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many weeks, during which some 400 trawlers were laid up, and between 10,000 and 11,000 men and boys were idle. In the third week of September an appeal issued on behalf of the families of the men by the clergy and Nonconformist ministers of Grimsby estimated that the number of persons whose means of subsistence had practically come to an end could not possibly be computed at less than 20,000. As the weeks passed the employers put forward once or twice rates of a somewhat more favourable character to the men, but the latter were only willing to resume work on the suggested basis if it were understood that the whole of the wages question should be remitted to an arbitrator to be appointed by the Board of Trade, whose award, whenever delivered, should be retrospective to the date of the resumption of work. On the day following that (Sept. 17) on which a resolution to that effect was passed by some 2,000 of the men, there broke out a serious riot, in which the offices of the Owners' Federation were wrecked and set on fire. The disturbances continued in a menacing form on September 19, when a fire broke out at the docks, and the fire brigade was stoned while putting it out. It was said, however, that these disorders were in no respect encouraged by the men's organisation, and the great body of those out of work were exonerated from complicity by the clergy and ministers, who said that “a nondescript rowdyism was to blame” for these riotous proceedings. The owners (Sept. 24), while proposing the estabīishment of a joint conciliation committee to deal with wages questions in future, adhered to their terms and refused arbitration, from which at an earlier stage of the dispute they had not seemed averse. They also insisted that the men should always "sign on” at the Federation Offices, a demand which they justified by the contention that it was necessary to protect themselves against the practice on the part of many mariners of engaging themselves to several employers, getting money advanced on account of such engagement, and then leaving all but one in the lurch. On a ballot (Sept. 27), the men again declared themselves against resuming work without arbitration, and against signing on at the Federation Offices, which, apparently, was looked upon as a sign of subjection. The deadlock appeared complete, the distress was great, and there seemed every prospect that the fishing trade of Grimsby would be permanently ruined, when the Earl of Yarborough beneficently intervened. By his influence, aided by that of Lord Heneage and local clergy, all the various sections of the men and the Owners' Federation were brought to an accord on the basis of a resumption of work on the owners' terms, but with arbitration to operate retrospectively to the date of such resumption. The arbitration was to cover all questions relating to the fishing trade which were in dispute, including that of the proper place for signing on, and in the meantime that function was to take place at the local office of the Board of Trade. Peace was thus re-established
1901.] British Sorrow at President McKinley's Death.
(199 early in October, and it was not very clear why it should ever have been disturbed.
No record of this period of the year would be complete which did not take note of the very genuine and widespread sorrow which was exhibited in Great Britain on the occasion of the tragic death of President McKinley. The messages sent by the King during the brief period through which it was hoped that the wounds inflicted by the revolver of the Anarchist assassin, Czolgosz, would not prove fatal, and again after the end had come, were very well chosen expressions of manly sympathy, and drew acknowledgments of very special warmth from the American Ambassador. The participation of the British nation in the mourning of their kinsmen across the Atlantic was shown in many unmistakable ways, and culminated in very impressive memorial services on the day of the murdered President's funeral, in Westminster Abbey, St. Paul's, and many churches and chapels throughout the country. There was good reason to believe that the American people were gratefully conscious of this reciprocation of the sympathy which they had manifested so freely with English grief at the loss of our beloved Queen at the beginning of the year.
