My dear Lady Selborne
I am afraid this will have to be a very hurried letter. We are still in the strike centre. A railway strike is the next thing. The men, or rather some of their leaders, are concerned by the ease with which the miners got everything they wanted by a sort of panic intervention of the Government, and they naturally think that the same weapon can be used to redress their grievances – of which I think they have more than the miners. I and a few other moderate-minded persons went over to Pretoria on Friday and Saturday and saw the men’s executive and also some of the Govt. Sauer is acting Railway Minister and he is in bed with bronchitis. Botha is explaining to his constituents the precise reason why he quarrelled with Hertzog. It does not seem to become any clearer by repetition. Fischer is on his way to England. So is Burton. The Government therefore at present consists of Smuts, Watt22 and Malan. Smuts is in a most unpromising mood for dealing with a situation like this. He feels that people are saying with some justice that the Govt surrendered to the mob in Johannesburg and is in a very bad temper over it, and is quite likely to go to the opposite extreme with the railway men just to show that the Govt is not in the weak state that its critics allege. This is the sort of mood which deals with disaster, and of course the other two ministers are ciphers compared to him and not likely to be able to exercise much influence on him.
Today Mr Hosken23 has plunged in and called together a large gathering of citizens to discuss matters and their idea seems to be to announce to all the world how they would deal with the crisis if they were the Govt. I must go to it and try to prevent them from making fools of themselves.
I have been harried by various people all day and it is now closing time for the mail. Things do not look hopeful. People here are in mortal fear of another strike because they think the natives will become unmanageable and terror is a bad counsellor.