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MSS. Brit. Emp. S. 18 / C143-152
28 March 1882
F.W. Chesson Esq
My dear Sir,
I was glad to receive yours of the 2nd Feb. I scarcely expected a letter from you as business must press on your time. I am a wandering bird myself, my Presbytery constantly sending me about. I am again at Transkei but shall return to Lovedale again in July.
You wish to know my opinion on the desirability of institutions for the industrial training of native children and more particularly institutions of an agricultural character.
My opinion is were such institutions to be successful and especially agricultural ones, they would save this country from wars and my countrymen would acquire peaceful habits and be contented.
But the difficulty is success. At Lovedale Institution sufficient attention was directed to teaching young men agriculture and about 6 young men were enrolled as apprentices for three years but the whole thing fails in less than two years. At Blythswood Institution Fingoland they are advertising for young men to apply for agricultural training but I have not heard of any coming forward.
The chief causes of failure in such experiments are these:
The kaffir people as a people are pastoral and they despise agricultural pursuits and ploughing is for dependants and not for masters.
1. The Fingoes and Basutos who are pastoral and agricultural people, still respect a man by the number of his flocks and herds, and not by the amount of land and grain he possesses.
2. The want of water in this country is another cause of failure. Last season agriculturalists had excellent returns but this season there is a thorough failure throughout the whole country for want of rain for 6 months.
3. Then even if young men could be got to join agriculture, they would not continue in that work long. Agricultural labour is hard, they would soon find other easier employments.
4. I believe myself it is quite correct that generally speaking those who labour for the good of the natives are not sufficiently practical in their ideas. There are however noble exceptions in this. Such as Dr Stewart of Lovedale and a few others. Something like this however might be done. Train young men for three years and let government give a grant of 100 acres to a successful apprentice as a prize.
About the list of native chiefs and their leading followers I am at present not able to give you one except perhaps a meager list. I shall therefore try and find out how many there are in prison and the nature of their offence.
I fear however the state of affairs in Basutoland will prevent releasing any of those chiefs. The Basutos are listening to the advice of men who are not their friends. There are white men who would like war for their own purposes and who wish to embarrass the present ministry. Their real friends are being disappointed. The french missionaries labouring there have a difficult work. I sympathise with them greatly.
I thank you for your interest in aborigines and the good work and good influence which your society expresses on the English public.
Yours very obediently
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