"Johannesburg, lust for gold, moral decay" Read the full letter

Union v. Federation

Schreiner’s opposition to the political Union of the Cape, Natal, Transvaal and Orange Free State into a single unitary state dates from immediately after the South African War (1899-1902) and is coupled with her strong preference for federation as a model for political organization more generally. The ‘Union v. Federation’ collection includes letters which provide Schreiner's analysis of how Union served retrograde purposes by whites joining together around promoting their sectarian economic interests, and relatedly entailed the increasingly harsh repression of black people and destruction of traditional ways of life.

These letters also comment on the potential loss of the Cape’s non-racial franchise within the Union, Schreiner’s concerns about the rights of Indians, especially in Natal, and her discussions of the 1906 Zulu Rebellion, Dinuzulu’s trial in 1908 and also the 1913 Natives Land Act as the outcome of whites politically ‘closing ranks’ and a marker of the final removal of African independence. These letters are also linked to discussions of Closer Union and its precursors. The cut off point for this topic is December 1913, when Schreiner left South Africa for Britain and Europe, except for occasional specific ‘with hindsight’ references afterwards to Union and what it meant.

 

To: William Philip ('Will') Schreiner, 14 September 1899: Olive Schreiner BC16/Box2/Fold2/July-Dec1899/28
Karree Kloof, Kran Kuil, Sep 14 / 99, Dear Laddie, I enclose a letter I have just got from Hobson the Manchester Guardian Rep...
[SA will be united, should be small & separate states]
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...
[After war, the Parties, independence of the Republics]
To: Henrietta (‘Ettie’) Schreiner m. Stakesby Lewis (1891), January 1904: Schreiner-Hemming Family BC 1080 A1.7/72
My darling, Theo tells me you are writing on the native question. Do take care what you write, my darling. Remember it is not...
[Writing on native question, pen dipped in blood]
To: Edward Carpenter, 17 June 1904: Olive Schreiner: Edward Carpenter SMD 30/32/c
Hanover, June 17 / 04, Dear old Edward, Some friends have asked me to come to England & they say you wanted me to come to...
[Natives to be crushed, effects of the war, whites want mineral wealth]
To: Edward Carpenter, 26 October 1905: Edward Carpenter 359/90
Hanover, CC Cape Colony , South Africa, Oct 26 / 05 , Dear Edward , It was nice to see your handwriting again. The Lawrence s...
[Great desolating native war looms]
To: John X. Merriman, 31 October 1905: John X. Merriman MSC 15/1905:199
Hanover, Oct 31st 1905, My dear Mr Merriman, It was rather strange that your letter should have come just when I was thinking...
[Du Bois 'Souls of Black Folks', South African affairs heart breaking]
To: John X. Merriman, 19 December 1905: John X. Merriman MSC 15/1905:228
Hanover, Dec 19 / 05, Dear Mr Merriman, I was very glad to see from the papers some time ago that though South Africa was nea...
[Difference between confederacy of equal states & empire]
To: Caroline Murray nee Molteno, August 1906: Olive Schreiner BC16/Box11/Fold3/ToBe/5
Haddon Hall , Kloof Rd , Tuesday morning , Dear Mrs Murray , Thank you so much for your letter & invitation I should have...
[Natal uprising]
To: Caroline Murray nee Molteno, 23 September 1906: Olive Schreiner BC16/Box3/Fold5/1906/17
Please address as below, The Hotel, de Aar, Sunday., Dear Mrs Murray, You told me you were going to Nels’ Poort. I wond...
[Not a race standpoint]
To: Francois Stephanus ('FS') Malan, 1907: Olive Schreiner: F.S. Malan 1000/2
Dear Friend, With great pleasure republish my little letter about Mrs Koopmans As to my brother Will, you know I was more opp...
[Cannot understand South Africans begging England for Union]
To: Caroline Murray nee Molteno, June 1907: Olive Schreiner BC16/Box11/Fold2/Undated/18
Tuesday night, Dear Mrs Murray, I had quite forgotten that I had an engagement I can’t change for Thursday. Would it be...
[All politics in South Africa distressing]
To: Alice Greene, 28 July 1907: Olive Schreiner BC16/Box3/Fold6/1907/20
Cape Town, Sea Point, July 28th 1907, Darling Alice, Please send the news paper I send you with this on to Dot at Newnham whe...
