Brad DeLong: John Maynard Keynes's Life, 1918-1936: At the Versailles peace conference the new democratic German government was treated as a foe rather than a potential ally. The object became to extract as much in plunder and reparations from Germany as possible. South African Prime Minister Jan Christian Smuts wrote about how he and Keynes sat up night after night and:
rail[ed] against the world and the coming flood. And I tell him that this is the time for Grigua’s Prayer (the Lord to come himself and not to send his Son, as this is not a time for children). And then we laugh, and behind the laughter is [Herbert] Hoover’s horrible picture of thirty million people who must die unless there is some great intervention. But then again we think that things are never really as bad as that; and something will turn up, and the worst will never be. And somehow all these phases of feeling are true and right in some sense… (Robert Skidelsky, Hopes Betrayed, page 373, quoting J.C. Smuts).
Why is this "Grigua's Prayer"?
On p. 373 of his John Maynard Keynes: Hopes Betrayed, 1883-1920, Skidelsky is quoting from a letter Smuts wrote to his friend and OxFam founder Margaret Gillett née Clark (1878-1962) on May 7, 1919. It is quoted earlier in Gordon Craig's Europe since 1914. The letter was published in volume 4 of the Smuts Papers, which Google Books has at http://books.google.com/books?id=T0sOQOBGCwMC (but Google Books) has no preview of page 152. Bill Schwartz's The White Man's World contains a chapter on Jan Christian Smuts, "Frontier Philosopher", well worth reading.
As to Grigua… I believe it is a reference to the Griqua People:
The high proportion of single Dutch men led to their taking indigenous women as wives and companions, and mixed-race children were born. They grew to be a sizeable population who spoke Dutch and were instrumental in developing the colony. These children did not attain the social or legal status accorded their fathers, mostly because colonial laws recognised only Christian forms of marriage. This group became known as Basters, or bastards. The colonists, in their paramilitary response to insurgent resistance from Khoi and San people, readily conscripted the Basters into commandos. This ensured the men became skilled in lightly armed, mounted, skirmish tactics… created belligerent, skilled groups of opportunists who harassed the indigenous populations the length of the Orange River.
Once free of the colonies, these groups called themselves the Oorlam…. One of the most influential of these Oolam groups was the Griqua. In the 19th century, the Griqua controlled several political entities which were governed by Kapteins (Dutch for 'Captain', i.e. leader) and their Councils, with their own written constitutions.
Adam Kok I, the first Kaptein of the Griqua – a slave who had bought his own freedom – led his people north…. Kok's successor, Andries Waterboer, founded Griqualand West…. Not long after 1843, the competition between the Cape Colony, Orange Free State, and the Transvaal became too much for the Griqua. Led by Adam Kok III, they migrated east to establish Griqualand East. Griqualand East only existed for months before its annexation by the Cape Colony in 1874…. The Griqua were classified as Coloured under apartheid.
But I am not certain it is their prayer. This is just my guess…