Imperialism in South Africa
The Project Gutenberg eBook, Imperialism in South Africa, by J. EwingRitchieThis eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere in the United States and mostother parts of the world at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms ofthe Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.org. If you are not located in the United States, you'll haveto check the laws of the country where you are located before using this ebook.Title: Imperialism in South AfricaAuthor: J. Ewing RitchieRelease Date: October 17, 2018 [eBook #58121]Language: EnglishCharacter set encoding: ISO-646-US (US-ASCII)***START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK IMPERIALISM IN SOUTH AFRICA***
Transcribed from the 1879 James Clarke & Co. edition byDavid Price, email [email protected]
J. EWING RITCHIE.
JAMES CLARKE & CO., 13 & 14, FLEET STREET.
ANNEXATION OF THE TRANSVAAL.
It is vain to dispute the fact thatthose Puritan Fathers—who, upon one occasion, held ameeting, and resolved first that the earth was the Lord’s,and the fulness thereof; secondly, that it was the heritage ofthe saints; and that thirdly, they were the saints, and were,therefore, justified in depriving the natives of their grounds,and in taking possession of them themselves—had a fullshare of that English faculty of appropriation which has madeEngland the mistress of the seas, and for a while, almost, theruler of the world; and, as Englishmen, we cannot say that on thewhole that wholesale system, which has planted the British flagin every quarter of the globe, has been disastrous to thecommunities ruled over, or dishonourable to the nationitself. In some cases undoubtedly we have acted unjustly;in some cases the lives and happiness of millions have beenplaced in incompetent hands; in some cases we have had selfishrulers and incapable officers; but India and Canada and the WestIndian Islands and Australia and New Zealand are the better forour rule. An Englishman may well be proud of what hiscountrymen have done, and it becomes us to review the past in nonarrow, carping, and censorious spirit. We have spent moneyby millions, but then we are rich, and the expenditure has notbeen an unproductive one. We have sacrificed valuablelives, but the men who have fallen have been embalmed in thenation’s memory, and the story of their heroism will mouldthe character and fire the ambition and arouse the sympathies ofour children’s children, as they did those of our fathersin days gone by; and yet there is a danger lest we undertakeresponsibilities beyond our means, and find ourselves engaged incontests utterly needless in the circumstances of the case, andcertain to result in a vain effusion of blood and expenditure ofmoney. As far as South Africa is concerned, this isemphatically the case. Originally the Cape Settlement wasbut a fort for the p.6the coast. The country is subject to drought, andseems chiefly to be inhabited by diamond diggers, ostrichfarmers, and wool growers. Its great agricultural resourcesare undeveloped, because labour is dear, and all carriage to thecoast is expensive. The English never stop in the colonies,but return to England as soon as they have made a fortune. Living is quite as dear as in England, and in many partsdearer. In the Cape Colony, the chief amusements of allclasses are riding, driving, shooting, and billiards. Inthe interior there are fine views to be seen, and in somequarters an abundance of game. The thunderstorms arefrightful, the rivers, dry in summer, are torrents inwinter. The droughts, the snakes, the red soil dust, andthe Kaffirs, are a perpetual nuisance to all decent people. “Although South Africa is a rising colony,” writesSir Arthur Cunynghame, “I hardly think it offers to theemigrant the chances which he would obtain in Australia or NewZealand. South Africa is not a very rich country. Labour is hard to obtain, and it will be years before irrigationcan be carried on a sufficient scale to make agriculture abrilliant Success. Nevertheless, land is so abundant thatthe energetic colonist is sure, at least, to make a living, andprovided he does not drink, has a good chance of becoming a richman.” A great deal of money is made by ostrichfarming and sheep grazing, but they are occupations which requirecapital. As to cereals, it pays better to buy them than togrow them. A cabbage appears to be a costly luxury, and theprice of butter is almost prohibitive. “SouthAfrica,” wrote a Saturday Reviewer recently,“is the paradise of hunters, and the purgatory ofcolonists.” The remark is not exactly true, but forall practical purposes it may be accepted as the truth. Ifthis be so, how is it, then, it may be asked, we English havebeen so anxious to get possession of the country? Theanswer is, We hold the Cape of Good Hope to be desirable as aport of call and harbour of refuge on our way to India; but theopening of the Suez Canal has changed all that, and the reasonfor which we took it from the Dutch in 1806 does not existnow. Whether the country has ever made a penny by the Caperemains to be proved.
In taking possession of the Cape of Good Hope, we found therea people whom we have annexed against their will, and of whom wehave made bitter enemies. These were the original Dutchsettlers, or Boers, a primitive, pastoral people, with a gooddeal of the piety of the Pilgrim Fathers, and who set to work toexterminate the pagans much after the fashion of the Jews, ofwhom we read in the Old Testament. Their plan of gettingrid of the native difficulty was a very effective one. Theyeither made the native a slave, or they drove him away. Mr.Thomas Pringle, one of our earliest colonists, says, “Theirdemeanour towards us, whom they
“The Transvaal,” wrote one who knew South Africawell—the late Mr. Thomas Baines—“will yetcommand the admiration of the world for the perseverance, theprimitive manliness and hardihood of its pioneers.” As a proof of advancing prosperity, when he was there in 1860 itsone-pound notes had risen in value till four were taken for asovereign, and several hundred pounds’ worth