« AnteriorContinua »
most cruel necessity-one which must demoralise all but the most incorruptible natures among those who are forced to yield to it, and which enhances the responsibility of commencing a war in which it exists.
What followed is in general known, but should be stated particularly. Envoys were summoned and came from Cetywayo to learn the result of the arbitration which they had so long applied for. They are considered to have belonged to the peace party. They were informed of the award in their favour, qualified by certain unpalatable conditions which the High Commissioner had attached to it. They wrangled, we are told by an eye-witness, but with the air of men who were prepared in the last resort to submit. But their countenances fell when, in due time, they were informed that this announcement, which they supposed to be a decision in their favour, was but one of the clauses of an ultimatum which they had no reason to expect, and which was unexpectedly discharged upon them, one of a series of demands every one of which without exception had to be accepted within thirty days under penalty of immediate war. It is almost idle to enumerate these demands, for one of them was that the army should be broken up--an army, as we have said, of 60,000 men eager for employment, the pride of the Zulu nation, the support of the kingly power, and connected with that history of conquest which they (like some civilised nations) consider among their noblest traditions. Such a demand could not possibly be put forward with any expectation of acceptance. It reduced all other complaints and proposals to absolute unimportance, and was, in fact, a declaration of war. But the minor demands may seem to require, though not to deserve the compliment of, a notice.
Certain persons concerned in border outrages were required to be given up for trial. On these points there appears reason to think that Cetywayo might have yielded, if they had stood alone. As it was, he merely temporised.
It was announced (contrary to the understanding of Sir T. Shepstone, which I have already noticed) that the British Government held itself bound to see that the promises of improvement made under his auspices on occasion of Cetywayo's investiture should be kept; and in virtue of this promise the Zulus were required to reform their internal government and to receive missionaries-and this although the Home Government had more than once declared that it would not use force for their protection. Further, the King was to receive a British Resident.
But it is useless to dwell on all this. The sentences in the presence of which everything else may be dismissed as mere surplusage are as follows:
It is necessary that the Zulu army, as it is now, shall be disbanded, and that they shall return to their homes.
Let the obligation on every man to come out for the defence of his country when it is needed remain, but, until then, let it be that every man shall live, if he pleases, quietly at his own home.
Let him not be called out for war or for fighting, or for assembling in regiments, except with the permission of the Great Council assembled, and with the consent also of the British Government.
When I remember the number and nature of the army which Cetywayo had at his command when this demand was suddenly sprung upon him, I confess myself astonished at the composure with which it is made. To make the case our own, it is as if the Emperor of Germany, in concluding with us a treaty of commerce, suddenly annexed a notice that he would make war on us in six weeks unless before the expiration of that time we burnt our navy.
That Cetywayo's deputies should evidently . . . regard this matter in a most serious light '—that they should appear anxious and concerned '-that they should in no way indicate that the demands of the Government would be accepted by the Zulu King and people,' was a matter of course. Equally so was it that no acceptance of such terms was received within the thirty days of grace. And we know the consequences-the invasion of Zululand, the destruction of a British force, the hurried despatch of regiment on regiment, wherever they can be collected, and the prospect of a bloody and perhaps protracted war.
Yet it is evident that, as far as at present appears, we are escaping very cheap. For though I do not underrate a military disaster which involves the lives of some hundreds of British officers and soldiers, it is quite evident that this is the very smallest part of what might have happened if the whole Zulu force had at once overspread the colony of Natal, massacring the settlers, raising the natives, and reviving throughout South Africa the spirit of rebellion which we suppose ourselves to have quelled. Without attaching to prestige the exaggerated estimate which is now common, I am not ashamed to confess that, for myself, I tremble still when I think what might have been-nay, what, by a happily decreasing possibility, may still be -the consequences of the unnecessary war in which the will of one man-eminent and highly placed, no doubt, but still one manappears to have plunged an unconscious country and a reluctant Government without adequate means of insuring success. And I am still more alarmed, because, I must fairly own, in Sir Bartle Frere's well-constructed paragraphs, his large generalisations, his effective statements, his imposing predictions, and the animated terrorism which gives energy to some of his despatches, I do not myself feel the presence of that cool and well-balanced measurement of probabilities, that power of controlling speculation and waiting undisturbedly for the due development of events, which, in the conduct
of difficult and dangerous affairs, are not less indispensable than promptitude, activity, and self-reliance.
His popularity in the colony, I take for granted, is truly represented as being unbounded and universal. We know Count Cavour's saying, that any man can govern a kingdom with a state of siege;' and it is about equally true that any man can govern a colony if he has command of the British purse,' most of all if he pours upon it a full flood of military expenditure.
It is fair to Her Majesty's Government to quote the following passages. They are taken from Sir Bartle Frere's despatch of the 30th of September 1878 and the memorandum of LieutenantGeneral Thesiger which it encloses, and they exhibit, I think unequivocally, the understanding on which the British reinforcements, used on their arrival to invade Zululand, were not only given by the Government, but asked for by the High Commissioner.
Lieutenant-General Thesiger's representation is this:
To protect such an extended front from an inroad of Zulus (who might, without any difficulty, send at any moment 10,000 men for the purpose, and support that attack with an additional 10,000), it is absolutely necessary that these lines already mentioned should be watched and guarded by an adequate force.
The most advanced line must be guarded by the Natal natives who are located along the river banks, as there is no one else to do it.
The second line, or support, should be the mounted police, who are now about 200 strong. They should continually patrol the frontier road from Tugela mouth to Rorke's Drift.
The third line, or reserve, should be British infantry stationed at or near the towns of Durban, Greytown, and Lady Smith. . . . For defensive purposes alone, therefore, Natal and the Transvaal Colonies require three battalions of infantry in addition to what they have already got.
And this is Sir Bartle Frere's endorsement :
The enclosed memorandum of Lieutenant-General Thesiger gives his Excellency's views as regards what is now required for defensive purposes in this colony. After most anxious consideration I feel assured his Excellency has asked for not a man more than is required to afford reasonable security against attack and consequent widespread desolation of border districts.
No. XXVI.-APRIL 1879.
VOL. V.--No. 26.
THE PRINCESS ALICE.
DEAD PRINCESS, living Power, if that, which lived
Born of true life and love, divorce thee not
This shadow into Substance--then perhaps
The mellow'd murmur of the people's praise
From thine own State, and all our breadth of realm, Where Love and Longing dress thy deeds in light, Ascends to thee; and this March morn that sees
Thy Soldier-brother's bridal orange-bloom
Of England, and her banner in the East?
THE DEFENCE OF LUCKNOW.
BANNER of England, not for a season, O banner of Britain, hast thou
Floated in conquering battle or flapt to the battlecry!
Never with mightier glory than when we had rear'd thee on high
Flying at top of the roofs in the ghastly siege of Lucknow
Shot thro' the staff or the halyard, but ever we raised thee anew,
And ever upon the topmost roof our banner of England blew.