"James Rose Innes in broader political life, O advises" Read the full letter
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Letter ReferenceLetters/473
Archive
Epistolary Type
Letter Date27 June 1908
Address FromTamboer’s Kloof, Gardens, Cape Town, Western Cape
Address To
Who ToAdela Villiers Smith nee Villiers
Other VersionsCronwright-Schreiner 1924: 280-1
PermissionsPlease read before using or citing this transcription
Legend
When Cronwright-Schreiner prepared The Letters of Olive Schreiner, with few exceptions he then destroyed her originals. However, some people gave him copies and kept the originals or demanded the return of these; and when actual Schreiner letters can be compared with his versions, his have omissions, distortions and bowdlerisations. Where Schreiner originals have survived, these will be found in the relevant collections across the OSLO website. There is however a residue of some 587 items in The Letters for which no originals are extant. They are included here for sake of completeness. However, their relationship to Schreiners actual letters cannot now be gauged, and so they should be read with caution for the reasons given. Cronwright-Schreiner has supplied the word ‘like’ between ‘I felt’ and ‘the wonderful Kaffir woman’.
1To Mrs. Francis Smith.
2Tamboer's Kloof, Cape Town, 27th June.
3
4... I seem to have so strangely little connection with South African
5life or people now. But my only friends in Cape Town, the Purcells,
6will be back in about two weeks, I hope, and she will bring the sweet
7little baby to see me. Oh, I do long for it so. I know how I shall
8love it. My heart feels so tender over a baby girl because of all the
9anguish which may be before it. I always think of it when I touch and
10hold in my arms the dear little female bodies; which no love can
11shield from the anguish which may be waiting for them. I have done all
12I can to help to free women, but oh it is so little. Long ages must
13pass before we really stand free and look out on a world that is ours
14as well as man's. The poor little political franchise is just a tiny,
15little, wee step towards it. I don't think you can understand a little
16how I love those suffragettes in London, those that I do know, and
17those that I don't. They are women who have freed themselves
18spiritually fighting for freedom: we, here, have in our little
19movement only slaves clanking their little chains along as they go,
20asking for their little franchise. You know when I was a young girl
21and a child I felt this awful bitterness in my soul because I was a
22woman, because there were women in the world. I felt [like] the
23wonderful Kaffir woman, who once was talking to me and said, "There
24may be a God, I do not say there is not; but if there is he is not
25good - why did he make woman?" During those ten or twelve happy middle
26years of my life the bitterness went; I realised the evils of woman's
27position but I was so full of infinite hope. Every thing seemed coming
28right quite soon just on the other side of the hill. I loved all my
29beautiful men friends in England and the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth
30seemed just here. Now, especially during the last eight years, I seem
31struggling with more than the old bitterness; it seems choking me,
32suffocating me sometimes. I try to fix my eye on the future but the
33future seems so far. It wouldn't matter a bit that one will never
34reach it if one knew it were coming soon to others. These dear
35suffragettes are just making life possible to me. It's not what they
36are trying to get, it's what they are becoming - they are breaking
37free!!
38