"Since war, people pass on street, wealth is friends, health" Read the full letter
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Letter ReferenceSmuts A1/186/89
ArchiveNational Archives Repository, Pretoria
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter Date24 September 1899
Address FromKarree Kloof, Krankuil, Northern Cape
Address To
Who ToJan Smuts
Other VersionsRive 1987: 380-1
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 Special Collections.
1Sep 24 / 99
4Dear Mr Smuts
6 I have had a cable from the New York Journal asking me take the post
7of war correspondent to that paper, ^in case of war.^ It is one of the
8most powerful in America & if possible we ought to have someone with
9our Burgers in case of war who will report our view side fairly. I
10shall take the it ^offer^ if I am at all physically able. Will you wire
11me a reply telling me, in the first place, whether the Transvaal
12authorities will give me facilities ^for gaining information, &^ for
13going with the men ^Burgers to the front:^ &, secondly, where in case wh
14war is proclaimed you think I had better go at first, to Bloemfontein
15to Pretoria or to the Natal frontier? If you wire "yes" to the first
16question; & give the name of a place as answer to the second I shall
17know what you mean. I shall receive £110 a month which will pay my
18travelling expenses, but it would greatly add to my usefulness if I
19could receive advice as to where I could be most useful. All I fear is
20that if I am in the Transvaal the other war correspondents who are
21with the English troops will send off news long before unreadable I
22can, ^as our Transvaal wires are sure to be cut,^ poisoning the public
23mind. Please advise me by letter, as well as wire, & tell me where I
24can be most useful. I am so sorry to hear you have been unfit. I hope
25you are up again in strength.
27 I sent an article on the "Boer" to a New York paper two weeks ago at
28the request of the editor; but I fear it is too late for any writing
29to be of use now. Any information you may give me will be kept
30strictly private of course, not even to be mentioned to my brother or
31friends in Cape Town. I am better but one would give much for a little
32more physical strength at this time.
34 Olive Schreiner
36 Please address the wire
37 Olive Schreiner
38 Strydenburg that will be enough & the letter to
39 Karree Kloof via Kran Kuil.
41 Please show my letter to Reitz & Grobler, & would you or Reitz please
42send me a letter stating who I & my husband are; that if travelling
43through the Free State in time of war, the Burgers we may come across
44will know who we are & what our object is, & ^please^ sign it legibly.
45They might in some out-of-the-way place mistake us for "Roi-neks"! &
46stop us.
The article referred is probably 'The Boer', one of her 'Returned South African' essays. Schreiner published these essays in various journals between 1891 and 1900. A set of them was to have been published as 'Stray Thoughts on South Africa'; however, although prepared for publication, a dispute with a US publisher and the events of the South African War prevented this. They and some other essays were posthumously published as Thoughts on South Africa. Rive's (1987) version omits part of this letter and is also in a number of respects incorrect.