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or Peace of Vereeniging; but it should be clearly un stood that he never wavered in any of his uttera from the position that the Boers were bound by e dictate of honour to respect the obligations into w they had entered.
It was not surprising that, after the conclusion hostilities, a sea of bitterness remained. Botha the other Boer leaders stood aloof and denied t assistance to Lord Milner during the period of Cro Colony administration, and they declined the proffe seats upon the Legislative Council formed in 1: About the beginning of that year, owing to the contin state of depression in the country, agitation for polit reform began. Slack times find men without suffici occupation for their thoughts in the business of } and they turn to the contemplation of their misfortui fruitful foster-parents of political discontent. British section of the South African population, theref split up into two groups, the one desirous of full sponsible Government, the other, and, I think, the m thoughtful, of a half-way house in advance of Cro Colony administration as a first step. The diverge of views among the English encouraged General Bo to summon a Congress of the Boers, which was opei in Pretoria in May 1904. Towards the conclusion of opening address, he said,
Our people have made great sacrifices; they have sl their blood and wept tears of bitter sorrow; but they m thoroughly understand that the lowering of their flag & the change of Government do not entail the renunciation their traditions. Now is the time for us to prove to our p Government that we are and shall remain one people, whom they must become proud. We have one object view, and that is to live and to work in unison with 1 new population; and my earnest hope and prayer is that may please the Almighty to inspire the entire white poj lation in South Africa with feelings of unity, so that a nati may be born worthy to take its place among the nations the world, where the name of “Africander” shall be hea with honour and applause.' I quote this passage because, although Botha consistent pleaded for the unity of the white population, he did n
embrace the golden opportunity of that moment to join the Responsible-Government Party, with whose views he and his friends were in accord. If racial divisions could have been eliminated, there was no ground then for the formation of the third party, `Het Volk.' It is impossible to say whether or not he could have induced his followers at that date to join with their English fellow-citizens, but at that Congress undoubtedly the first public step was taken to set up an organisation by which the two white races were kept apart. Botha, of course, knew his fellow-countrymen well, and may have had good grounds for considering that the memory of the war was too fresh to permit of a union.
The Progressive Party stood as a whole for the policy of Lord Milner. They were most anxious that the fabric of Government created by him should be fortified, because they foresaw in the consolidation of that system thoroughly progressive control in education, in agriculture and railway administration, in the department of justice, in short, in all those departments of State in which good government is eminent. But the time had arrived for giving to the people greater powers than they enjoyed as a Crown colony. The British Government framed what was known as the Lyttelton Constitution, which was transmitted to the Transvaal on March 31, 1905; and the Progressive Party favoured its adoption as a suitable bridge between the previous system and the grant of complete representative or responsible Government. But the Liberal Unionist Government was then tottering to its fall. The Liberal Party, thanks in no small measure to the effective if unscrupulous use made of the Chinese Labour cry, came into power with a very large majority in December 1905, under the leadership of Sir Henry Campbell Bannerman. They made short work, without a trial, of the Lyttelton Constitution, and in December 1906, granted the full powers which General Botha and his compatriots, as well as the members of the Responsible Government Association, who had split away from the Progressive Party, bad demanded.
A Commission, consisting of Sir West Ridgeway (Chairman), Lord Sandhurst, Sir Francis Hopwood now Lord Southborough), and Colonel Johnston, was
thereupon sent to South Africa to delimit constituer in view of the settlement of the Transvaal Constitu After investigation, the Commission determined to criminate to some extent in favour of the cour districts. There was considerable force in the ments used, namely, that the sparse population of country districts would be at a disadvantage in exerci their voting rights, as against the population in towns, and on this account were entitled to some sideration, The net result of the action taken however, to throw power into the hands of the So African Party, with which, to no small extent, those had belonged to the Responsible Government Associat threw in their lot. A good deal of heat was genera during the elections; and, in spite of all parties decla ing against the revival of old animosities, a great dea racial bitterness ensued. Animosity was, perhaps, estronger between the Progressives and Responsi Government men than between the Progressives the Boers. After the elections, Botha's party secured 37 seats, the Progressives 21, and the National Labour, and Independent Parties between them remaining 11. Botha therefore commanded a majori and became Prime Minister of the Transvaal in 1907.
