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tions for the raid, and deeply deplored "the action of those connected with the company who have mixed themselves up in this miserable business." He added: "I have a great regard for Mr. Rhodes, but if I am pressed I am perfectly prepared to say that Mr. Rhodes deceived me. I am sorry to have to say so, but no doubt Mr. Rhodes would himself admit it." The Duke of Fife repudiated with indignation the idea that his selling of shares had anything to do with the raid. The other directors said the same, and also declared that they had no knowledge or suspicion of the raid before it took place. The remainder of the sitting was occupied with the evidence of Mr. Charles Leonard, formerly chairman of the National Union in Johannesburg, who gave an outline of the financial condition of the Transvaal since 1889. At the next meeting (May 18) the proceedings were of greater interest. The code messages between Mr. Rhodes and Dr. Harris having been deciphered were produced, and the latter was recalled for further examination. The general purport of the messages was that Mr. Rhodes' main object was to secure, under the guise of a strip of land for his railway, a “jumping-off place" for the raid. The telegrams also appeared to support the inference that Mr. Rhodes was anxious to rush through a revolution in Johannesburg for fear Mr. Chamberlain, by means of legitimate action at Pretoria, should oblige the Boers to give more favourable treatment to the Uitlanders. Finally, the telegrams showed that Dr. Harris imagined that he had to some extent drawn the Colonial Office into complicity with Dr. Jameson's plan by certain hints to Mr. Fairfield as to possible action by the force on the border. Mr. Fairfield, however, before his death denied that he had any knowledge of the possibility of a raid. An explanation of this conflict of evidence might be found in the fact that while Dr. Harris was giving his compromising hints the Colonial Office was threatening the Transvaal with war. Mr. Fairfield, therefore, might have taken the hints to refer to what Dr. Jameson's force on the border would do in case of war over the Drifts. When the Drifts business was settled he (Mr. Fairfield) naturally imagined that the hinted eventualities had disappeared.
Dr. Harris was then severely and searchingly cross-examined on various points by Mr. Labouchere (May 21), who finally elicited that four out of nine of the directors of the Chartered Company, Mr. Rhodes, Mr. Beit, Mr. Maguire, and Lord Grey, were more or less ("less rather than more ") cognisant of the Jameson plan of campaign. When, however, Mr. Labouchere came to the financial side of the question and asked Dr. Harris if he had ever heard of any syndicate being formed to sell Chartered shares, Dr. Harris at once turned upon his questioner, and drew the attention of the committee to the fact that Mr. Labouchere had accused him in Parliament of having been engaged in a "bear" operation previous to the raid, in view of the probable effect of the incursion, whether successful or not.
Harris not only entirely denied any such action on his part, but challenged Mr. Labouchere either to prove his accusations or else apologise. If he did neither, Dr. Harris would not consent to be further questioned by him. Dr. Harris also drew the attention of the committee to a letter written by Mr. Labouchere to the Gaulois, in which he accused "the prime movers in the conspiracy" of acting from the most sordid motives. Labouchere, on the spur of the moment, expressed his willingness to prove his accusations.
Unfortunately in order to do this he would have needed the evidence of those who had acted for or in conjunction with Dr. Harris in the transactions, and this would have amounted to a breach on their part of professional secrecy. At the next meeting (May 25), therefore, the chairman read a letter from Mr. Labouchere withdrawing his accusation and apologising for having made it. Mr. Labouchere stated that he had based his charge on evidence supplied him by "a gentleman of high position and great business experience." Now, however, this gentleman refused to come forward and substantiate his story. It must, therefore, be treated as non-existent.
