"Woman question secondary to native question" Read the full letter
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Letter ReferenceJohn X. Merriman MSC 15/1907:91
ArchiveNational Library of South Africa, Special Collections, Cape Town
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter Date2 August 1907
Address FromRossyvera, Norfolk Road, Sea Point, Cape Town, Western Cape
Address To
Who ToJohn X. Merriman
Other Versions
PermissionsPlease read before using or citing this transcription
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 Rossyvera
2 Norfolk Rd
3 Sea Point
4 Ju Aug 2nd 1907
6 My dear Mr Merriman
8 I was indeed very sorry that I was out when you called & that Mrs
was out when I called on her.
11 I am a prisoner today with the damp weather, but have been reading a
12very interesting book "A year in Russia" by Maurice Baring a young
13journalist of real promise Have you read it? It was sent me by the
14friend to whom it is dedicated. I feel far more interested in European
15(Russian, Irish & other) affairs just now than in South African. The
16world's centre of interest has passed away from us; though of course
17practical politicians & newspaper men must keep on ?pegging away at
18their own little ?shoe however dull the work may be!
20 If there were only one occupation on earth left - that of a politician
21- I should not seek it, though many women are preeminantly fitted for
22such work. I should always like to represent myself, not other people.
23I hope you have quite recovered from your influenza. I am perhaps
24going to take a run up to Pretoria at the end of the session to spend
25a few weeks with the Smuts's & perhaps with my old friend Lady Innes
26She is one of the few of my old English friends who was large enough
27never to allow our strongly opposed political views to make one
28moment's difference in our attitude of personal sympathy & love.
30 The sad thing about politics seems to me the overmastering
31intro-duction of the personal element. I will fight to the death over
32a principle but I will not fight over persons. Under our wretched
33party system of government, it seems all persons & no principles. A
34change must come soon - even in England. Of course there are times
35when a party stand for a vast principle - as was the case here during
36the war - & an individual man may, for a time be the noble incarnation
37of that principle: but when party politics becomes a question of of
38ins & outs, of who shall stand first in a party & who second & third,
39it all becomes unspeakably depressing to me. The only really big
40question we have before us now is the native question & in that I fear
41I shall find myself one day in a minority of one.
43 Yours most sincerely
44 Olive Schreiner
The book referred to is: Maurice Baring (1907) A Year in Russia London: Methuen.