3 SEPTEMBER 1898, Page 6

THE CAPE ELECTIONS. T HE keen interest that has been aroused

in this country by the elections for the Cape Legislative Assembly will undoubtedly seem to many observers a healthy sign of the times. A few years ago, Colonial elections were matters of no importance to the home public ; now, the meagre telegraphic news from South Africa has been exploited by London newspapers, overlaid with editorial comments, and generally treated as a sub- ject of Imperial concern. It is well, no doubt, that home- staying Englishmen should take an intelligent interest in Colonial matters, but it by no means follows that they ought to identify the maintenance of Imperial solidarity with the success of any particular Colonial party. And that, unfortunately, is just what the Press, if not the people, of England is doing at present. If we take up an ordinary London newspaper we read that at the Cape a party calling itself Progressive is contending against a party of ignorance and reaction ; that all Cape Colonists who value the Imperial connection are banded together against an organisation—the Afrikander Bond—which is held to represent Separation, Republicanism, and various other detestable heresies. This, it is not too much to say, has been the general impression which the ordinary reader of the English newspapers will have gathered. Mr. Rhodes, we were told, was going to emerge from the retirement in which the enemies of England wished to keep him, and was to lead the loyal party to a triumphant victory at the polling-booths. But, as events have turned out, the triumphant victory has not been attained ; the Bond, it appears, will have a majority over " Progressives." A more dangerous error of judgment than this preliminary triumph-song of what some people call "Imperialism" has not often been committed by responsible journalists. If we are to believe a large portion of the daily Press, we shall now be compelled to admit that the Cape, which, only a year ago, gained such enthusiastic praise by its scheme for contributing to the Imperial Navy, has, for no particular reason, renounced its loyalty. The fact is that Mr. Rhodes's friends have deliberately used a very dangerous weapon —the imputation of disloyalty to political opponents— in the hope of rallying to their side the large number of voters at the Cape who' do not happen to like Mr. Rhodes as a politician, but who do undoubtedly entertain very strong feelings of regard for the Imperial connection. As regards this body of doubtful voters, the plan has failed, and its adoption is bound to discredit the " Progressives." But a much more serious consequence ensues. The leaders of the Bond party have been branded as rebels, not only by a large section of their fellow- citizens in Cape Colony, but by most of the English papers; they will probably believe themselves to be repudiated by the people of England. They will therefore be tempted to reflect that as their assurances of loyalty have been dis- believed, they have nothing to gain by acting on those assurances. That is to say, it seems probable that a new Cape Ministry will come into office with the belief that its success is regarded by the people of England as a mis- fortune to the Empire at large. Consequently, it will not be particularly anxious to make the difficult position of Sir Alfred Milner an easier one, and it will be likely to look for friendship to Pretoria rather than to London. As for the London prophets who predicted the success of Mr. Rhodes on the ground that Mr. Rhodes stood for the Imperial connection, they are in an awkward dilemma. If they were right, then a majority of the voters of Cape Colony favour separation ; if they were mistaken, they have made a rather serious mistake in bringing grave charges against these same voters on insufficient grounds. The prophets in question no doubt thought that the suc- cess of the " Progressives " in the recent elections for the Legislative Council—until the other day the great strong- hold of the Bond—foreshadowed a victory in the elections for the Assembly, because the two Chambers are elected on the same suffrage, though a different system of electoral divisions exists. But even if they had been right in their predictions, can their attitude be defended ? Is it true that the Bond is disloyal ? Even if it were true, would it be wise to proclaim it so stridently ?

