Harold Stephens to Frederick Chesson, 1 May 1887
Archive location: Bodleian Libraries, MSS. Brit. Emp. s. 18 / C148 – 84
Author(s): Harold Stephens
Recipient(s): Frederick Chesson
Sent from: Cape Colony
Date: 1 May 1887
F.W. Chesson Esq
Secretary, The Aborigines Protection Society
I daresay you have heard something of the Boer doings with regard to Swaziland. They are endeavouring to do all they can to get hold of the country and unless something is done I am afraid we shall see the melancholy affair of Zululand repeated over again.
If the present government would speak firmly to the Boer government at Pretoria and tell them that Swaziland is under British protection and that any mission of the country they will be made responsible for and show them that they mean what they say there will be no trouble, but the government at Pretoria think that England will do nothing but talk and that she will let things slide as usual and this impression is strengthened by the fact that the British government hesitates to recognize Mr Shepstone whom the Swazi king has appointed as his adviser.
If England would take the country over she would be conferring a benefit on the natives and on all concerned and the country which is rich in gold and minerals would be a very valuable requisition but in any case she should be prepared to do something besides talk. It is rumoured that a commando of 600 men is to go into Swaziland from the Transvaal and one of the Tvaal magistrates Mr Koch of Utrecht has been threatening the Swazis because they wont give him land. This can be easily stopped now by vigorous means but if allowed to go on we shall see the same thing as in Zululand or else an expensive affair like the Bechuanaland expedition over again. The present government said with regard to Zululand that their predecessors were responsible for letting things drift, and that they could not help themselves but now they have an opportunity of showing that they are determined not to let things go on in this way, and if they don’t avail themselves of it there will be endless trouble.
From a commercial point of view Swaziland is a very valuable country and to let it get into the hands of the Boers would be to close it up altogether whereas it would be otherwise very valuable to English trade. Please to what you can to represent the matter in the right quarters and endeavour to get something done without delay. The old saying that ‘a stitch in time saves nine’ is very strongly represented in this case.
With kind regards,
Mesrs Upington and Hofmeyer are ministers put in by a Dutch party and as they are in England will no doubt use their influence on the side of the Boers.