Apart from the progress of the present Anglo-Boer war a world-wide interest has been excited also upon the question of its actual origin. Much disparity of opinion prevails yet as to how it was provoked and upon which side the guilt of it all lay.
English statesmen of noblest character and best discriminating gifts are seen professing opposite convictions; one party earnestly asserting the complete blamelessness of their Government, whilst the other, with equally sincere assurance, denounces the responsible Ministry for having provoked a most unjust war against a totally inoffensive people, whose only fault consisted in asserting its love of freedom, and for thus plunging the entire British nation into blackest guilt deserving universal reprobation, a blot and stigma upon Her Majesty's reign.
In following the course of the arguments which have led to those opposing verdicts, one is impressed with the paucity and the clashing character of the information adduced. The marked reticence on the part of the British Cabinet in regard to its diplomatic proceedings tends further to mystify the inquirer, and leaves the bulk of the British nation in a painful state of suspense without conclusive data for judging whether the war is really justifiable or not.
Nor do the various pamphlets and Press articles furnish sufficient light for exploring the maze and producing an approximate unanimity of conviction.
It is hoped that the succeeding pages will be found to supplement the material so essential for diagnosing those grave questions with some degree of certainty, and to locate the guilt more precisely.
Since my youth I have passed nearly forty years in uninterrupted and intimate intercourse with all classes of Boers, resulting in a sincere attachment to that people, with no small appreciation of its many good traits and character. Besides making myself familiar with the earlier portion of that nation's history, I have had leisure and opportunities to closely follow up its later interesting phases up to the present moment. These presented a more perplexing aspect during the last decade, adding a zest to my endeavours for unravelling them, and happening to be a good deal in the know I felt that I might not remain quiet.
Being anything but anti-Boer, nor an Englishman, but a foreigner, born of continental parents and brought up in Europe, these facts should exempt me from a supposition of bias in exonerating England. It is with real grief that I must record my convictions against the Boer nation as solely and entirely guilty, but with this qualification, that its responsibility is much attenuated by the fact, as I will endeavour to show, that the bulk of that people has been unconsciously decoyed as tools of a gigantic intrigue, a conspiracy which was originated some thirty years ago by an infamous Hollander coterie, and operated since by its product and engine, the now well-known "Afrikaner Bond Association," with its significant motto of "Afrika voor Afrikaners"—its object being no less than the eviction of all that is English from South Africa, and to substitute a federation of all South African States into one free and independent Republic, the affiliation to be with Holland instead, and Dutch the common and official language, other nations, in return for afforded aid, to participate in the trade and other advantages wrested from England.
I only regret that my ability falls so much short for the task of demonstrating all this in an approved style—for doing justice to the subject. Its investigation embraces a wider range of details to serve as evidence than may, upon first thought, be held as relevant; but I believe that a willing study will show their connection as serviceable for arriving at an independent and unhesitating verdict.
A very strong and convincing case is indeed needed for remodelling opinions where there is preconceived Boer partisanship, and where party spirit or else foreign jealousy have already warped judgment and established bias....