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|Letter Reference||Smuts A1/188/71
|Archive||National Archives Repository, Pretoria
|Address From||Hanover, Northern Cape
|Who To||Isie Smuts nee Krige
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 Isie Smuts nee Krige, 1905, National Archives Repository, Pretoria, Olive Schreiner Letters Project transcription’. Please also supply letter line numbers for specific quotations.
The Project is grateful to the National Archives Repository, Pretoria, for kindly allowing us to transcribe this Olive Schreiner letter, which is part of its Special Collections. The year has been written on this letter in an unknown hand. The name of the addressee is indicated by content. Schreiner was resident in Hanover from September 1900 to October 1907, after 1902 with visits, sometimes fairly lengthy, elsewhere. The place the letter was sent from is provided by content.
Do you know two things you said to me at Pretoria were a comfort to me.
2: One was that you mentioned something about the different relation one
3: had to have ^for^ to people since the war. It has distressed me so much
4: that the people who were everything to me during the whole war, more
5: than my brothers & sisters when I had to try & help to get them out of
6: prison, or to help them get food, seem nothing to me now, & I am
7: nothing to them. They pass me in the street almost without saying good
8: morning. I sometimes feel there must be some fault in me that it is so.
9: But perhaps we are all feeling the same! We were all like
10: ship-wrecked people on a raft at sea together, now we have landed &
11: each one falls back into his own line of life, & the bond that held us
12: together is gone!
The other thing was that you said something that made me fancy see you
15: & your husband knew about the miserable things some of our own people
16: (at least Africander people) are saying about the Generals, about
17: their taking all the money & not giving it away &c, &c. It has made me
18: more angry than anything that ever happened in the war, when they
19: speak so of all the Generals but especially of your husband. I have
20: often wondered if he knew about it, & yet I couldn’t write to him
21: about it, because I myself hate so much to hear anything unloving
22: people say of me. You have to forgive them, & sometimes it hurts & is
23: hard to do so. Yet I often had a feeling I ought to write & tell your
24: husband. After all one mustn’t feel these things. That it has been
25: given them to be leaders in a great cause, is matter for much
26: gratitude, that nothing that can be said or done should touch them.
27: This bitterness of attitude towards their leaders; & the desire of
28: each man to be first, seem to me the things we really have to fear in
29: the future of our people. It seems to me the motto of our Africander
30: or South African nation should be the little line I wrote in your
31: sisters album, "And he that is greatest among you let him be as the
32: servant of all." It’s the finest text in the bible I always think.
Well, you are having a very ?long letter this morning, dear Isie, but
35: I am writing it in between, while I run into the kitchen every now &
36: then to stir the ?leen brad & the sheep tail I am melting out on the
37: stove; & now it is time to set the table for dinner.
We are going to have some of the apricots your mother sent me from
40: Stellenbosch for dinner too. Good bye. Don’t forget just to answer
41: my questions, & just to close the envelope & send it to the post. I
42: know it must be quite impossible for you to write letters now with the
43: two babies. How rich you are, dear!! Health, & children & true friends
44: seem to me always the only wealth one has really any joy out of. I
45: haven’t the two first, but I have the last if ever a person had.
46: Give our affectionate greetings to your husband.
The Biblical quote seems to be a version of Luke 22, verse 26.