A rising in the Transvaal has recently imposed upon me the duty of taking military measures with a view to the prompt vindication of my authority, and has of necessity set aside for the time any plan for securing to the European settlers that full control over their own local affairs without prejudice to the interest of the natives which I had been desirous to confer.—Extract from the Queen's Speech of Thursday, January 6th, 1881.
So speak our Ministers through the Queen.
More than one of the chief of those Ministers—some of their subordinates have condemned the annexation of the Transvaal. Yet if they mean anything, they mean to crush by war the independence, the withdrawal of which they have openly reprehended.
And this in the name of duty. What imposes the duty? Can it be a duty to persist in an act which is in itself incapable of defence—and there is a general feeling, which those who have studied the subject know to be well grounded, that the annexation of the Transvaal is indefensible, that there we are clearly and wholly wrong.
What then, I repeat, imposes the duty? Our national pride and obstinacy. We have not the courage to retire from a position which is morally untenable—to reverse an acknowledged injustice—acknowledged, I mean, to be definite, by some at least of the Ministers who are sanctioning its maintenance, and generally by those even who support their action.
A war conducted against a free people—whom for our purposes we unblushingly call rebels—to whose freedom we stood pledged—from whom we took their freedom quite unnecessarily—for certain evils and dangers attendant on it might have been otherwise remedied—for such a war there is no justification. The blood shed in such a war mast stand to the account of the Ministry page 2 which sanctions it, in such glaring contrast with all their professions.
In the name of Humanity we raise our voice against any re-conquest of the Transvaal—we demand its restoration as a free State.
Richard Congreve.17, Mecklenburgh Square, W.C.
7 Moses 93.
(7 January, 1881.)
Note.—It is now some time since the Transvaal was seized by the criminal act of Sir Theophilus Shepstone. In the beginning of 1879 we protested against it. Has there been any thing done during the two years or more since its seizure to manifest the desire which the Queen is made to feel. Is it a desire which has been expressed and in any way acted on, for if not, its expression now is but a sorry device to colour our odious exertion of force—a latent desire is of no value. This is a point on which we need information.