During the latter part of September and the first half of October an appreciable amount of anxiety and dissatisfaction was shown, even in some of the newspapers which had been among the warmest supporters of the Ministerial policy in South Africa, at the slow progress of the war. Not only had Lord Kitchener's proclamation of August 6 entirely failed to bring about any kind of collapse of the Boer resistance by the date (Sept. 15) fixed in it as that after which any leaders still in the field would be permanently banished from South Africa, but there were for two or three weeks a succession of small disasters, insignificant in themselves in every case from a military point of view, but yet involving collectively the loss of many valuable lives, a sensible if quite transient diminution of prestige, and a corresponding encouragement to the malcontent Dutch in the Cape Colony to join the bands of invaders which were raiding up and down the country, and to the Boers generally to hold out on the off chance of foreign intervention or of failure in the persistence of British purpose. Free expression was given here to doubts as to whether the War Office had supplied Lord Kitchener with all the trained men and horses he required to follow up and crush the Boer bands when they had been, as so constantly happened, defeated in action. Not a little surprise and irritation was also caused by the appearance of a statement in the Globe-which was not denied by the War Office—that Lord Kitchener had found occasion to issue to the commanders of columns in South Africa an order impressing on them that mobility was the prime requisite of those columns, and that the carrying about with them of “furniture, kitchen-ranges, pianos and harmoniums” could not
therefore be allowed. It was maintained by the Spectator that any commander of a column who had permitted such hindrances to its mobility ought to have been disgraced and sent home, and many persons here felt that severity of that kind would have been the best means of securing that there should be no more slackness in places of military responsibility. This feeling was entertained the more strongly in view of the certain knowledge that the vast majority both of officers and soldiers in South Africa were ready for any sacrifice in order to bring the war to a triumphant conclusion.
It was while the public mind was thus uneasy that a series of incidents of an extraordinary and distressing character occurred in connection with the principal military position, under the Commander-in-Chief, at home. On different dates in September it was announced that Sir R. Buller had been appointed to the command of the First Army Corps, at Aldershot; Sir Evelyn Wood to that of the Second Army Corps, on Salisbury Plain ; and the Duke of Connaught to that of the Third Army Corps, in Ireland. In regard to these appointments, the test which was immediately applied was a reference to the assurance which Mr. Brodrick had given prominently in the exposition of his Army reorganisation scheme, that only those officers would be appointed for peace commands who were certified by the military authorities as fit for command in war. There was no question in any quarter, and could not conceivably be any, of the soldierly qualities of these distinguished officers, of whom the first two wore the Victoria Cross. Nor was much attention aroused by the objection taken to Sir Evelyn Wood's appointment on the ground of his age (which, it was strenuously replied, had not in the least impaired his vigour) and his supposed deafness (which, it was replied, was not such as to in any way impair his efficiency in counsel or action), or to that of the Duke of Connaught, on the ground that, however competent, a Prince so near the throne was not likely to be employed in active warfare. Criticism concentrated itself on the appointment of Sir R. Buller to command at home the Army Corps which would be the first to be sent abroad in case of a great war, and on that subject probably gave expression to a widespread feeling. The public could not profess to have any opinion worthy of attention on points of tactics, but they knew from published despatches that Lord Roberts had expressed himself severely (see ANNUAL REGISTER for 1900, p. 98) as to the share of responsibility borne by Sir R. Buller, as the officer in supreme command, for the deplorable reverse at Spion Kop. Again, they knew that early in 1901 other despatches had appeared showing that Lord Roberts had received about a month after his arrival in South Africa a telegram from Sir R. Buller couched in such terms with regard to the difficulties of the task before him, and the sacrifices which a fresh attempt
1901.) Criticism on Sir R. Buller's Appointment to Aldershot. [201 to relieve Ladysmith would involve, that he felt obliged to "urge Sir Redvers Buller to persevere." In presence of this knowledge, it was pointed out in the Press, unanswerably, that while opinion might, and, indeed, did, still differ as to the manner in which Sir R. Buller had conducted the Natal campaign, the Commander-in-Chief and the Government which had published these despatches could not really be supposed to regard him as possessing the qualifications for a very high command in the next war in which England might be engaged. That being so, it appeared that, from their point of view, Sir R. Buller could not satisfy the conditions laid down in the previous spring by the War Secretary as essential to justify the appointment of officers to commands in time of peace.
