27 JANUARY 1900, Page 29


[To THE EDITOR OF THE "SPECTATOR."] SIR,—The papers have lately been urging the expediency of enforcing the extreme penalty of the law on the Queen's Dutch subjects taken in arms. Those who take this view have, of course, every right to be heard, but should we not recognise at the same time that in a matter of such far- reaching importance longer views have at least an equal claim to consideration ? Cape Dutch and Cape English are equally subjects of the Queen, and the political purist is within his rights in claiming an identical penalty, in the case of treason, from both. Yes, but is there not room even here to differentiate ? The loyalty, on the outward observance of which it is proposed to insist so strenuously, is little more than the creature of an implied contract. It was handed over, like the soil itself, to the British Crown, as the prize of war, not by the people themselves, but by outside negotiators and statesmen, in return (no Englishman who knows the meaning of the privilege of so subscribing himself will deny it) for the implied consideration that sooner or later we should succeed in winning it. Have we succeeded hitherto ? No one but a mere partisan will deny that—at least during the latter half of our occupation of the Colony—we have tried. But if one solid fact emerges from the present chaos it is that the tie of blood still holds the field against all competitors in South Africa. The delicate plant of loyalty which, but so lately as the accession of the Schreiner Ministry to power a year ago, was putting forth many promising leaves, has, from causes with which I am not here concerned, shown signs of shrinking back upon itself. Will it be good gardening to water it with blood ? Let us be careful not to sacrifice the interests of that Imperial idea, the very sheet-anchor of which is not force but spontaneous preference, to any supposed exigencies of the moment. All white people from the Zambesi to the Cape will shortly be our fellow-subjects. A preference for the British flag over any other in the hearts of a vast majority of the white inhabitants is the only garrison it will be safe [We entirely agree with our correspondent, and would treat the Cape Dutch who take up arms against us as the Northerners treated the Southerners in America. Cape Dutch- men, however, who do not come into the open and fight fair, but act as spies, and give secret aid to the enemy, must be dealt with on quite a different footing,—granted, of course, that their treachery is properly proved.—ED. Spectator.]