When the House met the atmosphere was rati electric, and the leading men on either side hardly sp to each other. The unfriendly state of feeling seem to forbode evil consequences, and the situation was o that called for cool-headed judgment. I was not at tl period a member of the House, nor bad I taken an acti part in the elections ; I was therefore in an independe position and able to work for less inimical relatia between the rival parties. After some time, I came be on friendly and, indeed, intimate terms with Gene Botha and General Smuts, not without rather unhap moments for myself from time to time, because the and valued friends, with whose political creed I h always been identified, viewed my action with dislil and even, at times, with suspicion. The effort, howeve was not altogether unsuccessful, nor was it, indeed, on sided, because the Prime Minister discussed matters wi me, which, on account of the strained relations, he wou discuss with his political opponents. General Botha atinuously and publicly avowed his desire to do justice and bring about a reconciliation between, all sections the white people. Every one in South Africa realised at nothing could be worse for the country than the idening of the breach.
Happily, there came about a gradual amelioration in he state of feeling; and during those fateful years I learned to appreciate General Botha's breadth of view and his sincere desire to earn the confidence of British and Dutch alike. That, upon his assumption of office, he should have found it necessary to place a number of his own countrymen in positions of responsibility is not surprising ; nor, indeed, would it probably be inaccurate to say that his inclinations also leaned in that direction. In any case, the victory at the polls necessitated and justified some consideration for the members of his party; and I do not think his action in this connexion can be deemed extravagant. Some of those to whom he zare appointments may not have been as competent as eould be desired; but, be that as it may, one is bound to admit that he was faced with an extremely difficult task, and the manner in which he succeeded in carrying it out is a very high tribute to his statesmanlike qualities. The Progressive Party was naturally critical, because they believed that the welfare of South Africa was, to some extent at least, being sacrificed to political expediency. If exception may be taken to some of Botha's measures, one fact cannot be denied, namely, that he steadily gained in the people's confidence and rose in popular esteem. To him above all other men should be accorded the credit of rendering the National Convention possible.
Lord Milner relinquished office in March 1905, and was succeeded as High Commissioner by the Earl of Selborne, whose affable disposition, coupled no doubt with his knowledge and love of farming, rendered his appointment a very happy one in the circumstances. He set to work to cultivate friendly relations, not only with General Botha and his Cabinet, but also with the : people at large. He travelled about the country, visiting the farmers, and contributed in no small degree to the stablishment of a better state of feeling. The work of reconstruction and the forward railway policy of his predecessor began to tell ; and the growing mercial prosperity of the young colonies of the T vaal and Orange River, due in a large measure to th of Delagoa Bay, created much anxiety at the Cape in Natal. Tariffs and railway rates caused conside tension in the relations between the colonies—a te not free from the danger of counter-steps, reprisals ultimately even of open hostilities.
General Botha was fully alive to the gravity of situation. An Inter-Colonial Conference was held failed to find a solution of the problems. Whe became evident that some form of political union the only panacea, Lord Selborne contributed a very paper to the public discussion then taking place in press and on the platform. Want of space forbids critical examination of the burning questions of the t The general opinion seemed to incline towards s system of federation, but the objection to that for union was obvious. The retention of colonial bound involved the annual publication of budgets which w have exposed the manner in which each colony materially affected; and this condition alone might, probably would, have sown the seeds of future appointment, dispute, and even of disruption. Selborne's sane outlook and unquestioned honest purpose were of great value at this critical juncture.
The National Convention assembled on Oct. 12, and culminated in the Union of South Africa. At remarkable feature of the Convention was the s of good fellowship that reigned. All racial animo seemed to have vanished; the lion and the lan British Jingoism,
the one hand, and D nationalism on the other-lay down together; and was peace and amity. Many difficulties of the r serious character, arising from the different charac of what are now the respective Provinces and affec their welfare in different ways, had to be surmour The wealthy Transvaal had to make concessions to less fortunate neighbours, each of whom in its surrendered something. On the whole, it is unquest ably fortunate that complete union was agreed General Botha took a broad conciliatory line through the negotiations.