Robert Barbour to Frederick Chesson, 9 September 1885
Archive location: Bodleian Libraries, MSS. Brit. Emp. s. 18 / C125 – 96
Author(s): Robert Barbour
Recipient(s): Frederick Chesson
Sent from: Scotland
Date: 9 September 1885
The Free Manse
9 9 85
Dear Mr Chesson,
You may not remember my name – Barbour – but I had the pleasure of renewing an acquaintance with you in October last year when we met at the Mansion House, went to the (Montefiore?) Celebration together, I think you were also kind enough to insert some remarks of mine on the … ‘Gun’ laws of the colonial government of S. Africa in your issue of April 1880 or so.
I write now to enlist your earnest attention to a case of great hardship which a minister of the Scotch Church in K’Williamstown, Rev. (J.D. Don?), M.A., is at present undergoing, in consequence of having taken up the cause of the oppressed kafirs in a particular instance. One Pelger, a Boer, shot a kafir dead, and confessed it. The Cape Government, called upon to prosecute, refused. Mr Don, mored by righteous indignation, wrote a letter to the ‘Cape Mercury’ – the one paper in the E. Province when I was out there which dared to defend the Aborigines’ interests – calling him ‘a murderer.’ Whereupon Mr Don and Mr Hay have been criminally prosecuted by Pelger for libel. They were committed last month, are out on 200 pound bail, and are being tried about this time.
I write to ask whether the case cannot be brought before your Society. Don is a man of unusual gifts and culture; except for his wife’s health (whom he has recently lost) he might have filled an important post in this country; as is, he has done noble service in the native cause both in India (where he was a much-prized minister of the Scotch church in Calcutta for many years) and in S. Africa. He has suffered before for his outspoken championship of the downtrodden, but I do not think he should now be left to suffer empty handed. I have written to the same effect to the (governor?) and Sir Joseph Pease, and have asked the former Sec. of our church, (Geo?) Smith Esq…to communicate any further intelligence he can to you.
By the way, I see the Premier Upington has sailed for home and heard him in the cape parliament of ’80. He was an … upholder of the Frere-Sprigg policy, and defended the Dutch Famers in the notorious case of the shooting down of the kafir prisoners what took place between October ’79 and Spring of ’80. It appeared in the ‘Friend’ of the period, but his influence on this side of the water should be narrowly watched.