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methods that those who are still deceived by him become partners in his guilt. For ten years he has denied all the facts revealed by the Commission of Inquiry, and now proved by the evidence of his own official documents. Reforms? The whole history of the Congo State is one long story of "reform," of reform which has already changed a large part of that great region into a desert and left wastes where there were smiling villages. Shall we not be fools if we continue to trust? For the chief sentiment on which Leopold has traded has been the vague benevolence of the world. He has built his pyramid of Congolese skulls on a foundation of specious phrases which deceived even General Gordon. It is not the least quarrel that humanity has against him that he has trafficked in high ideals and played the pirate under the guise of the missionary.
While it is impossible to acquit Leopold of conscious guilt, it is not necessary to believe the same of all who have worked with him. Imperialism has given us only too many examples of that ancient observation-"the corruption of the best becomes the worst." When we try to play the wandering angel to mankind at large, we are already in danger of falling back into the beast. The white man's burden easily becomes the white man's undoing. Spain and South America stand out as supreme warnings of that easy descent. For the moment we English can claim Egypt and India as frail, flickering efforts towards a higher goal; but we should work as standing ever on the brink of a fall. It is not necessary to impute utter infamy to the 2000 European agents through whom these horrors have been perpetrated in the valley of the Congo. In a story of genius, Joseph Conrad has shown us
8 In his "Tales of Unrest."
• Verbatim report of the five days' Congo debate in the Belgian House of Representatives
how the thing happens. Dragged down by the very barbarism which they went to reform, always goaded on by the demands of an insatiable commercialism at home, these men have gradually descended to depths of which the modern European was assumed to be incapable. The fault lies with the system and the inventor of the system. The moral of the Congo is the moral of the Old India Company. It is that Imperialism is never safe as long as she is the handmaid of Commercialism. King Leopold has made her its slave.
E pur si muove. The Report of the 1905 Commission has roused a storm in Belgium which has profoundly moved that little country and has led to debates in her Parliament which cannot but affect the opinion of Europe. A translated report of those debates lies before me, and it seems worth while to place before the British public some idea of the situation as it appears to the people most affected. But first let me recall to those who have not followed the matter closely the state of affairs revealed by the Report of the Commission of 1905.
That report closed once and for all the long era of contention and debate, of subsidized contradiction and abuse. The small and intrepid band who have been fighting this Apollyon in the dark during the last ten years found themselves suddenly in the open. For though chosen by Leopold himself on the pressure of the British Government, the Commission revealed a state of affairs as black as any painted by Mr. Morel and Mr. Casement. Nay, more. Though rigorously concealing, despite all pledges to the contrary, the dark and fearful evidence on which their conclusions were based, they logically traced the evils not to chance or ca(February 20th, 27th, 28th, March 1st and 2nd, 1905). Issued by the Congo Reform Association, 4, Oldhall Street, Liverpool. Price 18.
price, but to the inevitable workings of a system. The barbarities fitfully reported in this country by brave missionaries and consuls were revealed to have been due not to the excesses of random men, but to the organization of a central Government which regarded the whole Congo as nothing more than an estate for the production of rubber and copal. The estate is the Government's, and the inhabitants are its slaves. It is a system which is even now being extended, by the pernicious influence of King Leopold, to the French Congo, though it has been happily checked on the Upper Nile by the vigorous resistance of Lord Cromer.
fortnight, until he arrives at that part of the forest where the rubber vines can be met with in a certain degree of abundance. There the collector passes a number of days in a miserable existence. He has to build himself an improvised shelter, which cannot, obviously, replace his hut. He has not the food to which he is accustomed. He is deprived of his wife, exposed to the inclemencies of the weather, and the attacks of wild beasts. When once he has collected the rubber he must bring it to the State station or to that of the company, and only then can he return to his village, where he can sojourn for barely more than two or three days, because the next demand is upon him. . . . It is hardly necessary to add that this state of affairs is a flagrant violation of the forty hours law.
They showed that this system was not applied in a half-hearted manner, as by men with humane instincts, but that it was and still is-being administered consciously and deliberately, with full knowledge of the authorities, from whose official records most of the evidence was derived. They showed that the system consisted in the essential denial of all rights, either of land, labor or life, to the native. It has been summed up by a Belgian Minister in the phrase, "The native has no right to anything." The Commissioners added a great deal of loyal verbiage and special pleading, but nothing could obscure the significance of the one great prevailing on the Congo:
A very simple calculation will show that the demand of time from the native for this "Labor Tax" amounts, according to this finding, to eleven days in every fortnight, or 286 days in every year. What is this but the slavery of a whole population-slavery cheapened by the refined modern improvement of keeping it on the spot?
central revelation of this Report-that
as long as this system lasted the same results would follow.