This check to Mr. Labouchere's investigating zeal seriously damaged the usefulness and authority of the rest of the inquiry, for very little was obtained from subsequent witnesses, who either evaded the questions put to them or openly refused to answer. In the first place Mr. Hawksley, Mr. Rhodes' solicitor, refused (May 29) to hand over the telegrams which had passed between him and Mr. Rhodes, on the ground that they were covered by the rule which protected communications between solicitor and client. The lawyers seemed, however, to think that the right of the committee to oblige Mr. Rhodes to give them the telegrams, also gave them power to compel their disclosure by Mr. Hawksley. Ultimately the decision was postponed till the next meeting of the committee. Miss Flora Shaw, who was the next witness called, gave her evidence in a manner which produced a very favourable impression. She drew a strong distinction between the Jameson plan and the Jameson raid. The Jameson plan, of which she approved and to which she was virtually privy, was to have a force on the border ready to take action if and when the revolution took place at Johannesburg. The force was to be at the disposal of the High Commissioner when, under the plan, he came up to mediate. But, said Miss Shaw, one programme was presented to people here and another programme was carried out there. "And everything we said or did to countenance the programme laid before us here has since, very naturally, been applied as having reference to the programme carried out there." Miss Shaw ended by a most positive statement that she had never received from Mr. Chamberlain any suggestion that it was desirable that the revolution should take place at once. When she telegraphed to that effect she merely expressed her own opinion.
On being recalled (May 28) Mr. Hawksley was solemnly informed of the decision of the committee, that as Mr. Rhodes had claimed no privilege, his solicitor could not do so-the privilege of a solicitor being that of his client. Mr. Hawksley, however, did not see the matter in the same light, and declined to produce the telegrams. The proceedings which ensued were not to the credit of the committee, for instead of reporting the matter to the House at once in a special report, they decided to refer to it in the interim report on the raid. Mr. Labouchere and Mr. Blake alone opposed this course, which was either a confession of unwillingness to reach the bottom of the business, or the suggestion that somebody was to be shielded. Mr. Chamberlain doubtless felt the false position in which he was placed by this course of action, and consequently tendered himself for examination (June 1) in order to vindicate the action of the Colonial Office. He was sure that if Mr. Fairfield had known anything about the plan for the raid he would have communicated it. Mr. Fairfield was absolutely truthful and absolutely honourable. He was, however, very deaf, and, like most deaf people, was sensitive, and did not like to have a sentence repeated. Hence a misrepresentation might have arisen as to things said to him. Asked whether he would object to the Hawksley telegrams being produced, Mr. Chamberlain replied, "I am really quite indifferent." Asked whether he had any objection to asking Mr. Rhodes to produce the telegrams, he replied, "Not the least." One telegram he should very much like to see published. It dealt with the transfer of the Protectorate, and gave a complete answer to the suspicions as to the Colonial Office. There occurred the words, "I dare not mention the reason," i.e., that the real reason the transfer was required was to have a “jumping-off place" for the raid.
This concluded the evidence which the committee wished to have with regard to the raid, and having devoted two days to hearing counsel on behalf of Mr. Rhodes, Mr. Beit and Dr. Harris, the committee adjourned to consider its report. The general feeling was that the proceedings had been conducted with singular laxity or want of skill. Those interested in keeping secret the true history of the raid were entirely successful, and it was generally by the merest chance that any fact of importance was elicited from the witnesses. The representatives of the Opposition, Sir William Harcourt, Sir H. CampbellBannerman and Mr. Buxton, were, after Mr. Rhodes had been unaccountably permitted to quit England, willing to allow the breakdown of the proceedings; and what was even more surprising in so strict a parliamentarian as Sir William Harcourt, a witness was allowed to treat the committee with defiance, and to pass unchecked. To a very great extent the inquiry had been obviously factitious, but in whose interest concealment was considered necessary remained undivulged. It was surmised that reasons of State had been found which
utweighed party considerations, and that the leaders of the Opposition had been privately convinced that the alleged grounds were sufficient for the course adopted.
