Robert Lester to Frederick Chesson, 27 September 1884, C140/100

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Lester, Robert








Cape Colony

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Bodleian Libraries

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MSS. Brit. Emp. S. 18 / C140-100


Cradock, Cape Colony
Sept 27th 1884

F.W. Chesson Esq
Aborigines Protec Society

Please do not publish my name

Dear Sir,

I have posted you this post a copy of the Grahamstown Journal with marked passage for your information. I think you should publish these passages in the English papers, ‘say the Standard’ that the public may know how serious is the state of affairs here. The colonists even if willing to annex ‘Stellaland’ are quite unable unassisted to govern it, or protect the natives from the murderous attacks of the infamous Boers. We cannot even protect Englishmen from them still less the natives. No, England owes the loyal natives and loyal English assistance and is honour bound to keep her promises. Pray do your best or the natives will be exterminated (they are now starving, the Boers having stolen all their cattle and food) and civil war will exist throughout the land. If Mr Gladstone’s government had not given way to them when they invaded Natal, all this would not have happened. For they are the greatest cowards known and even one reverse would have been quite enough to keep them quiet. Now in their ignorance they think themselves stronger than England and Mr Gladstone in his ignorance of their character actually enters into a convention with them. He might as well have entered into a convention with the thieves of London. I believe the thieves would have acted more honourably .

Dear Sir,

Robert Lester
Barrister at law

Turn over


The English colonists have always been fair and just with the native tribes and therefore the Dutch Boers ‘hate them’ because they will not join them in murdering the natives and stealing their cattle and … lands. Their cry now is, drive the English into the sea, and then we can exterminate the natives and rob them to our hearts content. The other day a German gentleman said to me I wish we had Bismarck over these fellows for a month or so and he would soon show them the difference between his government and the mild government of England. I could not help thinking him right, for they understand nothing but force and believe in nothing else and to send a hundred or two of our soldiers out would only make matters worse. ‘Sufficient’ force must be used once and for all if England wants to keep her colonies. If the Boers were deprived of their guns and ammunition although they far outnumber us that would be nothing for they are cowards and one Englishman would be found as good as 3 of them any day. It is their good shooting only that gives them the advantage nothing else.


You will notice that Montsioa has placed himself under their protection, protection indeed? Covering but devouring as the wolf protects the lamb. But what else could he do, his people murdered and starving and without the protection England promised him. But the proclamation and letter from him are only cunningly written document prepared by the Boers, and to which he has been induced in despair to affix his mark, ignorant, I believe, of its contents. They have done this just to bolster up and give colour to their proceedings.