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Letter ReferenceMacFarlane-Muirhead/10
ArchiveMacFarlane Collection
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter Date28 March 1895
Address FromThe Homestead, Kimberley, Northern Cape
Address ToBridge of Weir, Glasgow, Scotland
Who ToRobert Franklin ('Bob') Muirhead
Other Versions
PermissionsPlease read before using or citing this transcription
The Project is grateful to Mrs Hazel MacFarlane for kindly allowing us to transcribe this Olive Schreiner letter to Bob Muirhead, which is part of the MacFarlane family collection of Muirhead Papers, Special Collections, University of Glasgow Library. The address this letter was sent to is provided by an attached envelope.
1The Homestead
2March 28 / 95. ^
4South Africa^
6Dear Bob,
8I enclose a letter which I’ve just cut from a paper. Such letters
9are always appearing, & it makes me feel it can end in nothing but
10misery for the ordinary delicate working man to come out. People fa
11eat & drink in a much plainer rougher way - & are contented with much
12rougher housing here than at home. For five years I was governess in
13this country, & was for nearly all that time earning £ 10/- a week
14with the very coarsest food; a room with a mud floor across which the
15rainwater used to stream when it rained, from the holes in the roof. I
16had a bedstead made of wood & leather no table or chair, but an empty
17soap pot box to sit on & a bigger one to write on, & an old tin box
18that I keep my clothes in. For weeks at a time sometimes we did not
19see even bread, only unstamped mealies, or pumpkins. They were the
20happiest years of my life, because when my work was done I could creep
21away into the bush & be happy by myself; but I very much doubt whether
22the average English working man accustomed to his good bread, butter,
23& milk or tea &c could stand such a life, or would work contentedly
24for 10/- a week; & when his boots were worn out mend them with bits of
25cloth or leather & laugh all the while! Even now ^I^ I am do nearly all
26the scrubbing window cleaning & cookery myself. I have one little girl
27to help me, but her time is mainly taken up in doing the
29^washing &c. I am expecting my little one daily now: and am very busy
30getting the house cleaned up before it comes. How is little Waldo.
31Send me his photo. I wish I could see him^
33Yours ever dear old Bob.
The newspaper cutting referred to is no longer attached.