"Colossal evil threatening South Africa, Boer society hidebound" Read the full letter

Colonialism Under Transition

‘Colonialism under transition’ includes Olive Schreiner’s mentions of various Frontier Wars in the 1870s, and her observations and experiences at the Diamond Fields at Kimberley (New Rush), including the rapid urbanisation and industrialisation which occurred the wake of diamond discoveries. It also covers Boer farms and their way of life, and the impact of the South African War (1899-1902) on Eastern Cape farmers regarding the growth of nationalism.

The letters here also include comments about white dependence on black labour in both agricultural and urban contexts, and the limited political rights held by black people in the Cape being increasingly under threat, especially in the aftermath of the South African War. In addition, these letters make specific observations about 1890s Kimberley, late 1890s Johannesburg, Hanover from 1900 to 1907 and De Aar in the 1910s. They also deal with the more low key aspects of change in South Africa, including comments about the dying reverberations of old ways of life, Boer farming life and old colonial life with references to hard-shell Boers, takhaars, Tant Sannie van die Agterveld and so on.

 

To: Catherine ('Katie') Findlay nee Schreiner, 11 April 1871: Findlay Family A1199/1051
My dearest Katie!, Your truly welcome letter reached me last post enclosing the likenesses of. I was so glad to receive them ...
[Diamond fields and war]
To: Catherine ('Katie') Findlay nee Schreiner, 24 December 1872: Findlay Family A1199/1149
New Rush, December 24th 1872, My dearest Katie!, I had only time to send you such a line before I left Hertzog but I must try...
[Not finding diamonds]
To: Catherine ('Katie') Findlay nee Schreiner, 1 January 1873: Findlay Family A1199/1153
New Rush, Jan 1st 1873, My dearest Katie!, I have just got your kind letter for which many thanks. I've only time to day for ...
[Getting lost at fields]
To: Catherine ('Katie') Findlay nee Schreiner, 7 February 1873: Findlay Family A1199/1088
New Rush,, Feb. 7th 1873, My dearest Katie, I was so glad when yesterday's post brought me your long looked for letter, many ...
[Not finding many diamonds]
To: Catherine ('Katie') Findlay nee Schreiner, 24 March 1873: Findlay Family A1199/1166
New Rush, March 24th 1873., My dearest Katie!, Many thanks for the letter, which last post brought me. I was very sorry to he...
[Very few diamonds, Theo barely paying way, New Rush]
To: Catherine ('Katie') Findlay nee Schreiner, 30 April 1873: Findlay Family A1199/1180
New Rush, April 30th 1873, My dearest Katie, I have just received your kind letter & the very nice little book for both o...
[Low price diamonds, people leaving for goldfieds, OS dream of college]
To: Catherine ('Katie') Findlay nee Schreiner, 8 April 1874: Findlay Family A1199/1209
Hertzog, April 8th 1874, My dearest Katie!, I must thank you for your kind letter received last week. I was glad to hear that...
[Theo off to gold fields]
To: Henrietta ('Ettie') Schreiner m. Stakesby Lewis (1891), June 1874: Schreiner-Hemming Family BC 1080 A1.7/3
My dear old Sis, It is Sunday morning & all the folks have gone to church except Katie & Georgie so I shall have a ni...
[Life with Weakleys, Gold Fields]
To: Rebecca Schreiner nee Lyndall, 10 June 1874: Olive Schreiner: Rebecca Schreiner 97.12.3.6.22
Colesburg, June 10th 1874, My dearest old Moth!, Last post brought me your letter & I don't like you to go with out a wor...
[Colesburg, life at the Weakley's]
To: Catherine ('Katie') Findlay nee Schreiner, 28 April 1875: Findlay Family A1199/1254
