyers from Pretoria to Potchefstroom. Beyers already knew that he could count on certain units of the forces quartered at Potchefstroom. But he also knew that the example of Delarey would detach large sections of the Boers from their loyalty to Botha, who at that moment was at Cape Town with Smuts. His plan was to raise the North under the command of Delarey, seize all the munitions, and present Botha and Smuts with a fait accompli before they could leave Cape Town.
The plan was frustrated by an accident such as Hollywood might reject as too improbable to be worth filming. To reach Potchefstroom from Pretoria, the automobile in which Beyers was conveying Delarey had to cross the gold fields. It so happened that at this juncture a gang of motor bandits had frustrated all the efforts of the police to catch them. On the night that the two generals were crossing the gold fields, secret orders had been given to the police to challenge and search every car. If, on hearing the challenge, the driver refused to halt, the police were instructed to shoot at the tires. As a result of these orders two men lost their lives that night. One was a doctor speeding to an urgent case. The other was Delarey. When the police challenged his car Beyers thought that his plot was detected and ordered the driver to put on speed. The police fired at the tires, and a bullet which ricocheted through the back of the car killed Delarey on the spot. The driver pulled up the car, and the policemen, on reaching it, were overcome with horror to find they had killed one of the foremost figures in South Africa. Beyers, on his part, assumed that his plans were known to the police, and the whole party proceeded to the police station in silence, under a complete misunderstanding as to each other’s motives. On arrival at the station Beyers asked leave to use the telephone and must have been astonished at the readiness with which his request was granted. He rang up his confederates at Potchefstroom and, under the impression that the police know all about his designs, told them that Delarey had been shot, leaving them to assume that their plans were known to the Government.
The news, of course, brought Botha and Smuts back to the Transvaal immediately. Beyers meanwhile went to Potchefstroom and in desperation headed the units who were willing to follow him in rebellion. But delay, coupled with Delarey’s death, had destroyed his chances, and Botha was once more master of the situation. The rebellion was crushed and Beyers was shot or drowned, trying to escape by swimming his horse across the Vaal.
Botha and Smuts were now free to essay their appropriate task in the war of expelling the German forces from Southwest Africa. This they accomplished with conspicuous ability. Today Southwest Africa, although administered under a mandate from the League of Nations, is to all intents and purposes a part of the South African Union. Later on, the far more arduous task of conquering German East Africa was entrusted to South African forces. It is now administered by the British Government under a mandate. Yet the fact that its conquest was the work of South African forces — though financed by the Imperial Government — has wrought a change which can scarcely be reversed. One is now conscious of nerves that run from the Cape of Good Hope right up to the regions where gather the waters that fertilize Egypt. On a map of the Transvaal you will find far north of Pretoria a town called Nylstroom. It stands at the head of a stream which the old voortrekkers thought was the source of the Nile. The earlyvoyageurs up the St. Lawrence who found their progress barred by the Lachine Rapids thought they stood on the threshold of China. So do coming events cast their shadows before them.
After the Armistice a deputation headed by General Hertzog set out for Paris to demand from the Peace Conference the independence of South Africa in the name of the principle of self-determination. At General Botha’s request Mr. Lloyd George received them, but as they left their hotel for the interview they must have been conscious of the practical difficulty of stating their case. With characteristic honesty General Hertzog declared that South Africa had no complaint to make of the conduct of the British Government since the union. The deputation had, moreover, no ostensible right to claim that they voiced the majority of the South African people. Yet the mere fact that the leaders of the opposition would come six thousand miles to make such a demonstration proves the depth of the feeling among their followers they were come to express.
In the death of Botha, which took place soon after the Conference, South Africa lost a leader who may one day fill in her history a place not unlike that which Washington fills in the hearts of Americans.
In comparing the record of those who faced the tasks of government after the war with their own performance during the war one thinks of Cavour’s remark that ‘anyone can govern a city in siege.’ More delicate and arduous are the tasks of reconstruction after the siege, as Venezelos, Clemenceau, Woodrow Wilson, Lloyd George, and Hughes of Australia were each to discover. Except in periods of cataclysm, average electors and legislators distrust a leader whose mind works faster than their own and prefer a leader who seems no cleverer than themselves — a Calvin Coolidge, a Stanley Baldwin, or a Mr. Bruce. The gifts which enabled Smuts in London or Paris to fill so large a place in the eyes of the world alienated many of the Boers who had followed Botha as one of themselves. Smuts therefore felt that the time had come to do what Botha would have liked to do in 1910. He persuaded the British who had followed Jameson to merge their organization into that of the South African Party and included several of the leaders in his ministry. He thus succeeded in forming a government and party composed of men who had fought each other under Kruger and Milner.
