No. 90 NAI DFA ES Box 32 File 233
Capetown, June 1921
I have written you every week without failing but I have not yet received any answer or instructions from anybody. I am not complaining of this because probably there was nothing to write about and in any case the difficulties are considerable. Still I would like to have a letter if time and opportunity is available. I think I have told you frankly all that has occurred to me and all that has happened bearing even indirectly on Ireland. The last two letters I have sent by hand as an occasion occurred. This I must send by the ordinary route.
You may have noticed that I have confined my reports in the main to my special work, leaving P.[atrick] L.[ittle] to deal with his own; he has done so I think. He has been back here for some little time and spoke at one of the most successful meetings that has been held in Capetown and also at Stellenbosh and am informed that some 30 or more members of Parliament were present in the body of the Hall and some 2,000 others. He had a very good interview with a press-man which he has I think sent you. He starts another tour in a day or two. As far as we two are concerned and all those we have come in contact with, matters have been moved with the greatest smoothness. We seem to be friends with everybody and even though the English Press is hostile to S.F., we have friendly personal relations, and I hope matters will improve by degrees. We have certainly been permitted to state our views fairly and reasonably. Reuters telegrams are of course concluded in the most hostile form and are published but this propaganda is already discredited to a great extent. So much so that it is doubtful if the S.A. contribution to Reuter, will be paid next year, unless a change of attitude is manifested.
We are on the most friendly terms with the Nationalist (Republican) leaders. There have been several interchanges of hospitalities; I mentioned that we lunched with one of them Dr. Vissau a little time ago in the H.[ouse] of A.[ssembly] and he afterwards that afternoon asked Gen. Smuts if he would help to settle the Irish Case at the meeting of the Premiers. Smuts replied that he would if he were asked, but that there were technical difficulties in the constitution of the League of Nations but he did not think these would be raised. I notice that a minister in the E.[nglish] Parliament, in reply to Mr. T. P. O'Connor stated that no objection would be raised to the interference of the Premiers if they offered their help though technical difficulties would not be raised. I forget the exact wording but I remember that it is so much similar to Gen. Smuts' reply that I cannot but think that there has been collusion. Moreover I find that S.[muts] has been making particular enquiries from several persons Americans and others about the Irish Question, which being full of pressing business, he would not do if he were not more than mildly interested.
I have already told you all that I have done in this matter and the line I took when I found he could not advocate a Republic for Ireland and oppose in S. Africa. Maintained the inviolable right of the Irish people to have an Independent Republic if they wished, but that if for various reasons stated, he could not push that question to its limit he could at least demand complete Independence of the English Parliament. I explained that Repeal of the Union was practically the same as what he calls the new 'Higher Status' of the Dominions which is his pet theory; in each case the King not the Parliament, being the link to hold all together. Also that the King in that case must act in accordance with the advice of his Irish Ministers or S. African Ministers as the case might be; even to the appointment of a Lord Lieutenant in Ireland or a Governor in S. Africa.
This is all a very delicate subject, and I hope that it will be clearly understood that I have in no way declined from the position that the Irish people claim an Independent Republic and will not yield on that point. Many efforts have been made to induce each person to go as far as he can be got to go in that direction. I enclose two more documents handed to Gen. Smuts and Col. M.[alan] which I had forgotten to send you with the remainder.1
On Tuesday we entertained several leading members of the Republican Party at Lunch; Advocate de Vaal, Adv. Byers, Mr. Havenga and Mr. Wilcocks all members of Leg. A.[ssembly] and prominent members of Republican Party; also at same time Father (Dr.) Colgan one of our strongest supporters; Mr. Roworth and Mr. Farrington.
To-day we were entertained at Lunch in the Legislative House by General Hertzog, Dr. Malan, Advocate de Waal, Mr. and Mrs. Havenga, Adv. Byers, Mr. and Mrs. Wilcocks. Also present Mr. and Mrs. Roworth, Dr. Colgan, and Mr. Farrington. The above includes almost every leader of the Republican Party and did not escape comment.
These are very pleasant meetings and serve our purpose by increasing our intimacy and friendship with the leading politicians.
There is a proposal, which will be carried out in a few days, to give some lectures at Cultwal, literary and language questions by Mr. Farrington and myself. The language question here resembles ours and I intend to bring them together; all small Nations and small languages. My connection for so long with the Gaelic League makes these questions familiar to me in all their details. I will wind up by saying again that I hope there will be a Minister or a person responsible to the DAIL to communicate personally in London with Gen. Smuts. He is anxious to know the definite official view on the matters to be settled; and wants someone who can say 'yes' or 'no'.
I must for your information say again that his opponents consider him very 'slim'. I said to one of the ablest lawyers here, that I did not know exactly what Gen. Smuts meant by 'Higher Status' of the Dominions. He replied 'you would be a very wise man if you understood what Gen. Smuts means on any subject'. All hands admit him to be very clever and a gigantic worker. Personally I believe him to be very anxious to settle the matter satisfactorily (or as nearly satisfactorily as possible) for the Irish; though he must not be expected to compromise his own political career.
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