Three quotations from the Report will suffice to illustrate this summary of its findings. The first bears on what is euphemistically known as the "Labor Tax," but what is really the claim to use the whole native labor of the "State" for the collection of the one great product. This is what the Commissioners say:
In the majority of cases the native must go one or two days' march every
Uttered by M. de Smet de Snaeyer in 1903.
Such a system could not, in the nature of things, be enforced by ordinary sanctions. My second quotation will be the summary of the methods of coercion which the Commission found
Taking of hostages, the imprisonment of the chiefs, the institution of sentries or capitas, fines and military expeditions.
The hostages are generally women, the sentinels are armed with "capguns" and rifles, and the military expe ditions generally mean destruction and annihilation. When we remember that this has been going on for fifteen years, what a summary of horrors in that one sentence!
My third quotation shows the working of that terrible system of "Senti
nels," who are the real commercial agents of the State:
Of how many abuses these native sentinels have been guilty it would be impossible to say, even approximately. Several chiefs of baringa brought us, according to the native custom, bundles of sticks, each of which was meant to shew one of their subjects killed by the capitas. One of them shewed 120 murders in his village committed during the last few years. Whatever one may think of the confidence with which this native form of book-keeping may inspire one, a document handed to the Commission by the Director of the A.B.I.R. does not allow any doubt to remain as to the sinister character of the system. It consisted of a list shewing that from 1st January to 1st August, 1905-that is to say within a space of seven months-142 sentries of the Society had been killed or wounded by the natives. Now it is to be assumed that in many cases these sentries had been attacked by the natives by way of revenge. One may judge by this of the number of bloody affrays to which their presence had given rise. On the other hand the agents interrogated by the Commission, or who were present at the audiences, did not even attempt to deny the charges brought against the sentinels.
If this much is admitted by a Commission appointed by King Leopold himself, one cannot feel that we have the whole truth without adding the deliberate evidence of our English Consul Casement, corroborated by many missionaries:
Of acts of persistent mutilation by government soldiers of this nature I had many statements made to me, some of them specifically, others in a general way. Of the fact of this mutilation, and the causes inducing it, there can be no shadow of doubt. It was not a native custom prior to the coming of the white men; it was not the outcome of the primitive instincts of savages in their fights between village and village; it was the
deliberate act of the soldiers of a European administration, and these men themselves never made any concealment that in committing these acts they were but obeying the positive orders of their superiors.
And if we want an illustration of the system in writing, we can take, out of many such, an official order, issued by a District Commissioner and quoted by Mr. Lorand in the Belgian debate without contradiction:
M. le Chef de Poste,
Decidedly these people of Inoryo are a bad lot. They have just been and cut some rubber vines at Huli. We must fight them until their absolute submission has been obtained, or their complete extinction. Warn for the last time the people of Inoryo, and put into execution as soon as possible your project of accompanying them to the forest or else go to the village with a good trique." When you arrive at the first hut, speak as follows to the owner thereof: "Here is a basket; you are to fill it with rubber. Go to the forest at once, and if in a week you have not returned with 10lbs. of rubber, I shall set fire to your hut and you will burn." The trique may be used to drive into the forest those who refuse to leave the village. By burning one hut after another I think that you will not be compelled to proceed to last extremities before being obeyed. Inform the natives that if they cut another single vine, I will exterminate them to the last
This, then, was the broad case against the Congo State up to the end of 1905.
But the Report of this Commission was not the only document that lay before the Belgian House of Representatives in their debates. In February of this year-1906-a distinguished Professor of Brussels University, Professor Cattier, who had not hitherto taken up a hostile attitude towards the Congo State, published a book which for the
A flat wooden mallet, used to thrash the natives in some parts of the Congo,
first time revealed the full personal gains achieved by King Leopold out of the exploiting of the Congo.' The finances of the Congo State-which publishes no accounts beyond estimateshad been up to that moment a deep mystery to its shrewdest critics; but this book threw much light upon them. Professor Cattier showed that in 1896 King Leopold set aside from the Congo State a large area, "about ten times the size of Belgium and two and a half times the size of England," amounting to about a fourth of the rubber zone, exploited during the past ten years as the Domaine de la Couronne. This area beeame from that time his own individual personal property. It has been managed by three persons completely under his control. No accounts-not even estimates have been published: no responsibility has been accepted: its very existence was concealed until 1902. The "iron shutter" has fallen on that most miserable of all terrestrial regions, and only an occasional cry has told the world of the hell that has been created behind it. But we can faintly gather from an account of a journey by an English missionary, Mr. Scrivener, that the machinery of massacre and mutilation has there reached its finest point of efficiency.
Now much of this had been already gathered from the only possible source of light-a solitary decree published in 1902, but it had been left to Professor Cattier to illuminate the full meaning of those facts. His first illumination was in the nature of a laborious and carefully tested inference from a comparison between the official records of the rubber expert and the admitted profits of the Congo State. Deducting generously for working expenses, Professor Cattier found that the total rev
Etude sur la situation de l'Etat Independant du Congo, par Félicien Cattier (Paris, A. Padone. Brussels, Vve. Larcier) price fs. 3.50.
