"Soldiers outside door, 'when the war is over'" Read the full letter
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Letter ReferenceSmuts A1/188/71
ArchiveNational Archives Repository, Pretoria
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter Date1905
Address FromHanover, Northern Cape
Address To
Who ToIsie Smuts nee Krige
Other Versions
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. The year has been written on this letter in an unknown hand. The name of the addressee is indicated by content. Schreiner was resident in Hanover from September 1900 to October 1907, after 1902 with visits, sometimes fairly lengthy, elsewhere. The place the letter was sent from is provided by content.
1 Do you know two things you said to me at Pretoria were a comfort to me.
2 One was that you mentioned something about the different relation one
3had to have ^for^ to people since the war. It has distressed me so much
4that the people who were everything to me during the whole war, more
5than my brothers & sisters when I had to try & help to get them out of
6prison, or to help them get food, seem nothing to me now, & I am
7nothing to them. They pass me in the street almost without saying good
8morning. I sometimes feel there must be some fault in me that it is so.
9 But perhaps we are all feeling the same! We were all like
10ship-wrecked people on a raft at sea together, now we have landed &
11each one falls back into his own line of life, & the bond that held us
12together is gone!
14 The other thing was that you said something that made me fancy see you
15& your husband knew about the miserable things some of our own people
16(at least Africander people) are saying about the Generals, about
17their taking all the money & not giving it away &c, &c. It has made me
18more angry than anything that ever happened in the war, when they
19speak so of all the Generals but especially of your husband. I have
20often wondered if he knew about it, & yet I couldn’t write to him
21about it, because I myself hate so much to hear anything unloving
22people say of me. You have to forgive them, & sometimes it hurts & is
23hard to do so. Yet I often had a feeling I ought to write & tell your
24husband. After all one mustn’t feel these things. That it has been
25given them to be leaders in a great cause, is matter for much
26gratitude, that nothing that can be said or done should touch them.
27This bitterness of attitude towards their leaders; & the desire of
28each man to be first, seem to me the things we really have to fear in
29the future of our people. It seems to me the motto of our Africander
30or South African nation should be the little line I wrote in your
31sisters album, "And he that is greatest among you let him be as the
32servant of all." It’s the finest text in the bible I always think.
34 Well, you are having a very ?long letter this morning, dear Isie, but
35I am writing it in between, while I run into the kitchen every now &
36then to stir the ?leen brad & the sheep tail I am melting out on the
37stove; & now it is time to set the table for dinner.
39 We are going to have some of the apricots your mother sent me from
40Stellenbosch for dinner too. Good bye. Don’t forget just to answer
41my questions, & just to close the envelope & send it to the post. I
42know it must be quite impossible for you to write letters now with the
43two babies. How rich you are, dear!! Health, & children & true friends
44seem to me always the only wealth one has really any joy out of. I
45haven’t the two first, but I have the last if ever a person had.
46Give our affectionate greetings to your husband.
48 Olive
The Biblical quote seems to be a version of Luke 22, verse 26.