[As federation approaches dark days for native]
To: Alice Greene, 8 November 1907: Olive Schreiner BC16/Box3/Fold6/1907/29
De Aar, Nov 8th 1907, Dear Friend, I got this letter from Bettie this morning & could not make it out till I found that i...
[Transvaal & Free State determined with Federation to take franchise away from Colonial native]
To: Caroline Murray nee Molteno, 9 December 1907: Olive Schreiner BC16/Box3/Fold6/1907/33
Box 24, De Aar, Dec 9 / 07, Dear Mrs Murray, Thank you for sending Betty’s letter. Can you give j me her right address;...
[Affairs in Natal]
To: Caroline Murray nee Molteno, 10 February 1908: Olive Schreiner BC16/Box4/Fold1/1908/7
Box 24, De Aar, Feb 10 / 08, Dear Mrs Murray, I am so anxious to meet your brother Percy & hear a little about Natal affa...
[Natal affairs]
To: Betty Molteno, 23 May 1908: Olive Schreiner BC16/Box4/Fold1/1908/32
Matjesfontein, May 23rd 1908, Darling Friend, I am still here you see, but leave next Wednesday for de Aar., No I don’t...
[Sop thrown to Natal, other states crush natives for her]
To: Emily Hobhouse, 29 May 1908: Olive Schreiner to Emily Hobhouse HTC/1
Letter to be read at meeting, de Aar, May 29th 1908 , Dear Miss Hobhouse, I regret I cannot be with you on the second., The t...
[Federation of South African states]
To: William Philip ('Will') Schreiner, 4 June 1908: Olive Schreiner BC16/Box4/Fold1/1908/37
de Aar, June 4th 1908, Dear Laddie, It was good to see you. I hope the trip will do you good. You can hardly know how glad I ...
[Federation of this country, wise ordering of native question]
To: Julia Solly nee Muspratt, 3 July 1908: Olive Schreiner BC16/Box4/Fold1/1908/44
Wednesday night, Dear Mrs Solly, I had a talk with Malan this afternoon. He thinks that petition from women in all parts of t...
[Malan & women from all parts of South Africa putting together petition to the Convention]
To: William Philip ('Will') Schreiner, 26 July 1908: Olive Schreiner BC16/Box4/Fold1/1908/48
Dear Laddie, I was sorry I didn’t hear your speech yesterday. Cron said it was the finest he’d ever heard you mak...
[Union = sacrifice of freedom & justice]
To: Francis (Frank) Ernest Colenso, 23 September 1908: Colenso Papers, MSS. Afr. s. 1293/8, 1-3
de Aar, Sept 23rd Sept 1908, My dear Friend, Thank you for your letter., I don’t think you can dream how my thoughts ar...
[Dinuzulu trial, Convention]
To: Caroline Murray nee Molteno, October 1908: Olive Schreiner BC16/Box11/Fold1/Dated/11
Thursday , Dear Mrs Murray, Thank you for sending Betty’s letter. I am afraid I have treated even her very badly, I hav...
[Women's petition to the Convention]
To: William Philip ('Will') Schreiner, 18 October 1908: W.P. Schreiner MSC 27/1350
De Aar, Oct 18th 1908, Dear Laddie, Thanks for your lines., I am a good bit distressed to hear from Miss Colenso that it appe...
[Dinuzulu trial, Convention, Afrikanders cannot understand liberal attitude of mind]
To: Frances (?Fan?) Schreiner nee Reitz, November 1908: Olive Schreiner BC16/Box4/Fold1/1908/65
Darling old sister, The enclosed from Miss Colenso to me may interest you. I am so glad she thought Will looking better. I am...
[Greytown and Will Schreiner at Dinuzulu trial]
To: Robert Franklin ('Bob') Muirhead, 16 November 1908: MacFarlane-Muirhead/21
Box 24, De Aar, Nov 16th 1908, Dear Bob, I am sending you two photos of my self, take one for yourself & Lenie & send...
[Dinuzulu trial, white races plan to take away franchise from natives]
To: William Philip ('Will') Schreiner, 21 November 1908: Olive Schreiner BC16/Box4/Fold1/1908/64
de Aar, Nov 21st 1908 , My dear old Laddie, I got the paper today sent me by Miss Colenso with your photo, & Dinizulus; &...