In opposition to this government were ranged not only the Nationalists, under Hertzog, but also the Labor Party, consisting partly of British mechanics and partly of landless Boers who are now migrating in large numbers from the veldt to the cities. In 1922 the miners on the Rand began a strike which communist agitators sought to develop into revolution. The rising was crushed by Smuts, who personally directed the artillery and aircraft which had to be called into action. When order was restored the strikers complained that they were left to the mercy of the employers. Henceforward Smuts was obliged to reckon with the permanent antagonism of Labor to himself and to the South African Party.
Hertzog had been slow to face the issue to which the policy of secession was bound to lead. If South Africa seceded from the British Commonwealth nearly half the white population would be faced with the choice of either abandoning their status of British subjects or else living as disfranchised aliens in the country where they have made their homes. It is the same issue which de Valera refused to face when he insisted on his claim for republican status for an undivided Ireland, simply ignoring the fact that at least one third of its inhabitants would die in their tracks rather than surrender their right to be called British subjects. In South Africa all parties, but especially the Boers, are prone to think as though in political matters the whites, who number only some 1,700,000, alone count. In the last analysis, 5,000,000 natives and colored people cannot be ignored in the eyes of the world, and they to a man are passionately attached to their status as British subjects. The secession of South Africa would in fact mean that less than one fifth of the whole population would impose their will on an overwhelming majority. Such a change could be effected only at the cost of a civil war, in which the Government would find itself opposed by a numerical majority with treaties as well as constitutional rights on their side.
The number of Boers on the back veldt who would like independence is very much larger than the die-hard section who are ready to achieve it at cost of bloodshed. In 1924 Hertzog, faced by the prospect of an electoral contest, seems to have realized that he could never have secured a majority on terms like these. His only chance was an alliance with Labor. But a large number of Labor supporters are British-born. The Nationalists, therefore, fell back on the policy of agreeing with Labor that if they could jointly defeat Smuts they would form a coalition government on the understanding that the Nationalist policy of secession should remain in abeyance. These tactics succeeded, and Hertzog came into power with a ministry in which several leaders of the Labor Party were included. His government, like that which it ousted, includes elements from the two races which fought each other in the Boer War.
Two years of responsible office seem to have softened in General Hertzog that strain of fanaticism which long caused him to be regarded as the stormy petrel of South African politics. He has clearly come to see that the project of separating the South African Union from the British Commonwealth could only lead straight to a precipice. But he has in his cabinet at least one colleague, Dr. Malan, who stands to him in much the same position that he himself stood to Botha in the cabinet of 1910. Instead of allowing the issue to sleep, Dr. Malan revived it by introducing a bill to institute a South African flag which should include neither the colors of the old republics nor those of the Union Jack. The step was not so extreme as that taken by the government of the Irish Free State in substituting the flag adopted by Sinn Fein for the Union Jack. But in all the other Dominions the flag adopted has been that of the Union Jack with a local symbol added, in the case of Canada the maple leaf, in Australia and New Zealand the southern cross. This proposal which Dr. Malan forced on the Government was treated by the South African Party as an indication that secession was merely in abeyance and still remained the cardinal item in the Nationalist creed. It has also made the position of the Labor members in the Government exceedingly difficult.
Public opinion was further agitated by a series of measures for which General Hertzog himself was directly responsible, affecting the position of the colored population and the natives — the question that is at the root of all others in South Africa. Under British rule the policy adopted in the Cape Colony was based on the principle enunciated by Rhodes: ‘Equal rights for all civilized men.’ The native policy of the Boer republics was indicated by an article included in both their constitutions: ‘In Church and State there is no equality between black and white.’
Two opposite and incompatible policies had thus taken root to the south and north of the Orange River. They constituted at once the strongest reason for union under one government and the greatest difficulty in bringing about that union. The difficulty was overcome by a compromise under which the colored people and natives in the Cape retained their right to the franchise while the white population north of the Orange River retained their monopoly of the vote. The ultimate solution of the problem was wisely left to be dealt with in the future by the government and legislature of the Union.
General Hertzog decided to attempt the solution in a series of measures. Of these, one seeks to harmonize the electoral arrangements by allowing natives throughout the Union to vote apart from the whites in constituencies of their own for members who would represent their interests in the legislature on communal lines. It is in principle the system under which the Maoris are represented in New Zealand, though with very important restrictions. The natives and colored people, even those north of the Orange River where they are now disfranchised, are practically united in opposition to this principle. For the reason already indicated, the native controversy is intimately connected with the question of secession; the natives and colored population look to the British connection to secure them such rights as they have.