The real meaning of the Cape elections can hardly be explained without a longer review of Cape history than we can attempt at present. But the present election has been the first, since Cape Colony obtained responsible Govern- ment in 1872, that has been fought on definite party lines. Owing to a variety of circumstances, the various groups of Cape politicians have suddenly split into two parties, and the moderate men, the followers of Mr. Rose-Innes, who haie attempted to stand as Progressives but not followers of Mr. Rhodes, have been beaten out of the field almost as decisively as the few daring spirits who attempted to contest Irish seats in the early eighties as " Nationalists but not Parnellites" were crushed by Mr. Parnell. The most curious feature about these elections, however, is that though you have two parties, neither party stands for a particular policy. Of course each side has its party cries, but they are personal rather than political. " Equal rights for all white men south of the Zambesi" is a " platform" much more vague than that usually adopted by a party quite sure of what it wants. Almost all the " Progressive " leaders are, in a political sense, " men with a past." Mr. Rhodes gained his extraordinary position in the first instance by flattering Dutch susceptibilities ; he stood out as the one English- man who really understood and liked the Dutch. He deprecated the introduction of " the Imperial factor " into South African affairs, he had no sympathy with vague notions of " progress," and he believed in " keeping the native in his proper place." And so he was enabled to obtain the support of the Bond for his " expansion north- wards," and, when he found that President Kruger would not listen to his ideas of a united South Africa, he met with much sympathy from the Cape Dutch. After the fatal Raid, however, Mr. Rhodes had to appeal to those very Englishmen who had hitherto distrusted him on account of his " leaning to the Bond," and—he has now be- come Progressive and Imperialist. Sir Gordon Sprigg, who has lately been qualifying as a Jingo, was for many years an Opportunist. Sir James Sivewright, who is more of a man of business than a politician (he has managed the Cape Government railways with conspicuous success), always made a point of intimate relations with the Bond, of which he was one of the first English Members. On the other side, Mr. Merriman (son of a Bishop of Grahamstown) has adopted in turn every variety of political opinion. It is easy, then, to see that when Cape politicians take to stone-throwing a good deal of glass is broken. The real " Progressives " are represented by Mr. Rose-Innes, whom one might almost, remembering Matthew A.rnold's essay, call the Falkland of Cape politics. But he has never been a successful party leader, because he has never been content to adopt those curious compro- mises dear to South African statesmen. And yet, now that the day of compromises is supposed to be past, Mr. Clines meets with no better success. In our opinion, the reason for this is to be found in the fact that the present Progressive" party is itself the result of an extra- ordinary series of compromises. Two years ago one was told that the Progressives were people who wanted to reduce the import duties on food (which Sir James Sivewright wished to maintain), to put an excise on brandy (which was resented by the Dutch grape-farmers A the Western Province), to impose restrictions on the sale of liquor to the natives (which was even more objec- tionable to these same farmers), to improve the condition A the Kaffirs (which savoured of Exeter Hall), to tax the diamond industry (and thereby strike at Mr. Rhodes), and to pass a Redistribution Bill, which would correct the unfair advantage undoubtedly possessed by the rural districts over the towns in the matter of the franchise. Redistribution is still a watchword with the new Pro- gressives,—but what of the other measures? Well, now that the majority of Dutch farmers are no longer to be re- tained by any means, Sir Gordon Sprigg is willing to support the Rose-Inner liquor policy, and thereby strike against the most crying evil in Cape Colony. It will be seen that the "Progressives" of to-day are not quite the same people as the somewhat idealistic Pro- gressives of yesterday. The new body is formed by the junction of two new factors, Mr. Rhodes and the South African League, and the old "Progressives" are de- nounced as visionaries and elbowed out. Mr. Rhodes we know ; the South African League is chiefly in the hands of English Eastern-Province farmers, who are not very fond of either Free-trade or of Kaffirs, but who are attached to the Flag. It is they who have prevented this election from being fought on definite questions of internal policy, and who have insisted upon the degrada- tion of the Imperial cry to the position of a shibboleth of faction. They are not dishonest ; but they are unwise.

Undoubtedly the Bond has an insignificant Republican Left, but, if race-hatred had not been provoked in a thousand irritating ways, that Left would have been disarmed by the Loyal majority in the Bond. Un- doubtedly the relations between Pretoria and some of the Bond Members are very close, but those relations will not be relaxed by what people in Cape Town call "flag- wagging." However, the mischief has been done, and an election has been almost entirely decided on racial lines, though we find Mr. Merriman with the Bond and Sir Teter Faure with the Progressives. Moderate men like r. Schreiner have been so goaded and abused that they uld hardly be blamed if they became Irreconcilables. t must not be thought, however, that we hold a brief or the Bond : we have simply desired to emphasise some cts little understood in England. The unrest at the ape is as much due to the facts that the Transvaal overnment has often pursued an irritating policy, and t the South African Republic is a sacrosanct institu- ion in the eyes of the average Cape Dutchman, as to the alts of the Cape English. The important point is that e English people, if it wishes to remain at the head of Colonial Empire, must not see with the eyes of Colonial rejudice. We are surely far enough from South Africa get its affairs into their proper perspective, if we will Illy take the trouble. There is no need to despair of uth Africa, for Dutch and English have intermarried lich, and will intermarry more : they come of kindred ks, they profess kindred faiths. They stand together the representatives of Europe in the midst of a large d increasing black population. The parallel of Canada 8 been often quoted, but even yet we hardly realise w, if French Catholics and English Protestants can 'alesce into a nation, it is no vain imagining to hope for Similar result from the fusion of Englishmen and atchmen. Canada has, it is true, no independent French publics in her hinterland, and has a great nation, which ght once have wished to absorb her, on her borders. But in Africa the German south-west colony is a per manent warning that there are great foreign Powers ready to exercise influence in South African affairs. And,. as for the Republics, Sir John Brand made the Orange- Free State a, place where Englishmen and Dutchmen might dwell together in unity,—and his work will bear good fruit in time to come. South Africa will do well' enough if we can only let its internal squabbles alone, and confine ourselves to forbidding all external foreign inter- ference, and exercising with impartiality, but yet deter- mination, our rights as the paramount Power. If we once take sides in South Africa, and especially sides= against the native-born, we shall ruin the true Imperial cause. If we will only let him, Mr. Hofmeyr will prove as loyal to the Empire as Sir Wilfrid Laurier,—the Cape Dutch as the French of Quebec. We must never forget that Mr. Rhodes possesses no monopoly of loyalty at the Cape.