Foreign Office: March 11th.
'I have the honour to acknowledge your Honours' telegram dated
March 5th from Bloemfontein, of which the purport was principally
to demand that Her Majesty's Government shall recognise the
"incontestable independence" of the South African Republic and
Orange Free State as "sovereign international States," and to offer
on those terms to bring the war to a conclusion.
'In the beginning of October last peace existed between Her Majesty
and the two Republics under the conventions which then were in
existence. A discussion had been proceeding for some months between
Her Majesty's Government and the South African Republic, of which
the object was to obtain redress for certain very serious
grievances under which British residents in the. Republic were
suffering. In the course of those negotiations the Republic had, to
the knowledge of Her Majesty's Government, made considerable
armaments, and the latter had consequently taken steps to provide
corresponding reinforcements to the British garrisons of Cape Town
and Natal. No infringement of the rights guaranteed by the
conventions had up to that time taken place on the British side.
Suddenly, at two days' notice, the South African Republic, after
issuing an insulting ultimatum, declared war, and the Orange Free
State with whom there had not even been any discussion, took a
similar step. Her Majesty's dominions were immediately invaded by
the two Republics, siege was laid to three towns within the British
frontier, a large portion of the two Colonies was overrun with
great destruction to property and life, and the Republics claimed
to treat the inhabitants as if those dominions had been annexed to
one or other of them.