Page images
PDF
EPUB

diplomacy of Great Britain; for it was by the stand he took in April 1911, that a clean sweep was made of a score or more treaties that had fettered the action of the self-governing colonies from the time fiscal freedom accrued to them as a result of the free-trade legislation at Westminster of 1846.

Laurier has still another claim to distinction in the history of the commercial diplomacy of the Empire. For sixty years—1847 to 1907—first, the old British NorthAmerican provinces, and afterwards the Dominion of Canada, were pressing for the right to make their own commercial treaties. There were many partial and qualified concessions to this demand, from the time of the negotiation of the first treaty of reciprocity between the British North-American provinces and the United States (1847–1854), to the negotiation in 1893, by Sir Charles Tupper, of the reciprocity treaty with France. Full and complete concession to it came in 1907, when Laurier, Fielding, and Brodeur negotiated the second commercial treaty with France. It was carried through without material aid from the British Ambassador at Paris, and without intervention, as regards the details of the treaty, from the Foreign Office in London.

Developments in Canada since 1911—the complete and costly breakdown of Laurier's railway policy; the disruption of the Liberal party over Conscription, which Laurier opposed; and the revolt of the agrarians against high protectionist tariffs, for which Laurier was responsible-make it difficult as yet to determine Laurier's right place in the political history of the Dominion. But his place as a Canadian statesman, who greatly and beneficently influenced the Empire as a whole, is assured.

EDWARD PORRITT.

II, GENERAL LOUIS BOTHA.

rare, and

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

GREAT men in all ages have been achievements that justify the title vary in charact Events make men,' according to Herbert Spencer ; men undoubtedly influence events, though their share proportion to that of circumstance may be indet minable. The greatest of men are in no small degi children of fortune; and the effect of their actions, matter how judiciously conceived, is in a large meast governed by the way in which surrounding facto tumble into the arena, not unlike pieces of glass in revolving kaleidoscope. Neither results nor man's sha in their accomplishment can be truly gauged at sho range. These reflexions are inspired by the desire, framing these brief notes upon the late General Lou Botha, to do justice to him and to his admirat qualities, on the one hand, without prejudicing the woz of future historians by contemporary exaggeration, the other.

First, with regard to his appearance and personalit He stood about six feet in height, broad-shouldere heavy-boned, deep-chested and muscular, with large blu eyes that looked straight at one, and a delightful winnin smile; a round face, small nose, black hair and tanne complexion. He was very intelligent and irresistib] attractive in lighter, happy moods; dark and taciturn i rare moments of anger. Keenly alive and virile, h

b. centred his whole heart on the occupation of th moment, whether on State or other serious affairs or o diversions. In spare moments golf or bridge greatl amused him. I met him once under treatment a Kissingen; he followed the régime

régime scrupulously Bright-minded and companionable, genial and kindly in his outlook, he was a magnetic being, charming in every day intercourse, and, in spite of not having had th advantages of public-school training or higher education dignified in bearing and well-mannered, modest, un assuming, unspoiled by adulation. He had, moreover, & a keen sense of humour, coupled with an ample fund of sound common-sense and a practical mind characteristic of his race, and particularly of the portion bred under the friendly African sun on the broad veld. Only those who

[ocr errors]

Bre familiar with the gorgeous Colouring, the invigorating air, and the immense structural scale of the wide plains and rocky eminences of South Africa, can realise how the environment has dominated the outlook of those nurtured in its amenities.

In this short review we may pass rapidly over the early life of General Botha. His father was a well-to-do farmer; and Louis, one of six brothers, was born at Greytown, Natal, in 1862. At the age of twenty-two we first hear of him as accompanying Lucas Meyer upon an expedition to Zululand, in support of Dinizulu against Usibepu. The assistance of the Boer Commando turned the scale in favour of Dinizulu, who, as a recompense, granted them an area of land, which they called the New Republic

, with Vryheid as its capital. Vryheid was incorporated in the Transvaal in 1888, Botha being then twenty-six years of age. Some seven years later he went to Pretoria as a member of the Second Volksraad.