See Chapter XV. of Mr. Morel's book, "King Leopold's Rule in Africa." On the Mamboyo
enue of the king's domain from 1896– 1905 must have amounted to 70,000,000 francs, or £2,800,000.
Now, how has the king spent that money? Here, Professor Cattier made some interesting discoveries. He found out, by a search through official records, that it has been largely invested in real estate in different parts of Belgium. His inquiries have been restricted by expense to a few districts, but even then the results dug out in Brussels and Ostend cover twenty-one pages in his book. The purchases include hotels, villas, houses, woods, lands, fields, gardens, and stables. It almost looks as if King Leopold aimed at using the proceeds of the Congo for turning Belgium into his private estate.
Besides these purchases, the proceeds of the Domaine de la Couronne are being directed-so Professor Cattier also discovered to the following objects:
(1) Construction of the Palace of Laeken at the cost, when completed, of thirty million francs.
(2) Construction of the Arcade of the Cinquantenaire (celebrating fifty years of Belgian independence) at Brussels. (3) Construction of a "Colonial School" at Terveruen.
(4) A Press Bureau.
"Worse and worse!" The fourth and last is a most important and significant item. It explains much. By an ingenious arrangement the profits wrung from the tortured millions of Africa have been used in filling the Belgian and Continental Press with inspired glorification of the "moral and material regeneration" of the Congo. The only consolation is that the British Press does not appear to have been affected by this colossal temptation.
But the secret profits of the Domaine an official admitted, or rather boasted, that for every cartridge used a human hand had to be brought back. In six months 6,000 cartridges had been used.
do not explain the mysteries of Congo finance. There are several startling facts. First, the Congo State has published no Budgets since 1893. All that the public sees is "estimates." These "estimates" always agree in one thing only. They always display a deficit. This is in spite of the fact that the administration of the Congo, apart from business, scarcely exists and can cost very little, while the official records of the exports of rubber in ten years amount to 41,195 tons. Nevertheless, the total deficit for the ten years is stated at £1,085,519.
To meet this deficit the Congo State has borrowed, including a Lottery Loan, up to £5,000,000, leaving nearly £4,000,000 unaccounted for.
Thus, if we add this £4,000,000 to the £2,800,000 profits of the Domaine de la Couronne, there is a sum unaccounted for of no less than £7,000,000!
Massacre in Africa seems to go hand in hand with robbery in Europe.
The debate in which these amazing revelations were discussed by the Belgian Parliament showed a very high level of oratory and dialectical power for so small a people. It was a sensational and dramatic discussion. Belgian Ministry found themselves no longer able to defend their master by cheap gibes against "Liverpool merchants," or still cheaper appeals to patriotic sentiment. It was no longer possible to silence the Opposition by cries of "Pro-English" or "enemies of your country"-devices that have been there, as sometimes here, too often the only official stock-in-trade. Belgian opinion was profoundly moved. Two blows had fallen. The Commission had shown that the "calumnies" were true. Professor Cattier had raised the ugly suspicion that this great future estate of Belgium, which Leopold has always dangled as a bribe before the eyes of his people, was being eaten up
by its present owner. Heirs indeedbut to what? To an enormous debt and a devastated country? No wonder that Belgian opinion, faced with these strangely familiar fruits of commercial Imperialism, was deeply stirred.
Broadly speaking, one fact stands out clearly from the strife of tongues. The Belgian Ministers could not deny Professor Cattier's accusations. They could only confine themselves to disputing the accuracy of his estimates. But as they were unable to state the real facts, it is only fair to say that Cattier's figures hold the field. The following colloquy between M. Vandervelde, the brave Socialist leader who opened the debate, and M. de Favereau, the Foreign Minister, speaks itself:
M. Vandervelde:-If you say the figure is inaccurate, you must know the accurate figure. In that case loyalty compels you to tell us what it is.
M. de Favereau:-I do not know what it is. (Ironical laughter from extreme left.) But I can assert that the calculation is erroneous because the data which have served as its basis are inaccurate.
Such assertions are of no value, and only illustrate the humiliating position in which responsible Ministers may be placed in a country where the King is allowed to become an independent millionaire. The responsible Ministers "do not know"-they are kept in the dark. This new money power is rapidly undermining what exists of Belgian democracy. Absolutism on the Congo is breeding absolutism at Brussels. If the King wishes to rebut Professor Cattier's accusations, there is only one course open to him. He must publish the full accounts of the Domaine de la Couronne and the Congo State. If the facts are honest, there can be no honest reason for keeping them secret.
Happily, the debate has shown that there are more than ten men in the