On 31 March 1905 the Unionist Government issued Letters Patent granting to the Transvaal a representative constitution, known almost at once, and to history, as the Lyttelton Constitution. This constitution never came into force; it was abrogated in February 1906 by the new Liberal Government, who decided, at a dramatic Cabinet meeting on 8 February, to grant responsible government instead. Until the opening of the government and private archives within the last few years, the accounts of the part played by the Liberal prime minister, Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, at this Cabinet, and of the encounter between him and General J. C. Smuts, who had come to England on a mission to persuade the Liberal Government to grant responsible government, have necessarily been largely based on hearsay. Something approaching a ‘mythology’ has therefore tended to surround these events; this ‘mythology’ views the Smuts' mission as ‘the climax in the drama of the South African settlement’; it assumes Smuts ‘convinced’ Campbell-Bannerman immediate responsible government should be granted, and that the prime minister then persuaded the Cabinet. This paper is an attempt to carry a stage further the ‘de-mythologizing’ begun by recent historians with partial access to the relevant papers.