[Dinizulu trial, government 'evidence']
To: William Philip ('Will') Schreiner, 1 December 1908: Olive Schreiner BC16/Box4/Fold1/1908/66
de Aar, Dec 1st 1908, I got the photograph signed by Dinuzulu yesterday, dear. I suppose you sent it. I like it greatly. Your...
[Native question and Convention; Dinizulu; no flies on Renon]
To: Mary Brown nee Solomon, 1 December 1908: Olive Schreiner: John & Mary Brown MSC 26/2.2.23
Private, I'm writing a thing on closer Union. If no one else will speak out for the natives I must. When done it will be publ...
[Closer Union, speak out for natives]
To: Jan Smuts, 21 December 1908: Smuts A1/191/57
Lieve Neef Jan , Ik stuur voor jou een "article", de ik greschryven het. Lees dit. Dink daar o’er. Ik veet jÿ is v...
[The taal letter]
To: William Philip ('Will') Schreiner, 28 December 1908: Olive Schreiner BC16/Box4/Fold1/1908/72
Hotel Milner, Matjesfontein, Cape Colony, My dear Laddie, I wonder where you & the boys have spent Xmas. I hope it has be...
[Union means end of English influence]
To: Francois Stephanus ('FS') Malan, 28 December 1908: Olive Schreiner: F.S. Malan 1000/3
Hotel Milner, Matjiesfontein, Cape Colony, Dec 28 / 08, My dear Friend, I am sending you a copy of my paper on Closer Union, ...
[Closer Union, Convention & butter melting]
To: Jan Smuts, 30 December 1908: Smuts A1/191/58
Hotel Milner, Matjesfontein, Cape Colony, Dec 30 / 08, Dear Neef Jan, Thank you for your letter. No, I don’t want to co...
[OS letter to Milner, duty stretches as far as power of benefiting]
To: William Philip ('Will') Schreiner, 30 December 1908: Olive Schreiner BC16/Box4/Fold1/1908/73
Hotel Milner, Matjesfontein, Cape Colony , Dec 30 / 08, Dear Laddie, All good wishes for good work in the New Year. I suppose...
[Farce of Convention men buttering each other down]
To: Frederick ('Fred') Pethick-Lawrence, 1 January 1909: Olive Schreiner BC16/Box8/Fold4/MMPr/AssortedCorres/FredPL/5
Matjesfontein , January 1st, 1909 , Dear Fred, I have written a little paper on Closer Union which I had published in a Johan...
[Closer union, getting it published]
To: Francois Stephanus ('FS') Malan, 6 January 1909: Olive Schreiner: F.S. Malan 1000/7
Hotel Milner, Matjiesfontein, Cape Colony, Jan 6 1909, My dear F.S. Malan , Thank-you for your letter. I wanted to sit down &...
[Not love uniting you but greed]
To: Isie Smuts nee Krige, 7 January 1909: Smuts A1/190/43A
Matjesfontein , My dear Isie , I think there must be unseen telepathic wires between Matjesfontein & Pretoria for today t...
[No dancing on heads of Indians, black people]
To: Lucy Molteno nee Mitchell, 10 January 1909: Olive Schreiner BC16/Box4/Fold2/1909/1
Hotel Milner, Matjesfontein,, Cape Colony, Sunday , Dear Mrs Molteno, I thank you so much for your letter. It is so valued by...
[Public men say 'Only I am left, so I can't act']
To: Henrietta (‘Ettie’) Schreiner m. Stakesby Lewis (1891), February 1909: Schreiner-Hemming Family BC 1080 A1.7/73
My darling Thanks for your letter. What a splendid victory you had. Not one license given! I rejoice so with you. , It seems ...
[English attack on the Dutch, great loss to native]
To: William Philip ('Will') Schreiner, 12 February 1909: Olive Schreiner BC16/Box4/Fold2/1909/11
Friday, Dear Laddie, Theo is getting on finely. Got a long letter from Dick Solomon who sends affectionate greetings to you. ...
