[To THE EDITOR OF THE “SrasorAvos."] Sin,—Being abroad, I have
only recently, and accidentally, come across the letter of my friend the Master of Elibank, on the subject of the future Constitution of the Transvaal Colony, which appeared in the Spectator of January 7th. Without desiring, or feeling myself competent, to, express any opinion as to what the Constitution of the Colony should be, I should like to be allowed to endorse most fully what the Master of Elibank says as to the entire unsuitability of such a system as that which prevails in Jamaica. My experience of six years as Governor of that island has convinced me that his description of its Constitution as "a farce and a delusion" is very little, if at all, beyond the trath. It is at all events a hollow mockery, "neither fish, flesh. fowl, nor good red- herring," and cannot, in any circumstances, be satisfactory to any party in the Colony. If, as has been the case since Mr. Chamberlain's coup d'etat in 1899, the Government are placed in a majority, with the power to carry their measures, there is a cry that the political privileges of the people have been taken away. If the elected members are in a majority, as they were previous to 1899, and choose to combine together to thwart and oppose the Govern- ment, the result is that administration is paralysed. What
was the intention or idea of the framers of this hybrid Constitution it is difficult to imagine. If their hope was to give a political education to the people so as to fit them eventually for responsible government, I fear the realisation of their expectations may be relegated to the Greek Kalends. The bulk of the people are absolutely apathetic and ignorant as to political matters, and though they may occasionally be galvanised into a little spasmodic life by journalists and agitators, it is feeble and short-lived. The fact is that the Jamaican Constitution was a compromise extracted from a weak-kneed and opportunist Liberal Secretary of State, and, like the majority of compromises, it has turned out a complete and sorry failure. To impose any similar Constitution upon the Transvaal would, I venture to think, be a serious, and possibly disastrous, mistake, and I trust it is an erroneous idea that any such course is even in contemplation. It has proved quite unsuitable to Jamaica ; it would be worse than unsuitable in a community of white men, or where white men have the predominance. I offer no opinion with regard to the other suggestions of the Master of Elibank, though I think there is a good deal to be said for his proposal that an effective and satisfactory preliminary Constitution might be framed on the lines of that of Barbadoes.—I am, Sir, &c.,
AUGUSTUS W. L. HEMMING.
Mena House Hotel, Pyramids, Cairo.