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Letter ReferenceHRC/CAT/OS-4b-xivHRC/CAT/OS-4b-xvii
ArchiveHarry Ransom Center, University of Texas, Austin
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter Date19 March 1890
Address FromCape Town, Western Cape
Address To
Who ToHavelock Ellis
Other VersionsCronwright-Schreiner 1924: 178-9; Rive 1987: 165-6; Draznin 1992: 455-7
PermissionsPlease read before using or citing this transcription
The Project is grateful to the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, the University of Texas at Austin, for kindly allowing us to transcribe this Olive Schreiner letter, which is part of its Manuscript Collections. Schreiner was in Cape Town from early December 1889 to late March 1890.
1My Havelock
3Next week I hope to be at Matjesfontein & I shall have heard of your
4arrival in Paris. If you like I will keep my journal on thin paper &
5send it you now & then as MS. But you must save it as I may want to
6refer to it sometime Please write to me
8Dost thou know I have had some stiff things to go through since I came
9to Africa but I have not said anything to you, but ^because^ I feel like
10I used to long ago that I can’t talk of anything. It is a great
11mistake to talk, one is so strong to bear when one is perfectly quiet.
12My brother Will is a grand old fellow an ideal sort of character. I
13should like to pain him some day.
15Letters addressed here will be sent on to me. Whe I am very strong &
16well you have never seen me like this. I have got the old hard muscle,
17& then one can bear anything. You have none of you known what my
18physical agony has been through all these years. I was very near to
19the end when I left England.
21It is a splendid hot day. I am sitting in my bedroom My sister-in-law
22& some of her sisters are in the drawing-room. My brother’s children
23are very beautiful & sweet. His little girl of two & a half always
24sleeps with me, she wakes up in the middle of the night & lies telling
25stories to herself in the dark. They are both very wonderful children.
26It seems as if my flesh clings to them. I have not written lately.
27It’s as much as I can do to live. Next year I am going up in the
28interior if I don’t go to Europe; & which is very doubtful. I am
29slowly maturing my plans, getting letters of introduction to
30travellers traider & others who may help me on my line of march. Money
31is all I need. If my dream book is a success at all I shall have
34I am going to meet Cecil Rhodes the only great man & man of genius S.
35Africa possesses. The owner of the most of the Kimberly diamond mines
36& the head of this African exploration company. If he backs me up at
37all I shall be able to carry out my plan. He will likely as Will tells
38me has been for years a great lover of S.A.F. Read what ever you come
39across in Re papers &c about this company & Rhodes. We can make no
40plans yet, but it might be that you came out in a year or so to join
41me, work hard. I am reading nothing just now but African travels.
43Have you head anything of Karl Pearson lately? Fancy it’s all dead.
45Please write to me often in a way I am more solitary in this country
46than you can conceive. More lonely even than when I was I was a girl.
47I feel as if there were some ages stretching between me and these
48people. all Its been a strange experience how the same circumstance
49bring back the same conditions. I am perfectly silent seem almost to
50have lost the power of speech except to Ettie. Ettie will soon be a
51free-thinker. She says now she has always believed all I say in an
52African farm & her only regret is that she didn’t stand by me in the
53old days! So the world goes round. But I shall never be respectable
54never rest, because as the world comes on one has had to go on too.
56I long for you sometimes. You are the only person in England I want to
57see & a little, Mrs. Wilson. I am going to have a cold bath now, &
58then I must sit & talk to the people a little, & then I will get away
59onto the dam wall.
61Good bye. Are you really in my dear old Paris. Ach I fear me I shall
62never see Europe again. I would like to see the pictures & all so now
63my mind is quite blank like a little child’s & I could take them all
64in. Keep the little bit of enclosed paper
68Of course, if I live I shall want them but this is for you to have in
69case of my death
71Dear Havelock
73All the letters & papers & MS &c that are in your care I give to you,
74do with them as you wish now & at any time
76Yours loving
77Olive Schreiner
79Mount Vernon
80Cape Town
81March 219th 1890
The 'enclosed paper' is the note following the main letter. The 'dream book' referred to is Dreams. Draznin's (1992) version of this letter is in some respects different from our transcription. Rive's (1987) version has been misdated, omits part of the letter and is also in a number of other respects incorrect. Cronwright-Schreiner's (1924) extract is incorrect in various ways.