Frederick Vaughan Kirby to Frederick Chesson, 22 July 1885

Frederick Vaughan Kirby to Frederick Chesson, 22 July 1885

Archive location: Bodleian Libraries, MSS. Brit. Emp. s. 18 / C139 – 231

Author(s): Frederick Vaughan Kirby

Recipient(s): Frederick Chesson

Sent from: South African Republic

Date: 22 July 1885

Intab Mkulu

Lower Saabi

July 22nd 1885


F.W. Chesson Esq


My dear Sir,


I fear that I have laid myself open to a charge of great neglect, in that I have permitted so long a time to elapse before waiting to thank you, as I now do, very sincerely for your kind letters of introduction, each and all of which I duly delivered upon my arrival in this country.


Although I am many miles away from the scene of the labours of those to whom you introduced me, still we have one bond in common, a sincere desire to do what we can to insure justice for those who after all are the rightful owners of the soil, but who are bound to fall back before the tide of civilization. I have heard occasionally from Mr Grant.


You must indeed have been deeply grieved to hear of the sad loss to the Colenso family. Truer friends the natives never had, for they held on to their purpose firmly and truly no matter how the tide of public opinion might set against them, and surely a great reward will be theirs hereafter.


Zululand from all accounts is in a deplorable state; deplorable in that it can no longer be called Zululand with any degree of truth. Comparative quiet reigns there, but what is the nature of that quiet? It has been brought about by force of arms, by trickery, and by deceit and sooner or later the whole fabric must fall to the ground. The same trickery and manipulating is going on in Swaziland. In open defiance of the terms of the last convention, the Boers are doing their utmost to talk the king over to their side. Hitherto Mbandini has remained firm but who can say for how long it will be?


I heard about a week ago that Erasmus and Joubert were making preparations for a start to Swaziland, their object being twofold; to again put pressure upon the king to force him to hand over certain portions (all?) of his country, and the defining of the boundary line from [Manauga?] Point to the Lebomba. It was there that one of Erasmus’ police was assegaied last year when E was down collecting taxes upon the border. I myself am very shortly going up to the king’s kraal. I expected to have left tomorrow in fact, but shall now have to delay a few days. I sent boys away to Kruger’s Post, to ascertain the truth of the report that Erasmus’ party are en route for Swaziland but they have returned without finding out anything definite.


In the absence of any tangible facts or proofs I refrain from sending any reports or suppositions which could only work harm to myself without advancing in any way the cause which we advocate.


Anything that I have to send of importance shall always go through the previous source.


Personally, I am of opinion that anything which may now … to stir up strife and animosity should be religiously kept in the background, for a time will come sooner or later when all and any information will help, and not as now, hinder the cause.


Sir Chas Warren has been doing good work in Betyuanaland, none the less good because peacefully yet firmly done.


Of course you heard that Erasmus was acquitted, notwithstanding he was proved to have committed a cold blooded murder during that wretched [Mapoch?] affair. By the way a very large number of [Mapoch’s?] (Mabela’s) people, all in fact who are not put out to service after the campaign have gone into Swaziland, and claimed the protection of the king. [Mawpara?] as you doubtless know was a true savage.


I have thought that perhaps the reported visit of the Boers to Swaziland had some reference to this exodus of a people whom they certainly look upon as their rightful property.


It is my intention during the coming summer to make an application to the Transvaal government for some acknowledged position of authority in the native portion of their state.


I think it not unlikely that it may be granted, as I am well known amongst the natives within the border, and I may then have it in my power to do them a good turn here and there, if only by securing for them an honest and fair system of taxation. At present it is that taxation business, unjustly carried out which annoys and irritates them. I know of one instance at least where a white man boasted to me that upon the arrival of the Boers to collect taxes he would speak to them and would have a certain kaffir double taxed ‘for his impudence’ and should he ‘have any more jaw’ he should be ‘kicked out of the location’. I have every reason to believe in that man’s power to bring this about, as in his will to do so. And such an act would certainly not be justice.


Well, my dear Sir, I am afraid I have lengthened out my letter to a point which your valuable time will scarce permit you to follow me, so I must draw to a close.


I need scarcely say that you and the Society you represent have my very warmest sympathy and my heartiest good wishes. I trust that the time may come when I shall be able to give some substantial assistance to your noble cause, and in the meanwhile

I beg to remain, dear sir,

Yours very truly

Fred. V. Kirby