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Letter ReferenceJohn X. Merriman MSC 15/1912:211
ArchiveNational Library of South Africa, Special Collections, Cape Town
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter DateTuesday 1912
Address FromDe Aar, Northern Cape
Address To
Who ToAgnes Merriman nee Vintcent
Other Versions
PermissionsPlease read before using or citing this transcription
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. This letter is archived in the 1912 sequence and has been dated accordingly.
1 De Aar
2 Tues-day
3
4 Dear Mrs Merriman
5
6 Many thanks for your letter I have written for the price lists
7
8 We live largely on dried peaches & they seem difficult to get in the
9Western Province. I suppose it pays better to sell really good peaches
10than dry them. At Prince Albert they are too far from the railway, so
11they dry all their fruit.
12
13 Please thank your husband for his letter. Tell him, I say, who is
14doing the lamentations of Jeremiah now?!! With his - "Truly we are
15like the children before the flood" &c &c!!! I have a most absolute
16faith in the good & beauty of the future destiny of the human race on
17earth;
18
19 "All we have willed & hoped or dreamed of good shall exist;
20 Not its semblance, but itself; no beauty, nor good, nor power
21 Whose voice has gone forth, but each sorrows for the melodist,
22 When eternity affirms the conception of an hour.
23 The high that proved too high, the heroic for earth too hard,
24 The passion that left the ground to lose itself in the sky,
25 Are music sent up to God by the ?seer & the bard; -
26 Enough that he heard at once: we shall hear it by-&-by."
27
28 I think that sums up my religion very well. Even at the present day I
29think human affairs are advancing gloriously in the world as a whole.
30Even in England to-day things are going forward as I hardly dared to
31hope a few years ago.
32
33 The fact that China is awakening from her long sleep & even the women
34are ceasing to bind their feet; that the women in Turkey are seeking
35for education & advancing gives me great joy. But here in South Africa
36for the present we are in a back water. When the boys & girls, & those
37who are infants in arms now, are the men & women of South Africa a
38better time will come! - though we shall not be here to see it. Girls
39like my two nieces Lyndall & Ursula ^Schreiner^ & Bessie Reitz are such
40a joy to me. Do you know Bessie Reitz? She is the most remarkable girl,
41 with a heart as warm & large as her intellect is bright & burning.
42Have you heard that Julie Brown is engaged to Hugo Naude? She wrote to
43tell me yesterday.
44
45 No, I have not read Sully's new books. I have just got a new book in
46Proportional Representation by John Humphreys which I think will be a
47treat.
48
49 I was not surprised at Sauer's action. I am never surprised at
50anything a politician does. Twice a politician has almost broke my
51heart by disappointing the high hopes I had fixed on him - now no more.
52 I expect nothing.
53
54 Many thanks for all the trouble you took in answering my letter.
55
56 Hearty greetings to your husband. What I love about him is his
57openness & directness, which is quite incompatible with the intrigue
58which marks the true politician.
59
60 Yours very sincerely
61 Olive Schreiner
62
63 ^Please excuse the blots I am cooking the dinner & watching a boy carry
64in ground to my garden at the same time as I'm writing my mail letters
65& I don't seem to be like the wonderful man who could do three things
66perfectly at once.^
67
Notation
The book referred to is: John Humphreys (1911) Proportional Representation London: Methuen. The 'new books by Sully' are likely to be: James Sully (1912) Italian Travel Sketches London: Constable & Co; (1912) Studies of Childhood London: Longmans. The quotation starting 'All we have willed & hoped' is from Robert Browning's 'Abt Vogler' in his (1864) Dramatis Personae London: Chapman & Hall.