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Letter ReferenceOlive Schreiner: S.C. Cronwright-Schreiner SMD 30/34/b(ii)
ArchiveNational English Literary Museum, Grahamstown
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter Date24 May 1913
Address FromDe Aar, Northern Cape
Address To
Who ToS.C. ('Cron') Cronwright-Schreiner
Other Versions
PermissionsPlease read before using or citing this transcription
The Project is grateful to the National English Literary Museum (NELM) for kindly allowing us to transcribe this Olive Schreiner letter, which is part of its Manuscript Collections. The date has been written on this letter in an unknown hand. Schreiner was resident in De Aar from November 1907 until she left South Africa for Britain and Europe in December 1913, but with some fairly lengthy visits elsewhere over this time.
1Sunday night
3 Dear Pal,
5 I would like to go to England. Don't think that treatment can cure me,
6but it might mend me enough to do a little work. I only want to be in
7this country to be near you, & I can hardly face such another summer
8as I spent last year in Cape Town.
10 If you had asked me to I would not go in same steamer with you,
11because I should be so afraid of being ill & spoiling your much needed
12holiday. And in Europe I should leave in December to escape the hot
13weather here, either the beginning or end of December, ^it depends on
14getting the Edinburgh Castle or some other steamer with good
15deck-cabin as otherwise I know I should not live through the voyage.^ I
16should spend a few days in London to see Adela & the Doctors & then go
17for the winter to some cheap little place on the Riviera for the
18winter, or to Florence to be treated by Miss Hobhouses Dr. as p
20 I would not have money enough to travel about & sight see &c. In
21spring I should try the Nauheim treatment for 6 weeks & then perhaps
22go back to England a little in the summer. I should not be your way
23any where dear one. Perhaps we might arrange to meet somewhere & have
24a few days little honey-moon together say at Munich or Stutgard & I
25could show you the little village where my father was unreadable born.
26I shall long to see my dear old Pal. You do need rest & perfect change
27dear & I hope you'll get much joy from it all & good.
29 If you pay my return ticket I shall find some way of paying the rest.
31 Your little Bratje
32 Olive
34 It would be fine if I got so much better that my brain would work eh?
The date and place has been written on this letter in Cronwright-Schreiner?s hand. Schreiner was resident in De Aar from November 1907 until she left South Africa for Britain and Europe in December 1913, but with some fairly lengthy visits elsewhere over this time. The letter was written in response to one Schreiner had received from Cronwright-Schreiner (SMD 30 34 ii), dated 19 May 1913, as follows:

^My letter to Olive. SCCS^

De Aar, 19th May 1913.

Dear Wife,

When you were in Cape Town I wrote that I must take several months? holiday at the end of this year, the reason being that, unless I had some complete change, I might break down. As I do not want any possibility of misunderstanding, I add in writing what I wish to say further in the matter. Firstly, I do not know that I can afford it and I would not dream of incurring the outlay if I did not feel sure that, unless I have some break, I shall not be able to continue indefinitely. And it occurred to me to go right away where it would be impossible to have any business matters referred to me or even to know what was transpiring in the office. If I do go, I shall go alone. But I am not at all sure that I shall go anywhere. It is not only the direct outlay that is important; what is lost, and perhaps some of it permanently, by my absence, and the risks run, is perhaps (almost certainly is) much greater. I feel too that we are both getting on in years, that your funds are low, that I shall soon have to defray all expenses (which I am ready to do when the time comes) and that you are unlikely, on account of your uncertain health, to earn much, if anything beyond a few pounds, in the future. So I feel I must be careful about spending, for, if what I say is correct and I should break down, we?ll be stranded. I have thought very gravely about my contemplated trip, and I am not at all sure that I shall even attempt to make it; if I do decide to try to make it possible, even then my going would depend upon my getting a good man to act during my absence, and even if I got such a man, I could not leave unless an experienced bookkeeper who knows all the business were in the office all the time. (I refer to Mrs Honey and I have no reason to think she contemplates leaving; but, if she were to, it would probably knock all idea of the trip on the head.) At the same time, feeling that you have no funds yourself and that it would smack somewhat of selfishness perhaps if I spent too much on myself, I wish to say that, if you would like to make the trip to England, I will pay your return ticket. I know you would like to see your friends and perhaps the trip would do you good. You may never have another opportunity; as your heart gets worse the sea journey may be dangerous for you. On the other had, perhaps expert treatment and the change now may do you good. If you wish to go, you may like to go now to catch the summer there, in which case no time should be lost. If not, I take it (if you wish to go) it will be about this time next year (assuming that my finances are then all right) or a little earlier. As I have said, if I go, I will go alone; I want complete rest and no one to think of at all, complete freedom of action. I should probably go to catch part of the winter there. Think it over. Please remember that my means will not permit of more than pay for the return ticket. You lead a terribly lonely life most of the year and it is not good for you. I wish I were wealthier. I work hard enough, but the return is not proportionate to the work in a business of small things such as mine is bound to be in a little up-country dorp. I should like you to see your friends again; I am sure it would do you good.

Yours husband,

This letter is a typescript. There are two other drafts of it (SMD30 34 a and SMD 30 34 a (ii), and there is an accompanying envelope (SMD 30 34 a) which has written on it, in Cronwright-Schreiner's hand:

Private & Personal
M.C. Cronwright

1. My letter to Olive, De Aar 19 May 1913, about trip to England.
2. Her reply 24 May 1913
3. Her second letter, 2nd July 1913, with footnote by myself (originals & copies)
(a) My letter to Morthland, 5 & 21
(b) Carbon & written copies of my letter re I.P. to Olive, 2 Ap 1920
(c) Olive's reply, 11th May 1920