"Neta crushed under the wheels, the best friend I ever had" Read the full letter
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Letter ReferenceT120 (M722): W.T. Stead Papers/12- pages 76-9
ArchiveNational Archives Depot, Pretoria
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter Date15 March 1891
Address FromMatjesfontein, Western Cape
Address To
Who ToWilliam Thomas Stead
Other VersionsCronwright-Schreiner 1924: 204; Rive 1987: 189-90
PermissionsPlease read before using or citing this transcription
The Project is grateful to the National Archives Repository, Pretoria, for kindly allowing us to transcribe this Olive Schreiner letter, which is part of its Micofilm Collections.
2March 15 / 91
4None of this to be printed
6Thank you for letter. I am glad you have made an alliance with Rhodes.
7I believe your genius is eminently fitted to harmonize with his. What
8you say of him is true, he seems to enlarge the horizon. How he has
9enlarged it in South Africa it would be impossible for you to judge
10unless you had known the South Africa of ten years ago. I send you a
11small sub-leader from the Cape Times which may interest you as showing
12the feeling to which I believe all South Africa gives echo.
14Personally I believe Rhodes has the strongest antipathy to myself, but
15it would never affect my sympathy
his friends have told me so, but it
16does not in the slightest degree affect my sympathy with him or his
17work: any more than General Boothe’s objection to my work affects my
18feeling to him. It is the beauty of my stand-point, as I told you once
19before, that I am able to sympathize with and love so many people, who
20will never be able to sympathize with or love me. But I always shrink
21from meeting Rhodes as I would shrink from meeting General Boothe.
23I have written a series of articles (This is private, not to be
24mentioned to Miss Harkness or any one who writes for papers, I trust
25you in this
) on South Africa. The first will appear in May or June. I
26shall give orders that they are to be sent you early. I believe you
27will sympathize with them. They have been a great labour of love with me.
29I am well, working, happy. All that I need to make my cup of happiness
30full is the Karroo & work. I have that.
32My Review of Reviews has not come yet.
34Yours always & faithfully,
35Olive Schreiner
37I am so sorry Miss Harkness is so ill. She is a woman who will yet do
38great & good work for the working classes with her pen. I saw a
39beautiful little story of hers the other day in a paper.
Schreiner has underlined ‘None of this to be printed’ at the start of the letter, and also ‘I trust you in this’ in the second paragraph, several times. The ‘series of articles’ referred to are Schreiner’s ‘A Returned South African’ essays, originally published in a range of magazines and intended to be reworked in book form, as Stray Thoughts on South Africa. A dispute with a publisher and then the outbreak of the South African War (1899-1902) prevented this, and they were in the event with some additional essays published posthumously as Thoughts on South Africa. The ‘beautiful little story’ referred to by Maggie Harkness was published using her usual pseudonym in late December 1890. See John Law (1890) 'Little Tim's Christmas', 24 December 1890 Pall Mall Gazette Vol. 5, issue number 8039. Rive’s (1987) version omits part of this letter and is incorrect in minor ways. Cronwright-Schreiner’s (1924) extract has been misdated and is also incorrect in additional ways.