Harold Stephens to Frederick Chesson, 13 October 1884
Archive location: Bodleian Libraries, MSS. Brit. Emp. s. 18 / C148 – 81
Author(s): Harold Stephens
Recipient(s): Frederick Chesson
Sent from: Cape Colony
Date: 13 October 1884
Kimberley, S. Africa
F.W. Chesson Esq
3 Broadway Chambers
I have no doubt Mr Mackenzie and others will keep you ‘au courant’ with all that has been going on in Bechuanaland and therefore it is needless my troubling you with a history of what has taken place. I see by a cablegram this morning that the Times appears satisfied with the withdrawal of the proclamation of the Transvaal annexing Bechuanaland, but if this means that the English government are going to be satisfied then they may as well hand the country and natives over to the Boers at once. Surely so long as the Boers are in actually possession of Montsioa’s country and all their ill gotten gains taken from that chief, there is not much subject for congratulation in the fact that they have withdrawn the proclamation. As I pointed out in one of my earlier communications to you the cheapest and only way is to raise a force of 500 or 600 men (volunteers) and send them into Bechuanaland to resolve order and maintain justice.
This article of the Times has already had a bad effect here giving the impression that England intends to do nothing after all and the Boers will immediately commence their operations anew. England should be firm at first and demand nothing less than the expulsion of the freebooters and compensation. The government need not be afraid that the Transvaal will fight about Montsioa’s country. The Boers know better than to risk so much for the sake of helping a few of their number to obtain farms outside the Transvaal, but if they find England vacillating and infirm of purpose they will take the utmost advantage of it and the matter will never be settled. Whereas if England asserts herself for once it will save her infinite trouble in times to come. The Boers were already getting frightened at the tone the English government were taking and having many internal difficulties they would cave in at once and do anything provided force were used if necessary.
I hope you will make this known among the men of influence with whom you are in contact and endeavour to force the government to do something. The time for relying on promises has gone by.
With regard to the resignation of Joubert I believe this is only one of the many ‘dodges’ invented for the purpose of hoodwinking the English government. The excuse Pres Kruger gives for annexing Montsioa’s country is to ‘save bloodshed’ and ‘in the cause of humanity.’ The Transvaal government first sent in freebooters to destroy Montsioa’s tribe and take his country and then follow-up the programme by annexing his country in the cause of humanity. Such transparent duplicity needs no comment.
If the Transvaal is sincere in their professions let them prove it by some tangible act and not by words! It ought to be insisted that they restore to Montsioa and his people their property and leave the country. Those whom they murdered and whose blood has been shed in defending themselves can receive no compensation.
If the English government are going to be satisfied with professions then there is no use doing anything further in the matter. Even now Montsioa is in the hands of the Tvaal government who refuse to allow any English official to see him and this in country which is British territory.
Make any use you like of this letter but keep my name in the background.