[Only by union can natives be 'washed out']
To: William Philip ('Will') Schreiner, 13 February 1909: Olive Schreiner BC16/Box4/Fold2/1909/12
Matjesfontein, Saturday, Theo doing splendidly. Adela Villiers has lost her beautiful little baby boy of 13 months old. , It ...
[Power of union government inconsistent with freedom]
To: Edward Carpenter, 19 February 1909: Edward Carpenter 359/94
Matjesfontein, Cape Colony, Feb 19 / 09, Dear Edward , You are an absolutely wicked boy! I did send those two photographs to ...
[Can't write about closer union, too depressing, rand capitalists + retrograde boers]
To: Betty Molteno, 26 February 1909: Olive Schreiner BC16/Box4/Fold2/1909/15
Matjesfontein, 26 February 1909, Beloved Friend, I have your long letter on the native question to-day. Why do you not rather...
[Closer Union, Con Lytton arranging book publication; Will Schreiner giving up heart & soul to work for natives]
To: Henrietta ('Ettie') Schreiner m. Stakesby Lewis (1891), 28 February 1909: Schreiner-Hemming Family BC 1080 A1.7/107
Private Sunday, Dear I think we should on no account wish for a "referendum" now. There would be a vast majority in favour of...
[Convention 1909, do not make opposition to Union purely on native question, will ensure its passing]
To: Minnie or Mimmie Murray nee Parkes, 28 February 1909: Olive Schreiner: Mimmie Murray 2001.24/8
Matjiesfontein, Feb 28th 1909 , My dear Mrs Murray, Thank you much for your letter. I have sent it to Mrs Brown who will send...
[Unification puts away advanced legislation for 20 years]
To: Frederick (‘Fred’) Pethick-Lawrence, 4 March 1909: Olive Schreiner BC16/Box8/Fold4/MMPr/AssortedCorres/FredPL/7
Matjesfontein , March 4th, 1909 , Dear Fred, I see from the papers that your beloved wife and Connie Lytton and other of my f...
[Long terrible descent for native, Dinuzulu]
To: Betty Molteno, 6 March 1909: Olive Schreiner BC16/Box11/Fold1/Dated/24
Matjesfontein, March 6 / 09, My darling friend, Do please address your letters to Matjesfontein always in future. Even if I g...
[Fighting for Federation to protect native]
To: Francois Stephanus ('FS') Malan, April 1909: Olive Schreiner: F.S. Malan 1000/1
Cap, Eastburgholt, Tamboer's Kloof Road, Tamboer's Kloof, Cape Town , Wednesday , Dear Friend, Please return me that little p...
[Dream for Federation of South Africa]
To: William Philip ('Will') Schreiner, 9 April 1909: Olive Schreiner BC16/Box4/Fold2/1909/20
Good Friday morn, My dear Laddie, I’ve just made a little allegory, in bed this morning. It came to me the minute I ope...
[Men in the house squirming & lying & selling their souls & fate watching]
To: Abdullah Abdurahman, 9 April 1909: Olive Schreiner BC16/Box4/Fold2/1909/21
Private, Eastbergholt , Tamboer’s Kloof Road, Friday, Dear Dr Abdurahman, It was a great pleasure to me to meet you &...
[Closer Union sent to Abdurrahman]
To: William Philip ('Will') Schreiner, 7 May 1909: Olive Schreiner BC16/Box4/Fold2/1909/24
de Aar, May 7th 1909, Dear Laddie, If it’s cigarettes, then it’s coming that I am!! But don’t smoke them al...
[Future of native, native vote after union]
To: Frederick ('Fred') Pethick-Lawrence, 12 June 1909: Olive Schreiner BC16/Box8/Fold4/MMPr/AssortedCorres/FredPL/8
Matjesfontein , June 12th, 1909, I am sure, thinking it over, you will be too busy to make arrangements with a publisher abou...
[Closer Union]
To: Frederick ('Fred') Pethick-Lawrence, July 1909: Olive Schreiner BC16/Box8/Fold4/MMPr/AssortedCorres/FredPL/12
de Aar, nd, but 1909, Thanks so much for your letter, it is good to hear that all goes so well. , We are just going down to C...
[Union rottenest affair]
To: Betty Molteno, 6 July 1909: Olive Schreiner BC16/Box4/Fold2/1909/31
De Aar, July 6th 1909, Dear One, I didn’t write to you last week. I haven’t been well enough to write to any one....
