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|Letter Reference||John X. Merriman MSC 15/1905:228
|Archive||National Library of South Africa, Special Collections, Cape Town
|Letter Date||19 December 1905
|Address From||Hanover, Northern Cape
|Who To||John X. Merriman
The manuscript of this letter by Olive Schreiner belongs to the Archive referenced above; its ownership of the original should be acknowledged by referencing the letter as indicated: Copyright transcription: © Olive Schreiner Letters Project. This transcription can be freely used as long as copyright is acknowledged and it is referenced using the following citation: ‘Olive Schreiner to John X. Merriman, 19 December 1905, NLSA Cape Town, Special Collections, Olive Schreiner Letters Project transcription’. Please also supply letter line numbers for specific quotations.
The Project is grateful to the National Library of South Africa (NLSA), Cape Town, for kindly allowing us to transcribe this Olive Schreiner letter, which is part of its Special Collections.
Dec 19 / 05
Dear Mr Merriman
I was very glad to see from the papers some time ago that though South
7: Africa was near meeting with serious loss through a cart accident, we
8: came off all right. I hope you felt no ill effect at all.
//Have you read "the Souls of Black Folk" yet? I am very anxious to
11: know what you think of it. My copy is wandering about some where in
12: Cape Town, Mrs Purcell had it & I asked her to send it on to Dr Beck.
13: I wonder if it will appeal to any one just as it does to me!
//I have just finished reading Bryces "Studies in History &
16: Jurisprudence" There is not much that is new in them & nothing that is
17: mentally stimulating (the power to stimulate always seems to me the
18: peculiar mark of genius) but I was much interested in his comparison
19: of the differences between the Australian & Canadian powers of ^federal^
20: Government. I had no idea before how very far the Canadian was behind
21: the Australian, though I knew it was so.
A friend of mine, a Englishman of science but who has spent much of
24: his time in the United States & in Canada, always tells me that it is
25: a revelation to pass over the border from Am the United States to
26: Canada The instantaneous difference is in the sense of freedom &
27: independence ^& instinctive^ & high vitality, is, he says something
28: almost inconceivable. Yet the people on both sides of the border are
29: generally of the same race & often even blood relations! His verdict
30: is the more interesting because he is strongly English in feeling I am
31: absolutely convinced that that "Colony" which first starts on an
32: absolutely free life of its own subservient even in name to none, will
33: astonish the world by a mental & social afflorescence, which would
34: never have been possible if it had remained in a state of even titular
35: subservience. I need not tell you how splendid I thought your reply to
36: those Imperialist questions.
The difference between a free confederacy of independent ^& equal^
39: states is as different from Empire as health is from disease as life
40: is from death - If ^they could only see it.^
My friends the Lawrences are now in Cape Town & will be there till the
43: 3rd of January. I hope much they will meet you. He has a singularly
44: sweet sympathetic spirit, & she a singularly strong & clear intellect.
45: Their visit here was to me like rain on parched ground. My husband & I
46: leave this week Saturday for Cape Town & shall stay there over Xmas &
47: New Year so I shall see them again. I am very anxious to hear their
48: view of Transvaal things, Chinese especially.
All good wishes to yourself & Mrs Merriman for the New Year & Xmas.
The books referred to are: W.E.B. Du Bois (1903) The Souls of Black Folks
Chicago: A.C. McClurg; James Bryce (1901) Studies in History and Jurisprudence
Oxford: Clarendon Press.