"On helping set up women's branch of Democratic Foundation 1880s London" Read the full letter
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Letter ReferenceJohn X. Merriman MSC 15/1907:16
ArchiveNational Library of South Africa, Special Collections, Cape Town
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter Date26 February 1907
Address FromHanover, Northern Cape
Address To
Who ToJohn X. Merriman
Other Versions
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Legend
The Project is grateful to the National Library of South Africa (NLSA), Cape Town, for kindly allowing us to transcribe this Olive Schreiner letter, which is part of its Special Collections.
1 Hanover
2 Feb 26th 1907
3
4 Dear Mr Merriman
5
6 I am so delighted that Solomon has not got in. it's the finest thing
7about the election. All his other desertions I might make excuses for
8th but this desertion of the Progressives I can't. A man on the make
9looking for place & power can never be trusted. I am the last person
10in the world to blame a man for changing his views. Fortunately (or
11unfortunately!) for myself I was born with such a firm constitutional
12?build in one ^certain^ direction, that unless I violated myself I
13should have to keep on in one course. I was a republican, a feeler of
14the injustice of woman's position, an opponent of all here-ditary
15rights to govern others, a believer in the primary moral importance of
16defending the weak, animals or men, against injustice of oppression ^&c
17&c^ when I was ten, just as I am today & must be when I'm eighty unless
18I sell my soul. But I know & believe there are numbers of person more
19gifted more valuable than myself, who have not been born with a kind
20of constitutional mandate "this is thy way; & thou shalt walk in it &
21no other." & who form their opinions in quite another way, & who grow
22& expand in the dropping of old stand points & the attaining to new; &
23I should be the last person to think that a man may not be deeply
24consciencious in changing his view, even of the largest questions in
25life. But when you see a cat sitting on a hedge, & he always jumps
26down on the side on which there is a mouse running, it is difficult to
27believe he is not looking after mice.
28
29 I so entirely agreed with your remarks ?to the interviewer, as
30reported in the paper. Pimm & Creswell were the two men I most wanted
31to see in; Abe Bailey was the man I hoped to see thrown out more than
32any other. But I really fix little hope on this incoming government or
33any other. The first thing they are trying to do is bring down wages.
34Really enlightened men & women must be in this country for the next 50
35^(perhaps 30! only)^ years as the voice of one crying in the wilderness.
36
37 I am now as an old Boer would express it "full up to my throat" with
38South Africa. I have not lost my faith in the glorious forward march
39which humanity is still going to take upon earth; for "I doubt not
40through the ages one increasing purpose runs" -" . but here in South
41Africa we are the crest of a wave & there will be an awful sweep down
42wards before we mount on the other side; - hideous native wars,
43injustice & greed riding rampant, - with always the protesting few of
44course. Do not think I am despairing over human life & things generall;
45 I am more full of hope than ever; but just as I saw in England in 88
46that there was a long terrible downward dip before us, so I see it
47here today.
48
49 I have just got your speech on that most interesting fas-cinating of
50all question. I have not yet looked at it: am going to read it this
51afternoon. The subject of the decay & death of nature & empires has so
52interested me all my life that I have brought in a whole chapter in it
53in my big novel - which doesn't sound promising for the novel! - but
54it really had to come in, because the woman in the book was so
55interested in it.
56
57 I am very curious to see if your view & mine harmonize at all. You
58know it's only on the woman question you & I stand at such opposite poles
59
60^& I have hope we shall agree yet!!!^
61
62 Your friend,
63Olive Schreiner
64