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-----..-IS IT PEACE ?


IS IT PEACE ? All eyes are now anxiously turned to Vereenigning, where the Boer leaders are in conference on the momentous question of peace. Whether the outcome of these deliberations is the immediate stoppage of hostilities or not, the conference itself will stand out as a notably unique feature of the war. The mere fact that, after nearly three years' fighting, a body of about one hundred and sixty Boer leaders are sitting down at Vereenigning, the guests of the British Govern- ment, and conveyed thither over our railways, is a remarkable incident in" the history of the South African war. Nothing of the progress of the negotiations has yet been allowed to leak out for the public enlightenment, and as a necessary consequence, imaginative Press correspondents are busy with all sorts of conflicting tales and surmises. It is com- mented upon as a matter quite characteristic of Boer traditions that, although this large number of hostile leaders has been enjoying British hospitality both on the railways and at the scene of the conference for some time now, the majority of the delegates manifest no symptoms of being under any obligation to the British authorities. The special correspondent of the Times" at Pretoria remarks that the demeanour of most of the delegates during the railway journey to Vereenigning has led one to suppose that their contributions to the ballot-boxes will be in favour of the continuation of hostilities. The churlish, ungracious behaviour of the deputation should cause no surprise, for civility and gratitude are two qualities unknown to the majority of the Dutchmen arrayed' against us, but it is possible to extract a ray of hope from their truculent attitude in approaching the conference. Our brother Boer, who is steeped to the lips in duplicity, must be read contrariwise. It is highly probable that if he approaches the conference still breathing out threatenings and slaughter, he has already made up his mind to cave in. The latest reliable data upon which we can base any conjecture were contained in the great speech of Mr. Chamberlain at Birmingham. The best that the Colonial Secretary could then say was I am hopeful, but I am not sanguine." He recognises that the majority of those still in the field fighting against us are con- vinced of the futility of continued re- sistance, but that they have again and again been led to their destruction by a minority of irreconcilables. How far the influence of this latter remnant will prevail in the conference remains to be seen, but it is upon the weight of this influence that the happy or unhappy issue of the present deliberations depends. The whole British Empire would rejoice at the conclusion of peace, but it must be an honourable peace and a lasting peace. No patchwork affair that would permit a recrudescence of the past troubles can be entertained for a moment, and the nation would willingly submit to an indefinite prolongation of the present guerilla warfare rather than abate one jot of its just demands. Peace before the Corona tion celebration would indeed be a welcome and additional cause for rejoicing, but, unless the terms were such as gave a basis for a I satisfactory settlement of the whole South African question, we should much prefer a ¡ continuance of the hostilities, until the recalcitrant enemy are brought to their I senses.



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