Ganna Hoek, April 28th 1875, My dearest Katie!, Your kind letter has just reached me & I must thank you for it at once. I...
[Native labour unrest at diamond fields, borrowing money from Katie, America]
To: Margaret McNaughton, 24 September 1878: Olive Schreiner: Margaret McNaughton 97.12.3.6.23
Ganna Hoek, Sep 24th 1878, My dear Miss McNaughton!, After having six months to pass I feel more than half ashamed to fulfil ...
[Old Cape farm life at Ganna Hoek, an English face one never sees]
To: Catherine ('Katie') Findlay nee Schreiner, 19 November 1880: Olive Schreiner: Katie Findlay MSC 26/2.14.19
Lily Kloof, Nov 19 / 80., My dear Katie, You have not yet answered my last; but there is a good opportunity of posting; I’...
[Basuto war, Boers at the front]
To: Havelock Ellis, 29 October 1884: HRC/CAT/OS/2b-xx
Wednesday Night , Yes, it is true that I want you most when other people are about me. This afternoon my sister-in-law was he...
[OS plans, the Basuto War]
To: Havelock Ellis, 25 March 1890: HRC/CAT/OS/4b-xvi
In the Karroo , Matjesfontein , March 25 / 90 , I got here yesterday morning from Cape Town. , It is early morning now. I hav...
[Wildness of karoo & Matjesfontein, the train, Diamond Fields & Gold Fields]
To: Havelock Ellis, 14 May 1890: HRC/CAT/OS/4b-xiii
Matjesfontein , Tues day May 14 / 90. , I got up as soon as the girl brought me my tea & had my bath in the little backro...
[Lower middle class South Africa, no-one understands anything, isolation, colonial oddities, comparing colonies ]
To: William Philip ('Will') Schreiner, 2 December 1890: Olive Schreiner BC16/Box1/Fold1/1890/11
Tuesday , My dear Will, The Sauer's have been here. I’m going up with them to Bloemfontein. I like Mrs Sauer. Sauer spo...
[Colonial politics alongside the imperial ones, Rhodes, partices no principles]
To: Edward Carpenter, 1892: Edward Carpenter 359/60
Dear Old Ned, I’m coming home in April next. It will be beautiful to see you all. Old Bob & George & all of you...
[OS paper, capitalism in this country]
To: Edward Carpenter, 23 May 1892: Edward Carpenter 359/55
Cape Town , May 23 / 92, Dear Ed , It’s nice to think of you being in the world somewhere. It’s nice to think of ...
[The whole society is curious, you have no idea, nation of philistines, money only]
To: Edward Carpenter, 23 November 1892: Edward Carpenter 359/58
Matjesfontein , S. Africa, Nov 23 / 92, I’ve been lying in bed all day & reading that book of Francis Adams you sen...
[Money making whites, downtrodden blacks, no other classes]
To: William Philip ('Will') Schreiner, November 1893: Olive Schreiner BC16/Box1/Fold2/1893/7
My dear Boy, We would come out but it will quite break your nights rest, & the journey is tiring enough any how. I have a...
[End of Bond & party break up]
To: Constance Lytton, 3 February 1895: Lytton 01229/10
The Homestead, Nr Kimberley, Feb 3 / 95, Dear Con, I could not help a great feeling of joy for you when I saw in the paper th...
[Grand Kimberley diamond folk shocked by OS home]
To: Robert Franklin ('Bob') Muirhead, 28 March 1895: MacFarlane-Muirhead/10
The Homestead, March 28 / 95. , Kimberley, South Africa, Dear Bob,, I enclose a letter which I’ve just cut from a paper...
[For five years I was a governess, rough life for working people in South Africa compared with Britain]
To: John X. Merriman, 5 May 1896: John X. Merriman MSC 15/71/4/1
May 5 / 96, Dear Mr Merriman , Thank you for your letter. I should like to answer at length your interesting criticisms, but ...
[Peculiar tone of English Colonial life, rift between the liberals]
