17 FEBRUARY 1900, Page 16


[To THE EDITOR OP THE "SPECTATOR."] SIR,—Yon have called on "those who desire to supply accu- rate information as to South Africa affairs" to confirm or deny the fact, asserted widely in the Ministerial Press, that Mr. McLachlan was shot at Harrismith for refusing to serve against his countrymen. The South Africa Conciliation Committee gladly respond to your appeal to inform your readers that last week Mr. Chamberlain, in answer to a question, declared that the authorities in Natal had been asked if they were able to confirm or deny the report, and that the statement has since been made, without contradic- tion, that the Colonial Office has been informed that there is no truth in the story. This is not an isolated case of apparently deliberate invention of outrages attri- buted to the Boers for no other ostensible object than to inflame public opinion against them. Your readers will

remember the case of Lanham, murdered in the news- papers, but afterwards proved alive and well, and that of Robertson, tried, convicted, and led out to execution, accord- ing to report, while in reality he was still awaiting the trial which resulted in his acquittal. The historic conspiracy between Oily Gammon and Quirk to prove a death by the manufacture of a spurious tombstone has been improved upon by the more artistic methods of to-day,—obituary notices in the leading London papers. In this connection the Committee venture to suggest to the Spectator, and others concerned for the honour of British journalism, to inquire by whose authority these obituary notices were inserted. It is a subject upon which the Committee would be glad to receive "accurate information." "Pas est et ab hosts doceri."

Assistant Secretary S. A.C.C.

[We print the above, though the South Africa Conciliation Committee ignore the fact that we expressed last week our great satisfaction at the denial of the story, and our hope and trust that the denial would prove well founded.—ED. Spectator.]