Eugene Casalis to Frederick Chesson, 13 January 1880

Eugene Casalis to Frederick Chesson, 13 January 1880

Archive location: Bodleian Libraries, MSS. Brit. Emp. s. 18 / C128 – 62

Author(s): Eugene Casalis

Recipient(s): Frederick Chesson

Sent from: France

Date: 13 January 1880

Societe des Missions Evangeliques

Chez les Peuples non Chretiens

Etablie a Paris


Paris, le 13 Jany 1880


My dear Mr Chesson,


My information concerning the disarmament of the Basutos do not go further than the national meeting in which they have laid before Mr Sprigg with so much courtesy and straightforwardness their objections and their grief. I fully expect however that, unless positive orders against that measure be sent by the home government, it will be carried out without delay. The party headed by Mr Sprigg will deem it impolitic not to avail themselves of the impression produced by the defeat of Morosi and of Sekoikoini. They mistrust the Basutos, which is the origins of their mistaken policy, and will think that yielding to the remonstrances and the intreaties of the natives cannot fail to be construed by them into a sign of weakness and dread of them. I do not expect that their resistance will go so far as war; their paramount chief Letsie is averse to it, so are most of the headmen of the tribe, and their missionaries will do all in their power to prevent all resource to arms. But the disarmament will cause much discontent and division among the people, destroy every vestige of confidence in and attachment to the British government to whom they have proved so submissive and faithful, divert their minds from the peaceful pursuit of instruction and industry, and then arrest or even make impossible all further progress of civilization among them. If at least there had been a shadow of complaint to justify such a humiliating and venturesome treatment. But it is after having, at the call of the English government, turning their arms against one of their own vassals, Morosi, after having in doing so last some of their own men, among whom a brother of their late revered chief, Moshesh; it is in the immediate vicinity of the Free State who have entolled on them such losses of territory and have never thought, nor will ever think to disarm their own citizens, that the Basutos are invited to sacrifice willingly all possibility of self-defence and the last vestige of their old nationality. What hope can there be that they will after that feel the least attachment to the power who represent in South Africa justice, Christianity and civilization?


And it is perfectly evident to me and to all impartial observers that owning to their agricultural habits, to their dayly increasing taste for instruction and industry, they were of themselves advancing rapidly towards a practical and self-imposed disarming. It is truly heart-rending to see a people so peacefully inclined, so promising, subjected to a treatment by which many, if not all, may be completely demoralized and led to acts which may prove their definite ruin!


Believe me ever yours affectionately

E. Casalis