To: John X. Merriman, 25 May 1896: John X. Merriman MSC 15/71/4/2
The Homestead , May 25 / 96, Dear Mr Merriman , Thank you for your letter. Your speech was without any doubt the most brillia...
[Boer society, love of liberty but cardinal vice, rank confers duty]
To: Betty Molteno, 18 July 1896: Olive Schreiner BC16/Box1/Fold3/1896/21
Dear Friend Am not thinking of coming down for the show now. Cron returned yesterday from Cradock where he had been for ten d...
[English lust for gold & Empire; hounding Mashonas & in 50 years time retributionr]
To: Betty Molteno, 15 September 1896: Olive Schreiner BC16/Box1/Fold3/1896/27
Tuesday , Dear Friend, Yes, as far as I can judge that woman would do splendidly, but I will tell you all I know of her. , I ...
[Getting a place for Hamilton on Webber's farm]
To: William Philip ('Will') Schreiner, 26 May 1898: Olive Schreiner BC16/Box1/Fold5/1898/9
May 26th 1898, Dear Laddie, I wrote you a letter just after I returned from Johannesburg telling you how much I liked old Hud...
[Johannesburg, politics in aftermath of Raid, the Raid has altered everything]
To: Betty Molteno, 14 August 1899: Olive Schreiner BC16/Box2/Fold2/July-Dec1899/17
Monday, Dear Friend, Thanks for your letter. If war comes I think it cannot break out for another 14 days till the troops fro...
[Troops arriving, people in the back veld]
To: Betty Molteno, 17 December 1900: Olive Schreiner BC16/Box2/Fold3/1900/71
Hanover, Dec Satur Monday the ?17th, Dear Friend, I was so glad to get your letter today. I hope the Montague Baths will do M...
[Volks congress, the old sort of Boer]
To: Mary Sauer nee Cloete, 1903: Olive Schreiner: Mary Sauer MSC 26/2.11.132
Sunday, Dear Mary, I shall leave this on Saturday afternoon getting to Cape Town Sunday morning, & shall leave again by M...
[Hardshell old Dopper]
To: Betty Molteno, 27 August 1904: Olive Schreiner BC16/Box3/Fold3/1904/42
Bedford, Robertsons Hotel, Aug 27 / 04, Dear Friend, I wonder where you & Miss Greene are. I have a feeling perhaps you h...
[Gottlob;s remains, the big ox-wagon]
To: William Philip ('Will') Schreiner, 28 August 1904: Olive Schreiner BC16/Box3/Fold3/1904/43
Bedford, Aug 28th 1904, Dear Laddie, I hope this will reach you on the morning of what our children used to call your happy d...
[Old Balfour & who has gone etc]
To: Betty Molteno, 1 October 1904: Olive Schreiner BC16/Box3/Fold3/1904/49
Hanover, Sep Oct 1st 1904, My dear Friend, I have just got your card saying you likely sail tomorrow. My heart as been bad &...
[No one not belonging to the 17th century would willingly live here]
To: Frederick ('Fred') Pethick-Lawrence, 31 October 1905: Olive Schreiner BC16/Box8/Fold4/MMPr/AssortedCorres/FredPL/4
Hanover , October 3lst, 1905 , I have your two letters today from the Falls. I am glad it has been so splendid to you there. ...
[Nothing in Cradock, but going to Boer farms with OS]
To: Edward Carpenter, 6 February 1908: Olive Schreiner: Edward Carpenter SMD 30/32/gii
De Aar, Feb 6th 1908, Dear Edward, Months ago I began the enclosed letter. I haven't written because I wanted to go on with i...
[De Aar, lifestyle, Dutch Church]
To: William Philip ('Will') Schreiner, 26 August 1911: Olive Schreiner BC16/Box4/Fold4/1911/39
De Aar, August 26th 1911, Dear old Man, It was a disappointment to me to see from Adelas letter that you had not spoken at th...
[Taking Dot to Boer farms, the oldest farmer in these parts & the rains]
To: Betty Molteno, 16 July 1912: Olive Schreiner BC16/Box5/Fold1/1912/28
De Aar, Tues-day, Dear Bettie I’m longing to know about the plans you & Alice, she said, were forming. Why don’...
[An ideal oxwaggon]