[Money from Transvaal rigging elections, now closer union]
To: William Philip ('Will') Schreiner, 16 July 1909: Olive Schreiner BC16/Box4/Fold2/1909/35
De Aar, 16 July 1909, Dear Laddie, I was glad to get your letter from Maderia, & find the voyage had been pleasant to you...
[People would support Will Schreiner if he behaved more sensitively]
To: William Philip ('Will') Schreiner, 20 July 1909: Olive Schreiner BC16/Box4/Fold2/1909/38
De Aar, July 20th 1909, My darling Boy, I hope I didn’t worry you by the letter I posted yesterday which you will get w...
[Will Schreiner should form a centre for liberals]
To: William Philip ('Will') Schreiner, 27 July 1909: Olive Schreiner BC16/Box4/Fold2/1909/39
de Aar, July 27th 1909, My dear Laddie, I have a letter from Alice Corthorn by this mail, telling me she had dinner with you ...
[Only hope for native after union is politicians falling out over spoils, Jabavu standing firm]
To: William Philip (Will') Schreiner, 4 August 1909: Olive Schreiner BC16/Box4/Fold2/1909/40
Aug 4th 1909, Dear Laddie, I suppose this is almost the last line from me that will reach you in England. Already the groans ...
[Butter from the Convention beginning to melt]
To: William Philip ('Will') Schreiner, 8 August 1909: Olive Schreiner BC16/Box4/Fold2/1909/42
De Aar, Aug 8th 1909, I wonder if this will find you still in England. If so it will reach you just about the 30th to bring y...
[Dilke thinks no hope about native issues in the Act of Union]
To: William Philip ('Will') Schreiner, 13 December 1909: Olive Schreiner BC16/Box4/Fold2/1909/51
c/o Dr Purcell, York House, Muizenberg, Saturday, Dear Laddie, When do you go to Queen’s town. I am going up to Matjesf...
[Will Will Schreiner enter Union parliament]
To: Frederick (‘Fred’) Pethick-Lawrence, January 1910: Olive Schreiner BC16/Box8/Fold4/MMPr/AssortedCorres/FredPL/16
Sea Point , Undated , Do write end let me know how things are going with you and Emmeline personally and with the Movement ge...
[Union bearing bitter fruit ]
To: Betty Molteno, 26 May 1910: Olive Schreiner BC16/Box4/Fold3/1910/11
May 26th 1910, Dear Betty, It seems so long since I had any news of you or Alice., I wish I could see Mrs Murray. My heart ha...
[Botha Prime Minister]
To: Betty Molteno, 22 June 1910: Olive Schreiner BC16/Box4/Fold3/1910/12
I am back at De Aar. Cron is away at Prince Albert to hold a political meeting. The pol future of South Africa seems to me to...
[Future of South Africa growing darker, election happening]
To: Betty Molteno, July 1910: Olive Schreiner BC16/Box4/Fold3/1910/14
De Aar, July 1910, Dear Betty, I enclose Mrs Murray’s note to me which will tell you about her & Anna Purcell. It i...
[Dutch top-dogs now]
To: Frederick ('Fred') Pethick-Lawrence, September 1910: Olive Schreiner BC16/Box8/Fold4/MMPr/AssortedCorres/FredPL/13
(first page missing) Undated, …at a large Suffrage meeting in Cape Town. I am glad he has spoken out for us at last. Th...
[Cronwright not in Union parliament too straight talking]
To: John X. Merriman, 22 December 1910: John X. Merriman MSC 15/1910:507
c/o Haldane Murray , Portlock , nr Graaff Reinet, Dec 22nd 1910, Dear Mr Merriman, I am writing partly to send you & Mrs ...
[Retrograde race laws, long slide backwards]
To: Minnie or Mimmie Murray nee Parkes, January 1911: Olive Schreiner: Mimmie Murray 2001.24/63
De Aar, Tuesday , Darling Friend, How sweet of you to think of me so. The reason why I have not written is that I wanted to w...
