"The baby's holy little life" Read the full letter

Diamond Fields Advertiser



A. CLASSIFYING INFORMATION

Letter date [12 September 1896]
Address From [The Homestead, Kimberley, Northern Cape]
Address To []
Who to [Editor, Diamond Field Advertiser]



B. EDITED COLLECTION

Editor [Stanley and Salter 2014: 72-3]



C. ARCHIVE COLLECTION REFERENCE

Archive name [ ]
Archive Ref 1 [Diamond Field Advertiser / 12 September 1896]


[LEGEND: This letter has been dated by reference to when it was published in the Diamond Fields Advertiser.]


To the Editor “D F Advertiser”

Sir – In your issue of this morning, in an interview with Mr Selous, the following passage occurs:–

“Mr Selous had much to say about Olive Schreiner’s explanation of the rebellion. He flatly contradicted her statement that the rebellion was caused by the conduct of white men towards native girls.”

As I have never, directly or indirectly, referred to the war in the north in any review or newspaper, I should be glad if through the medium of your columns Mr Selous would inform me where he believes me to have made the statement to which he refers.

In 1891 I wrote a series of articles on South Africa, in one of which, in dealing with the degrading results of illicit relationships between white men and native women I made this statement: “We have it on the most irrefragable evidence, that when, after a war a few years back, a regiment of English soldiers was stationed for many months in the heart of a subdued Bantu tribe, not only was the result of this contact between the soldiers and the native women nil as regarding illegitimate births, but it had been practically impossible for the soldiers to purchase women for purposes of degradation throughout the whole time.”

When publishing this article this year, I appended to this statement the following footnote:– “We are not referring to that which takes place when Englishmen untrammelled by any public opinion or by British rule are absolutely dominant over a crushed native race, as in the territories north of the Limpopo today. We shall deal with this, to an Englishman most sorrowful matter, at some future date.”

This is the only statement I have ever published with regard to the relations between white men and native women north of the Limpopo, and Mr Selous’ remarks later in the interview strongly bear me out.

Will he kindly state where I have asserted that the relations of the white man to the black woman was the cause of the war.

I am, &c,
Olive Schreiner
The Homestead,
September 12.

[NOTATION: Frederick Courtney Selous (1851–1917) was a hunter-explorer and ally of Rhodes. Interviewed in the Diamond Fields Advertiser, he made erronous claims about Schreiner's views on events in Matabeleland and Mashonaland (involving Rhodes' Chartered Company troops), but clearly without having actually read what she had written. Selous' detailed knowledge of the Zambesia and Limpopo regions guided Charted Company troop and other movements in the mid-1890s, and in 1896, he was completing a book on the uprisings there, the occasion for interviewing him. See Frederick Courtney Selous, Sunshine & Storm in Rhodesia: Being a Narrative of Events in Matabeleland Both Before and During the Recent Native Insurrection (London, Roland Ward, 1896). The ‘series of articles’ Schreiner refers to concerns her early ‘Returned South African’ essays.]






A. CLASSIFYING INFORMATION

Letter date [16 September 1896]
Address From [The Homestead, Kimberley, Northern Cape]
Address To []
Who to [Editor, Diamond Field Advertiser]



B. EDITED COLLECTION

Editor [Stanley and Salter 2014: 73]



C. ARCHIVE COLLECTION REFERENCE

Archive name []
Archive Ref 1 [Diamond Field Advertiser / 16 September 1896]

[LEGEND: This letter has been dated by reference to when it appeared in the Diamond Fields Adverrtiser.]


To the Editor, “D F Advertiser”

Sir – I have read Mr Selous’ courteous reply in your yesterday’s issue; from which it appears that Mr Selous had never read the article which he criticised, and the misstatement is therefore fully accounted for.

The article is an attempt, however crude, from an impartial and scientific standpoint, to consider the gigantic evils which at the present day (whatever may be the case under future and happier conditions) halfcastism does inflict on both races in South Africa, and to study the conditions under which it most flourishes.

When republishing the articles in book form, I shall have much pleasure in appending as footnotes extracts from Mr Selous’ interview with you on the 12th, which powerfully confirm my own views on halfcastism.

With regard to the causes which have led to the present Mashona and Matabili war, I neither affirm nor deny anything. Any statement that I have asserted that the relations of white men with the Mashona or Matabili women to be the cause of this war is false. Any statement that I have asserted it not to be the cause, is equally false.

Olive Schreiner
The Homestead,
Sept 16.

[NOTATION: Schreiner’s first letter about Selous having erroneously ascribed views to her without having actually read what she had written appeared in the Diamond Fields Advertiser on 12 September 1896. Selous' response was that he had confused what she wrote with what Stead had written. This letter is Schreiner’s further response. She had been given advance notice of its publication. The ‘articles in book form’ she mentions refers to her ‘Stray Thoughts’ essays and intended book; 'my own views on halfcastism' refers to one of these essays, 'The Problem of Slavery'.]