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MSS. Brit. Emp. S. 18 / C145-104
Natal Colonist Office
Durban, 25 Sept 1876
F.W. Chesson Esq
I have to acknowledge receipt of your note of 25 July together with Mr Herbert’s reply to the APS which I had printed at once and made a few remarks thereon as you will see by papers herewith. I venture also to draw your attention to sundry other matters, local or connected with the Transvaal, in which I cannot doubt you willfeel great interest.
Those here in the Colony who really desire the advancement of the natives feel woefully disappointed at the way in which Ld Carnarvon appears to be befooled by the SNA. I should not attach so much importance as some may do to the knighting of Mr S, but the retaining of Capt Lucas, and Lt Clarke as Magistrates and above all the elevation once more of Mr John Shepstone to the post of SNA fill me with profound astonishment and dismay. It seems to … that all Ld C’s fine intentions to have a thorough reform of the native policy have melted into air. Even Sir T Shepstone’s warmest admirers own that he is too old to change, either to learn or unlearn. Nor have I any confidence in his good faith. I will venture to say that were he now to set about the compilation of the native law, he will produce a very different code from what he would have done before the Langalibalele business, in that he committed himself to certain acts and expositions of native law which he cannot now unsay.
I am not aware whether it has ever struck you or the Society as it did me what a fatal blow was dealt not to native law only, but to the supremacy of civilized law over savagery, by the chief justices’ decision that the Lt Gov of Natal as supreme chief could overrule an imperial statute as he did in banishing Langa. So long as that decision remains unreversed it seems to me that our Lt Gov is more powerful than the Queen. She is under the law: he, that is Ld Carnarvon tells us ‘practically the SNA is above all law, and the lives, liberties and property of over 350,000 natives is at the caprice of a … like Sir B Pine, or a cunning yet indolent … like our new knight. I wish I could induce you to give some thought to this aspect of a very serious questions – none the less serious, with Mr John as SNA and Mr Henrique S, as I hear, on the highroad to promotion.
The mail has been delayed a few days, and I write to tell you some news which have been brought in within the last few days from the Zulu country.