Autograph Letter Signed from 'W. Taylor' (the Swahili scholar Rev. William Ernest Taylor (1856-1927)?) to Sir Thomas Lynedoch Graham, regarding Sir Gordon Sprigg and the suspension of the Cape constitution.
2pp., foolscap 8vo. 54 lines of text. Good, on lightly-aged and worn paper. Addressed to 'The Hon. T. L. Graham, M.L.C., Prime Minister's Office, Cape Town.' Taylor begins by thanking Graham for his 'courteous letter' and is pleased to find that he has not been misunderstood. 'While siding with Dr. Smart it was on purely personal grounds that I wrote you. I cannot say that a number of your constituents differ from you; I do not know. What I felt was that loyalty to your Chief - faithfulness to Sir Gordon [Sprigg] in the position he has taken up - had been the loadstone that had kept you in Cabinet assocation with him. Hence my letter.' He can see that Graham holds 'very strong opinions of your own upon the question at issue. I cannot help holding different views. I have been all along against even a temporary suspension of the constitution against any tinkering whatever with the sacred right of every honest man to be represented in the Parliament (the legislature) of his country - looking upon the very idea of such a movement as a sign of weakness and surrender in the face of the enemy (the Rebel element in the Colony), but arguments, based upon facts, and he recent action of the bulk of the Progressive Party in the House, have conquered my misgivings, and I am now firmly convinced that it will be utterly impossible for Sir Gordon Sprigg and his loyal friends to successfully carry on the government of the Colony to the end that all may prosper on purely British lines, and the Cape eventually take up its proper position in the general scheme of S. A. Federation that must ere long be brought about. To my humble thinking Sir Gordon has "played his cards badly". He should have consolidated his Party and gone with them where he could not lead. Very soon he would have come out "top dog".' The letter continues with references to Lord Milner and the Afrikander Party, before concluding: 'I know a few of the Dutch constituencies up country, and the effect of rebel disfranchisement is potent. But all this, and the loud desire on the part of the wealthy amongs Dutch traders and farmers throughout the Colony in favour of peaceful progress on non-racial lines, the majority of the voting population in all Dutch constituencies will be lead by the wire-pullers of the Bond and deceitful Afrikander Parter, still and ever sor while life lasts at the cause they had at heart being so hopelessly crushed.' Six-line postscript, concluding: 'If anyone is to save the situation for Sir Gordon it is yourself. If you fail - then?' The context of the letter is explained in Sprigg's entry in the Oxford DNB: 'In 1898 Sprigg attempted to carry a redistribution bill reducing the advantage enjoyed by the Afrikaner Bond rural constituencies as against the Progressive towns, but was defeated on a motion of no confidence and appealed to the country virtually on the issue of British or Transvaal supremacy. He was defeated and had to resign. On the fall of William Philip Schreiner's ministry in June 1900, Sprigg became premier for the fourth time and governed for two years without parliamentary sanction. He was inclined to approve of a suspension of the Cape constitution as the best means of furthering the federation of South Africa. However, after Rhodes's death, in 1902, he became resolute and at the premiers' conference which took place in London that year he followed Sir Wilfrid Laurier in crushing the scheme.'