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Letter ReferenceOlive Schreiner: Extracts of Letters to Cronwright-Schreiner MSC 26/2.16/206
ArchiveNational Library of South Africa, Special Collections, Cape Town
Epistolary TypeExtract
Letter Date15 February 1905
Address FromHanover, Northern Cape
Address ToBeaufort West, Western Cape
Who ToS.C. (‘Cron’) Cronwright-Schreiner
Other VersionsCronwright-Schreiner 1924: 251-2
PermissionsPlease read before using or citing this transcription
Legend
The Extracts of Letters to Cronwright-Schreiner were produced by Cronwright-Schreiner in preparing The Life and The Letters of Olive Schreiner. They appear on slips of paper in his writing, taken from letters that were then destroyed; many of these extracts have also been edited by him. They are artefacts of his editorial practices and their relationship to original Schreiner letters cannot now be gauged. They should be read with considerable caution for the reasons given. Cronwright-Schreiner has written the date, where it was sent from and the place it was sent to onto this extract. There are some differences between this transcription and the version that appears in The Letters….
1 …I suppose you hadn’t time to read myl my bit of MS.? It’s
2difficult for me to judge at it apart from the whole book. I know it
3as part of the whole only, & you could judge it apart. In the book as
4a whole it is the first sort of indirect unreadable
5intimation of the life Rebekah is leading & her husband’s ?disloyal
6act to her, & I’m not sure whether it does not pull it out of the
7artistic shape. I couldn’t write quite a new thing on the sex
8question just now for many reasons, & yet I want the £30 much. I
9wrote till one o’clock last night at my little Boer War Story which
10is nearly ready now though Frans (my clerk) has not yet typed the bit
11I gave him...
12
13 Oh it is such a heavenly day, dear. When one look outside all the
14cares & aches of life seem to become so little. Even the Hanover
15teachers & school girls seem to sink away to nothing, & one feels so
16ashamed that one ever allowed them to humiliate one & unfit one for
17work. In a way I have a certain satisfaction in finishing these Boer
18Stories, just because Boer girls & women have treated me as they have.
19“If thine enemy hunger feed him, if he thirst give him drink”. But
20you know I have no enemy in the sense of wishing to hurt any one or
21talk against them; only when people have hurt one too much one just
22wants to creep away & never see them again. It’s the only defence
23God gives some of us; & I think we have a right to use it. Purhap
24Perhaps if I could intellectually understand at all, it wouldn’t be
25so hard to bear, because, to a nature like mine, as soon as I fully
26understand & grasp a thing, it is always easier to bear. I have never
27heard of civilised women saying & doing the things to another
28fellow-woman that they have done to me. And I have loved women so all
29my life & fought for them & defended them, & they have loved me. I
30could have done so much for these Hanover women for the housewife and
31girls, I would have lived in & for the Hanover people if they would
32have let me. But perhaps it is better so, that I should be forced to
33throw my life & thought in other directions…
34
35 “Heartily know, when half Gods go,
36 The whole Gods come.!” I
37 We are so determined to love this or that, & perhaps it is what we
38oght ought not to love...
39
40 I want you to read my little war story. I love the last part. The
41first may seem a little uninteresting, & yet the last could not be
42without it…
43
44
45
Notation
The ‘M.S.’ referred to is From Man to Man. The ‘little war story’ is likely to be ‘1899’, published posthumously in Stories, Dreams and Allegories.