John X Merriman

John X. Merriman, die seun van Aartsdeken Merriman, was een van die briljantste politici aan die Kaap. Sy lang politieke loopbaan het die belangrikste politieke gebeurtenisse van die laat-19e eeu en vroeë 20ste eeu oorspan, en het gekulmineer in sy premierskap net voor die totstandkoming van die Unie in 1910. Polities was Merriman liberaal; hy het nou saamgewerk met Rhodes toe laasgenoemde die eerste keer premier geword het maar het later sterk pro-Boer geword.

Vier volumes van “Selections from the Correspondence of J.X. Merriman” is gepubliseer.

Hierdie is die tweede volume en dit dek Rhodes se eerste premierskap, met Merriman as Koloniale Tesourier; die periode voor die Anglo-Boereoorlog, insluitende die Jameson-inval; en Merriman se breuk met Rhodes. Dit was tydens hierdie periode dat Merriman pro-Boer geword en ‘n alliansie met die Afrikaner-Bond gesluit het.  (1890-1898)

Spotprent in ‘n Kaapse Koerant

Volume I handel oor die begin van sy loopbaan aan die Kaapse oosgrens, en die eerste jare van verantwoordelike regering. Hierdie teks handel ook oor die ekonomiese rewolusie na die ontdekking van diamante en goud.  (1870-1890)

Volume III dek die Anglo-Boereoorlog, insluitend Merriman se deelname aan die pro-Boer Schreiner-ministerie, en ‘n tydperk as lid van die opposisie. In hierdie tyd het hy geveg teen die opheffing van die Kaapse grondwet en vir ‘n regverdige bedeling vir die Kaapse rebelle. Die volume sluit af met sy deelname aan die SA Naturellesake-Kommissie en die verkiesing wat tot dr Jameson se premierskap gelei het. (1899-1904)

Volume IV handel oor Uniewording, insluitend sy sienings oor die maak van die grondwet, en sy tydperk as premier van die Kaapkolonie. Merriman het na Uniewording in die Kaapse parlement aangebly en het ‘n rol gespeel in gebeure voor en net na die Eerste Wêreldoorlog. (1905-1924)




……apathy. Read ‘Obermann once mores in Matthew Arnold — there are some very sad stanzas about the empty grave of Christ—alas too true—and they are forced on one’s mind in a sordid scene like this.

I enclose a cutting—these two natives were crushed by a large landslip fairly rolling over them—in any other community the suddenness of such a terrible end would have convulsed the com­munity. Here this was absolutely the only notice taken and please notice the delicate allusion to the fall not affecting any other company. Next day two more men were killed in an adjoining company—the papers did not even notice the fact. I have no sort of entertainments to record. Life perspires along in a tranquil and dull channel.

Extract. J. X. Merriman to Mrs. A. Merriman.

February 10, 1886.

I really had not the heart to do my usual spell of writing yesterday, so annoyed and vexed was I. As I wrote last, things were going well and certainly public opinion here was coming round to the plan. On Monday morning Rhodes comes out with a circular from the De Beers Company, containing proposals for amalgama­tion which though not absolutely incompatible with ours will be considered as a rival scheme, and they appear without one word of mention of the agreement made with us to join the ‘Unified’. The fact is that though Stow and Rhodes, the leading directors, are entirely in favour of our plan which they clearly see will double their prosperity, yet they are too timid to come forward and support it because it is opposed to the current of local opinion. Well, Moulle was furious and was for writing and at once breaking off the whole thing, he had a very warm interview with Rhodes at which some very warm language was used. Generally we both think that the whole thing is at an end but we have determined to await the telegram from England. . . we have lost confidence ourselves and without that how can we inspire confidence in others. It is very disappointing; lack of success is nothing but to be fooled as we have been is very annoying. It was not an enemy either that did us this dishonour. But Rhodes is the same in business and politics, tricky unstable and headstrong. Never able to take a line and follow it! It is a serious defect in his character and unless he mends it will destroy his usefulness and mar what may be a fine career. I have felt both in politics and now in business the effect of this curious fashion of lukewarm agreement. Actually as an opponent he would do far less harm than he does as a sort of half-and-half friend. I am all the more sorry because I like him personally so much.

Extract. J. X. Merriman to Mrs. A. Merriman.

February 21, 1886.

I think that I may now really tell you that the whole thing is at an end. On Friday I learnt from Currey that Rhodes had told him, and presumably other people too, that he—Rhodes—did not intend the scheme to go through and that he did not see why out­siders should interfere in the amalgamation of the mines and so forth. Putting two and two together we came to the conclusion that he was hanging on just to raise the price of De Beers’ shares and to further some private plans of his own—so we determined to break off the whole thing. . . . It is a great pity, for if Rhodes had run straight the thing would have gone through but he is as unstable in business as he is in politics—and one can only take him as one finds him, make the best of his good qualities and regret his bad.

Extract. J. X. Merriman to J. B. Currey.

March 24, 1886.

My dear Currey,

I had a letter written to you—in my head—when I got yours. I quite agree with you that Rhodes is a good fellow, and that makes his occasional lapses the more painful to his friends but. . . his instincts are of the right sort. He may do much good out here if he would manfully throw in his lot with the honest and intelligent party and make up his mind to fight Tommy [Upington] and all his works. I doubt not but in time Rhodes will find out that labouring for Dutchmen qua Dutchmen, and pandering to their prejudices, is only sowing the wind. When once a party forms itself on national lines, on race lines, any alien who assists it is only welcomed as a tool and will be rewarded with ingratitude. Our policy is clear, and that is to make no distinction between Dutch and English, but to oppose everything like the Bond that aims at working on purely Afrikaner lines. Just for the moment Upington seems to be aiming at drawing


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