The South African Party is officially opposed to Hertzog’s measures, but its leaders are painfully aware that considerable sections of their own followers are not out of sympathy with the principles which inspire them.
Such in bare outline was the domestic position by which General Hertzog was faced when he left to attend the Imperial Conference of last autumn. He could not appear at the Conference without in some measure defining the relations his government wished to establish between the Union of South Africa and the British Commonwealth. The admitted success with which he had emerged from a difficult position is due in part to the anxiety of the British Government to help him, but is due still more to the simplicity of his character. As noticed above, the communities of the English-speaking world have exchanged the brilliant figures which brought them through the war for leaders of a less sensational type. With General Hertzog the average human being feels that he stands on an equal footing. He is not disturbed by any symptom of intellectual superiority. The General has no taste for the limelight, and in his riper years gives an impression of sincerity rather than fanaticism. He has, moreover, that perfect courtesy which sometimes springs from a fundamental humility. The British public, which admires reserve, was deeply impressed with his obvious reluctance to play to the gallery or force himself on the public attention. He earned respect by keeping back what he had to say until he had said it to his colleagues in the Conference.
In spite of all his speeches in opposition, he must after two years in the office of Prime Minister have entered the Conference with a sense that his country had more to lose than gain by drastic changes in its international status. In the British Commonwealth and its component states the King is in fact a president, with executive powers reduced to the vanishing point by the fact that he holds his position by heredity and not by election. The kingly power now rests with the Prime Ministers, who exercise that power subject to the will of their respective legislatures and electorates. The authority which governs each country is in fact that will, and the mutual relations of these several countries in the Commonwealth are maintained by an exercise of voluntary coöperation, aided by the fact that they are physically separated by oceans. All this is a matter of convention and custom, which hitherto has been unwritten. The solution of General Hertzog’s difficulty has been met in the Imperial Conference by the simple expedient of writing these conventions down in a declaration couched in language intelligible to the Boers of the South African veldt. Englishmen who argued these things in South Africa could always be confronted with the legal phraseology of the constitution. They could always be met by the argument, ‘If these things are really so, why not, then, state it in writing?’ A written statement to which General Hertzog is himself a party has had the effect, not only of silencing this criticism, but also of convincing many of the Boers who were doubtful before that they now have not merely the appearance but the very substance of freedom.
In the speeches which General Hertzog has made since his return to South Africa he seems to have frankly abandoned once for all the old mischievous idea of keeping the Dutch and British races in separate and parallel streams. He, like Botha and Smuts, to whom he paid graceful compliments at Pretoria, now seems to look forward to a future when both will mingle to an increasing degree as one South African nation. Happily there is not, as in Canada, any religious division to keep them apart, and the British stock blends more readily with the Dutch than it does with the French.
The domestic problem of South Africa has long been calling for her undivided attention. Here, as in your Southern States, everything ultimately hinges on the relations of black to white. The European seeks to reserve skilled occupations to himself at a high wage. The unskilled labor is left to be done by Kaffirs at a wage appropriate to the standard of Kaffir life. Inevitably the feeling arises that a white man who earns his living by unskilled labor has lost caste. Drudgery in all its forms is regarded as the badge of an inferior race; the fact is ignored that in most branches of life drudgery is the school in which alone skill can be learned. The result is that a dangerously large proportion of the whites fail to acquire skill either in farming or in handicrafts. Even if a European is prepared to face the social prejudice against doing unskilled labor, he cannot live on the wage which the Kaffir is forced to accept. As in your Southern States before the Civil War, the result is to be seen in the multiplication of poor whites, a class for whom there is no place in the economic system. When the Boer population was returned to the land after the war in 1902, it was found that at least ten per cent were without property and devoid of capacity or desire to earn their own bread.
For two centuries this surplus element was absorbed in the vast hinterland which lay beyond the settled areas. Toward the end of the nineteenth century this process had reached its limits. There were no further areas in which white men could live by hunting and watching a few degenerate cattle graze on such scanty fodder as the wilderness yields.
