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MSS. Brit. Emp. S. 18 / C128-67
Paris 30 Sept 1880
My dear Mr Chesson,
The course pursued by the sons of Letsie and by Mashupa has been the destruction of my hopes. Theirs is a policy of despair and vengeance, but from the first day that the disarmament was decreed, I fully expected they would come to that. They prefer running the risk of being killed or sent to Robben Island to ceasing being chiefs. The example of Letsie is nothing to them, they know he is seventy years old and suppose that sufficient respect will be shown to him that he may die with the illusions of still being something in the world. But they what kind of chiefs can they be at the head of a people scarcely permitted to walk about with staves in their hand? Mr Sprigg should have accepted the request of Letsie in the last pitso, to allow him to punish himself the culprits. He would, I am certain, have fined them heavily and placed them under proper restraint in some secluded part of the country, till they had given sufficient proofs of complete submission. A magistrate might have been appointed to see that that judgement was carried into effect. This might have been accepted, considering the dismal consequences which war will have. But Mr Sprigg insisted on Mashupa (or Massoupa as we write it in French) being delivered into the hands of the Cape government. This Letsie will never do, he would consider it as an infamy. Mashupa is his own brother born of Moshesh and of the great wife (or queen) as himself, the first chief in point of honour and power after himself, since the death of Molapo. If Letsie consented to his son Lerotholi and others being only…, whilst Mashupa remained in custody as a convict for the remainder of his days he would be considered as a monster by his people and by all the tribes of South Africa.
Lerotholi is the son of Letsie and dwells close to Mafeteng, if not in it, about thirty miles to the south of his father’s abode in the vicinity of our station of Morijak. Mohale’s Hook is further to the south in the neighbourhood of the Free State. Both places are very hilly but can not be considered a stronghold.
The Tambookies are real cafers. Morosi formed the link between them and the Basutos, although they were not their allies. I believe they are neither very numerous nor very martial, but the death of Morosi has greatly embittered them against the Cape government and next to them, further to the south east, are the Pondos who wish no good to the Colony. If, as it is rumoured, a son of Morosi was to reappear with a body of men who have like him kept till now concealed, the rebelled Basutos might find many allies among those different tribes. Unless the volunteers raised by the Cape government are kept under proper discipline by their commanders their mode of warfare may create exasperation among the natives to a fearful degree.
My god, in his mercy, arrest the evils which appear in preparation.
I remain yours sincerely
The doom of the natives was sealed the day they ceased to be under Her Majesty’s direct sway through a high commissioner. How is it the change was so unheeded? I had no knowledge of it till very lately.