4 MARCH 1905, Page 13


Sxn,—Ts there no hope of reconsideration of the unhappy de- cision of Friday, February 17th, brought about by the exigencies of the Ministerial position and the cruel war of parties P Is all appeal to the patriotism of the House of Commons hopeless, or have we arrived at the day when the word " patriotism " is only a stalking-horse to cover the tactics of party organisa- tion, or the lifeless figure of a virtue that only calls up a smile from the cynic P I am loth to disparage the character or the policy of Lord Milner, or even to discuss his successes or his failures. To allow the war of parties to rage round him personally is to waste in a futile strategy the forces of those who would avert the present dangers. Lord Milner is not going to be impeached. Let us leave him personally out of the question. There is only one broad regret to be expressed,—that Lord Milner did not maintain as against the mine magnates of the Rand the same resolute, inflexible purpose which he opposed to Mr. Kruger and Mr. Steyn. Those who were against the war always insisted that it was a Rand millionaires' war. I differ from them. I hold that the 2230,000,000 was spent, squandered if you please, to maintain the integrity of the Empire and the inviolable rights of British subjects. But I agree that that integrity and those rights were brought into danger solely by reason of the existence of the vast gold-mining industry, and the resultant interests and population within the limits of the Republic, and in conflict with its rulers. Be that so or not, the one indisputable outcome of the war is that the Johannesburg millionaires have alone reaped any substantial benefit from it, a benefit enormous and quite immeasurable. In plain fact, the two Colonies have made a change of masters. Mr. Kruger and Mr. Steyn are gone ; the millionaires have taken their place, standing behind. the Crown. And they rule everything,—irresistible, implacable, ruthless, determined, and united in one policy : to get the gold out of the land at the least possible cost, and to effect their purpose in cynical disregard of the interests of the white and Kaffir population, the Colonies, and the Empire. They deliberately blocked all material progress in order to force the Government to accede to their demand for the cheapest of labour, that of the Chinaman. If the Government had remained firm, and resolutely refused their demand, they must have had, and would have had, recourse to white labour, because they could not have permanently refused to work the mines. For the sake of overcoming an embarrassment and financial difficulties which were temporary, the Government involved the Colonies in a far more dangerous evil, an evil which is far-reaching and permanent in its mischievous operation.

That, in my mind, is the crime of the Government. Even from their own point of view the paramount object to be aimed at was to settle a large British population in the two Colonies. They recognised this object by adopting a policy of land settlement for British farmers. But, while they induced farmers to take up and invest money and labour in the farms, they rashly pursued a policy which has restricted, and will further restrict, the market for their chief products. These settlers, and indeed all the farmers of the Colonies, looked to Johannesburg as an assured, sound, and rapidly growing market, never doubting that the development of the mines would be effected, to a great extent, by white labour. These expectations are belied. Instead of well-paid white labour they find ill-paid Chinamen ; instead of consumption of home products there is a demand for rice,—rice imported by the management of the gold mines in lots of thirty tons and upwards on reduced freight rates granted to them by an obsequious railway authority ; mealies are imported from abroad for their Kaffir labour ; and, in fact, all is done to beat down the prices of home produce. The Orange River Colony has had three years' drought, and the hope of the farmers that good prices might make up to some extent for lack of quantity is frustrated by the resort to Chinese labour and a system of wholesale imports from abroad on freights specially lowered in favour of the mines.

As to the more purely political aspect. By limiting the white British population, the millionaires have maintained the Boer majority, and then pressed the existence of that majority to secure a gerrymandering of the franchise in any scheme of responsible government. Manhood suffrage is to be opposed, and it has been alleged that a 2150 annual income qualification is demanded. The object of this, if true, is plain. But one of its results, if put

in force in the Orange River Colony, would be to deprive of the franchise ninety per cent. of the farmers, who certainly cannot during the last three years show any net income at all from their farms. Another result would be to deprive of the franchise every white man. in Johannesburg thrown out of employ by Chinese labour. It is suggested now that the millionaires or the Government may be not disinclined to admit the Boers fully to the franchise, since they are satisfied that the Boers will support Chinese labour, as being calculated to set Kaffir labour free at low rates for the farms ; and Sir H. Goold-Adams has, it is reported, said that ninety percent. of the Orange River Colony farmers are also in favour of Chinese labour on the same grounds. Certainly, if I were a Boer leader desiring to see the Colonies fall back under Boer control, I should support Chinese labour, because it tends most effectually to stop any large increase of British labour and British voters, and to ruin the British farmer and drive him out of the Colonies. If it is true that ninety per cent, of the farmers in the Orange River Colony would vote for Chinese labour in order to obtain cheap Kaffir labour, one can only regret that they are so short-sighted, and that the Governor, instead of boasting of it, should not be free to point out to them that the insufficient supply of labour is a temporary inconvenience, but that the absence or restriction of markets will be a permanent injury.

These are broad lines of objection to the Chinese labour policy. Is it not fair to put to the Members who are supporting the Government such a question as this P—" Sup- posing that it were possible to bring every one of you in turn to the Speaker's table, and then and there to call upon you, that you, putting aside all party ties and personal interests, should answer on your soul and conscience Yes' or 'No,' sans phrase, this question: Do you hold that in the interests of the Empire, and of the white and native population of the two Colonies, who are all alike the King's subjects, and in the interests of your own constituents, the employment of Chinese in the mines is a necessity, and a wise, prudent, and desirable policy P '—could you say 'Yes '1;1 must you not say ' No' P And if that is so, has not the King, has not the Empire, have not the King's subjects in the two Colonies, have not your constituents, a higher claim upon you than all party ties, and your allegiance to the present Ministry ? Can you dis- charge your soul and conscience from the grave responsibility of complicity in this crime by pleading such ties and such allegiance P "—I am, Sir, &c., 0. R. C.

[We desire to point out that the writer of this appeal is a New Zealander, who has since the war acquired substantial interests in the Orange River Colony, and has a right to speak from the point of view of the self-governing portions of the Empire.—En. Spectator.]