It was a curiously inadequate way of meeting the journalistic criticism of the recent selections for the highest military commands in the Home Army that was afforded by a statement published (Oct. 1) on the authority of the War Office. This was to the effect-without any other explanation or defencethat the appointments of Sir Redvers Buller and the Duke of Connaught to the commands at Aldershot and in Ireland were in completion of five-year appointments which had been originally conferred on them in the years 1898 and 1899, and that they therefore would run for the two and rather over three unexpired years respectively. This appeared to mean, if anything, that it would have been too serious a slight on General Buller not to allow him to complete the term of his Aldershot appointment, and that as it was only for two years the public need not be anxious—an implication which, having regard to the unusually bitter anti-British feeling notoriously prevalent on the Continent of Europe, was not as consolatory as might have been desired. In the ordinary course of events, however, nothing more might or probably would have happened in regard to the criticised appointments, at any rate until the meeting of Parliament, had not the officer principally concerned committed an act of absolutely astounding indiscretion.
It was at a luncheon given (Oct. 10) to the active service section of the Queen's Westminster Volunteers that Sir R. Buller delivered a speech, the first part of which was a vigorous and not altogether uncalled for protest against the haste with which some newspaper writers were ready to cast blame on those of our officers in South Africa to whose troops reverses or losses happened, without consideration of their past record or of the peculiar difficulties by which they had been beset. If he had confined himself to this line of argument, pursued impersonally, or even illustrated by reference to the cases of other officers than himself, the speech would have deserved no censure, but rather commendation. Unfortunately, however, at any rate for himself, Sir R. Buller proceeded to deliver a lengthy reply
to the attacks which, he said, had been made on himself in various papers, among which he enumerated the Morning Post, the Statist, the St. James's Gazette, the Spectator and the Times, making special and more detailed reference to the two last named. He told an extraordinary story of his having received a visit at Aldershot from "an international detective or possibly a spy," who advised him to give up the Aldershot command in February, 1901, because, as he said to Sir R. Buller, "you have got enemies, not exactly enemies, but men who mean to get you out of the way, and they will do so. You had better get out quietly and happily." Having told this story Sir R. Buller continued: “It is a curious thing that a fortnight ago a few of the London papers brought out on the same day articles against me. It might have been an accident. Probably it was. However, it was a coincidence. They were all on the same day, and they all attacked me in the same manner. But whether they attacked the Government through me, or me through the Government, with the idea of kicking me out and putting somebody else in, I do not know.” Further on, referring to a remark in the Spectator, not apparently intended to be uncomplimentary, attributing to him reckless courage,” Sir R. Buller observed : “Reckless courage is a quality I should like to possess, but, unfortunately, I have never been gifted with it all my life. If ever I displayed reckless courage in my life, I assert, and possibly some day I may prove, that I displayed reckless courage in having in my pocket the very telegram that he talked about, in which I was ordered to do something which would have involved the loss of 2,000 or 3,000 men.
I withdrew the men because I thought they could not get through, and I would not lose a man unless I thought I could get something for it. I am only making this speech because I find that I cannot hold back my own friends, and if there is to be a row, and if there is to be discredit, I would far rather get it myself than any other man should get it for me. That is why I have opened my mouth.”
He then proceeded to deal with the allegation put forward by, among others, a correspondent of the Times, in regard to a telegram, or rather heliogram, on the subject of surrender, said to have been sent by him to Sir George White in Ladysmith. Having referred to “ the rank bad luck” to which he attributed the failure of his attack on Colenso on December 15, 1899, Sir R. Buller went on to say: “As far as I know my appreciation of the situation was this: There was a very good man holding Ladysmith. . . . I knew that horse sickness was almost certain to come--very heavily and strongly in the Tugela Valley. I knew that enteric fever was epidemic in the Tugela Valley at that time of the year, and knew, or thought I knew, that the Boers were putting dead horses in the water which the garrison of Ladysmith were obliged to drink. I was in great fear that whatever other misfortune happened to that garrison they