[Great fight of future to defend more liberal institution of old Cape Colony]
To: Caroline Murray nee Molteno, 6 September 1911: Olive Schreiner BC16/Box4/Fold4/1911/43
De Aar, Sep 6th 1911, Dear Mrs Murray, It was so nice to see your handwriting again have you any news of Betty’s moveme...
[Union & the Transvaal societies, the WEL women against OS view]
To: John X. Merriman, 1912: John X. Merriman MSC 15/1912:207
De Aar, Sunday night , Dear Mr Merriman, Thank you very much for your letter. The woman question, as you know, lies so near t...
[The downhill path, the yawning precipice]
To: Betty Molteno, 1912: Olive Schreiner BC16/Box11/Fold2/Undated/48
De Aar, Friday, Dear Bettie, I’m glad you’re having a good time at Miller’s Point with Lucie’s sweet ...
[Shameful protection policy makes everything dear]
To: Patrick Duncan, 27 June 1912: Patrick Duncan BC 294/D1.33.2
This is Private, De Aar, June 27th 1912, Dear Mr Duncan, I have just got your letter. I’m sorry you couldn’t brea...
[Defence act, could only be for killing other South Africans]
To: John X. Merriman, 2 July 1912: John X. Merriman MSC 15/1912:122
De Aar, July 2nd 1912, Dear Mr Merriman, It would be impossible for me to tell you the depression I felt when I heard Hertzog...
[Hertzog, Sauer, a wagon going backwards]
To: John X. Merriman, 11 August 1912: John X. Merriman MSC 15/1912:132
De Aar, Aug 11th 1912, Dear Mr Merriman., Re. your letter. No, I do not take a sorrowful view of life generally; nor above al...
[Countries go backwards, white oligarchy in South Africa, terrible retribution lies ahead]
To: William Philip ('Will') Schreiner, 10 October 1912: Olive Schreiner BC16/Box5/Fold1/1912/47
De Aar, Thursday , My dear Laddie, I’ve been wanting to write to you for days, but the old pump doing its work badly, &...
[Planned crushing of Basutoland]
To: Caroline Murray nee Molteno, 16 December 1912: Olive Schreiner BC16/Box5/Fold1/1912/56
Monday, Dear Mrs Murray, I’ve been wanting to come & see you, but this heat makes it so difficult to get about. I’...
[Politicians rearranging themselves]
To: William Philip ('Will') Schreiner, 17 June 1913: Olive Schreiner BC16/Box5/Fold2/1913/25
My dear Laddie, I am rejoicing with you. I knew our boy would do well, but I wanted to know just what. Is the prize a medal o...
[Your good fight regarding the native bill]
To: Francois Stephanus ('FS') Malan, July 1913: Olive Schreiner: F.S. Malan 1000/4
De Aar, Tuesday , To F S Malan , My dear Friend, My heart is sore sorrowful. What are these things which you are doing up in ...
[1913 miners' strike, British troops to shoot down South Africans]
To: William Philip ('Will') Schreiner, 17 July 1913: Olive Schreiner BC16/Box5/Fold2/1913/28
Thursday , Dear Laddie, Thank you much for your letter. You don’t know what a few words of greeting to me on the road a...
[Unrest, Smuts & Botha call in troops, strike]
To: John X. Merriman, 20 July 1913: John X. Merriman MSC 15/1913:134
De Aar, July 20th 1913, Dear Mr Merriman, I have not answered your last interesting letters because I have been too ill to wr...
[Sauer, tragedy of Natives Land Bill]
To: Edward Carpenter, 23 July 1913: Olive Schreiner: Edward Carpenter SMD 30/32/n
De Aar, July 23rd 1913, Dear Edward, I am sending you an account of our Sundays meeting. If you want to understand the labour...
[Terrible native land bill]
To: William Philip ('Will') Schreiner, 25 July 1913: Olive Schreiner BC16/Box5/Fold2/1913/29
Friday morning, Dear Will, Jim Sauer’s body went past this morning at a quarter past two. Oh Will, the tragedy of it th...
[Sauer dead, native land bill]
To: Edward Carpenter, 26 October 1913: Olive Schreiner: Edward Carpenter SMD 30/32/o
De Aar, Oct 26th 1913, Dear Edward,, Thank you for your letter. I sail from Africa on the 6th of Dec= in the Edinburgh Castle...
[Botha's speech, socialism will never enter South Africa]