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|Letter Reference||Olive Schreiner BC16/Box2/Fold1/Jan-June1899/27
|Archive||University of Cape Town, Manuscripts & Archives, Cape Town
|Letter Date||2 June 1899
|Address From||2 Primrose Terrace, Berea, Johannesburg, Transvaal
|Address To||Prime Minister's Office, Cape Town, Western Cape
|Who To||William Philip ('Will') Schreiner
|Other Versions||Rive 1987: 356-7
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 William Philip ('Will') Schreiner, 2 June 1899, UCT Manuscripts & Archives, Olive Schreiner Letters Project transcription’. Please also supply letter line numbers for specific quotations.
The Project is grateful to Manuscripts and Archives, University of Cape Town, for kindly allowing us to transcribe this Olive Schreiner letter, which is part of its Manuscripts and Archives Collections. 'Personal' has been written on an attached envelope, which also provides the address this letter was sent to.
2 Primrose Terrace
June 2nd 1899
Your wire was one of the most valued of the things life has brought me.
9: I have been both surprised & deeply touched by the reception my the
10: article has met with from hundreds of Uitlanders in Johannesburg. What
11: we have to do during the coming years is to bring Dutch & English
12: South Africans & all the inhabitants of South Africa into closer touch
13: & kinship.
I wish I were not so very poor, then I would give the money & on the
16: same day I would set up two monuments one over the grave on Doornkop
17: where the poor English boys are lying, who Jamieson brought in to
18: their deaths, & another at Slachters Nek, (the Doornkop monument to be
19: subscribed to by all African women with Dutch blood if they wished it,
20: & the one at Slachters Nek to be subscribed to by all English women if
21: they wished to) unreadable this that verse of old Burns on both
"Then let us pray
that come it may,
As come it will for a’that;
That sense & worth, o’er a’the earth,
May bear the gree, & a’that
For a’that & a’that
It’s coming yet, for that;
That man to man the world o’er
Shall brothers be for a’that."
We might have a great day at both places, & so to speak bury our war
34: hatchet, being only South Africans.
What I feel so profoundly is that what divides the truth loving just &
37: sincere on both sides now, is only prejudice & wounded pride, & this
38: the selfseekers & evildoers take unreadable hold of to work their
39: plans. We can’t do away with them, but we can unite the other side.
40: There is no real interests to divide the honest working man or
41: professional in Johannesburg from the Boer, there is no real interest
42: dividing one state from another if prejudice were laid aside.
To me of course the whole of our problem is only one tiny section of
45: that great question of bringing nearer that great day, when nation
46: shall not lift up sword against nation, neither neither shall they
47: learn war any more – while we shall not live to see – "but it’s
48: coming yet, for a’that."
Of course war may come yet & destroy all our plans; but I feel now, as
51: if there were some chance of staving it off. But our difficulties will
52: not be ended, they will rise again, & we have to continue to struggle
53: against them.
Good bye my darling Laddie. Love to them all at Lyndall.
Your little sister
Dear old Reitz has offered to translate the article into Dutch, of
61: which I am glad. I had a wire from from him last night to that effect.
62: He’s a real good sterling man: there are not many such. Smuts is all
63: right but personally ambitious, & that is always a dangerous thing in
64: a public man. I hope you men in Cape Town will be able to hold
65: together. I realize more deeply than you would think some of your
66: personal difficulties there. Tell Solomon how heartily I congratulate
67: him on his success. I wish I could meet Milner: but do not like to
68: leave Johannesburg till all chance of war is over. I feel as if there
69: might be something for me to do here if war broke out, & I couldn’t
70: be separated from Cron. If war comes, as long as the Boers are winning
71: it will be all right, but as soon as they are loosing they will come
72: in & raid the town.
I have been hearing much for cattle-burgers who have been out among
75: them, & they say they are quite mad. Even the women say if there is
76: fighting now they must spare no Uitlanders, they must shoot them all.
Ach my dear lad, its a wicked thing. You who are down in Cape Town can
79: hardly realize how it looks to us who are here face to face to face
80: with it. The majority of Johannesburgers j don’t want to fight,
81: won’t fight, & they are to slaughtered to fill the pockets of a few
82: speculators, who are none of them brave enough to remain here.
I suppose we shall know all in a few days.
All the women & children of the Reformers & intriguers have left &
87: most of the men. My next door neighbour Mrs Pullinger left yesterday.
The article referred to is An English South African's View of the Situation
, originally published in the South African News
over three successive days; see 'Words in Season. An English South African's View of the Situation' South African News
1 June 1899 (p.8), 2 June 1899 (p.8) and 3 June 1899 (also p.8). It was also reprinted in a number of other newspapers. It then was published as a pamphlet, then as a book. A second edition of the book was ready but withdrawn from publication by Schreiner when the South African War started in October 1899, so as not to profit from this. Rive's (1987) version omits part of this letter and is also in a number of respects incorrect.