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JOHN CHARLES MOLTENO
LONDON : SMITH, ELDER & CO., WATERLOO PLACE
(All rights reserved)
The lessons to be derived from a study of the life and times of Sir John Molteno are numerous and valuable to the student of the history of the Empire and of South Africa. No attempt has hitherto been made to write a history of the more important periods under consideration in these pages. Yet in no country are the lessons of history and its continuity more important or more striking than in South Africa, and in none have more disastrous results followed upon the neglect of its plain teachings. The unenviable position which South Africa occupies to-day as the portion of the Empire presenting the most serious difficulties with which statesmanship has to deal has been brought about by the mistakes made in attempting to rule it from afar, and to force on it a policy conceived in ignorance of its real conditions.
To the intimate knowledge of the character of the Cape farming population was due the success of Mr. Molteno's administration. Misfortune, as it seemed at the time, drove him from Cape Town to live among them and to fight a campaign against the Kaffirs as their companion in arms.
The insight thus acquired was of rare value in estimating the true nature of a people otherwise most difficult to understand.
Mr. Molteno was one of the band of strenuous Englishmen who have made self-government in the colonies what it is. They laid the solid foundations of British rule in South Africa, notwithstanding and in spite of all the fatal errors on the part of the Imperial Government and its officers, which, but for such men as Mr. Molteno, would have resulted in the loss of South Africa. Under him, in South Africa colonial history took its normal course--the continued assertion of the right of self-government.
There is also an Imperial side to the services which these men have rendered. They have vindicated British liberty and self-government, they have adapted and administered British constitutional principles in countries whose circumstances differ in every other respect from Great Britain. They have made possible the freedom and progress which are now to be found wherever Englishmen have settled throughout the world ; indeed, the self-reliance and power of self-government which these men exhibited in common with those of a similar character in the other colonies have made possible the existence and coherence of the vast Empire which we see to-day. Its varied and world-wide series of States could not be governed from a central office in Downing Street. Only by the automatic action of self-government in each part could the varied problems which arise be dealt with successfully. With this specialisation of function in the different parts of the Empire, there has gone the higher integration comprised in the sentiment of a common origin and a common purpose ; as the formal bonds have been released so have the sentimental bonds increased in strength. Ether is said to possess in one direction the most perfect elasticity and fuidity imaginable, and in another the properties of a rigid solid. Of a similar character must be the properties of the bond which unites the different parts of the Empire. Perfect freedom for self-government in the members-the resistance of adamant to aggression against the whole.
My object has been to place before my readers the truth, and nothing but the truth. I had the fortune to