Other formats

    TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

Life of Sir George Grey: Governor, High commissioner, and Premier. An Historical Biography.

His Action

His Action.

He did not content himself with writing despatches. Exceeding his instructions, he invited the Orange River Free State to indicate its willingness to join such a commonwealth. He presumably sent a similar invitation to the Boers of the Transvaal; he certainly looked forward to the eventual adhesion of the Republic. The Orange River Volksraad promptly responded, approving of the advisableness of a union or alliance with the Cape. The terms of the response should be noted, for in them lies the key to the situation. It was an alliance of equal States, not a federation of dependent colonies, that the Volksraad page 124contemplated. It will be remembered that the Orange River republic, a few years before, had successfully asserted its independence, and constrained Great Britain, not then over-greedy of new territory, to relinquish its sovereignty. The High Commissioner deplored the surrender of a country that was sensibly British by its sympathies, as it was largely British by its ethnical complexion. Almost as a consequence his relations with the State had continued to be of a strangely friendly character. He had sought to commend himself to the sons of the expatriated French Protestants by boasting that he was himself descended from an exiled Huguenot noble. He had founded in the capital of the State a college where he advised that, while English was not neglected, literary Dutch should be the language of instruction. Well did he know, moreover, that the population of the Cape, originally a foreign colony, was largely of Dutch extraction. When he projected a federation where two English colonies, one of them more than half-Dutch, would be balanced by two Dutch States, he therefore projected a federation on a Dutch base, with Dutch necessarily as the official language, Dutch affinities, interests, and antipathies—a federation that never would have acted harmoniously with British policy or taken its place as a constituent member of the British Empire—a federation that would eventually have hoisted an alien flag and declared itself independent of Great Britain. Whether the High Commissioner contemplated this result or not, he deliberately prepared the means to this inevitable end, and if he did not foresee it, he either ignored the possibility of it, or was indifferent to it. The Colonial Office took this view. It is impossible to read the despatches from Downing Street without perceiving the belief that inspired them. In the eyes of the department the High Commissioner of South Africa and Governor of Cape Colony stood convicted of disloyalty, if not to the nation to which he belonged, at least to the Government he served.