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|Letter Reference||Edward Carpenter 359/59
|Archive||Sheffield Archives, Archives & Local Studies, Sheffield
|Letter Date||25 December 1892
|Address From||Ganna Hoek, Cradock, Eastern Cape
|Who To||Edward Carpenter
|Other Versions||Rive 1987: 216-7
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 Edward Carpenter, 25 December 1892, Sheffield Libraries, Archives & Information, Olive Schreiner Letters Project transcription’. Please also supply letter line numbers for specific quotations.
The Project is grateful to the Sheffield Archives, Sheffield Libraries, Archives and Information Services, for kindly allowing us to transcribe this Olive Schreiner letter, which is part of its Archive Collections. Schreiner stayed with her friends the Cawoods on their Ganna Hoek farm over Christmas 1892.
I want to write to you this day. It’s so nice here. I’m staying at
7: the old farm where I used to live when I was a young girl & where I
8: finished part of An African Farm. It’s a beautiful, wild place, one
9: of the most beautiful in the world & I wish you were here to see it. I
10: always have been thinking of you since I came here. The wild bush of
11: mimosa thorns comes right down to the house & its full of wild animals.
12: The other day we caught a little baby monkey with a long tail in the
13: tree just behind my window, & there are heaps of Baboons one hears
14: fighting in the trees. The day before yesterday we killed two snakes.
15: Early in the morning I was walking on the mountain reading by myself,
16: & almost trod on one. Soon after in the house, the girl was making the
17: tutors bed, & she heard something fall off. It was a cobra, & we’ve
18: got them both in bottles. I like to feel this wild, untamed life with
19: "the will to live" still strong & untamed in it, seething about one.
20: It makes the old strength come back into ones heart. It’s
21: beautifully hot here. You know how lovely that is, the fierce clear
22: sunlight shining full on you. Yesterday I went alone on the top of a
23: koppje & took off all my clothes & wandered about for hours in the hot
24: dry sand & thorny bushes. Its delightful to feel the sand direct on
25: one. In England it’s so cold one must cover & peep & have conviction
26: of ?sin all the while. I’m staying here with a big family a father &
27: mother & eleven children, nearly all grown up. They are such a
28: beautiful big family you’d enjoy seeing them all round the table.
29: The day after tomorrow we are going to make a big party & climb the
30: high mountain behind the house.
A young farmer who lives 30 miles off is coming with his two sisters
33: to go with us. He’s a beautiful fellow draws me greatly, he’s
34: something like Waldo, but fiercer & stronger. One day he may make one
35: of the few & first men who have ever made a stand in South Africa.
36: That is my dream for him. Now in our public life all is low low ebb.
37: It has almost broken my heart. I’m so glad to get away here for a
38: little while to this dear old wild nature. There are big leopards in
39: the bush & every thing nice. I like them better than politicians. One
40: feels so sure here, that everything is in a transitional state, & that
41: the bigger time is coming some day. It’s harder to feel it in the
42: world. If ever you come to Africa you must come & stay here with these
43: friends of mine. I’ll give you a letter of introduction, & they’ll
44: all love you. Everyone is very busy now reading Morris’s "News from
45: Nowhere" which I brought with me. I’m going to send them all your
46: books. I’ve been here nearly a month now & must soon be moving on to
47: see my little mother. I shall only be able to stop in England three
48: months, say May, June & July, then it’ll be too damp. Will you try &
49: let me have a look at you while I’m in London?
The sad side of our life in Africa is our native question. I’m
52: writing a paper on it now.
How does the world go at Mill Thorpe. Drop me a line if you have time.
55: Love to George & his wife, & send this note on to our Bob because I
56: haven’t time to write him any Xmas letter.
Your little sister
The tutor here is a young consumptive Englishman from Oxford whom I
62: got a place here for because he was very ill in Cape Town. He’s a
63: socialist, the only socialist I’ve seen since I left England. People
64: haven’t heard of socialism here, except a few workmen in the big
67: ^All the people here about still call me "de kleine schoolmisses" "the
68: little schoolmistress" it’s so nice & so funny. All my English life
69: seems sometimes a dream, only when I walk alone in my old places in
70: the bush I feel a lot of the fire is burnt out. I wish you could see
71: these mimosa trees in flower, they are so nice.
The book referred to is: William Morris (1892) News from Nowhere
Hammersmith: Kelmscott Press. Rive's (1987) version omits part of this letter and is also in a number of respects incorrect.