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Letter ReferenceHRC/CAT/OS/4b-xv
ArchiveHarry Ransom Center, University of Texas, Austin
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter Date5 April 1890
Address FromMatjesfontein, Western Cape
Address To
Who ToHavelock Ellis
Other VersionsCronwright-Schreiner 1924: 180-1, 182; Rive 1987: 167-8; Draznin 1992: 458-9
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.
1Sitting in my bedroom
2Matjesfontein
3M April 5 / 90
4
5It is a wild windy night, a glorious fullmoon & big clouds outside. It
6won’t rain, its only the change from heat to cold, our winter will
7soon be here.
8
9Tomorrow morning early the English mail will come. That is the event
10of the week. It ought to have come this morning but the steamer was
11late. I am sitting in my little bedroom. Such a nice new clean little
12room, but bare enough, out of it opens a tiny square room with a
13little chair & two little tables, not even a carpet, which is my
14sitting room behind that is a room where I put my boxes; & have my
15bath so I have quite an establishment. I think I shall stay here till
16the end of August, unless I find I the winter too cold. The ice is
17sometimes feet thick & the mountains while with snow it is much colder
18than England but quite dry. It never rains in the winter, hardly. It
19has only rained three days since I landed in Africa & two of the days
20for only a few hours. I have seen rain three times in five months!!!!!!!
21
22I am getting on with my work slowly & steadily, but not brillantly. My
23old Diamond Field friend John Persglove is coming from the Diamond
24Fields tomorrow by the evening train & is going to stay here some
25weeks ^days^ with me.
26
27I am so good ever since I came to this country, Henry, I do nothing
28wrong I am so patient, I don’t hate anybody even when they talk
29against me, I bear everything I restrain myself. But I don’t feel
30“God” so near me as I did in England in all that agony & dark &
31conflict. Perhaps I am exhausted and cannot feel anything. I hope you
32will have written a nice letter for me to get tomorrow. You don’t tell
33little Olive anything, you don’t love her! I ought to be ready to
34start for the Zambesi in the spring, say about September.
35
36Please write to me about Paris. Isn’t it strange I never feel any wish
37to live in London again, and such a longing after Paris & Italy &
38Germany. But England is dead for me. You know you sometimes seem so
39near me that I would not be surprised if you suddenly walked in. I
40love the Karroo. Do you know the effect of this scenery is to make one
41so silent & strong & self contained, & it is all so bare the rocks &
42the bushes so each ^bush^ standing separate alone by itself.
43
44Saturday
45
46A bright cold morning English not here yet, must wait till tomorrow.
47It is my period but I am working right through, & feel bright & strong.
48 There is a poor woman arrived here last night who is dying of
49consumption. I have just been to see her. John Pursglove is coming
50this evening. I went I went a lovely walk this morning away out into
51the Karroo & found some nice, large bent out trees in the dry river
52course. I will make that my walking up and down place. Five or six
53invalids arrived yesterday so the place is quite full.
54
55I like very much being so free it is like having a house of your own
56without the trouble of taking care of it, & the roughness & bareness I
57like. It seems as though something must happen soon. This being so
58well is too good to last, but whatever happens it will be all right. I
59am a great smoker now.
60
61You see how I tell you all the things about myself & you tell me
62nothing. If I were very much with my sister Ettie she would become a
63free-thinker. She is a grand old creature.
64
65Sunday. I got your letter such a little note, not at all nice I wanted
66a long one.
67
68Olive
69
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) extract includes material from a different letter (although sent in the same envelope) and is also incorrect in other ways.