At this turning point in the economic life of South Africa the richest gold mines in the world were discovered in the Transvaal. The poor whites were entitled by their color to the vote, and were therefore a political factor with which every government had to reckon. In Kruger’s days they were supported by doles in various forms. Since the grant of responsible government, the expedient has been used of giving unskilled labor to poor whites at about five times the wage which would have to be paid to the Kair for the same result. The engineering department of the great Johannesburg municipality is a case in point. By a standing order the digging of drains has to be done by the labor of whites paid at 12/6 a day instead of by Kaffirs whose wage would be 2/6 a day. The extra charge which has to be met by the ratepayers on this account alone is about £36,000 a year. The same policy has also been applied by the Provincial Government of the Transvaal to roads. The poorwhite vote is divided between the Nationalist and Labor parties, whose leaders jointly constitute the Union Government now in power, with the result that the policy of displacing Kaffir by white labor on the railways has been applied on a wholesale scale. The cost, estimated at £700,000 a year, is of course reflected in the rates on the carriage of goods and passengers. Anxiety to find employment for poor whites also encourages the maintenance of high tariffs directed to the development of industries for which the country is not yet ripe. Again the charge is borne by the mining and farming industries, and so operates to check the growth of the productive enterprise natural to the country. High costs limit the mines to the higher grades of ore and delay the development of land which at lower freightage and custom charges could be brought under profitable cultivation.
This policy is having the effect of attracting the poor whites, who are mainly of Boer origin, from the land to the towns. The register of a district nursing association in Johannesburg shows that ninety per cent of their cases have Dutch names. The great majority of these cases are entirely dependent for subsistence on the Rand Aid Association, the substitute for a poor-law authority in that area, which derives most of its funds from the public revenues.
The Union was based on an agreement that the two languages should stand on a footing of absolute equality, since interpreted to mean that every public official must be able to speak Afrikaans as well as English. This means in practice that the older population can obtain public employment more easily than the later Englishspeaking settlers, who grudge the time necessary to learn a language of less general utility to them than a knowledge of English is to the Dutch. The older population is thus learning a dangerous habit of looking to the Government for employment. The Englishspeaking settlers, on the other hand, tend to regard the Government as a necessary evil which has to be reckoned with like droughts or pests. As a member of the legislature said, South Africa is afflicted by three curses: tick, ticks, and politics. Thrust back on themselves, the newcomers are forced to depend on their own energies. The result is that while the Dutch are leaving the land and crowding to the towns, where they can subsist on the public revenues, the land is more and more falling into the hands of enterprising immigrant farmers. If the present process continues, the time is not distant when the strength of the British element will be found on the land, while the great towns have become strongholds of Dutch political power.
The growth of public expenditure since the union is indeed startling. In 1911 and 1912 the Union and Provincial Governments together spent close on £25,000,000. In the present year they are spending close on £59,000,000. The expenditure per head of the population has in this period risen from £2 to £4.2. The pressure of the older population on the Government for employment is largely responsible for the rise.
The South African farmer has always regarded the mining industry as the American farmer regards Wall Street. In South Africa the feeling has been greatly accentuated by racial antagonisms, for, while the farmers were mainly Dutch, the mining industry was the work of Uitlanders. For the reasons sketched in this article, there is good prospect that racial antagonism may now begin to decline; and if it does, the Dutch as well as the British farmer will begin to realize that his industry, as well as that of the mines, is seriously hampered by the rapid growth of public expenditure. And this tendency is likely to be helped in the immediate future by a sharp decline in the output of gold, which seems to have now reached the highest point it is likely to touch. The forecast of Sir Robert Kotze (the Government Mining Engineer, an official of acknowledged ability) for the next fifteen years is as follows. Taking the output for 1925 as represented by 100, he predicts that in 1930 it will have fallen to 76.8, in 1935 to 52.1, and by 1940 to 17.9. If, as is said, one half of the public revenues are directly or indirectly derived from the mining industry, the municipal and provincial authorities as well as the Central Government will presently have to consider whether it is possible, as well as just, to replace black laborers by white, irrespective of the comparative value of the service they render. Such a policy is in the long run more fatal to the dominant than to the subject race.
Economic problems and the color question are thus inseparable. In the past the natives and the handful of whites who have championed their claims have looked to the Imperial Government to safeguard the rights of the subject race. With the recent declaration of the Imperial Conference before them, they can do so no longer, and the natives feel that England has left them in the lurch. Yet, when once the principle of responsible government wasaccepted, British intervention could do practically nothing to improve the position of the native. Such improvement can only come from a growing feeling of responsibility in the white electorate of South Africa, a growth which the mere possibility of British interference has tended to check. In considering the far-reaching proposals of General Hertzog, the electorate of South Africa now knows that it has to decide the grave issues involved without let or hindrance on the part of the Imperial Government. It must feel its own way to the principles which ought to govern the relations of a subject to a dominant race. A rapid exhaustion of the buried treasures which have helped to maintain artificial conditions may hasten the process. For the next generation South Africa is likely to retain its character as a place of absorbing interest to the student of social problems.