I must not linger over the burning questions of that period

, which covered the development of the Witwatersrand gold-mining industry, and the advent of the 'new' population. Botha, even in those early years, was out of sympathy with the narrow and repressive policy which Tas then the keynote of President Kruger's administration

. The President realised that the patriarchal system was threatened, but he was not of the stuff to part meekly with a cherished ideal. Bitter discontent arose, partly from reactionary legislation and the disabilities placed upon new-comers, partly from the insecurity of Lie and property. Titles to individual mining property were in constant jeopardy-in the main, be it admitted, from assaults by the new-comers themselves. beterogeneous community of fortune seekers, drawn from all parts of the world, there were naturally

specigentleman to the most unscrupulous adventurer. Men Tests of every moral grade, from the highly cultured

In a

the latter class did not find the business of merely atacking the rights of their neighbours sufficiently Wractive and began to divert their attention to the Tolksraad. Here indeed was a fine field for predatory activities. Playing here upon the ignorance and there you the cupidity of some of the members—simple feasants be it noted—they created a real danger, and

mers

from time to time the legislature displayed sig yielding to the allurements of concession-hunters one notorious case, that of the Dynamite Conce President Kruger himself warned members that wre up with the granting of this concession was the pendence of the State!

Dissatisfaction and grievances accumulated. Volksraad was deaf to appeals and blind to conseque Consciousness of the situation was, however, awake A section of the Volksraad, led by General Piet Jou in the upper chamber, and Lucas Meyer in the se chamber, manifested its opposition to Kruger's repre policy. Botha joined that section, but it failed to the reactionary tide. Anger on the part of the landers reached its breaking-point when Kruger deavoured to force military service upon them, with at the same time, granting them any rights of citi ship, and displayed the intention of fortifying the which commanded the town. It was at this stage steps were taken for the projected rising at Johannesb and any impartial student must confess that there solid justification for the movement. The Jame Raid ensued, a disastrous incident, which should however, be confounded with the original plan or basis of the intended internal revolt. Whatever view be held respecting that turmoil, there is no doubt the enlightened the world upon President Kruger's aims methods in South Africa, and his intercourse with fore powers, particularly with Germany. Botha was doubtedly in sympathy with the Uitlander cause, but invasion impelled him to take up arms in defence of w he regarded (erroneously, it should be said) as an atter to steal the country.

During the next few years he did not come i special prominence, but his chance came with the Bo War. Serving at first under Lucas Meyer, he v speedily chosen as the leader of that commando, a after the death of General Joubert, he became co mander-in-chief of the Boer Forces. In spite of having had no technical military training, he manifest great skill in the field. His exploits in that arena ne not be dwelt upon here, as they are upon record. Th he should have led his people through an unsuccessi

6

rar, and emerged still enjoying their confidence, is an accomplishment of a remarkable order, the more remarkable in view of the highly developed critical faculties of the Boers and their exceptional disregard of rank or position. It is, morever, significant evidence of his wisdom, tact, and powers of leadership. From that time he became the recognised head of his people. Having played a distinguished part in the war, he was equaly prominent in the peace settlement. He took a leading part in the negotiations that led to the Terms of Surrender; and the Ten Articles that were ultimately signed lent some colour to the claim set up later that this instrument constituted a Treaty of Peace. No useful purpose would be served by a technical discussion upon the differences between Terms of Surrender and a Treaty of Peace, but, in the light of later events, it may be interesting to recall a passage from the South African News,'a Bond organ, which shows how the concessions made by the British Government were magnified.

‘As every person possessing an ounce of imagination has seen long ago, the main hope of the permanence of the structure, whose foundations were laid at Vereeniging, is just the fact that the Republicans were not beaten to their knees, but entered the British Empire “in cap and plumes Erect and free," and, therefore, able to forgive and co-operate with those whose full-blood brethren and partners they then became.'

This is not true of the condition of the Boer forces when peace was sought, nor is it true, unfortunately, that the Boers as a whole became brotherly' in their attitude towards the British Empire. It may be interesting to remark that the correspondence preceding the agreement concerning the Terms of Surrender discloses the efforts of the Boers, first to retain their independence, then, while surrendering independence as regards foreign relations, to retain self-government under British supervision. Finally, finding themselves unable to make any Leadway upon such terms, they obtained powers from the burghers in the field to accept the conditions approved of by His Majesty's Government for the surrender of the Boer forces, and set forth in the Ten Articles. Botha himself, no doubt as a matter of good policy, always referred to this document as the Treaty

« PreviousContinue »