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Letter ReferenceHRC/CAT/OS/4b-xvi
ArchiveHarry Ransom Center, University of Texas, Austin
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter Date25 March 1890
Address FromMatjesfontein, Western Cape
Address To
Who ToHavelock Ellis
Other VersionsCronwright-Schreiner 1924: 179-80; Rive 1987: 167; Draznin 1992: 457-8
PermissionsPlease read before using or citing this transcription
Legend
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. The end of this letter appears to be missing.
1In the Karroo
2Matjesfontein
3March 25 / 90
4
5I got here yesterday morning from Cape Town.
6
7It is early morning now. I have woken up just as I used to in the old
8days when I was in the Karroo & am sitting at the dressing table
9before my little window to write. The sun is just rising the hill lops
10are dull purple. Over the way at the railway station the coloured boys
11are at work already digging the new foundations I might be at Rattle
12Hoek as far as the sounds go.
13
14Now I am going to put my hat on & go out for a walk over the Karroo
15Such a sense of wild exhilaration & freedom comes to me when I walk
16over the Karroo. I have now only a tiny bedroom in a little house
17built of iron, but in a few days I am to have three little rooms in a
18brick cottage all to myself. I go over to the railway station to have
19my meals. This a wide long plain with rocky mountains running down
20both sides. There are one or two little koppjes in it. I am going to
21walk to one this morning. There are no farms or homesteads in it. The
22only place is this. It consists of the railway station Logan’s house.
23& a row of outbuilds or cottages of which mine will be one. There is
24not a tree on the velt nor a bush on the mountains as far as the eye
25can reach, the water is brought from a long way off in iron pipes Even
26near the house there is not a tree or bush except a few little ^blue gum^
27sapling that Logan put in about four months ago; they are nearly the
28only thing that would grow here. The event of the day is when twice in
29the twenty four hours the railway train sweeps by. Once in the morning
30the Cape train, on its way up to the Diamond Fields & Gold-fields
31stops about 9 o’clock & the people get out to have breakfast here, &
32they leave our mail. Again at about six in the evening the train from
33the Diamond & Gold-fields passes & stops for half an hour. It is
34curious, & to me very attractive this mixture of civilization & the
35most wild untamed freedom; the barren mountains & wild Karroo & the
36railway train. I know that at any time by leaping into it & traveling
37nearly four hours without stopping I would cover the 500 miles between
38this & Cape Town. If only my asthma keeps away, this place is the
39ideal place for which I have so long been longing.
40
41April 1st Have had very bad asthma, but am right again. Just moved
42into my new little rooms. Wild stretch of Karroo in front of my door
43so glorious.
44
45[page/s missing]
46
Notation
Draznin’s (1992) version of this letter is in some respects different from our transcription. Rive’s (1987) version omits part of the letter and is in a number of other respects incorrect. Cronwright-Schreiner’s (1924) long extract is incorrect in various ways.