The course of parliamentary business between Easter and Whitsuntide had borne testimony to the reality of the understanding between the two wings of the Unionist party. The bill for the relief of voluntary schools could hardly have been accepted by the Liberal Unionists, especially by those who had supported the policy of the Birmingham Education League of 1870, but, with the exception of Mr. George Dixon, they had sacrificed their personal feelings, and the Conservatives had obtained aid for their clerical supporters. The Employers' Liability Bill, on the other hand, must have been especially distasteful to many Conservatives, whether coal-owners or capitalists. Nevertheless, the bill, which was insisted upon by the Liberal Unionists, was loyally supported by the bulk of the Conservative party, although in certain cases the employers of labour protested and even voted against their leaders. As, however, in such cases a certain number of members on the Opposition side of the House supported the bill, the dangers of such independence were trivial, and as a matter of fact the recalcitrant Conservatives in the Commons relied upon the House of Lords to effect in the bill those changes which the Lower House would not permit.
Public Opinion at Home and Abroad-The Colonial Premiers at Liverpool-The Coal-owners' Revolt-The Queen's Diamond Jubilee-Addresses in Parliament -The Queen's Letter to Her People-The Straits of the Government-The Protest of the Irish Landlords-The Workmen's Compensation for Accidents Bill in the Commons -The Unionists' Revolt-The Attitude of Conservative Peers-The South Africa Committee-The Missing Telegrams-The Two Reports-The Debate in the Commons-The Colonial Premiers and Colonial Policy-Church and State in Parliament-Foreign Affairs-The Irish Landlords' Grievances-The Employers' Liability Bill in the Lords-Indian Budget -Close of the Session.
LONG before Parliament adjourned for the Whitsuntide recess the public mind had been engrossed by the approaching festivities, which were to celebrate the completion of the Queen's sixty years' reign. The preparations made in London were on such a scale that the ordinary course of business was impeded, and, in fact, almost suspended for many days along the greater portion of the route by which the procession was to pass. With great consideration for the enormous crowds which would naturally wish to welcome her on such an occasion, the Queen had readily assented to the proposal that she should traverse the city and return by the south side of the Thames, so that the poorer and less favoured districts of the metropolis should have their share in the national fête. For many weeks before the
event the whole thoughts of the people of London may be said to have centred on the jubilee and its attendant festivities. Politics were neglected, debates disregarded, disturbing rumours discredited, and even business itself suffered from the general distraction of the public. Yet at this time a very significant change was passing over the combinations of the European Powers. It had, hitherto, been accepted on possibly very vague grounds, that the sympathies of the British Government, at all events down to the end of 1895, had been rather with the Powers forming the Triple Alliance than with France or Russia, between whom a tacit but binding arrangement existed. Whether our leaning toward the Triple Alliance generally arose out of any special understanding with Italy, whose interests in the Mediterranean we were anxious to support; or whether it was thought by our statesmen, irrespective of party, that British policy in Asia and Africa would be best advanced by German rather than by French goodwill, it is unnecessary to discuss. What was more clear was that since the German Emperor's message to President Krüger our Foreign Office had seemed more and more disposed to allow its policy to be modified by popular feeling, as expressed in the press and in public meetings. The rapid growth of anti-German feeling in this country found a ready response in the majority of the semi-inspired and independent German newspapers. At the same time a feeling grew up that possibly Germany might not long persevere in the peaceful policy which she had adopted for herself and her allies, and that under certain circumstances she might be expected to provoke rather than to allay a quarrel with one or other of her powerful neighbours. A broad view of British interests involved our drawing nearer to those Powers, the mainspring of whose policy was peace and tranquillity, and consequently there was a general desire expressed through the British press that a serious effort should be made to remove as far as possible some of the hindrances to a better understanding with France.
The first act of Lord Salisbury had been the settlement of the dispute in Siam, and as it was obvious that in this matter France had been allowed to have everything nearly her own way, there had been a slight lowering of the angry tones in which British colonial policy was usually described in the French newspapers. Lord Salisbury, possibly with a view to conciliate the British "colonial party," somewhat irritated our neighbours by the conclusion shortly afterwards of a treaty with China, by which the province of Yunnan was to be opened up for the benefit of British trade, and to be connected by means of a railway with our Burmese possessions. How far any overtures for a better understanding between this country and France, carrying with them an equally clear understanding with Russia, had progressed it would be impossible to surmise; but it seemed as if negotiations of some sort had been going on, for almost simultaneously the attacks upon this country in the German press increased in